Viewfinder A Few Years Down the Road

The world of video is moving swiftly through two unprecedented changes. The first change is our encoding system. Most people are not familiar with encoding systems, but they have been viewing an encoded analog video signal whenever they’ve watched TV, a videotape or often a DVD.

The world of video is moving swiftly through two unprecedented changes. The first change is our encoding system. Most people are not familiar with encoding systems, but they have been viewing an encoded analog video signal whenever they’ve watched TV, a videotape or often a DVD.

In 1941, the new National Television System Committee (NTSC) created the US encoding system, when they issued a technical standard for black-and-white television. Some readers may recall that a second standard arrived in 1953: the NTSC color television standard (later defined as RS-170a). I recall, as a child, seeing color TV at just a few friends’ houses. Then, before we knew it, everyone had color TV. The migration to color was a big deal, but black-and-white TV sets continued to operate alongside the color sets. You can still buy a black-and white-TV set that is compatible with cable, satellite, broadcast TV and DVD signals. However, this is all about to change.

Many people don’t like to call our first encoding system NTSC, instead using SDTV – Standard Definition Television – which is a little more intuitive. Perhaps more importantly, it helps clarify the forthcoming change to our new digital encoding system from the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC). Many people don’t call it ATSC, instead using HDTV, for High Definition Television.

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You’ve all seen HDTV sets, sometimes called widescreen, 16×9 or digital TV. Most TVs now are HDTV, because full-power over-the-air television stations will cease analog broadcasts by February 17, 2009, and traditional NTSC or SDTV sets will no longer receive a broadcast TV signal. Many cable and satellite TV signals will continue to be tunable on an SDTV, but not those from a roof antenna or rabbit ears.

This change will clearly affect camcorder sales. Forecasts for HD camcorder market share are 25% in 2009, 48% in 2010 and 54% by 2011.

The second unprecedented change in the video world is the move to a new recording medium. During Videomaker‘s history, we have seen tape formats from Betamax and VHS to High-Definition Video and Blu-ray Disc. All of these media have one thing in common: the media is moving (reeling or spinning). The new recording medium is Flash memory: Compact Flash (CF), Memory Stick, Secure Digital (SD) and XD.

When launched, Flash media had no video capacity. Today a 1GB Flash memory card stores about 30 minutes of SD video. Some Flash memory cards can store as much as 32 gigabytes. The theoretical maximum is 2 terabytes. The forecast for the Flash memory camcorder market share is 49% in 2010 and 78% by 2011.

These are big changes. As to the future? The next thing to look forward to may be holographic video.

Matthew York isVideomaker‘s Publisher/Editor.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.