Once again, I'm becoming more familiar with the insides of my BetaSP tape decks than I'd
like. For multi-thousand-dollar machines designed for broadcast and professional use, you'd
think they'd run longer without developing problems. I guess Sony figured it was easiest just to
build them with sliding rack-mount rails so you could pop them out of the rack, turn two screws,
and repair them without disconnecting all the cables and stuff. Building them so they wouldn't
need to be popped out of the rack and have those two screws turned so often would have been
a lot more challenging.
Still, the fact that I am giving the beta decks a workout is a good sign, because they don't get
used much unless I'm doing something at least a little bit interesting: DVD authoring, making
TV commercials, or--as in this case--selling foreign movie rights and cranking out the master
In the US, most places would be using DigiBeta for their standard-definition masters, but a lot
of the world still uses BetaSP. That's easier for me, anyway, since I have the SP decks on hand,
but for DigiBeta work, I still have to outsource to a service house or rent a deck to do the work
here, something ever so much more difficult than it ought to be, given that the editing software
I now use *only* works under WindowsXP, while the SDI interface cards I have require drivers
that absolutely *won't* work under WindowsXP. Whee!
Trouble is that it's late enough in the day when it comes to either WindowsXP and standard-definition
video, that if I did grit my teeth and update everything yet again, by the time I'd gotten
everything installed and the bugs worked out, it'd all be obsolete again and I'd need to
do it all over.
Which will probably happen anyway, since everybody from Microsoft to the various hardware
manufacturers are working their metaphorical tails off trying to come up with ways to make
all existing and future video hardware and software that might possibly be used to edit
high-definition video as balky and mutually incompatible as possible.
From my perspective, it seems like far, far more thought and effort goes into coming up with
ways to make any new formats *not* work than to produce the best-quality and most
accessible experience for the consumer.
The reason, as best I can tell, is that the major studios and record labels live in deathly
fear that people will buy legitimate, licensed copies of their products instead of buying
pirated copies or pirating them themselves, which, apparently, is their greatest wish.
For example, the other day I bought a copy of
See You On the Other Side
by the band Korn. As far as I knew, based on Amazon's description, it was an ordinary
CD; the only warning I read in the description was "Explicit Lyrics." I can deal with that;
I've survived worse things in life than a few four-letter words and generally those don't
harm my playback equipment nor do they cause the CD to be incompatible with it.
So you can imagine my annoyance when I found that the CD in question was not a
legitimately-authored, bona fide music CD, but a disc that deviated from the CD standard
in ways designed to make it unplayable on many kinds of standard consumer equipment
and that it contained malicious code designed to damage a computer used as a playback
Kind of like handing out apples with razor blades hidden in them for Halloween.
...maybe that's not the best analogy. The razor-laden-apple givers of
urban legend don't add insult to injury by charging for them.
None of this, of course, would do anything to stop a pirate from making copies of the
music on the album or stop a consumer from downloading or purchasing such pirated
copies...but it does mean that anyone savvy enough to steal the
recording would find themselves enjoying a substantially superior version, playable
on all consumer equipment rather than just some, and playable on their computers
without risk of screwing up their operating systems.
It's a tough choice, but in between tactics like this and RIAA's ongoing efforts to sue
its customer base into oblivion, the record labels haven't merely abandoned the moral
high ground, they're actively trying to blow it up.
And this diatribe is even brought to you by someone in the movie and music distribution
business. I guess the major studios and labels have to be able to afford replacement parts for
their mastering decks, too, but I really do think it's possible to pay the bills without resorting to that
level of unethical behavior to do it.