Tuesday, December 23, 2008

We won't cry at this funeral...

Well, its official. VHS Tape is on its deathbed. And this is one funeral the staff at Primitive World Productions won't be sad to attend. Don't get us wrong. VHS killed Betamax. It created the home video market. It made inexpensive video distribution to homes everywhere possible. But, in the light of DVD and other newer formats, it was awful. The colors drift and bleed, the audio doesn't always hold on forever, and basically the format just doesn't age that well. It's heavy and bulky and not random access. It needs real time to duplicate. It takes more room in to keep on stock. We're just not going to miss it. Maybe the headline for the New York Times Obituary will be kinder than this one.
There was discussion in the office about the halting of production of Polaroid film. Now that's a tragedy. That's a look that can only be achieved one way. Visual storytelling is just that, and the tools available are the brushes to our palettes. Maybe one day we'll long for that VHS look and try to replicate it with a digital process. As a matter of fact, we can be relatively certain of that occurring. But, until then, this is one brush we can put down for a good long while.
Here is the article that announced the impending doom as sent to us by the NAB newsletter:
Cue tape for VHS format's final moments
The VHS era is coming to an end, as the last major supplier of the format's tapes stopped shipping them to retailers in October. "It's dead, this is it, this is the last Christmas, without a doubt," said Ryan J. Kugler, president and co-owner of Distribution Video Audio Inc. "I was the last one buying VHS and the last one selling it, and I'm done. Anything left in warehouse we'll just give away or throw away." Los Angeles Times (12/22)


Jeff Herron said...

For professional production, I can certainly understand the ambivalence toward the passing of this venerable format.

But what of the consumer market? We have scores of children's and other videos, many purchased in recent years. Are all those going the way of the dodo?

How quickly will this die-off occur in your estimation?

Primitive World said...

I'd put your consumer fears mostly to rest. If the manufacturer/distributor of the stock is just ceasing it will take 1-3 years for all VHS production to finish, as a rough guess. But VCRs are here for the long haul.

Remember, turntables have made a resurgence and cassette tape players are still locatable. You have to go used for the much maligned 8-Track, but that's the Betamax of that realm. Another element to protect the VCR for many years to come is that not everything that was brought out of the vaults for VHS distribution has been redone on DVD. Cinephiles everywhere will ensure that VHS players never die, if only to watch that rare French New Wave film in the privacy of their own home.

I think your kids will wear out the VHS tapes long before you can't find a VCR.