Anyone that’s been in our industry for more than 10 years will have noticed how things have changed in the video world – not least that we no longer use actual ‘videos’. VHS are a thing of the past and, love it or hate it, technology is taking over – there’s no getting away from it.
Our studio still contains some kit that is well past its sell-by date, but we just can’t seem to part with it. Perhaps that’s because it reminds us of various experiences we’ve had, perhaps we think it may come in handy one day, but I suspect we keep it just because there is a little bit of an emotional attachment.
That being said, we would struggle to lug this kit about with us today, its bulk and weight mean that we would need a truck to transport it all. These days we can go to a shoot with a few bags and tripods – all snugly fitted into the boot of the car. This only goes to prove that the top item on the priority list for equipment manufacturers over the last few years has definitely been ‘downsizing’.
But back to Tapes or Videos, whatever you want to call them, they were the recording medium of choice. As a mate recalls from his Uni days, “Tapedecks, everyone knew about tapedecks, they were a big part of the importing tape to digital process”, but these days you would never choose to use tapes, not least because the kit you’d need to digitise them will set you back about £6k.
I’ve done a little comparison between two pieces of equipment that we have in the Studio, to help make my point, one I used to use in 2008, and its replacement in 2018. It is absolutely laughable when you look at the comparison in size but when you consider what the new kit can do compared to the old, it is no wonder that the old kit is gathering dust while the new is permanently in use.
The year is 2008. The media is a Betacam SP broadcast-quality tape. It records 36 minutes of 4:3 analog video. It cost about £20. It was generally only used once as the tape was also the archive.
The year is 2018. The media is a 64 Gbyte SDXC memory card. It records 2-3 hours of 4k ultra HD video. It costs about £95. It can be used multiple times. The card reader costs next to nothing.
And to compare the two in size……
So you can see why we have decided to move with the times – one fits in my pocket, the other one clearly doesn’t. But this doesn’t stop at video tape. Our cameras, sound recorders and lights are all smaller, lighter, quicker and smarter.
I for one am pleased that tech has changed for the better (no matter how large the soft spot for my 20 year old VCR is) because ‘smaller, lighter, quicker and smarter’ have helped make my day a little bit easier. But one thing I have learnt over the years is that no matter how flashy your kit is, it makes no substitute for the expertise gained in the field. Having the experience of knowing how to get the best out of your kit in order to provide compelling and unique moments of video, outweighs technological advancement every day of the week.