About Video Formats

Video converterWith technology being readily available for the consumer as well as the professional, there is a drive to constantly push the quality of the image that is captured to a higher standard. The good news is that as demands increase, technology advances, therefore so do the demands for proper education in the use of this technology. In essence, the consumer will be seeing terms used by professionals in the entertainment technical fields as the technology crossover occurs. So, in order to maximize your understanding of the technology, it is best to have a basic understanding of the video formats so that you can become properly educated in your video experience. This article will define the basics of the high-def video format.


The biggest misconception many people have is that 24P is always an HD format, and this is simply not true. The term "high definition" refers to the number of lines of resolution contained in the image you are capturing--which bears no correlation to the frame rate, which is what the "P" in 24P refers to. 24P refers to the signal that is similar to that of film, using twenty-four frames per second. 24P also utilizes the concept of Universal Mastering, the ability to output a variety of video signals that are compatible with all foreign and domestic video standards using the same 24P source.

The Facts

There are many different types of HD resolutions, the most common of which is 1920x1080, which is also referred to as 1080p or 1080i (interlaced). Simply put, interlaced makes the image look more like " standard" video, whereas 24 progressive is the video equivalent of film and gives the image a softer or " film" look. The reason it gives that " film look" look is because it eliminates the artifacting caused by the interlaced frames.


The video world is moving towards HD at a rapid rate which means that how we view programming in the future is rapidly progressing towards this format. Not only is the technology progressing and making easier to use, but the cost is becoming more affordable, so the benefits are that more and more shows will be broadcast at higher quality.


Risk Factors

Unfortunately, the best possible HD quality is not always achieved. The main problem is that many networks do not follow HDTV specifications fully. In addition to using slower bitrates or lower resolution to pack more channels within the limited bandwidth, they may also use a format that is different from the original programming, introducing generation loss artifacts in the process of re-encoding. As high-definition video broadcasts are digital, the disadvantages of digital video broadcasting also apply. For example, digital video responds differently to analogue video when subject to interference. Unlike in analogue television broadcasting, in which interference causes only gradual image and sound degradation, interference in a digital television broadcast will freeze, skip, or display "garbage" information. One other disadvantage of HDTV compared to standard definition television is the consumer confusion stemming from the different standards and resolutions, such as 1080i, 1080p, and 720p, which really pertains more to how the image is captured in the field.

The term high definition was originally used to describe a series of television systems from the 1930s and 1940s, beginning with the British 405-line black-and-white system introduced in 1936. This also include 525-line NTSC system established in The United States, in 1941. Please keep in mind that these systems were only "high definition" when compared to systems of early video Production. From 1936 through to 1986 all of the early high def systems used interlacing and a 4:3 aspect ratio.

The earliest example of this technology for home use was produced in Japan in 1964, when NHK, the Japanese broadcasting company began producing prototypes, and by 1984 they had an analog, hi def output that was capable of program production. Roughly around the same time KCTS, a television company based in the United States began experimenting with the same type of format. As with any technology, the problem in its early stages is that the equipment was primitive. The cameras and equipment used to make the programs were cumbersome and heavy and required more man power and more cable to work properly. In 1997, Sony introduced the first portable hi def camcorder and videotape. As film production and broadcasting companies saw the benefits of this new technology, they began to invest in the new equipment.


As the demands for high definition or hi def broadcasting increase more and more cable, satellite and the broadcasting industry will move completely away from standard definition to HD permanently. The advent of more advanced home products bring with it, greater digital picture clarity, a higher standard of surround sound and wider screens to add a new dimension to the viewing experience. So, it is not a matter of whether or not the general consumer population will embrace this new experience, but rather when it will become available as standard for home viewing.