Sony announced that optical disk manufacturing operations, including Blu-ray, are expected to resume around the end of May, and magnetic tape manufacturing operations are expected to resume around the end of July.
Sony Chemical & Information Device Corporation’s Tagajyo Plant in the port city of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture was badly damaged in the March 11 earthquake which devastated northern Japan. The facility was the only plant in the world manufacturing HDCAM SR tape, resulting in widespread shortages.
The tapes are used in Sony’s high-end cameras, and are also commonly used as a broadcast delivery format.
Some opportunistic sellers on ebay have been taking advantage of the situation, asking from $8,000-10,000 dollars for a box of 10 tapes. More reputable distributors have been urging customers to plan ahead.
“We are writing today to advise you that the shortage of products in the marketplace will continue for an indeterminable period of time. It is important to note that many key products ordered on a regular basis by our customer base are presently out of stock throughout the supply chain,” said John Palazzola, president and CEO of L.A.-based Videotape Products Inc. (VTP) in a letter to customers last week. “… Sony, is operating on a worldwide management allocation basis on all broadcast and professional products. A priority list is building. Therefore, we encourage you to contact your VTP sales representative to discuss any upcoming plans that involve new video, audio or IT products in order that we can assist you in getting your needs onto a priority list.”
Burbank-based Media Distributors recently reported that the company has increased the capacity of its “Green Partners” tape-recycling program. The program was started several years ago as a way to reduce the impact of recording media products on the environment by allowing tapes to be recycled and used again.
“It was very fortunate that we invested in the equipment and expertise needed to properly recycle tapes when we did,” said Michael Cullen, president and co-owner of Media Distributors. “This is not something you can learn to do overnight. It is a complicated process and you need the right people and equipment to do it correctly.”
Media Distributors’ tape recycling services involves evaluating each tape in special machines, which test the tape for defects and certifies them for reuse. There are many factors which determine whether a tape can be certified for reuse. The integrity of the product is extremely important in HD production, and there is a limit to how many times a tape can be reused. Therefore, at some point, the supply of new tapes must resume.
Before this crisis, many users needed to keep tapes with the camera-original content recorded on them as an archive. Now however, the need to reuse these tapes means that this original content needs to be transferred to other media prior to sending the tapes to be erased and reused.
“We know that the supply of products such as hard drives, LTO tapes and other solutions is very important right now,” said Bob Daly, VP of sales, and co-owner of Media Distributors. “Our staff has a great deal of experience in these solutions and can help provide the right products for each customer’s unique needs.”
“What started as a program to help the environment will now help relieve the shortages in new recording media caused by this natural disaster,” he added.