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Reusing tapes?

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Steven Broido
Reusing tapes?
on Nov 2, 2008 at 1:15:12 pm

Hi All,

Wanted to get some opinions on reusing tapes.

I do a lot of daily shooting and often shoot over old tapes, in part to save money, in part because I'd end up with a gazillion tapes that I'd need to label and archive.

Furthermore, most of the daily taping I do isn't mission critical (We can re-tape segments if a tape failed (Haven't had a tape failure yet.)

When shooting something super important, I'll always use new tapes and archive them.

I'm not getting any drop-outs during capture over firewire and I shoot HDV with this tape exclusively:


I also use this head cleaner:

Canon DVM-CL DV Head Cleaning Cassette

to clean the heads whenever I get the head cleaning message on the camera and also once and a while on top of that for good measure.

My question: Is this practice ok or should I always shoot with new tapes? I figure since I am capturing digital content, as long as I'm getting all my ones and zeros, I'm not losing any quality.

I'm using an XL H1 for capture and an XH G1 for playback over firewire.

I realize that we'd be better off with a dedicated VTR for playback... Something like this perhaps?

Sony HVR-M15AU Desktop HDV VTR

but I need more than one camera anyway for multi-cam shooting and don't want to spend more cash on a playback device if I have extra cameras hanging around.

Thanks much for any feedback in advance!


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Todd Terry
Re: Reusing tapes?
on Nov 2, 2008 at 2:35:10 pm

Ok, I will admit that I have reused tape a few times in my career... but only when I absolutely positively had to.

Tape is dirt cheap. For those of us who shoot (or used to shoot) film, the cost of tape stock seems positively laughable. And for the rest, it is fairly negligible, too. It's definitely going to be the cheapest element of most any production. It just makes sense to always shoot raw virgin stock, the price is miniscule compared to the cost of a re-shoot. Even if you are shooting something quickie down-n-dirty and can immediately check the tape and reshoot right then if necessary... your own time that you waste doing it again is worth more than the tape.

Reusing tape is penny wise but pound foolish.

Personally, I think if part of the reasoning for re-use is that you don't want to have to label and archive loads of tapes... then don't. If you're never going to need that footage again, just throw them away (but then again, do you absolutely know you'll never need it again?).

And don't use that head cleaner any more than you have to.

And yes, it's almost always preferable to use a deck rather than using a camera for playback... but sometimes that is unavoidable. We shoot with the Canon XLH1, and for a couple of years after that camera's introduction we had to use the camera (or sometimes a little HV20) as a playback deck. Until Sony released the M35 there simply was no deck that would read Canon's fairly proprietay HDV 24f footage.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Eoin Ryan
Re: using tapes?
on Nov 28, 2008 at 6:21:42 pm

I would only reuse if I absolutely had to. Yes drop outs will be more frequent if you reuse tapes, but I'd be more worried about the heads of your camera. Camera heads like fresh tapes. You will save money on servicing and/or replacing heads in the long eu . Tapes are also cheap to buy in bulk.

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wayne dupuis
Re: using tapes?
on Dec 14, 2008 at 9:49:17 pm

Sure go ahead; but ask yourself this first. How much will it cost me to come back here and re-shoot this scene at my expense and the expense of time versus a 4 dollar tape. Then go ahead and shoot with that used tape, and hope that you don't get any unexpected pops or stutters.
Oh and while your at it did you label the tape last time you shot on it as being HD30P, 24P, SD 60i...
Dont' do it.

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