As part of an investigation carried out by B+, hire company bosses have concluded that the chaotic mixture of formats currently being used to produce programmes is merely a transition towards the day when almost all programmes will be made on more compact and cost-effective equipment.
?With all but drama producers now being extremely budget focused, [Sony] DVCAM is rapidly becoming the format of choice for all kinds of factual, documentary and light entertainment productions,' claimed VMI Broadcast managing director Barry Basset. 'One broadcast TV production company has ditched Digital Betacam in favour of DVCAM for everything except the final edit master and then only because it's the format broadcasters expect to receive.'
All the video hire companies spoken to as part of the investigation reported good or excellent business in small format camera hire, especially for the 'DV-family' which includes consumer DV and the more robust DVCAM format.
The move towards more cost-effective formats will also boost innovation in programme-making, as Picture Canning Company's co-owner Leslie Zunz pointed out.
?Cheaper formats such as mini-DV may seem to represent a devaluation of skills in a headlong rush into low-budget tabloid
TV, but at least it releases new talent and allows more programmes to be made.'
The report concluded that there will be resistance to change but, as Basset pointed out, it won't be the first time. 'Let's not forget that Digital Betacam was condemned for its 2:1 compression when it first came out, and now it's the standard by which others are judged. The average programme budgets will never be as high as they were and the quality of this new breed of mass-produced equipment is acceptable to broadcasters and viewers - and it's improving all the time. Producers that don't realise this will get left behind.'
For the full findings of the investigation see next month's B+.