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Video Format Identification Guide

Glossary of Terms

Analog: A recording in which continuous signals from a video camera are written to the tape magnetically.

Component Video: This term is applied to videotape formats that encode color information as basically two (or three) signals: Luminance (Y), and color difference (R-Y, B-Y). It is superior to Composite Video because it accomplishes a better (subjectively) color rendering with a limited bandwidth. Formats that are component include: Betacam SP, M-II, S-VHS, D-1, D-5.

Composite Video: In order to record color information given limited bandwidth, all color information is compiled into one signal. Generally the color signal is limited to PAL or NTSC requirements. Formats that are composite include: any format prior to 1982, D-2, D-3.

Cartridge: A videotape container having a single tape hub or reel. The tape forms a continuous loop, with most of the medium coiled around the hub.

Cassette: Two miniaturized tape reels -- supply and take up -- within a plastic or metal housing. The reels can be on the same plane or level, on parallel planes (driven by a concentric shaft), or even on staggered or angled planes, as in early helical scan cassette attempts.

Digital recording: A recording in which quantized (sampled) versions of the signals from the video camera are written to the tape. The signals are written as binary code. When the tape is played back, the binary code is read and processed by a digital-to-analog converter to produce an analog output signal.

ENG: Electronic News Gathering. The acronym for the equipment and personnel used by the broadcast industry to produce on-the-spot news events. It generally consists of a crew, portable camera, a portable tape recorder with cassette or a reel to reel, and a microwave dish to beam the signal back to the broadcast studio.

NTSC: National Television Standards Committee. The color TV standard of the USA, Canada and Japan. This system scans the video image into 525 horizontal lines every 1/30 of a second.

PAL: Phase Alternation by Line. The color TV standard of western Europe, excluding France. It is a higher resolution format than NTSC as it scans the video image into 625 lines every 1/25 of a second.

SECAM: Sequential couleur a memoir. The color standard of France and the former Soviet Union. Similar to PAL.

SMPTE: Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers. This association produces standards for formats and sponsors technical workgroups on issues within the film and video markets both professional and consumer.


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