North American filmmaker wannabes - PAL or NTSC HDR-FX1? at DVinfo.net

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Sony HVR-Z1 / HDR-FX1
Pro and consumer versions of this Sony 3-CCD HDV camcorder.


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Old October 14th, 2004, 12:40 PM   #1
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North American filmmaker wannabes - PAL or NTSC HDR-FX1?

I know we've seen this debate countless times re: XL1 etc. but I'm wondering now if HDV format introduces new considerations that might not seem obvious in trying to make an informed decision?

My main intention with HDR-FX1 will be to shoot indie films.

I won't likely be going film print out - but I would like it to look good on big screen digital projection and would like best HDV>SD DVD downconversion possible.

I know the inherent pipeline considerations if I choose PAL - ie. no immediate way to review except in cam, etc, a lot of rendering - but if I work in say Vegas Video and stay in PAL resolution and then go to mpeg2, do I keep the resolution advantage?

I figure PAL might also be safer since 1080i at 25 fps is more filmlike than 1080i 30 fps NTSC in case cineframe 24 is a dud.

And I don't get it - what is cineframe doing in PAL if it's already shooting at 25 fps?

Am I wrong in saying "fps?" - you know what I mean: PAL is shooting 25, NTSC is shooting 29.97 or 30...

Help - please can all the experts here weigh in on this - I should mention that I am not likely to wait for pro version of FX1 that supposedly will be switchable between both 50/60Hz...

thanks!
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Old October 14th, 2004, 01:02 PM   #2
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Yes, to some degree you're "wrong" in saying PAL is 25fps, it's more accurate to say PAL is 50 fields per second, and NTSC is 60 fields per second.

25 frames per second (such as CineFrame 25 would provide) will look very different from regular PAL video, which is 50 fields per second.

Whether to go PAL or NTSC is the eternal question, but it gets even more interesting in HD because HD is neither PAL nor NTSC. All HDTV sets can play back 1080/50i and 1080/60i. So if you chose a PAL version, you'd be limited in that you couldn't play back the standard-def video, but if you're getting it strictly for its high-def capabilities, the European version of the camera might actually be a reasonable choice...
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Old October 14th, 2004, 01:14 PM   #3
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so 50 fields/s vs. 60 means PAL has less compression

so Barry, you're saying PAL will yield slightly better resolution? I remember this debate with regards to XL1 and thought okay, 50 fields per seconds is less compression than 60 per second, so PAL is better but then it was pointed out that resolution of PAL vs. NTSC screen size resulted in this advantage being "cancelled out?"

Gosh, am I making sense? there was a thread in XL1/XL2 forum where someone did the math: 60 fields x 720 x 480 x 32 bit = blah for NTSC, 50 x whatever pal is x whatever pal is x 32 = same blah so really no advantage...

but now for HDV, both PAL and NTSC are 1080 so PAL ends up winning out slightly this time around?

Barry, can you elaborate why you think European version gets an edge?

thanks
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Old October 14th, 2004, 07:34 PM   #4
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Well, as far as I know, PAL does have the reputation of having higher resolution and less compression, but NTSC has ease of use and is more widely used than PAL in the grand scheme of things. I personally like to think of it as a creative choice and to put it simply, do you want to do things the hard way or the easy way? If you're going between formats, you need to edit everything to make PAL footage match up correctly and yeah, you just may well end up with NTSC resolution and lose whatever advantage using PAL had. I've never shot PAL footage before, I'm no expert on the subject, but like all wise men, I read quite a bit and what I've read so far suggests exactly what I've said. But in the end, though a cliche answer, it comes down to what you want to do and good luck with it. =)
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Old October 14th, 2004, 07:55 PM   #5
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In DV, both formats get the same bitrate, 25 frames x 720 x 576 = the same data rate as 30 frames x 720 x 480.

In HDV, HDV is neither PAL nor NTSC. It's HD. Theoretically any HD content could play on any HD set anywhere in the world. In the HD world there is no PAL nor NTSC.

Your observation about compression is interesting in terms of HD though. 50 interlaced fields at 1440 x 1080, vs. 60 fields at 1440 x 1080, with the same data rate, certainly seems to imply milder compression on the 50i version.

I would not buy a PAL camera in NTSC territory, I think that idea is nearly without merit. But the thing is, an HD camera is not an NTSC camera, nor is it a PAL camera. So used PURELY as an HD camera, the 50i vs 60i idea is much more practical.

I'm in the US, and I'm likely going to go with the pro version, which is 50i & 60i switchable, also PAL and NTSC switchable, so there's no issue.

But on the consumer version, which is only 50i OR only 60i, only PAL OR only NTSC... that's a tougher choice. I'd say if you want only an HD camera, it doesn't matter which you go with, but for standard mode, it would seem a shame to have the only 1/3" widescreen camera in existence (the XL2 is 1/3.3" in 16:9 mode) and not be able to use it, right?

For NTSC buyers, get the 60i model. For PAL buyers, get the 50i model. And if it makes that much difference to you and you really, really covet the other model's mode, just save up some more pennies and get the Pro version, and you'll get both!
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Old October 14th, 2004, 11:03 PM   #6
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would PAL HDR-FX1 show better on big screen than NTSC?

Barry, your bitrate calcuations:

do we have to include 32-bit colour? if so,

32 x 1440 x 1080 x 50 for PAL = 2,488,320,000

32 x 1440 x 1080 x 60 for NTSC = 2,985,984,000

This is an appreciable difference, no? 16 or 17% more compression?

Or is it? Would we see this difference on a big screen? Would we see this difference if both PAL HDR-FX1 and NTSC were "dumbed down" to SD DVD - or would the "difference" get "lost in translation" so to speak.

Enquiring minds would like to know! Chewie, prepare to make the jump to light speed...
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Old October 14th, 2004, 11:04 PM   #7
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okay, so just gotta say

I had to post again to hit 100...

Thank you.
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Old October 15th, 2004, 01:08 AM   #8
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It's all speculation until we see the footage.

Regardless of whether it's 32 bits per pixel or not, the calculation is simple: at 60i the camera has to fit 20% more data into the same bitstream as it would at 50i. So that's got to come from compression efficiency, right? Which means I'd expect to see the effects on tape...

Frankly, if you're distributing on DVD, it remains to be seen whether shooting in HD gives any advantage for a DVD release. It will certainly help "future proof" your footage, but for a DVD release today, will it matter? Remains to be seen.

But if you're aiming for an NTSC DVD release, it would be folly to shoot it at 50i. You'll lose a lot more in the 50i->60i conversion than you'd gain from a little compression savings, I would think. (again, testing will verify).
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Old October 15th, 2004, 01:10 PM   #9
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50i to 25p

Could anyone tell me if 50i to 25p via de-interlacing would produce good results? I am looking very hard at the pal hdr-fx1.
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