All of the Video Quality Levels Explained
If you watch video content of any kind, you’re probably at least passingly familiar with different video quality levels. After all, how many times have you been trying to find a specific video or a clip of something, only to find pixels so large you can barely make out what you’re looking at?
But when you get into the minutiae of video quality, it can get confusing. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a professional content creator, having an in-depth knowledge of the subject will help you to boost your videos to the next level.
To that end, here’s a breakdown of all the key aspects of video quality.
What Is Video Quality?
When people refer to video quality, they’re most often referring to video resolution. In digital video, it means the number of pixels in each frame, organized or arranged by width and height on the screen. The more pixels on the screen, the higher the quality.
Common resolutions, or formats, are often named based on the number of pixels that fit in a straight line across the screen. The basis for 1080 video, for example, is a verticle line with 1,080 pixels stretching from the top of the frame to the bottom.
More modern formats like 8K, 4K, and 2K take their names from how many pixels fit in a horizontal line across the screen.
So it would stand to reason that the greater the number of pixels, the better the video, right? Well, yes and no. It’s indeed true that a higher resolution has more graphical fidelity, or a higher video quality if you prefer. But that higher quality also comes with a larger file size.
If you’re printing videos onto high-capacity discs like Blu-Rays, that’s no big deal. If the video is going to be streamed over a platform like YouTube, however, there is such a thing as making your file too big. It’s why a professional video production company will consider the product’s distribution method when deciding what format to produce.
Aspect Ratio and Bitrate
Two qualities that are related to video quality but not necessarily intrinsic to it are aspect ratio and bit rate.
Aspect ratio refers to the size and shape of the video frame, but not the quality of the video itself. The modern aspect ratio that we’re all used to is 16:9, or widescreen as we used to call it. It means that the size of the frame will always have a length of 16 units against a height of 9.
It’s not the same thing as resolution, however. Older films and TV shows that were shot in 4:3 can’t have their borders extended since there’s no footage on either side of the border. But they can be remastered at higher resolutions than previous presentations.
Of greater relevance to video quality is bitrate. The bitrate of a video is the amount of information processed over time, as rendered in bits per second. Like resolution, higher bitrates mean more information and higher quality, at the cost of greater file size and bandwidth used.
High Video Quality Levels Encourage High Levels of Engagement
In video production, there are certain shortcomings that you can overcome one way or another. They may forgive workaday scripting if your presenter is charismatic enough, or a less-than-thrilling host if the content itself is interesting enough on its own.
But low video quality levels are hard to look past. Most will click away within the first few seconds. So producing content at the optimal level is always paramount.
But it’s far from the only important aspect. For more tips on how to produce professional-level video content, be sure to keep up with our latest tech guides.