Essential Video Resources

Note: I have collected these video resources mostly for a quick and easy reference for myself, and possibly for people I encounter in newsgroups. Thus, this page lists mostly stuff I am interested in. The idea is not to make this a comprehensive giant directory to all video resources on Earth, although if you have some truly excellent link suggestions, e-mail me and I might consider adding them in.

Linking to this document

You are free to link to this document. If you do so, please use the URL <> This ensures that the link will always work, regardless of the actual physical location of this site.

Super Video CD

Super Video CD Overview
Explains the key aspects of the Super Video CD format (also known as SVCD, Super VCD or Chaoji VCD). Provides links to some FAQs, player manufacturers and authoring tools.
Super Video CD FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions about the SVCD standard - and their answers! Complements the Overview
Using Philips SVCD Designer
A quick and dirty guide to using this SVCD authoring software.

Digital8 and DV Camcorders

General information

Digital8 Mailing List
A mailing list for the owners and users of Digital8 camcorders
The DV FAQ by Adam Wilt
All about DV, DVCAM, and DVCPRO.
Sony Digital8 Image Captures and Observations Page by John Beale
Answers questions like "Does D8 really use exactly the same data format as (Mini)DV camcorders?" or "Should I use 12-bit or 16-bit audio mode with a Digital8 camcorders?". Lots of other useful information, too.
Using the Sony DCR-TRV900 Camcorder by John Beale
The web resource for a TRV900 owner. Vast collection of news, FAQs, reviews, comparisons and technical notes centered around the TRV900, but also features lots of general information that is useful to any videographer, and especially those that own Sony gear.

Enabling DV-in

DV-in overview
Explains why us Europeans have to hack the DV-in and analog-in recording capability into our camcorders while the rest of the world gets these features off-the-shelf. Also provides links to instructions how to get rid of this problem.
Do-it-yourself DV-in for Sony D8/DV camcorders
Instructions on how to build a simple parallel port <-> LANC cable for enabling the DV-in and analog-in recording capabilities. Also includes the necessary software and codes.
Martin Smola's LANC <=> parallel port cable
Yet another LANC cable building instruction.
Digital 1394 Video (the page no longer exists, this link goes to an archived copy)
Even more information and software (including source code) for DV-in enabling.
Enabling DV-in on D8 & DV
A very comprehensive DV-in web site with software, hardware diagrams, DV-in codes for various camcorders etc.

Other camcorder hacks

Enabling hidden functionality in Sony camcorders by Martin Smola
Does your camcorder lack manual white balance controls, manual shutter speed controls, color bar generator, frame recording mode, interval recording mode and other features you would need? Learn how to enable this hidden functionality also in low-end Sony DV and D8 camcorders. The best part is that you only need a parallel port <=> LANC cable to do this - you do not have to open the camcorder or do any hardware modifications whatsoever. Also see the page for 2nd generation D8 camcorders.
NVRAM Memory Map for Sony D8/DV Camcorders
Lists some of the configuration NVRAM addresses and their functions available on the Sony D8/DV camcorders . Also describes how to use some of the enabled features.
Using Sony D8/DV camcorder as a real-time video digitizer by Martin Smola
Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to record on tape first. See the above link for instructions on how to do this - even with the 1st generation D8 camcorders.
Enabling the "see-through" NightShot mode by John Beale
After having found out that people used the NightShot mode in bright daylight to see through clothes, Sony disabled the manual exposure control while in NightShot mode. These instructions let you regain that control.

Interesting video-related articles, guides and specifications

Aspect ratio

A Quick Guide to Digital Video Resolution and Aspect Ratio Conversions
Ever wondered what is the real pixel aspect ratio of digital video, and how to convert between different frame sizes and formats? This guide tries to explain it all.
Determining the Capture Window of a Capture Card
PC video capture devices (such as regular "tv cards") – or, in some cases, their drivers – are not necessarily calibrated to follow the industry standards. This article explains a practical method of finding out how your card does it.
A User's Guide to Aspect Ratio Conversion (a 570K PDF from Snell & Wilcox Knowledge Center)
Explains the production and shooting decisions that have to be made for 4:3 and 16:9 productions so that they will also successfully display when converted from one image frame aspect ratio to another.


Fields: Why Video is Crucially Different from Graphics
This document explains the difference between progressive frames animation and fields-based video (which most video is).

Video resolution

The Hard Truth About Resolution by Peter Utz
Learn about how "lines of horizontal resolution" measurement actually works, how many CCD pixels do you actually need to capture certain amount of detail, and why is it that you can get better results by using a high-resolution video camera while your target format is still only VHS.
Spatial oversampling: Why HD0 Broadcasting makes sense by John Watkinson
You really only need 493x373 pixels to represent 996x746 pixel's worth of information. Also see Converging Computer and Television Image Portrayal, part II.
Converging Computer and Television Image Portrayal by John Watkinson
"Some manufacturers of traditional broadcast equipment and consumer TVs, with their analog background, understand analog very well, but lack a wide and deep understanding of digital technology. Many aspects of today's television standards were established empirically before the relevant theory was understood. The computer industry naturally knows digital techniques backwards but tends to lack knowledge of psycho-optics and psycho-acoustics. Certainly manufacturers of traditional television equipment would rather deny the world a significant improvement in television quality so that they can cling to tradition (and their traditional profits). If this paper serves to expose only one such instance, it will have served its purpose well."

Colors, gamma and sampling formats

Color FAQ by Charles Poynton
The Color FAQ clarifies aspects of colour specification and image coding that are important to computer graphics, image processing, video, and the transfer of digital images to print. (Includes the equations for converting between Y'CbCr and computer R'G'B'.)
Gamma FAQ by Charles Poynton
In video, computer graphics and image processing, gamma represents a numerical parameter that describes the nonlinearity of intensity reproduction. Having a good understanding of the theory and practice of gamma will enable you to get good results when you create, process and display pictures
Merging Computing with Studio Video: Converting Between R'G'B' and 4:2:2 by Charles Poynton
In this paper, Poynton explains the R'G'B' and Y'CBCR 4:2:2 representations, and explains the technical aspects of conversion between the two.
DV Pix - Sampling Methods by Adam Wilt
Explains the difference between 4:2:2, 4:1:1 and 4:2:0 sampling formats – with illustrations!

Standards conversion

Temporal Rate Conversion by Dave Marsh
This paper is of great relevance to anyone who wants to display video-originated material on desktop CRT displays at a flicker-free refresh rate (such as 75Hz) with good quality. It is of slightly less importance to people building systems with displays intended for a viewing distance of something like 10 feet for the 60Hz market or for people that plan to use flat-panel desktop displays. It is also of less importance if you are planning only to display film-originated material at high quality and are happy with the video-originated material being juddery.
The Engineer's Guide to Motion Compensation by John Watkinson (a 327K PDF from Snell & Wilcox Knowledge Center)
There are now quite a few motion compensated products on the market, yet they do not all work in the same way. The purpose of this document is to clarify the confusion surrounding motion estimation by explaining clearly how it works, both in theory and in practice.
The Engineer's Guide to Standards Conversion by John Watkinson (a 325K PDF from Snell & Wilcox Knowledge Center)
Standards conversion used to be thought of as little more than the job of converting between NTSC and PAL for the purpose of international program exchange. The application has recently become considerably broader and one of the purposes of this guide is to explore the areas in which standards conversion technology is now applied. A modern standards converter is a complex device with a set of specialist terminology to match. This guide explains the operation of converters in plain English and defines any terms used.


The Engineer's Guide to Compression by John Watkinson (a 343K PDF from Snell & Wilcox Knowledge Center)
A Guide to MPEG Fundamentals and Protocol Analysis - Including DVB and ATSC
MPEG is one of the most popular audio/video compression techniques because it is not just a single standard. Instead it is a range of standards suitable for different applications but based on similar principles.

Digital television - Digital Video Broadcasting Project
The digital television standards body for Europe and Australia. See the Technology page for names and numbers of the related standards – you can then download them from ETSI (requires free registration.)
ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee)
Same as above, but for the US. (The World Just Needs Two Competing Digital TV Standards so that the Not Invented Here! Syndrome can live on!)
NorDig is specifying a common DVB-T platform for digital TV within the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.) You can download all released NorDig specifications, reports and documents.
A hotspot for Linux and open source centric DVB applications and information.

Quality control and measurements

What is a TBC and why do I need one?

Technical Video Resources

[Back] This page is maintained by Jukka Aho. Last updated: 25-Feb-2006