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  • Broadcast delivery format?

    Posted by Francois Stark on November 22, 2006 at 4:13 am


    We have been delivering Betacam SP for broadcast shows for the past 10 years, and it seems none of our local broadcasters seems to want to change. But as we all know, Beta SP equipment is not being manufactured anymore, and at some stage we will not be able to get spares for all the PWV 2800 and broadcast decks servicing our industry.

    South Africa will not be moving to HD for the next three years to come, digibeta will be too expensive for now, and it’s too late for betacam SX. So what delivery options are there?

    What do you guys deliver your SD material on?

    It would be nice to say – let’s deliver quicktime on hard disks – but I fear the broadcaster will want to move to a format that has the following characteristics:

    – It must be a physical thing (disk or tape) that you can store on a rack for 10-15 years.
    – It must have a verifyable technical quality – EG. quicktime DV minimum spec, Quicktime DVCPRO 50 standard spec – or MPEG-2 8mb/s minimum data rate.
    – It must do SD and HD, because once our industry makes the jump, it will be another 15 years for the next one…
    – It must not be too expensive – for equipment or media.

    Obviously all our broadcasters have moved to large media servers for broadcasting, so all material for broadcast gets ingested, but at the moment it all happens from Betacam SP, and I see a big threat with that…

    I think Sony’s XDCAM makes a lot of sense, or Panasonic’s DVCPRO 50 (can’t do HD)?

    Francois Stark

    Shane Ross replied 17 years, 6 months ago 10 Members · 9 Replies
  • 9 Replies
  • David Roth weiss

    November 22, 2006 at 4:19 am


    Here in the states DigiBeta is the 1st choice for SD delivery, and yes, the decks are too expensive for many to own. So, we either rent the decks for a day or take the material on a hard drive to a facility that can do the output for us. DVCPro50 is a good format, but its not widely used by TV stations.


  • Mark Raudonis

    November 22, 2006 at 4:35 am


    Here in the USA, most broadcasters (Cable and network), require digibeta as their delivery master format for SD programs. HD is well entrenched in primetime with almost all of the schedule now available in HD. D-5 is the defacto standard for HD, with Sony HDCAM SR quickly picking up steam.

    I’m afraid that the transition from SD to HD will NOT be overnight and we’ll be doing “multiple format” deliveries for years to come.

    There are many people spending a great deal of time and money trying to answer your “it must” questions. It would be nice to have a tapeless deliver workflow, and in the commercial world that’s starting to happen, but in longform it’s quite a ways down the road.

    Hope this info helps.


  • Walter Biscardi

    November 22, 2006 at 5:31 am

    [Francois Stark] “What do you guys deliver your SD material on?”

    BetaSP and DVCAM

    Walter Biscardi, Jr.
    HD Editorial & Animation for Food Network’s “Good Eats”
    HD Editorial for “Assignment Earth”

    “I reject your reality and substitute my own!” – Adam Savage, Mythbusters

  • Sean Oneil

    November 22, 2006 at 6:35 am

    I’d love it if the industry replaced digibeta with a far less expensive new format that could do uncompressed SD and could do 480p24.

    One idea I had was a universal standard to record uncompressed or lossless SD onto existing high-def optical disks (Blu-ray or HD-DVD rewritable media). It could include TC user-bits, metadata, etc. “VTRs” could be made to operate like it was a tape with frame accurate insert edit capabilites.

    The technology is there. But I’m sure it will never happen. SD will die with digibeta.


  • Will Salley

    November 22, 2006 at 4:42 pm

    The major difference. from an engineering perspective, between BetaSP and all the formats that have come since, is the service-life of the machine. BetaSp was originally designed to be used all day, every day for many years – and many of the original BVW decks are still in use 20 years later. Granted, the transports and servos got less reliable with The PVW & UVW series, but the parts are still available and those machines are what most stations use to ingest to the video server. The newer formats aren’t nearly as robust. I was a production manager at a FOX affiliate in the mid 90s and we had a rack that consisted of BetaSP, DVCPro, DVCAM, 3/4SP, S-VHS, D-2 and 1″-Type-C. I would expect that most stations have a similar setup but with some newer formats (HD & SD) in place of 1″, 3/4 & VHS. Ask them what they prefer.

    By the way, that FOX affiliate I mentioned was a beta test site for the Avid Airplay, the very first media server for broadcast. It ran on a Mac (OS7.5, an 8500 with 256Mb RAM), there were 64 individual disk drives that totaled 2.2 TB of storage. It recorded at AVR-12 (offline) to AVR-71 (about 10:1 compression-very lossy compression). It was upgraded many times over several months and eventually became part of the Avid Unity product.

    System Info – G5/Dual 2 – 10.4.8 – QT v7.1.3 – 8GB ram – Radeon 9800Pro – External SATA Raid – Decklink Extreme – Wacom 6×8

  • Tom Matthies

    November 22, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Ah yes. Avid Airplays.
    I worked at a station a while ago that had three of them. They actually worked pretty well considering but, to save storage space, the engineering department set them up to ingest/play back at avr-70 (I believe). While the playback worked fairly well for most video, when a spot with a lot of chroma and high detail was played back, the video just turned to mush. We did a spot for a local green house that had very detailed video and whenever it aired it looked like you-know-what. Even the client noticed it. So much for digital video.

    Things atill aren’t there yet, but the technology has come a long way since then. BTW, Beta SP is still king around this market for SD delivery. HD playback? Forget about it! Go figure…

  • Craig Loco

    November 23, 2006 at 10:56 am

    Adstream can accept PhotoJpeg 75% – Uncompressed – H264 @ 15000kbs – MPEG2 422 25mbs – tape is dead

    We send commercials all around the worls – even to SA.

    We use DG Systems in the states and we have our own private network through Euope Japan and New Zealand


    www. adstream. com

  • Txlensman

    November 25, 2006 at 5:14 am

    I regularly shoot (In the U.S.) for Discovery, History, all the alphabet news channels, and many national programs. BetaSP is still the preferred acquisition format, as requested by the networks. If you have Digibeta, sure they’ll want that, but I’ve never been turned down for a network shoot with my Ikegami HL-45 with a BetaSP back.

    It is an incredibly reliable, time-tested, rugged and high-quality format. It’s amazing how manufacturers are so bent on changing the marketplace to new formats that they turn a deaf ear on what the mass professional marketplace is actually using.

    From time to time, I hear some inexperienced people tell me that BetaSP is dead. Hmmm, then how come you can’t even touch a USED lower-end deck in decent shape (like an 1800) for less than $3,500 ?

    I make a pretty good living shooting with my rig, and editing on my G-5 2.3Ghz quad proc, with DeckLinkSP 10-bit uncompressed component, on FC5 Studio.

    I’ve been in the TV production business for over 20 years, and I’m much more interested in my creativity becoming productivity, than piddling with “fake” HD, 720P, or “experimental” acquisition formats.

    Obviously at some point, all television and video will have migrated to true high-def digital, and tapeless acquisition and delivery formats will have stood the test of time and proven themselves. I’ll be onboard.

    Until then, my Ikegami/BetaSP makes prettier pictures than any DVCAM or DVCPRO system I’ve seen.

  • Shane Ross

    November 25, 2006 at 7:47 am

    A good camera in the hands of a seasoned pro does wonders. A CineAlta in the hands of an amateur will turn out crap.

    Again, this is a case of the artist and not the equipment. Well, OK, still the equipment, but HIGH END beta equipment. But I have seen footage on DVCAM that was better looking than DVCPRO HD footage…and in that case it was definately the operator that was the reason.

    BetaSP is not dead…I concur. Every production house I work for still utilized that format daily.


    Littlefrog Post

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