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
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
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
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 www.broadcastvideo.com
site. Our goal for that is now early to mid 2008. Stay
Again, I want to thank you all for supporting Macie Video Service
with your maintenance needs and referrals. Have a great, blessed 2008.