Optical recording Most everyone is familiar with the compact disc. Whether your encounter has been as a source for music, a storage device for data, programs and the like, or for movies, the CD has certainly carved itself a place in today's world. Simply put, the CD is nothing more than a storage device for bits. Other than format, bits don't know what they are: pictures, sound or your favorite computer program or game.

It has been a puzzle to many, with the gaining popularity of the CD in the digital videodisk (DVD) format, why it hasn't taken off as a means of distribution in the television industry. Gaining rapidly in popularity, and replacing VHS at the local rental houses, is the DVD movie. Although not high definition television (HDTV), the visual quality of the DVD is quite superior to that of VHS. The major reason for not having HDTV on DVD in the past is, despite its large storage capacity, you can't get a full-length feature in HDTV onto a DVD. A typical film (roughly 90 minutes or 2GB), with compression, will use up most of the DVD's capacity.

It would not be unreasonable for a television station to receive a plethora of spots, PSAs and interstitial material on one DVD and it would look better on air than some stations' S=VHS tape equipment and at a cost of considerably less for equipment and storage. How many DVD disks could you store in the same space as your current tape library?

Because "capacity" has been and will forever be the key issue in any storage media story, it was no wonder that eyebrows raised a bit this past summer when Hitachi-Maxwell announced a 4.70GB large capacity DVD-RAM disc. According to Hitachi, this new DVD-RAM media "provides high quality two-hour digital recording and large capacity data recording." In addition to this, a small size (80mm) DVD-RAM disc for video camera use is also now available.

That's not just playback. Hitachi says it's a "rewriteable" 4.70GB DVD-RAM. The disc holds up to two hours of digital recording or 4.7GB of computer data. In addition to this, a 2.8GB DVD-RAM disc for video cameras has also been released.

This might not seem like such a big deal in big market television terms; however, in smaller markets, where costs are a constant consideration, the potential for a device like this for a station's news department is certainly a very viable consideration.

It'll be interesting to watch this new DVD-based camcorder technology to see if it catches on any better than the Avid/Ikegami hard drive camcorder models that were introduced a few years back.

A New York-based company, Constellation 3-D, Inc. (C3D) has announced further product advances in the development of their "florescent multilayer disc" (FMD) for use with current standard red laser technology. Red lasers are pretty much the standard and an inexpensive component used in virtually all CD and DVD players in order to access and play the data stored on the disc.

C3D has developed the FMD media capable of much higher data storage capacity, on the same sized discs and can be played on CD/DVD drives which have been subjected to "minor and inexpensive modification." Single-sided FMD discs for use with these Red Laser-based drives will have capacities up to 25GB. You could get nearly a whole series of syndicated half-hour shows on one disk.

C3D has designed this new media to be backward compatible for use on any disc drive to play all types of CD, DVD and FMD media. It also provides C3D with a clear road map for production of removable data storage media with high capacity applications beyond the reach of DVD (storing up to 9GB).

"Certain vertical market applications such as Digital Cinema players and Internet streaming servers will require higher capacities of over 70GB almost immediately, and C3D will serve these markets using green and blue laser technology.

"We have extended our development efforts toward immediate exploitation of this 25GB Red Laser disc opportunity concurrently with our existing 100+ GB disc programs," says Patrick Maloney, SVP of Business Development.

C3D has some rather interesting things in their development hopper. One of the first items you can expect to see come out of their development group is an FMD Disc ROM-10 layer, 140GB oriented toward the new digital cinema industry, HDTV video storage and HD games. An FMD Disc WORM-10 layer, 50GB device aimed at data warehousing will most likely follow this.

In speaking with the folks at C3D, they have plans for up to 100 layers of data, up to 1TB of data storage capable of both read and write with parallel read-out of up to 500 tracks simultaneously. It should therefore come as no big surprise that they are also looking at up to 1Gb/s read rate and further development of Blue Laser technology. What's next?

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