Number of frames per second Frame rate, the number of still pictures per unit of time of video, ranges from six or eight frames per second (frame/s) for old mechanical cameras to 120 or more frames per second for new professional cameras. PAL standards (Europe, Asia, Australia, etc.) and SECAM (France, Russia, parts of Africa etc.) specify 25 frame/s, while NTSC standards (USA, Canada, Japan, etc.) specify 29.97 frames. Film is shot at the slower frame rate of 24 frames per second, which slightly complicates the process of transferring a cinematic motion picture to video. The minimum frame rate to achieve a comfortable illusion of a moving image is about sixteen frames per second.
Interlaced vs progressive Video can be interlaced or progressive. Interlacing was invented as a way to reduce flicker in early mechanical and CRT video displays without increasing the number of complete frames per second, which would have sacrificed image detail to remain within the limitations of a narrow bandwidth. The horizontal scan lines of each complete frame are treated as if numbered consecutively, and captured as two fields: an odd field (upper field) consisting of the odd-numbered lines and an even field (lower field) consisting of the even-numbered lines.
Analog display devices reproduce each frame in the same way, effectively doubling the frame rate as far as perceptible overall flicker is concerned. When the image capture device acquires the fields one at a time, rather than dividing up a complete frame after it is captured, the frame rate for motion is effectively doubled as well, resulting in smoother, more lifelike reproduction (although with halved detail) of rapidly moving parts of the image when viewed on an interlaced CRT display, but the display of such a signal on a progressive scan device is problematic.
NTSC, PAL and SECAM are interlaced formats. Abbreviated video resolution specifications often include an i to indicate interlacing. For example, PAL video format is often specified as 576i50, where 576 indicates the total number of horizontal scan lines, i indicates interlacing, and 50 indicates 50 fields (half-frames) per second.
In progressive scan systems, each refresh period updates all scan lines in each frame in sequence. When displaying a natively progressive broadcast or recorded signal, the result is optimum spatial resolution of both the stationary and moving parts of the image. When displaying a natively interlaced signal, however, overall spatial resolution is degraded by simple line doubling—artifacts such as flickering or "comb" effects in moving parts of the image appear unless special signal processing eliminates them. A procedure known as deinterlacing can optimize the display of an interlaced video signal from an analog, DVD or satellite source on a progressive scan device such as an LCD Television, digital video projector or plasma panel. Deinterlacing cannot, however, produce video quality that is equivalent to true progressive scan source material.
Comparison of common cinematography and traditional television (green) aspect ratios Aspect ratio describes the dimensions of video screens and video picture elements. All popular video formats are rectilinear, and so can be described by a ratio between width and height. The screen aspect ratio of a traditional television screen is 4:3, or about 1.33:1. High definition televisions use an aspect ratio of 16:9, or about 1.78:1. The aspect ratio of a full 35 mm film frame with soundtrack (also known as the Academy ratio) is 1.375:1.
Ratios where height is taller than width are uncommon in general everyday use, but are used in computer systems where some applications are better suited for a vertical layout. The most common tall aspect ratio of 3:4 is referred to as portrait mode and is created by physically rotating the display device 90 degrees from the normal position. Other tall aspect ratios such as 9:16 are technically possible but rarely used. (For a detailed discussion of this topic, see page orientation.)
Pixels on computer monitors are usually square, but pixels used in digital video often have non-square aspect ratios, such as those used in the PAL and NTSC variants of the CCIR 601 digital video standard, and the corresponding anamorphic widescreen formats. Therefore, a 720 by 480 pixel NTSC DV image displayes with the 4:3 aspect ratio (the traditional television standard) if the pixels are thin, and displays at the 16:9 aspect ratio (the anamorphic widescreen format) if the pixels are fat.