Video Resolutions

Video resolutions

There’s a lot of talk about video resolution. Since we made the jump to HD, people have been chasing the newest high-resolution possible, with companies pumping out outrageously large screens to show off the latest high-resolution video. But what does it all mean, and why is it so important?

What Are Video Resolutions?

Video resolution is a measure of how detailed a video is or how clear and realistic the video looks. It’s measured by the number of pixels that appear in a typical 16:9 aspect ratio. There are a few common resolutions you’ve probably seen before:

  • “Standard Definition” 480, 576 – These are a measurement of the total number of pixels running across a vertical line down the display. These are the resolutions of yesteryear, common in Standard Definition and old media. Specifically, 480p, often seen with a 4:3 aspect ratio, has been a good match for laptops and desktop monitors, offering a basic level of clarity suitable for smaller screens.
  • “High Definition” 720, 1080 – These are a measurement of the total number of pixels running across a vertical line down the display. These are most common in lower-end devices, with 1080p known as “Full HD”. The 1080p resolution typically features 1920×1080 pixels, and it has become the standard for mobile phones due to its balance of quality and performance. On the other hand, 720p, with 1280×720 pixels, offers more than twice the sharpness of 480p and is suitable for larger screens compared to standard definition.
  • 2K, 4K, 8K – These are a measurement of the total number of pixels across a horizontal line on a display. These are becoming more common in mid to high end displays, with 4K quickly becoming the most popular option of the three. 4K resolution, offering 3840 x 2160 pixels, has become a standard in high-end consumer electronics, providing exceptional clarity and detail. Similarly, 8K resolution significantly enhances quality, especially noticeable when zooming in on far-away scenes, thanks to its high pixel count. Additionally, 1440p or Quad HD, with a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels, is particularly popular among gamers for its superior detail and performance.

The higher the number of pixels you want for your video, the larger the file size. But your resolution also affects how clear the video is. With lower resolutions, you’ll have far fewer pixels on screen to add definition and detail to an image, making it far lower quality. It’s like watching an old VHS tape compared to the same film on Blu-Ray; the higher definition adds detail and clarity.

Video resolutions

Which Video Resolution Is Best?

In reality, there isn’t one true resolution to rule them all. Instead, you’ll want to aim to have your video at the highest possible resolution and allow technology to take care of the rest.

With the current trend of technology, there are a vast number of displays in the world, all with different aspect ratios and resolutions. So instead of using one single resolution, you’re better off changing it to fit the user’s device. This is why popular sites like Twitch and YouTube allow you to change it as needed.

By dynamically changing the resolution of your video, you can offer the best viewing experience possible for each individual user and device.

Stay Fresh with Cloudinary

Video resolution is a tricky topic, and it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. However, understanding the basics of each resolution is key to making sure you’re choosing the right one for your project.

And with Cloudinary, you can make sure that your users are getting the best resolution for their devices. With our Programmable Media, you’re able to dynamically change video resolution for any embedded video on your platform. That way, your viewers always have the best viewing experience they can, without complicated backend transcoding by you!

If you want to get started with Cloudinary, you can sign up for a free account today!

Last updated: Dec 16, 2023