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Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media

Preserving the sanctity of your original media has always been one of the cardinal rules of production.

In my first week of film school, I learned about work print. The original film negative is used once to make this cloned copy, then the original is locked away, presumably in a climate-controlled vault environment. The work print is used for editing, with all the scratches, tears, gouges and dirt endemic to the mechanical film editing process. The pristine original negative is only brought out at the end of the process to make printing masters, then locked away again.

When I first started shooting video, one advantage it had over film was that the tapes could be erased and reused, or so I was told. But in common professional practice, this is rarely done. In these days of non-linear editing, the original tapes are used as source material when the footage is digitized into the Final Cut Pro or Avid systems, then they are vaulted, in case of problems later.

What kinds of problems? Recently I shot a corporate project on HDV, and shortly afterward the producer called me in a panic with the news that all the footage we had shot was slightly, but noticeably, out of focus – words that jab a cold spear into the heart of any shooter. “We think we can save it,” she said, but high anxiety prevailed. Even if they could save the footage, my reputation was on the line.

My camera assistant and . . . CONTINUE READING: Living in Oblivion: On Creating, then Destroying Your Original Video Media