Panasonic MII Video Format

Panasonic MII Format Information:

Videotape Format: M II.

In use: 1986 - early 1990s. (although still in sporadic use)

Recording mode: Analog video, rotary 4 head, two track helical scanning.

Tape speed: 67.693 mm/sec.

Tape width:1/2"

Features: A competitor to Betacam SP (at the time). Two linear audio tracks, two fm audio tracks.

Existing machine longevity: Low.

Videotape longevity: Low.

Prior usage: Broadcast programming; post production, news gathering, time zone delay.

Notes on the Panasonic MII... In 1986, Panasonic marketed the MII format, of which NHK of Japan, and NBC (of the USA) were some of the first big customers. At the time, NBC desired to replace its variety of videotape recorders in use throughout the company. For example, news gathering was on ¾" BVU 150's with separate RCA and Ikegami cameras, field production (i.e. programming and sports) was also on ¾" or Sony BVH 500 one inch recorders, commercial playback was using RCA TCR 100 quad cart players, post production was on one inch such as the Sony BVH 2000's or Sony 1100's, office viewing was via ¾" for the most part, and West Coast zone delay was with Sony one inch.

With the advent of Betacam SP from Sony (a competitor), Panasonic apparently saw the opportunity to develop a "universal format" to these companies. A smaller cassette, such as MII, could be mated with a video camera, to form a broadcast capable camcorder for news and field acquisition, possibly reducing the news crew in size (not a separate camera person and VTR person). That tape could then be played back anywhere in the plant, including office viewers. Additionally, the same tape could also be played on a newly developed robotic player, such as the ARPS (Automatic Record and Playback System), directly to air. Using the ARPS MII equipped player would finally be a replacement for the TCR 100 quad cart players, in service since the 1960's. Those same ARPS machines could automatically record and play zone delay programming for the west coast, replacing one-inch reel-to-reel type C VTRs, and their operators.

The opportunities were rich for cost cutting, and for providing simplified, common operation and maintenance scenarios. But, for various reasons, Sony Betacam SP marketplace share grew during this period, and MII apparently did not, which led to a gradual replacement by users of this format to other analog and newly developed digital tape VTRs in the 1990's.

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