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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 ?
With ProDATA technology, a single disc can store up to two hours of digital satellite high-definition programming at up to 11MB/sec, or 90 minutes of DVCAM material, or up to 45 minutes of MPEG IMX material recorded at 50 Mbps (55 minutes at 40 Mbps and 75 minutes at 30 Mbps).
The implementation of Sony MPEG IMX Technology into Optibase's encoding platform is a result of a close collaboration between Optibase and LSI Logic Corporation, a leader in multimedia processing for the Digital Home.
For broadcast recording, the companies will showcase direct connection between Sony's e-VTR plug-in card for MPEG IMX videotape recorders and Pinnacle's MediaStream(TM) servers and Liquid blue non-linear editing systems.
3GB capacity is almost five times that of standard DVD media, and its high 72Mbps/head data transfer rate is capable of handling a 50Mbps MPEG IMX data stream.
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.
The battery- or AC-powered PDW-V1 optical disc mobile player is a mobile deck that plays back DVCAM and MPEG IMX recordings for display on a built-in LCD or external standard monitor.
The new MPEG IMX camera should be a very attractive option for filmmakers working with limited resources who need real portability and film-like image quality.
DV50 and MPEG IMX standard-definition formats; and Avid legacy
5 with support of the Sony MPEG IMX format, version 2.
This new line of codec products supports multi-formats as does Grass Valley's PVS1100 servers, which provide support for both the Panasonic DVCPRO and Sony MPEG IMX standards.