DV Tape Goes the Way of the Dinosaur—or Does It?

By Carole Burns

Analog cassette tape photoOur center houses digital media for the students to sign out for project work. The end of the academic year is looming and with it comes the opportunity to upgrade our equipment. This year, it seems that more and more digital video equipment was used for the projects. The students have done a great job of taking care of the equipment and making sure it works for the next student, but I would still like to move into the digital age.

One thing that was made clear to me at the Final Cut Pro training I recently attended is that I really need to move away from using DV Tape. Although it does have some redeeming qualities (like the chance to have a good clean backup source you can easily grab off a shelf) it hinders the ingesting process. And it takes forever.

I also have the problem of students re-using tapes. Generally college students need to save money so re-using media is a good idea. Unfortunately, tapes are not that forgiving and really don’t like being used too often. They can, and have left remnants of past projects on the tape. In addition, humidity affects the tape and makes it an unsafe tool.

Today I had the opportunity to test drive a Canon VIXIA HF M300 Flash memory camcorder. It was very light and will easily fit in a jacket pocket. That could be both good and bad. It was difficult to hold steady and when you used the stabilization with the on-board microphone there was a ‘rrrrrrr’ sound that recorded along with the other audio. You could use an external microphone and it was fine, but you had to make sure and turn on AV Attenuation, so that it would use the external feed instead of the on-board microphone.

The LCD Video screen was a bit hard to see in direct sunlight, but you can purchase a sun guard to make it easier. Those are the only down fall to the camera.

Some items to keep in mind—a 4GB card will last about 1/2 hour on standard quality recording. The MacBook Pro I was working on would not recognize the card reader, but would allow for the digital media to be ingested directly from the camera via the provided USB cable. SD cards need to be a type 6 in order to cut down encoding time. The type 4 card I had used ingested at 60% of real-time—but any time off real-time is a bonus.

Our goal is to have the students purchase their own SD card to make them a bit more responsible for the media.  The cameras run about $500—but B&H offer a kit for only an additional $100. That seems a bit much, but you get a case, additional battery, and tripod (although not the best tripod—still nice to have).

I would like to purchase 10 of these kits for next year, which will add to the 20 DV tape camera’s we already house in the Wakerly.  Next week—DSR camera testing.

I would be interested in hearing input from others —any suggestions or other types of camera’s you’d suggest—comment and let me know.

Carole J. Burns is the Director of the Wakerly Technology Training Center at Marquette University. Follow her on Twitter @burnsy1217.

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