Common High Definition
Broadcast Formats
1080i / 1080p
720p
24p / 30p
NTSC (Standard
Definition in the United
States)
Resolution Pixels x Lines
1920 x 1080
1280 x 720
1920 x 1080 or
1280 x 720P
720 x 480
Frame Rate per Second
29.97 (60i)
29.97 (60i)
29.97
29.97
Scan Mode
1080i Interlaced
1080p Progressive
720 Progressive
Progressive
Interlaced
Notes
Generally shot with
Sony cameras
Generally shot
with Panasonic
Varicam and HDX
Series Cameras
Several cameras
shoot in 24p and
30p modes
Standard definition
broadcast format used in
the U.S. since 1946
Networks Airing
HDNet, CBS, NBC,
Discovery HD, PBS,
TNT HD
FOX, ABC, ESPN
N/A
All networks currently  
broadcasting NTSC
There is much confusion surrounding the differences between standard definition (SDTV) and high definition video
(HDTV) as it relates to video production. Much has changed in recent years. Below is a basic glossary of terms used
in video production today for both HD and SD video. We hope these definitions help answer some basic questions
about high definition. Please call us to discuss how R & B Communications can better serve your needs and answer
your technical and production questions for both HD and SD.
1080/24P
Refers to an internationally standardized High Definition production format (ITU BT 709) having a digital sampling
structure of 1920 (H) x 1080 (V) and operating at 24-frames per second progressively scanned. Often used to loosely
describe a system that operates at 23.976P as well.

1080/60i
Refers to a standardized High Definition production format (SMPTE 274M and ITU 709) having a digital sampling
structure of 1920 (H) x 1080 (V) and operating in interlaced scan mode at 60 fields per second. Often used to loosely
describe a system that operates at 59.94i as well.

1280x720
Refers to a high definition digital sampling structure of 1280 horizontally and 720 vertically. All 1280x720 images are
progressively scanned (720P).

16x9
The standardized aspect ratio of HDTV and Widescreen SDTV - having a width of 16 units and a height of 9 units.

1920x1080
Refers to a digital sampling structure of 1920 horizontally and 1080 vertically. 1920x1080 images can be scanned either
interlaced (1080i) or progressively (1080P).

Aspect Ratio (Picture)
The ratio of screen width to screen height. Can be expressed as Width by Height (Example: 16x9, 4x3) or as calculated
ratio (1.33:1, 1.78:1)
Some common aspect ratios:
1.33 (4x3) Standard Television or Academy Standard
1.78 (16x9) HDTV
1.85 Academy Flat
2.35 Cinemascope

24P
Terminology for 24 full frames per second digital video progressively captured. In most cases it refers to the HD picture
format of 1920x1080, though it is also used with 1280x720 and 720X480 standard definition images as well. Often
used to loosely describe a capture system that operates at 23.976P as well.

24PsF
Term used to describe a 24 (or in common usage 23.98) frame progressive video that divides the video in segments of
even and odd lines for transmission and storage (and often display). Though transmitted similarly as an interlaced
signal, if treated as a progressive signal, does not cause the same harmful artifacts that interlace scanning causes.

29.97P
Terminology for 29.97 full frames per second digital video progressively captured.

30P
Terminology for 30 full frames per second digital video progressively captured. Often used to loosely describe a capture
system that operates at 29.97P.






3:2 Pulldown
The process used to convert 24 frame per second film or 24P video into 59.94i video. Technically the 3:2 pulldown
process consists of two parts, the "Pulldown", and the creation of the "3:2" cadence. The pulldown process is the
slowing down of the film or video to 23.976 frames per second. The 3:2 cadence is created by taking one frame of the
24 frame source and filling 3 of the 59.94 fields. The next frame of the 24 frame source will only fill 2 of the 59.94 fields,
the next frame 3 fields, the next frame 2 fields, etc. This sequence causes 4 of the 24 frame per second acquired
material to fit into 5 frames of the destination 59.94i video. The term is loosely used to describe the process of
converting 23.98P HD video to 59.94i even though there is only a 3:2 cadence added and not a pulldown performed.

59.94i
Describes an interlaced video signal where 1/2 of the total lines of the picture are captured and displayed every 1/59.
94th of a second.

59.94P
Describes a progressive video signal where all lines of the picture are captured and displayed every 1/59.94th of a
second.  

60i
Describes a interlaced video signal where 1/2 of the total lines of the picture are captured and displayed every 1/60th
of a second. Often used to loosely describe a capture system that actually operates at 59.94i.

60P
Describes a progressive video signal where all of the total lines of the picture are captured and displayed every 1/60th
of a second. Often used to loosely describe a capture system that actually operates at 59.94P.

720/60P        
Refers to a High Definition production format (SMPTE 296M) having a digital sampling structure of 1280 (H) x 720 (V)
and operating at 60-frames per second progressively scanned. Often used to loosely describe a capture system that
operates at 59.94P as well.

Capture Rate Resolution
How much information defines an image. There are two types of resolution, spatial and temporal. Spatial defines how
many pixels are used to make up a single image. Common spatial resolutions for HD are 1920x1080 and 1280x720.
Temporal defines how many images per second are displayed. Common temporal resolutions for HD are 24, 25, 30, 50,
and 60 frames per second.

CineAlta
Name for a line of products by Sony that are developed to produce film-like images. CineAlta menu settings are included
in several of Sony's high definition cameras.

Composite Video
A video signal where luminance and chrominance signals have been combined together. This process results in
restricted detail especially with color components. Most commonly used to describe NTSC or PAL video where the
luminance, chrominance, and horizontal and vertical synchronizing information have been combined into one analog
signal.

Component Video
A video signal where luminance and chrominance signals are kept as separate components. This allows signals to
retain detail components and eliminates encoding/decoding artifacts commonly found in composite video.

DV (DVCam, DVC Pro)
Refers to a standard definition video tape format that records a 4:1:1 signal with a 5:1 compression ratio for a total
bitrate of 25Mb/s. DV cassettes come in 2 sizes Standard and Mini. Audio can be either 48khz 16 bit stereo or 32kHz 12
bit 4 channel. DV is considered primarily a consumer-based format while DVCam and DVC Pro is used in both
professional and broadcast production applications.








DVCProHD / DVCProHD-EX
A High Definition videotape format developed by Panasonic. It uses 1/4" wide tape stock and records 22:11:11 8 bit HD
Video. It uses an extension of the DV compression and recording system to reduce the data rate to 100Mb/s. The tape
format supports 1920x1080 at 59.94i, and 60i and 1280x720 at 59.94P and 60P. The Panasonic Varicam format uses
the 1280x720 DVCProHD format to carry variable frame rate information. DVCProHD-EX is an extension of the
DVCProHD format and is able to record and playback up to 126 minutes of HD video on a single cassette.

DVD
Digital Versatile Disk, disk of the size of a CD, but with a storage capacity of up to 17 Gbyte. The single layer one side
DVD stores up to 4.7 Gbyte, more than eight time as much as on a CD. It is an ideal media for video and multi channel
audio applications. The term DVD has become synonymous with DVD-Video, which holds MPEG-2 compressed video,
multichannel audio, subtitles, menus, and other features onto a DVD disk for playback in industry standard players.

HDCam Format
A High Definition videotape format developed by Sony. It uses 1/2" wide tape stock and records 22:11:11 8 bit HD
Video. It uses per-filtering and compression that together reduce the data rate approximately 7:1 to 140Mb/s. The tape
format supports 1920x1080 at 23.98P,24P,25P,29.97P, 30P, 50i, 59.94i, and 60i.

HDCam SR Format
A next generation High Definition videotape format developed by Sony. It uses a 1/2" wide tape stock and can record
either 22:22:22 10bit HD video, 22:11:11 10bit HD Video, or a special double speed mode for 2 channels of 22:11:11
10 bit HD Video. It uses a light compression scheme to reduce the data rate 2.7:1 (for 22:11:11) to approximately
440Mb/s.

HDV
A format which uses DV cassette tapes for recording and playback of high-definition video. The HDV format includes
720p (progressive) and 1080i (interlace) specifications. The HDV format specifies the data recording of MPEG-2 inter-
frame compressed high-definition signals at either 19Mb/s or 25Mb/s.

High Definition
Usually refers to a video format consisting of either 720 active lines of progressive video or 1080 active lines of either
progressive or interlaced video.

Interlaced imaging
Imaging technique where all the odd lines of a picture are captured in one moment and the even lines are captured in
the next moment. When you put two of these "fields" together, you get a "frame" (all of the lines). Notice however that
a frame represents two moments in time. If there was movement between the capturing of these two fields, there will
be a blurry look if the image is stopped on a frame. This is not a problem when the program is played back at normal
speeds because the eye will merge the images into smooth motion. See Progressive Imaging.

NTSC
National Television Systems Committee. Also the name for the 525 line, 30 frame per second color TV standard mainly
used in North, Middle and South America and Japan.

PAL
Phase Alternation Line. This is the 625 line, 25frame per second color television system in use today in the United
Kingdom and much of Europe.

Progressive Imaging
All lines (whole frame) are captured at the same instant similar to shooting motion picture film. Each frame represents a
single moment in time. See interlaced imaging.

SECAM
System Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire. This is the 625 line, 25frame per second color television system in use
today in France and the Middle East.

Standard Definition (SD)
Usually refers to an NTSC (or PAL) compatible video format consisting of 480 (576 for PAL) active lines of interlaced
video.

Varicam Format
A Panasonic camcorder system that provides electronic over and under-crank recording of high definition video. The
system records 720-progressive video at 60-frames per second. Using a system of frame markers in the Timecode User
Bits, Varicam can provide variable frame rate recording so that in-camera motion control is possible in an electronic
camcorder. Film camera systems have been able to accomplish over/under crank recording for many years, and is a
staple of film cinematography.

XDCam HD Format
A Sony HD recording format that provides the capability to record in both DVCam format with NTSC/PAL and 16:9/4:3
switchable modes, as well as the MPEG HD format onto a proprietary HD disc. The XDCam HD products record video
signals in 1080/59.94i, 50i, 29.97P, 25P, and native 23.98P using the “MPEG HD” codec that adopts the industry
standard MPEG-2 MP@HL compression. Users can select desired bit rates either from 35, 25, or 18 Mb/s depending on
their requirements for picture quality and recording length. The XDCam HD products use a nonlinear optical disc
developed specifically for professional recording applications. Sony XDCam HD Cameras provides over and under-crank
recording similar to film cameras as well as CineAlta settings.

Y, R-Y, B-Y
Terminology to describe the luminance (Y) and color difference signals (R-Y) and (B-Y) of component video such as
Betacam SP. Y is luminance information and the R-Y and B-Y signals together provide the color information. These
signals, derived from the original RGB source, are used in most video systems as a bandwidth reduction technique. Also
see component video.
Frequently Asked Questions