Greetings from Roger Macie:
I am constantly asked about what has become the most purchased format since Sony
has stopped manufacturing BVW series BetacamSP decks and camcorders. While Betacam
has been the lifeblood of the broadcast and high-end production industry for about
two decades, things are beginning to change. What I would like to share is what I
see happening as of November 2002.
Many thought or wished that HD (high definition) would replace
Betacam by now, however, that hasn't happened. There is much confusion with
all the SD (standard definition) and HD formats that exist today. Few are
interested in taking a chance that what we purchase today will become
unpopular tomorrow. It is because of that fear that Sony’s DVCAM has become
the most purchased format. Its quality is close to Betacam. It’s inexpensive
in both tape stock and equipment, and is a perfect mate for NLEs (non-linear
editors) because it can transfer in digital form directly though a fire wire
While the big networks take most of their video in the analog
format, they are beginning to see the advantages of DVCAM acquisition. In
remote locations they can shoot and edit on laptop NLEs, which create costs
savings. While a lot of the footage is shot with tiny hand held PD-150 type
camcorders, they now have the ability to use high quality full sized cameras
and benefit from the advantages of the DVCAM tape format. We see this
happening with many other broadcast applications and I would not be surprised
if the networks begin to hire crews with the high-end DVCAM camcorders such
as the Ikegami HL-DV7W or Sony DSR-570.
One indicator of this is with Tamberelli Video in New York City.
They are a premier rental and video services company and, until recently,
dealt with mostly Digital Betacam and BetacamSP. Currently about 75 percent
of their business is renting their 16 full sized Ikegami HL-DV7Ws and 15 Sony
DSR-PD-150 camcorders. The demand for the more expensive formats has shifted,
at least for now. Recently, I have received a number of calls from
freelancers who are shooting everything with high-end DVCAMs, and are looking
to sell their Betacams while they still have good value.
Several stations I know have made the switch also. WKYC TV in
Cleveland went from BetaSX to DVCAM with the purchase of over 20 DSR-500s and
has gone tapeless inside the plant. The photographers return from a shoot and
load their own tapes directly into video servers at four times normal speed.
The video is edited on NLEs and airs directly from the server. WCVB-TV, the
Boston ABC affiliate and my former employer, replaced all of their BetacamSP
camcorders with Ikegami's HL-DV7W camcorders. In house they edit on NLEs and
DVCAM edit decks.
While the format is important, it's the picture quality of the
camera that makes its video look so good. Both are low light sensitive and
have scene files for camera set-ups which gives flexibility of changing
camera set-up parameters, either for special looks or for dealing with
difficult lighting conditions. With a street price of about $15,000 and
$13,000 for the Sony and Ikegami, many are receiving a new lease on life
until the industry shakes things out. What's also neat is that these
camcorders use standard 2/3-inch lenses and existing batteries.
With the current popularity of DVCAM and the fact that the
networks are already taking in DV and DVCAM, I would not be surprised if they
begin taking in footage on a regular basis shot with these now popular
camcorders. They will not only maintain the picture quality they are used to
with Betacam, but benefit from the ability to field edit on notebook
As you are probably aware, Macie Video Service specializes in
camera and deck related maintenance on the most popular broadcast formats.
Until this year BetacamSP has been our main focus. Just as most of you have
held out purchasing new gear, we also have held out servicing the many
digital formats until we could justify our expense in training, specialized
tools, spare parts, manuals, and purchase of camcorders ourselves.
Currently about 20% of our new camera set-ups and 10% of our
deck maintenance is with the high-end DVCAM camcorders. Every videographer is
just as happy with DVCAM as they have been with Betacam. Clients can't tell
the difference between formats once the cameras have been set-up properly to
the Macie Uniform Standard.
In case you haven't noticed we are now giving free listings for
crews with the high end DVCAM Sony DSR-300A, 500, 570, or Ikegami HL-DV5 or 7
camcorders (dockables included) on our broadcastvideo.com/freelance website.