Format for documentary: NTSC vs PAL & 4:3 vs 16:9 at
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Old October 5th, 2002, 05:55 PM   #1
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Format for documentary: NTSC vs PAL & 4:3 vs 16:9

I plan on making travel documentaries next year with an intention to sell them to a broadcast market. For cost miniDV seems to be the media to shoot in (or DVCAM).

However I am still unsure what format would be best to shoot in.

First of I live in a PAL country (Australia) however I am thinking the major markets are NTSC. I know PAL has greater resolution but a slower frame rate. How well does PAL convert to NTSC and is this format converstion an acceptable practice for broadcast especially considering the limits of the DV codec.

The next issue is how big is the demand for 16:9 compared to the old 4:3 resolution. To give you some idea of timeframes as well I start shooting on March 2003, finish the next year March 2004, then have to start editing the series so it will be well into March 2004 and I am worried that the preference for 16:9 will be so great by then that 4:3 will be harder to sell.

On the note of the 16:9 I understand the problems faced with shooting native 16:9 amaphoramic lenses etc. However the new Sony PDX10 does seem to hold some promise of real 16:9 resolution just hope that they bring out the new updated version of the PD150 with real 16:9 before I go.

Anybody with professional post production facilities I am more than interested in discussing some kind of business arrangement for editing and distribution.
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Old October 6th, 2002, 03:09 AM   #2
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Got some tough questions there =)

Re: PAL vs NTSC i would shoot in PAL. It has more information and it is doable to convert from PAL to NTSC (though you should do it at a professional conversion facility). The other way around might be tougher since you have to blow up the NTSC from 480 lines to 576.

As for the 16:9 vs 4:3 it's a little tougher. Today 16:9 can actually be a novel thing that makes it easier to sell. And you can also letterbox or crop it to fit the 4:3 format (when it comes to cropping it will require a slight blowup though). How it will look in 5 years though is a different matter. The people who make and advocate HDTV love to claim that everyone will the 16:9 in 5 years but i have my doubts. The TV set you find in peoples homes are almost harder to change than their cars. So i think that most networks will be airing in 4:3 even in 5 years. But then, someone said "640 k will be enough for anyone" once so i am probably wrong :)

As for the anamorphic vs internal i would definately shoot with the lens unless your camera has a true 16x9 chip. If the new PDX10 and PD150 cameras will have this then great. I'll buy one myself :) But make sure they don't just do the crop & scale up method.

Good luck on your documentary,
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Old October 6th, 2002, 03:02 PM   #3
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You might want to check out this tread as it answered my question on shooting 16:9 or 4:3

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