MII (videocassette format)
- This article discusses the MII video tape format. For information on the game console by Panasonic please see Panasonic M2
|Media type||Magnetic Tape|
|Read mechanism||Helical scan|
|Write mechanism||Helical scan|
MII was a professional analog recording videocassette format developed by Panasonic in 1986 as their answer and competitive product to Sony's Betacam SP format. It was technically similar to Betacam SP, using metal-formulated tape loaded in the cassette, and utilizing component video recording.
MII is sometimes incorrectly referred to as M2; the official name uses Roman numerals, and is pronounced "em two". Just as Betacam SP was an improved version of its predecessor Betacam (originally derived from Betamax) with higher video and audio quality, MII was an enhanced and improved version of its predecessor as well, the failed M format (originally derived from VHS). There were two sizes of MII tape, the larger of which is close to VHS size and has a running time of up to around 90 minutes, the smaller tape was about half the size and runs up to around 20 minutes, and was also the size in which head cleaner tapes were supplied.
Unlike M, MII was somewhat successful when it was first launched, with customers like NBC in the USA and NHK in Japan using it for electronic news gathering (ENG), and PBS in the USA using it in the late 1980s to delay their television network programming by 3 hours on broadcast delay for later airing on the West Coast. But MII also suffered from lackluster marketing, a lack of customer support & public relations from Panasonic and Matsushita (Panasonic's parent company), and most importantly, a lack of reliability due to said lack of support for repair & service. This resulted in MII not being nearly as successful as Betacam SP. NBC eventually dropped the format in the early 1990s for Sony's D2 digital composite video format, and ultimately began broadcasting all of their television programming and television commercials from digital video servers in the 2000s.
MII is not widely used nowadays, and spare parts as well as magnetic tapes for the format are now hard to come by. Used MII equipment can be had for quite affordable prices (under $1000 USD for a decent MII VCR) on the used professional video equipment market, but the format has found few current users due to its lack of manufacturer support and absence of new blank videotape cassette stock. Like most analog video formats, MII has faded in favor of newer digital formats such as DV and DVCAM, as well as Panasonic's DVCPro format.
MII machines recorded six tracks: two by the moving heads and four by the stationary head. Starting from the top of the tape, the first two were stationary head audio channels two and one. Below these were the two moving head tracks called C and Y, which are frequency modulated parts of the video signal. The C track also contained audio channels three and four, frequency modulated. Going further down the tape, the last two stationary head tracks carried control and time code information, respectively. The control signal was used to synchronize the moving heads.
For the video, luminance was simply frequency modulated and written to the Y track. The two chrominance signals, Pr and Pb, were combined into one signal by chrominance time compressed multiplexing (CTCM), which is a type of time division multiplexing. The resulting CTCM signal was frequency modulated and combined with the FM audio carriers before it was written to the C track.1
- Service Manual, Panasonic MII (P.N. VQS0264) by Panasonic Matsushita Electric
- terraguide.com List of Videotape formats, with a mention on MII
- 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 MII
- 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