SECAM, stands for "Sequential Color with Memory". It is an analog color television system first used in France. It is, historically, the first European color television standard.
Just as with the other color standards adopted for broadcast usage over the world, SECAM is a standard which permits existing monochrome television receivers predating its introduction to continue to be operate as monochrome television. Because of this compatibility requirement, color standards added a second signal to the basic monochrome signal, which carries the color information. The color information is called chrominance or C for short, while the black and white information is called the luminance or Y for short. Monochrome television receivers only display the luminance, while color receivers process both signals. Additionally, for compatibility, it is required to use no more bandwidth than the monochrome signal alone; the color signal has to be somehow inserted into the monochrome signal, without disturbing it. This insertion is possible because the spectrum of the monochrome TV signal is not continuous, hence empty space exists which can be utilized. This lack of continuity results from the discrete nature of the signal, which is divided into frames and lines. Analog color systems differ by the way in which empty space is used. In all cases, the color signal is inserted at the end of the spectrum of the monochrome signal.
SECAM differs from the other color systems by the way the R-Y and B-Y signals are carried. First, SECAM uses frequency modulation to encode chrominance information on the sub carrier. Second, instead of transmitting the red and blue information together, it only sends one of them at a time, and uses the information about the other color from the preceding line. It uses a delay line, an analog memory device, for storing one line of color information. This justifies the "Sequential, With Memory" name. Because SECAM transmits only one color at a time, it is free of the color artifacts present in NTSC and PAL resulting from the combined transmission of both signals. This means that the vertical color resolution is halved relative to NTSC. It is however not halved compared to PAL. Although PAL does not eliminate half of vertical color information during encoding, it combines color information from adjacent lines at the decoding stage, in order to compensate for "color sub carrier phase errors" occurring during the transmission of the Amplitude-Modulated color sub carrier. This is normally done using a delay line like in SECAM (the result is called PAL DL or PAL Delay-Line, sometimes interpreted as DeLuxe), but can be accomplished "visually" in cheap TV sets (PAL standard). Because the FM modulation of SECAM's color sub carrier is insensitive to phase (or amplitude) errors, phase errors do not cause loss of color saturation in SECAM, although they do in PAL. In NTSC, such errors cause color shifts.
There are five varieties of SECAM:
· French SECAM (SECAM-L)
· SECAM D/K
Unlike PAL or NTSC, analog SECAM television cannot easily be edited in its native analog form. Because it uses frequency modulation, SECAM is not linear with respect to the input image (this is also what protects it against signal distortion), so electrically mixing two (synchronized) SECAM signals does not yield a valid SECAM signal, unlike with analog PAL or NTSC. For this reason, to mix two SECAM signals, they must be demodulated, the demodulated signals mixed, and are remodulated again. Hence, post-production is often done in PAL, or in component formats, with the result encoded or transcoded into SECAM at the point of transmission. Reducing the costs of running television stations is one reason for some countries' recent switchovers to PAL.