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DV Technology: Under the Hood

DV Technology: Under the Hood

If you're considering buying, renting, or even just using a DV camcorder, you need to know at least a little bit about what's going on inside.

DV camcorders, analog camcorders, and VCRs all use much the same mechanism to make recordings on magnetic tape. Tape rolls past electromagnetic record and playback heads that are housed in a spinning cylinder, or drum. Fluctuating voltage in the record head causes changes in the magnetic properties of metal oxide particles on the tape. Whether the camera is analog or digital, a minimum of two heads is needed—one to record each of the two fields needed for one frame. (For more information on fields, see “What Are NTSC/PAL/SECAM Broadcast Formats?” in Chapter 3.) The pattern described by a head as it rotates past the moving tape is called a helical scan. As the head swipes across the tape, it records a single track with each rotation. The result is a series of tracks recorded diagonally across the tape (Figure A.1).


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