M (videocassette format)
|Media type||Magnetic Tape|
M was the name of a professional analog recording videocassette format developed around 1982 by Matsushita and RCA. It was developed as a competitor to Sony's Betacam format. In the same way Betacam was designed to take advantage of cheap and readily available Betamax videocassettes, M used the same videocassette (and the same oxide-formulated magnetic tape loaded in the cassette) as VHS.
M-Format also used a similar component video format to that used by Betacam, (as opposed to VHS's composite video format), and recorded at a much faster linear tape speed, as Betacam did. A cassette that would yield 120 minutes on a VHS VCR at SP speed would only yield 20 minutes on a M VCR.
The format was called "M" due to the shape of the threading path of the tape around the helical scan video head drum, which resembles a letter M. (This is also how the U-matic format got its name, for its U-shaped tape path in the VCR.) VHS also uses the same M-shaped tape threading path as M; it was carried over to M from VHS.
M had a similar 4-head recording system to Betacam, but the chrominance signals were recorded as two FM subcarriers of the main chrominance track FM carrier.
M had little success in the professional/industrial video production market. This might have been due to RCA's Broadcast Products division, which marketed the M format in the United States under the "Hawkeye" brand name, going out of business in 1984 (shortly after M was introduced). Thus NBC was one of the few Broadcasters to use the format. Weak marketing by Matsushita for M might have been a factor as well.
- lionlamb.us List of videotape formats past and present, with a mention of the M format
- mediacollege.com The M Format
- ultimatewebdesigning.com List of videotape formats past and present, the M format listed
- Sony Betamax Case Report
- DC Video on M
- The History of Television, 1942 to 2000, page 194, By Albert Abramson, Christopher H. Sterling
- Encyclopedia of television, Volume 1, page 251, By Horace Newcomb
- The History of Television, 1942 to 2000, page 214, By Albert Abramson, Christopher H. Sterling, NBC use