Nominal analogue blanking
Nominal analog blanking or nominal analogue blanking is the outermost part of the overscan of a standard definition digital television image. It consists of a variable and arbitrary gap of black (or nearly black) pixels at the left and right sides, which correspond to the end and start of the horizontal blanking interval: the front porch at the right side (the end of a line, before the sync pulse), and the back porch at the left side (the start of a line, after the sync pulse and before drawing the next line). Digital television ordinarily contains 720 pixels per line, but only about 702 (PAL) to 704 (NTSC) of them contain picture signal. The edge may not be clean — some blurring can occur — and the location is arbitrary, since analogue equipment may typically shift the picture sideways in an unexpected amount or direction. Really old analogue equipment can cause the total width of 'active picture' to vary, usually down, perhaps to as few as 680 pixels.
The exact width is determined by taking the definition of the time required for an active line in PAL or NTSC, and multiplying it by the pixel clock of 13.5 MHz of Digital SDTV. PAL is exactly 52μs, so it will equate to exactly 702 pixels.
Notably, screen shapes and aspect ratios were defined in an era of purely analogue broadcasting for TV. This means that any picture with nominal analogue blanking, whether it be 702, around 704, or less, will be — by definition — a 4:3 picture. Therefore, when cross-converting into a square-pixel environment (like MPEG-4 and its variants), this width must always scale to 768 (PAL) or 640 (NTSC). This has the outcome of causing a full picture of 720x576 or 720x480 to be wider than 4:3. In fact, a purely digitally sourced SDTV image, with no analogue blanking, will be close to 788x576 or 655x480 once stretched to square pixels.
Standard definition widescreen pictures were also defined in an analogue environment and must also be treated as such. This means that a purely digitally sourced widescreen SDTV image, with no analogue blanking, will be close to 1050x576 or 873x480.
For details, see the technical specifications of overscan amounts.
- ITU-R BT.601: Studio encoding parameters of digital television for standard 4:3 and wide screen 16:9 aspect ratios
- ITU-R BT.1700: Characteristics of composite video signals for conventional analogue television systems