Televisions display all their beautiful images by only using three colors, Red, Blue and Green. Your eyes can only see Red, Blue and Green, so this works very nicely. All the other colors we see are variations in the ratio of how much Red, Blue and Green are mixed into one image.
Component video uses three cables to carry, not the actual levels of Red, Blue and Green (RGB) , but an accurate representation of those levels in the original video signal. These cables and their corresponding connections on the back of HDTV sets, DVDS, and HD satellite receivers are called: Y, B-Y, and R-Y.
Y: Contains the "Luminance Signal". The luminance signal represents the levels of black and white with in the video signal.
B-Y: Contains the difference of how much blue there is in the video signal relative to the luminance signal.
R-Y: Contains the difference of how much red there is in the video signal relative to the luminance signal.
The B-Y and R-Y are mathematically derivatives of the whole RGB signal. The levels of green in the signal are calculated by subtracting the red and blue from the luminance and what is left is figured to be green.
On most consumer electronics today, the B-Y connection is labeled PB, and the R-Y is labeled PR. You may also see B-Y as CB and R-Y as CR. Regardless of the labeling, the jacks and cables are always colored Green for the Y, Blue for the B-Y, and Red for the R-Y.
Why use Y, B-Y, R-Y, and not just transmit the whole RGB signal?
The full signal containing the actual levels of Red, Blue and Green contain too much data to move between video devices in a home entertainment center. Using Y, B-Y and R-Y reduces the required bandwidth by a factor of 3 to 2.
Component video does not carry audio signals.
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