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Prove to me BetaSP is dead.

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Chris Clephane
Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 11, 2008 at 12:46:19 am

Ok here it is.

Many of you for YEARS, in SEVERAL of these forums have been footnoting your e-mails with small grumblings about how "...when our Beta deck finally kicks it we aren't replacing it...." , etc.


Tired of hearing these obscure grumblings....and wondering if I am somehow missing the point somewhere.....I now have QUESTIONS POSED to TWO audiences:

1) Cable/Broadcast facilities (those who air the stuff).
2) Other producers (those who seem to be grumbling that BetaSP is dead).

Situation:
We regularly produce a wide range of broadcast :30's that air regionally and nationally.

-Most of our car manufacturer footage arrives on BetaSP (DVD being the other option.)
-Most of our raw footage from agencies arrives on BetaSp and occasionally Digibeta (maybe 2% of the time).
-Our HD footage that we shoot in-house shows up on P2, HDCAM and DVCPro HD.

All of our finished commercial spots go out on BetaSp (32 markets) average of 70-100 tapes per month.

((Obviously the HD spots go out on HDCam, but we are not addressing that here/now.))

-------

If Beta is dead as everyone seems to imply....why am I not
a) being forced to receive footage in other formats
and b) why are the stations and cable companies still taking it as the de-facto standard for playback.

I am left in this void...wondering....if Beta is so dead...what has replaced it?
It still seems to be the industry standard for broad distribution and from my research...until HD REALLY takes hold for the masses (I am guessing another 4-8 years), it seems like it will remain so.
-------
So all of you negative nellies....please come forth with your proof that BetaSP as a delivery format is dead. (Other than simply saying the Sony no longer manufactures the units....cop-out!) And Yes, I understand that we are ALL shooting on different digital formats with newer and better cameras...but the final tapes still seem to be going out on BetaSP.

So show me that BetaSp as a delivery format is dead.
Then show me what it taking it's place industrywide.

I am curious. So are my BetaSP decks.....





I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Chris Clephane
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 11, 2008 at 2:28:41 am

Ok...after a re-read that sounds a little snotty/catty/bi__hy. Not the intent.
I am honestly receiving a LOT of regular feedback that people feel BetaSP is dead.
And I am confused by this. It is core to our workflow--which I have always assumed was pretty standard--and I keep hearing people say otherwise.

Can someone please clarify?

Thanks,
-C


I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 11, 2008 at 3:37:58 pm

[Chris Clephane] "I am honestly receiving a LOT of regular feedback that people feel BetaSP is dead."

I know you're talking about commercial production, but here's a different viewpoint from somebody at a broadcast station. I'll guess the people who proclaim the death of Beta SP have a few things in common:
• They recently got into the business, or...
• They never did a lot of work in Beta SP to begin with
• They don't have a lot of file footage on Beta SP
• They haven't thought about how they're going to hold onto the footage they just don't want to lose.

I know that my station has about 30 years' worth of news stories, live programs, and other one-of-a-kind video archived on Beta SP.

Now, here are the questions:
If you don't keep it on Beta SP, what other archival medium will last another 30 years or more? Who will devote what could be man-years to transferring the video to that next archival medium, and properly documenting the transfers for speedy retrieval when needed? And who's going to PAY for this archiving?

If the recording medium of the future was etched in stone, it would be a different story. But heck, it's barely etched in Jello. I still have access to a 3/4" deck if I need it... and the need arises occasionally. I'll bet we hold onto a few Beta SP decks, too.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV


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Chris Clephane
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 11, 2008 at 5:59:05 pm

Thanks, That confirms/supports many of my suspicions.
(And I will keep this post a little more straightforward....as the subtleties of attempted humor and playful chiding are clearly sometimes lost in the translation to text.)

We have also decided to stick with tape as a primary archival medium for many of those same reasons. (As opposed to a primarily IT-based workflow.) We have already had failures of CD-R media and DVD-R media less than 5 years old. DLT's are not proving robust long-term either as the newer units are not always playing back the older tapes reliably (in spite of advertised "backwards playback compatibility".) But those beta tapes come off the shelf and play with no issues....5 years...10 years....15 years old. No issues.

Operating systems and computers have changed significantly over the past 8 years...to the point that I can no longer open old text documents due to planned incompatibility by some manufacturers. (Redmond, WA guys...you know who you are..) But I can always trust the Betas to play. And based on my perception of the industry, I feel I probably need to count on that for another 10+ years or so. .

Our 3/4"SP deck is getting lonely though. (Just one left.)




I edit video. I post sometimes.
I fix things. I eat marshmallows.
I play drums. I drink scotch.
I like TV.

Done typing now.


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Bob Zelin
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 11, 2008 at 10:33:31 pm

Beta is not dead, but Sony doesn't make it anymore. Just remember - 1" VTR's were everywhere, and 2 years after Sony discontinued 1", every major station still wanted tapes delivered in 1" format. Everyone said " 1" is never going to die" - guess what - they were wrong. Big facilities had millions invested in 1" VTR's, with trained personal - both operational, and technical support. Guess what - most of these places are out of business today.

Sony will win (or Panasonic, or whoever - but you and I will not win).

Bob Zelin




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Petteri Evilampi
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 12, 2008 at 9:16:56 am

Well, here in Europe, (you know, the other continent, behind the big water) NO ONE has been shooting with beta for years. Stations do take in master tapes in beta, but they prefer digibeta or even dvcam (witch is strance to my opinion). Archival stuff is offcourse totally different story. There we are going to need beta decks for decades from now.



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bouke vahl
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 12, 2008 at 10:47:51 am

well, i'm from Europe too, and i'm about to cut a piece for a press conference as well as an EPK.
Stuff will arive on beta, and besides digibeta, the EPK will go out on a few beta's as well.
(i must admit this is one of the last beta rigs in my city, but nevertheless. If it works, don't fix it. And this shooter is quite happy with it.)





Bouke

http://www.videoToolShed.com
smart tools for video pro's


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Del Holford
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 12, 2008 at 2:30:29 pm

We have four BetaSP vcrs in service to handle our legacy footage. We also get requests for delivery on BetaSP from non-profits we edit projects for. I believe we even had a spot delivery for another local station on BetaSP. No, the format is not dead, but as a previous poster said, they don't make 'em anymore. We have a few spare machines in storage but at some point our traffic department will dub all the BetaSP programs to DigiBeta. We air DVC Pro 25 & 50 so we might make copies in that format as well, although they probably would be ingested to our GVG K2 server for air. BetaSP tape won't last forever (although it doesn't begin to flake nearly as badly as quad & 1" open reel tape). One day it just won't be viable and all those who take delivery of our projects will have to buy some new machines. They will be the least expensive machines they can get by with. Digital delivery is also becoming a reality and we have both ingested and delivered projects to clients on Quicktime movies burned to DVD ROM. They are SD CCIR-601 format in 720x486 pixel resolution and whatever server inputs them can convert them to their native playout format. Acquisition will eventually be anything from DV to HD and delivery of spots can be digital, even at 1920x1080 resolution, so while tape will be around for a very long time, its use will diminish over time.

Del
fire*, smoke*, photoshopCS3
Charlotte Public Television
del underscore edits at wtvi dot org


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Mike Healey
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 13, 2008 at 2:58:24 am

My company has been providing spot fulfillment and distribution for the NCTC for almost 3 years. Every spot we receive from HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc. arrive on BetaSP. Almost every spot we send out (with the exception of a select few in very tiny, rural markets) has been delivered on BetaSP. We're talking well over 50 major markets across the US. The only other format requested has been DVD. Those requests come from small cable co-op's who simply don't have or can afford a BetaSP deck.

On the flip side, we also provide fulfillment for a national restaurant chain. All of their market reps order spots on BetaSP with an occasional spot being released on MiniDV or DVD. Not one request has ever been made asking for DigiBeta, DVCPro or any other format for that matter.

There have been times where deadlines were an issue and a QuickTime file was uploaded to an FTP server only b/c FedEx or UPS wouldn't meet a delivery deadline for a national football game or primetime event. Even in those cases, a BetaSP would have been the normal, and preferred, delivery method.

Everything that passes through the edit suite gets archived on tape to DVCPro as well as to an off line RAID server. The DVCPro archive IS the MASTER with the RAID providing redundancy.

For those out there suggesting BetaSP is dead or even on the way out I seriously doubt we'll phase it out any time soon. Especially when you consider the other delivery methods and universal compatibility.

My two pennies worth....

~Mike~


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Mark Suszko
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 13, 2008 at 5:27:55 pm

"It's not dead; it just smells funny"

We still use betaSP but only rarely shoot on it anymore, only in situations where we have to hand it off raw to someone who specifically needs that format. We're preserving our remaining decks for editing use and don't like adding the wear and tear of dub runs to production machines. The postage costs alone are a big factor as well: way cheaper to mail a DVC Pro or DVD. We worked it out that for any of our clients that complained they couldn't use a DVD, we could BUY them a player and still save money over shipping tape. The disc is also the same price and weight if it holds 15 minutes or 2 hours.

We mostly shoot DVCPro 25 now,
and we have been weaning our clients off of beta dubs for some time now, switching them to DVD-R's. Oddly enough, we get requests from outfits like CNN, Nightline, etc. all the time and they still ask for beta. Why? Because they don't ask what else we offier, and mostly, because they have accountants.

And accountants won't let you replace anything until it is literally on fire and melting. As long as its amortized and still making them a buck, they will run it until it can't be made to run no more, or the feds declare it illegal. We wring every cent of value out of our gear before we send it to surplus.

We're currently laying off our umatic legacy tapes to DVD-R, a long process, and there may be better ways but this worked out to be the best option for our unique needs. The one-inches and betas will be next as time permits.

Our strategy going forward is to migrate to HD aquisition and output over the next five years, and to distribute "hard copy" HD content on BluRay. It looks like it will work out much cheaper than a tape-based HD solution, and our analysis of the market is that now the HD DVD format war is over, we're going to see a huge jump in industrial/prosumer/low-end broadcast use of BluRay because it will be very inexpensive and available via stand-alone players as well as drives in computers. Because of that cross-platform compatibility, to me BluRay looks liek the closest thing to a "standard" we're going to ever see again in this crazy game. Beta was it for twenty years or so, BluRay will likely be for the next ten, after hwhich, we may be using holographics or quantum foam or some other crazy thing. If it stays a standard for a decade, I'd be happy.

So if we can't uplink a signal to a client or FTP them the file, we're planning on handing them a BluRay if they want HD. We'll likely also archive on it. On paper it works out equal to or cheaper than tape per unit cost and the burners and duplicators are definitely cheaper than HD tape recording decks or masses of cheap hard drives. A Primera Bravo pro capable of BluRay dubbing is only three grand and can kick out a hundred dubs an hour, printed, unattended. Compare that to 18 grand for a USED digibeta deck or 25-odd thousand for an HD deck like a DVCPro100 format. We'll still probably get a pair of those for in-house production use, as they are also backwards-compatible with our legacy DVCPro 25 gear investment. That's a huge factor.

We're leaning towards P2 cameras with external strap-on hard drives to get us cheaper, longer-running HD in the field, and editing in FCP, with burns to BluRay as soon as Apple gets their act together and adds BluRay authoring/burning to FCP/DVDSP. I predict that will happen by next NAB, it simply HAS to.

Again, we're addressing a particular narrowly defined market and needs, so what we choose to do may not fit your unique situation. But it shows you how we're thinking about it and what weight we give various factors.


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Jahil Maplestone
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 14, 2008 at 9:17:56 pm


Whilst I agree that SP is not dead here in America and is still in use as a record and delivery format they are a little behind compared to other country's. Australia switched everything to digital(SD) around three to four years ago and went 16x9 while they were at it. There's still a lot of archival stuff on many different formats but that will continue until someone comes up with the super medium that will last for ever....

I still find myself using 3/4" and 1" almost weekly and SP daily, almost as regularly as digi beta.



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Michael D. Brown
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 19, 2008 at 3:13:09 pm

Most stations and networks with whom we deal still want BSP. Some cable outfits want DVD or DVCAM.
No broadcaster has yet to ask us for HD or even 16:9. That will probably change as Feb 19 approaches.
For us, we originate on DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO 50, some DVCPRO HD, a little HDCAM here and there; I can't remember when we shot BSP. I am shooting a lot on PRO 50 lately, so I would consider that an upgrade/replacement for BSP in the field. Dig Beta remains our standard def master format; HD is still in the future for us.
This is from a corporate non-profit producer with about 2500 reels of BSP in the vault.


Mike Brown
Video/Film Producer
American Heart Association


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Keith Elphick
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Mar 23, 2008 at 5:45:19 am

Having just retrurned to take up a new executive production position here with Capital TV, Bangkok, Thailand (from Australia), I was very surprised to see the old Beta SP format being used in archive, send outs ,even the old massive Beta cameras being utilised in the field.

Thus I found the points of view about this subject in this forum very interesting, and obviously there is still much trust (love & loyalty) in converting analogue to digital and back again regardless.

I'm not converted, but I beg the question: If BSP is in such widespread use across such huge markets world wide, for heavens sake why is Sony not continuing a specialist "pro service division" dedicated to this obviously flourishing (and existing)International clientel. Why abandon their faithful & dedicated industry?

Here at Capital there is 15 years of archived Beta Tape (14,000 tapes), and someone suggested I have a look at the first tapes ever stored. I did, and its not good.

I can see an enormous historical resource and financial asset slowly but surely corroding away over the next decade (aircon on..air con off..aircon on etc.)

I say keep the existing library, but pay a few people a few bucks to digitise it to Blue Ray, and store it in another building (just like they told us to at Uni) because if a better storage format pops up over the next 5 to 10 years I'll bet the Blue Ray copies will transfer cleaner then than Beta SP.

P.S. I've been working with some documentary material shot on a Sony DV HD 1080i camera, and I can tell you it's been a joy to work with and to my eyes and my equipment, it stands head and shoulders in clarity and detail to anything else I've seen for TV.

Good forum.





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Rueben Marx
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Jan 26, 2013 at 5:37:18 am

Hello my name is Rueben. I am in the entertainment business, I run a small film distribution company, and have a library catalog of well over 200 films. (The masters are on Beta SP) and DVCam, that came from 16mm-35mm print.

35mm is whats dead! Anyway long story short. I converted the Beta SP to DVD-R and sell my films on DVDs. Cult classics, folks! lol.
Now I am looking into converting the Beta SP masters to BD-R
masters, for Blu-ray Distribution, if this is possible.

I will say, that I value the beta Masters very much, as I would not have the quality of DVDs today without them.


Ok enough said.


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Saied Marham
Re: Prove to me BetaSP is dead.
on Jan 26, 2013 at 8:21:27 am

Hi Rueben, cult films! Do you have a link?


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