Interlaced Video


Interlaced video is a technique used in displaying video signals, where the screen is divided into alternating horizontal lines, with each set of lines being refreshed in a sequential manner. It was developed to reduce flickering and bandwidth usage in analog television systems. In this method, odd-numbered lines are drawn first, followed by even-numbered lines to create a complete frame, combining both sets of lines to form a single, cohesive image.


The phonetics for the keyword “Interlaced Video” are:/ˈɪntərˌleɪst ˈvɪdi.oʊ/- “Interlaced”: /ˈɪntərˌleɪst/- “Video”: /ˈvɪdi.oʊ/

Key Takeaways

  1. Interlaced video is a technique where the video frame is divided into two fields, consisting of alternating lines of the image that are displayed sequentially to provide a smoother and more fluid motion.
  2. Interlacing was initially developed for analog television systems to improve the perceived video quality and reduce flicker, while maintaining compatibility with existing infrastructure and bandwidth limitations.
  3. With advances in technology and the rise of progressive scanning, interlaced video is now less common, but it can still be found in some broadcast standards like 1080i HDTV and older video equipment like CRT displays and VHS tapes.


Interlaced video is an essential term in technology as it refers to a technique used for displaying video content on screens, significantly contributing to television and video history.

This method involves dividing video frames into two separate fields, consisting of alternating odd and even lines, which are then combined and displayed sequentially, effectively doubling the perceived frame rate without doubling the amount of actual video data.

This technique allows for smoother motion and reduced flickering at lower bandwidths, providing cost-effective and space-efficient transmission, particularly in the earlier days of television broadcasts.

Even though modern display technologies have shifted towards progressive scan methods, the understanding of interlaced video remains important for working with legacy video equipment and comprehending the evolution of video display and transmission technologies.


Interlaced video primarily serves the purpose of allowing for the efficient transmission and display of high-quality motion pictures by reducing bandwidth requirements, making it an essential technology in the early days of television broadcasting and analog video systems. This is achieved by dividing and displaying alternating lines of a video frame or field, thereby creating the illusion of a smoother, continuous image.

The interlaced scanning technique enhances motion reproduction and reduces flicker, providing a better viewing experience for users. Historically, interlaced video improved television broadcasts in analog systems like NTSC and PAL, but it is also used in modern digital formats such as 1080i.

Furthermore, interlaced video helps to reduce the storage requirements for video content, as it effectively cuts the amount of data required in half by using alternating lines from two separate fields to create a single frame. In fast-action content, interlaced video can deliver quicker motion response, as the fields are updated more frequently than in progressive scanning, making it suitable for reproducing live sports events and other rapid motion broadcasts.

However, with the advancement of digital video technology and display resolutions, progressive scanning has become increasingly prevalent, offering even higher image quality and motion reproduction. Despite this, interlaced video remains an important milestone in the evolution of video and broadcasting technology, indelibly shaping the way we consume and transmit motion picture content.

Examples of Interlaced Video

Interlaced video technology has been widely used in television broadcasting and video display systems since the early days of video technology. Here are three real-world examples:

CRT Televisions: Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) televisions were the most common form of TVs before the advent of modern flat-screen technologies. These televisions utilized interlaced video signals, with each frame being split into two separate fields, consisting of odd and even lines. The electron beam would update first the odd lines of the frame and then the even lines, creating a smoother image and reducing flickering effects.

Video Home System (VHS): Before the widespread use of DVDs and digital video, VHS was the standard home video recording and playback format. VHS tapes used interlaced video by recording and displaying two fields of video per frame. This allowed for better picture quality in comparison to non-interlaced video formats, as the interlacing technique enables the display of more visual information in a shorter period.

Standard Definition (SD) Television Broadcasting: Interlaced video was widely used in analog television broadcasting signals, such as NTSC (North American standard), PAL (European standard), and SECAM (French standard). These systems typically used a 4:3 aspect ratio and lower resolutions, with each frame split into two fields to reduce flicker and improve motion quality. As technology advanced and digital television and high-definition formats became more common, interlaced video systems were gradually phased out in favor of progressive scan formats.

FAQ: Interlaced Video

What is interlaced video?

Interlaced video is a technique used in video technology where the screen is divided into alternating odd and even lines, and each frame is displayed as two separate fields. This technique was developed to provide smoother movement and reduce flicker on older style cathode ray tube (CRT) displays.

How does interlaced video work?

In interlaced video, one field (odd or even lines) is displayed at a time, followed by the other field to create a single frame. The first field displays the odd lines, and the second field displays the even lines. This allows for smoother motion, as the video is updating at half the vertical resolution twice as quickly, effectively doubling the overall frame rate.

What is the difference between interlaced and progressive video?

Interlaced video is created by displaying fields (odd and even lines) alternately in rapid succession, while progressive video is created by displaying all lines of a frame in a single pass. Progressive video typically uses fewer resources and provides higher-quality image reproduction when viewed on modern digital displays. However, interlaced video may appear smoother on older CRT displays.

What are common video formats that use interlacing?

The most commonly known interlaced video formats are NTSC, PAL, and SECAM. These formats were widely used in analog television broadcasts and some early digital broadcasts. With the rise of digital video and the increasing adoption of progressive scan displays, interlacing has become less common in newer video formats.

How can you convert interlaced video to progressive video?

Converting interlaced video to progressive video can be done through a process called deinterlacing. Deinterlacing involves merging or interpolating the fields in each frame, effectively creating new frames that contain all the lines at once. Many modern video editing software and playback devices offer built-in deinterlacing capabilities. However, it is important to note that converting interlaced video to progressive may not always result in perfect quality, as some artifacts may remain from the original interlaced format.

Related Technology Terms

  • Field Rendering
  • Deinterlacing
  • Temporal Resolution
  • Progressive Scan
  • Vertical Sync

Sources for More Information


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