Wednesday, November 23, 2011

US Women's Soccer in 3D!

What a kick!
Sorry, couldn't resist the pun. But it is always fun to shoot 3D.
This last weekend, I was in Phoenix to help shoot the Women's National Soccer Team VS. Sweden game in 3D for Panasonic (who is a major sponsor of the US Soccer Team, and the Olympics, as well). What a fun event.

We were well equipped to cover the game with the brand new 3DP1 camera and three of the smaller 3DA1 cameras.

The game was very exciting. Sweden scored earlier, but the US rallied in the second half and the game ended 1-1.

We had cameras roving the sidelines, and covering the goals and the footage is stunning. Although I must say that shooting a live soccer match in 3D is one of the hardest things I have done. Focus, framing, exposure, convergence and parallax considerations all at once. ARRGH.

The cameras, as expected worked great. Having shot many times with the 3DA1, I was particularly interested in shooting with the 3DP1. All I can say, is wow. The lenses are much better and there are new 3D tools that really help in shooting. Wait until you get your hands on this camera. It rocks! That's me on the 3DP1 at the top of this post.

The crew was fabulous and a joy to work with. In the group picture below from left to right: Jerry Feldman, Ned Weisman, me, Dave Gregory, Remy Medranda, Ken Fleischer (our calm and collected Director), and Philip Robiberio.
If you come to either the CES show in Jan or NAB in April both in Las Vegas, I am sure you will see some of this excitement in the Panasonic booth.

Next stop, Macy's Thanksgiving Parade in 3D.

As always, there is more to come.
The Road Warrior

FTC Disclosure
In compliance with the FTC rulings, I state that I am the Panasonic AVCHD and 3D Professional Evangelist. As such, I am a paid consultant to Panasonic, and I get free use of the AVCCAM and P2 products. However, the opinions on this blog are purely my own.

Monday, November 7, 2011

How Long Do You Want to Keep It?

Arching Digital Footage (Files) is a hot issue. We are now shooting lots of large files and how do we archive them? Should we put them on video tape? No!
Well, what then? The fact is, you have options.
Here is a white paper I wrote, that gives you my current thoughts.
Let me know what you think.

archiving your Digital footage (files)

By: Bernie Mitchell

President, Silver Platter Productions, Inc

Archiving Digital Footage (files) has become a hotly debated topic. Any cinematographer/videographer, producer, or rights holder, who is working in media acquisition, treats raw and edited footage as treasured children. The natural tendency is to say, “I need to keep this footage forever”. And some government or news agencies do in fact need access to their footage for the foreseeable future. In reality, must of us do not, but old habits die hard.

“I archive all my footage on tape. always have, always will”.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the above statement. Well, as Bob Dylan sang “The Times They Are A’ Changing”.

I have been in the audio/video business for almost 4 decades, and like everyone, I have a long history of storing my precious footage on videotape. As I am writing this, I have footage shot from years ago, stored on the original 2” quad tape, 1”, ¾” beta, digiti-beta, and even VHS and Betacam tapes. The traditional attitude has always been, put the tape on the shelf and it is there whenever you need it. After all, tapes last forever. (This is not technically true, as even tapes that are stored in ideal conditions will still deteriorate over time. They can oxidize, or the adhesive holding the tape to the spool can break down). Tape was never designed to be an archival media. It was convenient and everyone used it, so we forced it to be a storage media.


Why do I say that? Because footage shot on tape is not easy to access. Let’s say I need to find a specific shot of a pristine beach that I shot in Jamaica. Now, fortunately, my tape boxes generally have shot lists associated with them, so after some digging, I find that the specific shot I want is on a Betacam tape. The first thing I have to do is find someone who has a Betacam tape deck (as I no longer own one). Actually, the same scenario would be true no mater what format the original tape was recorded on. I have to do is find a deck to playback the tape, and as the years increase, the ability to find those specific decks decrease. And, then once I have found the appropriate deck, I have to load the tape and fast forward to the exact time code of the desired shot. This is tedious, yes we have all done it, but there is a better way, now.

Tape will be around forever

With the acceptance of digital acquisition and solid-state recording, many people have been predicting the death of videotape for some time. Most major TV networks and studios have stopped using videotape to acquire the footage, but many still use it to vault (and still call that an archive).

Unfortunately, the death of videotape is occurring even quicker than we thought, due to a natural disaster. The recent tsunami in Japan destroyed many videotape factories. In fact, Sony is encouraging TV networks and studios that still use video tape, to reuse the same tapes, or stockpile what they can. It is quite likely, that the destroyed factories will not be rebuilt.



Another sad reality is that most tape vaults contain various tape formats. The reason is that footage stored on tape, could not be moved as it is analog. If your footage was recorded on 1”, you would not move it to another format as in the copy process you would “go down a generation” and lose quality. As a result, no one ever moved his or her footage from the original acquisition format, and therefore most tape vaults have many different formats.


Digital footage is nothing more than audio and video files. And like all digital data, they can be copied and no degradation occurs. We are only copying files. In fact, with a digital archive you will continually move your information to newer storage technologies, as they develop.


This is the singular most important question; you must ask yourself when you are deciding on archiving any audio/visual information. As, I said earlier, I have footage that has been on the shelf for decades. No one has seen some of this stuff for over 30 years, and I can safely say, no one will want to look at it in another 30 years, but still those tapes still on the shelves.

Now, that we are acquiring our audio/video information digitally, let’s be brutal in answering the question of how long we want to keep the information.

The answer to “How Long You Want To Keep It?” will determine what media you store it on today.


If you want to keep your data for 1-10 years, you have many options, but if you must keep your material for 20 years or longer, then your options decrease. There is only one media we know of today that will archive audio/video information for 100 years, and that is film. And film deteriorates over time. There is currently a major initiative to restore “old” film prints. And by “old” we are talking about some ‘recent” classics like “The Godfather”. Naturally, we are not going to take our digital files and transfer them to film.


digital footage (file) archiving options. as of today.

There are a number of storage options available today, and budget and “How Long You Want To Keep It” will determine your choice.


Why would I take my digital information and store it on an antiquated and vanishing media?

archiving to hard drive (Short term storage)

The quickest and least expensive way to archive digital footage is to copy your files to a hard drive. Note: This is Short Term Storage. There are a number of hard drive manufacturers that produce expensive raid drives all the way down to inexpensive USB hard drives. But, hard drives are notorious for failures. And when (not if) a hard drive fails, you will lose your footage. However, hard drives are a good solution for Short Term Storage. I suggest copying your footage to at least two different hard drives, be redundant. Hard drives are good for short term storage, say the length that you are working on the project. But, these hard drives should not be considered permanent long-term storage. Even if you never spin up the hard drive again, even if you just put it on the shelf, the lubricants in the drive will dry up over time, causing drive failure. If you are going to store your footage on hard drives, create a regular schedule to move your data to newer hard drives. Duplicate and migrate your data, that way if a drive fails you have a back-up copy. If you need to keep your footage for a longer period, I recommend one of the options below.

archiving to blu-ray disc (MID-term storage)

If you are shooting in High Definition, your files will be quite large. Blu-ray discs provide an excellent storage media for large files. To archive to a Blu-ray, you will basically be making a Blu-ray Rom data disc. You are not authoring a Blu-ray movie disc. Again, you are just copying data files. To do this you will need a Blu-ray burner, Blu-ray media, and specific Blu-ray burning software. Once you have copied your files, treat the Blu-ray disc with care. I recommend putting it in a case, label it and put it on a shelf. Be careful not to scratch the disc, as this Blu-ray will not be as permanent or durable as replicated movie discs. A number of disc media manufacturers are now making “archive quality” media with impressive lifetime specifications. I would think the media would be more durable, but I would be skeptical of lifetime statements. Again, if you want more security, make a couple of discs. Redundancy and migration of the data is the key to a successful digital archive. Remember in order to retrieve your data from this archive, in the future; you will need a Blu-ray drive. On a positive side, every PlayStation sold has a Blu-ray drive, so in 20 years you should still be able to find a drive. Keep your eye on how digital technology advances and migrate your data to new storage technology as it comes to market.

archiving to Standard DVD discs (MID-term storage)

Another option is to take your footage and copy it onto DVD media. DVD discs do not hold large amounts of data, so copying your files to DVD will be both very time consuming and requires a lot of discs, but the media is inexpensive. Burn your DVDs, label them and store them in cases. Like, Blu-ray, these DVD discs will be susceptible to scratches, so handle with care. I recommend making at least 2 copies, for redundancy. Again, as with Blu-ray there are media companies touting “Archival DVD Media”. I would think that this media is more durable, but I would be skeptical about lifetime specifications. Remember, in order to retrieve your data from this archive in the future, you will need a DVD drive. I personally think in 20 years it will be harder to find a DVD drive than a Blu-ray drive. And again, keep your eye on storage technology developments and migrate your data as new devices become available.

archiving to DLT or lto tape (Longest term storage)

At present, if you have to store your footage for a very long time and want absolute confidence in your archival media, you have one option. Do what financial and medical institutions have been doing for years; back up your data on either DLT (Digital Linear Tape) or the newer LTO (Linear Tape Open). These are more expensive options than those listed above, but they are time tested. Note; these are digital tape storage devices, not analog tape (like video tape). A number of companies, such as Quantum (, Cache-A, ( and others make DLT and LTO tape drives and media. (See for more info). These devices have been specifically designed to work with digital audio and video files.

content management

Once you start storing you digital footage (files) you will quickly amass large amounts of data. You will need to have a method to quickly find specific footage from this mountain of data. Since the information is digital there are a number of content management software and hardware solutions that provide data base like operation to manage your data. Prices range from the few hundred dollars to multiple thousands, depending on the features of the system. Gone are the days of finding a tape and fast forwarding to a specific shot. With these sophisticated content management systems, you can quickly find the specific (file) shot you need. Assuming you have good meta data information about your files.

About the Author:

Bernie Mitchell is President of Silver Platter Productions, Inc. an Emmy nominated Producer/Director, a Multimedia Person of the Year and member of the DVD Association Hall of Fame. He has produced award-winning programs in virtually every format of videotape and digital acquisition. He is an internationally sought after speaker and presenter. Bernie is also the Panasonic AVCHD and 3D Professional Evangelist.

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