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May 17, 2012 / theatregrad

Tapeless Basics – An Introduction to Working Without Tape and Video File Formats

The technology division of the organisation I work for regularly holds events called ‘Knowledge Bytes’ which are interactive knowledge sharing events designed covering key topics of relevance to the technology division, the business and our industry. Although my department, is not situated within the technology division of the company, we sometimes go to sessions that are of interest to the archives.

Recently a few of my team attended a session on tapeless work-flows. Currently we work with content stored on physical formats, everything from film to HD tape. However as broadcasting transitions from tape based to file based delivery, archivists will need awareness of tapeless formats.

The end of video tape?
Image by jcburns

Tapeless Basics was a session designed for those with little or no technical knowledge of tapeless content delivery, digital file storage and associated video file formats. The content covered two key areas; an explanation of video file formats and the logistics of storing and moving files around the organisation.

The session introduced many of the basic concepts of producing and broadcasting television; starting the beginning with an introduction to the principles behind 35mm film, the session rapidly charged through a lot of technical and complex information. A lot of what was discussed went over my head completely because I have no prior knowledge or understanding of the basic concepts. I am not a techy person so a lot of what was discussed was meaningless to me. By the end my head was swimming with techy jargon; frame rates, bits and bytes, codecs, wrappers, interlaced or progressive, aspect ratios and a million other things of which I’m still a bit confused about. However the basic concepts are now more familiar to me.

Despite the content being a bit too technical for my current level of understanding and the speed of the session being rather fast as there was a lot of cover, it was still a really useful first introduction to the topic. Although I do not currently need to know about video file formats for my work, in the future I might so it was a good place to start. The first introduction to the world of tapeless media was always going to be a scary shock to the system, there is a lot to know but at least I now have some knowledge which can built upon in the future.

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