Rec. 709

What is Rec. 709?

Rec. 709, also known as BT.709, is a standard developed by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for high-definition television (HDTV) broadcasting. It defines the aspect ratio, frame rate, color space, luminance, and colorimetry parameters for HDTV. In the world of video editing and filmmaking, understanding and properly implementing Rec. 709 is crucial for ensuring color accuracy and consistency across different display devices.

Understanding Rec. 709 in Depth

Color Space

In Rec. 709, the color space is defined as a triangle within the CIE 1931 color space. This triangle represents all the colors that can be displayed under the standard:

  • Red: x=0.640, y=0.330
  • Green: x=0.300, y=0.600
  • Blue: x=0.150, y=0.060

Luminance Levels

Rec. 709 also defines the luminance levels for video signals:

  • Black level: 16
  • White level: 235

This means that any signal level below 16 will be considered as black, and any signal level above 235 will be considered as white.

Gamma Curve

The standard also specifies a gamma curve to adjust the brightness levels of the image. This curve is a compromise between the linear response of the camera sensor and the non-linear response of the human eye.

Importance of Rec. 709 for Video Editors and Filmmakers

Understanding and correctly implementing Rec. 709 is critical for video editors and filmmakers for several reasons:

  • Color Consistency: Using the Rec. 709 standard ensures that the colors in your video will be displayed correctly on any HDTV. This is crucial for maintaining the visual integrity of your work.
  • Broadcast Standards: If you’re producing content for broadcast, using Rec. 709 is not just a good practice – it’s a requirement. Broadcasters require content to be delivered in this standard format.
  • Workflow Efficiency: Working in a standardized color space like Rec. 709 can make your post-production process more efficient, as you won’t have to waste time correcting color inconsistencies.


In conclusion, Rec. 709 is a critical standard for anyone working in video production. By understanding and correctly implementing this standard, you can ensure that your videos will look their best on any HDTV, streamline your post-production workflow, and meet broadcast standards.

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