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Old August 13th, 2005, 08:38 PM   #1
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Pal > Ntsc?

I found this on alamofilms.com's website, in a list of how they can make DV look like film:
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(3) WE CAN ALSO SHOOT YOUR PROJECT USING HIGHER RESOLUTION EUROPEAN PAL SYSTEM CAMERAS By doing so we can add about 100 lines more video resolution to your image..better color stability and improved image motion quality. The PAL system is capable of shooting images at a 25 frame per second rate which is much closer to the film rate of 24 frames per second (which you are accustomed to seeing at a theater) This means that even when you convert a project BACK to a NTSC type VHS tape, (one you can watch on your home television) a project shot in PAL can look a lot closer to film. If you want to call about your next project we can give you more elaborate information on why this works so well. For now ..trust us..it's pretty cool.
As an added bonus this technique of filming in PAL format makes for a better transfer to film if you elect to "blow-up" your video to 35mm or 16mm film to play in a theater. Many "video to film" transfer houses actually recommend this method of shooting in PAL. (soon we'll have a list of those places on our links pages so check back soon)
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If this is the case, why do so many people looking for as much as resolution/highest picture quality as possible, purchase NTSC cameras?

I have been puzzled about this for a while, and googling/using forum search/reading about it for months but all I see is "PAL's 50hz sucks" and "4% difference in speed" to no real conclusion.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 05:36 AM   #2
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This is really nothing new; PAL is in fact higher resolution (720x576). Recently I did a project in the PAL format and gained a real appreciation for it. Comments like "PAL's 50hz sucks" are pretty immature and don't tell us much. When I was in Argentina last month the first time I turned on the TV in my apartment I noticed a bit of flickering, but after a few minutes I stopped noticing it.

As to why people don't work in PAL in the US, well it isn't compatible with our NTSC system. Computers and software don't care one way or the other however, so there's no problem editing it (although you can't watch it on an NTSC monitor). But if you buy a PAL camera you'll be limited to working on PAL projects, and that's fine if you only plan to view your work on a computer screen, a PAL monitor or blow it up on film. But you won't be able to broadcast it, put it on an VHS tape or DVD and give it others to watch in the US. In order to do this you would need to convert the PAL master to NTSC which can be done with software like DVFilm Atlantis.

However there's now a way to have the best of both worlds; get a Sony HVR-Z1. You can switch it between NTSC 480/60i and PAL 576/50i. And of course you can also choose 1080/60i or 1080/50i HDV as well.

I suspect that interest in using PAL for "film look" is going to wane now that affordable high definition options are available.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 09:18 AM   #3
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Bill,

PAL has indeed a higher resolution, and more colour information, but for many people it isn't worth the trouble to every time convert to NTSC if they want something on DVD or something like that.
If you convert to NTSC, you loose quality again, so.
But for people who say resolution is the most important thing because they want a blow up to film, then PAL is best. That's why for example Danny Boyle for 28 days later worked with a PAL Canon XL1.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 10:14 AM   #4
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Ahhh, thanks, folks! I got the impression a lot of people were vying for film-out but perhaps not.

Is converting to NTSC as processor and RAM intensive as rendering color correction? I.e. does just a straight PAL->NTSC conversion take minutes, or hours&days?

P.S. I figured Boyle just used PAL XL1's for that because they shot in Europe and he's a European! Hehe
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Old August 14th, 2005, 10:22 AM   #5
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Go to DVFilm's site and download the trial version of Atlantis, then draw your own conclusions:

http://www.dvfilm.com/atlantis/

It's a standalone program that can convert batches of clips in the background if you like. I didn't really time it the last time I converted NTSC > PAL. But on my dual G5/2.5g it didn't take particularly long IIRC.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 10:41 AM   #6
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Dual G5/2.5g > single 2.1ghz P4/512mb, LOL
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Old August 14th, 2005, 01:38 PM   #7
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Well anyway... I guess it depends on how big a file you want to convert. Just as a wild guess I'd say that 5 minutes of NTSC took no more than 40 minutes to convert to PAL, probably less. So even on a slower machine we're talking minutes, maybe a couple hours, but not days! Like I said, give it a try, there are versions for both Windows and Mac.
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Old August 14th, 2005, 02:26 PM   #8
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With regards to the report in the original post, PAL has no better colour than NTSC. NTSC only has issues with it's "color" when it gets broadcast. The cameras, and especially digital cameras have great colour in both PAL and NTSC. Also, with the advent of HD, there's no longer a vertical resolution difference between 50hz and 60hz formats, and indeed, all pro HD formats shoot 24p anyway.

Boyd's suggestion of Altantis for standards conversion is a good one, but you should be aware that it always imparts a sort of film look on the conversion. I also make a standards conversion package, but it's a plugin for FCP. It keeps interlaced video looking interlaced, and progressive maintains it's progressive feel upon conversion, making it a bit more suitable for more general use. Render times are about the same, about 5 minutes for a 1 minute conversion on a dual G5 2ghz. There's a free demo at www.nattress.com It also does NTSC to 24p conversions, and that's also useful in the context of this discussion.

Graeme
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Old August 14th, 2005, 02:50 PM   #9
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Cool, thank you.

By "NTSC to 24P conversion" I assume you mean either interlaced to 24p conversion, or, 29.97i to 24p?
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Old August 14th, 2005, 02:56 PM   #10
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Yes, I mean 60i to 24p conversion.

Graeme
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Old August 25th, 2005, 05:04 PM   #11
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Interlaced VS Progressive

One thing to keep in mind here though is the scanning method of the camera. Yes, PAL has higher vertical resolution than NTSC. However, there is a resolution effect known as Line Pair Summation that will lower the actual vertical resolution of interlaced scanning systems. Since interlaced scanning captures half frame fields, you're never seeing a full frame of video. Thus the actual vertical resolution of 50i is only about 450 lines of vertical resolution. Now compare that to Progressive scan which captures full resolution frames. Since Progressive scan captures full resolution frames, Progressive NTSC actually achieves 480 lines of vertical resolution. Thus the vertical resolution difference becomes minimal if not irrelevant. However, compare Progressive scan PAL at 576 lines of vertical resolution and you've got a serious difference.

I have shot a lot of PAL. And until the DVX arrived, PAL was the hands down superior choice for frame rate and resolution. But with affordable Progressive scan available on an NTSC DV camera, the choice to shoot PAL over NTSC became alot less of an issue. For the absolute best, yes a PAL DVX or XL2 would be superior to an NTSC DVX or XL2 for film transfer. But for those of us in NTSC land, the 24P DVX and XL2 is a much easier way of working with excellent results.

And I for one cannot say enough good things about Nattress Plug In's. The 60i to 24 frame conversion is superb!
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Old August 25th, 2005, 10:51 PM   #12
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Thanks, Jon. One question just for the sake of learning: If PAL 50i is effectively about 450 lines of vertical res, what is the effective resolution of NTSC 60i?


P.S. I recommended to somebody that he get the nattress package for 24p converston, and now that he's bought them, he says it's worth it for the gamma and stylistic presets alone. And Graeme, you may send my commission check in the mail, LOL
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Old August 26th, 2005, 07:45 AM   #13
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Thanks!!! Film Effects just started as getting the 24p thing working, but now I'm very happy with all the lovely gamma controls myself, and use them practically everywhere!

The interlace factor is about 70%, so measured rez from 576i is about 400lines, and 480 about 330lines.

Progressive will only measure the full amount through, if the filtering in camera has been turned off, which I know the DVX100 can do, but I'm not sure about others.

Graeme
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:13 AM   #14
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Graeme is correct. 70% is about the limit of interlace vertical resolution. Though I've seen it measured as high as 75% on some high end camera and lens systems.

This goes for HD as well. The resolution debate over 720P vs 1080i is a little silly when you consider that 1080i's effective vertical resolution is only about 750 lines...

The DVX, SDX, and XL2 all have settings to enable full vertical resolution when shooting Progressive scan.
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Old August 26th, 2005, 08:27 AM   #15
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Thanks Jon. That's good info.

Graeme
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