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FW: HD vtrs

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Dear Bob,

With regard to 1"A vs 1" A/C.
I used A and C format extensively, during my tape days and I remember B
format being a bit of a pain. B format (or BCN as Bosch called it) was a
segmented format with if my memory serves me correctly six tracks per field.
Spooling was therefore not as locked vertically as C at high speed and
slo-mo/still frame was accomplished by rock and rolling the tape past the
head (later vtrs had a still store I believe). This led to more drop outs
and occasional edge damage.

As for Sony killing B I think it had a lot more to do with Ampex. All tv
stations worldwide were Ampex (or RCA) customers at that time and the
decision to go A format (later C) was more a question of client loyalty than
any insidious marketing hype. That Sony and Ampex came to a common standard
with C format was more a part of Sony hoping to leap on the Ampex bandwagon
than any need by Ampex to acquire overseas technology. In fact C format was
just about identical to A format with a slight change to the head angle. A
format tapes will spool in vision on a C format machine and vice versa. So
small were the differences between A and C that Ampex retrofitted almost all
VPR1s to be C format and these workhorse VTRs were in service at least as
long as the vpr2bs that replaced them.

As to whether the technical spec was inferior or not, the VPR1 put probably
some of the straightest lines on tape and had a very high rf envelope due in
part to the ast head but also the high mechanical tolerances through the
heads. The b format and C format machines had near identical spec in terms
of bandwidth but the B formats alone exhibited some of the problems
encountered with Quad machines in terms of head - segment misalignment.

1978 was a bad year to be a facility buying vtrs. There was no right choice.
Quad was clearly dead, 2 inch Helical IVC 9000 was great technically but no
more financially viable than Quad, 1" A and 1" B were both doomed a year
later. The best choice was 1"A as at least it could be upgraded to C. But I
think the lesson here is that history shows that we should be very cautios
before leaping and seeing HDcam and D5-HD as "neccesary interim formats". I
don't believe anyone saw 1"A or B as interim formats they simply hoped they
had made the right choice... Unfortunately they were all wrong.
That this is not an unusual occurrence in this business is shown by the
cassette wars of the early 80s, Lineplex, Recam, CVC, Quartercam, Betacam,
Hawkeye, M1, M2 etc
Or how about the digital wars of the early 90s, D1, D2, D3, Dx, D5, DCT blah
blah, see a pattern here?

In summary, as a facility owner it is often best to be second rather than a
pioneer. Unfortunately market acceptance is the only clear indicator of a
formats viability regardless of whether that acceptance is through
technological superiority or marketing hype. Its often easy when looking at
technological issues to lose sigh of the business aspect, put simply which
vtr is good enough for the job, at the right price and likely to make me the
most money.

Mike Parsons - CEO, Elite Effects Pty Ltd
Tel: 617 5563 9377   Fax: 617 5563 9522   Mobile: 0414 29 1936
1 Labrador Plaza, 142 Brisbane Road, Labrador, QLD 4212, Australia

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