Notes on DV Tapes

As noted in Chapter 1, DV cassettes present the promise of immortality for your video. Because you can transfer the footage nearly indefinitely from camcorder to computer (or to camcorder) without ever losing quality, there’s no reason your footage can’t stick around forever.

The tapes themselves are not immortal, however. Although you can record and rerecord them dozens of times, you can’t do so indefinitely, as most people assume. You’ll know when a particular cassette is starting to go when you begin to notice dropouts in the video—pops in the picture, tiny rectangular pixels of the wrong color. At that point, it’s time to retire that cassette.


Follow the advice on the little set of label stickers that comes in each tiny DV cassette box. Keep the tapes in their boxes, away from dust, heat, magnets, electricity, marauding children, and so on.

The Two-Cassette System

Consider conceiving of each iMovie project as a two-cassette affair. Designate one cassette (or set of cassettes) as your raw-footage tapes, and a second set as the finished-movie tapes. (Video editors call these the original and master tapes, respectively.)

Doing so, and labeling the tapes carefully, makes it less likely that you’ll accidentally record over some important movie that you slaved at for days. It also makes life simpler when friends come over and suddenly say, “Hey, let’s see what you did with your Mac!” If you keep all of your iMovie creations on a single special cassette, you won’t ...

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