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Time Machine - Sony Betacam
“That Was Then!”
Sony’s Betacam Opens the Camcorder Era
It was late in 1982 when Sony began delivering its first Betacam camcorders. The early shipments combined a Sony single tri-stripe Trinicon tube with a BVV-1 Betacam onboard record deck. The camera-recorder combo could be operated separately, but were bolted together to create the industry’s first one-piece camcorder.
Soon, Sony introduced the BVP-3 camera head, which used three Saticon tubes. The BVP-30 would follow, featuring Plumbicon tubes. Betacam tapes, which were essentially Betamax tapes from the consumer format (though the formats were different), could be played back in the field on the BVV-1 in black and white.
For color playback, it took Sony’s BVW-10 studio playback deck. In the beginning, it acted as a feeder machine for Sony’s Type C, 1-inch or U-Matic 3/4-inch editing systems. Early Betamax systems, usually sold with a camera, field recorder and studio playback deck, were more about possibilities to come than the ability to do genuine production.
The original Betacam format used an analog component video format, storing the luminance, “Y,” in one track and the chrominance, on another as alternating segments of the R-Y and B-Y components performing CTDM (Compressed Time Division Multiplex). This splitting of channels allowed broadcast quality recording with 300 lines of horizontal luminance resolution and 120 lines chrominance resolution on a cassette-based format.
Sony wasn’t alone in trying to introduce the first one-piece camcorder. Its archrival, Panasonic, later introduced the M-Format, a professional 1/2-inch component videotape format that used VHS tape cassettes. However, Sony’s Betacam system rapidly became an industry standard and the M-Format failed.
In 1986, Sony introduced Betacam SP, a new format that increased the horizontal resolution to 340 lines. The SP (“Superior Performance”) format became the industry standard for most television stations and production houses until the late 1990s.
“This is Now!”
Optical Recording Media Brings New Advantages
In 2003, Sony introduced a series of products for video recording using nonlinear media. Along with the advantages of a tapeless workflow, this heralded a number of other tremendous beneﬁts including ﬁ le based recording, split second random access capability, thumbnail search capability, no overwriting on existing footage and an IT/network capability. Sony named this innovative product line the XDCAM Professional Disc System.
The PDW-700 camcorder is the newest member of the XDCAM family. It is equipped with three 2/3-inch type CCDs – a newly developed “Power HAD FX” progressive CCD with 1920 x 1080 effective pixels. Stunning-quality HD images can be captured by this high-resolution CCD in conjunction with the 14-bit A/D converter and advanced digital signal. On top of the exceptional technology, the PDW-700 offers very high quality HD recording at a data rate of up to 50 Mbps using the MPEG-2 4:2:2P@HL compression. It also provides multi-format recording flexibility including 1080i, 720p and SD, which comes with HD/SD conversion and cross conversion between 1080i and 720p. The Sony XDCAM HD422 series of Optical Disc products include a seven years "Powertrain" warranty for their laser block.