Memory Alpha
Memory Alpha
Real world article
(written from a Production point of view)
Video 8

Video 8 was an analog video tape cassette media format, and a contemporary of the similar Betamax and VHS videotape formats. The format was introduced in 1985 by Japanese consumer electronics giant Sony as the recording medium for the Handycam, a recording device specifically developed by Sony for the home movie market. Essentially, the Handicam was a miniaturized version of the VHS and Betamax (a format developed and championed by Sony itself) recording devices, and the size of the tape cassette reflected this as such, coming in at 95×62.5×15 mm, or roughly less than half the size of a VHS cassette. The tape itself was 8 mm in width, hence the "8" in the name.

Video 8 packaging and size comparison

Packaging and VHS cassette size comparison of The Search for Spock Video 8 release

Due to the compact size of the cassette, several Hollywood studios reasoned that the format was the preferable one over the more cumbersome VHS and Betamax cassettes, and started to release movie titles from their backlog catalogs in this format. Yet, what they had failed to take into account was that Betamax, and VHS in particular, had by then already become an ubiquitous household presence and had enjoyed worldwide widespread acceptance with consumers unwilling to invest in yet another new home media format. As such, Video 8 failed as an aftermarket home media format for pre-recorded Hollywood productions – as did the CED, VHD, and, to a lesser extent, LaserDisc formats, introduced in the same period of time, but also failing for mostly the same reasons. Still, it was exactly for its size that the format enjoyed some sort of viability for the time being on a limited scale within the hotel and airlines industries.

The "Video 8" should not be confused with the older, preceding "Super 8" home media format, as the latter was a bona fide film medium, whereas the Video 8 was, like its larger siblings, a magnetic video tape. Nevertheless, it is in this context that it should concurrently be realized that, while the format failed as a medium to sell pre-recorded Hollywood productions, it was a resounding success in what it was originally developed for, i.e. the home movie market. Aside from the compact cassette size, the mere fact that homemade movies could now skip the intermediate step of having films developed became the foremost factor in its success (Handycams designed from the start to double as an instant replay device as well). The hitherto for these purposes popular Super 8 format was rendered obsolete almost overnight. Video 8 itself became obsolete when digital recording devices became widely available to the general populace in the mid-2000s.

Star Trek on Video 8[]

Paramount Pictures was one of the major Hollywood studios who had faith in the new format and began, almost from the very start of the format's introduction, to release movie titles in the format through its subsidiary Paramount Home Video. These included six Star Trek films and these are, to date, the only ones known to have been released in the format.

Oddly, releases from 1989 onward received ISBN numbers, which were usually reserved for print publications.

Release chronology[]

Date Product released
unknown Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
unknown Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
unknown Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
unknown Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
unknown Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home re-released
unknown Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
unknown Star Trek Generations

External link[]