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Thread: NSTC to PAL conversion quality?

  1. #1

    Smile NSTC to PAL conversion quality?

    Hi there,

    I'm new to this board, and I'm looking for a little advice.

    We are filming a three-part documentary in Asia over a long period of time and the first two parts have been filmed in PAL format where the cameras used had that standard. In China I changed cameras to a NTSC model bought through ebay that was an absolutely fantastic deal. I knew I was buying a different format, and friends and advisors helped convince me that it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

    However now I'm having second thoughts and the film's producers aren't happy. I'm a new camerman/director myself and since we've only just begun the shoot in China, I don't want to continue down what might be a blind alley for a final edit. After looking over other forums and the great NTSC v. PAL debate, it seems that PAL may offer better quality, but since I already now own an NTSC cam, I'm more concerned about the loss of quality in the transfer from NTSC back to PAL in the final edit.

    We're shooting on a solid Sony DSR-PD170 NTSC camera with a timeframe of two more weeks approx to solve this. I see the following options available.

    1). Sell the NTSC Camera and buy a PAL version (thus minimising future damage)
    2). Exchange for a PAL camera in Hong Kong
    3). Restrict NTSC to PAL transfer time to the final edit (thus saving costs) and push ahead with what we have.

    Of the three, Option (1) may not be possible, if I can't sell the camera at the same rate I bought it, as my budget will be shot. Option 2 is wishful thinking at best. Option 3 seems the most sensible/logical, but will even the best transfer machines/algrothims result in a huge loss of quality?

    Eventually, I hope to sell this film to a TV network so quality is very important. The film has not been pre-sold as yet.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts or expert opinions at this stage. Option 3 seems sensible, but if the quality is a loser, then I don't want this documentary to be.


  2. #2


    Converting NTSC to PAL is making a silk purse fom a sows ear that is to say you are upscaling NTSC 720 X 480 to PAL 720 X 576 YOU ARE ALSO down sampling the frame rate from 29,97 fps NTSC to PAL 25 fps This is a nightmare and the most expensive encoders SNeLL and WILCOX do this in hardware and depending upon the length of the rushes this will cost you mucho!

    You will be having a mixed format edit???

    Try you BEST to get the PAL camera and sell the NTSC

    The reason you got is at a GREAT deal is because its NTSC

    The cheap way is to give all the NTSC tapes to a person with PROCODER and get them to do a software encode to PAL! BUT this will produce a soft image from my experience and would hardley pass for broadcast IMHO. But I may be wrong!

    Go to Grass valley forum and checkout the procoder forum and ask there, most people there are NTSC editors! they may have more info

    Just a thought where are you hoping to sell this programme?
    This will be a major factor

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