Tagged: broadcasting

MPEG IMX (2001 – 2016)

MPEG IMX (also known as D10) was a standard-definition digital video cassette format introduced by Sony in 2001 and was part of the Betacam family of professional video formats. It was priced between Sony’s Betacam SX and the more expensive Digital Betacam, and was intended to compete with the Panasonic DVCPRO 50 system. As the name suggests, MPEG IMX recorded in MPEG video format, in case MPEG-2 using only I-frames and 8 channel audio.

Like other Betacam formats, tape width was ½ inch and cassettes were available in small or large form factors, with the S size holding up to 60 minutes of video, and the L size up to 184 minutes. To distinguish MPEG IMX tapes from other Betacam formats, the shells were coloured green. Metal particle tape was used.

All IMX video recorders could playback Betacam SX tapes, and some could playback Digital Betacam as well as analogue Betacam and Betacam SP tapes, the video from which could be encoded into MPEG-2 format. Only IMX tapes could be used for recording in IMX video recorders.

Like all Betacam formats, no new MPEG IMX video recorders are being made, having been discontinued in 2016.

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1-inch Type B (1975 – 1980s)

1-inch Type B (also known as B-Format) was an open reel magnetic tape format for professional analogue video recording.

It was introduced by Bosch in 1976 for use in its BCN line of video recorders and although it found success in continental Europe, 1-inch Type C was more successful in the UK and US. Unlike Type C, Type B in its standard form could not perform trick-play operations such as slow-motion or frame step play, due to the way the each field was segmented over 5 or 6 tracks (Type C recorded one frame per helical scan). An expensive digital framestore was needed to perform trick-play operations.

Type B had a standard capacity of 96 minutes on a reel, although later this was increased to 120 minutes. Long play versions eventually became available that could fit up to 6 hours on one reel.

Video quality was excellent, and as well as standard recording/playback machines, portable and random access cart machines were available.

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Preservation / Migration

media stability 5obsolescence 5

HDCAM SR (2003 – 2016)

HDCAM SR (Superior Resolution) was a professional high-definition digital video cassette format, introduced by Sony in 2003 as a higher quality variant of its existing HDCAM system.

Like other Betacam-related formats, HDCAM SR cassettes were available in large and small sizes, and had the same tape lengths as Digital Betacam (up to 40 minutes for S and 124 minutes for L tapes).

It used higher particle density tape allowing an increased bit rate (a choice or 440 or 880 Mbps). Like HDCAM, it was commonly used in high-definition television production.

Sony HDCAM SR tapes were black with a cyan lid and contained a 1K memory chip to store metadata about the tape.

In 2016, Sony announced that it was ceasing production of its remaining ½-inch video tape recorders and players, including those for the HDCAM SR format.

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HDV (2003 – 2011)

HDV was a high-definition digital video format for camcorders. Because of its high quality, it has been used for broadcast television as well as amateur video recording. JVC was the first company to release a HDV camcorder in 2003, with Sony and Canon producing camcorders later.

HDV video can be recorded at 720p and 1080p, sometimes referred to as HDV1 and HDV2 respectively.

Although special HDV tapes are available, their use was not required as the tape formulation (Metal Evaporate) is the same as standard MiniDV cassettes. One Sony camera could also use the large DV cassette format. HDV devices could usually play and record in DV format as well as HDV.

Accessories were available to allow HDV camcorders to record to non-tape media such as CompactFlash cards.

By 2011, Canon, JVC and Sony had discontinued their HDV products, and invested instead in fully tapeless formats such as XDCAM.

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Fidelipac (1959 – late 1990s)


Fidelipac (commonly known as an NAB cartridge) was a magnetic tape cartridge format, used in radio broadcasting for playback of material such as radio commercials or jingles. It was the first audio tape cartridge commercially available when it was introduced in 1959 by Collins Radio.

Fidelipac used ¼-inch endless loop tape, with two or three tracks one of which was used to cue the tape. Most players ran at 7.5 inches per second, though some could also run at 3.75 or 15 ips.

There were three sizes of Fidelipac available; the 4-inch wide A size (up to 10.5 minutes playing time), the 6-inch wide B size, and the 8-inch wide C size. The most commonly used for broadcasting purposes was the A size, and the B and C sizes were usually used for background music applications where the tape speed usually was 3.75 inches per second for longer playing times.

Fidelipac was adapted as the basis for the 4-Track Stereo-Pak cartridge. Other similar cartridge designs were later used in broadcasting, such as the Audiopak and Scotchcart.

Unlike the 8-Track cartridge (but like the 4-Track cartridge), the pinch roller was built into the player and swung into place through a hole in the cartridge.

Fidelipac was widely used at radio stations until the late 1990s, when such formats as MiniDisc and computerized broadcast automation made it obsolete.

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DVCAM (1996 – )

DVCAM is a variation of the DV format introduced by Sony in 1996, and aimed at the semi-professional and lower-end professional market.

DVCAM uses the same type of tape and compression as DV and MiniDV but at a higher speed (almost 50% faster). In common with all DV formats, DVCAM uses tape that is ¼-inch (6.35 mm) wide. DVCAM uses metal evaporated (ME) tape

DVCAM tapes come in two different sizes. The smaller size uses the same form-factor as MiniDV and can hold up to 40 minutes, which the larger size (which is actually the medium size DV tape) can hold up to 184 minutes.

Technically, any DV cassette can record any variant of DV video.

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Preservation / Migration

HDCAM (1997 -2016)

HDCAM was a professional high-definition digital video cassette format, introduced by Sony in 1997. No other tape-based HD broadcast format was around at the time, and it quickly became clear that one was needed for high-definition television to succeed.

Like other Betacam-related formats, HDCAM cassettes were available in large and small sizes with the same tape lengths as Digital Betacam (up to 40 minutes for S and 124 minutes for L tapes). Sony HDCAM tapes were black with an orange lid. HDCAM had a bit rate of 144 Mbps, which was a 50% increase over Digital Betacam.

Its main competitor was Panasonic’s DVCPRO HD that uses a similar compression scheme.

HDCAM SR (Superior Resolution) was introduced in 2003 and used higher particle density tape allowing an increased bit rate (a choice or 440 or 880 Mbps).

In 2016, Sony announced that it was ceasing production of its remaining ½-inch video tape recorders and players, including those for the HDCAM and HDCAM SR formats.

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D2 (1988 – 2000s)

D2 was a digital video cassette format for professional broadcast use, and was introduced by Ampex, in collaboration with Sony in 1988 as a lower-cost alternative to D1. Unlike D1 which is a component format, D2 stores composite video but like D1 stores uncompressed digital video. Panasonic’s competing D3 was also stored composite video.

It was a cost-effective solution for broadcasters with investments in composite analogue video infrastructure, as D2 machines accepted standard analogue video and audio inputs and outputs.

D2 uses ¾-inch tape in one of three different size cassettes (with maximum playing times of 32, 94, and 208 minutes). The cassettes are very similar to D1, but are not interchangeable and D2 uses metal particle tape.

The D2 format had a relatively brief heyday, as the computer-based video server became available soon after its release. By 2003, only a few broadcasters continued to use D2.

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Preservation / Migration

Electrical Transcription Disc (late 1920s – 1980s)

An Electrical Transcription Disc was a type of phonograph record intended for, or recorded from, a radio broadcast. Their use for this purpose persisted long after the advent of magnetic tape recording because it was cheaper to produce master disc and press 100 identical high-quality discs than to make 100 copies on tape.

They were most commonly 16 inches in diameter and played at 33⅓ rpm, although very early radio programmes (circa 1928-1931) were on sets of 12 inch or even 10 inch diameter 78 rpm discs, and some later (circa 1960-1985) ones were distributed on 12 inch diameter 33⅓ rpm discs. Although the earliest transcription discs were pressed in shellac, in the mid-1930s quieter vinyl compounds were substituted.

Standard 16 inch transcription discs of the 1930s and 1940s usually held about 15 minutes of audio on each side, but this was occasionally pushed to as much as 20 minutes. Unlike ordinary records, some were recorded inside out, with the start of the recording near the label and the end near the edge of the disc. The label usually noted whether the disc was ‘outside start’ or ‘inside start’. Beginning in the mid-1950s, some transcription discs started employing microgroove discs, allowing 30 minutes to fit comfortably on each side of a 16 inch disc.

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Audiopak (1972 – 1990s)

Audiopak was a broadcast cartridge format, very similar to and a competitor to Fidelipac, and was introduced by Capitol Records in 1972. The Audiopak brand was also previously used for Capitol 8-Track cartridges.

There were two versions, the original A-2 with black casings, and later AA-3 mostly with blue casings.

Playing times for the A-2 version were between 20 seconds and 10.5 minutes.

The A-2 has no hub brake, and the tape itself is braked, with the aim of providing more reliable cueing. The AA-3 did away with the brake, and replaced it with a brake pad on the left side, to reduce the number of parts.

Like other broadcast cartridge formats, Audiopak was used by radio stations until the 1990s, when such formats as MiniDisc and computerized broadcast automation made it obsolete.

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