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Comparison of interpretability of 1080p30 and 720p60 motion imagery: trade-offs in resolution and frame rate



Charles D. Fenimore, James H. Yen, John W. Roberts, Hassan A. Sahibzada


We have conducted an evaluation comparing the interpretability potential of two standardized HD formats, 1080p30 and 720p60. Despite the lack of an existing motion image (MI) quality scale akin to the NIIRS scale, we have exploited previous work on MI scale development in measuring critical imagery parameters affecting interpretability. We developed a collection of MI clips that covers a wide range of imagery parameters. These well-characterized clips provide the basis for relating perceived image interpretability to motion image parameters, including resolution (related to ground sample distance) and frame rate, and to target parameters such as motion and scene complexity. This report presents key findings about the impact of resolution and frame rate on interpretability. Neither format is uniformly preferred, but the analysis quantifies the interpretability difference between the formats and finds there are significant effects of target motion and target size on the format preferences of the image analysts. The findings have implications for sensor system design, systems architecture, and mission planning.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings SPIE Security and Defense Symposium, 2009
Conference Dates
April 16-17, 2009
Conference Location
Orlando, FL
Conference Title
Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) Systems and Applications VI


motion imagery, high definition video, format comparison, 720p60, 1080p30, interpretability


Fenimore, C. , Yen, J. , Roberts, J. and Sahibzada, H. (2009), Comparison of interpretability of 1080p30 and 720p60 motion imagery: trade-offs in resolution and frame rate, Proceedings SPIE Security and Defense Symposium, 2009, Orlando, FL, [online], (Accessed April 17, 2024)
Created May 29, 2009, Updated February 19, 2017