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    DV Tape Question?
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    What's the general consensus regarding the re-use of tape? Use a cassette once, twice? Essentially, how many times can you tape over pre recorded data before you compromise / damage your camera. I have a DVX100A and I'm paranoid about the type of tape I use as well as re-using etc. I'd appreciate any comments.


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    It's not as much a matter of damaging the camera from reusing tapes, as a tape passing over the heads is a tape passing over the heads whether it's been used to record once or five times. It's a matter of stability of the tape. My general rule is to use any tape once and only once because miniDV is not the most robust format out there. And miniDV tapes are inexpensive anyway (as compared to DBeta, HDCAM, etc.), so there's no reason not to use a fresh tape each time.

    As for your tape paranoia, simply pick the tape you think would be best and stay with it and you'll be fine. Lots of folks use the factory-recommended Panasonic tape stock. I'm a Fuji user. As long as you keep with your preferred tape, you won't need to worry so much.

    And even then, the one tape that makes everything difficult is Sony. If you use Sony and only Sony, no problem. But Sony and other tapes don't play nice together.
    Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.

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    C2V,

    Could you enlighten me just a little more on the "instability / tape heads" issue? Are you saying that the tape composition is fragile and that playing / rewinding etc. can damage the heads? Thank you responding.


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    Some time ago, NASA provided an RFQ for suppliers that went into great depth about tape stock, dropouts, use and reuse of pre-recorded materials.
    It was almost 100 pages in length!

    Two bottom lines became evident:
    The occurrence of dropouts is impossible to anticipate (predictable expectation), and most modern tape stock (commercially available) is 'built' to nearly the same exact standard -from one manufacturer to another.

    We're talking base, adhesive and oxide coating- and the process of production.
    *Oxide coatings being of different compositions, of course.

    In our machines this material (tape) moves along a path where spinning heads contact it in a diagonal stripe (helical scan).
    Properly adjusted tape transports and clean heads produce the optimum quality recording that can be obtained, with only a slight variation in measurable bandwidth between certain stocks.

    Lucky me, I've toured the place where they make the stuff.
    Lots of squirrels pulling on each end make for different sizes of product. (ha ha)
    You would be surprised that many different sizes (formats) are cut from the same raw material in the 'extrusion' process.
    I ain't saying they get different names (or claims), but a DVC Pro tape is the same stock as a 'consumer' tape probably.

    In the NASA paper (my reason for mentioning it) they determined a tape that was recorded up to three times was able to produce significant results without enhanced dropout issues. (like, wear and tear was not measurable after three times through).

    TAPE IS THE CHEAPEST PART OF THE CAMERA- next to the operator.
    Might as well build a HUGE library of footage- 'cause you'll never know when you'll need a particular shot again.
    Once you've recorded over it- it's gone forever.


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William Volcjak View Post
    C2V,

    Could you enlighten me just a little more on the "instability / tape heads" issue? Are you saying that the tape composition is fragile and that playing / rewinding etc. can damage the heads? Thank you responding.
    Looks like NoNoob pretty much covered it. The instability I mentioned has to do with the tape itself. MiniDV is the least robust not because of build quality of the tape but because of the narrow pitch. MiniDV is lubricated to keep it from snagging, since it is such a small width of tape. Because most manufacturers use a dry lube and Sony decided to go with a wet lube, there is some concern for brand mixing (though, again, it's really Sony vs. everyone else).

    Re-recording onto a tape won't damage your heads. But again, as I previously stated and NoNoob reinforced, there's little reason not to shoot fresh each time.

    Quote Originally Posted by NoNoob View Post
    TAPE IS THE CHEAPEST PART OF THE CAMERA- next to the operator.
    Might as well build a HUGE library of footage- 'cause you'll never know when you'll need a particular shot again.
    Once you've recorded over it- it's gone forever.
    Amen to that. And the cool thing is, if you are a skilled shooter, you can end up pulling some of the more generic, yet still useful and visually stunning, shots from any project and creating stock footage reels.
    Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.

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    Very interesting. One other question if you don't mind... How long can an unused mini DV cassette sit before it becomes a liability?


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    Moderator Alex H.'s Avatar
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    Theoretically, years.

    That's assuming that the tape is properly stored. If it's left in a vehicle where it bakes in the summer and freezes in winter, don't count on it lasting.
    Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.

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    Over time the bonding of the oxide material to the base will break down.
    If it's stored in a moisture controlled environment at stable temps, you can expect a long life out of it.

    The condition called 'shedding' is when the oxide falls off the tape- and anything that was once magnetically attached to it falls away too.
    It wouldn't be so bad if that's all it did.
    Shedding tends to bungle up the works and muck up the heads.

    I've got tapes that are, easily thirty+ years old (and on such odd formats as 1/2" helical scan monochrome!)
    Can still get pictures and sound off them!
    But- they've been carefully stored most of that time.

    In the late 1980's I salvaged a 3/4" cassette tape which was stored on the back shelf of an aircraft (however inadvertently that happened).
    Actually surgically removed the tape spools from the warped cassette and transplanted them into a new one.
    Worked fine.

    Tape, in and of itself, is pretty durable material.
    You NEVER want to touch it with your fingers though! Very bad move!

    I recently restored to viable use an archive of 1/4" audio tapes recorded on an Italian steno machine. They'd been discovered in a file cabinet which hadn't opened for over forty years!
    Some shedding, and also very poor quality material to begin with- but they made their final pass before giving up life, being digitized for a CD/DVD.
    The interesting part (for me) was the steno machine must have been recording at less than an inch a minute!
    Lucky my Pioneer R2R handled it easily. But I had to compensate pitch control in the digital realm.

    Just avoid extreme conditions- heat, cold, moisture.
    Store in a safe place.
    [Hard target site in the Mojave Desert might be too safe.]


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    #9
    Chapelgrove Films
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    Anybody got a good source for the cheapest (decent quality) MiniDV tapes?
    David W. Richardson
    Writer/Producer/Director/Editor
    Chapel Grove Films
    Celtic Cross Films
    Bliss Video Productions
    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1400903/?ref_=tt_ov_dr


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    #10
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    I use Fuji tapes and, occasionally, Maxell if I need tape in a hurry and don't have time to wait for them to be delivered by mail. These brands both use dry lube and seem to work well together without the necessity of cleaning the heads between brand switches.

    Tapes online is a good place to get deals on tapes.

    http://www.tapeonline.com/


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