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NTSC to PAL in midstream

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Joseph W. BourkeNTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:08:26 pm

Here we go...I am about three quarters of the the way through a graphics only project in which I was told initially that NTSC was fine, as long as it was 1280 x 720, 30fps, and Upper Field First.

So all my illustrations are based on that frame size, and all my animations are based on that frame rate and field delineation. Just got an email from my client saying that, by the way, we need it delivered in PAL, (their footage is going to be shot HDV, 1280 x 720 they say) no other specs put forth.

I have Photoshop documents, 3D Studio Max animations, AE projects, all set up to the NTSC standard. I'm hoping I can maybe just drop my comps in AE into a PAL comp, but my guess is that something's going to get stepped on.

I will immediately get back to my client with my reservations on this, but are there any immediate problems/fixes I can foresee? Thanks.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Dave LaRondeRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:25:23 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "I am about three quarters of the the way through a graphics only project in which I was told initially that NTSC was fine, as long as it was 1280 x 720, 30fps, and Upper Field First"

Sir, I have good news and puzzling news for you.

The puzzling news first: 720 isn't interlaced, it's progressive. Here in NTSC country the frame rate is 59.94, and in PAL-Land it's 50. But I bet you can resolve that easily.

Now the good news: as long as your AE animations are GRAPHICS ONLY, Simply nest the NTSC-frame-rate comps in PAL-frame-rate comps and you're good to go. The timings will be the same, the frame rate simply changes

You may have to play around with a setting in Preferences to make AE retain the frame rate of nested comps, but that's about it. I don't have to fool with that setting, so the knowledge is dim.

Only if you add footage that has a frame rate do the problems begin.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:47:52 pm

First off - Dave - you're right - I'm a bit fried at this point and didn't catch my typo. Thanks to both of you, and yes, the thing I'm most concerned about here is frame stutter in going from 29.97 to 25fps. I watched Rich Harrington's tutorial on this topic, and that helped. Of course there's also the issue of square pixels vs. rectangular, so I have to bear that in mind. I really have to get the most accurate spec from the editor in Africa to be sure.

What I'm doing immediately is sending a short test clip to my client for them to try it on their NLE. It's going to end up going through FCP to a DVD, then being played back on a system on the road in Central Africa - so I want to make sure that what they get is the best possible quality, since it's going to be strained through a sock into a tin can, so to speak.

Thank you both.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Walter SoykaRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:28:16 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "Here we go...I am about three quarters of the the way through a graphics only project in which I was told initially that NTSC was fine, as long as it was 1280 x 720, 30fps, and Upper Field First."

Graphics only? No problem! Just drop it into a 1280x720 @ 25fps comp, make sure that "Preserve frame rate when nested" in Composition > Settings > Advanced is off, and everything will be fine. AE will smoothly tween all animations rather than frame-blending them.

One thing to be aware of (which I am sure that you already know, but I'll mention for posterity) is that some moves which play smoothly at 30fps will judder at 25fps and will need to be redone.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:48:01 pm

So just to finally simplify things before my head explodes, with HD video, PAL or NTSC, the frame sizes are now identical (1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080). It's merely the frame rates which are different. So if I drop my NTSC comp into a PAL comp set to 25fps, and turn on advanced frame blending, I should be in pretty good shape?

I just dropped an NTSC and a PAL version into my Dropbox, and the client will have his test files in an hour or so. If worse comes to worse, and there is stutter, I'll just have to re-output my Max animations at 25fps. Or should I use the standard I've been using for years in NTSC with Max, and output 50fps, then conform in AE? This usually gives me smoother movement, and AE knows my 60fps should be 30. Thanks again for the usual quick, useful responses.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Dave LaRondeRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 5:43:23 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "with HD video, PAL or NTSC, the frame sizes are now identical (1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080). It's merely the frame rates which are different"

That's correct. That's the situation when doing graphics-only AE animation.
When dealing with video footage, various pixel aspect ratios used by cameras muddy the water a bit.




[Joseph W. Bourke] "So if I drop my NTSC comp into a PAL comp set to 25fps, and turn on advanced frame blending, I should be in pretty good shape?"

I don't think it's even necessary to use advanced frame blending. The keyframes in a graphics-only 29.97 comp nested in a 25 comp are at the precise same times they always were. It's just that those times may occur in the middle of a given PAL frame. It would be fairly easy to check by rendering it both ways, with frame blending and without.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Walter SoykaRe: NTSC to PAL in midstream
by on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:27:58 pm

[Joseph W. Bourke] "So just to finally simplify things before my head explodes, with HD video, PAL or NTSC, the frame sizes are now identical (1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080). It's merely the frame rates which are different."

The terms NTSC and PAL refer specifically to the old standard definition analog video encoding systems. They aren't applicable to HD.

To answer your question specifically, yes -- the frame size and color space are now the same across all HD standards, but the frame rate still varies by geography (according to the local power cycle standards as it did with NTSC/PAL).

HD standards are usually identified by horizontal resolution, scanning type, and frame rate, like 720p50 (1280x720, progressive, 50 fps). HD video at 720p in what would have been a PAL country can either be 720p25 or 720p50.

720p50 will give you very smooth motion, so that would certainly be my preference in your situation. I'd suggest you confirm with the client that 720p50 will be acceptable.


[Joseph W. Bourke] "If worse comes to worse, and there is stutter, I'll just have to re-output my Max animations at 25fps. Or should I use the standard I've been using for years in NTSC with Max, and output 50fps, then conform in AE?"

Sorry, I glossed over the bit about the 3ds Max animations the first time around. You could use frame blending, but you'll get better results if you re-render your animations at an appropriate frame rate.


[Joseph W. Bourke] "Or should I use the standard I've been using for years in NTSC with Max, and output 50fps, then conform in AE? This usually gives me smoother movement, and AE knows my 60fps should be 30."

If you're looking for smoother motion in your 3D renders, check out Reel Smart Motion Blur [link]. It can use a motion vector pass from your 3D app to drive realistic motion blur very, very quickly and accurately, or it can use motion estimation to generate motion blur on your renders without a separate motion vector pass.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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