NTSC and PAL Video Capture Problems

The saga of capturing our wedding video to a computer has has run for years now with no resolution yet. My best man’s analog video camera, used to film the event, was from the US and recorded in the NTSC format, but Australian AV equipment uses the PAL format. We attempted to make a copy by running the output from the camera through a video tape recorder, but this only had NTSC playback facilities and couldn’t record from an NTSC source. I then bought a video card (PV951T – 3DeMON) which could handle NTSC, but my computer wasn’t fast enough to process the video stream.

My friend had a video machine capable of recording NTSC, so he made a copy on a standard video tape for us. It plays back nicely on our VCR and TV, but when I hooked our VCR up to the video capture card (it’s now in a P4 2.6GHz machine) the output has problems.

If the video card is set to NTSC format the picture displays fine, except no colour. If I use PAL the colour is there, but the picture geometry is wrong and there’s a big fat black line running through the bottom. A search on Google brought the following reason for this to my attention:
Apparently the VCR is outputting a PAL60 signal when it plays back the NTSC tape and a lot of capture cards can’t handle this. (Google cache source)

I guess I need to borrow the video camera again and input it directly into the capture card. Good excuse to get back to doing my essays now!

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2 responses to “NTSC and PAL Video Capture Problems”

  1. amos Avatar

    I am new at this capturing of Video tapes.so bare with me here.
    what is the difference in PAL and NTSC? a friend of mine went to Sudan in the middle east and was given a video tape from a digital cam. I tryed to capture it and it appeard to be nothing on the tape, but I rewinded the tape and saw a picture, but very pixilly, does this have something to do with PAL/or NTSC?

  2. allrite Avatar

    Hi Amos,

    I’m no expert on digital capture, but you could well be experiencing problems due to differences in format.

    PAL has a nominal resolution of 720 x 576 pixels as opposed to 720×480, along with other differences of frame rate and colour handling.

    You can try modifying the settings in your video capture software to see if you can swap between NTSC and PAL formats, then attempt to capture the video again.

    Hope that is of some help.