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Re: NO p2 for me! Forget it!

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Peter DeCrescenzo
Re: NO p2 for me! Forget it!
on Apr 4, 2005 at 5:43:47 pm

Jan: First, an aside: We're privelged to have you here; it's great that you (on a personal level) and Panasonic (on a professional & business level) consider we COW folk worthy of your time & attention. Seriously. My hope is that more manufacturers (especially S*ny) would do the same! I mean, wouldn't it be great if Jan's S*ny counterpart joined in this discussion, and in others here on the COW? I know we could keep the dialog civil, and maybe even I'd learn a thing or two.

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled program, "The Thread That Ate The New Jesrey Turnpike", Chapter Two: The Doubters Have At It Again!, where our heroine (fashionably attired, gazing at her computer screen with a look of composure, but also with some disapproval) was saying:

[Jan Crittenden] "I find this odd. It might be that you are just unfamiliar with the practice of managing data. If a computer can check sum and verify data, like it does at the World Bank and NY Stock Exchange, where data going bad would mean millions and millions of dollars going astray, why can't you trust a computer to make a copy. You can even have it check sum and verify your data. ..."

I hear you, but of course in most cases there won't be World Bank class data management -- or anything close to it -- on your typical low-to-medium budget video production set (which is where I currently live, so to speak). Serge and others can comment on the typical carry-on of a medium-to-high-end budget video production set, but I suspect even the "big boys" in video don't have on-set data management staffs, equipment, policies and procedures anything like the World Bank, let alone the Bank of NY, or even how Bank of America handles (in the fullest sense of the word) the ATM at my local bank's branch office.

As I said before, I don't trust a computer any farther than I can throw it. Well, maybe a few feet further, but that's my limit.

Sure, backup systems usually work wonderfully well most of the time. Let's say they work correctly 99.99% of the time ... actually, Panasonic might even publish a "9s" statistic for their new P2 hardware; if so, it would be interesting to see.

OK, so if the initial P2-based dataflow (transferring from a P2 card to another medium) is error-free 99.99% of the time, multiply that against about half of Panasonic's projected use of P2 over the course of the next year or so, just to come up with a ballpark number.

Multiply that further by the sheer volume of footage likely to be shot worldwide using P2. I have no doubt P2 will wildly succeed in the marketplace, and as a result Jan will be able to retire early!

1 hour @ 24 fps = 86,400 frames per hour. Times how many hours per shoot? Times how many productions per day wordwide? The result is a very, very large number of frames. It might not be a "World Bank" kinda number, but it's w-a-y big. And how many dollars worth of reasonably-priced P2 hardware -- and how much worth of pro data management staff time -- will be handling all that P2 data backup? Relatively speaking, not much, certainly not anything close to "World Bank" scope.

The result is potentially (yes: only potentially) a somewhat random scattering of a not insignificant number of irretrievably lost original recorded frames, all over the world. And that's just what's _automatically_ lost in the process of the _required_ step of backing-up the P2 cards. Further, after they're backed up, virtually _all_ of the P2 cards will be completely erased, at least for quite some time, until the happy day when P2 cards are way "cheap".

Whereas, if the original recording was done on videotape, all of the original frames -- good frames as well as dropouts, creases, warped cassettes, and so forth -- would be happily sitting on a shelf, waiting for an archivist to retrieve them. In practice, dropouts, etc. are fairly infrequent, so maybe videotape is 99.99% reliable? I don't know. BUT MOST PRODUCTION WORKFLOWS DON'T REQUIRE ERASING THE ORIGINAL FOOTAGE. (Sorry for shouting, but that's the main point.)

Sure, TV news organizations may erase videotapes willy-nilly, but most other video production workflows don't. And although I'm sure Panasonic will continue to succeed selling P2 into TV news, the new, additional market push is elsewhere -- everywhere else -- where almost no one routinely erases original work on videotape and film.

I think there's an order of magnitude difference between those two senarios, TV new vs. everything else.

[Jan Crittenden] "... When I back up my computer to the internal server, and frankly there are some papers I have written that have taken me weeks to write and it would be really bad to lose them, I don't check to see if every word was accurately copied. I check the data count and if it is the same I move on. ..."

Perhaps if we wrote 86,400 words per hour we might give it more thought. And care.

I'm not implying the Panasonic hasn't given P2 enough thought or care, but rather perhaps it's implications haven't been well thought out by most non-TV news shooters.

P2-style media (including other frequently-erased media, such as hard drive-based acquisition) is long overdue. Managing the transition to it and reliably managing its dataflow will require a "World Bank"-level of effort if we're to avoid losing irretrievable chunks of history and culture.

In any event, I've got my sunglasses and rubber boots ready, so bring on our P2 future! I'm looking forward to it. Really.

Thanks for being here, Jan!

All the best,

- Peter


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