From “eek” to “geek”…

We hope the following will be a quick and easy guide to some of our technical terms. If you'd like to find out the meaning of a term that's not included, please email us here and we'll add the term and the relevant definition to this list.

1. Screen sizes

Picture Aspect Ratio
The length to height ratio in any picture. Often known simply as Aspect Ratio. (AR)
16:9 or wide screen
The picture aspect ratio used for HDTV, digital TV and plasma screens. The image (16 wide, 9 high) is the same shape as a cinema screen.
The picture aspect ratio used by older TVs. (4 wide, 3 high). These are gradually being replaced by digital wide screen, or 16 x 9 TVs.

2. Video compression, tapeless, HD, SD and so on

Video Compression
The process of reducing the bandwidth or data rate of a video stream. Digital compression systems analyse their picture sources to find and remove redundancy both within, and between, picture frames. There are various compression ratios for video, which affect the clarity of the picture, starting with the highest quality of "uncompressed".
Compression Ratio
The ratio of the size of data in the "uncompressed" digital video signal to the edited "compressed" version, for example on a tape or DVD.
Standard definition or standard definition television with a resolution that meets current standards but is not High Definition (HD).
Short for Phase Alternating Line. The television standard used in Europe and in most other countries in the world. It consists of 625 horizontal lines of resolution.
Short for National Television Standards Committee. Television standard used in USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan and a few other countries. It consists of 525 horizontal lines of resolution. (Needs to be converted to PAL for use in Europe and other countries).
Frame Rate
Number of frames per second. PAL is 25 frames per second, NTSC is 29.9 frames per second.
High definition and high definition television. A digital television broadcasting system with a significantly higher resolution than standard TV (625 lines for PAL, and 525 lines for NTSC). HD has resolutions of 1280 up to 1920 lines.
Type of tape format used in smaller professional video cameras that records high definition video on DV tape
Digital tapeless simply means recording digital data to a medium other than video tape. This is gradually taking over from tape based cameras. The formats are memory cards, disks and hard drives.
Betacam SP
Old standard broadcast quality video tape, still used by some broadcasters. This type of tape is gradually being replaced by digital tapes. Compression ratio is 5:1.
Digital Betacam
Old standard high quality digital video tape format. The compression ratio is 2:1
A digital tape format, used less and less as tapeless workflow becomes mroe common.. The compression ratio is 4:2:0 for PAL and 4:1:1 for NTSC.
Again an older tape format which is Panasonic's development of DV.
Digital disc recording system devised by Sony for some of the XDCAM range of cameras. 50GB disc can hold up to 90 minutes of high quality video.
Type of digital memory card made by Sony for use in the EX models their XD CAMERA range.
New small high quality digital camcorder which gives great action shots - can be worn by humans, attached to animals or anything else!

3. Some common stills formats, suitable for video editing:

These initials are short for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is a method of data compression for still pictures. JPEG files use the extension ".jpg."
An image file format widely used in computer systems. Targa uses the extension. "TGA"
Short for: Tagged Image File Format. This is a bitmap graphics file format, developed to provide a common format for scanners, and is used in desktop publishing, and as the data format for scanned faxes. TIFF files use the extension ".TIF"
Commonly used imaging editing programme made by Adobe. Photoshop files use the extension ".psd"

4. Video Editing:

Final Cut Pro
Final Cut Pro is a professional non-linear editing system developed by Apple Inc. It is popular with independent filmmakers and Hollywood film editors.
The program has the ability to edit many digital formats - tape and tapeless - including, SD, HDV, HD, Panasonic P2, Sony XDCAM, 2K, 4K, and IMAX film formats. The system is currently only available for Mac OS X version 10.4.9 or later. It is now available with Intel as well as MAC processors. The latest version Final Cut X appears to be aimed more at the consumer market, so many editors continue to use FCP 7.
After Effects
After Effects is a digital motion graphics and compositing software published by Adobe Systems. It can be used in film and video post-production. After Effects uses a system of layers organised on a timeline to create composites from still images and moving footage.
Position and opacity can be controlled independently for each layer, and each layer can have effects applied. After Effects is often described as the "Photoshop of video", because its flexibility allows compositors to alter video in any way they see fit, just as Photoshop does for images.
A 2 and 3D motion graphics and titling system produced by Apple. Often used with FCP or Final Cut Pro.

5. Delivery platforms

Windows media video. Type of compressed video format used for playing video, audio and images on PCs running Microsoft Windows Operating Systems.
QuickTime is a multimedia framework developed by Apple Inc. capable of handling various formats of digital video, media clips, sound, text, animation and music. It is available for the Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows operating systems. Its file extension is ".mov."
A multimedia authoring and playback system from Adobe. It uses vector graphics which makes it very space efficient.
MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group)
MPEG stands for Moving Picture Experts Group, a working group to develop standard formats for compressing video. The standards associated with the group include MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (used in DVD movies), and MPEG-4 (sometimes used to further compress DVD movies onto CD-ROM media). There are other MPEG standards as well. MPEG files in Windows often have the ".mpg" file extension.
Streaming and progressive
These are different methods of delivering video from a server. With streaming, pictures and sound may not be constantly delivered as this depends on the speed of the network connection.
This is a standard for video compression on the web. It is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10, or AVC (for Advanced Video Coding).
3GP is a multimedia container format defined by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) for use on 3G mobile phones. 3GP is a simplified version of the MPEG-4 Part 14 (MP4) container format, designed to decrease storage and bandwidth requirements in order to accommodate mobile phones.
Compression format developed by Apple.
DVD ("Digital Versatile Disc" or "Digital Video Disc") is a popular media format that can be used for data storage, including films with high video and sound quality. DVDs look the same as CDs externally. A DVD reader or writer can usually read CDs, BUT the reverse is not true!
DVDs are encoded in a completely different format of much greater density, allowing a data storage capacity 8 times greater (single-layer, single-sided). DVDs can be played on either a DVD player or on a computer. They are the best medium for full screen video.
DVD regions
There are nine different regions for DVDs: Region 1 includes USA and Canada; Region 2 includes Europe, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia, Japan and South Africa. Formatting a DVD at region 0 means it can be played worldwide, but does mean transferring PAL material to NTSC.
Blu-ray disc
This supersedes the standard DVD format and is mainly used for storing high definition (HD) video. A single-layer disc can hold up to 25GB, a dual-layer disc 50GB. Blu-ray discs hold almost 10 times more data storage than a standard DVD.
CD-ROM (an abbreviation of "Compact Disc read-only memory") is a Compact Disc that contains data accessible by a computer. While the Compact Disc format was originally designed for music storage and playback, the format was later adapted to hold any form of binary data, including video. CD-ROMs are generally used for games and multimedia applications, including video and text combinations (up to the capacity limit of a disc).

6. Video News Releases, Multimedia News Releases, B-rolls

Video News Release
A video news release (VNR) - also known as an"A-Roll - is a two to three minute video report, produced to coincide with a product launch or event and distributed to newsrooms. A VNR contains sound bites, supporting visuals, footage that may be time-consuming or difficult for broadcasters to obtain, with a guide voice-over.
Multimedia News Release
A multimedia news release (MNR) is a short video in the style of a VNR (above) or a kit of short sound bites, contained within a written press release and distributed by PR Newswire. (
If included with a VNR, the B-roll contains extra sound bites and visuals to provide broadcasters with a fuller kit of parts from which to edit their own stories. B-rolls are often produced and distributed as a stand-alone package.
Sell-in and Distribution
VNRs and B-Rolls can be uploaded to the web, transmitted via satellite and distributed to newsrooms on tape, locally or worldwide, depending on the story. Broadcasters are alerted to the story prior to the event.
For more detailed descriptions and further explanations of technical terms, visit the digital fact book at:

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