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Understanding the Differences Between PAL and NTSC

TechnologyHawksM21 June 2011

One of the basics of DVD replication is determining which digital format to use for your projects. We’ll help you figure what will work best for you.

NTSC stands for National Television Systems, an analog television encoding system, and has a frame rate of 29.97/second with screen resolutions of 720 x 480 and is the most widely used format for DVDs worldwide.

The PAL format, which stands for Phase Alternating Line, also an analog television encoding system used in broadcast that offers a 25/second frame rate and a screen resolution of 720 x 576.

When figuring out which format to use, you might want to consider your audience. Most NTSC DVD players can play PAL-formatted discs; all PAL DVD players can run NTSC DVDs.

Any high-quality software should be able to produce both formats, however it may be difficult to convert from one format to the other due to the vertical resolution differences between the two (480 versus 576 between NTSC and PAL respectively).

Our recommendation is to make your format determination before you even start shooting and to edit and author all in the same format to avoid disrupting the quality of your video in the editing and finalizing process.

Here’s a comparison chart:

Lines/Field 526/60 625/50
Horizontal Frequency 15.737 kHz 15.625 kHz
Vertical Frequency 60 Hz 50Hz
Color Subcarrier Frequency 3.579545 MHz 4.443618 MHz
Video Bandwidth 4.2 MHz 5.0 MHz
Sound Carrier 4.5 MHz 5.5 MHz


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