Archive for the ‘Frame Rate’ Category

The World vs. America – Or how to convert PAL into the inferior American NTSC

Monday, November 26th, 2007

It’s a village. The world is now a village and videotapes and files are flying all over the place via Fedex, CD, FTP, or good old fashioned sneaker-ware (files on a hard drive that are hand-carried to another user).  Years ago, the world adopted its video standards. The world went with PAL and the United States went with NTSC (Never The Same Color). Oh, and the French, had their own standard (SECAM) which was superior to both PAL and NTSC, but has since all but evaporated in the face of it’s heavy-weight brothers. And speaking of brothers, NTSC and PAL are kind of like Abel and Kane.  But unfortunately, since we are now a global village, the two brothers have to co-exist frequently in the land of video. Here’s the deal… NTSC runs at 29.97  frames per second.  PAL runs at 25 frames per second. Many novice editors think that they can merely change the frame  rate and that’s that. Well, it’s not!Let’s say some American dude is sent a commercial from England, Great Britain, the U.K. or whatever you call that place across the pond.  Okay, the American dude (that’s “bloke” to you British) take the quicktime movie and simply changes the frame rate to make the conversion. But guess what? The result is terrible-looking video that stutters and feels jerky. Oh, and it looks a little fuzzy too. The jerkiness is due to the fact that the frames were added blindly across the entire clip.  So anytime there is fast action or panning scenes, the clip seems to stutter. See, the frame rate is only one part of the equation. The placement of the frames requires an elaborate mathematical process to figure out EXACTLY which frames need to be duplicated.  Also,  the PAL image even has different dimensions  and color  space. All that stuff needs to be translated. Basically, you need to use hardware or software that is specifically designed to make a PAL to NTSC conversion. And guess what? You are going to pay for that.  The  hardware solutions are very pricey. And software, such as Final Cut Pro or Nattress are very powerful, but outrageously and unbelievably SLOW! So, at full quality, a render of a 1 hour clip could tie up your computer for many days. Really. It can really take days and days on an ordinary consumer computer built in 2007.  My vote would be to pay for the hardware. Basically, the more you pay, the better the translation between formats. This is a case where you really get what you pay for and vice versa.  Another idea is to buy a computer that is scant on features and full of computing power (forget the built-in DVD burner and fancy video card) and make yourself a little rendering station. Then set up the render and get on with your life on your main computer.Sorry, but these two brothers are just not going to get along on their own.