What Is Video Interlacing?

Last Update date : 2012.03.17

When TVs display video, they display a new video frame at a rate that is faster than your eye can see (from 24 to 60 frames per second, depending on the TV and broadcast). Interlacing refers to whether each of those frames contains all of the lines of video for each frame or every other line. Interlaced signals take every other line from 2 frames of video (each lasting 1/60th of a second), and combine them into one frame lasting 1/30th of a second. In this way, interlacing tricks your eye into thinking it is seeing twice the resolution that is actually being displayed.

In non-interlaced video, (referred to as progressive scan video), video frames are displayed every 1/60th of a second containing all of the lines of video information for each frame. The specifications for video resolutions are usually stated by giving the number of horizontal lines, followed by either the letter i, for interlaced video, or p for progressive scan video. Most standard TV broadcasts are 480i (480 lines of interlaced video resolution).

Some DVDs and non-HDTV digital TV broadcasts use 480p. The ATSC specification for HDTV broadcasts and equipment requires either 1080i or 720p. While there is some debate as to whether it is better to have more lines that are interlaced (1080i), or fewer lines that are progressively scanned (720p), it is generally accepted that 1080i is the highest quality video format.

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