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February 7, 2006

The Continuing Tape Conspiracy?

Please note, this blog has been archived and now lives at www.discretecosine.com

I know that every field has its own set of neuroses and urban legends. Video in particular seems to have quite a few, many stemming from the transition from analog to digital video. Worrying about horizontal blanking on SDI signals so the wide variety of mysticism surrounding square waves. Videotape is another area in which a few bits of anecdotal evidence have spawned whole new ways of behaving.

More crazy conspiracy theories after the jump.

The newest cult surrounds HDV tape. Pretty much everything about the way HDV goes to tape is identical to DV. All that's different is the content of the data. Because of the higher compression ratio of HDV, there's more picture information packed into any given chunk of tape, so a dropout is more likely to cause problems. Similarly, because of the 15-frame GOP structure of HDV, the problem has the potential of spanning multiple frames.

Somehow that fact has been transformed into this idea that a single dropout will destroy the entire 15 frames, and could in fact lead to the end of the world. Therefore, it's critical that you drop $15 on the special dropout-resistant HDV tapes. I'm not convinced.

Similarly, there's the whole issue of tape lubricants (another whole rant), never mixing brands of tape in a deck, etc. I think, in the indie world at least, this sort of took off around the time of the DVX-100, which was a fairly drop-out prone camera. It's a fine rule to have, but I don't think it needs to be religion.

Anyways, I just felt like ranting. From the perspective of students, and many indie filmmakers, cost beats all other concerns. Plus, tape is dead, right?

Posted by at February 7, 2006 4:41 PM | Opinions

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