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Max Field

Possible ENG Models NBC Was Using?

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For a while, I've had the idea of creating some kind of video emulating the look of pre HDTV news cameras.

Here is a sample video of what I'm talking about:

 

 

Has anyone here worked for NBC or other major news outlets during this specific era 15 years ago? Could have more concrete answers.

 

Thanks for your time.

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Cameras used in those days for news gathering would likely have been Sony Betacam camcorders.

 

http://thestudiocenter.com/TSCStore/wp-content/uploads/DSCF3186.jpg

 

They were analog 3 chip SD 4:3 cameras available in PAL and NTSC versions.

 

The colors and softness that you're referring to were a known 'feature' of the NTSC standard, which was sometimes referred to as "Never The Same Color". To be fair, the images straight out of the cameras weren't that bad, but by the time they had been mangled by transmission, they were often very soft and oddly chroma'd.

 

When Betacam was phased out in the broadcast world, some countries adopted Digital Betacam, which was a 16:9 SD format, 10 bit 4.2.2, and some (like the U.S) went over to HDCAM, which was 8 bit 3.1.1, but was HD.

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Since it's what looks like a live event, they may be using OB cameras with triax as a multi camera setup into a truck, rather than Betacams used for news gathering.

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The colors and softness that you're referring to were a known 'feature' of the NTSC standard, which was sometimes referred to as "Never The Same Color". To be fair, the images straight out of the cameras weren't that bad, but by the time they had been mangled by transmission, they were often very soft and oddly chroma'd.

 

When Betacam was phased out in the broadcast world, some countries adopted Digital Betacam, which was a 16:9 SD format, 10 bit 4.2.2, and some (like the U.S) went over to HDCAM, which was 8 bit 3.1.1, but was HD.

 

There's currently an eBay listing very similar to the image you posted.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-Betacam-DXC-637-PVV-3P-Va-300-CA-537-LC-637CP-Manuals-And-More-Bundle-/172415726636?hash=item2824c7342c:g:or4AAOSwXyVYJPhG

 

In theory, could one output via the BNC to an Atomos recorder retaining the nice color and all?

 

Thanks for the history on these.

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Cameras pre-digibeta are unlikely to have SDI (that is, digital) outputs and most modern recorders do not support standard definition in any case. Plus, as you seem to suggest, at least some of the characteristics you're interested in are likely to be artifacts of the tape recording, as much as of the camera.

 

To make it look as bad as the image you've posted, you'd probably have to record it to VHS!

 

Or transmit it, I guess.

 

P

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Sony BVW-D600 was a workhorse camera on 2000's TV. There were also older analog BVW400 and Ikegami HL55 still in use and some newer Beta SX, DVCPRO and Digibeta cameras.

Many OB vans and studios had Sony BVP500…900 heads or Ikegami HL57/59 with triax adapters.

That DXC series camera on eBay was a cheap one for cable, corporate, etc, not used much on major networks.

 

Those old SD cameras were very different in image quality. Ikegamis were miles ahead of anything including Sony and Philips, vastly superior. Ikegami HL59 used to hold up quite well on big screen, better than cheap HD cameras.

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Some of the later Betacam camcorders like the BVW D600 had digital signal processing, so it's possible that they had an SDI output, but like Phil says, much of the look came from multi generation tape copies and transmission.

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I'd just grab an analog camera with betacam recorder and you can pick up a playback deck on ebay for peanuts. You'll want to record onto tape to help generate the analog look. A lot of these cameras look really good if you record the component output with a digital recorder, so the tape noise helps considerably.

 

I think the BVW-300A was the last "all analog" camera. The UVW-1600's are also perfectly fine playback decks. They're kinda poorly made, but you can nab that and a camera head for a few hundred bux on ebay.

 

I'd also nab a sony 12v power supply for the camera, don't bother trying to make the battery work because every facility had a different battery standard, some Anton Bauer mount, others V mount and some Sony. Batteries are expensive to buy and the older nicad cell's don't last long, so by the time your done screwing around with that stuff, you will have doubled your budget. If you need portability, then maybe try to make something work, otherwise plug it into a wall with the 12v adaptor.

 

You'll also need a digitizing device, but I think you already have one from the VHS project right? Remember the betacam playback deck has XLR audio and BNC video, so you'll need a match box to get RCA audio for a lower-end capture card, if you're using the analog audio, which sounds great. The BVW-300A only records on the linear, dolby C encoded, analog audio tracks. So they have an "analog" sound to them. Some of the bigger models with dockable decks, record AFM audio as well.

 

Lenses won't be expensive either, there are literally hundreds on ebay at any given time.

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I think the BVW-300A was the last "all analog" camera. The UVW-1600's are also perfectly fine playback decks. They're kinda poorly made, but you can nab that and a camera head for a few hundred bux on ebay.

 

Ikegami HL55 was more like a final analog camera. There was an all-analog BVW400 after the BVW300A.

 

Can't agree about the UVW decks. Those were already utter crap in their day, never intended for professional use. Consumer-grade mechanics, shitty electronics - they actually had a limited bandwidth. If you buy one it can easily break down in a hour. Better get a Sony PVW deck and Ampex-made BVW is as good as it gets.

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Ikegami HL55 was more like a final analog camera. There was an all-analog BVW400 after the BVW300A.

 

Can't agree about the UVW decks. Those were already utter crap in their day, never intended for professional use. Consumer-grade mechanics, shitty electronics - they actually had a limited bandwidth. If you buy one it can easily break down in a hour. Better get a Sony PVW deck and Ampex-made BVW is as good as it gets.

 

I had a BVW 400AP that was analog..my first camera, before getting a digibeta .. (the 790 in my opinion was the first decent video camera,with a 16-9 chip and VF).. when I shot for NBC as a freelancer.. they had a Ikegami HL55.. what a beast ! when I compare that to my F5 now.. ! thank you engineers .. great strides !

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Ikegami HL55 was more like a final analog camera. There was an all-analog BVW400 after the BVW300A.

Yea, yea I forgot about the 400. The Ikegami HL55 was a great camera head, I had one with a portable deck for a while, worked great. Maybe hard to find with a dockable deck wouldn't ya think?

 

Can't agree about the UVW decks. Those were already utter crap in their day, never intended for professional use. Consumer-grade mechanics, shitty electronics - they actually had a limited bandwidth. If you buy one it can easily break down in a hour. Better get a Sony PVW deck and Ampex-made BVW is as good as it gets.

THe UVW's were crap, but believe it or not, I've seen more BVW issues because people just destroy them and the heads are far more complicated, which means it's just hard to find a good working one for cheap. The dynamic tracking machines simply fall apart too quickly and weigh a metric tone. So I generally suggest people pickup UVW's for playback purposes because they don't weigh much and they're A LOT simpler.

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Dockable decks are dirt cheap, no matter Beta SP, SX or DVCPRO. Nobody needs them anyway. Decent camera heads, especially 16:9 versions, are harder to find though.

 

I'd rather buy a PVW deck. The mechanism is simpler and easier to service than on the BVWs, and they're pro decks with adequate electronics. They don't spoil your image quality the way UVWs do.

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I've located 2 more Betacams which seem to be at reasonable prices. Could anyone give a "legit check" on if these models were respected in their respective eras, or if they'd be the wrong look I'm searching for?

 

The first is a BetaCam SP

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-BetaCam-SP-Camera-Model-BVV-5-w-Case-Bundle-/272116868226?hash=item3f5b6de482:g:lnsAAOSwXshWqAle

 

The second (Phil's point had me searching elsewhere) is a digital Betacam

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sony-DVW-709WS-Digital-Betacam-Camera-w-SD-SDI-out-w-Fuji-A17x7-8BDERM-M28-VF-/191560336795?hash=item2c99e2c59b:g:lPMAAOSwcwhVMCrJ

 

Really want to thank everyone posting here again. Information for this era of technology is nearly non-existent. Suppose it was coming out before the blogosphere blew up.

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I've seen those, but was hesitant because of Michael Rodin's "That DXC series camera on eBay was a cheap one for cable, corporate, etc, not used much on major networks" statement.

 

Would outputting through the SD-SDI of a digital betacam not give me the look I'm searching for at all? Am I splitting hairs? I've never touched one of these things in my life and am completely in the dark lol.

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You will never notice the difference between the two models, especially if you use the Betacam SP system to capture onto tape, which will give you that nice analog look.

 

Digibeta cameras are very good, they aren't much worse then early 720p cameras. In my opinion, they're too "good" looking.

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Honestly, the easiest way to get this look is shoot on a small sensor camera, like a Black Magic Pocket cam, crop to 4:3, then soften and then mess with the chroma in post. If you're determined to dig up some old cameras, remember that the images straight off the sensor weren't that bad; it was the Beta SP recording, multi generation duping and transmission that created that 'look'.

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You will never notice the difference between the two models, especially if you use the Betacam SP system to capture onto tape, which will give you that nice analog look.

 

There isn't much of a look to first-generation BetaSP recordings. It's mostly the camera head which gives you a "look". That DXC637 will look vastly different to, say, an Ikegami HL59. It's like a Hi8 Handycam vs Alexa.

 

Digibeta cameras are very good, they aren't much worse then early 720p cameras. In my opinion, they're too "good" looking.

Compared to hi-end Beta SP cameras, they are only cleaner and sharper, which you couldn't really see on SD Tv but might see on big screen. Again, Ikegami HL59 will look better than any Digibeta camcorder but DVW970.

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I'd try to find a smaller-sensor camera that shoots interlaced-scan, the motion of 60i capture combined with the extra depth of field will go a long way towards that look. Degrading the image is the easy part.

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Like people trying to make digital look like film, the process to do that is far more painstaking in post and nowhere near as variable, then it is to shoot it in the proper format to begin with. Remember video tape and analog broadcast signals are constantly fluctuating, they are never rock solid. If you want that look, especially with the low-cost associated with these older pieces of equipment, it's far easier to just buy and shoot with them, then modify a clean all-digital signal.

 

There isn't much of a look to first-generation BetaSP recordings. It's mostly the camera head which gives you a "look". That DXC637 will look vastly different to, say, an Ikegami HL59. It's like a Hi8 Handycam vs Alexa.

You'd be surprised how much the tape adds to the "look" of the format. Tape hits/noise and general distortion that goes along with it, is part of the format. When you capture directly off the cameras component output to a digital device, you are loosing much of that look. The only reason to shoot with old equipment is to make it look bad, not to make it look the best it can.

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You'd be surprised how much the tape adds to the "look" of the format. Tape hits/noise and general distortion that goes along with it, is part of the format. When you capture directly off the cameras component output to a digital device, you are loosing much of that look. The only reason to shoot with old equipment is to make it look bad, not to make it look the best it can.

Would would be the major difference in going straight to tape vs digitally recording output signal and then running final product onto tape? Does coloration vary depending on when the capture hits tape?

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I don't think a digital signal going to a tape versus some other recording medium affects the look, it's all usually some sort of magnetic storage of digital data (LTO's are tape after all). It's really the recording codec and the issues of duplicating analog to analog, which usually involved tape back then. Analog NTSC being duped through multiple generations leading to color smearing and other artifacts was usually the problem, especially if lower quality tape formats like VHS were used.

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You'd be surprised how much the tape adds to the "look" of the format. Tape hits/noise and general distortion that goes along with it, is part of the format.

What do you mean by hits - dropouts? (Not picking. Don't know all the English terminology) What distortion?

It has a limited bandwidth, chroma smearing, uses different kinds of filters to deal with frequency spectrum, S/N is lower than of any decent camera. But you don't see it much on a TV screen (which means Sony engineers have done their job well).

What you clearly see is color reproduction, amount of shadow detail, how highlights and edges look - which all comes from the camera head, not recording part.

 

It's silly to assemble a whole BetaSP chain and then get a camera no TV station was using. Get the real thing, it's just as cheap.

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