Not enough hours in the day…

I’m helping out on a little project. Well, big project. And here’s a question that’s baking my noodle:

With the need to capture 80 hours of video material per day (yes, you got that – 80 hours per day) and preserve it in all its high quality goodness, whilst also making web versions available within 24 hours or so, should I go tape or tapeless for HQ recording?

Of course the sensible answer is tape. It’s boring, it’s kludzy, and really quite expensive considering… But to make things interesting, out of those 80 hours of recorded goodness (per day), I may want to get a couple of hours of it per day out onto the web. Not sure which bit of the 80 hours. That’s the problem.

Spending time spooling through tapes, ingesting them, editing them – ouch.

So I could go tapeless. XDCAM-SD would be great, a bit pricier than tape, but all the long term goodness of tape but with the random access of tapeless file based workflow. But where to find 15 XDCAM-SD camcorders for three weeks?

I love SxS cards, but the cost and availability for rent hasn’t quite reached ‘feasability’ yet. 15 stations recording 75 mins per sitting, multiple sittings per day. And what if there’s a hold-up on ingest? What happens when we can’t get enough erased P2 cards to the troops on the front line?

I could get some really cool broadcast kit: 15 Grass Valley Turbos recording SDI. For three weeks? The cost is astonishing.

P2 cards: there’s enough of them out there. At a cost. But ingesting P2, whilst fast, isn’t as fast as you’d think. Not when you have 30 cards per hour – and quadrupling up is fine, but it becomes a sausage factory. Need lots of warm bodies to be aware of what they’re doing under pressure.

Attach MacBook Pros running some FireWire disc recording software? Possibly, but the concatenation of all those files takes more time than you’d think. And the cost is almost into GV Turbo territory.

I’ve calculated somewhere between 8 and 12 terabytes of data to capture and archive in a two week period.

There are so many ‘cool’ solutions out there. Shoot to Compact Flash with Z7s, shoot to P2, shoot to XDCAM, shoot to Final Cut Pro or even a MacBook Pro running Veescope, CaptureMagic, ScopeBox or DV Monitor Pro. All of them wonderful in their own right, but when you’re shooting something as big as a sporting event, without necessarily being a major broadcaster, how do you best serve the requirements of your client?

If you can’t rent the kit, you have to buy it.  If you can’t afford to buy the kit, you have to rent it.

There are times when a big box o’ tapes wins over tapeless. However much I love a file based system.

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