Blacker Than Black Video, OR "Hello Darkness my Old Friend!"

One of the Holy Grails of Home Theater (an avocation clearly overstocked with the darn things) is achieving the proper display of near-Black details in your video.  This of course starts with the proper display of Black itself!

It should be EASY, right?  As I detailed in my post on Digital Video, every format for Digital Video DEFINES a particular pixel value as representing "Black".  All the TV has to do is make that pixel, well, Black!  No light output.  And uh, brighter pixels should be brighter than that. Of course your particular TV might not be able to turn a pixel TRULY Black.  But that's a detail.  You get it as black as you can.

Then with a wave of my hand (something oft accompanied in the teaching game with a sotto voce, "Step 2:  A Miracle Occurs!") I mentioned there is ALSO a portion of the video data range reserved for describing pixels as, "Blacker Than Black".  Um, say WHAT?

Well, Bunky, it's time to get dark.  I mean REALLY dark.  So slip into your most Goth outfit, put on that sombre music, and lower the lights.  For we are about to encounter Blacker Than Black pixels, and learn what to do with them.  And what NOT to do with them!

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Video Compression (SD-DVD Edition!)

All of the Digital Video you watch in your Home Theater is "compressed".  ALL of it!  Whether it comes off an optical disc, or read from a media file you play, or as a program you stream from an Internet service, or even as a program you watch from a local, on-air, Digital TV station.  Compression reduces both the amount of space necessary to store the video, and -- often more important -- the data rate needed to transmit that video or to read it off of storage.

But too MUCH compression will damage picture quality in ways difficult to ignore!  In this post I'll cover the basics of video compression, along with a case study of video compression as applied to SD-DVD movie discs -- where the sins of poorly implemented compression are rife!  I'll end with some recommendations on what to look for when picking up an SD-DVD title to maximize your odds of getting great picture quality.

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Digital Video, OR "Lost in Color Space!"

Few things cause as much confusion among Home Theater enthusiasts as the myriad details surrounding Digital Video formats. It is typical to run into settings choices, for example, which come with no useful explanation, nor even advice as to when or why you might prefer one over another. It is also typical to run into non-intuitive limitations: You can't do THIS because you are also trying to do THAT!

In this post, I will attempt to survey the entire topic of Digital Video formats as applied to Home Theater systems. There's way too much material here to cover everything in one post, but I will try to show you how the pieces fit together, and introduce the jargon you will see repeatedly in future posts as I get into more details.

So if you've ever wondered just what, "HDMI 4K/24 YCbCr 4:2:2 12-bit HDR10 BT.2020 with HDCP 2.2" actually MEANS (and why the heck you'd need to KNOW that), this post is for you!

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