I receive many calls inquiring about where I think
the industry is going, and what camera/format I see pulling ahead in the “Format Wars”. Which one
finally settles as the “standard” (if any), is still anyone’s guess, but what I can do, is give a
breakdown of trends that we see in our shop from year to year, then you can come to any conclusions
(confusions?) of your own.
Back in 2004 our clients were purchasing camcorders that were used as
“interim formats” to hold them over until the video production and acquisition community decided
what the next format would be. Sony’s XDCAM blue laser optical disk, and Panasonic’s P2 solid state
memory camcorders were about to be released. Ikegami already had its Avid Camcutter SD version out
for years. But with the HD revolution on the horizon, most of our clients would rather hold out
with any big investment that could have such a questionable return. The most purchased formats back
then were DVCAM and DVCPRO SD model field cameras. That was a good investment for that time
We are able to show the purchasing trend with our client base of over
2300, by the number of new camera set-ups we perform. To see a complete explanation of why so many
new cameras come here for a setup, see my newsletter entitled “Format Wars 2005”
. The following is a breakdown of percentage increases/decreases we’ve seen in
2006, compared to the previous year.
In 2005 we saw a 26% decrease in new set-ups, but
in 2006 we experienced a 125% increase, 20% in SD models and 580% increase in HD camcorders.
Panasonic accounted for 90% of new camcorders - up from 47% in 2005. Their most popular models are
the AJ-HDX900 and the AJ-HDC27 Varicam for HD, and the AJ-SDX900 for SD, all of which are tape
based. The “HDX900” has become a leader because of its low price (about half of a varicam) and it’s
a 1080i and 720p switchable camera. The IT based models (non tape) accounted for 10% of new
cameras, with the Sony XDCAM-HD (PDW-350L) being the most popular. While IT based gear may be in
the future, the industry has yet to adopt its work flow, and the manufacturers don’t seem to have
the desired HD versions available yet.
Toward the end of the year we definitely saw that our clients were
buying more HD camcorders than SD. That sign shows that High-Definition is close at hand. Locally
in Boston, I see that our local TV stations are soon to be airing local news in HD. When that
happens, the networks cannot be far behind.
As far as used camcorder purchases go, determined by our
“Pre-purchase Check-ups”, the number stayed the same as the previous year.
Tape – based camera maintenance: BetacamSP increased slightly because
of our 10 percent increase in overall workflow, but as a percentage it decreased from 52% to 48%.
DVCAM, DVCPRO, and Digibeta models grew in volume.
So, I guess that clears everything up for you, right !!??
As another year closes, I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to
each and every one of our loyal clients for trusting us with the care and maintenance of your gear.
I must also thank our techs, Dan, Daniel, Mike, Ray, Paul, and our office manager Paula. I am
humbled by their dedication, and quality work.