Lately, I've encountered SD video captures that are in 512 X 384, and with my VLC player set to play them at native resolution, the video is smaller than it is for stuff that plays at 640 X 480. I'm guessing that the whole 512 X 384 idea comes from some sort of calculation that says 384 is enough to capture all vertical detail, and they then set the horizontal to 512 just to keep the 4:3 aspect ratio? If I resize it to 640 X 480, does that cause a loss of video quality through scaling? I'm not great at judging what is more "accurate."
I see in the video help section that the recommendation was 352 X 480 for SD analogue broadcast captures.
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Any time you scale a video you lose quality.
Any time you reencode a video with a lossy codec you lose quality.
Of course, depending on how you do it the loss may not be very visible.
512x384 is just an arbitrary 4:3 frame size. Someone may have used a program that uses a compromise of frame size vs. file size.