Chrominance: What Is It In Video Production?

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Chrominance is one of the most important aspects of video production. It has a major impact on how visuals appear on video and can be used to enhance the quality of video images.

Chrominance refers to the hue, saturation, and intensity of the colors in a video.

In this article, we will discuss chrominance in more detail and look at its role in video production.

What is chroma

Definition of Chrominance

Chrominance (also known as color) is the element of a video production that conveys the hue and saturation of the image. It is one of two components of a video signal, the other being its luminance (brightness). Chrominance is represented by two color coordinates – Cb and Cr – which together represent a unique color palette in comparison to its luminance coordinate Y.

Chrominance contains information about the quality, shade, tint and depth of colors in a video signal. For example, chrominance can be used to separate skin tones from other colors in a picture by identifying pixels with certain color values. Similarly, chrominance can be used to enhance details like textures or small variations in brightness. In digital video formats, chrominance is stored separately from luminance values, allowing for more efficient compression of data without compromising on picture quality.


History of Chrominance

Chrominance, or Chroma, is one of the two components of color used in video production (along with luminance). It is calculated by measuring the intensity of light at certain colors – often red, green and blue. The brighter a particular hue becomes, the more chroma it has.

The term ‘chrominance‘ was first coined by Walter R. Gurney in 1937 and has remained largely unchanged ever since. Since then, it has been used extensively in television production as its three primary colors (red, green and blue) closely match those of television color tubes since its inception. While televisions of today are no longer cathode-ray tubes based on chroma and luma data, many modern cameras continue to use these components to record color images.

Chrominance allows for more accurate recording of color than what was available from monochrome (black and white) film before the development of composite video systems in 1931. Chrominance is usually measured using an oscilloscope or waveform monitor that identifies subtle changes in color levels across all parts of a video picture – even those not visible to the naked eye – ensuring that colors remain consistent between cameras and devices during post-production processes such as editing and encoding for digital distribution formats like internet streaming services or disc media such as Blu-Ray discs or DVDs.

Components of Chrominance

Chrominance is the color information in an image or video that helps create a sense of naturalness. Chrominance includes two components: hue and saturation.

  • Hue is the actual color of the image.
  • Saturation is the amount of pure color present in the image.

Both are important aspects of video production and will be discussed in further detail below.

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Hue is one of the components that makes up chrominance. It is the term used in video production to represent a color’s position along a spectrum from red to green to blue. The hue determines which color is present and how saturated it appears in an image. Hue can be represented as a number between 0 and 360 degrees, with 0 being red, 120 being green, and 240 being blue. Each degree is divided into increments of 10, with hexadecimal values such as 3FF36F representing particular hues.

In addition to the traditional three-channel monochrome hue definition, some imaging systems use four- or five-channel hue definitions for more accurate descriptions of hue variations.


Saturation, sometimes referred to as chroma or chrominance, is a component of color in video production. Saturation measures the amount of gray in a color. For example, a lime green has more saturation than a grayish-green would; the same green can have different saturations depending on how bright it appears. When saturation is increased for an image, its hue and brilliance become more intense; when it’s decreased, hue and brilliance diminish.

The scale that describes the level of saturation in an image is known as chrominance levels; this refers to tones from black (no chrominance) through to fully saturated hues at their maximum intensity. By adjusting these levels you are able to make color corrections or simply enhance colours within your image by intensifying certain tones or creating wide contrast between dark and light hues. This can be applied universally across all colours in your image, or broken down and adjusted by specific colour channels that comprise any given affected area of the frame (such as reds or blues).


Luminance is an important component of chrominance and is associated with the perception of brightness. In any given color space, luminance is the subjective measure of how bright or dull a particular color appears to be. The level of luminance can affect how the content appears in terms of contrast, saturation, and color levels.

In video production, luminance plays a significant role in determining the brightness of an image. For example, if an image has overly high levels of luminance, it will appear washed out and dull, whereas an image with too low luminance will appear darker and muddy. As such, video producers must adjust the luminance levels to achieve the desired result for each scene.

Most video workflows incorporate a “luma curve” that allows video professionals to make subtle adjustments to fine-tune imagery for output devices such as television screens or digital projectors that have different characteristics for interpreting color information. Luma curves are comprised of sixteen points that represent 16 steps divided evenly across a light-dark scale (from 0-3) within a particular range representing zero black at left and white on right side indicating correct overall tonality across images within entire sequence or program.

Types of Chrominance

Chrominance is a term used in video production to describe the difference between luminance and chromaticity. It is used to measure the saturation of colors in a video, and can also be used to detect changes in brightness and color.

There are two types of Chrominance: luminance and chrominance. Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits for video production. We’ll explore both types in this article.


RGB (red, green, blue) is a color model used predominantly in digital video production and design when combining primary colors for an image or video. RGB creates white light from three colored light sources that are combined to create a single beam. This color system creates lifelike colors by displaying the maximum amount of colors together to imitate as closely as possible what can be seen by the human eye.

The source is set up using a three-channel encoder for balance between saturation and brightness, allowing each primary color (red, blue and green) to be controlled independently of the others. The main advantage of this model is its outstanding performance in terms of brightness and accuracy when it comes to producing vibrant colors.


YUV, also known as YCbCr, is the luminance (Y) and two chrominance components (U and V). The chrominance components of a digital color space indicate how colorful the signal is. YUV, commonly used in digital photography and videotaping, is a combination of luminance and two chrominance values that represent difference signals for red and blue. This system allows for reduced bandwidth requirements compared to traditional RGB signal processing in video production.

In the YUV model, red signal is represented as “U” while blue signal is represented as “V”, along with the luminance (Y). The U and V signals are subtracted from the overall luminance to represent colorful details in an image. Combining these three values gives us a relief on bandwidth requirement while keeping quality intact during video encoding/streaming process.

YUV color format is natively supported by most consumer video cameras as well JPG image files taken by mobile phones which normally capture pictures using YUV format before compressing them into JPEGs. Further down the line, when streaming or encoding these images it helps immensely since lesser data needs to be transmitted because of its better quality-to-bandwidth ration properties. Because of these characteristics it’s preferred over RGB for broadcasting purposes where less quality loss can be expected due to its low bandwidth requirement when being adopted for encoding/streaming procedures.


YIQ is a type of chrominance typically used with older NTSC analog video formats. The Y component captures the luminance of the image, while the I and Q components capture the color or chrominance. It works by separating a given color into its component parts along an xy axis, otherwise known as its Hue (H) and Saturation (S). The YIQ values are then used to form an RGB matrix which allows for more accurate color reproduction on different systems.

YIQ essentially takes an RGB signal and splits it into three components:

  • Y (Luminance)
  • I (in-phase color)
  • Q (quadrature color)

The differences between in-phase and quadrature components is subtle, but essentially I captures one pair of primary colors, while Q captures a second pair. Together these three channels are capable of creating seemingly endless variations in hue, saturation, and brightness which enable viewers to recreate their own personalized viewing experience.


YCbCr (often referred to as Y’CbCr) is a type of chrominance which is composed of three channels. These channels are luma (Y), blue-difference chroma (Cb) and red-difference chroma (Cr). YCbCr is based on an analog version called YPbPr, making it similar in some ways to the RGB color space. Although YCbCr is most often used in video production, digital images may be encoded with the same format.

The concept behind YCbCr is that it reduces the amount of data needed to represent a color image. By separating out the non-luminance information into two other channels, the total amount of data for an entire image can be greatly reduced. This allows for higher quality video or digital images with smaller file sizes, making them easier to store and transmit.

In order to achieve this reduction in data size, different levels of accuracy are used between each channel. The luma may have a resolution of 8 bits and the chrominance 4 or 5 bits. Depending on what type of equipment you are using there are several levels available, including:

  • 4:4:4 and 4:2:2 (4 bits for each channel),
  • 4:2:0 (4 bits for luma, 2 for blue and 2 for red).

Applications of Chrominance

Chrominance, when used in video production, refers to the use of colour in a video. Chrominance is an essential tool for creating expressive and vivid visuals, allowing directors to enhance the moods and emotions of the scene.

This article will explore the various ways in which chrominance can be used in video production, including the use of:

  • Colour grading
  • Colour keying
  • Colour palettes

Color Grading

One of the most important applications of chrominance in video production is color grading. Color grading is a method of enhancing a video image. As the name implies, it uses various techniques to adjust hues, saturations and other qualities to make a shot stand out or blend into its surroundings. Chrominance levels are especially important for this process, as they can be used to create a certain mood or tone.

For example, if a scene is set by an ocean shore at dawn and it needs to have an ethereal feeling, the chrominance levels can be adjusted accordingly to enhance the warm sunlight and add subtle shades of blue for an airy feel. Similarly, if a scene needs more emotion or drama, the saturation levels can be increased while still maintaining the integrity of the original picture quality by adjusting through chrominance controls.

Color grading helps ensure that all shots within a given project appear consistent in terms of tones and feels so that editing and post-production go smoother.

Video Compression

Video compression is the process of removing information from a video signal in order to reduce file size or transmission bandwidth. This involves reducing the detail and/or resolution of any given video. Chrominance is particularly important for this process as it determines the color elements within a video signal.

By reducing chrominance, video compression can make significant gains in terms of conserving data and streamlining transmission, with little effect on quality. Chrominance can be applied to many different types of media, such as television broadcasts, streaming videos and Blu-ray discs.

As chrominance carries the vital visual information we call color, encoding it sparingly but effectively allows us to compress videos without sacrificing color accuracy or saturation – two crucial factors in creating realistic visuals. Chrominance affects how much data is required to store and/or transmit audio-visual content; by making full use of it, we show remain minimal while maintaining a high level of quality in our visuals.

Color Correction

A chrominance signal is one which describes the amount of color in an image, rather than the brightness. In video production and post-processing, determining a successful chrominance balance involves using software to adjust the color temperature of an image or footage. This is a process known as color correction.

Color corrections in video post-production often refer to any alteration of existing footage such as increasing or decreasing saturation, adjusting white balance, and changing certain aspects of contrast. These corrections can alter footage’s appearance considerably by altering how light and dark portions are rendered, how colors are mixed with each other, the intensity of different colors across visuals, and more.

In short, adjustments to chrominance serve as a tool for giving any scene the tone and mood that has been predetermined. Color correction usually occurs when there are incorrect or inconsistent colors across an image which can lead to confusion when trying to interpret its meaning or purpose. For example, if lighting on set is not quite consistent from scene-to-scene then this can lead to differences in colors between two shots taken minutes apart from each other. With chrominance adjustments this confusion can be alleviated by bringing everything back into harmonization with itself – specifically concerning its colors – so it appears properly lit and tonally consistent with what had been originally envisioned as part of the piece’s aesthetic target.


To summarize, chrominance is an aspect of color that can be changed and manipulated when producing video. Chrominance, or chroma for short, is determined by measuring the hue and saturation of a color to give it its unique appearance. Manipulating chrominance is powerful tool for filmmakers, as they can use it to create surreal and beautiful scenes with skilled lighting techniques.

By understanding the fundamentals of chrominance, filmmakers can have more creative control over the atmosphere of their projects.

Hi, I'm Kim, a mom and a stop-motion enthusiast with a background in media creation and web development. I've got a huge passion for drawing and animation, and now I'm diving headfirst into the stop-motion world. With my blog, I'm sharing my learnings with you guys.