What is Video

When you think of Video you probably think of the moving pictures on your Television or the moving pictures on your computer screen. You may also think of your favourite shows and movies. These things are video, but really; what is video?

“Video is the technology of electronically capturing, recording, processing, storing, transmitting, and reconstructing a sequence of still images representing scenes in motion.”

- Wikipedia

Okay, yeah that’s a good definition but that doesn’t tell you what video is. Well, in order to answer this question, I think we should start at the beginning.

Let’s start with the word record. The story behind record is quite a cool one and I first learned about it while watching VSauce on YouTube. The word record comes from the Latin, where “re” means “again” and the word “cord” means the “heart” or the “soul”. So when you record something you’re literally bringing it back into your heart, bringing it back into your soul; you’re remembering it. That sounds very poetic but it has more to do with the fact that ancient people thought the heart is where memories were stored, not the brain. That’s cool and all but still doesn't quite answer the question.

If images move fast enough our brain cannot comprehend each image, creating the illusion of motion. This is known as beta-movement. For a long time we captured these images on celluloid film but then a new form of capturing moving images came about and it was called: Video. Video comes from the Latin for “I see” and rather than store an image chemically on celluloid or photographic film stock. Video stores an image electronically. Well, there’s our definition from the beginning but I’m still not happy with that.


In the world of camera, film or video, things almost always happen in the form of frame rates; images of the world taken at specific speeds. These pictures are then quickly gone through producing, through beta movement, the illusion of movement. When a camera records at a lower frame rate, playback often looks jittery and skips like the image. More frames-per-second means more information is taken per second, giving you more fluidity. This still doesn’t quite answer the question at hand.

Early films were only shot at about 15-16 frame a second. This is just barely enough to fool your brain into seeing beta movement. But not fast enough for a flicker not to be noticeable as the frame changes. This is why movies were called “flicks” which is where we get the term “chick flick”. 

Our question, what is video, still isn't answered… or is it? Well, what if not one of these definitions is video, at least not on their own. What if all of these definitions define video together. Not one of them alone makes video. All of them together make video, through the beta movement of the images, the electronic storage of the images, and the memories that are recorded. All of it together it makes the medium of video. So what is video? Video is communication.

Kody with a K