What is DV and DVPro?

DV is a format for storing digital video, audio and metadata such as subtitles and closed captioning. It was launched in 1995 through the joint efforts of multiple producers of video camera recorders. DV uses lossy compression of video while audio is stored uncompressed. An intra-frame video compression scheme is used to compress video on a frame-by-frame basis. All DV variants except for DVCPRO Progressive are recorded to tape within interlaced video stream. Film-like frame rates are possible by using pulldown transfer of film to video.

DVCPRO, also known as DVCPRO25, is a variation of DV developed by Panasonic and introduced in 1995 for use in electronic news-gathering (ENG) equipment. In 1996 Sony responded with its own professional version of DV called DVCAM. Like DVCPRO, DVCAM uses locked audio, which prevents audio synchronization drift that may happen on DV if several generations of copies are made.

DVCPRO50 was introduced by Panasonic in 1997 for high-value electronic news gathering and digital cinema and is often described as two DV codecs working in parallel. Comparable formats include Sony’s Digital Betacam, launched in 1993, and MPEG IMX, launched in 2001. DVCPRO Progressive was introduced by Panasonic for news gathering, sports journalism and digital cinema. Like HDV-SD, it was meant as an intermediate format during the transition time from standard definition to high definition video.

DVCPRO HD, also known as DVCPRO 100, is a high-definition video format that can be thought of as four DV codecs that work in parallel. While technically DVCPRO HD is a direct descendant of DV, it is used almost exclusively by professionals. Tape-based DVCPRO HD cameras exist only in shoulder mount variant. A similar format, Digital-S (D-9 HD), is offered by JVC and uses videocassettes with the same form-factor as VHS. The main competitor to DVCPRO HD is HDCAM, offered by Sony. It uses a similar compression scheme but at higher bitrate.

Tape-based DV variants, except for DVCPRO Progressive, do not support native progressive recording, therefore progressively acquired video is recorded within interlaced video stream using the pulldown transfer technique, the same technique used in television to broadcast movies.

DV was originally designed for recording onto magnetic tape. Tape is enclosed into small, medium, large and extra-large videocassettes. Any DV cassette can record any variant of DV video. Nevertheless, manufacturers often label cassettes with DV, DVCAM, DVCPRO, DVCPRO50 or DVCPRO HD and indicate recording time with regards to the label posted. With proliferation of tapeless camcorder video recording, DV video can be recorded on optical discs, sold-state flash memory cards and hard disk drives and used as computer files. This allows for easy file-sharing for such uses as archiving and transcription.