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Video Resolution

In digital video, resolution means the number of pixels displayed on screen. Technically speaking there are two types of resolution:

  1. Spatial resolution means the width and height of the displayed image, measured in pixels. In other words, the total number of pixels contained in each individual frame.
  2. Temporal resolution means the frame rate (number of frames shown per second), i.e. "resolution over time".

Unless otherwise stated, it's safe to assume that the term resolution by itself means spatial resolution.

Common resolutions

There are many different resolutions available for for video, television and cinemas—the table below shows some of them.

Name Pixels (width x height) Aspect Ratio Notes
Standard Definition (SD)
480p / 480i 720×480 (or 704×480) 4:3 (approx) NTSC
576p / 576i 720×576 (or 704×576) 4:3 (approx) PAL
High Definition (HDTV)
720p 1280×720 16:9  
1080p / 1080i 1920×1080 16:9  
Ultra High Definition (UHDTV)
4K (2160p) 3840×2160 16:9 Exactly 4 × 1080p
8K (4320p) 7680×4320 16:9 Exactly 16 × 1080p
8640p 15360×8640 16:9 Exactly 32 × 1080p
Digital Cinema (DCI)
2K 2048 × 1080 1.90:1 The first generation of digital cinema projectors.
4K 4096 × 2160 1.90:1 2nd generation digital cinema.


The image below shows some of these resolutions in relation to each other. Remember that higher resolution doesn't necessarily mean a "bigger picture", it just means more pixels in the displayed image—whatever size that happens to be. Of course higher resolutions are generally suited to larger displays.

Doubling the frame rate

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