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Can Betcam decks (SP, SX, Digital) play back Betamax tapes?

Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

Part of my business is transferring videotape formats to DVD and digital file. I just started the business a little while ago, and I'm looking to add to the formatst that I can currently do. Specifically I'm looking to add Betamax to the list, since I have received a ton of calls and emails from people asking if I can transfer their old family movies that are on Betamax to DVD. If I did get a Betamax player, I'd be looking for one of the Extended Definition Betmax players that has S-Video out, in order to getthe best possible picture from theBeta tapes.

But what I'm also wondering is, and I've looked online for this answer, but would a Betacam deck (either SP, SX, or Digital) be able to play back Betamax tapes? I know that some of the early Betacam players and recorders (1982-1985) were able to record onto Betamax tapes, and some professionals used those in cases of emergency. But, besides Betamax, I'd also like to add Betacam transfers at some point. So I'm just trying to find out if it were possible with, say, a DVW-500, to transfer Betamax tapes?


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

Betamax is Betamax/ Betacam is Betacam; never the twain shall meet! I'd would be cautious about investing in a Betacam deck. Consumers rarely if ever used this format so your only customers would be professionals and, based on our experience, most have the ability to do format conversions themselves.

Good luck with your new business. We've been doing much the same thing for 14 years. It's surprising how many obsolete format tapes are hanging around in people's closets. There's money to be made in converting it.

Jack

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Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

Well another part of my business is doing corporate videos and commercials, so I'm looking at Betacam decks so that I can also put any commercials to Beta.



Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

Well I know that two of the stations in my area (possible a 3rd, but I haven't been able to confirm it, and these two stations are 'twinstick' stations) do accept both Quicktime MOV files for commercials, but they also accept commericals on Betacam SP and SX. But the MOV files are uploaded to a file-sharing site and are visible to other clients of the stations, and the stations do say, and this is a direct quote from their guide lines, "If confidentiality is an issue, it is best to send a tape." Plus there is also the issue of compression. Sure if the video goes to Betacam SX there is compression applied there, but when you do a file, it needs to be with certain compression out of a list of compressions that the station accepts. Plus, with both stations, they ultimately put the commercials uploaded to their site right too tape before airing (in their guidelines it even says that they need three days to transfer the commercial to tape), so too avoid any loss of signal and quality, at least in my area, outputting commercials for clients on Betacam would be better than doing a file upload.

I've even worked at a place in the past where we shot and edited everything in NTSC, and we sent a tape of the show to a station in Europe, and we had to work with that station's guidelines, and the main one was too send the tape on Betacam SP in NTSC because they would handle the conversion to PAL. So I know that even if a someone got me to do a commercial or show that would be aired on a network, Betacam SPwould probably be one of the options forsending the commercial/show (and I'm basing this on the fact the two stations I mentioned above belong to two different networks owned by the same parent company)and my clients would probably want the commercial looking its best on the air.


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

In 14 years of business I've only had one client who asked for delivery in Beta SP. This was about 18 months ago. Once they heard the cost differential between Beta SP and miniDV, they backed off the Beta SP.

I'm not suggesting that you shouldn't buy the gear, only pointing out that from a business point of view you have to be able to amortize the cost of the gear in a reasonable amount of time -- two to three years at most. So if you buy a deck for $1500 to 2000, can you realistically expect to do $500-700 of Betacam business each year for the next three years? It might be a better business move to find someone locally who still works with Betacam, job out work to them, then mark it up for your client. You can make a profit that way without doing any work yourself and without having to invest in equipment that may not get used enough to justify its cost.

Jack

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paulears's picture
Last seen: 9 hours 14 min ago
Joined: 11/05/2006 - 8:36am

I've still got two functioning Betacams with nice lenses, a portable Betacam recorder, a Sony camera with mated on 9000 Hi-8 and a DVCam recorder. In the past two years none of these has had a tape through them. I keep them just in case, as they work - but nobody here in the UK seems to need them any longer. I did a few transfers from MII last year, but the machine died - and I got 25 for it on ebay!


Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

Well with the two stations in my area they even say in the guidelines "No Mini-DV or Digital Betacam"---so while Mini-DV or even DVCPROmay be a preferable option to Betacam SP in today's day and age, if the customer wants the commercials on tape for delivery to the local TV stations, Betacam SP would seem to be the logical course, since it is one of only two tape options the stations accept (the other is Betacam SX).

As for finding someone local, I've looked and the nearest person is almost 2 hours away; not exactly across town or in the next town over.


Rick Crampton's picture
Last seen: 2 months 1 week ago
Joined: 08/20/2009 - 1:08pm

I think I'd take my work, on my best format, and go to the stations in question and copymy workto their platform!

This almost sounds like the old excuse in the top 40 radio days, " We would love to play your record on the air, but the center hole is too small ! "

Rick Crampton


Jack Wolcott's picture
Last seen: 7 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: 01/02/2008 - 11:51pm
Plus Member

Please re-read my last posting above. If the amount of business you will be doing with the TV stations justifies the investment, go for it. If not, you're just throwing money away! This is a situation in which betting on the come -- that is, hoping that you'll get enough business -- probably doesn't make sense.

Also, UPS travels two hours away and back and can do overnight delivery. Again, I suggest you rely on out-sourcing until you're sure of the cash flow the Betacam represents.

Jack

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Trevor's picture
Last seen: 1 month 1 week ago
Joined: 08/27/2012 - 6:33pm

As far as I'm aware they both broadcast HD on two cable services (both cabLe services are nowhere near where I am) and OTA; according to they're website they upconvert their SD newscasts too HD. So they do broadcast HD, but right now it is too a very small market share. Otherwise their broadcasts are in SD on satellite and other regional cable providers...plus the other good reason that they still broadcast SD is that in Ottawa they're OTA is digital, but in the suburbs they are still broadcasting in analog. Sure there was that August 31 end date in 2011, but that only applied to 28 markets in Canada.

As for using Purolator or FEDEX (UPS parcels are dropped of by Purolator in my area), I've thought of it, but overnight service the prices are anywhere from $65 to $100.

And for a Betcam SP deck I would definitely not be paying $1,500 to $2,000.