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The language of letting go

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John Davidson
The language of letting go
on Dec 28, 2015 at 11:24:53 pm

Today we're donating our HDCam deck to the local non-profit station because our clients don't use tape anymore and the deck now has a resale value of jack squat. For 18 months it's #1 job has been to collect dust and increase our unsecured property tax bill.

The Pros were so upset when FCPX didn't support tape.

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Mitch Ives
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 2:44:51 am

[John Davidson] "The Pros were so upset when FCPX didn't support tape."

Had similar thoughts when I had to edit something shot entirely on tape. Yes, there are work-a-rounds with 3rd party equipment, but they aren't very elegant. Yes, I know that tape is no longer the current medium, but there are millions of hours of footage on tape that will be around for the rest of our lifetimes.

Not a deal killer, just another compromise. There's "new"... there's "improved"... and they don't always mean the same thing...

Mitch Ives
Insight Productions Corp.

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill


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Shane Ross
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 4:22:29 am

I've only had one network delivery that was completely tapeless, the one I just did. Every network I delivered to still requires tape. If not HDCAM, or HDCAM SR...then LTO...but that's completely different.

My other issue is that I still work on many many shows where the sources are tapes. Then again, I mainly do doc work.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Oliver Peters
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 1:17:47 pm

Welcome to the club. The continued existence of tape is largely an LA TV network vestige. Even there some want files first and tape later for archive. Part of the reason was the flooding of the Sony plant a few years ago. Part of it is that cameras are nearly all file-based these days.

In most of the rest of the US and maybe the world, it's a file-based business. I'm in Orlando and there are only a handful of places that even have working tape decks, including the broadcasters. All of the broadcast spots (local, regional, national) get sent around as files. Corporate - only files. Even the handful of indie films I've worked on have ended up as files with an occasional tape requirement in the deliverables at some point down the line.

Even if we had decks, I'm not sure anyone is left who can change heads and maintain them. The last tape guru in the area took other employment.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Mark Smith
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 2:41:29 pm

I'm an informal collector of working tape decks because of a Doc project that involves legacy tape formats from 3/4" on up. That said nothing I have done has been delivered on tape since 2009. LTO doesnt really count in my view as tape delivery.
Functioning Tape decks are a growing concern in the sense that there are fewer places that can service decks and then there is the availability of parts. My concern is that there is going to be a big hole our collective archive of video material when it comes programming that was recorded on tape now that tape machines are dying out or being used up without a possibility of repair.


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Mark Suszko
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 3:51:15 pm

Well, this may be a situation where someone with more time than sense can eventually print up some of the replacement parts for these decks to order. Gears are easy. Belts can always be sourced, but probably also printable, eventually, if not today. Motors can be replaced. Worn out guides and rollers can be machined from scratch via CNC machines, the reverse version of printing. Circuit boards, individual soldered components, tough, but not impossible. Recording and playback heads, that's probably the hardest thing.

There would need to be a database of these most common wearing-out parts somewhere, where someone has taken a unit apart and digitized the key assemblies ahead of time. I can't think of any person or organization that is or would take that on, unless they were like some of those monastery monks transcriptionists from before the Renaissance. Ideally, the makes of these decks would make their CAD files open-source after retiring the product. Some appliance companies do that today, enabling you to print replacement parts on-demand to keep a unit going is way cheaper for everyone than pre-building and then warehousing spares for decades.


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Brett Sherman
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 8:18:02 pm

[Mark Smith] "My concern is that there is going to be a big hole our collective archive of video material when it comes programming that was recorded on tape now that tape machines are dying out or being used up without a possibility of repair."

I'm archiving our organizations tape-based material. I've been through about 5 Betacam decks. When one breaks I just buy another one on eBay. But let's be honest if you're not capturing it to digital right now or soon, you are playing with fire. Tapes do fail after a few decades. I think there will always be some old working decks. Quite frankly the problem now is that there is an over abundance of old decks, the price they get is so low as to make it not worth people's time to sell them. I'm sure a lot are thrown in the landfill.

At some point it may reach a tipping point, where there is such scarcity it drives the prices up.


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John Davidson
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 29, 2015 at 11:24:59 pm

While it sucks that we can't get anything for our deck, I'm happy that medium is dying. Tape was and is a huge pain in the butt. Anytime we had to lay back to tape we died a little bit inside.

I wonder what the people who came up with those horrible deck menu systems are doing now? My guess is they're writing tax code. Or maybe they work for the auto industry designing car UI?

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Oliver Peters
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 12:06:25 am

[John Davidson] "Anytime we had to lay back to tape we died a little bit inside."

Why? Didn't your editors understand how to work with VTRs? I'm not being snarky, as I know laying off to tape from FCP1-7 was generally inaccurate. But in LA there are plenty of folks to whom VTRs are second nature.

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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John Davidson
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 12:48:03 am

Because it was annoying. FCP7 would sometimes just throw you off a frame or two on the layback, and when you're rushing for a 4:30pm Fedex shipment, that can be a bad thing. Then you had to make tape labels, a backup copy to ship, lay back a submaster tape every few weeks, etc.

We just delivered two spots 5 minutes ago and the entire export and delivery took 13 minutes and went directly to Master Control. That's about as easy as it gets.

[Oliver Peters] " in LA there are plenty of folks to whom VTRs are second nature."

It's very easy to overestimate the capabilities of people in LA. I've seen editors at all levels blow a gasket trying to lay back to digibeta - even inside network facilities. Even at the biggest and most expensive post houses sometimes things would just go nuts in the tape room. Logs would be wrong, a label would get the wrong ISCI, the mixer would drop the wrong tag on a version, an end page wouldn't match a network graphic style correctly, a slate would be wrong, layback was drop code instead of non-drop, LTC would screw up when VITC would be fine, etc. When you're 28 minutes into a layback and realize you have to redo the whole thing while you're burning expensive session time - all the VTR technicians in the world won't save you.

Another reason I hate tape comes from working overnights at CNN in the 90's. Every night I would have to push a cart up to the 7th floor to Tape Evaluation and bring down about 500 tapes and boxes that had been degaussed. Then I would strip the labels off the tapes and boxes one at a time for hours. Not fun - and terrible on your fingers.

So yeah, death to tape!

John Davidson | President / Creative Director | Magic Feather Inc.


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Oliver Peters
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 1:04:42 am

[John Davidson] "FCP7 would sometimes just throw you off a frame or two on the layback, and when you're rushing for a 4:30pm Fedex shipment, that can be a bad thing"

Media Composer, Symphony ;-)

[John Davidson] "Even at the biggest and most expensive post houses sometimes things would just go nuts in the tape room. Logs would be wrong, a label would get the wrong ISCI, the mixer would drop the wrong tag on a version, an end page...."

Attention to detail, rules and best practices procedures. OTOH, how about making an insert edit into the end of a film to update the credit roll. The ugly side of files.

[John Davidson] "Every night I would have to push a cart up to the 7th floor to Tape Evaluation and bring down about 500 tapes and boxes that had been degaussed. "

Yes, it's a pain, but you'll get no sympathy from me, as I've run several large scale tape operations. I would call it character building for entry level folks in the business. An opportunity that seems to be gone these days. ;-)

- Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Tony West
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 4:36:49 pm

[John Davidson] "Because it was annoying."

Come on John, what about how long it takes to transfer in real time? You don't miss that?

Or interrupting in the middle of the interview to change TAPE?


[John Davidson] "death to tape!"

+1

The really sad part is that there is all this footage that is just gong to go to waste because most stations will never spend the money to pay somebody to digitize all their footage.

It will end up in a trash bin at some point. $


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Brett Sherman
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 2:46:21 am

[John Davidson] "I wonder what the people who came up with those horrible deck menu systems are doing now?"

Designing menus for Sony cameras no doubt.


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Shane Ross
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 5:46:42 pm

Now all we need is the ability to INSERT EDIT into a Quicktime file. So when there's a shot change, or if we see a small mistake in one part of the file, we don't need to reoutput the whole dang thing again. So insert edit video and audio. ALSO...there needs to be an alternate to Quicktime 7 Pro. One that allows you to delete audio tracks, add audio tracks, turn off and re-assign audio tracks. Professional level digital file manipulation of an already exported file. Without that, and the ability to insert edit...going tapeless will never be as elegant as outputting to tape.

"Oops! I made a mistake on the slate! I put STEREO RIGHT on both tracks 7 and 8. Ah well, time to re-export that WHOLE FILE again, which takes over an hour."

"But we'll miss FedEx!"

"Sorry..."

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Oliver Peters
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 5:53:04 pm

[Shane Ross] "Now all we need is the ability to INSERT EDIT into a Quicktime file"

Cinedeck sort of offers that ability, though with some caveats.

[Shane Ross] "ALSO...there needs to be an alternate to Quicktime 7 Pro. One that allows you to delete audio tracks, add audio tracks, turn off and re-assign audio tracks"

Look at the full version of Telestream Switch. It offers some of those functions and is trying to be that replacement tool.

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Shane Ross
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:16:50 pm

[Oliver Peters] "Look at the full version of Telestream Switch. It offers some of those functions and is trying to be that replacement tool."

At $300, that's a tough pill to swallow. When QT7 was free when you bought Final Cut Studio...and only $50 if you didn't. QT7 still works, so until it doesn't, I don't see that as a big seller in the Mac market. But I know that it's a tough thing...QT7 had a WIDE user base, and Apple makes all the money on iPhones and iPads. And Telestream doesn't have a wide client base, and this is the main source of income...thus why they charge what they have to charge. And until it catches on and the masses buy it, I can't see the price going down.


[Oliver Peters] "Cinedeck sort of offers that ability, though with some caveats."

Such as needing to buy a deck, right? Wasn't part of this debate the joy of no longer needing that expensive piece of hardware? How about a software that allows a software insert edit? That's what we need.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Oliver Peters
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:20:28 pm

[Shane Ross] "At $300, that's a tough pill to swallow. When QT7 was free when you bought Final Cut Studio...and only $50 if you didn't. QT7 still works, so until it doesn't, I don't see that as a big seller in the Mac market."

C'mon! It's hardly fair to compare real world development costs with what Apple charges for software, when their's requires that big dongle. ;-)

Oliver

Oliver Peters Post Production Services, LLC
Orlando, FL
http://www.oliverpeters.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:22:47 pm



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Shane Ross
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:24:55 pm

[Oliver Peters] "C'mon! It's hardly fair to compare real world development costs with what Apple charges for software, when their's requires that big dongle. ;-)"

I KNOW! I KNOW! Just being Devil's Advocate. I know the real cost of pro stuff, and I pay for it, even though personally I'm a small operation. So I know I'll eventually shell out for it. But there are all those thousands of mid-level or lower level (not meaning to disparage at all!) people for whom that is a chunk of change.

Shane
Little Frog Post
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Neil Sadwelkar
Inserts and deletes in a QT file
on Jan 2, 2016 at 12:34:39 pm

While tape had the ability of being able to insert or replace a shot or title, it could not delete without one having to lay back everything after that deletion.

When I make masters as QT files, I bring back the master QT into FCP 7 and place the master file and leaders in an FCP 7 timeline. Anything that's not real time video, I render out and bring back in and place on the timeline. So the FCP 7 timeline is a string of 'elements', all visible at the finder level.
I ensure that the master QT and all these 'elements' live in one folder.

Then I simply export non self-contained (reference movie) files which can be used to encode other variants for upload. I can then many versions without the penalty of time for reexport. Any deletion in the timeline can be re-exported as another ref movie. Ref movies export very fast since only references to the original movie 'elements' are saved. So, one can have a stereo version and 5.1 version exported separately really fast. Or different versions with different leaders.

Once its all final, then I open the last good ref movie file in QT7 Pro and do a 'save as' a self-contained file.

Converting ref movies to self-contained movies used to take a long time with internal drives in a Mac Pro, with 8-bay Thunderbolt RAIDs these happen really fast since its a function of drive speed not so much processor speed.

Avid MC, PrPro, and FCP X don't have quite the ref movie workflow that FCP 7 had.

-----------------------------------
Neil Sadwelkar
neilsadwelkar.blogspot.com
twitter: fcpguru
FCP Editor, Edit systems consultant
Mumbai India


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Bret Williams
Re: The language of letting go
on Jan 8, 2016 at 1:34:32 pm

Why would you FedEx a file?


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Herb Sevush
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 7:09:26 pm

In my position as forum "alta cocker" I will simply say that finishing to tape is paradise compared with finishing to 16mm film. If you've ever experienced the joy of seeing your first check print from an inter-negative come back laced with scratches only to find that your original has been mishandled by some drunken neg cutter and the film that you thought was totally finished 2 weeks ago has to be recut - then the minor inconveniences of outputting to tape seem a positive joy.

There is also the fact that when my assistant lets me know there is a drop out on a frame at 1:11:17:23, I can punch in the fix in a lot less time than it takes to export and qc a half hour show.

I'm not saying I don't prefer tape delivery, I'm just saying ...

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Andy Field
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 30, 2015 at 11:42:39 pm

Have freelance network photograher friends with once "state of the art" 60 thousand dollar betacams they can no longer give away as ship's anchors. The beat goes on.....

Andy Field
FieldVision Productions
N. Bethesda, Maryland 20852


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Michael Gissing
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 31, 2015 at 1:13:15 am

Recent big international doco series I had to deliver HDCam to Irish, Welsh broadcasters and the international distributor. And a digi beta to ABC Australia.

Tedious but less trouble than getting a DCP to work in cinemas. That was a whole lot harder.

So yes dropping tape support did count against FCPX for me. I look forward to the day when I don't need HDCam but not before I convert to file my friends library of underwater HDCam footage from the last decade.


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Tony West
Re: The language of letting go
on Dec 31, 2015 at 1:54:21 pm

[Michael Gissing] "Tedious but less trouble than getting a DCP to work in cinemas."

Have you had trouble with DCP?

So far I have been really impressed with how my film looks on the big scree as far color, sharpness and sound. I have not experienced any problems from either DCP file I have as for as load. (knock on wood)

If I had to deliver to HDCam I would outsource that. It would be so rare that I would do it, it wouldn't be worth it for me to maintain the deck.


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Michael Gissing
Re: The language of letting go
on Jan 7, 2016 at 3:56:58 am

[Michael Gissing] "Tedious but less trouble than getting a DCP to work in cinemas."
[Tony West] "Have you had trouble with DCP?"

Yes heaps of incompatibility with cinemas. Although the spec allows for frame rates like 25 or 29.97 or even 48fps using SMPTE profile settings not the old Interop 24fps, many theatres I have sent the disks to can't play the 25fps version. The other great issue is the drive format that you send. The specs say ext3 drive format but most cinema ingest systems are Windows so NTFS drives must be sent. ExFAT is unreliable as well. So in short many cinemas are not actually compliant with the up to date specs on DCPs and also have very poor tech support so are often totally unable to offer any clues when they can't get a DCP to work.

Frankly if they just had a computer with VLC hooked up to their projectors it would work a lot easier.


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Darren Roark
Re: The language of letting go
on Jan 7, 2016 at 9:17:09 pm

DCP is nearly 20 year old tech now, the main reason it hangs on is the encryption key system which most indies don't need or want for festival screenings.

They are better off playing a ProRes file as a DCP is just a glorified JPEG sequence.


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Tony West
Re: The language of letting go
on Jan 7, 2016 at 11:26:49 pm

My file is 24p EXT3

So far so good, but I have only shown in 4 theaters at this point.

I was told by the people that made mine to go with 24p only.


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Darren Roark
Re: The language of letting go
on Jan 7, 2016 at 9:27:43 pm

What's interesting is it was the great tape drought of 2011 from the Japan tsunami and iTunes making international standards have had more to do with the decline of tape than just progress.

The tape cost that year quadrupled during the shortage* so file based delivery suddenly became acceptable for a few major networks.

Funny how that works.

* I was able to sell used 126min HDCAMSR tapes for twice what I paid for them new during that time, and people were grateful.


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