MPEG-2 based ENG is dying
If you’re thinking of buying an HDV camera, read this first!
MPEG-2 video compression is coming up to being twenty years old, although it has its origins in research going back into the 1970s.
The vast majority of digital TV systems use MPEG-2, chiefly satellite and terrestrial, though many cable systems use it too. MPEG-2 has seen most success as a distribution technology.
However, then along comes HDV format, with cameras such as Sony’s Z1, and we need to find a way to fit a high-definition picture into standard-definition bandwidth. Step forward MPEG-2, now used as an origination technology. Why? Because it’s a mature technology, well understood and cheap to implement.
Trouble is, it’s not terrible good at recording high-def pictures.
MPEG-4 is now being used as a more efficient distribution technology, France is the pioneer for DTT, and camcorder manufacturers already have the AVCHD specification for recording high-def pictures in MPEG-4.
Whilst the initial release of HDV camcorders have been popular with news broadcasters, I would go further than Tore Nordahl and say that it’s only a matter of time before tapeless AVCHD cameras replace the MPEG-2 versions forever.