I've been looking at getting an EX3 for a while but debating the best workflow route and archive setup for an age. blu-ray, dvd, raid drives they all seem to have their own failings. I think i've decided to get an LTO4 deck for all my archiving. Very interested in hearing your opinions on this.
From my reading, that seems to be an ideal route for archiving as far as material longevity. In our case, we keep our footage online using a RAID but also have a physical backup in one of our fire safes. I opted to go with a PDW-U1 XDCAM Disc drive. Sony recently released firmware and software updates to allow us to store data files to these cartridges. I felt that the medium has proved itself robust enough to satisfy our archiving needs.
The consensus seems to be that portable/removable hard drives are a risky solution for archiving; the drive may or may not spin up when you take it out of the archive. Keeping it on a RAID doesn't protect you from theft, fire, or catastrophic failure. Burning to DVD or Blu-Ray media raises questions of longevity.
Sure, XDCAM Disc is a burned medium, but it has two things going for it: it's been field tested for durability, and Sony claims good longevity as a storage medium. According to this PDF, they claim an estimated shelf and archival life of 50 years based on "accelerated testing." That's as good and flexible a guarantee as one's going to find these days.
I'm like you: I figured workflow and archiving a major factor in choosing a tapeless system, and this seemed by far the best option. I'm still getting the XDCAM Disc component going right now, since the capability has only recently been unlocked...but I've been impressed with XDCAM in pretty much every way.
Do either of you guys have figures to illustrate the difference cost wise of these two archiving methods? I was quoted about £1,700 for an LTO Single Unit Tape Drive which rather put me off! However the XDCAM disc drive must approach that price I would have thought. The cost of discs compared to the LTO tape can't be significant.