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A high-quality videotape technology introduced by Sony in 1982. Initially an analog format with digital following later (see Digital Betacam), Betacam was designed for professional TV recording. Time codes are built into the Betacam 1/2" helical scan format to support precise editing of the recorded material. Betacam evolved from Sony's Betamax consumer format, but with a large increase in tape speed and using component video signal separation rather than composite video (see component video and composite video).

Betacam SP (Superior Performance) came out in 1986, increasing resolution from 300 to 340 lines and adding improvements to the tape and recorders. Using a larger cassette that increased time from 30 to 90 minutes, Betacam SP was widely used in professional applications until Digital Betacam took over in the late 1990s.

A Boon for Camera Operators
Although heavy by today's standards, the first Betacam camcorders were considerably lighter than the video cameras of the era. Betacam was a welcome breakthrough for cameramen shooting on location.

In 2001, Sony announced end of life for its analog Betacam camcorders; however, digital Betacam VTRs can typically play back analog cassettes, and Sony MultiPlayer VTRs support all the Betacam formats. See Digital Betacam, HDCAM, Betamax and U-matic.

BETACAM FORMATS (Half-Inch Tape)YearIntro. Version    Recording MethodANALOG

  1982  Betacam     Component Analog
  1986  Betacam SP  Component Analog
                      (metal tape)

                     Sampling Rate (n:n:n)SD DIGITAL         (Compression Method)

  1994  Digital Betacam   4:2:2 (DCT)
  1996  Betacam SX        4:2:2 (MPEG-2)
  2000  MPEG IMX          4:2:2 (MPEG-2)


  1997  HDCAM             3:1:1 (DCT)
  2003  HDCAM SR          4:4:4 (MPEG-4)

Betacam VTR and Cassettes
Betacam videotape recorders (VTRs) are not your ordinary home VCRs. Used in professional studios, they cost up to 100 times that of a consumer VHS machine. Betacam is the de facto broadcast videotape format worldwide, and cassettes come in small and large formats.
References in periodicals archive ?
94 SD signal, and all the takes are copied to MPEG IMX tape for ingest into a non-linear editor via SDI connection.
The compiled dailies reel is then sent over a wide area network from an e-VTR in Hong Kong to an e-VTR in Los Angeles, where an identical cloned MPEG IMX tape is created.
Optibase has leveraged LSI Logic's superior quality DVxpert(R) codec for the integration of Sony MPEG IMX Technology into our encoding platform", added Sackstein, "a technology which expands the Optibase offering, and enhances Optibase's appeal in the TV production market.
The new version includes enhanced integration with both the Avid iNEWS(TM) and AP ENPS newsroom systems, AAF and MXF support, Marquee real-time 3D titling, and support for 50Mbit MPEG IMX, in addition to DV25 and DV50.
DV50 and MPEG IMX standard-definition formats; and Avid legacy
5 with support of the Sony MPEG IMX format, version 2.
New release conforms to D10 and Sony's MPEG IMX format,
It is directly compatible with MPEG IMX format digital video tape recorders from Sony Corporation.
We believe the availability of the MPEG based NewsCutter, which is fully compatible with the Sony's MPEG IMX format, is an important development that will allow higher quality images and a better workflow for the worldwide broadcast industry.
C-Cube Microsystems (Nasdaq:CUBE) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Sony Corporation, where C-Cube will produce, market and sell chipsets that are compatible with Sony's professional MPEG IMX VTR solutions.
The new solution, which will offer all the features of DVxpress-MX including multiple-stream editing and realtime special effects, will be compatible with Sony's new MPEG IMX VTRs.