"If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed..." STANLEY KUBRIC


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MPEG IMX is designed to meet a very specific requirement; a system for next generation, file-based networked production using open standards and with picture quality equivalent to that of Digital Betacam.


MPEG IMX history

In the mid-Nineties, leading players in European broadcasting embraced a revolutionary vision of TV production. In future, IT-style networks would deliver faster, far more flexible workflow with seamless integration of AV/IT equipment from various manufacturers all using open standards.

This vision was reflected in a 1998 EBU report on ‘Harmonized Standards for the Exchange of Programme Material as Bitstreams.’ This advocated DV or MPEG-2 based compression at up to 50Mb/s for future TV programme production.

Massive resources at Sony were devoted to meeting this forward-looking specification and to providing a comprehensive hardware line-up, initially consisting of MPEG IMX VTRs, servers, disk-based editors and Camcorder. The first MPEG IMX VTRs were shiped in January 2000.

MPEG IMX description

MPEG IMX was designed as the ultimate realisation of this AV/IT vision. It was also critically affected by the needs of major broadcasters in Germany, Italy and Austria who already had a huge installed base of Digital Betacam equipment. Tomorrow’s networked production environment had to match Digital Betacam picture quality as well as integrating the entire Betacam family archive.

  • Picture quality equivalent to Digital Betacam
  • 50Mbps data rate
  • MPEG-2 based, non-proprietary codec for maximum interoperability
  • Intaframe compression (I-frame only)
  • Clear roadmap to file-based, networked production for existing Betacam family archived content
  • Total cost of ownership significantly below Digital Betacam

MPEG IMX technology

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has issued two standards on which MPEG IMX is based. These standards, known as D-10, were issued to ensure seamless operation between products from multiple manufacturers.

The first D-10 standard, SMPTE 356M, describes an MPEG-2 4:2:2P@ML data stream employing Intra-frame (I-frame) compressed video encoding. SMPTE 356M provides for recording at 30, 40 and 50 Mb/s for the highest quality Standard Definition video performance and multi-generation editing.

The second SMPTE D-10 standard is SMPTE 365M. This describes all aspects of the physical recording within a tape-based recorder. It contains details of the recorded data tracks on tape and the dimensions of the cassette. MPEG IMX camcorders, studio recorders and players conform to the two D-10 standards.

MPEG IMX technical specifications

  • Tape width: 12.65 mm (1⁄2-inch)
  • Tape material: Metal Particle tape
  • Recording: Max. 184 (525) / 220 (625)
  • Tape speed: 64.467 (525) / 53.776 (625) mm/s
  • Track pitch: 21.7 μm
  • Tracks per frame: 8 tracks/frame
  • Longitudinal tracks: Time code/Control


  • Compression: MPEG-2 4:2:2P@ML, Intra frame coding (ISO/IEC 13818-2000)
  • Video bit rate: 50 Mb/s
  • Active lines per frame: 512 (525)/608 (625)
  • Sampling frequency Y: 13.5 MHz, R-Y/B-Y: 6.75 MHz
  • Quantization: 8-bits/sample
  • Error correction: Reed-Solomon


  • Compression: None
  • Sampling frequency: 48 kHz
  • Quantization: 16 or 24-bits/sample (selectable)
  • Channels: 8 or 4
  • Data recording capability: Yes
  • Error correction: Reed-Solomon

MPEG IMX Picture Quality

The most authoritative endorsement of MPEG IMX’s picture quality comes from its wide-scale adoption by broadcasters such as NDR, WDR, ORF, RAI, tpc and others for whom Digital Betacam is the critical benchmark for any new format. All these companies are using MPEG IMX today for the production of flagship TV programming.

During exhaustive tests at the EBU, broadcast experts comparing the overall picture quality of MPEG IMX and Digital Betacam found it extremely difficult to tell them apart, even in very critical multi-generational tests. This data was formally published in August 2001 as; New Digital Recording Formats Report: EBU Tests on SONY D-10 (MPEG IMX) – Project Group P/DTR.

MPEG IMX devices

MPEG IMX camcorders, studio recorders and players have been designed from the ground up to meet these demands. Building on over 25 years of Sony design experience, MPEG IMX is already meeting the needs of broadcasters and production facilities around the world. Users have entrusted the production of sports, drama, arts, commercials, news and natural history programmes to MPEG IMX, as well as distribution and long-term archive of content.

From standalone MPEG IMX camcorders and studio recorders, to fully networked production systems for broadcasting, MPEG IMX provides the ideal platform for the digitalnetworked era.

Playback compatibility:

  • MSW-M2000P/1 + Betacam, Betacam SP, Betacam SX,
  • MSW-M2100P/1 Digital Betacam
  • MSW-A2000P/1 Betacam, Betacam SP, Betacam SX
  • MSW-2000 Betacam SX

MPEG IMX & XDCAM Professional Disc

Launched in 2003, XDCAM Professional Disc is the latest development in the Sony strategy for network-based production. This MPEG-based strategy is committed to open standards, interoperability, IT-based production and a forward migration path for the entire Betacam family.

Professional Disc is a high-speed, non-linear format-neutral medium that extends IT-style flexibility and speed to the point of acquisition. All XDCAM Professional Disc hardware comes with support for advanced Metadata, Proxy AV and MXF-based networking built-in. Apart from the DVCAM-only PDW-510P Camcorder, all XDCAM hardware supports both DVCAM and MPEG IMX.

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