Sony's HDCAM SR Tapes Resume Production in July

The manufacturing of the popular format was suspended following Japan's earthquake and tsunami in March.

Production of Sony's popular HDCAM SR tapes and additional media formats is getting back on track following the suspension of operations at various Sony manufacturing plants in Japan that were damaged in March by the earthquake and tsunami.

"HDCAM SR production begins in July and will be at a normal run rate in August. Anyone who is still looking to shoot a series with SR tape should feel confident that that we will be able to supply the tape to the series," Sony senior vp sales and marketing Alec Shapiro told The Hollywood Reporter. "If there are any particular initial needs that they have concern about getting an allocation, we will work with them. As long as they don't need all of the tape before the show starts, we can handle it. We are confident and we want our customers to be confident that we are back and will have a good supply of tape."

Shapiro also told THR that Sony's XDCAM Optical line, known for uses including in reality programming, would become available this month.

STORY: Industry Scrambling After Japan Earthquake, Tsunami Lead to Tape Shortage

HDCAM SR, which is made exclusively by Sony and is widely used in feature and episodic television production for varying uses including as camera masters and for dailies, had been a format of particular concern. Following the earthquake and tsunami, many customers had scrambled to secure existing stock -- one described it as a "bank run" -- which in some cases resulted in hoarding and price gouging. During this time Sony had carefully rationed what it had, and recycling (erasing the content and reusing the media) was encouraged.

Shapiro told THR that two plants in the Sendai region of Japan -- one that manufactures tape and the other that does the assembly -- would return to full operation. "They are both cleaned up, the equipment is fine and everything is ready to roll. It is just a matter of getting the materials and supplies to resume production," he said. "We appreciate the patience that people have had. We are going to be fine."

Following the earthquake and tsunami, there had been suggestions made in the production community that a prolonged tape shortage might speed up the use of developing "tapeless" workflows, or possibly return some productions to film.

Also at Cine Gear Expo, the production equipment show that concludes Saturday at Paramount, Shapiro told THR that prototype units of its F65 4K digital cinematography camera--among the most talked about product introductions last month at the NAB Show--are expected to become available to the first users in October. He anticipates general delivery of the cameras to begin in January, with pricing in the five figures.