Video Coding Ranges

Coding Ranges The selection of the coding ranges balanced the requirements of adequate capacity for signals beyond the normal range and minimizing quantizing distortion. Although the black level of a video signal is reasonably well defined, the white level can be subject to variations due to video signal and equipment tolerances. Noise, gain variations, and transients produced by filtering can produce signal levels outside the nominal ranges. 8 or 10 bits per sample are used for each of the YCbCr or R´G´B´ components. Although 8- bit coding introduces some quantizing distortion, it was originally felt that most video sources contained sufficient noise to mask most of the quantizing distortion. However, if the video source is virtually noise-free, the quantizing distortion is noticeable as contouring in areas where the signal brightness gradually changes. In addition, at least two additional bits of fractional YCbCr or R´G´B´ data were desirable to reduce rounding effects when transmitting between equipment in the studio editing environment. For these reasons, most pro-video equipment uses 10-bit YCbCr or R´G´B´, allowing 2 bits of fractional YCbCr or R´G´B´ data to be maintained. Initial proposals had equal coding ranges for all three YCbCr components. However, this was changed so that Y had a greater margin for overloads at the white levels, as white level limiting is more visible than black. Thus, the nominal 8-bit Y levels are 16–235, while the nominal 8-bit CbCr levels are 16–240 (with 128 corresponding to no color). Occasional excursions into the other levels are permissible, but never at the 0 and 255 levels. For 8-bit systems, the values of 0x00 and 0xFF are reserved for timing information. For 10-bit systems, the values of 0x000–0x003 and 0x3FC–0x3FF are reserved for timing information, to maintain compatibility with 8-bit systems. The YCbCr or R´G´B´ levels to generate 75% color bars are discussed in Chapter 3. Digital R´G´B´ signals are defined to have the same nominal levels as Y to provide processing margin and simplify the digital matrix conversions between R´G´B´ and YCbCr.

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