The fallout from the devastation in Japan continues to reverberate throughout the professional production industry, and there’s now confirmation from Sony that its Sendai Technology Center in Tagaiyo (Miyagi Prefecture) was severely damaged in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck near there.
The Sendai Sony plant was the only facility in the world capable of manufacturing most of Sony’s professional media products. Specific products impacted by the earthquake include HDCAM SR, HDCAM, DVCAM, Betacam SP, Digital Betacam, Betacam IMX, Betacam SX, XDCAM, SxS, DV and HDV. The facility also manufactured Li-Ion secondary batteries, magnetic tapes, IC cards, semiconductor lasers and conventional CDs and DVDs.
SR technology is particularly precise (with its 4:4:4 signal processing), and it may be sometime before manufacturing can begin at another facility. As a result of the loss of the Sendai manufacturing facility, Sony is carefully allocating shipments to prevent hoarding.
It is predicted to be a three-month shortage of HDCAM SR tape, in particular, high-volume users who manage cash flow may have only a two-week supply on hand of HDCAM SR tape.
HDCAM SR cassettes had recently been priced from $50 for a 40-minute cassette to $220 for a 130-minute cassette. These prices will likely rise as a result of product availability.
This will drive more producers towards devices like the Gemini from Convergent Design, this solid state device can record 4:4:4 which could be a saving grace for many production companies who film with the Sony F35 including the BBC who are filming the most recent Dr Who with a Sony F35 camera.
The Gemini is not a cheap option at £6000 plus the price of your SSD media. As an example 1080 24p with two 512Gb of SSD will record 88minutes of full uncompressed 4:4:4.
A number of production and playout facilities have been discussing how to recycle and recertify their redundant HDCAM SR tapes to extend their current supply and have also accelerated efforts to move away from HDCAM SR-based archives and workflow to file-based workflow and archives using HDD-arrays, LTO tape libraries and other storage methods. Many expect short-term growth in the use of disk drives and digital tape archives as well as solid-state server storage in the broadcast and entertainment industry as a result of the shortage of HDCAM SR tapes.
Over in the USA there seems to be shortages already…Paul London “Here in the U.S. we are already in short supply. We are buying tapes (HD Cam) in ones and twos from LA, Ohio, Canada -anywhere we can get them. All Sony stock has gone and the same with Fuji. There are a few Maxell tapes here and there but not much. I usually pay $18 for a 6 minute HD Cam tape -they are going for as much as $70 now -if you can get them. Sony contacted all of the Canadian tape dealers today and asked them to return all HD Cam SR tapes to them asap for use in the movie industry. The word I heard is that the Sony factory will not be up and running until Sept 2011. One bit of bright news is that Maxell is increasing their pro tape production X3 but this will not hit the market until end of June (also they do not make HD Cam SR).”
Several reports said Sony is also facing trouble with plants in Koriyama, Motomiya, Kuki, Ibaraki, Kanuma, Tochigi and Atsugi because of power-outage issues. But, this situation is deemed short-termed, and Sony is expected to start production soon.