PAL video in the states

Phil Blundell pb at
Fri Jan 13 12:34:16 CST 2017

On Fri, 2017-01-13 at 11:18 -0500, Paul Koning wrote:
> > 
> Just yesterday I was looking at roughly the opposite question: how to
> make a DVD (in the USA) that my sister in Holland would be able to
> use.  The impression I got is that PAL DVD players will usually
> accept NTSC DVDs, and modern PAL TVs will accept a *digital* data
> stream of NTSC video from such a player.  But that doesn't
> necessarily mean they will accept NTSC analog (for VCR output for
> example).  Your report fits that story.

There are two different aspects to the video standard and they are
slightly orthogonal.

PAL, strictly, is a way of encoding chroma in a composite video signal
and an associated set of analogue TV broadcast standards.  NTSC is the
name of the equivalent US TV standard which has a different way of
doing chroma.  (And there's also SECAM which is different again...)

Most PAL-based systems use 576 lines and 50 fields per second, whereas
most NTSC-based systems use 480 lines and 60 fields per second, and so
PAL and NTSC have become more or less synonymous with 576i and 480i
video timing respectively.  However, the opposite combinations do
exist, for example PAL-M uses 480i timings but (as the name suggests)
uses PAL encoding for colour.

But, most of these details of colour encoding are only relevant in the
analogue domain.  Digital video, and even analogue component video,
doesn't have a chroma subcarrier at all so, technically, it is
meaningless to refer to "digital PAL".  In the digital domain, either
compressed files on a DVD or pixels carried over an HDMI link, the only
thing that matters is the resolution and framerate.  The aggregate data
rate in terms of pixels per second is about the same for both formats
and any modern device will almost certainly be able to cope with both.

So, yes, most TVs will be quite happy to accept either 480i or 576i
over HDMI and display it, and I assume this is what you mean by "a
digital stream of NTSC video".  This applies even if they don't have
the capability of decoding NTSC colour, though actually I suspect quite
a lot of the TVs currently on sale are based on multistandard chipsets
and can quite likely do both.  

Most "PAL" DVD players are also quite happy (region coding aside) to
decode and and output 480i video from a US-market disc.  Though it's
worth noting that if you do that, the signal that comes out of the
analogue port is still PAL and not NTSC even though the video timings
will be the 480i ones.


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