Back to the Future

I’m 51 years old in a physical sense, in that I was born 51 years ago. Mentally I’m nowhere near as old. The wife says 18 but I like to think I’m not the arsehole I was at 18 but more the child of 19 or 20. I was much nicer then. I helped that I discovered my work ethic at that point as well. 

I love the gadgets of today, I’m a complete mac whore. I own 3 laptops, a 13″ retina and 2 15″ retinas all less than a year old, a 27″ top of the range iMac where I work, an Apple Tv3 for viewings, I’m writing this post on my mini iPad while checking messages on my Apple Watch. Maybe I should say I’m an Apple WHORE! More gravitas. 

I edit using the latest version of FCPX, I’m an Adobe CC. subscriber and I just bought the latest version of ProTools. Apart from the latest El Capitan upgrade (I’m not that stupid) I’m so up to date it’s scary.

I am currently doing post production on a series for the South African Broadcasting Company. The national broadcaster of South Africa, the BBC of SA (massive disclaimers needed here as I use the comparison only in its strictest relationship, in that both are funded by license fees although the SABC doesn’t have the advertising limitations that the Beeb does, and that is where the comparison shall end).  And here lies the rub. 

Every week I turn out my final 24 minute polished, pristine, pretty HD and proud episode of television, make a booking at one of the only post production facilities left, in probably all of the world, to play out my work to a Betacam SP tape. Yep BetaSP. I deliver to the national broadcaster in South Africa on BetaSP. A format that was developed by Sony in the early 1980’s.  I’m amazed and astounded (and all the other Marvel Comic synonyms) by this situation. Of the 3 separate channels only one will accept a hard drive in XDCam SD and that is only for back up purposes. You still have to deliver a, yep you guessed it, BetaSP master. 

Part of our delivery requirement is to deliver promos, on 5 minute BetaSP tapes. That’s with color bars, black, clock, programme, black for 1 minute BetaSP. However due to a contractual glitch we were delayed in our delivery of tapes and promos were not delivered in time to be used. I suggested to the promo department that I could upload them the promo the minute I was done on WeTransfer and they could have the promo ready and prepped within the day. Well it seems this 51 year old has thrown the cat among the pigeons, because the first time I did this, I delivered two promos and I am now worshipped as a god amongst men. I even received a mail suggesting that WeTransfer is the new black. Wow! (And other Marvel Comic synonyms)

I’m gob-smacked to think that in 2015 the SABC is still so far behind and what it is going to cost to upgrade the equipment in that building. I heard only the other day that they were frantically archiving all their 1 inch video tape library to Betacam as there is no-one to maintain the equipment anymore. 1 inch tape!!! It is going to cost the equivalent of New Zealand’s GDP to upgrade that motherfucker. 
It feels like, in this equation, my humble setup is a digital watch to their Apollo 11. I have more computing power and technology in my loft than they do in their 24 floors of broadcast house. 

Oh and I forgot to mention that you have to deliver FCC sheets on paper. Yes, printed out and attached to the tape box.

And I guess that all helps to keep me feeling young, I haven’t left the ’80s yet. 

Betacam is dead, long live Betacam (at the SABC at least)