DV/HDV storage and cataloging
August 1, 2008 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Hi all... long time listener, first time caller (poster) I have almost 100 DV/HDV tapes that I have recorded since about 2003. I have not been the best at labeling all my tapes, especially not lately since my twin sons where born. At the moment all my tapes are stored in a box in a drawer :-\ I am looking for a good method of cataloging and storing my DV/HDV tapes. Does anyone have any great, cheap and maybe do-it-yourself solutions for storing tapes. For cataloging I could imagine a google docs document or something, but if anyone has a better solution I would not mind. Stephen Copenhagen, Denmark
posted by StephenMeldalFoged to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wikipedia says a DV tape holds between 10 and 20 GB. If you have 100 of them, all completely filled, that's about 1.5 TB. It wouldn't be outrageous to dump all the tapes straight to disk, then split and catalog them there using the various media cataloging packages, video editing packages, etc. that will keep track of clips on disk for you. Once you've done that, you can store your tapes in a safe deposit box or otherwise off-site as a backup.
posted by pocams at 1:00 PM on August 1, 2008

I recently went through my 50 DV tapes, transfered each tape to dvd-r and made minimal notes as to what was on the tape and the date range it was shot. Start now, when you take the current tape out of your camera write what day it is, then put the next tape in with the label already on it saying what day you put it in.

It sounds like you have no information on the outside of the tapes at all (or maybe event info but not date). You need to differentiate them. Starting with the first one, label it A, go through to Z, then AA to ZZ etc. Now get a big piece of paper and write all the letters down the left hand side, including the labels already on the tape. Next you want to figure them out chronologically. This is the time consuming part. A REALLY long time. Play one of the tapes, figure out when it took place (sometimes this is really hard, especially if you shoot in the same location more than once - with my children I couldn't always tell their ages accurately.) Write down the date on the paper next to the letter you gave the tape, also write down what was on the tape - visiting, the beach etc. You want this on paper so you can cross it out when you realise you made a mistake on the date. And then you can also see the crossed out date when you realise it was right to begin with (this happen multiple times to me, and yes some word processors show you edits but I am old-school, paper and pen is where it's at.) I also kept min-sticky notes on each tape with the same information and noted if I had viewed or burned the tape to dvd-r so I wouldn't repeat myself. If you are using your camera to view the tapes you may find it easier to just burn a dvd-r of each tape without chapter markers so you can skim it quicker. When all tapes are chronological you relabel them with the date range on the tape and chronologically 1 to 100 (and remember all new tapes must be labeled with the date and chronological number). After you have made a dvd-r copy of each tape make ANOTHER dvd-r copy for off-site storage. This will take a long time, so steady yourself for a long haul.

Do you have software already on your computer for this? If you name it someone may have some tips for using it.

I keep my tapes in a shoebox with a paper copy of the chronology, so I am no help there.
posted by saucysault at 1:35 PM on August 1, 2008

In the future, remember the timeless maxim: an unlabeled tape is a blank tape. Label it or lose it.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:54 PM on August 1, 2008

Try Scenalyzer. It scans your DV tapes and summarises the scenes. It might be helpful to you.
posted by flutable at 7:02 PM on August 1, 2008

Best answer: I do this all the time at work, using a makeshift system that utilizes portable racks, a labelmaker, and a spreadsheet.

I get the DV tape racks from here. If you're using mini-HDV tapes then two or three of those should be all you need. They slide neatly into bookcases and such, and are easy to mount in cabinets or on walls.

A handheld labelmaker machine is around $30 at Staples. The tape dimensions are the perfect size for DV tapes and cases.

These are U.S.-centric stores, but I imagine Denmark has their equivalents. (B&H is an audio/video/tech supply store, and Staples is a generic office supply store.)

A spreadsheet on Google Docs will do you fine. Just think up a labeling/numbering system and practice it consistently. For my job, I usually assign a four-numeral #, a title for the content on the tape, the date it was shot, and who is featured on the tape. You have a lot of back catalogue to sift through, but once you have, the whole process will be easy.
posted by greenland at 10:56 PM on August 1, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers everybody.

pocams - From now on I will copy all of my High Def tapes to my hard drive.
You mention media cataloging packages? Can name a couple?

Greenland - I had seen the Bryco racks and their small folder cases, but found them to be a little expensive. Especially their 9 tape folders. But I figure i spend so much money on Other video equipment and software that i might as well get those 50 tape racks. I am ordering 3 of them from B&H because all of the European resellers are twice as expensive as B&H.

saucysault - I agree i have a big task ahead of me cataloging all my old tapes, but i am sort of up for that. Most of my tapes are labeled somehow... just not very detailed. For me though optical media is dead, partly because i shoot in high definition now, but mainly because i would watch re encoded videos on my Vista media center, straight from the hard drive.
You have some good ideas for getting through the big task of cataloging, I'm sure some is applicable to my situation.

posted by StephenMeldalFoged at 6:26 AM on August 2, 2008

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