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Four Companies Collaborate On High-Def DV Format

TOKYO – Four Japanese electronics companies announced plans to collaborate on a system of specifications for recording and playing back high-definition digital video on DV-standard cassette tapes, the companies said.

The group, which includes Canon, Sharp, Sony and Victor Co. of Japan (JVC), has stated its goal to complete the standard by September.

The basic specifications for the tentatively named “HDV” format will cover the 720p (progressive) and 1,080i (interlace) high definition picture formats, at a variety of different frame rates. The intention of the developers is to enable the development of products conforming to a “global high-definition infrastructure.”

The member companies said they would actively promote the specifications throughout the industry after they are finalized.

The HDV format specifies the data recording of MPEG2 compressed high-definition signals based on the DV format, which is the tape format used by most current digital camcorders.

Because the new format employs the same cassette case, tape speed and track pitch as the DV format, it can utilize mechanical parts based on the DV format.

The 720p/30 frames per second specifications in the HDV format are the same employed in JVC’s new “GR-HD1” high-definition digital camcorder, which was is available now.

The member companies said the adoption of both the 720p and the 1,080i specifications would allow owners of wide variety digital televisions to share recordings.

The HDV format covers the 720 by 1,280 progressive format at the 60p, 30p, 50p and 25p frames per second rates; and the 1,080 by 1,440 interlaced format at the 60i and 50i frames per second rate.

Because the system compresses signals using MPEG2 encoding (inter-frame compression), BS digital broadcasting, recording and playing back of high-definition video at a bit rate equivalent to the DV format SD (standard definition) specifications (intra-frame compression.) is possible.

Audio signals are digitized with a 48kHz/16-bit quantization sampling frequency and compressed to 384kbps by MPEG1 Audio Layer II encoding.

Among the other benefits of the system is error correction among multiple tracks as opposed to error correction within a track, as specified in the DV-SD format. The HDV format would also records specific data for special playback on a dedicated tape, enabling the display of video images during special playback, such as fast search or slow-motion.