Ever wonder what the “p” in 1080p stood for? What’s the difference between 1080p, 1080i, 720p, and 720i?
This part of the SSBM Streaming Guide will teach you everything you need to know to choose the right input method.
All Smash games run at 60 frames per second. That means that every 17 milliseconds, the game’s logic is updated, and the controllers are polled for button inputs.
While most televisions have a 60 Hz refresh rate, that doesn’t mean that they’re displaying 60 full frames every second.
It depends on the TV and the format of the console’s output.
Let’s begin with the Nintendo Wii.
The Nintendo Wii comes with a 480i composite cable. You can distinguish this gray cable by looking at the plugs: a yellow, white, and red plug.
The white and red plugs are for stereo audio; respectively, they provide the left and right speakers with audio.
The yellow cable is called a “composite” cable. It outputs 480i video. The 480 means it has a height of 480 pixels. The “i” stands for interlaced. Here is a brief explanation of how interlacing works from Wikipedia:
Interlaced video is a technique for doubling the perceived frame rate of a video display without consuming extra bandwidth. The interlaced signal contains two fields of a video frame captured at two different times. This enhances motion perception to the viewer, and reduces flicker by taking advantage of the phi phenomenon.
This technique is used by nearly all CRT TVs.
Basically, the screen is split into two fields of horizontal lines like so:
Therefore, for any frame, you’re only getting half of the picture. The other half is part of the previous frame.
The S-video cable also produced a 480i signal. However, the S-video cable produces higher picture quality because it has two separate signals.
There’s another set of cables known as “component” cables. They’re the ones that have 5 plugs: red, green, blue, white, and another red.
Once again, the last two are for audio.
But this time, the red, green, and blue plugs together provide a 480p signal. The “p” in 480p means progressive scan.
In progressive scan, every frame is drawn every 1/60th of a second, so you’re not losing half of the video content. Instead you’ve got the full, crispy picture.
The problem with this format is that 99.9% of CRT TV’s aren’t able to output 480p.
“Alright, Truski, I’ll bring you a flat screen 32 inch TV to stream with.”
Please don’t do that unless we’re playing some sweet sweet Smash 4. Did I mention that Chicago loves Smash 4?
A lot of people don’t understand why every Smash game other than Smash 4 should be played on a CRT and not on an LCD TV.
To put it extremely simply, LCD TV’s display a digital picture. N64s, GameCubes, and Wiis all output an analog signal (there are some exceptions).
The LCD TV has to convert the analog signal into a digital signal. That could take, say, 70 milliseconds, which equates to 4 frames of lag. In frame tight situations this is unacceptable.
Read more about Display Lag.
1080p and 720p
1080p and 720p are video formats that the Wii U outputs. The HDMI cable that comes with the Wii U is compatible with these formats. Both are known as “HD” and fully show every frame. The only difference is the resolution. Here’s a graphic showing the sizes:
1080i and 720i
These are the same as 1080p and 720p, but they use interlaced scan. While 1080i is used, 720i is very rare.
Why this all matters
Another way to describe video resolutions and frame rates is by having the true frame rate after the “p” or “i”.
If a video format has p in its name, it’s showing 60 frames per second.
On the other hand, if it has an i in its name, it’s like it’s showing 30 frames per second.
When your computer is trying to capture the video signal, the difference between these frame rates is very easy to tell.
The difference is tremendous. We love our progressive 60 fps, don’t we folks?
Now that you have learned the basics of video signals, you should have taken away with you the following tidbits:
- The difference between interlaced and progressive.
- What the numbers and letters in video signal names mean.
- Why LCD TVs have display lag.
- Which cables produce which signal.
In the next part of this guide, we will be talking about the things you need to successfully stream Smash.