Aquisition and Distribution Formats
An aquisition format is used to record the video;
a distribution format is used to play it.
If the recording format of a camcorder is also a distribution format
then no format conversion is necessary
to watch the video without the camcorder.
This is often marketed as a convenience.
However, if you have to decompress and recompress the video anyway
when editing it doesn't make any difference whether the aquisition
format is the same as the distribution format.
Consumer camcorder recording formats
are summarized in the table
format year aquisition distribution
Beta 1982 yes yes
VHSC 1982 yes almost 
VHS 1985 yes yes
8mm 1984 yes no
Hi8 1989 yes no
miniDV 1998 yes no
Digital 8 1999 yes no
DVD 2000 yes yes
HDV 2003 yes almost 
AVCHD 2006 yes yes 
Professional and prosumer videographers will archive the original media
and make edited copies for distribution. These users want to create
a final product with consistent color and sound.
Software exists to losslessly correct brightness and color in jpeg
images and the volume in mp3 encoded sound files.
However, there is no software available that can to do the
same with mpeg2 video, h264 video, ac3 audio or aac audio.
Therefore, a decompress and recompress cycle will have to be performed because
of the editing regardless of whether the aquisition format is the
same as the distribution format. For more information see
Editing AVCHD with Cinelerra.
- Though VHSC cassettes are not a distribution media, they
can be played in a VHS player by means of a simple adaptor. Moreover,
the 1/2 inch tape from a VHSC cassette can be placed into a standard
size cassette and played with no format conversion.
- Though HDV tape is not a distribution media, the data stored on the
tape can be downloaded to a computer and directly burned to Blu-ray disk
with no format conversion.
Some AVCHD camcorders record to Blu-ray or DVD.
Others record to internal memory that can be downloaded and
burned to DVD or Blu-ray disk with no format conversion.
A consumer will watch the original media and then give it to a friend
to watch. Editing involves cut and paste from the original source.
Since software exists to perform cut and paste editing of mpeg2 and
avchd without reencoding, quality and time can be saved if the
aquisition format is the same as the distribution format.
For more information
see Lossless ACHD Editing in Linux.
MiniDV is easy to edit because it was was adapted from an
aquisition format designed for professional use.
DVD, HDV and AVCHD were adapted from delivery formats for
use as aquisition formats. These formats are more complicated to edit.
When the aquisition format is the same as the delivery format
the video quality of the original source can be fully preserved
with a lossless cut and paste editing workflow.
It would be a wonderful addition to the lossless workflow if color
correction and volume adjustments could also be made.
A Linear Color Correction Method for Compressed Images and Videos
by Kebin An, Jun Sun and Lei Zhou suggests this should be possible.
In this case, a video project authored with a lossless workflow
could also enjoy consistent color and sound.
Last Updated: Sun Mar 27 22:09:59 PDT 2011