Digital video is an electronic representation of moving visual images (video
) in the form of encoded digital data
. This is in contrast to analog video
, which represents moving visual images in the form of analog signal
s. Digital video comprises a series of digital image
s displayed in rapid succession.
Culturally, digital video has allowed video and film to become widely available and popular, beneficial to entertainment, education, and research.
Digital video is increasingly common in schools, with students and teachers taking an interest in learning how to use it in relevant ways. Digital video also has healthcare applications, allowing doctors to track infant heart rates and oxygen levels.
In addition, the switch from analog to digital video impacted media in various ways, such as in how business use cameras for surveillance. Closed circuit television
(CCTV) switched to using digital video recorders
(DVR), presenting the issue of how to store recordings for evidence collection. Today, digital video is able to be compressed
in order to save storage space.
Digital video was first introduced commercially in 1986 with the Sony D1
format, which recorded an uncompressed standard definition component video
signal in digital form. In addition to uncompressed formats, popular compressed
digital video formats today include H.264
. Modern interconnect standards used for playback of digital video include HDMI
, Digital Visual Interface
(DVI) and serial digital interface
Digital video can be copied and reproduced with no degradation in quality. In contrast, when analog sources are copied, they experience generation loss
. Digital video can be stored on digital media such as Blu-ray Disc
, on computer data storage
, or streamed
over the Internet
to end user
s who watch content on a desktop computer
screen or a digital smart TV
. Today, digital video content such as TV show
s and movie
s also include a digital audio
Digital video cameras
The basis for digital video camera
s are metal-oxide-semiconductor
(MOS) image sensors
The first practical semiconductor
image sensor was the charge-coupled device
(CCD), invented in 1969 by Willard S. Boyle, who won a Nobel Prize for his work in physics. based on MOS capacitor
Following the commercialization of CCD sensors during the late 1970s to early 1980s, the entertainment industry
slowly began transitioning to digital imaging
and digital video over from analog video the next two decades. The CCD was followed by the CMOS active-pixel sensor
), developed in the 1990s.
CMOS are beneficial because of their small size, high speed, and low power usage. CMOS are most commonly found today in the digital cameras in iPhones, used as the image censor for the device.
Digital video coding
The earliest forms of digital video coding
began in the 1970s, with uncompressed pulse-code modulation
(PCM) video, requiring high bitrate
s between 45140 Mbps
for standard definition
(SD) content. Practical digital video coding was eventually made possible with discrete cosine transform
(DCT), a form of lossy compression
DCT compression was first proposed by Nasir Ahmed
in 1972, and then developed by Ahmed with T. Natarajan and K. R. Rao
at the University of Texas
By the 1980's, DCT became the standard for digital video compression
The first digital video coding standard
, created by the (International Telegraph and Telephone Consultative Committee) or CCITT
(now ITU-T) in 1984. H.120 was not practical due to weak performance.
H.120 was based on differential pulse-code modulation
(DPCM), a compression algorithm that was inefficient for video coding. During the late 1980s, a number of companies began experimenting with DCT, a much more efficient form of compression for video coding. The CCITT received 14 proposals for DCT-based video compression formats, in contrast to a single proposal based on vector quantization
(VQ) compression. The H.261
standard was developed based on DCT compression,
becoming first practical video coding standard.
Since H.261, DCT compression has been adopted by all the major video coding standards that followed.
, developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group
(MPEG), followed in 1991, and it was designed to compress VHS
-quality video. It was succeeded in 1994 by MPEG-2
which became the standard video format for DVD
and SD digital television
It was followed by MPEG-4
in 1999, and then in 2003 it was followed by H.264/MPEG-4 AVC
, which has become the most widely used video coding standard.
Digital video production
Starting in the late 1970s to the early 1980s, video production
equipment that was digital in its internal workings was introduced. These included time base corrector
s (TBC) and digital video effects
(DVE) units. They operated by taking a standard analog composite video
input and digitizing it internally. This made it easier to either correct or enhance the video signal, as in the case of a TBC, or to manipulate and add effects to the video, in the case of a DVE unit. The digitized and processed video information was then converted back to standard analog video for output.
Later on in the 1970s, manufacturers of professional video broadcast equipment, such as Bosch
(through their Fernseh
division) and Ampex
developed prototype digital videotape recorder
s (VTR) in their research and development labs. Bosch's machine used a modified 1 inch type B videotape
transport and recorded an early form of CCIR 601
digital video. Ampex's prototype digital video recorder used a modified 2-inch quadruplex videotape
VTR (an Ampex AVR-3) fitted with custom digital video electronics and a special "octaplex" 8-head headwheel (regular analog 2" quad machines only used 4 heads). Like standard 2" quad, the audio on the Ampex prototype digital machine, nicknamed by its developers as "Annie," still recorded the audio in analog as linear tracks on the tape. None of these machines from these manufacturers were ever marketed commercially.
Digital video was first introduced commercially in 1986 with the Sony D1
format, which recorded an uncompressed standard definition component video
signal in digital form. Component video connections required 3 cables, but most television
facilities were wired for composite NTSC or PAL video using one cable. Due this incompatibility the cost of the recorder, D1 was used primarily by large television network
s and other component-video capable video studios.
In 1988, Sony and Ampex co-developed and released the D2
digital videocassette format, which recorded video digitally without compression in ITU-601
format, much like D1. In comparison, D2 had the major difference of encoding the video in composite form to the NTSC standard, thereby only requiring single-cable composite video connections to and from a D2 VCR. This made it a perfect fit for the majority of television facilities at the time. D2 was a successful format in the television broadcast
industry throughout the late '80s and the '90s. D2 was also widely used in that era as the master tape format for mastering laserdiscs
D1 & D2 would eventually be replaced by cheaper systems using video compression
, most notably Sony's Digital Betacam
, that were introduced into the network's television studio
s. Other examples of digital video formats utilizing compression were Ampex's DCT
(the first to employ such when introduced in 1992), the industry-standard DV
and MiniDV and its professional variations, Sony's DVCAM
and Panasonic's DVCPRO
, and Betacam SX
, a lower-cost variant of Digital Betacam using MPEG-2
One of the first digital video products to run on personal computers was ''PACo: The PICS Animation Compiler'' from The Company of Science & Art in Providence, RI. It was developed starting in 1990 and first shipped in May 1991. PACo could stream unlimited-length video with synchronized sound from a single file (with the ".CAV" file extension
) on CD-ROM. Creation required a Mac, and playback was possible on Macs, PCs, and Sun SPARCstation
, Apple Computer
's multimedia framework, was released in June 1991. Audio Video Interleave
followed in 1992. Initial consumer-level content creation tools were crude, requiring an analog video source to be digitized to a computer-readable format. While low-quality at first, consumer digital video increased rapidly in quality, first with the introduction of playback standards such as MPEG-1
(adopted for use in television transmission and DVD
media), and the introduction of the DV
tape format allowing recordings in the format to be transferred directly to digital video files using a FireWire
port on an editing computer. This simplified the process, allowing non-linear editing system
s (NLE) to be deployed cheaply and widely on desktop computer
s with no external playback or recording equipment needed.
The widespread adoption of digital video and accompanying compression formats has reduced the bandwidth needed for a high-definition video
signal (with HDV
, as well as several commercial variants such as DVCPRO
-HD, all using less bandwidth than a standard definition analog signal). These savings have increased the number of channels available on cable television
and direct broadcast satellite
systems, created opportunities for spectrum reallocation
of terrestrial television
broadcast frequencies, and made tapeless camcorder
s based on flash memory
possible, among other innovations and efficiencies.
Digital Video Broadcasting
Digital Video Broadcasting, also known as DVB, is the production and transmission of digital video from networks to consumers. In the 1980's, DVB was a relatively new concept and form of television. Today, DVB has developed into mass media device that broadcasts media content all around the world. As compared to analog methods, DVB is faster and provides more capabilities and options for data to be transmitted and shared.
Digital video comprises a series of digital image
s displayed in rapid succession. In the context of video, these images are called frames
. The rate at which frames are displayed is known as the frame rate
and is measured in frames per second (FPS). Every frame is an digital image and so comprises a formation of pixel
s. Pixels have only one property, their color. The color of a pixel is represented by a fixed number of bits of that color. The more bits, the more subtle variations of colors can be reproduced. This is called the color depth
of the video.
In interlaced video
each ''frame'' is composed of two halves of an image. The first half contains only the odd-numbered lines of a full frame. The second half contains only the even-numbered lines. These halves are referred to individually as ''fields''. Two consecutive fields compose a full frame. If an interlaced video has a frame rate of 30 frames per second the field rate is 60 fields per second, though both part of interlaced video, frames per second and fields per second are separate numbers.
Bit rate and BPP
By definition, bit rate
is a measurement of the rate of information content from the digital video stream. In the case of uncompressed video, bit rate corresponds directly to the quality of the video because bit rate is proportional to every property that affects the video quality
. Bit rate is an important property when transmitting video because the transmission link must be capable of supporting that bit rate. Bit rate is also important when dealing with the storage of video because, as shown above, the video size is proportional to the bit rate and the duration. Video compression
is used to greatly reduce the bit rate while having little effect on quality.
Bits per pixel (BPP) is a measure of the efficiency of compression. A true-color video with no compression at all may have a BPP of 24 bits/pixel. Chroma subsampling
can reduce the BPP to 16 or 12 bits/pixel. Applying jpeg
compression on every frame can reduce the BPP to 8 or even 1 bits/pixel. Applying video compression algorithms like MPEG1
allows for fractional BPP values to exist.
Constant bit rate versus variable bit rate
BPP represents the ''average'' bits per pixel. There are compression algorithms that keep the BPP almost constant throughout the entire duration of the video. In this case, we also get video output with a constant bitrate
(CBR). This CBR video is suitable for real-time, non-buffered, fixed bandwidth video streaming (e.g. in videoconferencing). Since not all frames can be compressed at the same level, because quality is more severely impacted for scenes of high complexity, some algorithms try to constantly adjust the BPP. They keep the BPP high while compressing complex scenes and low for less demanding scenes. This way, it provides the best quality at the smallest average bit rate (and the smallest file size, accordingly). This method produces a variable bitrate
because it tracks the variations of the BPP.
Standard film stock
s typically record at 24 frames per second
. For video, there are two frame rate standards: NTSC
, at 30/1.001 (about 29.97) frames per second (about 59.94 fields per second), and PAL
, 25 frames per second (50 fields per second). Digital video cameras come in two different image capture formats: interlace
d and progressive scan
. Interlaced cameras record the image in alternating sets of lines: the odd-numbered lines are scanned, and then the even-numbered lines are scanned, then the odd-numbered lines are scanned again, and so on.
One set of odd or even lines is referred to as a ''field'', and a consecutive pairing of two fields of opposite parity is called a ''frame''. Progressive scan cameras record all lines in each frame as a single unit. Thus, interlaced video captures the scene motion twice as often as progressive video does for the same frame rate. Progressive-scan generally produces a slightly sharper image, however, motion may not be as smooth as interlaced video.
Digital video can be copied with no generation loss; which degrades quality in analog systems. However, a change in parameters like frame size, or a change of the digital format can decrease the quality of the video due to image scaling
losses. Digital video can be manipulated and edited on non-linear editing
Digital video has a significantly lower cost than 35 mm film. In comparison to the high cost of film stock
, the digital media used for digital video recording, such as flash memory
or hard disk drive
is very inexpensive. Digital video also allows footage to be viewed on location without the expensive and time-consuming chemical processing required by film. Network transfer of digital video makes physical deliveries of tapes and film reels unnecessary.
(including higher quality HDTV
) was introduced in most developed countries in early 2000s. Today, digital video is used in modern mobile phone
s and video conferencing
systems. Digital video is used for Internet
distribution of media, including streaming video
Many types of video compression
exist for serving digital video over the internet and on optical disks. The file sizes of digital video used for professional editing are generally not practical for these purposes, and the video requires further compression with codecs to be used for recreational purposes.
, the highest resolution demonstrated for digital video generation is 35 megapixel
s (8192 x 4320). The highest speed is attained in industrial and scientific high speed camera
s that are capable of filming 1024x1024 video at up to 1 million frames per second for brief periods of recording.
Live digital video consumes bandwidth. Recorded digital video consumes data storage. The amount of bandwidth or storage required is determined by the frame size, color depth and frame rate. Each pixel consumes a number of bits determined by the color depth. The data required to represent a frame of data is determined by multiplying by the number of pixels in the image. The bandwidth is determined by multiplying the storage requirement for a frame by the frame rate. The overall storage requirements for a program can then be determined by multiplying bandwidth by the duration of the program.
These calculations are accurate for uncompressed video
, but due to the relatively high bit rate of uncompressed video, video compression
is extensively used. In the case of compressed video, each frame requires only a small percentage of the original bits. Note that it is not necessary that all frames are equally compressed by the same percentage. Instead, consider the ''average'' factor of compression for ''all'' the frames taken together.
Interfaces and cables
Purpose-built digital video interfaces
*Digital component video
*Digital Visual Interface
*High-Definition Multimedia Interface
*Serial Digital Interface
*Unified Display Interface
General-purpose interfaces use to carry digital video
*Universal Serial Bus
The following interface has been designed for carrying MPEG
-Transport compressed video:
Compressed video is also carried using UDP
. Two approaches exist for this:
* Using RTP
as a wrapper for video packets as with SMPTE 2022
* 1–7 MPEG Transport Packets
are placed directly in the UDP
Other methods of carrying video over IP
* Network Device Interface
* SMPTE 2110
used for broadcast stations
good for online distribution of large videos and video recorded to flash memory
used for DVDs, Super-VCDs, and many broadcast television formats
used for video CDs
also known as ''MPEG-4 Part 10'', or as ''AVC'', used for Blu-ray Disc
s and some broadcast television formats
used for video on Wikipedia
* Betacam SX
, Betacam IMX
, Digital Betacam
, or DigiBeta — commercial video systems by Sony
, based on original Betamax
— MPEG-2 format data recorded on a tape similar to S-VHS
(also known as Digital-S) — various SMPTE
commercial digital video standards
— DV-format data recorded on Hi8
-compatible cassettes; largely a consumer format
— used in most of today's videotape-based consumer camcorders; designed for high quality and easy editing; can also record high-definition data (HDV
) in MPEG-2 format
— used in professional broadcast operations; similar to DV but generally considered more robust; though DV-compatible, these formats have better audio handling.
HD support higher bandwidths as compared to Panasonic's DVCPRO.
was introduced by Sony as a high-definition alternative to DigiBeta.
— MPEG-2-format data recorded on a very small, matchbook-sized cassette; obsolete
— name used by JVC for its MPEG-2-based professional camcorders
* Blu-ray Disc
*Index of video-related articles
*Online video platform
*Video coding format
*Video editing software
The DV, DVCAM, & DVCPRO Formats – tech details, FAQ, and links
Category:Film and video technology
Category:Audiovisual introductions in 1986
Category:Film and video terminology