Hi Aimee,my advice would be,that no matter what format you're shooting,ALWAYS use back up video tape,it has spared me also,and I never record without it,digital is great,except when yo actually NEED IT,do to some circumstances under which you have no control!John Arel @ email@example.com
I record to the miniDV in camera, DVD, and occasionally a hard disk recorder if there's going to be a rush for an edit for court. Then there's also the courtesy copy audio cassette for the court reporter.
I offer Full sized DV (DVCAM), DVD, SVHS and VHS. I usually record DVD and SVHS (client preference.)
Believe it or not, a new SVHS deck records a very good picture. I was convinced that SVHS was not really much better than VHS until I bought a brand new deck. I think most SVHS decks in use today are 10 years old with almost that many hours on the heads, making the format seem less than it can be. It's my preferred backup because a power outage won't cause a wholesale loss of recorded material. Can't beat stability.
BTW: Never buy a used SVHS deck! Not worth the bother.
We record to DVCAM with DVD backup. I’ve lost power before on location. Once everyone in the room lost it and the second time it was just my circuit. In both situations, all my gear lost juice, original, backup, mixer and light. We simply went back on the record and either the court reporter read back the transcript or the question was re-asked. Neither instance was a big deal. The attorneys understood what was going on and we handled everything appropriately. The key is to not waste time and let the deposition go on if you’re not recording.
As far as back up format goes I would recommend whatever works for you. VHS tapes take up too much space. DVDs are inexpensive, have higher quality and are easier to copy in a hurry.