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I want a single word to describe a video or TV image that is not very clear (not necessarily blurry or pixelated). Just a video footage or image that is bad quality. Sentence example:

I cannot see what's going on in this video clearly. The video is very [insert word].

"Unclear" may be the right word here, but I find it too vague and broad in this case. To me, "unclear" can also describe unclear texts, ideas and other notions. Doesn't seem fit to me. Is there a more appropriate contender here?

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  • A quick look for synonyms of 'poor quality' at WordHippo gives grainy fuzzy blurry distorted blurred bleary unclear unfocused foggy gauzy indistinct muzzy vague ill-defined low resolution low quality lacking definition poor quality. Research is important on ELU. Commented Feb 26, 2022 at 11:54
  • "low quality" is the usual expression, if you google or look on video forums. There are more specific terms like grainy, low-res, blurry, blocky, noisy, corrupt, artefacted/ual/y, dark, etc, but "low quality" is the more general term.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 9:39
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    I would probably say "fuzzy".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 13:08

6 Answers 6

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How about fuzzy?

ADJECTIVE
A fuzzy picture, image, or sound is unclear and hard to see or hear.

(Collins Dictionary)

: lacking in clarity or definition
// moving the camera causes fuzzy photos

(Merriam Webster)

I cannot see what's going on in this video clearly. The video is very fuzzy1 2.

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    Yep. That seems to be what I'm looking for.
    – E.Groeg
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 22:56
  • @E.Groeg: If you found my answer helpful, feel free to accept this answer (click on the grey tick next to this answer) to give closure to your question.
    – Justin
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 6:08
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As you require a word that suits the sentence,

I cannot see what's going on in this video clearly. The video is very [insert word].

*The video is very incoherent, as it's inconsistent to express what needed to be.

or, Would you like to use 'muddle'? I can't see what's going on it as it's a muddled display.

or, The video is very substandard [in the sense, poor in quality] similarly, You could use 'atrocious'. - bad in quality.*

If the answers are not up to your expectation, I would like to bring up changes in the future.

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Poor quality images which are not actually blurred or pixelated might be grainy. Film contains grains of emulsion, which can react unevenly, particularly where the light level is too low for the speed of the film. The term can be applied to more modern media including analogue television where signal noise disrupts the image.

Grainy image

Blurring and pixellation are definitely different:

Blurred image Pixellated image

Image via pxhere.com

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  • But what if it's not grainy?
    – E.Groeg
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 13:03
  • @E.Groeg Then you don't use that word. Your question is hardly specific.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 13:05
  • Just because you can't write your own answers properly doesn't mean you should throw it on my question. Your answer was like apples to oranges. Unclearness doesn't always pertain to graininess.
    – E.Groeg
    Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 22:56
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I cannot see what's going on in this video clearly. It's too low-grade.

For a single word that means poor quality for any reason, e.g., low resolution, poor lighting or focus, interference, pixelation, degraded or antiquated media (videotape, kinescope), or glitches, I suggest

low-grade (adj.)

Of low or inferior quality. (OED)


The different external factors like low lighting conditions, low-grade video quality, distance motion, and occlusion also affect the detection and recognition system. Y. Zhang et al.; Smart Trends in Computing and Communications (2021)

Playing in parallel to this story are low-grade video images of rural Lebanon and a music track of singing and percussion. J. Haladyn and M. Jordan; The Films and Videos of Jamelie Hassan (2010)

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"Low resolution" or "low res".

The image is too low-res to make out the details. The image doesn't have a high enough resolution to make out the details.

image resolution.

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I've mostly heard the word 'noisy' in this context. Heard, or maybe used, which is hardly a qualification.

Nevertheless, consider the signal-to-noise ratio:

the ratio of one parameter, such as power of a wanted signal to the same parameter of the noise at a specified point in an electronic circuit, etc.

As Wikipedia puts it:

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR or S/N) is a measure used in science and engineering that compares the level of a desired signal to the level of background noise.

While this is indeed technical terminology, the visualization of something 'noisy' is straightforward, and I believe everyone will get the meaning:

"I cannot see what's going on in this video clearly. The video is very noisy."

'Noisy' itself can be defined as:

characterized by much noise:

i.e.

  1. an electric disturbance in a communications system that interferes with or prevents reception of a signal or of information, as the buzz on a telephone or snow on a television screen.

When "bad" video is due to it being a bad recording, e.g. a recording made in low-light conditions, in which case the signal-to-noise ratio and the given definition of 'noisy' do not truly apply, a more generic term like 'low quality' or 'low-grade', as given by DjinTonic, could be preferable.

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