A d o b e D i g i t a l V i d e o
A DV Primer:
Digital video has come of age
One of the first things you should understand is the difference between
are made up of continuously varying waveforms. In other words, thevalue of the signal, at any given time, can be anywhere in the range betweenthe minimum and maximum allowed.
, by contrast, are transmitted only as precise points selected at inter-vals on the curve. The type of digital signal that can be used by your computer is
, describing these points as a series of minimum or maximum values—theminimum value represents zero; the maximum value represents one. These seriesof zeroes and ones can then be interpreted at the receiving end as the numbersrepresenting the original information.There are several benefits to digital signals. One of the most important is the very highfidelity of the transmission, as opposed to analog. With an analog signal, there is no wayfor the receiving end to distinguish between the original signal and any
that maybe introduced during transmission. And with each repeated transmission or duplication,there is inevitably more noise accumulated, resulting in the poor fidelity that is attributableto generation loss. With a digital signal, it is much easier to distinguish the originalinformation from the noise. So a digital signal can be transmitted and duplicatedas often as we wish with no loss in fidelity
.The world of video is making a clear transition from analog to digital. This transition ishappening at every level of the industry. At home and at work, viewers watch crystalclear video delivered via digital versatile discs (
). In broadcasting, standards havebeen set and stations are moving towards digital television (
). The majority of U.S.households receive digital cable or digital satellite signals. But the transition is stillgoing to take some time. No one expects consumers to suddenly throw away all theirold analog-based TV sets and buy all new digital TVs. Although some digital contentis now available, TV programming is still, for the most part, engineered for analogbroadcast and viewing—that is, set top boxes convert the digital cable or satellite signalback to the analog NTSC standard (in the U.S.) before sending the signal to the TV set.Nonetheless, the U.S. Government has mandated a full conversion of American televi-sion broadcasting to DTV by 2006, to make better use of available bandwidth.The transition to digital television, as well as developments in DVD technology, willmake high-definition (HD) content widely available. TV sets currently on the marketare not all HDTV-capable or -ready—even the Widescreen (16:9) TVs. But virtually allnew sets today are, at least, SDTV-ready, meaning that they are equipped to accept adigital signal directly (although most also include analog inputs). This means we canconnect DV camcorders, digital VCRs, and DVD players to our new digital TV sets via
to achieve a pristine, noiseless picture.Even high-end filmmaking is conceding to digital. Today viable HD digital video for-mats are delivering magnificent quality for both high-end motion pictures and broad-cast TV. Many major motion pictures consist largely of digitally-generated or enhancedfootage anyway. And for those who prefer that grainy quality that's characteristic of film, there are digital effects that can impart convincing graininess to the impeccablyclean images made possible by HD video—in fact offering directors more choices forwhat type of grainy quality they prefer, as opposed to the what-you-get-is-what-you-getgrain that comes with film. While the continuous-tone contrast range of film is stillmore incremental than even the highest definition video, there are many compelling
Analog signal Digital signal Binary signal
Figure 1: Video signals
Analog signal with noise Digital (binary) signal with noise
Figure 2: Noise
DTV COMES IN TWO FLAVORS
Standard Definition Television (SDTV)
offers resolution roughly equivalent toa conventional analog signal (525 linesof vertical resolution for NTSC). It canhave a 4:3 or a 16:9 aspect ratio.
High Definition Television (HDTV)
offers the potential for approximatelytwice the horizontal and vertical resolu-tion of current analog (NTSC) television.When combined with the compulsory6:9 widescreen format, this can resultin about five times as much visualinformation as analog TV. It also takesapproximately five times the bandwidthto broadcast as SDTV.