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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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Upon completion of the transaction, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter 2011, the Alpha Beta Tape Business will become a part of IATD's Global Tapes and Adhesives (GTA) Business Unit.
The Beta tape decks I'm currently using are late-model, high-end ones, not those built in the 1970s that don't have the resolution nor the capability to dissect frames.
Many of us still have VHS and consumer Beta tapes lying around.
It has a huge collection of approximately 17,000 cans, 3000 beta tapes and diverse VHS material (housed on-site in custom built, climate-controlled vaults) that provide a record for present and future generations of not only Irish feature films from the earliest days of the nitrate silver screen, but also amateur footage of everyday Irish life past and present: from a day out at the races in 1960s' fashion to a poor harvest, religious ceremonies, sporting events and disappearing craft-making; and material from Irish television including cultural affairs programmes, thought-provoking documentaries and recent Irish TV serie s.
Ironically, 1,500 Beta tapes (that could not be replaced, motivating the insured to request restoration) located in very close proximity to the electronic equipment were successfully cleaned without reduced functionality.
"As Beta tapes have dropped in popularity, retailers have been replacing them with high-grade tapes," says Friedrich.