Composite Video

A video signal that combines the brightness (luminance or luma) and the color (chrominance or chroma) video information into one signal. Because the signal is not modulated, composite video provides higher quality than RF video. Requires a separate audio signal and connector. Also called Baseband video. 

Composite video is the most common type of video interface for sending or receiving an analog video signal to or from a television set. The composite video interface can connect a VHS tape player, DVD player or game console to the television.

Composite video is a yellow, female RCA jack normally located next to two audio jacks, one red and one white. The three jacks together provide an interface for audiovisual connections. The red RCA jack connects the right channel of the stereo system, the white RCA jack connects the left. The yellow composite video jack rounds out the set.

A video stream consists of a Y signal for luminance or black and white values and a C signal for color or colour. The Y-signal provides brightness and contrast, allowing for deep rich blacks and stunningly bright whites. The quality of this signal is particularly evident in low-light scenes, where a distorted signal turns into "pale" blacks and muted whites, making it difficult to distinguish the scene or the action. The red, green, and blue color signal - or RGB - carries the information needed to create varying hues. A distorted C signal can result in coloration that is not correct for its source.

Composite video is so named because Y/C signals are compressed and channeled by a single cable inside the television that will be separated by a "comb filter". Although composite video has been the standard for many years, this process causes some degradation in signal integrity. In the past, this was not a problem, as television resolution and audiovisual equipment were generally lower than today's standards. However, with the advent of high-definition television and DVD, the drawbacks of composite video became apparent on the screen.

The limitations of composite video led to S-Video, a mini-DIN interface that carries Y/C signals separately, each pulling its own wires to look like a single cable wrapped in a single sheath. S-Video is also analog and still requires audio cables.