Glossary of Video Terms

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Terminology Description

In terms of digital audio and video, this often refers to a version derived from the original and often involves compression and hence a loss in quality. An example would the creation of “web” or "access" versions of an original video recording.

High Definition Video

Video captured or delivered in higher resolutions than standard definition video  (720 by 480). Resolutions include 1280×720 pixels (720p), 1920×1280 pixels (1080i/1080p). High Definition video can be delivered captured or delivered in both file-based (tapeless) or a tape-based system and, due to wide adoption, has become the standard for capturing digital video. Because of the higher resolutions, file sizes for HD video are significantly greater than standard definition video.

Intermediate Codec

Video codec utilized mostly during video editing or production. Not associated with preservation codecs, these typically are proprietary and at risk of obsolescence.


Data compression method that utilizes an algorithm that compacts data into a smaller sized data package and enables the identical restoration of original quality. This compression method is less common for digital audio and video because it yields greater file sizes. As digital preservation becomes more vital, the need for greater adoption of lossless compression methods for digital audio and video grows increasingly important. There are several “lossless” audio compression codecs  available including FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) and the Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALE/ALAC), however, at this time, most audio recorders do not include them as a recording option. This is not as important for digital audio since the file sizes for digital video are relatively small. Digital video, however, is in great need. One such standard that utilizes lossless compression in the JPEG2000 lossless format wrapped in a MXF container. Lossless compression is attractive from a long-term preservation standpoint as it decreases data sizes without degrading quality.