Manufacturers Sign On for New HD Format

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Canon, JVC, Sharp and Sony are working on a new high-definition recording format that is based on the consumer Digital Video (DV) format currently sold in retail stores nationwide. By using that already developed format, the manufacturers will have a jump-start on bringing high-definition VCRs and camcorders to the marketplace.

Dave Walton, JVC's communications manager, says the new HDV format also will spur the creation of HD editing, something that has been lacking in the industry.

"I think you'll see that development go into high gear," he says. "This is really giving it a kick start and we expect to see a significant number of products conforming to this standard in the next 12 months."

The new format is tentatively named HDV and uses MPEG-2 compression on DV tape to allow for the recording of high-definition material.

"The transport stream that this format uses is an open standards stream that uses standard MPEG-2 data and that means that products using MPEG-2 encoders will be compatible," says Dave Walton, JVC communications manager. "And that's where the end-user, whether it's a consumer or professional, will win."

The final specification will be announced in September although there is already a product on the market that uses the format: JVC's GR-HD1 HD video camcorder which records at 720p/30 frames per second (fps). Walton says JVC approached the DV format in a similar way to how it approached S-VHS cassettes when it introduced the D-VHS format. That format records an MPEG-2 bitstream containing HD data at up to 25 Mbps onto S-VHS cassettes.

"You need to map data to tracks, have various sorts of error correction and other things that allow you to record this MPEG-2 temporally encoded information onto a system that has DV structures of the tracks," he says. "And you either have to redefine the structures or shoehorn the data into those structures."

The HDV format will have a bit-rate of 19 Mbps for 720p recording and 25 Mbps for 1080i recording. It will be able to record at 720p at 25, 30, 50 and 60 fps as well as 1080i at 50 and 60 fps. The sampling format is 4:2:0, aspect ratio is 16:9 and it records two channels of stereo audio.

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