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I am producing a low budget feature in DV and my director is very keen on the idea of either shooting on PAL or doing a standards conversion to make the transfer to 35mm better. Does anyone know of the benefits or negative aspects of using PAL in the USA?

Also, how does an anomorphic lens work and can it be used to narrow the ratio margin when we go to 35mm?

-- Victoria Robinson (WickRob@aol.com), January 27, 1999


PAL is a European system, which means it doesn't work with ANYTHING made for the NTSC markets. I've read that PAL has slightly sharper images and is a bit closer to 35mm. But your equipment costs will be through the roof if you shoot on PAL in the USA, that stuff costs a mint over here!

-- Dan Seitz (Dansietz@aol.com), February 03, 1999.

Hi Victoria

The usual reason people suggest shooting in PAL is that PAL runs at 25 frames per second rather than NTSC's 30. So, it's theoretically easier to convert the frame rate to the 24 frames per second used by film. Also, the resolution is a fair bit higher.

Check with the people who are going to be doing the transfer to see if they can handle PAL, and if necessary shoot tests and have them transferred by different companies until you find a combination you like. I'm not sure I'd recommend standards conversion before film transfer as it's just another batch of processing to get in the way of the signal quality, and if your transfer can go direct from NTSC to film in one pass, why bother?

Sorry I can't make specific recommendations, as it's not an issue here in the UK - we shoot in PAL all the time anyway.

Hope this helps.


-- Peter Wardley-Repen (pwr@builth-hs.powys.sch.uk), February 04, 1999.

The difference of NTSC vs PAL is significant. the extra lines of resolution is quite dramatic. Most of the folks that disregard it have never seen DV in PAL. I've seen a few instances where at first look folks thought they were looking at HDTV. I do it all the time, the cost if you go to UK and buy lets say a XL1 is exactly the same as an XL1 in the US (aprox $3500) if you reclaim the VAT. Getting things repaired can be a hassle though since most of the Manufacturers seem to forget that folks really travel and use this stuff.

Most pro monitors in NTSC format also support PAL. If you want to transfer to 35MM You will be starting with a higher resolution image and the conversion to 24fps rate if you shoot with this in mind is to just increase the film rate to 25FPS, then slow back down for use. John Ferrick

-- John Ferrick (Ferrick@postmaster.co.uk), April 20, 1999.

PAL rules.

-- Nic Mathieu (nicmathieu@aol.com), January 10, 2002.

Here's a simple answer. NTSC runs at 59.98Hz, provides 525 TV lines, and runs at just under 30 FPS. PAL, on the other hand, has a slower rate of 50Hz but provides 625 TV lines resolution, and runs at 25 FPS. Your director is keen on it simply because he, probably mistakenly, believes that since film moves at 24 FPS and PAL at 25, along with the hundred extra lines your production, once transfered, will look more like it was shot on film. It won't, it'll look like PAL. As for the lens, an anamorphic will quite dramatically stretch vertically everything you shoot when viewed in it's native 4:3 aspect ratio. Stretch this back out to 16:9, and voila, you have quasi-true widescreen.

-- John Griffin (jgriffin3@nyc.rr.com), April 12, 2002.

Don't forget that if you transfer from pal (25fps) to 35mm (24fps) your film will be quickened up by 4.1%. Where as if you shoot on NTSC (30fps) they can transfer this without any speed increase, or loss for that matter.

worth considering.

-- Frank Vrionis (frankvr2@bigpond.com), April 18, 2002.

I think you ment slowed at 4%.

-- Jeff (jtmgoo@aol.com), October 21, 2002.

Unfortunately I agree with some of the answers where PAL is better for conversion but more expensive for the American market. You will also find that if you are editing on a non-linear system and you use an editing card (pinnacle/ matrox/ canopus etc..) they will need to be PAL versions in order to handle the data.

If you buy a true Anamorphic lense, then you will have no problems as it should only extend the width of the picture. Try Optex for the latest anamorphic lense for the XL1s. The ratio they give is 2:1, which is good n'est pas?

-- Anthony Mair (antmair@hotmail.com), November 23, 2003.

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