With the transition from standard definition to high definition, the video world has seen quite a few new connections. Its easy to get lost in the mix and grab the first thing that just “works” instead of finding the best connection for your churches situation. Here is a guide to the top ten connections I come across most often.

Top 10 Guide to Video Formats – Your Guide To The Most Popular Video Connections Available

1. Composite

Composite video most often has either an RCA or BNC connector. Composite is the most basic form of SD and only carries video, no audio. Most screens that use composite video will have a resolution of 480i.


2. S-Video

Most people know s-video as “Super Video”, but the S in s-video actually stands for separate. Composite video carries all its information over one conductor pair, while s-video uses two pairs; hence separate video. The s-video connector is a round connector with 4 pins and a large place finder pin. S-Video has greater clarity than composite video but will still push out a resolution of 480i. S-video like composite video can be run over great distances and works best with SD equipment that is not HD ready.


3. VGA

Most people think VGA is a type of cable when in fact its a video format. The VGA format uses the classic D-SUB 15 pin connector that is on the back of nearly every computer known to man. The VGA format itself is limited to 640 x 480 screen resolution but breaks down the colors into 16 channels which will greatly increase clarity, specifically when the image is magnified through a projector. For this reason, VGA is the best quality SD connection we can use.


4. XGA

Extended graphics array, or XGA, quickly replaced the VGA format because it could handle the screen resolution of 1024 x 768, which used to be the standard screen size of most computer monitors and projectors. XGA uses the same D-SUB connector as VGA and is a step in between the SD and HD worlds, even though its greater than 720i.



Super extended graphics array also uses the D-SUB connector and is now considered the standard for most computer monitors. At a resolution of 1280 x 1024 this video format is unique because its not a normal aspect ratio. Normal aspect is 4:3, but the sxga uses a 5:4 aspect ratio. For this reason, this video format is somewhat limited to computer monitors.



The last video format that I’m going to talk about today that uses the 15 pin D-SUB connector is the UXGA video format. UXGA is exactly 4 times the resolution of s-video, 1600 x 1200. UXGA is the closest format to modern day 1080HD video. While UXGA itself is considered a 4:3 aspect ratio, there are two variations of UXGA that are considered widescreen: UWXGA with 1600 x 768 and WUXGA at 1920 x 1200 resolution. Many modern projectors that are considered HD will support UXGA, and is often a better connection to use because it can be ran greater distances than other consumer level video connections.


7. Component Video

Moving on to component video, this type of connection splits the video signal into three separate connectors, usually RCA. Component video can reach HD resolutions of 1080p and is one of the last analog video formats that reaches into the higher HD spectrum. Component video runs great up to distances of 100 feet with the right cable, and is great for home theater applications.


8. HDBaseT

HDBaseT has only been on the scene for about four years now. It uses cat5e/6 cable and connections to transmit both audio and video. This video format is mostly used in enterprise applications, like malls, but could be a great solution for a large church that has several TV screens throughout the facility. The signal can be carried up to 100 meters and it will carry up to 100 watt of power over the cable. HDBaseT will handle all forms of HD signals, and 3D signals.



High definition multimedia interface cables, or HDMI, were created by a handful of motion picture companies for the purpose of creating a video format that carried copyright protection information alongside HD video and audio. HDCP was given birth for that purpose and is a security protocol that runs over HDMI. Because of that security protocol, every input and output that utilizes HDMI must handshake with HDCP and pass a security checkpoint and cause latency. For home theater applications this is no problem, but anytime you work with live video its better to stay away from HDMI if at all possible.


10. HD-SDI

HD-SDI was invented by the broadcasting industry and is designed to be the best way to carry HD video. Most connections utilize the BNC connector, and HD-SDI can be run over RG6, making it very easy and cheap to manage cables. Anytime you have a live video or IMAG situation, look to HD-SDI first for the best quality picture.


What’s your favorite video format?

About The Author

Tommy Scully is a technology consultant for churches nationwide working with audio, video, live streaming, and data systems. Having graduated from the Institute of Audio Research with a 4.0 GPA, his passion for audio led him to develop his own Church Audio Training Program. Tommy is available to speak, optimize, or consult with your church

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