Videotape was a wonderful thing, but like all things it has aged. The binders that hold oxide particles to the tape are beginning to melt, and those valuable taped programs and memories will be lost eventually.
By migrating the information to digital formats, you can save those programs for the future.
You can choose to go to DVD disks playable on home players, or you can have them transferred to a computer file format like AVI, MPEG, or WMV. These computer formats are long lasting, and easy to access for later editing or copying.
1 inch "C"
3/4" U-Matic & SP
Betacam & SP
Format information by:
8mm Video Formats
8mm Video refers to a group of three video formats: Video8, Hi8 and Digital8. Together these formats, championed by Sony, played a very important part in the early history of consumer and pro-sumer camcorders.
Video8 and Hi8 are now obsolete. Digital8 is still considered current but only just — it's something of a transition format and is unlikely to survive much longer.
Video8: The original 8mm analog format
- Hi8: Higher-resolution analog format
- Digital8: Digital format with backwards compatibility
- Digital8 vs MiniDV: A comparison of these competing formats
DV (Digital Video) is a video standard launched in 1996. It was created by a consortium of companies and given the official name IEC 61834. The DV standard has spawned a few variations, including DVCAM (Sony) and DVCPRO (Panasonic). Consumers know DV in it's smaller format MiniDV. The high-definition version is HDV, which uses the same style tapes but uses MPEG-2 for compression.
DV uses intraframe compression; that is, compression within each frame rather than between consecutive frames. This makes it an ideal format for editing.
DV uses the Firewire (IEEE 1394) interface to transfer video files between cameras, editing equipment, etc.
DV tapes can be played back in both DVCAM and DVCPRO VCRs.
The Beta / Betamax Format
The Beta group of video formats includes the failed consumer-level Betamax as well as a number of very successful professional-level formats. The professional Beta formats have been leaders in the television production market, especially in the field of ENG (Electronic News Gathering).
- Betacam SP
- Betacam SX
- Digital Betacam
The MII Format
MII was a professional video format released by Panasonic 1986 in response to Sony's Betacam SP format. In the same way that Betacam SP superceded Betacam, MII superceded M.
MII used a 1500oe metal particle videotape with a tape speed of 2.67ips, along with component video recording.
MII was somewhat more successful than it's predecessor and managed to gain a foothold in the television industry. However it did not last. The format was not well marketed, there were reports of widespread customer dissatisfaction, and MII became to Panasonic what Betamax was to Sony. In fact the MII vs Betacam SP war was basically a reversal of the VHS vs Betamax war.
MII machines are still in use but have become very rare. Tapes are hard to buy and the format is all but dead.
Because it is pronounced "em two", MII is sometimes mistakenly referred to as M2. The correct title is MII (i.e. Roman numerals). Coincidentally, Panasonic does have a videogame console called M2.
The VHS Format
VHS is a consumer-level video standard developed by JVC and launched in 1976. Originally VHS was an acronym for Vertical Helical Scan (a reference to the recording system used) but was later changed to the more consumer-friendly Video Home System.
VHS was involved in a bitter format war against Sony's Betamax standard throughout the 1980s. VHS was eventually victorious.
Technical Specifications of the VHS Standard
||12.70 mm (½ inch)
||3.335 cm/s for NTSC, 2.339 cm/s for PAL
||Up to 6 hours (SP) using thin tape. Normal tape has a maximum of 3 hours.
Note: Many VCRs have a long-play (LP) mode which slows the tape speed to allow longer record time. This is not part of the official VHS standard.
||Approx 3 MHz
||Approx 240 lines
||486 lines for NTSC, 576 lines in PAL
VHS was a popular format for early consumer video cameras. Initially these were two-piece units with a separate camera and connected recorder. In the 1980s the VHS-C format was introduced, reducing the size of cameras significantly and accelerating growth of the new camcorder (one-piece camera/recorder) market.
The camcorder format war did not go as well for VHS. When Sony introduced the Video8 format it was widely regarded as superior. Along with their ability to produce top-class camcorders, Sony had a powerful answer to VHS-C and gained the upper hand. Luckily for the VHS-C format, it was kept alive by the convenience of shooting in the same format used by the family VCR.
- VHS-C — the compact camcorder format.
- S-VHS (Super VHS) was introduced in 1987, providing increased resolution and overall quality.
- S-VHS-C is the S-VHS equivalent of VHS-C, i.e. the better tape format in the small cassettes.
- D-VHS is a digital format developed in response to the new HDTV environment.
In the early 21st Century both VHS and Video8 were made obsolete by new digital formats. In 2002 sales of DVD players exceeded sales of VHS players, and over the ensuing few years manufacturers began discontinuing production of VHS machines.
U-matic Tape Format
3/4-inch U-Matic was an early standard in professional video tape. Although it is no longer being manufactured, the vast libraries of U-Matic material around the world ensured that this format experienced a very long, slow death. These days U-matic machines are all but extinct and count as collectors' items.