What is the HDCAM tape format?
HDCAM AKA SMPTE D-11 format was developed and introduced by Sony in 1997 to meet the needs of the global film industry in the 21st century. The HDCAM format features Digital High Definition - 1920 horizontal and 1080 vertical lines of active pixel picture - to provide increased contrast, sharpness and detail. And because High Definition video has five times the resolution of the Standard Definition video, the effect is an image that is life-like with increased clarity.

High Definition video抯 most noticeable attributes are a wide-screen 16:9 aspect ratio that is four times the width and three times the height of the Standard Definition 4:3 video. The HDCAM format also features frame rate switchability to various digital broadcasting formats and the Motion Picture Industry抯 film-like 24fps (frames per second) format. Additionally, the HDCAM format supports four channels of 20-bit/48kHz AES/EBU digital audio or can record Dolby-E bit streams onto each pair of AES/EBU audio channels.

HDCAM records 10 bits (8-bit data reduced for compression processing), 4𠂺 High Definition video using a DCT coefficient recording compression system to achieve full-bandwidth HD digital recording. This results in a very high bit rate after coding, delivering the highest resolution for digital recordings.

The HDCAM format records onto 1/2 inch (12.65mm) Metal Particle tape and uses the same size cassettes as that of BETACAM SP, BETACAM SX and Digital BETACAM. An HDCAM studio VTR is able to record for up to 124 minutes onto a single large cassette and up to 40 minutes onto a small cassette.

How does it work?
The HDCAM video recorder, like many other digital recording systems, is an electronic recording device that records video and audio signals on videotape for later playback and postproduction work. During the record process, the tape is moved past a high-speed rotating video head assembly that writes video and audio signals as digital information. The HDCAM VTR also employs multiple video heads to record and to play back the magnetically recorded information.

In contrast to an analog recorder, which writes analog video and audio signals, the HDCAM video recorder writes video and audio signals as 1抯 and 0抯. During the recording process, the video heads write video, sync and audio data streams onto the tape in a helical track pattern (see figure above). And unlike an analog recorder, which writes two tracks for each full frame of video, an HDCAM digital recorder writes 10 or more tracks to record a full video frame.

HDCAM offers playback compatibility with tapes recorded in an analog BETACAM / BETACAM SP, BETACAM SX and BETACAM IMX recorders, providing a natural migration path for users of older BETACAM formats who wish to upgrade to High Definition Digital.

Low error rate
Compared to Digital BETACAM, HDCAM employs even finer 0.1祄 new Ceramic Armor Metal magnetic particles. Combining it with Maxell抯 unique multi-orientation technology to effectively utilize its high magnetic energy, Maxell has achieved a remarkable high-output and low-noise HDCAM videotape. Low error rate is also reached by achieving superior C/N characteristics.

Superior durability
Magnetic coating layer strength is remarkably improved by the super fine Ceramic Armor Metal particles and high performance three-dimensional cross-linking binder system. This has allowed superior reliability and durability of the tape in extreme environment acquisition (ENG/EFP) and editing operations where long-term still modes are frequently used. The low error rate characteristic is maintained under various operating conditions.

Superior storage stability characteristics
The combination of Maxell抯 original super fine Ceramic Armor Metal particles and high-performance binder systems allow superior anti-heat resistance and anti-oxidation characteristics. The addition of another unique process of minimizing tape shrinkage achieves superior stability characteristics suitable for long-term storage, i.e., video archiving.

Smooth tape travel
Maxell employs a highly accurate cassette shell originally developed for Digital BETACAM to optimize smooth tape travel. In addition, Maxell抯 patented SW (Smooth Winding) reel with radial grooves molded on the lower flange emit most of the air generated during high-speed winding to minimize uneven tape winding.

Maxell Canada
50 Locke Street, Unit #2
Concord, Ontario, Canada
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