An e-mail this morning from correspondent Jerome Wybon made me realize that it’s unclear from my journal just what format Anatol Pacanowski and I were using to document the production of Dune. Although Anatol initially had wanted to use 16mm film, we ended up with a newly developed combination camera/recorder just being put on the market by Panasonic, the ReCam. Back then, in the early ’80s, there was a lot of experimentation with video formats and this particular one was what they were calling a “half-inch M-format”. It used VHS cassettes which ran at six times normal speed (20 minutes for a 120-minute cassette), allowing for far more information to be recorded on the tape. Obviously, this format didn’t take off and very soon Sony’s Betacam took over the market, eliminating a lot of other possible systems.
For those who may want to know a bit more about it, I’ve attached a copy of an article about our project from the January 1985 issue of a magazine called VideoPro.
I wonder whether the minions at Universal had already destroyed the tapes by the time the article appeared …