Macie Video Service specializes in repairs and maintenance of BetacamSP camcorders and decks. After working out of the Boston area for 10 years, our company has become known for excellence in camera alignments and VTR service and has one of the most recognized names in the broadcast industry.
At the shop we perform more than 800 repairs each year primarily on Sony and Ikegami Betacam camcorders and decks. Word of mouth among freelance videographers has helped us reach a point where 70 percent of our client base are national. We do work for ESPN, the U.S. Navy, NBA Sports among a slew of others.
Having Ikegami Electronics as a client hasn’t hurt. We’ve been performing warranty deck repairs with them for more than eight years on the popular HL-V55 and HL-V59 camcorders.
In an effort to help control the annual cost of camcorder maintenance, (which helps our freelancers become more successful), we’ve chosen DRS Ahead Technologies as our main supplier of camcorder replacement heads.
NEW LIFE FOR OLD, AND NOT SO OLD
As a part of normal use, heads buildup material. That will eventually decrease the head to tape contact and result in partial or total loss of RF signal recorded on tape. We’ve all seen it show up as a dropouts, break up and color problems.
Sometimes it’s tape or environmental debris, which is easy to remove with cleaning fluid and a lint free cloth. Other times, it’s a stubborn buildup more prevalent with Betacam SP camcorders.
These internal VTR decks have smaller video drums with heads that spin faster and "bakes" material on to the head tips. It’s more frequent on camcorders that use metal tape. We’ve noticed a distinct drop in the lifespan on many of these Betacam heads.
Plus, on certain VTRs, original equipment drums have had a recent history of poor head life when used with some of the popular tape stocks that tend to be more abrasive.
Predicting exactly when a head will clog is nearly impossible. So, frequent cleaning is the best, least expensive and could be the most important task a videographer can do.
Either way, the inevitable is going to happen. Whether it’s from neglect, engineering, abrasive tape or old age, those heads are going to need to be replaced.
DRS was the first of the head refurbishers to come up with a replacement head for Betacam camcorders. In the past six months, we’ve installed 35 DRS replacement camcorder heads without a singe report of a head clog.
To top it off, head-tip measurements of the earliest installed units show remarkably little wear. Not only does the DRS head have a larger head tip surface, but it also averages about five microns greater head tip penetration than its factory replacement. These two factors tend to greatly increase head life which translates into decreased average head costs.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION OR AN "OUCH" OF CURE
Good maintenance makes all the difference. The bulk of our business is from freelancers, who face more problems than the company guy. Camcorders and tape decks need regular maintenance and, frankly, there aren’t a lot of places you can go. But, without it, your business can suffer. Downtime. Emergency rentals. Re-shoots and the occasional lost client can cost a lot more than maintenance.
Whether it’s maintenance or remanufacturing, there’s a lot to consider with your equipment. The quality of DRS, which exceeds manufacturer specs, fits right into Macie's concept for providing the best possible service anywhere. Availability and prompt service has also been a plus for DRS.
It’s all a part of our goal to provide the highest quality service with the shortest turnaround. DRS and Macie seem to agree: Happy customers should be the goal in every business. For more information, contact DRS Ahead Technologies (408) 226-9800.