for people living in Europe.

Chances are big that you’ve crossed some heated discussion about the 24p capabilities of different cameras if you’re looking for a new camera yourself. This is just a quick note to let you know that 24p doesn’t matter at all in Europe.

Americans are used to material with to 2 different frame rates: film originated material at 24 fps and video at 30 fps (interlaced or progressive). Of course, the NTSC system can not display 24 frames per seconds, it’s strictly 60i. Therefore, 24p material gets subjected to what they call 2:3 pulldown. That is one frame will be split over two (2) fields or three (3) fields alternively. Adam Wilt has a very nice explanation here. I’ve never seen the result of this 2:3 pulldown process but I imagine it looks pretty strange.

Anyway, the important thing to notice is: Americans can immediately distinguish film originated material from straight TV because of the strange cadence that’s associated with film. Now every filmmaker want his stuff to look like a movie, not some sitcom. That’s why there’s a big demand for cameras with a 24p capability. This is what a 24p capable camera ideally does: it aquires images at 24p and adds the 2:3 pulldown when the footage is written to tape. Advanced 24p capable cameras add some special kind of pull down (2:3:3:2) which makes it easier to reclaim the original 24 frames. Being the first with a cheap 24p capable camera, the AVG-DVX100, was the big breakthrough for Panasonic in the USA.

Nobody ever watches footage at 24 fps outside the cinema in Europe. Film shown on TV or DVD is shown at 25 fps. This is a 4% speedup but I doubt anyone really notices. Since there isn’t any frame rate difference between film and video, there’s no incentive at all for a 24p capable camera. You just don’t need it, not even in the unlikely case that your movie will be printed to film. You can always slow your footage down from 25 to 24 fps, but you can’t display 24p footage on any TV nor put it on a DVD. The European version of the above mentioned DVX100 didn’t even have a 24p capability (and it didn’t do as well as the American version since the rest of its features were comparable to other cameras).

There is an important distinction between progressive and interlaced capture though. If you’re looking for the most movie like camera, you need one that’s capable of progressive capture. You can however convert interlaced footage to progressive with tools like Nattress film effects or DV Film maker or Compressor. The results are passable. Be warned that not everybody likes the choppy look of progressive material.

On an unrelated side note, it has been confirmed that Panasonic’s new HVX200 camera has 960×540 pixel CCD’s which it upsamples to 1280×1080 in 1080p mode. I think that this partly explains the low resolution of the camera as observed earlier. I don’t think there’s any use in using the camera out of 720p.