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Future of betacam?

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Binny Singh
Future of betacam?
on Dec 18, 2009 at 10:58:27 pm

Hi Guys

So I am starting my own litttle post production facilty (with a small budget) for a few TV shows. Till now all of them were sent to tv stations on Beta tapes.

Since I have to buy a Betacam VTR for the TV shows & its quite an investment to buy one, i just wanted to know what is the future of this format?

Any insight into this would be greatly appreciated.

Thanx.


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Gary Hazen
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 19, 2009 at 4:12:08 pm

It has no future. It's a dying format. That said, expect it to be a long slow death - meaning, a lot of broadcasters will continue to accept Betacam for years to come. We are finally making the move to finishing in HD this year. I contacted the dozen stations that carry our spots and only three of them accept HDCAM, the others accept Betacam. Sure HD is here, but Betacam is still alive and kicking in most markets.

"its quite an investment to buy one"

Not really. You can find a used one for a few grand. That's dirt cheap.


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cowcowcowcow
Bob Zelin
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 19, 2009 at 4:30:12 pm

Hi Binny,

not only is Beta a dying format, every tape format is a dying format. You are new to business, but our business is a cruel business. Every few years, you spend a lot of money, and then the format dies, and you have wasted your money. This happened since the beginning of tape, with Quad 2", 1", D2, and now we see it with IMX, Beta, Digi Beta, HD Cam, and D5. NO ONE can afford to go out and buy all the machines, because every TV station has different delivery requirements. It is your job to find out what your clients want, what you have to deliver to stations, and invest in that technology. You can't say "gee, I really like DVCProHD", if none of your clients want it. Sony has not made a new Beta VTR in over 3 years, so you will be buying a used machine no matter what. Plenty of people still demand Beta delivery - but soon this will end. Same with D5, same with DVCProHD. Many people simply rent a VTR for the few times they need it - especially expensive VTR's like Sony
HDCam SR and Panasonic D5. When will things settle down - NEVER.

Bob Zelin




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Chad Brewer
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 25, 2009 at 12:58:26 am

[Bob Zelin] "NO ONE can afford to go out and buy all the machines,"

Bob, come check them ALL out in one place before they become obsolete...I invited you to Chicago to see us..No response from you...It's cold up here...Will you invite us down to Florida to warm up?

Chad Brewer
Senior Tape Operator
TeleVersions


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Tyler Ries
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 19, 2009 at 5:21:11 pm

I agree with Bob, a rental might be the best way to do this. You wont have to worry if they change the delivery format or the cost associated with keeping a 15 year old tape deck operating properly. Just rent the tape deck for a short time only when you need to deliver the show and save yourself the hassle and money owning a dying piece of equipment.


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cowcowcow
Michael Klinger
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 19, 2009 at 7:36:33 pm

Another alternative to renting a deck is to work with a "service bureau" type facility, just for the laying off of projects to tape.

There are numerous companies that offer a similar range of services, including mine, so I encourage you to shop around for pricing and service options.

In our case, we have all the decks and you provide a self contained high resolution Quicktime of the project (From Final Cut, Avid, Adobe, whatever) and we master it to tape for you. Also in our case we do them for just slightly more than the cost of a straight dub to that format and it is not unusual for clients from all over the country to mail us a small hard drive if they aren't near us. In some cases the files are instead uploaded to our FTP but the files can get pretty big, so FTP is usually only used for a spot or perhaps something as long as a music video. Any bigger/longer than that and FTP probably isn't a reasonable way to go. In most cases a service like this is cheaper or is comparable to renting a deck without all the hassle.

Mike Klinger
Tree Falls Post
(323) 851-0299
mike@tfpost.com
http://www.tfpost.com


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Mark Suszko
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 21, 2009 at 2:44:53 pm

Though I usually am a big fan of rentals for one-off jobs, in this case you could possibly save money by buying the used beta deck, if the heads have been re-done or are low-wear. The factor that weighs most to me is how often the dubs are required; if you are committed to a dub a week for a year, I think you could probably make back the cost of the deck, and then some, by owning it. Certainly, beta machines are cheaper than used D-2 decks, I have seen them in working condition going for under a grand. So I say, buy one and work it until the clients say "no mas". Then it will still have one more use:

...add a rope, and it will keep your bass boat from drifting in the river current:-)


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cowcowcow
Eric Nicastro
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 21, 2009 at 7:15:46 pm

Well this is what I can tell you. I live and work in Erie, PA. The station I am at prefers all spots and footage be sent on Beta SP (we can accept DVD's and DVCPRO but have to convert it to Beta). In my office right now, I have a give-or-take 13 year old Betacam camera. And every single one of our edit bays, four to be exact, have a Sony UVW-1800 player/recorder. Everything our master control operations records from satellite feeds is on Beta. Ingestion station, done through Beta. The majority of commercials I shoot are shot on Beta. I do have a choice though and could use a DVCPRO camera, but it's not the good kind of DVCPRO (and all edit bays have DVCPRO decks as well). The other station in the area and the cable company here also work on Beta or DVD.

The point I'm trying to make is it all depends on the region and stations you are delivering your tapes to. Some areas are a little behind the technological times while others have remained current. Case in point, we only do HD pass-through from our networks. No commercial production or local news or programming is aired in HD on either the local stations or the cable company. We don't even have our local channels on DirecTV yet. So find the delivery requirements and that will give you the direction you should go in. But in my honest opinion, a used, in good condition Beta player/recorder will only run you about $1,000-1,500. As it was said earlier, if your volume is high, buy one. You can charge for making dubs because you are providing a service. And who knows, maybe you'll be one of the few in your region that has a Beta deck and can charge to make dubs for other companies.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 23, 2009 at 3:58:50 am

Betacam still alive and kicking in Madison, WI. Just bought a few more boxes of 5 minute tapes. So much SD spot delivery...ALL on Beta....Wisconsin and Iowa. And if I have say four spots to go to four stations that is a pretty simple four-tape output. If I choose to use DG Fastchannel, which is a great service, it adds up to 16 x the DG rate per spot. Usually that ends up being about three times more than delivering a simple Beta dub.

We don't do so much Beta uploading but do plenty of outputting.

We also find ourselves making Betacam for live shows as a backup to our digital files. Seems everyone has a beta tape.

For us, if we know that we will be delivering in a given format throughout the year we get a deck. Renting can be very disruptive and won't work on a short term job.

Beta? Still alive.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production and Post
Owner/President/Editor/Designer/Animator


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Alessandro Machi
Re: Future of betacam?
on Dec 25, 2009 at 4:30:15 pm

So I am starting my own litttle post production facilty (with a small budget) for a few TV shows. Till now all of them were sent to tv stations on Beta tapes.

Since I have to buy a Betacam VTR for the TV shows & its quite an investment to buy one, i just wanted to know what is the future of this format?

---------------------------------

I don't exactly understand your question. It sounds like you are already doing the shows? I'm curious how you are already delivering the shows without a betacam sp deck.

I would suggest if you have a weekly show or two that you are already producing and will be delivering content via betacam sp you can probably justify purchasing a betacam sp deck if the shows will last at least another 2 months. You can always resell the deck if you decide later on you don't need it.

Everybody should understand how a betacam sp deck works because it may actually be the last video deck that practices such time honored rituals as super accurate EE functionality along with RS-422 and even video proc amp adjustability via a remote for the 1800. Once you learn about EE, you will be better equipped to deal with all the inconsistent guidelines you will see coming at you at an increasing pace from the digital world.

The one flaw the 1800 does have is the audio LED's tend to be unresponsive to dynamic audio levels. You can be peaking on an 1800 without having the LED hit the red when there are very short bursts of loud sound. Ideally, you should consider also picking up a player only betacam sp such as a PVW-2600 so that you can check the dubs made in your UVW-1800.

Having said all of that, you really have to decide what is the "brains" of your editing operation. If your NLE editing system does not talk to a betacam sp deck for both inputting and outputting signal, that could be reason enough to avoid dealing with betacam sp even though it could limit your market.


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Steve Gardner
Re: Future of betacam?
on Jan 2, 2010 at 1:39:21 am

I've been making 8 betacam sp tapes per week for about 6 years and shipping them to stations for a regional tv show. I've picked up two uvw-1800s, both in excellent condition, only using one at a time and keeping the other in storage as a backup in case of a breakdown. I've paid a local tv engineer friend to service them when there is a problem. I acquired both decks by looking for ebay auctions and restricting the search results to within driving distance of my area. When I spotted a deck with low hours I would contact the seller and see if they would agree to a pickup and payment by cashier's check. That way you can see the deck before handing over the cash. Learn more about the built in hours meter system, you can tell a lot about a deck by these numbers and anyone selling one who doesn't list them is most likely hiding something. Some decks have low hours on the heads, but they've been left powered on for 50,000 hours. You'll see that the lower the hours, the higher the price. If you get lucky like I did, you can buy a uvw-1800 from another production company that bought the deck and didn't end up using it that much. Those are the good finds. Definitely go with what your business dictates i.e. if you can get paid to make regular betacam sp dubs it would be smart to buy one if you can get a decent low hour deck.


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Chad Brewer
Re: Future of betacam?
on Jan 6, 2010 at 2:04:52 am

Until so many stations and media outlets upgrade FROM BetaSP, we still ship BetaSP's all over the WORLD!...4:2:2 color space still beats cheap digital 4:1:1 color space. When people still request 1 inch video, we ship them 1 inch video. In some ways, the future of our current world may be more questionable than the future of BetacamSP, but that's for a different forum.

Chad Brewer
Senior Tape Operator
TeleVersions


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