Web video for beginners

Video Terminology

Understanding Video Terms

Video terminology made easy.

There is a lot of confusing video terminology out there, so lets goes through all the technical videos terms together and I'll explain in plain English what each one means.

NTSC: This is the TV system used in the United States, Japan, Central & South America and some parts of Asia.

NTSC stands for National Television System Committee. Video camcorders made in these countries will produce NTSC standard video.

For all the tech geeks out there (Don't be ashamed), in NTSC 30 frames are transmitted each second, and each individual picture frame is made up of 525 individual scan lines.

What all this video terminology simply means is it is different to the other main TV system used in the World (PAL - see below), and you cannot view a video made on a NTSC camcorder on a PAL camcorder.

A lot of modern TVs are now compatible with both TV systems.



PAL: PAL is the TV system used in the rest of the World, including the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

PAL stands for Phase Alternating Line.

In PAL, 25 frames are transmitted each second, and each individual picture frame is made up of 625 individual scan lines.

To be honest, all this video terminology doesn't really make much of a difference, as you will be changing the video format when you put it on the Internet any way.

And whether you shoot with a PAL or NTSC camcorder, your video editing software allows you to create a DVD in either format.

CODEC: A CODEC or COmpressor-DECompressor, is video terminology for a program that simply encodes and decodes video. When you are shooting with your camcorder, a CODEC program is being used to compress the video to make it fit on your camcorder (see different camcorder storage systems below), as raw uncompressed video is HUGE.

If you then want to put that video on the Internet or a DVD, another type of CODEC is used to compress the video to a smaller file size that is suitable for the web or a DVD.

MiniDV: This is the small tape used to record digital video (DV). MiniDV tape currently offers the best video picture quality and can be used to record standard definition video (SD) and high definition (HD).

The high definition video recorded to MiniDV tape is known as HDV.

Hard Disk Drive (HDD): This is just like the hard disk drive in your computer, where video is compressed and recorded directly to the drive using a video CODEC.

Flash Drive: Some of the latest camcorder now use a solid state Flash Drive to record the video to, using the same technology as the pen drive you use to save your computer files on.

Some camcorders offer a 'built-in' Flash memory drive, and a slot for extra memory sticks to record more video.

AVCHD: AVCHD, which stands for Advanced Video Codec High Definition, is replacing MPEG2 as the new video recording system being used in the latest tapeless camcorders, and can record standard definition and high definition.

AVCHD uses a MPEG4 CODEC, also known as H.264 (I know. This video terminology confuses me sometimes as well!).

FLV: FLV, or Flash Video (Not to be confused with FLA - Flash Animation) is the web standard and the most compatible video type with all PC and Mac users.

FLV is used by all the video share sites on the web, including YouTube. It currently offers the best compatibility, file size and video quality.

SWF: SWF is really the 'Light' version of FLV and isn't really suitable for web video. Always use FLV instead.

MOV: This is Apple's version of FLV. Video quality and compression are excellent, but doesn't offer the compatibility of FLV.

WMV: This is Microsoft's version of FLV. Video quality and compression are again excellent, but also doesn't offer the compatibility of FLV.

AVI: The Grand Daddy of video formats. AVI videos files are enormous, because they are largely not compressed.

When you transfer your video from your camcorder to the video editing software on your computer, it will normally be an AVI video file you are editing.

This keeps the video at it's highest quality before compressing it for use as a web video or DVD.

CCD: CCD or Charge-Coupled Devices is the imaging system used by some camcorders. Most budget camcorders have one CCD, but more expensive camcorders have 3CCDs.

These have three separate charge-coupled devices (CCDs), each one taking a separate measurement of red, green, and blue light, which results in superior image quality.

Streaming Video: Probably the most widely misunderstood video terminology on the Internet. 99% of the videos you watch on the web, including YouTube, are not streaming videos.

Almost every video you watch online is actually what is known as 'Progressive Download', which means the video is being downloaded from it's source whilst you watch the video.

I'm sure you have experienced the frustrating 'video buffering' experience, when the video pauses and a spinning symbol appears on the video.

What is happening is the video isn't downloading as fast as the video is playing, and has to pause whilst it downloads more of the video.

When enough video has downloaded, it starts up again, and so it continues. This is why people with fast broadband connections are less likely to experience the 'buffering' syndrome, as they download the video much faster.

'Streaming' video on the other hand is exactly what it sounds like. The video is being 'streamed' in real time using special (and very expensive) hosting and software.

A true streaming video can be started anywhere and it will play instantly and without pausing, but the high cost of operating streaming video puts it out of the reach of most Internet users.

Video Resolution: Video resolution typically refers to the number of distinct pixels in each dimension that can be displayed.

For example, the NTSC standard resolution is 720 x 480 and the PAL standard is 720 x 576. The aspect ratio for both 4:3

High definition 720p is 1280 x 720 and 1080p 1920 x 1080. The aspect ration for all HD is 16:9 (widescreen).

The HD widescreen format may look nicer, but the video sizes are up to five times the size of standard definition, which is why SD is still the most commonly uses on the Internet.



If you have any video terminology related questions, please click HERE to ask Mr Video!

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