What Are the Prevalent Video Quality Types? What Do They Indicate?
Written by – Dulumoni Das
Your content marketing assets may be considered a representation of your company. Hence, it is important to ensure that you are sending the right message to your audiences through your content. Out of all content types, videos bear special significance in this regard and can either be the key to driving traffic, or the last nail in the coffin for your business.
A professionally produced video will make viewers feel more confident in their perception of your brand and company; your message will be heard in its entirety by viewers who are more likely to stay for the entire length of a video you post; and your user engagement will increase considerably.
This explains the significance of video quality for multimedia sites as well as dedicated video streaming services.
But although we talk about video quality all the time, we don’t truly understand the term. Do we know what determines the quality of a video and what different video quality types exist out there? Well, if you are a business that depends on videos for traffic, it’s extremely important for you to have knowledge in this regard. After all, to ensure that your site’s video content is viewed by your audience without buffers and other hiccups, you need to know what resolutions work best for it.
Besides, with the right knowledge, addressing all sorts of problems will be a breeze.
What determines video quality?
When it comes to video quality, a lot of factors are at play. While the quality of an uncompressed video is determined by video resolution, video frame rate and macro block; the quality of compressed videos get impacted by video resolution, bit rate, frame rate, bit control mode, codec, and bit depth. All of these factors are equally important but affect the video quality in varying ways-
From a digital imaging standpoint, resolution is the same as pixel count of a video. A 1080p video has a resolution of 1920×1080, which is 2,073,600 pixels. However, a 4K video has 3840×2160 or 8,294,400 pixels. So, 4K resolution enhances the details in a video by 4 times. Hence, it’s understandable that higher the resolution of a video, the better its quality.
- Frame Rate—
Video is composed of still images. Images must be displayed at a specific speed to be seen as a video. Frame rate or frame frequency is the measure of the speed in which a video rolls, and is expressed in fps. Fundamentally, frames and images are the same thing.
Note that video quality is not directly affected by frame rate. It determines the fluidity of a video, which then affects the viewing experience. A footage that is stuttering badly does not necessarily suggest that it is a HQ video. A frame rate that is too high or low can cause the video to appear “unnatural”. A proper frame rate will make your video look real, just like how we see motions in real-life.
- Video codec—
Video codec is a video coding format. It refers to the method of video encoding; examples are MP4 H.264 or MP4 HEVC. Each video codec has a different compression algorithm and ratio. It can affect the file size of your output video. Even if all other parameters are identical, a video encoded with HEVC will compress to almost half the size of H.264 or DivX despite having the same quality. Meaning, video encoded with HEVC will look more vivid than H.264 or DivX. A higher compression ratio results in less detail loss and better viewing quality.
MP4 H.264 is the codec format most people choose because of its compatibility and balance between file size and video quality.
- Bit Rate—
Video bit rate refers to the number of bits needed to encode one second of a video. The more bits required to encode a single second of a video, the larger the data processing.
Video file size is determined by bit rate (video size = bitrate x duration). It also affects the video quality. A higher bit rate usually means better video quality. However, there is a diminishing marginal utility effect. This means that if the video quality reaches a certain point, increasing bitrate will result in a larger file size but no improvement in quality.
- Rate control mode—
Rate control mode refers to the method of allocating bits to a frame. The rate control mode selected for your output determines whether your encoder consumes more data to process your video’s most complex parts or keeps it constant for all the frames.
Video encoding allows you to remove unnecessary data and reduce the size of your video files in order to save as many bits as possible for the frames. This is achieved with the help of various rate control modes. However, this process results in data loss and a dip in video quality. Hence, it’s important that you choose the rate control mode carefully in order to control file size and quality. For good quality videos, CRF and 2-pass VBR can be used.
- Bit Depth—
Bit depth (or Color depth) refers to how many bits are used for each component of a color in one pixel. Simply put, bit depth determines how much information can fit into a frame. The majority of digital video formats that we use have 8 bits per channel, and most displays can only support 8 bits at the moment.
The bit depth of a frame determines how fine and smooth the image is. In turn, this affects the quality of the video. A 10-bit video appears to be more vivid than an 8 bit video.
Video quality and resolution
Although all of the above factors play important roles, resolution is the most dominating and basic parameter as it directly reflects the details in a frame. From shooting a video, editing it, and then uploading it online, at every stage of the process, resolution influences the visibility of the content. In fact, video quality has become synonymous to resolution over time, even though it’s just a factor responsible for the quality of a video.
So, we will try to understand the types of video quality in terms of resolution. After all, it’s the most common determinant of video quality.
- Standard Definition Resolution or SD Resolution —
In the past, resolutions were categorized into Standard Definition (SD), and High Definition (HD). SD was a video that displayed lower than 720 pixels. However, standard definition videos became less common as television and computer resolutions improved over time.
The most common SD resolutions are-
640×360 (or 360p).
640×480 (or 480p).
- High Definition Resolution or HDR- 720p—
HD isn’t a poor resolution, but it’s probably the lowest known today, and is commonly referred to as 720p. Although most videos these days are 1080p or higher in resolution, 720p can be used without difficulty to view short videos. Since most computer displays today are HD, it is a good idea to have a higher resolution for streaming and other heavy multimedia websites.
The resolution typically used for HD videos is—
- Full HD or 1080 p Resolution—
The industry standard for good quality HD video is 1080p resolutions, also known as “Full HD”. The best thing about this resolution is it doesn’t eat up much storage space. This is, in fact, a standard screen resolution across smartphones today.
Videos having Full HD quality have this resolution—
1920 x 1080 (1080p).
- 2K Resolution and Quad High Definition (QHD) —
High-end smartphones and gaming monitors often display QHD resolution. The resolution of 1440p videos is 4 times that of 720p HD videos. A lot of high-end smartphones come with a Quad High Definition+ resolution (296×1440).
2K is also a popular screen resolution. It allows for reframing and expanded displays with no quality compromises.
The resolution of QHD is 2560×1440 (or 1440p).
For 2K, it is 2048×1080 (1080p).
- Ultra High Definition (UHD) or 4K Resolution—
This resolution is often referred to as 4K and features a pixel size of 3840×2160. Although 4K video quality isn’t prominently different from 2K, this resolution gives video makers more room to zoom in and edit colors.
For movie viewing, graphics and strong coloring, both 4K and 2K resolutions can be used. The differences are so subtle that a viewer won’t even sense them. They are only important when the editing of certain details in a video is required.
4K videos can be viewed at a resolution of—
3840×2160 (or 2160p/ 4K)
- Full Ultra-High Definition—
Full ultra-thin High definition or 8K is one of the top resolutions we have today, which is perfect for zooming in on distant shots without pixelation besides creating amazing video effects.
Although 8K is not a common format for filmmakers and video creators, there are two main reasons why they choose to shoot in 8K. One is improved visual effects. That means, green screens or rotoscoping can be done easily. The second one is reframing, which means 8K videos can be reframed to close-ups, without any compromise on quality. For viewers, 8K videos can offer an other-worldly experience.
8K videos are viewed with the resolution of—
7680×4320 (or 43200p/ 8K).
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Mogi I/O (www.mogiio.com) is an AI enabled Video & Image Delivery SaaS that helps Content Platforms to Improve Customer Engagement by enabling Buffer free Streaming Experience for the user through a patented multi-CDN upstream architecture called Mogi Streaming Engine, Enhanced experience through quality enhancement and compression of up to 50% both during transcoding itself and Deeper user insights through Advanced Video Analytics.
Mogi’s solutions are available end-to-end (Video Transcoding + Video Player + Mogi Streaming Engine (Multi-CDN delivery) + DRM + Video Analytics) or you can use individual products from the entire suite like just the Video Transcoding. Mogi also provides white label end-to-end plug n play solutions for OTT and EdTech Platforms, with Web, Android and iOS apps as well as a dedicated CMS for OTT and LMS for EdTech. The transcoding architecture’s result includes a highly compressed video of up to 50% with no loss in quality, and if you choose quality enhancement, a 40% compression with enhanced video quality, available in multiple bitrates or video qualities, right from 144p to 2k and 4k