The End Of Tape Media


In the beginning of film production, all films were made by shooting on to expensive 35 mm film. This made the cost of film making very high. Eventually the digital tape appeared and this massively reduced the cost of shooting a film, because the tapes were cheaper than film and because once the footage had been transferred to the editing system, you could use them over and over again. Tape therefore dominated video making, except for expensive upper end productions like high end feature films, commercials and music videos.


But then came the digital memory card and suddenly we found that tape had its day. The digital memory card has many advantages over tape that made it inevitable that tape would die. These advantages are:


A, Capturing footage from tape is a very problematic and time consuming process. Essentially if you have an hour of footage, it takes an hour to capture. The problem with tape is that it does not split between separate clips. In order to split up into separate clips or takes, you have to keep stopping and starting the capture process, which means that you have to be there essentially the entire time. This is not just time consuming but is very frustrating work.

With the digital memory card, you can just select all of the clips that you want and then import. All of the clips will be imported into your system  as separate clips and you can just leave the computer to do its job.


B, Due to the movement of the magnetic strand inside the tape, sometimes tape would suffer drop out. Drop out is when a frame is damaged thus creating a slight skip in the footage, because a frame is essentially missing.

This also causes a massive problem when capturing, because editing systems detect the dropped frame and general stop capturing, which often means you have to fast forward past the troubled section, resulting in the loss of quite a few seconds of footage or even an entire take.

Because digital memory cards and drives do not have moving parts, this is not an issue. They do not suffer from drop out and are much more reliable.


C, Where as tapes can be re used continuously, they do suffer a lapse in quality with every time you use them. This lapse can also cause more drop out and bring with it all the problems that go along with it.


D, Tapes only last just over an hour. So if you are recording a conference with one camera, then you will have to change tapes and will therefore have a break in the video as you switch to the new tape. With digital you can just keep recording, until the storage space runs out.


Looking at the points above, it really is no surprise that tape has been replaced by digital solid state storage, but it is worth remembering that tape was a very important stepping stone in reducing the cost of film making, and therefore making it more accessible to the masses.




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