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What Is Video Resolution & How To Improve It

With 87% of marketers now using video as a key tool in their online strategies, it’s never been more important to make sure that every video you offer is in professional quality. Offering poor-quality video content is simply not an option unless you want your bounce rate to increase and your brand reputation to be affected.

There are a number of factors in determining the quality of your videos, with video resolution, frame rate and video bitrate being the main components in how your content appears and plays for your audience.

To help you understand video resolution, how and why to try and improve it, Zidivo has put together a simple guide on what resolutions mean and their importance when live streaming.

What is video resolution?

In a nutshell, video resolution refers to the number of pixels contained in a single frame of your video. Pixels are the smallest units that make up a video frames image, hence the more pixels per video frame, the higher quality and the clearer your videos will appear to viewers.

What do video resolution numbers mean?

Video resolutions are usually measured in the number of pixels per frame, which is why common video resolutions you will recognise are referred to as 420p, 720p, and 1080p. Take a 1080p video resolution, for example, a video with this resolution will have a pixel height of 1080, as opposed to a lower quality video which may only have 420 pixels per frame.

Sometimes, you might see a video with two resolutions displayed, like so - 1920p x 1080p. This essentially tells you both the width and height of a frame in pixels, rather than just the height which is what common video resolutions usually refer to.

What do ‘i’ and ‘p’ mean?

Now you understand how video resolution is measured, you may be wondering what the purpose of the letters is. Usually, you will see an ‘i’ or a ‘p’ after a video resolution. These signify how a video has been recorded, with ‘i’ meaning ‘interlaced’ and ‘p’ being ‘progressive’.

Progressive video is the most commonly used format by broadcasters and video distributors alike as it offers viewers a progressive stream of moving images, with each frame following one another in sequence. Progressively scanned videos appear in a higher quality due to the moving images being streamed in order, rather than being tampered with or altered slightly as is the case with other methods.

Interlaced scanning is less common than progressive and involves encoders transmitting every alternative line of a video frame, popular among those who are working with limited internet bandwidths. While it is undetectable to the eye, the image quality is affected making it preferred to use progressive resolutions where possible.

When deciding which method to use for encoding your video content, always use progressive where possible. If your bandwidth allows it, progressive scanning allows you to present every line of your video image to your audience, not compromising on quality or your viewers’ experience.

Common live streaming video resolution explained…

Video resolutions are broken down into three main definitions, standard-definition, high-definition and 4K.

Standard-definition (SD)

SD resolution is the standard for most video distribution channels and display screens. While it’s still technically the standard, it is becoming increasingly less common for laptops, desktops and mobile phones to be built with SD screens, with high-definition (HD) resolutions becoming the new norm.

SD usually refers to videos at 480p or 480i pixels. If you’re completely new to the live streaming scene or have a limited internet bandwidth, you may want to start by offering your videos in SD. Although, with HD now being offered by the majority of broadcasters, your audience is likely to notice the lack of quality and it can end up being a detriment to the overall success of your videos.

High-definition (HD)

HD resolutions have quickly become the new standard for broadcasters and businesses to use when offering video content online. HD videos offer a higher volume of pixels per frame, so you don’t have to settle for a slightly blurred image and can offer your audience clear and professional-quality streams.

The common HD resolutions are 720p, 1080p and 1080i, with 720 being referred to as HD-ready and 1080 being full HD. 1080p which uses progressive scanning to display a complete and high-quality image is the resolution used widely by broadcasters and businesses alike, simply down to the fluid and clear image it can provide.

While HD streaming is preferred to SD in 2020, it is, of course, completely dependent on your individual situation as to which type of resolution to go for. You should always take into account your own bandwidth, equipment, streaming platform, as well as your audience’s playback devices and internet connections to make sure your resolution is suited to the majority.

Ultra-high-definition (UHD)

UHD refers to both Ultra HD and 4K resolutions, with 4K videos offering 3840 pixels per frame. While 4K is growing in usage among broadcasters and content distributors, it has not been adopted across the board with many screens and devices still not supporting the level of quality 4K has to offer. Over the coming years though, 4K is set to be the preferred and standard video resolution for streaming professionals to use.

To get ahead of the game, consider upgrading your bandwidth and starting to offer 4K video streams. You may be able to generate a new audience and appeal to more people who have UHD-compatible devices and want to view streams at optimum quality.

Which video resolution should you use when streaming?

When deciding on which video resolution to offer your streams in, it’s important to never go higher than the resolution recorded by your equipment. If your video source captures your image in 1080p, for example, you can either stream at 1080p or lower, never higher. Trying to stream at a higher resolution than has been captured will only leave you with less bandwidth to spare and make the video appear poor or buffer.

Start broadcasting high-resolution live streams today!

Start your free 30-day trial with 5GB of bandwidth

The Zidivo platform allows businesses and individuals the opportunity to go live to huge audiences with minimal hassle involved. You can broadcast from any device to as many webpages as required using a simple embed code, to offer your viewers a reliable and high-resolution HD stream.

Start a free 30-day trial of the Zidivo platform today to start offering HD and even 4K video streams to your audience.

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