What’s SD vs HD vs HDV? Some techno-geek advice.

Introduction to Video Formats

When meeting with potential or new clients, a lot of them have questions regarding the myriad of video formats available. For example, what is HD vs. HDV?

So I thought I’d offer some friendly “techno geek” advice on deciding which video format is best for your project.

Understanding SD vs. HDTV

SDTV (or SD for short) and high definition television (HDTV) are the two categories of display formats for digital television or web video formats.

SD stands for “Standard Definition.”  Standard definition television (SDTV) is a digital television format that provides a picture quality similar to DVD.

While not as high-quality as HDTV, SDTV signals display clear pictures and sound without noise, ghosts, or interference.

Skillman Video Group shoots on high-quality SD formats that deliver a clear picture and audio and is great for most web video productions or “talking head” video.

High-definition television (HDTV) is the highest form of digital television and has a couple of advantages over the old analog TV format (or standard definition): it’s wide screen and the resolution.

It has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is similar in appearance to a movie theater screen.

The wide screen is good on our eyes; we see the rectangular wide screen images better than the old square format.

Basically, our eyes see better from left or right compared to up or down.

Pretty cool, right?

The wide screen will also let us see more of the on-screen scene, which is great for sports, movies, or shooting outdoor scenery (panoramic views, etc.).

Resolution is undoubtedly HDTV’s biggest selling point.

HDTV’s resolutions are 720p, 1080i, and 1080p; the number stands for the number of lines that create the image, and the letter describes the type of scan used by the TV to display the picture.

Resolution matters because the more lines, the better the picture.

This is a similar concept to digital photos and how dpi determines print quality.

In comparison, the standard definition has an aspect ratio of only 4:3 and a resolution of 480i.  That’s a big difference in picture quality!

The Advent of HDV

Recently, a third video format has entered the video production arena, called “HDV”.

HDV is a recording format that allows for high-definition (HD) footage to be recorded onto standard (SD) MiniDV cassettes.

Instead of using DV compression, it uses “Long GOP MPEG2” which allows for the higher data compression that is needed to fit HDTV footage onto the same tape at the same data rates.

There are currently two versions of HDV, 720P/30 (720 lines, 30 frames per second) and 1080i/60 (1080 lines, 60 fields per second).

It also uses the same aspect ratio of 16:9 (widescreen) as broadcast HDTV.

Skillman Video Group has the ability to shoot in either version of HDV (both in 16:9) for superior picture quality over SD.

Choosing the Right Format for Your Project

So what does all this mean for you as a client?

Here is the bottom line: shooting in broadcast HD is terrific for any broadcast TV show, TV commercial, or even DVD distribution.

Showing the video on a HD flatscreen TV at a tradeshow?

Then HD is probably the best format for you to use.

For those looking for a simple “talking head” video for your web site, I think professionally produced SD video is the best deal on the market.

For those looking for products, training, marketing, or promotional videos, or for any outdoor shoot or live event video that requires a 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio with a higher resolution (picture quality), I think HDV is a good alternative to HD, and it is far less expensive (which is a major plus for our corporate clients).

Skillman Video Group’s Expertise

The producers and photographers at Skillman Video Group are well versed in all available video formats and would be happy to discuss which product would best suit your needs.

Call today to learn more!

Published: 10/1/2009

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