SMPTE D-1 Video Format

SMPTE D-1 Format Information:

Videotape Format: SMPTE D-1 Component Digital

In use: 1986 - Present

Recording mode: Component digital video, helical scan. 4 channels of PCM audio, sampled at 48 kHz. Time code channel.

Tape width: 19mm (3/4") cassette.

Features: The first uncompressed component digital VTR.

Existing machine longevity: As an SD only VTR, not many being maintained fro future use. Scanner replacement costs are astronomical.

Videotape longevity: Unknown.

Prior usage: Film to tape re-mastering, along with high-end graphic and post-production suites, where only the highest quality attainable was mandated.

Notes on the SMPTE D-1... The D-1 videotape format was, at that time, and for years to come, the highest form of standard definition recording possible. Using a highly complex recording method, D-1 was able to achieve what no other format could do: pure un-compressed 4:2:2 component digital video recording and playback, with four channels of digital audio. This provided telecine re-mastering, plus other film to tape transfers and edit suites, with the ultimate in image control (and no degradation!) This was quite an alternative to the other formats at that time: Analog one-inch type C, MII, and Betacam SP. D-1 tapes could be cloned from one copy to another with no loss in quality. But to utilize this new component digital method, entire facilities had to be tailored to 4:2:2 image processing, such as telecine, post-production switchers, and digital audio mixers. This was an expensive proposition that only a handful of facilities could afford, till Digital Betacam came along in the 1990’s. By that time, the cost of switchers and other 4:2:2 gear was more competitive. But even after Digibeta was wide spread, the pure component, un-compressed nature of D-1, was specified by major studios and commercial producers as the format of choice. This remained till HD began to take affect.

Archive D-1 recordings have been known to be very finicky when attempting to re-produce years later. As with many digital video recordings, there is not much room for error when a non-standard recording is played back long afterwards, or if any calamity has affected the D-1 stock in prior usage, or by shelf decay.

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