One argument I hear against tapeless formats OVER AND OVER again is, to paraphrase, “tapes are infallible.  You can’t accidentally delete a clip from a tape.  Having a PHYSICAL tape in your hand makes you sure you have the footage and it is there, and usable, and I can see it YEARS from now.”

Or something to that effect.

Some people think that if the footage is on a tape it is in good condition.  After all, this is TAPE we are talking about, right?  Well…

You can’t accidentally delete a clip from a tape?  SURE you can.  You can accidentally record OVER a part of the tape if you rewind it to review and not play it all the way, or forget to push in the RECORD INHIBIT tab, or forget to do that AND label the tape, so you think it is a blank tape.  There are many steps you use to make sure that you don’t record over that tape.  Because at one you did, or heard of someone who did, or know that it CAN happen, so work to avoid it.

“Having a tape in hand assures you that you have the footage and that it is good and useable…” HA!  To that I LAUGH.  I LOL out loud!  Show of hands…how many people worked with UMATIC 3/4″? BetaSP? You were BOUND to have hits or dropouts of some sort.  And not just small pixels, but HUGE 1/5th screen gashes for 1-5 frames.

And now…the whole reason behind this blog post… HDV.  I have this one tape that when playing footage near the end of the tape…staggers.  It freezes, then picks up 2-4 seconds later.  Audio might continue, might not.  ON the deck screen the image freezes, but in FCP I have a big black hole.  And we tried playing this on two decks and the camera in which it was shot…same issue.

And what makes it WORSE…this is the most important interview for the show.  This is the son of a major serial killer (featured in more than one feature film) who talks about his dad’s confession to him…has TAPE of the confession.  This is THE interview of the show…and the tape it was shot on doesn’t play back properly.

So the next person who tells me that tapeless blows because with tape you are secure in knowing that you have your footage… will have me me laughing in their face.  A painful laugh.