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 Format Wars 2007 Title


2007 marks the sixth year of my “Format War” series, and you may find it as interesting as I did in reviewing that period. The only thing that remains constant is change! This fact seems to be finally catching up to BetacamSP format. Never in the history of television did one format have such a product life. I doubt that any investment in any product line will ever gain such a return. A good part of this is due to the networks that are still using this format almost exclusively for ENG / EFP applications. We continually purchase parts cameras to help us with troubleshooting the ever aging fleet of camcorders and decks in the field, and we still have had no problems getting parts from Sony for Betacams. What have dried up are printed circuit board replacements, of which we usually make component level repairs to, instead of replacing. By the way, I plan to write an update on the “Attack of the Killer Capacitors” article in the near future.

In 2004, we began maintaining other popular tape formats, along with performing camera alignment set-ups on all the new HD camcorders. While each one involved an investment on our part with new jigs, test equipment, spare parts and factory training, it has paid off.

As you probably know, I am able to report what our client base has been purchasing for new camcorders by the amount of “New Camera Set-ups” we perform. With close to 2,600 clients, it is a good cross section of the broadcast market. While the quantity of new cameras purchased last year was about the same and 2006, we did see a 147% increase in HD, verses a 55% drop in SD camera purchases. Panasonic, which accounted for 90% in 2006, has dropped to 65% in 2007. Sony, on the other hand, increased from 10% to 35% of purchases in 2007.
Sony purchases included the XDCAM and HDXDCAM, as well as the HDW and Cinealta camcorders, with a 360% increase. Panasonics included the HD P2 models, as well as the AJ-HDX900 and the Varicam, with an overall 28% decrease in total number.

The IT, or tapeless formats, increased from 10% to 30 % in 2007. That’s a big jump, and it’s due to TV stations and news outlets mostly. While most are HD models, they are airing video in the SD mode.

It is truly difficult to predict if the memory card storage will win out over the optical disk. Unfortunately, Sony to date has not shipped any 2/3 inch versions of its HDXDCAM format, only the ½ inch ones. The lenses for the 2/3 inch versions are the industry standard in the rental sector, and with most HD shooters. With the less expensive optical disk media, sales could take off with a 2/3 inch version. Time will tell.

As to which was the most popular, the Panasonic AJ-HDX900 led the pack, with the Sony HDXDCAM second, and the HDW models third. I was surprised at how many of the new F900R models came through the shop.

The amount of pre-owned camera sales, was unchanged from the previous year. The majority of sales were with the Panasonic Varicam, and the AJ-SDX900 camcorders, and Sony DXC-D50 dockable SD cameras.
Videotape camcorder and deck service numbers showed that Betacam has slipped to 40% from 48% in 2006, and 52% in 2005. Breaking down the rest: HDCAM up 500%, DVCPROHD up 185%, DVCAM up 130%, DVCPRO 25-50 down 30% and Digibeta service down 55% since 2006.

We have also worked with a number of news organizations that are purchasing dozens of new HD camcorders, and want them set-up and matched. So far we have been able to satisfy their needs cost effectively. If this is of interest please contact us.

Another thing I found very interesting with our business, is the demand for higher quality images from the new HD cameras. I have been blessed to be involved with a number of HD shoots for the Food Network, ESPN Entertainment and PBS, with a cooking show series. It was a true learning/relearning experience to actually go out into the field with some of the cameras we set-up in the shop. If you haven’t read them, please check out my On the Road Again with Roger newsletter series. I am working on another in the series, with what I learned as I worked as video engineer for PBS with the “Cooks Country” series that will air in mid 2008. Taking these assignments has been a test for our company, to check out the demand for such services. I have been receiving inquires for future shows, which could develop into a future business model for Macie Video Service. Again time will tell.

The other reason for taking such work is to increase my knowledge, and then share what I learn with our clients and the broadcast industry. As many of you know, as far back a six years ago, I expressed an interest in creating a training video series. I am closer than ever before, and should start work on it once we overhaul our site. Our goal for that is now early to mid 2008. Stay tuned.
Again, I want to thank you all for supporting Macie Video Service with your maintenance needs and referrals. Have a great, blessed 2008.

Take care, 


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