I only discovered this for


I only discovered this forum this week, and I thought I’d respond to some of the threads – I make my living out of lighting, sound and video for entertainment – I don’t do wedding style work, mainly odd stuff – all with a theatrical link, so car chases in Cardiff, chasing aeroplanes down runways – these are my kind of thing.

The PAL v NTSC thread has some useful comment, but the actual point and background are a bit confused. NTSC has nothing whatsoever to do with the ‘film look’. PAL/NTSC are simply the colour systems that were developed on both side of the Atlantic – in America, mains electricity is 110V 60 Hz and over here in the UK where I live, and in western europe we have 230V 50 Hz. In the early days of television, the number of frames per second was derived from the mains, so Americans went to 30 (well, 29.9ish to be exact) and we all went to 25. Film projection in cinemas stayed with 24fps everywhere.

When colour TV sprung up, rather daftly, we Brits went with one system and you Americans went with another. The system of transmitting colour was very different. From the UK perspective an NTSC signal had too many frames per second, and had very different colour information. It was possible, back in the seventies to convert with a very expensive gadget, that converted the colour info, and then threw away a few frames making it nearly the same as our system. This didn’t do quality any favours! When you converted our stuff into yours, you simply duplicated a few frames each second to make it match. Again small problems, but apart from a little jitter from time to time on fast moving content it was ok.

Move on a few years and the TV manufacturers decided to design circuits in each tv and vcr that could switch between the systems. They rarely told people, but in most cases a PAL tape would play ok on an NTSC TV, and vice versa. Never quite looked as it should, but most people were happy.

It has got a lot better with digital video cameras – The main differences now are just slight differences in the size of the frame 720 x 576 for PAL and 720 x 480 for NTSC – this is a pain, as it means that swapping from one to the other means cropping or stretching has to happen – not too obvious unless the content has a picture of planet earth, or a clock.

Playback of NTSC or PAL DV material isn’t cut and dried. I’ve shot on NTSC and loaded it into my PAL system and edited it – works ok, but I’ve tried the tapes on some other machines and the results have not been quite so straight forward.

Now onto the bit about 24 frame shooting. It has very little to do with PAL or NTSC, it’s just a new way of shooting material that has some of the qualities of film – including some of the defects too!

You need a very different technique to record images on 24f – your wobbly, fast panned stuff isn’t any good – the image goes really soft and stuttery – we’ve been used to being able to shoot all sorts of ways, many quite uncontrolled, but giving decent images. With 24f you need to develop film techniques, good quality pan and tilt heads, good focus and framing skills and being blunt, a professional style of shooting. The ‘film look’ so often talked about is a combination of the technical setup in the camera and practical skills. 24f technique is just a ‘new’ format, the colour system is a part of the past, and only now matters in the processing of the signal – something we can do really well nowadays.

There is tons of data available about all the different types of HD systems and much of it doesn’t make much sense to beginners (or to be honest to many pros like me) The best advice I’m following at the moment is to hang on. A friend has recommended 3 different HD systems so far this year – each one described as the proverbial dogs bo**ocks.

My advice to anybody considering buying a new camera now is to try them out against each other – you do need to try 24f in all it’s variants to see if the results are what you want. 24 frame progressive can give truly excellent results, but does need a lot more care in framing, focus, colour balance and movement. Whatever you do, buying an NTSC camcorder when you live in the uk is bad, as is buying a PAL version if you are in the states.
sorry for a long winded first post – but your forum does look interesting

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