Video Floppy

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Video Floppy
A Video Floppy disk
Encoding NTSC, PAL
Developed by Sony

A Video Floppy is an analog recording storage medium in the form of a 2" magnetic floppy disk used to store still frames of composite analog video. A video floppy, also known as a VF disk, could store up to 25 frames either in the NTSC or PAL video standards, with each frame containing 2 fields of interlaced video. The video floppy also could store 50 frames of video, with each frame of video only containing one field of video information, recorded or played back in a "skip-field" fashion.

Video floppies were first developed by Sony and introduced under the "Mavipak" name in 1981 for their Mavica still video camera (not to be confused with their later line of Mavica digital cameras introduced in the mid-1990s, which stored JPEG images to standard 3.5" floppy disks readable by computers instead). The video floppy format was later used by Minolta, Panasonic, and Canon for their still video cameras introduced in the mid-to-late 1980s, such as the Canon Xapshot from 1988 (also known as the Canon Ion in Europe and the Canon Q-PIC in Japan).

Besides still video cameras, stand-alone recorders & players were also available for the VF format, that could record from or output a composite video signal, to or from an external source (such as a video camera, VCR, video capture card, or computer graphics output). Some VF recorders also had the feature of recording a couple of seconds of audio that accompanied each video frame.

Uses of the Video Floppy[edit]

The video floppy saw a lot of uses during its heyday in the 1980s and 1990s, besides being used for still video cameras. Many medical endoscopy and dentistry video systems, as well as industrial video borescopes & fiberscopes, used VF disks for storing video images for later playback and study. Standalone VF recorders & players were also used by television stations and video production studios as a still-store system for stills & graphics for use in a television production, or for on-air slides used for station identification or during technical difficulties (such as a "Please Stand By" still).

A similar sized disk was also used by the Zenith Minisport laptop computer from 1989, digitally formatted for data storage. The Minisport could store up to 720k of information on a 2 inch disk format called LT-1. Video floppy and LT-1 are not compatible however, so media can not be interchanged between drives using video floppy or LT-1 standards.

An enhanced version of the VF format called HiVF was introduced in the late 1980s, providing higher resolution per video still than its predecessor. It used higher-bandwidth video recording, much like S-VHS as compared to VHS, or Hi8 compared to Video 8.

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