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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
Canon XL2 / XL1S / XL1 and GL2 / XM2 / GL1 / XM1.


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Old October 12th, 2004, 12:54 PM   #16
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To Chris

Thanks Chris for your speedy response. As much as I would love to have the higher pixel rate, like you said, sounds like NTSC is the way to go for me. Although there was one poster that mentioned he was able to send his XL1 PAL to NJ. But I would imagine that the plant perhaps would have sent it overseas for the actual maint./repairs.
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Old October 12th, 2004, 01:16 PM   #17
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Target Media

Another thing that will weigh on your decision is the target media. If you plan to use US TVs, Videos..., owning a PAL would require a conversion to NTSC standards that is not without quality loss (Unless you have a big piggy bank)
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Old October 12th, 2004, 01:51 PM   #18
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thanks all for responses. Helped much. And cleared up any mystery for me about PAL & NTSC. :)
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Old October 12th, 2004, 07:44 PM   #19
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Also, to be even more basic:

PAL is not compatible with any television sets, DVD players, or VCR's in the US or Japan. These countries use NTSC equipment.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 08:25 AM   #20
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Some insight on using PAL in North America

Joseph Andolina - I live here in North America where NTSC is indeed the standard but for the last year I've been using the PAL version of the XL1s exclusively to produce my own independent films, as well as shoot films for others.

At the time I had actually just purchased a NTSC PD150 and believe it or not sold it after 3 weeks of owning it and then picked up a PAL version of the XL1s. I was sad and happy at the same time.

My main reason for switching to Canon was because we had just purchased a mini35 adapter and combined with the Canon line there were several advantages of the setup (and still are).

Upset with the fact that the pixel count was low on the XL1s I began considering a PAL version to add some resolution (20% vertical) to my work and also knew that 50i/25fps could easily be conformed to 24P and then 60i using 3:2 pull down - thus simulating the characteristics of film motion. I was getting happier!

As for Canon factory service, needing the proper external monitor, compatibility with TV sets, DVD's & VCR's and all the other bad things about PAL in North America - I've never needed service but know enough that if my tape transport gets damaged fixing it will certainly not be limited because of the camera's format. As for an external monitor, most external LCD's support both the NTSC and PAL format, and reasonabley good studio monitors will support NTSC and PAL too. As for playback on NTSC DVD's and VCR's, once I was happy with my final cut in PAL on my PC editing timeline I would convert it to NTSC using free software available on the Internet - or one could use Atlantis by the makers of DVFilm.

Why would any normal person want to shoot on PAL? A normal person wouldn't and if you are normal and your Camera use is normal (kid's birthdays, corporate video, weddings, etc..) then I would advise against shooting on PAL. The extra hassles are not worth it - especially considering these days if you want to simulate the look of film you can just buy a DVX100 or XL2.

Getting back to the point of this thread, one thing that should be mentioned is that the PAL version of the XL2 does not offer 24P - only 50i and 25P!

So if you go for a PAL version of the XL2 YES you will get 20% more pixels once again... but you will need to conform your 25P footage to 24P which through some processes requires a 4% audio pitch change so that sync is maintained accurately. Not a big deal... but still a bit of a pain.

And of course the last reason someone would want to shoot on PAL is in hope that one day, maybe that one special and magical day will come where you will get to spend $60,000 converting your feature length film shot on DV to 35mm film and play it in a theatre on the BIG SCREEN! Wow... completely cool! (and perhaps unlikely)

Oh by the way, I'm the proud new owner of the XL2 - NTSC version this time around...

(Hey did you guys know that the pro version of the Sony HD Cam HDV-FX1 will be switchable between PAL and NTSC?)
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Old October 13th, 2004, 12:18 PM   #21
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Conversion

Hi Dennis,
Do you have any experience converting the XL1 Pal to NTSC using software form Internet or Atlantis.

I have treid other ways (basically capture in Premiere and output to NTSC) but have a major loss of resolution.
Your experience would be interesting.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 02:00 PM   #22
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Steve,

Because we have been shooting short films on PAL for the last year and submitting to film festivals here in North America, we've had to convert them to NTSC for previewing and screening purposes. My last short film shot on XL1s PAL screened from an NTSC DVD on a big screen theatre earlier this year and many commented on how it amazing it looked and well it held up! Needless to say, we have quite a lot of experience in this area now using a variety of conversion methods & custom processes.

Properly converting PAL to NTSC (or vice versa) means adjusting both the frame rate and resizing/resampling the frame size. PAL needs to somehow be stretched from 50i/25fps to 60i/30fps and the bigger PAL image frame needs to be resampled to fit the smaller NTSC image frame.

Atlantis by DVFilm handles both these issues and is probably the easiest to use but unfortunately does not offer any flexibility to control or vary the quality of output (mainly the method used to resample the PAL image) leading to sometimes unsatisfying results with certain clips. One great thing about it is it does not change the speed of the PAL sound track to match NTSC since it's frame rate conversion process is more of a pull down process that repeats frames to stretch the 25fps to 30fps. In a crunch I would use it, for professional use I would not.

Please feel free to search the forum for some other PAL conversion methods and processes that I've already written about, but let me say that one of the cleanest looking ways to get a cinematic look from your 50i/25fps PAL footage is to actually convert it to 48i/24fps (by importing it to a 24fps timeline which makes it 4% longer in duration) then stretching your dialogue tracks by 4% which will slow them down slightly but not be noticeable to 99% of people out there. Just be sure not to ever slow your music down by 4% because it is very noticable.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 06:50 PM   #23
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DENNIS

With all the hype about 24p with the NTSC model and transferring to film, and what you're saying about PAL and the transfer, I wonder how both transfers would stack up to each other? Any thoughts on that?
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Old October 13th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #24
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A lot of this would depend on the process used by the transfer house. I don't think you'll see any noticeable difference. Again with regard to NTSC vs. PAL, aren't you really better off with whatever system your current country of residence is using? Is it really worth the hassle to use a foreign system just to gain a minimal (at best) improvement in image quality?

A couple of years ago there was a reason to shoot PAL in the U.S., but now we have cameras that are 24P right out of the box. Plus, you can get "a better looking image" by concentrating on achieving high production values, much more so than a few extra pixels would offer.
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Old October 13th, 2004, 11:05 PM   #25
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Joseph,

There are only two characteristics most people will concern themselves with when considering the transfer of DV to 35mm film:

Resolution & film motion characteristics

NTSC 60i can surely be transferred to film, but in order to simulate a 1/48th shutter speed and footage which has been shot at 24fps it is often necessary to blend varying percentages of preceeding frames in order to "fake" what frames should have and would have been captured using a 24 fps time base. This process introduces artifacts because as great as computers and processes are... the eye is the final judge in the end.

NTSC 24P offers great resolution for film transfer because the image is captured progressively instead of interlaced. Each unique NTSC frame will get it's own film frame thus less artifacts are introduced and the motion characteristics of film are retained! Totally cool!

PAL 25P also offers a progressive image but as well offers a 20% increase in vertical resolution over NTSC for film transfers, something that might be looked at as a minimal gain - but since most DV films shot on PAL or NTSC will have their tops and bottoms cropped to fit the big screen, that 20% equates to almost the exact amount that is lost! If you stop and think about this for a moment it means that if you shoot NTSC and transfer to film your resolution is less than NTSC. If you shoot on PAL, your resolution after 35mm transfer equates to NTSC! The last benefit of shooting on PAL is you can easily create 25P from 50i source footage whereas with 60i all you can create is 30P which is not useable for 35mm film transfer. That means "P" doesn't even matter, grab a PAL version PD150 or the new HDR-FX1, shoot 50i and you're set to go...

Films like Pieces of April, Tadpole, The King is Alive, Charlotte Sometimes & 28 Days Later were shot using PAL versions of either the PD150 or XL1s... and with reason, DV isn't great to begin with so most people will opt to take that extra 20% if they can get it.

Check with post/transfer house www.swisseffects.ch based out of Switzerland or www.sohodigital.com located here in my home town of Toronto to see what they recommend or ask them to show you samples of both. Ask for references and talk to their customers and the people who have actually paid for transfers. (Near $50,000 to transfer a feature)

Despite everything I've said, it is quite some effort to shoot on PAL and work with it in an NTSC country and one should really look closely at the trade off. Will your DV film likely go to 35mm? As Chris said and he is right, now with 24P out of the box there is less need to shoot PAL in USA or Canada and maybe that 20% extra resolution isn't worth any of it now... as I mentioned I myself have also been converted back now with the release of the XL2 ;)
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Old October 14th, 2004, 12:33 AM   #26
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thanks

thank you all for the responses. Very insightfull to say the least. I appreciate all your exspertise :)
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Old October 14th, 2004, 07:40 AM   #27
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Dennis, an excellent reply as always. Many thanks for your input!
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Old October 14th, 2004, 09:23 AM   #28
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I could have sworn pieces of april was shot witha dvx100 (I thought all the indigint films were)
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Old October 14th, 2004, 10:39 AM   #29
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www.nextwavefilms.com/moviemaking/bullfront.html

This link attempts to track feature films released on film but shot on DV, as well as which cameras were used.
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Old October 16th, 2004, 04:02 AM   #30
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If I'm allowed.... I'd like to add some personal PAL-NTSC experience to this thread.

Earlier this year I made a short movie using a PAL DVX100 camcorder. It was shot in 16:9 format, 25 fps. Not only we did our best to give the movie a cinematic look during shooting, we also changed the format in Vegas to 1:1.85 (Academy format) which even lowered our resolution further (as the 16:9 sourcematerial is also letterboxed).

The movie was send in to an American filmfestival on dvd for a special festival-project, so we had to convert the PAL footage to NTSC format. I spend days to get the best kind of conversion by using Vegas, without buying extra software. I got all kind of advices about converting 25P to 24P, but all tests I did got results that did meet my expectations. Then I tried the most simple way:
1) editing in PAL 25 fps
2) render to DV AVI PAL 25 fps (Best Quality)
3) create a new DV AVI project, 60i setting and import the rendered DV AVI PAL file into the timeline
4) render to a NTSC MPEG2 60i file (Best Quality)
Yes, you get an interlaced NTSC videofile, but it looks great on a big tv and on the big screen at the festival (dvd playback using a big sized beamer). We got compliments at the festival for our cinematic looking film and some people were very surprised to hear that it was shot on video and was converted from PAL to NTSC by this simple procedure. We won the first price for the project were we contributed our movie to. (You can watch it via the weblink down below, it's called "BitterSweet").

All arguments pro and contra regarding using PAL in the NTSC area are mentioned already. I live in a PAL country so my choice was made easily. The extra resolution is very welcome for me, as my DVX100 model only does letterboxed widescreen which means you lose resolution, so every extra pixel is welcome! And I'm glad it's simple using 25P so I don't have any pull-down hassle the NTSC-editing has in 24P mode. Yes, the editingsoftware has been updated with advanced pulldown tricks, but the simple and straight 50i or 25P configuration makes my life as a filmmaker a bit more easy.

Just my 2 personal cents.... ;-)
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