Video8
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The 8mm video format refers informally to three related
videocassette Videotape is magnetic tape used for storing video and usually Sound recording and reproduction, sound in addition. Information stored can be in the form of either an analog signal, analog or Digital signal (signal processing), digital signal. Vi ...
formats. These are the original Video8 (
analog recording Analog recording is a technique used for the recording of analog signals which, among many possibilities, allows analog audio for later playback. Analog audio recording began with mechanical systems such as the phonautograph and phonograph. L ...
) format and its improved successor
Hi8 The 8mm video format refers informally to three related Videotape#Consumer and "prosumer" camcorders, videocassette formats. These are the original Video8 (analog recording) format and its improved successor Hi8 (analog video and analog audio but ...
(
analog video Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying Copying is the duplication of information Information is an Abstraction, abstract concept that refers to that which has the power to Communication, inform. At the most fundam ...
and
analog audio Analog recording is a technique used for the recording of analog signal An analog signal is any continuous signal representing some other quantity, i.e., ''analogous'' to another quantity. For example, in an analog audio signal, the insta ...
but with provision for
digital audio Digital audio is a representation of sound recorded in, or converted into, digital signal (signal processing), digital form. In digital audio, the sound wave of the audio signal is typically encoded as numerical sampling (signal processing), s ...
), as well as a more recent
digital recording In digital recording, an audio signal, audio or video signal is converted into a stream of discrete numbers representing the changes over time in air pressure for audio, or Color, chroma and luminance values for video. This number stream is sa ...
format known as
Digital8 Digital8 (or Di8) is a consumer digital recording In digital recording, an audio signal, audio or video signal is converted into a stream of discrete numbers representing the changes over time in air pressure for audio, or Color, chroma and ...
. Their user base consisted mainly of amateur
camcorder A camcorder is a self-contained portable electronic device with video camera, video and recording as its primary function. It is typically equipped with an articulating screen mounted on the left side, a belt to facilitate holding on the right s ...
users, although they also saw important use in the professional
television production A television show – or simply TV show – is any content produced for viewing on a television set which can be broadcast via over-the-air, satellite television, satellite, or cable television, cable, excluding breaking news, television adverti ...
field. In 1982, five companies — Sony, Matsushita, JVC, Hitachi and Philips — created a preliminary draft of the unified format and invited members of the Electronic Industries Association of Japan, the Magnetic Tape Industry Association, the Japan Camera Industry Association and other related associations to participate. As a result, a consortium of 127 companies endorsed 8-mm video format in April 1984. In January 1984, Eastman Kodak announced the new technology in the U.S. In 1985,
Sony , commonly stylized as SONY, is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world's la ...
of Japan introduced the Handycam, one of the first Video8 cameras with commercial success. Much smaller than the competition's VHS and
Betamax Betamax (also known as Beta, as in its logo) is a consumer-level analog recording and Videocassette#Cassette formats, cassette format of magnetic tape for video, commonly known as a video cassette recorder. It was developed by Sony and was rele ...
video cameras, Video8 became very popular in the consumer camcorder market.


History


Video8

Video8 was launched in 1984, into a market dominated by the VHS-C and Betamax formats. The first two models were the Kodak Kodavision 2200 and 2400, both over US$1,500. The Kodak machines were produced by Matsushita Electric, but Matsushita itself had shown no interest in selling the same product under its own name. The first Sony camcorder capable of recording to standard 8mm videotape was the Sony CCD-V8, with 6x zoom but only manual focus, released in 1985 with a price equivalent to $1175, and a mass of 1.97 kg. The same year, Sony released the CCD-V8AF which added autofocus. Also in 1985, Sony released the first of their compact Handycam range: the CCD-M8, which at one kilogram was half the mass of the CCD-V8, though it had no zoom and supported only manual focus with three focus settings. In April 1986 six Japanese electronics companies—Matsushita, Hitachi, Pentax, Minolta, Mitsubishi, Sharp and Toshiba—announced their lack of plans to embrace eight millimeter in the foreseeable future and instead adopted VHS-C format. Yet, several months later at the summer 1986 Consumer Electronics Show Olympus introduced an eight-millimeter camcorder manufactured by Matsushita, and Hitachi was reported to be making eight-millimeter machines for Minolta & Pentax. In terms of video quality, Video8 offers similar performance to Beta-II and VHS in their standard-play modes. In terms of audio, Video8 generally outperforms its older rivals. Audio on Standard VHS and Beta is recorded along a narrow linear track at the edge of the tape, where it is vulnerable to damage. Coupled with the slow horizontal tape speed, the sound was comparable with that of a low-quality audio cassette. By contrast, all Video8 machines used audio
frequency modulation Frequency modulation (FM) is the encoding of information in a carrier wave by varying the instantaneous frequency of the wave. The technology is used in telecommunications, radio broadcasting, signal processing, and computing Computin ...
(AFM) to record sound along the same helical tape path as that of the video signal. This meant that Video8's standard audio was of a far higher quality than that of its rivals, although linear audio did have the advantage that (unlike either AFM system) it could be re-recorded without disturbing the video. (Betamax and VHS Hi-Fi rarely appeared on camcorders, except on the high-end models.) Video8 later included true stereo, but the limitations of camcorder microphones at the time meant that there was little practical difference between the two AFM systems for camcorder usage. The small size of media means that many Video8 camcorders are small enough to hold in the palm of the user's hand. This was impossible with Betamax and full-sized VHS camcorders, with all of them having shoulder-mount form factor. Video8 also has an advantage in terms of recording and playback time over VHS-C - 120 minutes vs 30 minutes in SP mode for standard cassettes for each format. Video8/Hi8's main drawback is that tapes made with Video8 camcorders cannot be played on VHS hardware. Although it is possible to transfer tapes (using the VCR to rerecord the source video as it is played back by the camcorder), this inevitably leads to degradation of the analog signal. During the 1990s
Sony , commonly stylized as SONY, is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world's la ...
did market a few VHS VCRs that also feature an 8mm deck to allow convenient transfer to VHS.
GoldStar GoldStar was a South Korean electronics company established in 1958. The corporate name was changed to LG Electronics and LG Cable on February 28, 1995, after merging with LG Chem, Lucky Chemical. LG Cable was spun off from LG Electronics and ch ...
also made a similar dual-deck machine. Ultimately, Video8's main rival in the camcorder market turned out to be VHS-C, with neither dominating the market completely. However, both formats (along with their improved descendants, Hi8 and S-VHS-C) were nevertheless very successful. Collectively, they dominated the camcorder market for almost two decades before they were eventually crowded out by digital formats, such as
MiniDV DV refers to a family of codecs and videotape, tape formats used for storing digital video, launched in 1995 by a consortium of camcorder, video camera manufacturers led by Sony and Panasonic. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, DV was strongly ...
, 8cm DVD.


Hi8

To counter the introduction of the Super-VHS format, Sony introduced Video Hi8 (short for high-band Video8) in 1989. Like S-VHS, Hi8 uses improved recorder electronics and media formulation to increase the recorded bandwidth of the luminance signal. The FM carrier frequency range was increased from 4.2 to 5.4 MHz for regular Video8 (1.2 MHz bandwidth) to 5.7 to 7.7 MHz for Hi8 (2.0 MHz bandwidth). However, chroma signal bandwidth (color resolution) was not increased. Both Hi8 and S-VHS were officially rated at a luminance resolution of 400
lines Line most often refers to: * Line (geometry), object with zero thickness and curvature that stretches to infinity * Telephone line, a single-user circuit on a telephone communication system Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may also refer to: Arts ...
, a vast improvement from their respective base formats and are roughly equal to Laserdisc quality. Chroma resolution for both remain unchanged. Both S-VHS and Hi8 retain the audio recording systems of their base formats; VHS HiFi Stereo outperforms Video8/Hi8 AFM, but remains restricted to high-end machines. In the late 1980s, digital (PCM) audio was introduced into some higher-grade models of Hi8 recorders. Hi8 PCM audio operates at a sampling rate of 32 kHz with 16-bit samples—higher fidelity than the monaural linear dubbing offered by VHS/S-VHS. PCM-capable Hi8 recorders can simultaneously record PCM stereo in addition to the legacy (analog AFM) stereo audio tracks. All Hi8 equipment can record and play in the legacy Video8 format. The reverse is not usually the case though there are a few late-entry Video8 systems that recognize and play Hi8 recordings. Besides Sony, Hi8 camcorders were also offered by Canon, Hitachi, Nikon, Samsung, Sharp.


PCM Multi Audio

The Sony EV-S900 (Hi8), Sony EV-S800, Sony EV-S700U, and Pioneer VE-D77 (Video8) all support a mode called "PCM Multi Audio Recording". While other 8mm decks support only a single stereo PCM recording, these units provide five additional stereo PCM tracks that are recorded in the video area of the signal. This allows 8mm tapes to hold 6 parallel tracks of audio, each up to 4 hours long (in LP mode). Only one stereo track can be recorded or listened to at a time, and tracks are selected with the "PCM Multi Audio" selector button.


Digital8

Introduced in 1999, ''Digital8'' is a form of the industry standard DV
codec A codec is a device or computer program that encodes or Decoding methods, decodes a data stream or signal. ''Codec'' is a portmanteau of coder/decoder. In electronic communications, an endec is a device that acts as both an encoder and a decoder ...
, recorded on Hi8 media. In engineering terms, Digital8 and
MiniDV DV refers to a family of codecs and videotape, tape formats used for storing digital video, launched in 1995 by a consortium of camcorder, video camera manufacturers led by Sony and Panasonic. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, DV was strongly ...
are indistinguishable at the logical format level. To store the digitally encoded audio/video on a standard NTSC Video8 cassette, the tape must be run at double the Hi8 speed. Thus, a 120-minute NTSC Hi8 tape yields 60 minutes of Digital8 video. Most Digital8 units offer an LP mode, which increases the recording time on an NTSC P6-120 tape to 90 minutes. For PAL, the Digital8 recorder runs 1½ times faster; thus, a 90-minute PAL Hi8 tape yields 60 minutes of Digital8 video. PAL LP mode returns the tape speed to the Hi8 SP speed, so a Hi8 90-minute tape yields 90 minutes of Digital8 video. Sony has licensed Digital8 technology to at least one other firm (Hitachi), which marketed a few models for a while; but by 2005 only Sony sold Digital8 consumer equipment. Digital8's main rival is the consumer MiniDV format, which uses narrower tape and a correspondingly smaller cassette shell. Since both technologies share the same logical audio/video format, Digital8 can theoretically equal MiniDV or even DVCAM in A/V performance. But by the year 2005, Digital8 had been relegated to the entry-level camcorder market. Digital8 recordings are not interchangeable with
analog recording Analog recording is a technique used for the recording of analog signals which, among many possibilities, allows analog audio for later playback. Analog audio recording began with mechanical systems such as the phonautograph and phonograph. L ...
s, although many models of Digital8 equipment are able to play Hi8/Video8 analog recordings.


Decline

By 2009, the popularity of the analog 8mm formats had dwindled considerably and new camcorders that support the format were unobtainable, having been superseded by digital formats, mainly
MiniDV DV refers to a family of codecs and videotape, tape formats used for storing digital video, launched in 1995 by a consortium of camcorder, video camera manufacturers led by Sony and Panasonic. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, DV was strongly ...
and 8 cm DVD. These in turn have been largely displaced by high-definition camcorders that record to flash storage cards. Both Video8 and Hi8 blank media remain available and affordable but are increasingly rare. Tape-based camcorders are still readily available in the secondhand market. The last Hi8 camcorder (the Sony CCD-TRV238) and the last
Digital8 Digital8 (or Di8) is a consumer digital recording In digital recording, an audio signal, audio or video signal is converted into a stream of discrete numbers representing the changes over time in air pressure for audio, or Color, chroma and ...
camcorder (the Sony DCR-TRV285) were both discontinued in 2007, ending the 8mm format's 22 years.


Design

The three formats are physically very similar, featuring both the same
magnetic tape Magnetic tape is a medium for magnetic storage made of a thin, magnetizable coating on a long, narrow strip of plastic film. It was developed in Germany in 1928, based on the earlier magnetic wire recording from Denmark. Devices that use mag ...
width and near-identical cassette shells, measuring 95 × 62.5 × 15 mm. This gives a measure of
backward compatibility Backward compatibility (sometimes known as backwards compatibility) is a property of an operating system, product, or technology that allows for interoperability with an older legacy system, or with Input/output, input designed for such a system, ...
in some cases. One difference between them is in the quality of the tape itself, but the main differences lie in the encoding of the video when it is recorded onto the tape. Video8 was the earliest of the three formats, and is entirely analog. The 8mm tape width was chosen as smaller successor to the 12mm
Betamax Betamax (also known as Beta, as in its logo) is a consumer-level analog recording and Videocassette#Cassette formats, cassette format of magnetic tape for video, commonly known as a video cassette recorder. It was developed by Sony and was rele ...
format, using similar technology (including U-shaped tape loading) but in a smaller configuration in response to the small configuration VHS-C compact camcorders introduced by the competition. It was followed by Hi8, a version with improved resolution. Although this was still analog, some professional Hi8 equipment could store additional digital stereo PCM sound on a special reserved track. Digital8 is the most recent 8mm video format. It retains the same physical cassette shell as its predecessors, and can even record onto Video8 (not recommended) or Hi8 cassettes. However, the format in which video is encoded and stored on the tape itself is the entirely digital DV format (and thus very different from the analog Video8 and Hi8). Some Digital8 camcorders support Video8 and Hi8 with analog sound (for playback only), but this is not required by the Digital8 specification. In all three cases, a length of 8mm-wide magnetic tape is wound between two spools and contained within a hard-shell cassette. These cassettes share similar size and appearance with the
audio cassette The Compact Cassette or Musicassette (MC), also commonly called the tape cassette, cassette tape, audio cassette, or simply tape or cassette, is an analog audio, analog magnetic tape recording format for Sound recording and reproduction, audio ...
, but their mechanical operation is far closer to that of VHS or Betamax videocassettes. Standard recording time is up to 180 minutes for PAL and 120 minutes for NTSC. (The cassette holds the same length tape; tape consumption is different between PAL and NTSC recorders.) Like most other videocassette systems, Video8 uses a helical-scan head drum (it having a small 40mm head) to read from and write to the magnetic tape. The drum rotates at high speed (one or two rotations per picture frame—about 1800 or 3600 rpm for NTSC, and 1500 or 3000 rpm for PAL) while the tape is pulled along the drum's path. Because the tape and drum are oriented at a slight angular offset, the recording tracks are laid down as parallel diagonal stripes on the tape. The heads on the drum of a Video8 recorder move across the tape at (a writing speed of) 3.75 meters per second. Unlike preceding systems, 8mm did not use a control track on the tape to facilitate the head following the diagonal tracks. Instead 8mm recorded a sequence of four sine waves on each video track such that adjacent tracks would produce one of two
heterodyne A heterodyne is a signal frequency that is created by combining or mixing two other frequencies using a signal processing technique called ''heterodyning'', which was invented by Canadian inventor-engineer Reginald Fessenden. Heterodyning is us ...
frequencies if the head mistracked. The system automatically adjusted the tracking such that the two frequencies produced were of equal magnitude. This system was derived from the dynamic track following (DTF) used by the Philips Video 2000 system. Sony rechristened the system as automatic track following (ATF) as the 8mm system lacked the ability of the heads to physically move within the head drum. The main disadvantage of the ATF system was that unlike in the case of a control track, an 8mm camera or player cannot keep track of where the tape is during fast forward and rewind (though it could during shuttle search). This made editing using a linear editing system problematic. Some later cameras and players attempted to derive the tape position from the differential rotation of the spools with limited success.


Tape and recording protection

The write-protect switch (right) prevents accidental erasure As with many other video cassette formats, 8mm videocassettes have a tape-protecting mechanism built into the shell. Unlike the ones on VHS and VHS-C shells, which consist of only a single piece of plastic that protects the part of the tape that is read by the player/recorder, Hi8's tape-protection mechanism consists of two pieces of plastic at the top of the shell that come together and form a casing that protects both sides of the tape, and a latch that prevents this casing from opening and exposing the tape. The playback/recording unit can depress this latch to open the casing and gain access to the tape. To prevent the recording on the tape from being erased, there is a small write-protect tab that can be moved to one of two positions, labeled "REC" and "SAVE" (sometimes marked as "ERASE ON" and "OFF", respectively). Comparing the sliding tab to a door, the tape is in the "REC" position when the "door" is open and in the "SAVE" position when it is closed. (Not all tape cases have markings for this information.) The tape can only be recorded onto (or recorded over) when this tab is in the "REC" position. This is an improved version of the VHS write-protect tab, which prevents erasure after it has been broken off, requiring covering with adhesive tape or filling with an obstruction to remove the write protection.


Non-camcorder use


Home market

Efforts were made to expand Video8 from only the camcorder market into mainstream home video. But as a replacement for full-size VCRs, Video8 failed. It lacks the long (5+ hours) recording times of both VHS and Betamax, offers no clear audio/video improvement, and cost more than equivalent full-size VCRs. Even with all of the advanced features offered in high-end Video8 machines, there was no compelling reason to switch to Video8 for the home application. Initially, many movies were prerecorded in 8mm format for home and rental use, but the rental market for Video8 never materialized. Sony maintained a line of Video8 home VCRs well into the 1990s, but unlike VHS, 8mm VCRs with timers were very expensive. Sony also produced a line of Video8
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-branded players and recorders, with and without a flip-up screen meant for video playback and limited recording. These have been adapted for Digital8 as well as MiniDV formats, even as portable DVD players have become popular in this application. Such players saw use in professional applications, particularly with airlines, who, during the 1980s, adopted 8mm as the format for in-flight movies. They remained in use among some airlines until at least 2015.


Videography

Among home and amateur videographers, Video8/Hi8 was popular enough for Sony to make equipment for video editing and production. The format also saw some use in professional
electronic news gathering Electronic news-gathering (ENG) or electronic journalism (EJ) is usage of electronics, electronic video and sound recording and reproduction, audio technologies by journalist, reporters to gather and present news instead of using film camera ...
and
electronic field production Electronic field production (EFP) is a television Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of Transmission (tele ...
.


Professional 8-track audio

Hi8 tapes were also used for an 8-track professional digital audio format called DTRS, including the Tascam DA-88 and similar models. These recordings are in no way interchangeable with 8mm video formats.


See also

* Data8 * Ruvi


References


External links


mediacollege.com video8

ubergizmo.com sony ends support of 8mm video



latimes.com Whatever happened to 8mm tape? : VIDEO'S 'FORMAT OF THE FUTURE' STILL LAGS BEHIND VHS, March 11, 1990, DENNIS HUNT , TIMES STAFF WRITER
{{Video storage formats Videotape Audiovisual introductions in 1985