Dead Ready Productions

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Tapes vs Tapeless

15th April, 2011

Mini DV vs Compactflash card

When Dead Ready Productions got off the ground a year and a half ago, we needed to invest in shed-loads of new kit  – not least of which was our new cameras. This presented a wee dilemma for us as we recognized that the world was moving past the use of tapes but all of our experience had been based on Sony V1/Z1’s with only occasional use of anything that recorded to a card.

We felt we hadn’t been able to test tapeless cameras enough and it was a hell of a financial risk to chuck all our money at something we hadn’t used before. Still, our attention had been caught by the Sony EX range so we decided to grab a demo and were really impressed by the image quality and the ease of recording to the cards. It didn’t take us long to get over our fear of the unknown and buy an EX3 and only a few months later, an EX1-R too, but we’ve noticed that moving to tapeless hasn’t really effected our shooting style but has had a much greater effect on our workflow back at the studio.

Firstly, the SxS card required to used the EX range are pretty pricey – you certainly couldn’t expect to use a £500 32 gig card once and archive it as you would a dv tape so what do you do about backing up?

You buy harddrives. Lots and lots of them.

You also make sure they’re RAID drives to ensure that you’re backed up further. This at first felt quite pricey but when you think of the fact that dv tapes are about 2 quid each and can store an hour of footage and a 100 pound terabyte drive can store over thirty hours, the difference starts to feel a little less significant. Either way, you must have a backup – something that we’ve been very careful about – the last thing anyone needs is to lose a project’s worth of rushes on a duff harddrive…

We do our best to make sure there are two copies of everything from the first available opportunity – usually meaning we’ll have a laptop with us on most shoots to get the cards clear as soon as possible and we tend not to wipe the them very quickly if there’s no imminent need to reuse them (mainly because I’ve been known to throw laptops out of cars before on the way back from shoots)

Beyond backing up, we really find the logging and transfer process an absolute breeze and tend to groan when we take up jobs requiring a digitizing process. All of our original skepticism was washed away after very few uses and there’s no denying the wonderful image quality. As a result, our workflow has become smother and our archiving processes takes up far less space, the cards never fail and they deliver an awesome product so I really can’t see any reason to go back.

Chris Tongue

Creative Director

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