[Continuing his new 'Tales from the GDC Vault' series, digital historian Jason Scott showcases his work on the the GDC multimedia archives, presenting a Betamax video rundown and talks or excerpts featuring Peter Molyneux (Black & White) and Chris Taylor (Dungeon Siege).]
Jason Scott, GDC Historian here. I'm here to talk about the future. I'm here to talk, in other words, about the Betamax format.
For people of a certain age, Betamax is kind of a joke. For others who are younger, it's barely a word, something you might have heard in passing in an unrelated discussion about video. But what it is, in fact, is a video format that never quite died, and which still sees some amount of activity in the present day.
It was a contemporary format to VHS, first introduced in the 1970s, as one of the standards intended to be used in all sorts of consumer-grade hardware for videotape. It had some positive features, but a crushing grip by Sony meant that the format was shoved aside for its not-so-great-but-cheaper competitor, from JVC. Not one to just kill the format,
Sony instead tweaked it: the professional reworking of that consumer-grade video technology into Betacam meant that it had a lot of use in the professional sector going forward. Granted, that activity has decreased intensely with the advent of digital recording and high-definition requirements, but you can be assured that there are more Betamax players and recorders out there than the initial guess of "zero". One of them, I am happy to say, is in my house.
Check out this svelte monstrosity:
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