Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good News in the Tape Shortage?

The big news in the video world today (literally today) is the tape shortage that is happening. Sony's factories in Japan are down due to the earthquake and as we speak, production houses everywhere are on the phone and internet frantically buying up all of the Sony tape stock. The problem is that certain formats are only made by Sony, including HDCAM SR, which is the mastering format used for any high-end production. It is also the format for delivery to television networks and stations. Expect SR tapes to be either impossible to find or very expensive, and other tape and cartridges (such as XDCAM) to be difficult to get as well. There are a couple of good things that might come out of this. First, we will once again be reminded how great it is to be shooting to cards and drives rather than tape. How quickly we have taken this "new" workflow for granted. Second, my hope is that more stations will be forced to accept programs as computer files (ProRes, for example) on a disk. With super-stable computer systems now available for playing the highest-quality video, it seems silly that anything has to be mastered to tape at this point (many places are ingesting it from the HDCAM SR tapes anyway). Life would be simpler and cheaper if they were to start offering that option--here's hoping.