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8. What is the difference between video formats?
Standard Definition Formats (SD)
VHS, VHS-C, and 8mm:  These are the older analogue Consumer formats used in home camcorders. VHS is the standard tape used with your VCR.  VHS-C is a smaller version of VHS made to compete with the smaller 8mm format. VHS-C can be played in a normal VCR with an adapter. These consumer formats are the lowest quality of video.

S-VHS (Super VHS) and Hi-8:  These are analogue formats that are a step up from the Consumer formats. Hi-8 is used in many home camcorders. S-VHS looks like a VHS tape but needs a S-VHS VCR to playback properly.  It is more durable than Hi-8 and was used more in industrial pro-sumer level work.

Digital8:  Digital8 is the digital version of Hi-8 used in Digital8 home camcorders. The cameras use the same Hi-8 tape but records a digital signal on it.  The quality is better than S-VHS and Hi-8, but much of the current equipment lacks professional features for serious production work. Digital8 can reach Broadcast Quality when the proper equipment is used. 

MiniDV:  MiniDV is the digital format used in DV home camcorders and DV professional cameras. At the home camcorder level, MiniDV is similar to Digital8 in quality.  At the professional level, miniDV is similar to DVCam and DVCPro.

DVCam and DVCPro:  These are two popular Professional Digital formats. These formats tend to come with better built cameras and VCRs designed for professional video production work and achieve Broadcast Quality.

DVCPro 50:  This is a higher quality version of DVCPro.

Betacam SP:  Betacam SP is an anolgue Broadcast Quality format that has long been the standard for TV stations, news, and high-quality video.  While many are now using the Professional Digital formats, Betacam SP is still used in some areas.

Digital S, DVCPro 50, Digital Betacam:  These digital formats are the high end of the broadcast market.  They achieve better video quality than all the previously listed formats.


High Definition Formats (HD)
HDV:  A HD format based on MiniDV.  It uses the same tape as MiniDV but records in an MPEG format instead allowing it to record a HD image.  HDV cameras range from consumer models to professional models.  While all quality for recording in HD resolution, the image quality varies greatly depending on the camera.

AVCHD:  There are some cameras that record direct to a hard drive or flash card of some kind.  These cameras use an MPEG4 or H.264 format to record in.  Like the HDV cameras, the same caveat concerning image quality applies.

P2:  A solid state format used with some Panasonic cameras.  Typically using DVCPro 100 for HD.

DVCPro 100, XDCam, Varicam, HDCam, HDCam SR:  These are all high end formats used in broadcast and films.  Most are tape based (the XDCam records onto disc) and have various types of compression formats.

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7. Which video format is right for my project?
While we like to provide our clients with the best quality possible, we realize that the higher formats go beyond some budgets.  We recommend the following as a guide when deciding which format is best for you:

Use a Consumer format for: Personal projects such a film or photo transfers.

Use an Industrial format or Consumer Digital format for: 1. A higher quality project than the Consumer level.  2. Personal projects where editing will be done or multiple copies will be made.  3. Corporate products that will stay in house such as training seminars, safety videos, employee orientation, etc.

Use a Broadcast format for: 1. A higher quality project than the Industrial level.
2. Corporate projects that will be shown to the public such as product demos, sales presentations, tradeshow videos, corporate image pieces, etc.  3. Projects for sale to the public or that are to be broadcast.

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