Composite Video vs. Component Video

Archiving Topics » Composite Video vs. Component Video

Composite video is a clever combination of color and black & white information. Component video keeps these two image components separate. Proper handling of each type of video is essential when optimizing preserved video quality.

Composite Video vs. Component Video (Full Text) pdf


  • Composite Video was configured to allow legacy black & white televisions to continue working properly after the transition to color broadcasts.  The red, green and blue signals produced by color cameras were transformed into a black & white signal and two color difference signals collectively known as component video.
  • The three component video signals are combined through a complex process into a single composite video signal that could be transmitted through the same broadcast channels previously used for black & white transmissions.
  • The process of creating the composite video signal is not perfectly reversible so unavoidable image distortions occur when converting the composite video signal back into red, green, and blue signals.  In addition, some image clarity is lost when composite video is recorded by many types of recorders.
  • Due to the distortion associated with composite video, its use should be avoided whenever possible.  Since digital video is based on component video, a conversion from composite to component is necessary for many archival transfers.  This conversion, known as decoding, should be done using a high quality process for the best results.