Q. How does the 24p format used in Panasonic's AG-DVX100A compare to the HDV format used in Sony's HDR-FX1? Are both considered high definition?

Richard Rathbun


A. These are two very hot items, and two very different technologies. 24p video, as found in cameras like the Panasonic AG-DVX100A and the Canon XL2, refers to 24 frames of video being recorded every second progressively instead of 30 frames being recorded per second interlaced (well, really it's 23.976 frames as opposed to 29.97, but that's a whole other can of tape). In what we presently call 60i (a new name for the old video), one frame of interlaced video is made-up of two fields, one showing the odd-numbered scan lines and the other only the even lines. It takes two fields to make one frame of interlaced video, and there are sixty fields in a second, hence 60i. If this is not confusing enough, you need to keep in mind that this is referring to the NTSC television standard, and not the PAL or SECAM systems (but more on that in the next letter).

OK, the 24p option (and there is a 30p in many cameras) eliminates the two fields per frame technique and writes the 525 horizontal lines that make up an image in one pass from top to bottom. That is progressive scan.


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Why would you want all of these options? A filmmaker would use the 24p options if they were interested making their video look like film or if they were going to transfer to film (be sure to actually read the manual if you're taking this route). 30p is good if you want to study the frames as individual stills or if you want a slightly "film look." We suggest you run tests before committing to 30p and never use 30p if you are interested in converting to PAL or blowing-up to film. 60i is used for that traditional video look and feel.

HDV is pretty much what it claims to be: High Definition Video. The first prosumer HDV camcorders, the JVC GR-HD1 and JY-HD10U, recorded using the 720p high-def standard, and were the only prosumer HDV camcorders on the market for one year. At that point, Sony released the HDR-FX1 (and later, the HVR-Z1U), which records 1080i with a horizontal resolution of 1,440 pixels (1,440 pixels per scan line). Considering that many of us were watching a horizontal resolution of about 240 in the VHS days (maybe some still are?), we are getting much higher definition with HDV. HDV also owes its great picture quality to other factors such as its compression method, but let's save that for a full-blown HDV breakdown.

Q. A friend of mine has a PAL camera bought in Europe. She captured some video to her laptop, but as we in Mexico use NTSC, there is now no way that we can burn the video to a DVD so it can be viewed without using the laptop. What can I do to convert it? Is it possible?

I was thinking in a program such as Premiere, but a friend of mine told me that's not possible. Any help?


from the Videomaker Forum

A. Ah, the world is really getting smaller, isn't it? As most of you know, different parts of the world use different video systems. The USA, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, Korea and some parts of Central and South America use the NTSC system (National Television Systems Committee). Most of the rest of the world uses the dominant format PAL (Phase Alternate Line) and SECAM (Squentiel Couleur Avec Mmoire) is used in France, Russia, Eastern Europe and some parts of the Middle East.

Though many editing software platforms can edit both NTSC and PAL, this does not mean they can convert them. In fact, we are not aware of one that can. There are various converters on the market that list between $100-$400, but we cannot vouch for any as we have not tested them.

Many post-production houses and even video repair shops can convert a tape for a reasonable price, somewhere in the $15 range. Do an Internet search for "NTSC PAL conversion".

Morgan Paar is Videomaker's Technical Editor.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.