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A down and dirty standards conversion recipe.

As promised in Filmmaker Magazine’s summer issue WARES column, this is the recipe I followed when I recently had to convert NTSC DV footage to PAL so I could edit a couple of NTSC shots into a PAL project.

In an Adobe After Effects project, create a new PAL composition with a frame size of 720 (width) by 576 (height.) Set the pixel aspect ratio to match your existing PAL material — 4x3 or 16x9. The Frame Rate of the Composition should be set to 25 frames per second.

Import an NTSC DV clip into your project. With this imported clip highlighted, open the File menu to Interpret Footage, Main, and set the Separate Fields menu to Lower Field First, and then set the Pixel Aspect Ratio to DV NTSC. (Also match the Pixel Aspect Ratio setting to the aspect ratio of your source clip — either 4x3 or 16 x9.)

Drag the NTSC clip into the Timeline Window under the Source Name column. This centers the clip in your Composition Window.

Expand the clip controls in the Timeline Window. Under Transform, change the Scale from 100% to 120%. Make sure both scale settings are at 120% or your image will be distorted. Set Frame Blending to On by checking the Frame Blending box in the area to the right of the clip title in the Timeline Window. (Or by checking Frame Blending in the Switches section of the Layer menu.)

After adding the Composition to the Render Queue, make sure your render settings are as follows:

Quality: Best
Resolution: 720x576
Frame Blending: On
Field Render: Off
3:2 Pulldown: Off
Frame Rate: 25fps

Make sure the Format Options in the Output Module is set to a DV codec. (For example, for Windows AE it’s "Windows DV.")

This technique will not give you a pristine standards conversion, but the results can be quite acceptable.

Back to review of Adobe After Effects 5.5.


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