How to Tell if Video is Interlaced or Progressive

In the ever-evolving world of video technology, understanding the difference between interlaced and progressive video is essential. Whether you’re a content creator, a videographer, or simply an avid viewer, recognizing the format of a video can greatly impact its quality and your overall viewing experience. In this guide, we will demystify the concepts of interlaced and progressive video, explaining how to determine which format a video follows and why it matters.


Before we dive into the technical aspects of video formats, let’s start with the basics. Interlaced and progressive video refers to the way in which video frames are displayed on your screen. Understanding this difference can significantly affect the clarity and smoothness of your video content.

Interlaced vs. Progressive Video

Interlaced Video: In interlaced video, each frame is divided into two fields. The first field contains all the odd-numbered lines, while the second field contains all the even-numbered lines. These fields are displayed alternately, creating a complete frame. It’s denoted as “i” (e.g., 1080i).

Progressive Video: Progressive video, on the other hand, displays each frame sequentially, from top to bottom, without splitting it into fields. It’s denoted as “p” (e.g., 720p).

Why Does it Matter?

The choice between interlaced and progressive video impacts the quality of your viewing experience. Progressive video tends to be smoother and is generally preferred for high-definition content. Interlaced video may show flickering and jagged edges, particularly during fast-moving scenes.

How to Identify Interlaced Video

Examining the Video Properties

  1. Right-click on the video file and select “Properties” (Windows) or “Get Info” (Mac).
  2. Navigate to the “Details” or “More Info” tab.
  3. Look for the “Frame Rate” or “Scan Type” section. If it mentions “Interlaced” or “i,” the video is interlaced.

Using Video Players

Most video players, like VLC or Media Player Classic, provide information about the video format in their playback controls or settings menus. Look for options like “Codec Information” or “Video Properties.”

How to Identify Progressive Video

Examining the Video Properties

Follow the same steps as identifying interlaced video but look for the absence of “Interlaced” or “i” in the frame rate or scan type.

Using Video Players

Video players will typically display “Progressive” or “p” in their playback controls or settings when the video is in progressive format.

Why Choose Progressive Over Interlaced?

Progressive video has become the standard for high-definition content for several reasons:

  • Smoother Motion: Progressive video provides smoother and more fluid motion, especially in fast-paced scenes.
  • Higher Resolution: Progressive video can achieve higher resolutions without sacrificing quality.
  • Compatibility: Most modern displays and streaming platforms support progressive video.


Understanding the distinction between interlaced and progressive video is essential for anyone working with video content. It affects the quality of your viewing experience and the way your content is displayed. As technology advances, progressive video has become the preferred format for high-quality visuals, providing smoother motion and higher resolutions.


1. What is the fundamental difference between interlaced and progressive video?

Interlaced video displays frames as two alternating fields, while progressive video displays frames sequentially. Progressive video tends to be smoother and of higher quality.

2. Can interlaced video be converted into progressive video?

Yes, interlaced video can be deinterlaced to create a progressive version, but some quality loss may occur in the process.

3. Do all modern TVs support progressive video?

Most modern TVs and displays support progressive video, making it the preferred format for high-definition content.

4. Are there any advantages to using interlaced video?

Interlaced video may have some advantages in specific situations, such as reducing bandwidth requirements for broadcasting, but it’s less common in modern content production.

5. What software can I use to deinterlace interlaced video?

There are various video editing software options, such as Adobe Premiere Pro and HandBrake, that can be used to deinterlace interlaced video and convert it to a progressive format.

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