Tip #904: Why You Should Avoid HDV

… for Codecs & Media

Tip #904: Why You Should Avoid HDV

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Where possible, avoid using HDV to maximize image quality.

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HDV was one of the first, if not THE first, consumer-grade HD video format. As such, it was an eye-opening opportunity to discover the benefits of HD.

However, compared to media formats today, HDV has three serious limitations:

  • First, most HDV material is interlaced. While this plays acceptably on TV monitors, it looks awful on the web. This is because TVs are designed to display interlaced media, while the web is designed for progressive.
  • Second, unlike all digital media today, HDV uses rectangular pixels which are stretched to fill the frame, rather than square pixels. This means that an HDV image won’t look as sharp as digital images today.
  • Third, HDV records half the color information compared to most modern cameras. (And one-quarter the color of high-end cameras.)

NOTE: The only way to get rid of interlacing is to remove every other line of video, thus cutting vertical image resolution in half. Then, existing lines are either duplicated or guessed at using various methods of image interpolation.

So, if you are given the option to shoot or convert media into HDV, be very cautious before you agree. There are very few situations today where this makes sense.


If you have existing HDV material, consider getting it transcoded to ProRes 422. While not required, you do need to start thinking about how to preserve and convert your older media assets, especially if you plan to edit them in the future.

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