It’s abundantly clear that the ever increasing quality of computer graphics has proved central to the success of the computer at home and in business. Vivid, clear, full colour images are highly desirable to computer users not simply because they make everything so much more attractive – though that certainly is important. More than that, better graphics enable better communication – even in the computer world the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true.

No longer the reserve of computer games, modern computer graphics form a major part of the movie industry, and have become integral to everything from architecture and design to communications, business, finance, education and of course almost every part of home entertainment. The trouble is, the process of getting images into and out of computers is extremely complex, and for many reasons. The fact is, high quality computer images have high quality, heavy duty technical demands.

Not least, each increase in image quality demands a significant increase in file size. Not only is this an issue of basic storage space, it also means there is much more file data to transfer from drive to screen or, most challenging of all, over the airwaves and Internet. As high definition video becomes more prevalent, the increasing demands on bandwidth have strained many broadband Internet suppliers’ capacities, until they have at times bewailed like wrack-tortured innocents that the networks just won’t cope…

And yet, the Internet still stands, and continues to cope. It continues in part because of infrastructure development that continues to increase raw data capacity, and other improvements in data transfer efficiency. However, those who work with image data have been working on solutions to the problem since before the first television pictures were ever broadcast, and they have made incredible strides in making computers able to produce luscious, satisfying and delightful feasts for our eyes.

In this article, then, we’ll examine how progressive, interlaced and, more latterly, vector graphictechniques have been used to tackle the problem of high-volume data transfer both for still images and video, and ultimately show how it is that your home PC can produce such striking, beautiful images on your monitor whether from TV, the Internet, Blu-ray and DVD, your camcorder, your digital camera, or games – all from the simple binary ingredients of 0s and 1s

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