Traditional industry leaders have put their offerings on the table. But we cannot properly evaluate them until they define the rules of the game for the coming years.
We are no longer talking about analogous component recording systems, with clearly equivalent performance, or formats established in the market, with a stability that made it possible to guarantee millionaire investments in equipment with a long technical tradition.
The audiovisual markets of our region are beginning to press the change of the analog systems that we have in use. And while we all tacitly accept that there is still room for a new generation of digital tape recorders, producers are reluctant to make moves that can turn out to be monumental fiascos.
The truth is that the limited market for universally used formats is over. The digitization of video brings great confusion and the new products of NAB'98 will contribute to increase them.
A manufacturer offers a DV-based system as the ideal solution for commercial playback. And another says that a DV system is completely unsuitable for post-production, but that it is the ideal recording system; which, according to a third party, is the future of news production.
Meanwhile, a low-cost format competes openly with another that was intended to be the replacement for the D1 in the most sophisticated markets... And a fourth manufacturer says that – in markets like ours – it is not necessary to buy professional equipment but to resort to prosumer products; although at the same time it develops a new format capable of accommodating any possible DTV option, and announces that it will continue to support current HDTV systems...
And all this happens within the framework of a television system that tends to disappear in the most important markets in the world.
Over the next few years, many factors will have to be considered when renewing equipment. It is clear that it will be necessary to foresee future compatibility routes that, in one way or another, will require 16:9 images to keep us competitive in international markets.
On the other hand, it is foreseeable that the migration to DTV will take many years in most Latin markets, which will make it possible to meet local needs with the equipment available today.
And in short, it is not possible to think of abandoning the film, which will continue to accompany us for many years...
The supply of video production equipment is being segmented. And it is likely that this movement will be linked to a segmentation of audiovisual markets in the near future. Perhaps in a few years we will find in our region a curious phenomenon of coexistence of formats, which will open spaces for the penetration of new equipment in the largest markets while local stations and state operations in poorer countries continue to operate with current systems.
In the meantime, what must producers forced to face the pressure of renewing equipment do? Search for your niche in the market, find credit and commit to the system most suitable for your immediate needs. And to trust that system to be useful in a few years' time...