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1080i (also known as Full HD or BT.709) is an abbreviation referring to a combination of frame resolution and scan type, used in high-definition television (HDTV) and high-definition video. The number "1080" refers to the number of horizontal lines on the screen. The "i" is an abbreviation for "interlaced"; this indicates that only the odd lines, then the even lines of each frame (each image called a video field) are drawn alternately, so that only half the number of actual image frames are used to produce video. A related display resolution is 1080p, which also has 1080 lines of resolution; the "p" refers to progressive scan, which indicates that the lines of resolution for each frame are "drawn" in on the screen sequence.

Image resolution is the detail an image holds. The term applies to raster digital images, film images, and other types of images. Higher resolution means more image detail.

High-definition television (HDTV) is a television system providing an image resolution that is of substantially higher resolution than that of standard-definition television. This can be either analog or digital. HDTV is the current standard video format used in most broadcasts: terrestrial broadcast television, cable television, satellite television, Blu-rays, and streaming video.

High-definition video is video of higher resolution and quality than standard-definition. While there is no standardized meaning for high-definition, generally any video image with considerably more than 480 vertical lines or 576 vertical lines (Europe) is considered high-definition. 480 scan lines is generally the minimum even though the majority of systems greatly exceed that. Images of standard resolution captured at rates faster than normal, by a high-speed camera may be considered high-definition in some contexts. Some television series shot on high-definition video are made to look as if they have been shot on film, a technique which is often known as filmizing.


The term assumes a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9 (a rectangular TV that is wider than it is tall), so the 1080 lines of vertical resolution implies 1920 columns of horizontal resolution, or 1920 pixels × 1080 lines. A 1920 pixels × 1080 lines screen has a total of 2.1 megapixels (2.1 million pixels) and a temporal resolution of 50 or 60 interlaced fields per second. This format is used in the SMPTE 292M standard.

Widescreen aspect ratio with a width of 1.85 units and height of 1 unit

Widescreen images are images that are displayed within a set of aspect ratios used in film, television and computer screens. In film, a widescreen film is any film image with a width-to-height aspect ratio greater than the standard 1.37:1 Academy aspect ratio provided by 35mm film.

The aspect ratio of an image describes the proportional relationship between its width and its height. It is commonly expressed as two numbers separated by a colon, as in 16:9. For an x:y aspect ratio, no matter how big or small the image is, if the width is divided into x units of equal length and the height is measured using this same length unit, the height will be measured to be y units.

SMPTE 292 is a digital video transmission standard published by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) which expands upon SMPTE 259 and SMPTE 344 allowing for bit-rates of 1.485 Gbit/s, and 1.485/1.001 Gbit/s. These bit-rates are sufficient for and often used to transfer uncompressed high-definition video.

The choice of 1080 lines originates with Charles Poynton, who in the early 1990s pushed for "square pixels" to be used in HD video formats. [1]

Charles A. Poynton is a Canadian technical consultant and writer based in Toronto. He gives seminars on digital video systems and has written two books, A Technical Introduction to Digital Video and Digital Video and HDTV: Algorithms and Interfaces. He is currently a columnist at Spectracal.com.

Broadcast standard

An example frame of poorly deinterlaced video. Despite the fact that most TV transmissions are interlaced, plasma and LCD display technologies are progressively scanned. Consequently, flat-panel TVs convert an interlaced source to progressive scan for display, which can have an adverse impact on motion portrayal. Interlaced video frame (car wheel).jpg
An example frame of poorly deinterlaced video. Despite the fact that most TV transmissions are interlaced, plasma and LCD display technologies are progressively scanned. Consequently, flat-panel TVs convert an interlaced source to progressive scan for display, which can have an adverse impact on motion portrayal.

Within the designation "1080i", the i stands for interlaced scan. A frame of 1080i video consists of two sequential fields of 1920 horizontal and 540 vertical pixels. The first field consists of all odd-numbered TV lines and the second all even numbered lines. Consequently, the horizontal lines of pixels in each field are captured and displayed with a one-line vertical gap between them, so the lines of the next field can be interlaced between them, resulting in 1080 total lines. 1080i differs from 1080p, where the p stands for progressive scan, where all lines in a frame are captured at the same time. In native or pure 1080i, the two fields of a frame correspond to different instants (points in time), so motion portrayal is good (50 or 60 motion phases/second). This is true for interlaced video in general and can be easily observed in still images taken of fast motion scenes. However, when 1080p material is captured at 25 or 30 frames/second, it is converted to 1080i at 50 or 60 fields/second, respectively, for processing or broadcasting. In this situation both fields in a frame do correspond to the same instant. The field-to-instant relation is somewhat more complex for the case of 1080p at 24 frames/second converted to 1080i at 60 fields/second.

Interlaced video technique for doubling the perceived frame rate of a video display without consuming extra bandwidth

Interlaced video is a technique for doubling the perceived frame rate of a video display without consuming extra bandwidth. The interlaced signal contains two fields of a video frame captured at two different times. This enhances motion perception to the viewer, and reduces flicker by taking advantage of the phi phenomenon.

In video, a field is one of the many still images which are displayed sequentially to create the impression of motion on the screen. Two fields comprise one video frame. When the fields are displayed on a video monitor they are "interlaced" so that the content of one field will be used on all of the odd-numbered lines on the screen and the other field will be displayed on the even lines. Converting fields to a still frame image requires a process called deinterlacing, in which the missing lines are duplicated or interpolated to recreate the information that would have been contained in the discarded field. Since each field contains only half of the information of a full frame, however, deinterlaced images do not have the resolution of a full frame.

Pixel a physical point in a raster image

In digital imaging, a pixel, pel, or picture element is a physical point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable element in an all points addressable display device; so it is the smallest controllable element of a picture represented on the screen.

The field rate of 1080i is typically 60 Hz (i.e., 60 fields per second) for countries that use or used System M (NTSC and Brazilian PAL-M) as analog television system with 60 fields/sec (such as United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Philippines), or 50 Hz for regions that use or used 625-lines (PAL or SECAM) television system with 50 fields/sec (such as most of Europe, most of Africa, China, India, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, and others). Both field rates can be carried by major digital television broadcast formats such as ATSC, DVB, and ISDB-T International. The frame rate can be implied by the context, while the field rate is generally specified after the letter i, such as "1080i60". In this case 1080i60 refers to 60 fields per second. The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) prefers to use the resolution and frame rate (not field rate) separated by a slash, as in 1080i/30 and 1080i/25, likewise 480i/30 and 576i/25. [2] Resolutions of 1080i60 or 1080i50 often refers to 1080i/30 or 1080i/25 in EBU notation.

CCIR System M

CCIR System M, sometimes called 525 line, is the analog broadcast television system used in the United States since July 1, 1941, and also in most of the Americas and Caribbean, South Korea, and Taiwan. Japan uses System J, which is nearly identical to System M. The systems were given their letter designations in the ITU identification scheme adopted in Stockholm in 1961. Both System M and System J display 525 lines of video at 30 frames per second using 6 MHz spacing between channel numbers, and is used for both VHF and UHF channels.

NTSC analog television system

NTSC, named after the National Television System Committee, is the analog television color system that was used in North America from 1954 and until digital conversion, was used in most of the Americas ; Myanmar; South Korea; Taiwan; Philippines; Japan; and some Pacific island nations and territories.


PAL-M is the analog TV system used in Brazil since February 19, 1972. At that time, Brazil was the first South American country to broadcast in colour. Colour TV broadcast began on February 19, 1972, when the TV networks Globo and Bandeirantes transmitted the Caxias do Sul Grape Festival. Transition from black and white to colour was not complete until 1978. Two years later, in 1980, colour broadcast nationwide in Brazil was commonplace.

1080i is directly compatible with some CRT HDTVs on which it can be displayed natively in interlaced form, but for display on progressive-scan—e.g., most new LCD and plasma TVs, it must be deinterlaced. Depending on the television's video processing capabilities, the resulting video quality may vary, but may not necessarily suffer. For example, film material at 25fps may be deinterlaced from 1080i50 to restore a full 1080p resolution at the original frame rate without any loss. Preferably video material with 50 or 60 motion phases/second is to be converted to 50p or 60p before display.

Progressive scanning is a format of displaying, storing, or transmitting moving images in which all the lines of each frame are drawn in sequence. This is in contrast to interlaced video used in traditional analog television systems where only the odd lines, then the even lines of each frame are drawn alternately, so that only half the number of actual image frames are used to produce video. The system was originally known as "sequential scanning" when it was used in the Baird 240 line television transmissions from Alexandra Palace, United Kingdom in 1936. It was also used in Baird's experimental transmissions using 30 lines in the 1920s. Progressive scanning is universally used in computer screens in the 2000s.

Television set Device for viewing television broadcasts

A television set or television receiver, more commonly called a television, TV, TV set, or telly, is a device that combines a tuner, display, and loudspeakers for the purpose of viewing broadcast shows or viewing a computer's screen. Introduced in the late 1920s in mechanical form, television sets became a popular consumer product after World War II in electronic form, using cathode ray tubes. The addition of color to broadcast television after 1953 further increased the popularity of television sets in the 1960s, and an outdoor antenna became a common feature of suburban homes. The ubiquitous television set became the display device for the first recorded media in the 1970s, such as Betamax, VHS and later DVD. It has been used as a display device since the first generation of home computers and dedicated video game consoles in the 1980s. In the 2010s flat panel television incorporating liquid-crystal displays, especially LED-backlit LCDs, largely replaced cathode ray tubes and other displays. Modern flat panel TVs are typically capable of high-definition display and can also play content from a USB device.

Worldwide, most HD channels on satellite and cable broadcast in 1080i. In the United States, 1080i is the preferred format for most broadcasters, with Discovery, Inc., Viacom, AT&T, Comcast owned networks broadcasting in the format; along with most smaller broadcasters. Only Fox-owned television networks and Disney-owned television networks, along with MLB Network and a few other cable networks use 720p as the preferred format for their networks; A+E Networks channels converted from 720p to 1080i sometime in 2013 due to acquired networks already transmitting in the 1080i format. Many ABC affiliates owned by Hearst Television and former Belo Corporation stations owned by TEGNA, along with some individual affiliates of those three networks, air their signals in 1080i and upscale network programming for master control and transmission purposes, as most syndicated programming and advertising is produced and distributed in 1080i/p, removing a downscaling step to 720p. This also allows local newscasts on these ABC affiliates to be produced in the higher resolution (especially for weather forecasting presentation purposes for map clarity) to match the picture quality of their 1080i competitors.

Some cameras and broadcast systems that use 1080 vertical lines per frame do not actually use the full 1920 pixels of a nominal 1080i picture for image capture and encoding. Common subsampling ratios include 3/4 (resulting in 1440x1080i frame resolution) and 1/2 (resulting in 960x1080i frame resolution). Where used, the lower horizontal resolution is scaled to capture and/or display a full-sized picture. Using half horizontal resolution and only one field of each frame (possibly with added anti-alias filtering or progressive capture) results in the format known as qHD, which has frame resolution 960x540 and 30 or 25 frames per second. Due to the chosen 16x16 pixel size for a compressed video packet known as a macroblock as used in ITU H.261 to H.264 video standards, a 1080-line video must be encoded as 1088 lines and cropped to 1080 by the de-compressor. The 720-line video format divides perfectly by 16 and therefore does not require any lines to be wasted.

See also

Related Research Articles

Standard-definition television Original analog television systems

Standard-definition television is a television system which uses a resolution that is not considered to be either high or enhanced definition. SDTV and high-definition television (HDTV) are the two categories of display formats for digital television (DTV) transmissions.


Video is an electronic medium for the recording, copying, playback, broadcasting, and display of moving visual media. Video was first developed for mechanical television systems, which were quickly replaced by cathode ray tube (CRT) systems which were later replaced by flat panel displays of several types.

Enhanced-definition television, or extended-definition television (EDTV) is a Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) marketing shorthand term for certain digital television (DTV) formats and devices. Specifically, this term defines formats that deliver a picture superior to that of standard-definition television (SDTV) but not as detailed as high-definition television (HDTV).

Display resolution how many pixels a monitor can display

The display resolution or display modes of a digital television, computer monitor or display device is the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed. It can be an ambiguous term especially as the displayed resolution is controlled by different factors in cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, flat-panel displays and projection displays using fixed picture-element (pixel) arrays.

Deinterlacing is the process of converting interlaced video, such as common analog television signals or 1080i format HDTV signals, into a non-interlaced form.

HD-MAC was a proposed broadcast television systems standard by the European Commission in 1986, a part of Eureka 95 project. It is an early attempt by the EEC to provide High-definition television (HDTV) in Europe. It is a complex mix of analogue signal, multiplexed with digital sound, and assistance data for decoding (DATV). The video signal was encoded with a modified D2-MAC encoder.

480p is the shorthand name for a family of video display resolutions. The p stands for progressive scan, i.e. non-interlaced. The 480 denotes a vertical resolution of 480 pixels, usually with a horizontal resolution of 640 pixels and 4:3 aspect ratio or a horizontal resolution of 854 or less pixels for an approximate 16:9 aspect ratio. Since a pixel count must be a whole number, in Wide VGA displays it is generally rounded up to 854 to ensure inclusion of the entire image. The frames are displayed progressively as opposed to interlaced. 480p was used for many early plasma televisions. Standard definition has always been a 4:3 aspect ratio with a pixel resolution of 640 × 480 pixels.


720p is a progressive HDTV signal format with 720 horizontal lines and an aspect ratio (AR) of 16:9, normally known as widescreen HDTV (1.78:1). All major HDTV broadcasting standards include a 720p format, which has a resolution of 1280×720; however, there are other formats, including HDV Playback and AVCHD for camcorders, that use 720p images with the standard HDTV resolution. The frame rate is standards-dependent, and for conventional broadcasting appears in 50 progressive frames per second in former PAL/SECAM countries, and 59.94 frames per second in former NTSC countries.

480i standard-definition video mode

480i is a shorthand name for the video mode used for standard-definition analog or digital television in Caribbean, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Laos, Western Sahara, and most of the Americas. The 480 identifies a vertical resolution of 480 lines, and the i identifies it as an interlaced resolution. The field rate, which is 60 Hz, is sometimes included when identifying the video mode, i.e. 480i60; another notation, endorsed by both the International Telecommunication Union in BT.601 and SMPTE in SMPTE 259M, includes the frame rate, as in 480i/30. The other common standard, used in the other parts of the world, is 576i.

576p is the shorthand name for a video display resolution. The p stands for progressive scan, i.e. non-interlaced, the 576 for a vertical resolution of 576 pixels, usually with a horizontal resolution of 720 or 704 pixels. The frame rate can be given explicitly after the letter.

1080p set of HDTV high-definition video

1080p is a set of HDTV high-definition video modes characterized by 1,920 pixels displayed across the screen horizontally and 1,080 pixels down the screen vertically; the p stands for progressive scan, i.e. non-interlaced. The term usually assumes a widescreen aspect ratio of 16:9, implying a resolution of 2.1 megapixels. It is often marketed as full HD, to contrast 1080p with 720p resolution screens.

Progressive segmented Frame is a scheme designed to acquire, store, modify, and distribute progressive scan video using interlaced equipment.

Low-definition television (LDTV) refers to television systems that have a lower screen resolution than standard-definition television systems. The term is usually used in reference to digital television, in particular when broadcasting at the same resolution as low-definition analog TV systems. Mobile DTV systems usually transmit in low definition, as do all slow-scan TV systems.

HD Lite is the re-transmission of a particular HDTV channel at reduced picture quality compared to the source.

Analog high-definition television was an analog video broadcast television system developed in the 1930s to replace early experimental systems with as few as 12-lines. On 2 November 1936 the BBC began transmitting the world's first public regular analog high-definition television service from the Victorian Alexandra Palace in north London. It therefore claims to be the birthplace of television broadcasting as we know it today. John Logie Baird, Philo T. Farnsworth, and Vladimir Zworykin had each developed competing TV systems, but resolution was not the issue that separated their substantially different technologies, it was patent interference lawsuits and deployment issues given the tumultuous financial climate of the late 1920s and 1930s.


  1. Poynton, Charles. "Charles Poynton – square pixels and 1080" . Retrieved 2013-02-21.
  2. "High Definition (HD) Image Formats for Television Production," EBU-TECH 3299, EBU.UER, Geneva, January 2010, page 7