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Big fish, little fish, camera-top-box by Will Strauss F or whole swathes of people within the television industry the concept of digital production - and what we generally refer to as ‘going tapeless’ – is probably now considered slightly old hat. Broadcasters, engineers, camera people and other early adopters of technology are so au fait with digital production these days that they’ve become somewhat laissez faire about it. However there are still those for whom tapeless acquisition (in whatever guise 36 | TV-BAY MAGAZINE and under whatever moniker) is still considered to be very much a leap-of- faith. Producers are one such tribe. So used are they to having something reassuringly physical to hold at the end of a shoot that the whole idea of ‘only’ having a digital file that exists in zeroes and ones brings them out in a cold sweat. Tapes can be labeled, looked after, put on a shelf and generally loved in the same way as the programme that they are making. Digital files offer no such luxuries. There’s also the risk factor, the complexity and the costs associated with digital production. All told, tapeless is scary. Fortunately, as we wait for the industry to come up with best practices, common standards and appropriate project-by-project pricing models that suit independent production, there are alternatives to simply dumping your current cameras and your well-trodden working practices and replacing them, somewhat blindly, with un-familiar solid- state or disk-based ones. One such option is the external digital recorder, the solid-state recorder, the hard disk field recorder, the camera- top-box, the ‘recording brick’.