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Beta SX

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John SutherlandBeta SX
by on Aug 27, 2002 at 2:01:44 am

I read the long series of posts below concerning quality (very interesting) and I'm wondering if anyone has had experience w/Beta SX? Where does it fall into the quality lineup? Also, any thoughts on what the next couple of years will bring to the format wars.
Thanks for taking my call, I'll take my answer off the air.
John Sutherland


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cord rombergRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 27, 2002 at 4:35:42 am

look @ CNN footage, most is Beta SX .... it's their main format, i think they bought a lot of dv cams for one man production teams...., like jason bellini... remember when he reported from afghanistan, that was all dvcam, or minidv, it's the same anyway...


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boukeRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 27, 2002 at 8:31:53 am

Local broadcaster over here uses SX, same as a lot of eng nationwide. It is a nice format, i prefer it over DV for a number of reasons:
it is MpegII (an I frame every other frame), so it has full video resolution, also on chroma
it is full size betacam tapes (never seen a serious dropout although the tapes used are REALLY abused, let's say used about 50 times...
you can use SX tapes and have normal tape speed, or use SP tapes and have horrible shutlle behaviour BUT an hour on a small tape.

All decks are SP playback compatible, the J3 series accept SX.
New format of sony will be IMX, wich i have never seen.

Interesting that about 6 years ago there were tapestreamer-like DV decks, where have those gone? There should be an universal digital mastering format by now (dump to file instead of dump to tape...)
Wonder when that is coming (never of course when SONY is involved...)
bouke


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John SutherlandRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 27, 2002 at 9:20:35 pm

Where does SX compare w/Beta SP and Digi Beta? And where will Beta SP be in 2 years, and what will be it's replacement? I've used DVCam, and it's definitely not as good as Beta SP (my current format).
John



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Peter Wardley-RepenRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 29, 2002 at 12:32:23 pm

Hi John

In my experience, SX is noticeably better than BVW SP and noticeably not as good as DigiBeta. The major improvement in SX over SP is the total lack of dropouts, coupled with better resolution. When you compare SX with DigiBeta, you’ll notice that the DigiBeta has much improved resolution and colourimetry. SX displays a noticeable lack of contrast and sharpness by comparison to DigiBeta – though whether that’s down to the different bit depth, compression format or whatever, I’m not engineer enough to say.

Mind you, all these comparisons assume you have the three formats available to compare at the same time on the same monitor (SDI or component); looked at in isolation, SX looks fine for most broadcast purposes, and SP (BVW, not UVW, which sucks by comparison) is OK as long as you can live with the dropouts (you really notice them when you come back to SP from using SX for a while). Also, all my comments apply to the PAL version – your mileage in NTSC may vary, as they say…

As to the future, I think here in the UK, at least, SX is the immediate future, since it’s cost-effective, compatible with the masses of SP tapes all the major broadcasters already have, and so many people are using it already. DVCAM seems to be settling in as an industrial/corporate format, though BBC Network News has gone for it and they seem to be regretting it, as it shows up adversely when it’s cut from studio or live satellite pictures, or almost any Beta format (HTV went for DVC Pro, with similar results). IMX may make inroads, but since many people have recently upgraded to SX or DigiBeta, it will be a while before significant numbers of IMX machines are sold - and in any case, why go for IMX when DigiBeta isn’t much more expensive? My guess is that IMX will go where Sony meant it to – into server-based news facilities, with DigiBeta and HD serving the drama/high-end documentary sector.

Me, I’d have liked to have seen D9 take off over here – it’s a beautiful format and very cost-effective. If JVC had got their finger out and brought out a viable D9 competitor to Sony’s DVW700 in time, they’d have swept the board. But they didn’t, and their current cameras are simply not up to competing with the Sonys and Ikegamis of this world. My favourite combination in terms of quality vs. cost-effectiveness would be a Sony DXC-D35 camera with a D9 recorder on the back, but that’s not the kind of combo you’d want on your shoulder all day!

HTH,


Peter


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John SutherlandRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 29, 2002 at 12:49:37 pm

Peter,
I've heard the UVW vs. BVW comparison before. Specifically, what improvement might I see if I used a 75 as a source deck, and where does a PVW2600/2800 fall as well. I've considered picking up a used BVW 70 as a way to improve my picture... is it worth it? Is it more on the input side or the mastering side?
John



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boukeRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 29, 2002 at 3:06:49 pm

Any bvw70 youy can pick up will be a few years old, at least 10 years and will cost you probably some 10K. Ridicoulous.
Why not buy a brand new J3 machine and go for IMX mastering and let your scanning go to digibeta.
The only reason to buy SP nowadays is if you have to be compatible. AFAIK, you don't.
bouke


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Peter Wardley-RepenRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 29, 2002 at 4:04:08 pm

Hi John

The UVW/PVW/BVW sequence is pretty much as you'd expect - BVW at the top, UVW at the bottom. The differences are in picture and sound quality, build quality and facilities offered.

Personally, I wouldn't use UVW except for an offline - if you've got a UVW, I'd recommend renting a BVW or, better, one of the newer SX or DigiBeta machines for a day or two to do the online.

In terms of picture/sound, the BVW series have full-frame TBCs, whereas the PVW series have only 32 line TBCs (if I recall correctly - an engineer on the Cow would be able to correct me) and the UVW series - I dunno, but I've seen picture instability and dropouts on UVWs that you wouldn't get on P/BVWs, so my guess is that the UVW tbc is not of the first water.

In facilities, the UVW is very basic - no jog/shuttle (academic in a NLE setup anyway), and the engineering adjustments are limited compared to the rest of the range. Sound and picture quality leaves something to be desired, with a limited frequency response and relatively high signal-to-noise ratio for both sound and vision. The UVW series was aimed, as the name implies, at facilites that would previously have used U-Matic, and it reflects the low expectations of that group.

The PVW machines are of much better build quality and have better sound/picture specs, almost up to the BVW, although with lesser TBCs and more limited engineering tweaks. The inclusion of a jog/shuttle is useful if you're viewing tapes without the NLE switched on, and the controls are bigger and there are more of them right there on the panel, rather than having some controls buried in the menus. Neither the PVW or the UVW machines have audio tracks 3 and 4, which is no great loss here in the UK as few peoplke seem to use them.

The BVWs are the bee's knees, but as Bouke says, the ones still around are getting a bit long in the tooth. If you can't afford to have a machine servicced when you buy it, I'd advise either renting or gsaving up for one of the SX machines.

Oops, gotta go - chucking out time...

More later.


HTH,


Peter


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John SutherlandRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 29, 2002 at 8:50:15 pm

First, thanks all for your input. this is just the kind of discussion I was hoping for. Bourke, you mentioned IMX. I've seen just a little bit of info on that format, mainly a small promo thiing about a one-piece camera package. Anybody seen it, and where does fall into the puzzle? The new decks certainly have lowered the cost of getting it into the editor, and at the current pricing of a D35/PVV3, the price I saw on the IMX camera package didn't look too bad.
John



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Raymond MortensenRe: Beta SX / SP
by on Aug 30, 2002 at 12:31:36 pm

Excuse me for jumping into this thread rather late, but I need some advice from more experienced cow users on this topic. I've got an offer on a PVW-2800P with this runtime: H:2450, T:1660, L:9310, P:10970. Apart from other things to consider, how should I assess these figures, could it be a machine worth looking at?



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Peter Wardley-RepenRe: Beta SX / SP
by on Aug 30, 2002 at 12:35:15 pm

Those figures sound high to me, Raymond; if it was me, I'd consider it but budget to get the machine a full service once you've bought it. If that works out expensive, look for onewith lower hours.

Regards,


Peter


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boukeRe: Beta SX / SP
by on Aug 30, 2002 at 12:40:37 pm

those figures are in hours, sometimes in tenths of hours (check under the display, it is told there...(my PVW is rented out for some time...)
it means:
Hours, times threading, l i dunno (perhaps drum hours), power on hours.
I'd say this machine has worked A LOT. (power on, let's say 8 hours a day during the week, this machine was turned on EVERY WORKING DAY the WHOLE DAY for the last SEVEN years)

I would DEFINITLY get it to an authorises sony dealer and let them look at it and estimate you a price for a major overhaul.
Dunno how the heads are but this baby probably needs it's third set...

bouke


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Raymond MortensenRe: Beta SX / SP
by on Aug 30, 2002 at 2:08:07 pm

Thanks a lot for your immediate response and precise clarification. Couldn't do without the cow!



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johnRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 31, 2002 at 5:17:53 am

BVW series has highter chroma detail, much better tension sensors, and tape path hardware, tbc, etc. heads last for a very long time. People use SP, believe it or not to tmaster to from film after editing on non-linear. The "look" is actually nicer tham digital beta because digibeta is compressed, and effects the look in an adverse way in many pros eyes. In hawaii, Hi-end productions are shot on 35mm and mastered eventually onto beta sp for this reason. The top execs like the look, more pleasing to the brain, warmer. Digibeta adn digital S are superb for green screen and video aquisition. Digital S (D-9) being the greatest bargain there is for sure. DV absolutely sucks compared to low compression 4:2:2 1/2", no question, although I have seen some impressive stuff shot on a D35 with dockable DVCAM, and input via SDI. The slo-mo deck that sony makes is awesome, and gives one flicker free slo-mo most of the time. intense contrast with too much fine detail will flicker due to the nasty 5:1 compression of DV on some material. I wish there was a light weight solution that was low compression and easy to work with! I have one question about DVCAM- when you select to get 40 minutes from a one hr tape, is that a higher bit-depth or is it actually less compessed?? The picture definately looks a lot better with the PD-150 in that 40 minute mode. why? john


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John HiggsRe: Beta SX
by on Aug 31, 2002 at 8:39:01 pm

I have used SX for over 4 yrs and found it a very robust format . it is better than DV or DV CAM [ used both ] but not in the same street as DIGI BETA. As with most things in life you get what you pay for. As for UVW PVW BVW the same aplies, John


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johnRe: Beta SX
by on Sep 1, 2002 at 8:03:28 pm

that is correct. SX is a great format. It is almost exclusively used by news organizations, and it serves them extremely well due to dual use of SP adn SX. Image quality is quite good, works for them. My close friend is an engineer for local NBC affiliate here in hawaii, and she has explored the format and gear as deeply as one could, and she says that alot of people are unfairly prejudiced against the format. I agree with her. In my last post, I didnt even mention the SX fomat. I would recommend anyone who doesnt need to interface with ad agencies and the like to consider JVC's digital S. You actually get more than what you pay for IMHO. It has better image quality than SX, and is less expensive. You generally do get what you pay for, although some manufacturers charge more than the equipment is worth sometimes due to their name, sometimes not. i think Sony overall is an outstanding co., but does deserve your scrutiny when considering specific purchases. It also depends on who you interface with in the business world. In many cases, digibeta and DVCAM are the only acceptable broadcast and industrial formats, and i totally understand that. john


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