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Why do some videos look better than others? Why do other videos have pixels the size of my fingernail? If “high-definition” still isn’t high enough then is the name a lie?

Source: HD-DVD vs DVD Quality

If these are the questions that keep you up late at night, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re going to unpack video resolution and tell you all about why it matters.

What is Resolution?

Resolution refers to the total number of pixels that can be displayed on a screen/monitor.

A pixel is the smallest point on the monitor which emits a specific colour.

As a general rule, the more pixels you have, the sharper your image.

Resolution is normally represented in 2 numbers – A x B. A refers to the number of horizontal pixels while B refers to the number of vertical pixels. When you multiply both together, you get the full pixel count – or the resolution.

With this in mind, let’s delve a bit deeper.

Unpacking SD, HD & 4K

Acronyms can be as helpful as they are confusing. Here’s what you need to know. Terms like “standard definition (SD)” and “high definition (HD)” are very relative. In fact, HD isn’t as impressive as it sounds – it’s pretty much the resolution most displays have been using for the past decade or so. You might say HD is the new standard definition.

It is far more helpful to talk about these acronyms in terms of pixel count.

Standard definition (SD)

Source: GIPHY

In pixel terms, SD contains 720 x 480 pixels or 346,000 pixels in total. It is sometimes represented as 480p – which is the total number of pixels it contains vertically. This makes it more detailed than 144p, 240p or 360p.

Standard definition was the original go-to resolution where television was concerned, pre-2000.  The bulk of lower quality resolutions only come in when videos have to be viewed in slower network conditions.

High definition (HD)

Source: 4k resolution difference

In recent years, you have probably noticed the improvement in quality or screen resolution. This is because most cinema monitors, TVs, and cinema screens are using HD over SD.

The standard resolutions of HD include 720p and 1080p. The former is the lowest level of resolution known as ‘high-definition’. It’s usually called ‘standard HD’ to differentiate it from the 1080p resolution (better known as full HD).

When viewed on a screen, HD’s aspect ratio appears to be wider rather than taller. However, the aspect ratio is adjustable – plenty of DVD players and TV’s allow you to switch between the ‘widescreen’ and ‘fullscreen’ option so you receive the best viewing experience.

Compared to SD, the image is a lot sharper – providing a more immersive experience. Content comprising lots of fast-paced action – think sports – benefitted quite a bit from the advent of HD. Instead of just seeing a football player get kneed in the unmentionables, you now get to watch his face contort in incredible agony before he crumples.


Ultra-high definition (4K)

You’ve heard 4K thrown around a lot – it’s sometimes also referred to as Ultra-High Definition (UHD). How high is ultra high?

Where most forms of video are concerned, we’re talking 3840 x 2160 – or close to 4000 pixels horizontally. If you do the math – 3840 x 2160 = 8,294,400 – that’s more than 8 million pixels – 20 times more than SD and about 4 times more than full HD.

Most of the latest television sets are already 4K-ready or even made up of a combination of both 4K and HDR. However, this still not the highest definition available. Do a simple search about 8K and 16K resolutions – and you’ll find that they are becoming more widely available.

How great video quality boosts your business

If words and images can convey your business goals or promote your product – video advertisements are going to take that experience up a notch.

Impactful yet engaging at the same time – video marketing such as an animated corporate video provides that extra level of appeal that sets out to impress the audience.

But videos can be a double-edged sword.

When it comes to poor quality video experiences – there are plenty of surveys that show why consumers hate them. A survey by Verizon Digital Media Services found that the time people spent watching a video dropped by as much as 77% when the video quality was poorer than expected.

Poor quality videos also give consumers a less-than-ideal perception of your brand. In their study, video production company Brightcove found that 62% of consumers form a negative perception of the business if they see bad quality video published by the company. This negative perception also results in lower rates of engagement and hesitance to patronise the brand.

The problem with surveys is that, while convenient, they aren’t always the most accurate way of gathering data for a whole host of reasons.

That’s why Akamai, a cloud delivery platform and Sensum, a biometric software and solutions company, collaborated in a novel study. They decided to measure viewers’ reactions to image quality in videos and slow loading by measuring their sweat gland activity.

And here are their top findings:

Source: YouTube

The conclusion? It’s a bit duh. People were clearly more engaged when watching higher quality videos.

To be precise, Akamai and Sensum also found that test subjects were 10% more engaged with the higher-quality clip when no intense scenes were happening, while engagement levels increased to 20% during intense scenes.

Now, here’s the intricate part of the study – Sensum incorporated facial coding software and galvanic skin responses to measure the immediate emotional reaction of test subjects as they viewed the clip.

And the results?

Source: YouTube

In summary, buffering didn’t give a pleasant experience to viewers – resulting in a total drop of 22% in positive emotions, whereas an increase of 16% in negative emotions was seen.

Our point? The first step to engagement is customer satisfaction.

Nail that, and you’ll be well on the way to improving your brand image and ad performance!

Video resolution & quality: The connection

Resolution decides the fate of every single image in a video clip – the higher the resolution, the more your pixels, and up your video quality goes!

Another factor which plays a key role would be the size of your device – though not directly related to video resolution – it still has an impact on video quality.

Naturally, an image will appear bigger on a monitor with larger physical dimensions – but that also means it’ll look blurrier, due to the greater distance between the dots.

Source: 4K Monitor Requirements and Usage

On the other hand, your device’s screen resolution isn’t everything. A monitor capable of 4K resolution won’t do diddly-squat if the content you’re playing only has a resolution of 480p.

The same goes for any online streaming content. If your connection isn’t fast enough, videos tend to switch to a lower resolution. This makes the streaming experience a lot smoother – but at a significant cost.

Resolution does affect video quality greatly, but other factors like the above-mentioned will have a part to play as well.

What it all comes down to for your business

Bringing up your video resolution to display the full potential of your content is possible – but that’s if you and your animated video creation company work hand in hand!

You can give them a heads-up, so they know what video resolution you’re planning to go for – even then, other essential ingredients like content are of the essence.

Your final pick among the wide range of animation services – be it projection mapping, 2D or 2D animation, visual effects and motion graphics – will matter too.

We hope we’ve helped to clear up some of the confusion surrounding resolution. But content remains king, so please don’t blow your entire budget on pushing out videos at the highest possible resolution at the expense of script and style.

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