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Transmitting video over wireless is a challenging problem since video may be seriously distorted due to packet errors caused by wireless channels. The capability of predicting transmission distortion (i.e., video distortion caused by packet errors) can assist in designing video encoding and transmission schemes that achieve maximum video quality or minimum end-to-end video distortion. This paper is aimed at deriving formulas for predicting transmission distortion. The contribution of this paper is twofold. First, we identify the governing law that describes how the transmission distortion process evolves over time and analytically derive the transmission distortion formula as a closed-form function of video frame statistics, channel error statistics, and system parameters. Second, we identify, for the first time, two important properties of transmission distortion. The first property is that the clipping noise, which is produced by nonlinear clipping, causes decay of propagated error. The second property is that the correlation between motion-vector concealment error and propagated error is negative and has dominant impact on transmission distortion, compared with other correlations. Due to these two properties and elegant error/distortion decomposition, our formula provides not only more accurate prediction but also lower complexity than the existing methods.