Safety First!

Archiving Your Tapeless Media!


There is no doubt that we have entered into the second generation of Digital Cinema. Not only have cameras gotten cheaper, smaller and better in quality, they have left behind the very thing that gave video its start – TAPE!

From consumer handycams to EX3’s to RED to Alexas, most of our cameras are shooting to some sort of solid-state digital media.

So now what?

With all this technology and ease, comes a little bit of fragility. It is almost certain that in the last few years – as this card or drive-based technology has become more readily available – you have lost footage. Either through an accidental erasing of a drive or the failure of an external hard drive, you have lost something. And at that moment you said,” I wish I had a TAPE!!”

But then you re-shoot, come to your senses and realize that tapeless shooting is just too easy and smooth to turn your back on. It’s just so simple to shoot to a card, ingest it and edit. Think back to tape ingests- long hours of mindless logging, eaten tapes, expensive decks and endless tape formats. Now, it’s all right there and ready to go.

All this is great, but, indeed, the question still arises, WHERE IS MY HARD COPY? Without the safety of a tape on your shelf, what do you have? A fragile hard drive perhaps or an Xsan or RAID, if your lucky. The question always pops up: What is the best workflow and archiving method?

I always suggest a full and complete workflow, which we adhere to at Studio B.
This tried and true archiving method goes something like this: No matter if it’s a small EX1 shoot, a P2 Varicam shoot or a RED shoot, we always archive the drive directly. We always, copy over the “raw” drive first. We then use that new “folderized”, RAW drive as our master and release the P2 Card or Red Drive back into use on production.

From that “folder master” we then create the QuickTime files in Final Cut. However, in doing this, we set the Capture Scratch to a separate drive. Thus, we have an archived master and a work print on the QuickTime side. Our footage exists in two places- SAFE!

This way, if your QuickTimes ever did become corrupt or lost, you would have your master drive on hand and can recreate them. This is a pretty safe system, and to be exceptionally safe, we often back up production drives to a separate RAID, in effect creating a back up of the back up.

Once the edit is all said and done, we have adopted an LTO (Linear Tape Open) system for final archiving. This is a linear system that simply spools all your data onto 400, 800 and now 1200 gig tapes. It’s just a stream of ones and zeros of your entire project, that if the need ever arose in the future, could be brought back online and everything will be there. The LTO will contain your archive, your source material, and your project files- EVERYTHING. And they last up to 75 years without degrading.

Some people out there have taken on Blu-Ray Data DVDs as their preferred method of archiving. We found that Blu-Ray was slightly more expensive and still a bit too fragile in the end. Blu-Ray is potentially faster than recovering from LTO, but in the end we decided to err on the side of caution and cost-effectiveness with LTO.

We are now offering this service for projects being produced in the Bay. If you have a large project, that has been shot, edited and mastered 100% digitally, we can create an LTO tape for you so you can breathe easy. Give us a call and we’ll help get organized on drives and prepare for LTO archiving.

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