Here are the answers to the most commonly asked questions about digital video.
Everyone seems to have questions or concerns about the Mini DV and Digital8 formats and consistent answers are sometimes hard to find. In this article we'll take a look at the four most common concerns people seem to have involving DV.
Q: Everywhere I turn I get conflicting information about the Mini DV format. The ads say that DV (digital video) is "lossless" while your magazine says that it is "virtually lossless," whatever that means. The guy at the computer store says, "Without a doubt, the DV codec is lossy." What am I to make of all this?
A: Everything you've heard is true, despite the apparent contradictions. The DV codec does use a lossy compression method, meaning that it loses some information as it compresses the data. However, it does such an excellent job of compression/decompression that the losses are almost never visible when the video is viewed on a television or composite monitor. The best thing about DV is not the way the compression is performed, it's when it's performed.
When recordings are made using a DV camcorder the video is converted to digital data and compressed before it is ever recorded to tape. This means that you can make a perfect, lossless, clone of the original. When you copy or capture DV data using FireWire you do not have to decompress/recompress the data. You can copy digital data repeatedly with no degradation at all. This is the source of DV's claim of losslessness.