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Chapter 1. DV 101 > Types of Video Signals

Types of Video Signals

Composite

Composite is the most common video signal you will run into. This is an all-in-one signal. It combines both the luma (luminance, the picture’s black and white brightness) information with the color information. The up side of this format is that a single wire can carry all the information; the down side is that it is the lowest in quality. The typical giveaway of a composite signal is what is known as dot crawl. This is a small series of alternating dots that travel along the edges of objects in the picture, especially objects with a lot of solid color, such as a bar of orange behind a graphic title. Typically, this signal utilizes BNC connectors on professional gear and RCAs on consumer gear. Creation of a composite signal involves a lot of analog processing. Each part of this process degrades the signal a little so that several passes (or generations) of processing can visibly degrade the image quality.

S-Video or Y/C

One step up from composite is Y/C or S-video. This type of signal keeps the luma (luminance) and chroma (color) separated. First made popular on the 3/4” format, it became a very popular consumer signal type with the advent of SVHS and Hi8. The standard connector is a four-pin mini DIN, but there are some JVC professional SVHS machines that use a seven-pin round connector, a throwback to the 3/4” format days. Please note that although SVHS and some VHS machines may have this connecter, the tape format is still recording a composite signal. The benefit of this system is much better image quality. There is no dot crawl as with composite, and the format also passes a sharper image.


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