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Advice on ntsc / pal – standards conversion

A question just received from one of our clients in Canada:

Hi Mark.

I have a question you might be able to answer for me.

I need to shoot some HD footage in Ontario and load it and some old footage
up to a tourism image bank.

The footage would be used mostly in North America but I would want it to be
able to be used in Europe as well.

If you downloaded a clip that was shot NTSC what would you or I need to do
so you can use it over there?

My reply:

Hi B,

Depends on what the final output / usage of the video is; if it’s for editing into a video that will only be seen online, then there is no need to do any ‘standards conversion’ (ie NTSC to PAL) because the difference between NTSC and PAL is only relevant for material that is seen on TV sets, not relevant for computer monitors.

But if the final programme containing your material WILL be seen on TV (ie via broadcast or DVD), either:

– you need to provide a standards-converted copy in PAL, or
– the editor using the footage can do this

… in software (never perfect) or hardware (eg hire an Alchemist standards converter – we offer this)

Hope that helps – you might want to subscribe to our free tips – helpful ideas on video production and marketing:

Next question: Can you do PAL conversions with files rather than tapes?

Answer: There are software solutions eg Compressor, Episode on Mac, and Procoder on PC, in addition to edit programs themselves, but the result is never as good as the broadcast Alchemist converter.

Here is our Worldwide TV Standards guide.

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