It struck me today that For Memories' Sake will probably be the last movie I'm involved with that uses videotape. Ashley began shooting the documentary with the venerable DVX-100 in 2006 and, for consistency's sake, we stuck with that camera through production. All the new projects that I have on the horizon will be shot with a tapeless cinema camera, whether it's made by Panasonic, Sony, or Red. So tape is dead to me. Or is it?
One of the issues, of course, about shooting tapeless formats is what you do with the data. While editing with tapeless footage, of course, I keep lots of backups on drives in different locations. But after the project is completed, using hard drives to archive the footage is not a reliable solution. Of course, I'll confess that this is what I've done in the past. But as my hard drives age, and as I amass more footage that I'll want to hang onto, I know I need to find another solution. Most pros will tell you that solution is (wait for it).... tape. Specifically, LTO or "Linear Tape Open."
Luckily, for us Mac users out there, Helmut Kobler recently did us all a service by summarizing how to get started with LTO4 tape archiving on a Mac. Kobler estimates the low-end price tag for a Mac-compatible LTO system as $3300.
That figure may seem like a lot to independent filmmakers. (I wonder how many fewer Panasonic HVX200s or Sony EX-1s would have been sold if this cost was factored into the purchase price?)
In the end, whether to spend this kind of money amounts to questions about risk and value: How much do you value your data? And how much risk are you willing to take that your data might be lost forever?
For me, that $3300 is starting to look like a decent value. Long live tape!