Standard-definition television

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SDTV resolution by nation; due to historical reasons, different countries use either 480i or 576i as the standard-definition picture format. TV-line-count-world.svg
SDTV resolution by nation; due to historical reasons, different countries use either 480i or 576i as the standard-definition picture format.

Standard-definition television (SDTV, SD, often shortened to standard definition) 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. "Standard" refers to it being the prevailing specification for broadcast (and later, cable) television in the mid- to late-20th century.

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The two common SDTV signal types are 576i, with 576 interlaced lines of resolution, derived from the European-developed PAL and SECAM systems, and 480i based on the American NTSC system. Common SDTV refresh rates are 25, 29.97 and 30 frames per second. [lower-alpha 1] Both systems use a 4:3 aspect ratio.

Standards that support digital SDTV broadcast include DVB, ATSC, and ISDB. The last two were originally developed for HDTV, but are also used for their ability to deliver multiple SD video and audio streams via multiplexing. In North America, digital SDTV is broadcast in the same 4:3 aspect ratio as NTSC signals, with widescreen content often being center cut. [1] However, the aspect ratio of widescreen content may be preserved in a 4:3 frame through letterboxing. In other parts of the world that used the PAL or SECAM color systems, digital standard-definition television is now usually shown with a 16:9 aspect ratio, with the transition occurring between the mid-1990s and late-2000s depending on region. Older programs with a 4:3 aspect ratio are broadcast with a flag that switches the display to 4:3. [lower-alpha 2]

Digital SDTV eliminates the ghosting and noisy images associated with analog systems. However, if the reception has interference or is poor, where the error correction cannot compensate one will encounter various other artifacts such as image freezing, stuttering or dropouts from missing intra-frames or blockiness from missing macroblocks. [lower-alpha 3]

Pixel aspect ratio

The table below summarizes pixel aspect ratios for the scaling of various kinds of SDTV video lines.

Video formatDisplay aspect ratio (DAR)ResolutionPixel aspect ratio (PAR)After horizontal scaling
480i 4:3704×480
(horizontal blanking cropped)
10:11640×480
720×480 (full frame)654×480
480i 16:9704×480
(horizontal blanking cropped)
40:33854×480
720×480 (full frame)872×480
576i 4:3704×576
(horizontal blanking cropped)
12:11768×576
720×576 (full frame)786×576
576i 16:9704×576
(horizontal blanking cropped)
16:111024×576
720×576 (full frame)1048×576

The pixel aspect ratio is the same for 720- and 704-pixel resolutions because the visible image (be it 4:3 or 16:9) is contained in the center 704 horizontal pixels of the digital frame. In the case of a digital video line having 720 horizontal pixels (including horizontal blanking), only the center 704 pixels contain the actual 4:3 or 16:9 image, and the 8-pixel-wide stripes on either side are called nominal analog blanking or horizontal blanking and should be discarded when displaying the image. Nominal analog blanking should not be confused with overscan, as overscan areas are part of the actual 4:3 or 16:9 image.

For SMPTE 259M-C compliance, an SDTV broadcast image is scaled to 720 pixels wide [lower-alpha 4] for every 480 NTSC (or 576 PAL) lines of the image with the amount of non-proportional line scaling dependent on either the display or pixel aspect ratio. The display ratio for broadcast widescreen is commonly 16:9, [lower-alpha 5] the display ratio for a traditional or letterboxed broadcast is 4:3. [lower-alpha 6]

An SDTV image outside the constraints of the SMPTE standards requires no non-proportional scaling with 640 pixels [lower-alpha 7] for every line of the image. The display and pixel aspect ratio is generally not required with the line height defining the aspect. For widescreen 16:9, 360 lines define a widescreen image and for traditional 4:3, 480 lines define an image.

See also

Notes

  1. 50 and 60 rates are sometimes used as frame-doubled versions of 25 and 30 rates to mitigate interlace artifacts.
  2. Some broadcasters prefer to reduce the horizontal resolution by anamorphically scaling the video into a pillarbox.
  3. The audio encoding is the last to suffer loss due to the lower bandwidth requirements.
  4. Only 704 center pixels contain the actual image and 16 pixels are reserved for horizontal blanking though a number of broadcasters fill the whole 720 frame.
  5. Pixel aspect ratio of 40:33 for anamorphic
  6. Pixel aspect ratio of 10:11
  7. Defined by the adopted IBM VGA standard

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Broadcast television systems are the encoding or formatting standards for the transmission and reception of terrestrial television signals. There were three main analog television systems in use around the world until the late 2010s: NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. Now in digital terrestrial television (DTT), there are four main systems in use around the world: ATSC, DVB, ISDB and DTMB.

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).

Anamorphic widescreen is a process by which a comparatively wide widescreen image is horizontally compressed to fit into a storage medium with a narrower aspect ratio, reducing the horizontal resolution of the image while keeping its full original vertical resolution. Compatible play-back equipment can then expand the horizontal dimension to show the original widescreen image. This is typically used to allow one to store widescreen images on a medium that was originally intended for a narrower ratio, while using as much of the frame – and therefore recording as much detail – as possible.

Display resolution Number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed

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.

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 at 60Hz for NTSC regions, and 720 or 768 × 576 for PAL regions (1024 wide for widescreen displays. However, standard definition defines a 15.7Khz horizontal scanrate, which means that interlacing has to be used for those resolution modes. The lowercase letter "p" in 480p stands for progressive, so the two must not be confused.

720p Video resolution

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.

1080i is a combination of frame resolution and scan type. 1080i is 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 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" on the screen in sequence.

480i Standard-definition video mode

480i is the video mode used for standard-definition analog or digital television in the 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.

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.

576i Standard-definition video mode

576i is a standard-definition video mode originally used for terrestrial television in most countries of the world where the utility frequency for electric power distribution is 50 Hz. Because of its close association with the colour encoding system, it is often referred to as simply PAL, PAL/SECAM or SECAM when compared to its 60 Hz NTSC-colour-encoded counterpart, 480i. In digital applications it is usually referred to as "576i"; in analogue contexts it is often called "625 lines", and the aspect ratio is usually 4:3 in analogue transmission and 16:9 in digital transmission.

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 768 or 1024, depending on the relationship aspect. The 576p quality was decided as the default quality when converting from VHS to digital. 576p is considered standard definition for PAL video. The frame rate can be given explicitly after the letter.

Overscan is a behaviour in certain television sets, in which part of the input picture is shown outside of the visible bounds of the screen. It exists because cathode-ray tube (CRT) television sets from the 1930s through to the early 2000s were highly variable in how the video image was positioned within the borders of the screen. It then became common practice to have video signals with black edges around the picture, which the television was meant to discard in this way.

Low-definition television (LDTV) refers to TV systems that have a lower screen resolution than standard-definition TV systems. The term is usually used in reference to digital TV, 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.

Nominal analogue blanking is the outermost part of the overscan of a standard definition digital television image. It consists of a gap of black pixels at the left and right sides, which correspond to the end and start of the horizontal blanking interval: the front porch at the right side, and the back porch at the left side. Digital television ordinarily contains 720 pixels per line, but only 702 (PAL) to 704 (NTSC) of them contain picture content. The location is variable, since analogue equipment may shift the picture sideways in an unexpected amount or direction.

Pixel aspect ratio

Pixel aspect ratio is a mathematical ratio that describes how the width of a pixel in a digital image compares to the height of that pixel.

Analog high-definition television has referred to a variety of analog video broadcast television systems with various display resolutions throughout history.

High-definition television (HD) describes a television system providing an image resolution of substantially higher resolution than the previous generation of technologies. The term has been used since 1936, but in modern times refers to the generation following standard-definition television (SDTV), often abbreviated to HDTV or HD-TV. It is the current de facto standard video format used in most broadcasts: terrestrial broadcast television, cable television, satellite television and Blu-ray Discs.

Ultrawide formats

Ultrawide formats refers to photos, videos and displays with aspect ratio greater than 2. There were multiple moves in history towards wider formats, including one by Disney, with some of them being more successful than others.

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