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Author Topic: Sony Betamax RIP
John Pytlak
Film God

Posts: 9987
From: Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Registered: Jan 2000


 - posted 08-29-2002 12:34 PM      Profile for John Pytlak   Author's Homepage   Email John Pytlak   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Story from Medialine Magazine:

The Betamax VCR: 1975-2002

"(August 28, 2002) Tokyo -- Sony Corp. has announced that it will make only 2,000 more consumer Betamax videotape recorders before discontinuing its 27-year old format later this year...

The company listed new digital recording formats as the official killer of Beta, stating that the likes of recordable DVD have precipitated a final decline in demand, making it "difficult to secure parts" for Betamax machines...

Sony reported shipments of 2,800 machines in its 2001 fiscal year, which ended in March; the total number of recorders produced over the format's lifetime will top 18 million..."

Link to full story:
http://www.medialinenews.com/issues/2002/august/news0828_3.shtml


------------------
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Worldwide Technical Services, Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Rochester, New York, 14650-1922 USA
Tel: +1 585 477 5325 Cell: +1 585 781 4036 Fax: +1 585 722 7243
e-mail: john.pytlak@kodak.com
Web site: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion


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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

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From: Mount Vernon WA USA
Registered: Nov 2000


 - posted 08-29-2002 01:00 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It won't surprise me to see VHS drop by the wayside several years from now for the same reason, especially if new reasonable cost home entertainment technology allows for time shift video recording like the VCR's can do today. My VCR's (Beta and VHS) have been sitting idle and are covered with dust. I use my VHS machines (on an average) once every two years.


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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 08-29-2002 01:41 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I think VHS hardware will probably be supported for a lot longer, simply because of the huge volume of tapes sitting on people's shelves out there. Even if recordable DVDs do become established as a consumer technology pretty quickly, if you bear in mind that the average family home probably contains between 20 and 200 VHS tapes, then their owners are going to want to be able to play and/or copy them for some time to come.

After all, you can still buy turntables for playing LPs and 78s, decades after those formats went out of widespread use.

I must admit to being astonished that Betamax machines are still being produced (just about). With those tiny quantities I can only guess that a lot of the mechanical components (e.g. in the tape transport system) are identical to the ones used in Beta SP and Digibeta decks for the broadcast industry, therefore the usual prohibitive economies of scale involved in producing small numbers of complicated machines do not apply in this case.

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

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From: Mount Vernon WA USA
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 - posted 08-29-2002 03:31 PM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Leo, it is true many people have a rather large collection of VHS tapes at home, including myself. However, since DVD came along, I have been told the VHS tape sales have been dropping, and DVD sales have been rising. It makes sense. The last trip I made to a video store, their DVD line has increased, and the VHS line shrunk a little. I think we will see the fall of VHS when the studios decide to drop that line just like the record industry did to the old vinyl records when the CD's came out.

The transition took about a year before all the record stores up in this area discontinued stocking the black vinyl analog disk. Good quality turntables are very expensive today, although they still can be obtained. They are practially a specialty item.


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Thomas Procyk
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Royal Palm Beach, FL, USA
Registered: Feb 2002


 - posted 08-29-2002 11:57 PM      Profile for Thomas Procyk   Email Thomas Procyk   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was at the local Best Buy store the other day and noticed their VHS collection has been reduced to a single rack, with only 10-12 copies of "Lord Of The Rings" among them. I recall seeing only three different VHS machines for sale as well. The times the are a-changing.

=TMP=

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Paul G. Thompson
The Weenie Man

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From: Mount Vernon WA USA
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 - posted 08-30-2002 12:37 AM      Profile for Paul G. Thompson   Email Paul G. Thompson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I am not sure what the life expectancy is for a Beta or VHS tape, but I am sure it depends on what it is subjected to, such as magnetic fields around your TV set, how the tape is stored, temperature and humidity, and what kind of shape the VCR is in.

Anyone care to comment on that?

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Brad Miller
Administrator

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From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 08-30-2002 01:40 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
I'm hardly an expert on this and don't have any lab-based factual evidence to back up what I will type here, but hey...I'll comment!

I have VHS tapes that are 20 years old that still play well, and tapes that are 20 years old that won't play well at all. The correlation? Scotch/3M tapes have held up, others have not. Also the tapes at SP speed play much better than the SLP/EP speed (which is obvious as to the reason why). Fortunately for me 99% of my tape collection is on 3M stock and most of it plays fine. However my early HiFi recordings do seem to have "issues". The tapes I made on my Panasonic PV-1730 machines at SP still track perfectly, but HiFi tapes made on any other machine are littered with noise in the audio.

Bottom line: buy quality equipment and quality tapes if you want your recordings to last.


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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 08-30-2002 02:22 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Magnetic media (and specifically videotape) preservation is an issue that regularly crops up on the AMIA listserv. The SMPTE, AMIA and FIAT (International Federation of Television Archives) all publish temperature and humidity recommendations for different kinds of element. I agree with Brad: using good quality tape stock to start with helps. But if you're faced with trying to preserve a 20 year-old tape that just happened to be recorded on cheap stuff, you've got to work with what you've got.

Paul & Thomas: Retail sales of prerecorded VHS tapes are dropping here, too. But I still believe that VHS as a format will take a lot longer to become totally obsolete than any previous consumer audio or video format, simply because of the huge amount of software already out there. Perhaps a better comparison than vinyl/shellac would be audio cassettes. Despite the growth of recordable CD technology sales of both hardware and software are still strong. Recordable DVD technology will also have to deal with certain issues before it gains widespread market acceptance. Many people who aren't technically minded find the concept of a medium which you can only record on once and then the recording is 'set in stone' to be too complicated for their liking. On CD-RWs the slightest scratch can make the disc unplayable, and I'm sure similar issues relate to DVD-RWs. People have got used to tapes as a linear format (i.e. you have to rewind them) and can deal with that. Optical discs work differently. There is a culture change that needs to happen as well as a technological one before VHS gets totally sidelined.


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Dick Vaughan
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From: Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK
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 - posted 08-30-2002 06:23 AM      Profile for Dick Vaughan   Author's Homepage   Email Dick Vaughan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The strangest comment I read in one of the British papers was that Betamax had survived this long because it was still used extensively in television production and the advertising industry.

I presume they were getting confused between BetaMAX and BetaCAM.


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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 08-30-2002 07:34 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
...or because a lot of the components in the tape transport mechanism are common to both Betamax and the professional format machines, thus making it economically viable to continue production of Betamax decks (and cassettes) even though the customer base is tiny.

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Scott Norwood
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From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-30-2002 08:01 AM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
VHS should be around for many years, if only because there is so much pre-existing material available on it that people already own; many movies are not yet available on DVD and some titles will never be made available in the format.

Of course, 35mm camera stock, print stock, and lab services will likely be available long after VHS is dead and buried.

Brad--sadly, 3M hasn't been in the magnetic tape/disk business since the mid-'90s....


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Bernard Tonks
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From: Cranleigh, Surrey, England
Registered: Apr 2001


 - posted 08-30-2002 09:00 AM      Profile for Bernard Tonks   Email Bernard Tonks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Wasn’t the problem with Betamax that tape maximum length was 60 minutes? In my freelance telecine/video days, the Betacam 60 cassette was smaller than a VHS. There was a longer length Betacam two hour tape but the cassette was one hell of a size! DigiBeta 3 hour machines came into operation when I left to run the cinema from part to full time. Never saw a Betamax, but what I understand, is that the picture quality was far superior to VHS.

Anyone operated a 2 inch VTR machine ? I did once at training school, the spools weighed a ton. I rather liked the 1” open reel VTs, to me they were a joy to operate with all the logics.



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Leo Enticknap
Film God

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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 08-30-2002 09:12 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Betamax was a component system as distinct from a composite one, i.e. the luminance (Y) and chrominance (C) signal is recorded separately. Yes, the quality was a lot higher than VHS.

The physical cassettes were identical to Betacam, Betacam SP and Digibeta cassettes of the smaller of the two sizes (i.e. the ones which hold up to 30 minutes on a PAL Beta SP). However, the tape ran a lot more slowly, with the result that you can get a lot more running time on each tape.

I still have a Sony Betamax VCR. A friend in a regional TV studio gave me a consignment of about 150 Betacam (not SP) 30-minute blanks when they upgraded to SP and would otherwise have put the tapes in a skip. On a 30 minute Betacam tape you can record 3 hours 15 minutes of Betamax. I still get the machine out every now and again, to transfer material recorded on it to MPEG - usually irreplacable stuff recorded off-air.

Played through a Trinitron monitor, I'd say from just looking at it that the picture quality is almost as good as S-VHS - certainly much better than normal composite VHS.

We have around 300 reels of 1" C format in our collection, but, thank goodness, no 2" quadruplex. The BBC central archives in Brentford have, I am told, over 30,000 reels of 2".


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Bernard Tonks
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From: Cranleigh, Surrey, England
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 - posted 08-30-2002 10:15 AM      Profile for Bernard Tonks   Email Bernard Tonks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you Leo, you have refreshed my failing memory with all the correct terms, please excuse my old age! I should have at least remembered it was SP. I take it that 1” C is still an acceptable format, if only for storage, so 300 reels would may not be a big problem at this present time. As for 2” Quad, I would have driven a steam locomotive better. Can you imagine 30,000 reels to keep preserved. It must be a continuing problem for the future surely.


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Chad Souder
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From: Waterloo, IA, USA
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 - posted 08-30-2002 10:39 AM      Profile for Chad Souder   Email Chad Souder   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul -

You can still get records of pretty much anything, you just have to order. When I was in Germany in '92, their record collection at their music stores was bigger than their tape and CD collection combined, and this was not a specialty music store (okay, I'll give you that it was 10 years ago). The reason the vinyl industry has survived and, like Leo said, you can get turntables still, is because of the hard core audiophiles that believe records sound better than CD's. Nobody likes tapes better, so they're almost dead. Nobody likes VHS better than DVD, so they'll die within 5 years too. DVD players are getting so cheap, you can't build a VCR cheap enough to make people want them. Tivo and PVR's are slowly overtaking the home-recording market.

The interesting thing is, if Sony hadn't been so selfish with Beta, VHS would of lost that war, and everyone would have had Beta in their living room rather than VHS.

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"Asleep at the switch? I wasn't asleep, I was drunk!" - Homer Simpson

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