Trev's Articles

Converting PAL DV to NTSC DV

April 2009

 

As we still have a PAL (UK) based DV (Digital Video) Camcorder, any of the resulting DVDs that are created from captured video are in PAL format. PAL Formatted video/DVDs do not work on most 'standard' US DVD players or Televisions in the US uses NTSC format.

 

The issue is that there is no easy way to convert from PAL to NTSC and retain the high quality of the original DV video. The result is often a picture which 'stutters' or has 'combing' issues (most noticeable on horizontal movements of the video).

 

 

Video Format information

 

To perform a near perfect conversion of a PAL DV video to NTSC, it is important that you understand the format of the original video. For this article, I am using Video captured on my Sony Camcorder. Important details are as follows:

 

Hardware

Camcorder: Sony TRV17E (PAL mini DV) More info on DV

Dell Dimension 8400 PC (Pentium 4) with 3GB RAM and 1TB of Disk (DV video requires a lot of disk space)

Firewire/IEEE-1394 connection between Camcorder and PC

 

Software

Windows Movie Maker V2.1 Download

AVISynth V2.5 Download

    Plug-ins:

        Convolution3d  Download

        Kerneldeint Download

        Kerneldeint140 Download

        LeakKernelDeint Download

        MVTools Download

        MVTools2 Download

        SmoothDeinterlacer Download

        kernelbob Download

        VirtualDub V1.8.8 Download

        DVDate V7.1 Download

        Gspot V2.70a Download

        Sony DV Codec V2.23 Download and How to check your installed codecs

Working with codecs can be confusing, I found that VirtualDub shows the codecs installed and their FOURCC code. Click here to see the image showing the Sony DV Codec 'dvsd'.

Click here to view all the available codecs and their FOURCC code

 

Video Format

DV Imported as raw AVI Type 2 file

PAL 720 x 576 (4 x 3)

Frames Per Second = 25 (made up of 50 interlaced fields)

Audio 32000Hz 12(16)bits Stereo PCM

DV Color Format RGB888

BFF (Bottom Field First)  Click here to view instructions on determining the field order.

Click here to view the standard AVI RIFF header

Click here to view the extended AVI RIFF header

 

Standard NTSC and PAL Format info

 

  Horizontal Vertical Frame Rate Field Rate
NTSC 720 480 29.97 59.94
PAL 720 576 25 50

 

Further Reading

Click here to view an excellent article on interlacing

Click here for an Interesting article on PAL, FILM and NTSC fields

 

 

Methods for Converting from PAL to NTSC

 

There are various methods available for converting your PAL DV files to NTSC, generally the more complex the procedure, the better the result is.

For my tests, I used 4 different methods, rated 1 to 5 stars for easy of use and final quality.

 

 

Ease of use Quality

Windows Movie Maker

DVDate*

VirtualDub

AVISynth via VirtualDub

 

*Output AVI would not play in any player including within DVDate

 

 

 

 

To determine the best AVISynth script, I ran over 60 tests to evaluate different settings. You can view all the tests and scripts by clicking here.

 

Here is the final AVISynth script for converting from PAL DV to NTSC DV

 

# PAL DV (50 fps) to NTSC DV (59.94 fps)
LoadPlugin("SmoothDeinterlacer.dll")
AVISource("YourAVIfile.avi")
ConvertToYUY2(interlaced=true)# Smoothdeinterlacer requires YUY2
SmoothDeinterlace(tff=false, doublerate=true)
Lanczos4Resize(720,480)
ConvertFPS(59.94)
SeparateFields()
SelectEvery(4, 0, 3)
weave()

 

Click here to understand the support of [Anamorphic] Widescreen (16:9) footage

 

 

Pre-Conversion

Before converting your AVI file to NTSC, make sure you complete any edits to the AVI while the file is at a manageable size. Once the AVI has been converted using the procedure below, the file size can be very large making it difficult or slow for some AVI editing programs.

 

 

Step 1

Download and install AVISynth

Download and install SmoothDeinterlacer

Download and install VirtualDub

To use the script, either copy and paste the script above into a text file and save as an 'avs' file, or you can download it from here.

Ensure that your source AVI file is "Type 2". You can use DVDate to check and convert if required.

 

Step 2

Edit the AVISynth script by changing the AVISource line to specify where your PAL DV AVI file is located.

 

Step 3

Open VirtualDub, then select File... Open Video File... then select the AVISynth script file PALtoNTSC.avs

VirtualDub should open the AVI file that is specified in the Script file.

To confirm, you can select View... Log

 

Step 4

To convert the AVI file using the script, just select File... Save as AVI... and you will be prompted for a destination file name. Click on Save to begin.

 

Step 5

Monitor the progress of the conversion with the VirtualDub Status:

 

 

Step 6

Once completed, the new AVI file is generated in uncompressed AVI format. You can then use this AVI file in your favorite DVD authoring program or any other utility.

Note the AVISynth log:

 

 

Special Considerations

 

The converted AVI files are very large, typically 1GB per minute

Do not try to recompress the converted AVI! The quality will be severely compromised, although I have had some success with using Windows Movie Maker to resave the AVI as Type 1. You can follow the same method below to resave your uncompressed AVI using Windows Movie Maker.

The codec for uncompressed AVIs is DIB
 

 

 

The quality from Windows Movie Maker is fairly good, but if you have a lot of horizontal panning or fast movements, the end result may not be desirable.

 

Step 1

Open Windows Movie Maker, and then import your PAL DV AVI file into the Collections.

 

Step 2

Select Tools...Options... and set the Video Properties to NTSC:

 

 

Click on OK to keep the settings.

 

Step 3

Take your imported AVI Clip and add to the TimeLine. Note: You can make any edits or adjustments at this time if you wish.

 

Step 4

Select File...Save Movie File...

Select My Computer

Enter the File Name and Location of the converted AVI File

Ensure that the output type is DV-AVI(NTSC):

 

 

Click Next> to write the NTSC AVI File.

 

Step 5

Once completed, the new AVI file is generated in Type 1 compressed AVI format. You can then use this AVI file in your favorite DVD authoring program or any other utility.

 

 

The 62 different tests to find the best method

 

Overall I used 52 different combinations of scripts totaling 62 tests to determine the best video output. Testing was split up into 3 sections with the top few outputs carried forward for further refining.

 

Click the above icon to download all the scripts used in these tests

 

 

Click here to review the First round of 16 Tests

Click here to review the Second round of 33 Tests

Click here to review the Third round of 13 Tests

Click here to review the Final results and detailed description of the script

 

 

 

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