Candy Pixels: Math the Rainbow

In this AVIXA Explains video, we highlight how to determine total video bandwidth – using Skittles.
Candy Pixels: Math the Rainbow
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When it comes to an Audio-Visual over Internet Protocol network, or an AV over IP (AVoIP) network, it’s well-known that video consumes massive amounts of bandwidth. But it can be hard to visualize just how much data various formats require.

In this latest AVIXA Explains video, we demonstrate how to determine total video bandwidth – using Skittles. 

How can candy help in the visualization process? Let’s do some calculating, where one Skittle equates to 1200 pixels.

When it comes to an old standard definition 4x3 television, which is 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, it comes out to a total of almost 307,200 pixels or 246 Skittles.

And when moving along to high definition, that amount substantially goes up. For a 6x9 widescreen format, 720p nearly triples the resolution from standard definition, resulting in close to a million pixels or 733 Skittles.

Just a few years after high definition first came out and was popularized, 1080p became the next standard for television and online video. It still offers excellent video quality while not over-taxing your network, making it a popular option to date. 1080p doubled 720's resolution with over 2 million pixels or 1651 Skittles.

Then, 4K quadrupled 1080p with over 8 million pixels or 6600 Skittles. And what about 8K? If you want to see 8K and its whopping number of Skittles, make sure to check out the video.

Additionally, pixels are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to total video bandwidth. There are also color channels, bit depth, and frame rates to consider when working out the total video bandwidth equation. But using Skittles helps us visualize the most critical component when planning video bandwidth for your AV system – your network. It's the connection that moves all this data to your hardware, and it must move fast.

Your facility might have some of the greatest high-definition displays the industry has to offer, and they may be built to handle each one of these pixels. Yet, if your network isn't robust enough to hold all that data, you'll never maximize the full potential of your hardware.

So, where do you start to plan a system like this? It all begins with the application. Ask yourself: Which resolution makes sense for this content and hardware?

Let's say, for example, that you have a one-gigabyte switch network with Cat6A cabling. You're not going to be able to move 8K without heavy compression, but a 10-gigabyte switch network is much more feasible. 

When planning your AVoIP network, a bit of math can go a long way to ensure that you create a network that makes sense for your content and budget. If you're interested in the total video bandwidth formula, you can find it in the description of the Youtube version of this video by following this link.

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Go to the profile of Georg Thingbo
about 1 year ago

These small nuggets of learning is fantastic for people starting in our industry. I also love that you publish them on Youtube for everyone to learn about this and elevate the Avixa brand, not to mention referring to these when end-users need to understand how or why their setup needs to be properly planned and configured. 

Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu - AVIXA
about 1 year ago

@Georg Thingbo Thank you! The total video bandwidth formula is a great one to know and we are aiming to spread this information in various formats to reach more people in our industry. We hope you enjoy the video content!

Go to the profile of John Pilzner
about 1 year ago

Ask yourself this question. 4K, por que?

Despite some excellent marketing efforts, there may be little reason to use in a given application.

Go to the profile of Iulia Popescu - AVIXA
about 1 year ago

@John Pilzner While it does look better than 1080, it can be difficult to appreciate 4k on a smaller display. And for me, a smoother experience in 1080 is typically better than a slower 4k, so I can see why that may be an aspect to consider as well. However, I believe that 4K can be useful for professionals and content creators to present higher quality work.

Go to the profile of John Pilzner
about 1 year ago

@Iulia Popescu That is exactly my point. Depending on the quality of the content, the distance from the viewer to the screen, and the importance of a higher resolution, 4K may not be the right solution. Having said that, it may be the best solution, too, using the same criteria. 

I use 4K monitors for work, but I have a 1080p television. I sit less than two feet away from my 24" monitors, and over 12' away from my 60" television. Content aside, the potential visual acuity justifies 4K for my work monitors. As you pointed out, this is a big benefit for content creators, who's work could be presented in a myriad of applications with widely varying viewer distances, ambient light, etc.

Thanks for the post, and for sharing the math behind the formula. Also, the Skittles analogy is a nice touch.