I have some bad news for those of you with miniDV camcorders -- our camcorder was stolen back when we lived in Tucson, so this week I'm finally getting around to borrowing one from a friend so i can get the video off the tapes and onto the computer.
Now the bad news-- much of the audio is trashed on some of the tapes, and even the video in a few places. So much for miniDV being a durable format.
It could be dirty heads, though I tried a cleaning tape and it didn't seem to help, and newer tapes worked fine. It could be that this camera is a Panasonic where mine was a Canon, but that's not much consolation if you're looking for a format that will survive companies going out of business or halting production of a particular piece of hardware. It could be that the tapes weren't well cared for, but they've been stored in the camera case, inside the house since the camera was stolen -- not overly humid or hot.
So what format lasts forever? Stone carvings? Engraving on metal plates? I think the lesson we learn is that all of our precious data needs to be maintained -- moved from old media and formats to new ones as the old ones go obsolete.
I wish it weren't so.