What is NTSC?
NTSC (National Television System Committee) is the colour encoding conversion standard that is used in most of the North and South Americas and Japan (click here for a list of countries that use NTSC) for television, video and DVD playback. It was created as a standard in the United States in 1941 for black and white television broadcasting.
NTSC uses a screen resolution of 720 x 480 pixels and has a refresh rate of 30 frames per second. In comparison, the rival PAL standard (used in much of Europe, Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East) uses a higher resolution of 720 x 576 pixels, but a lower refresh rate of 25 frames per second. In essence then, NTSC has smoother pictures, particularly when using high speed footage, but PAL has a better picture quality than NTSC.
There is unfortunately an inherent colour problem in the NTSC system for television where the same colours can change hue from one side of the screen to the other due to multi-path distortions (reflection of the signals off objects before they reach the antennae) of the broadcast signals and because the frequency is only recalibrated at the start of each line on the screen.
Many modern DVD players will play and convert both NTSC and PAL DVDs and will also play DVDs that may have specific regional encoding, helping to avoid the regional problems created by the different formats and specifications.
Find out more about the PAL standards.