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Activity Forums Creative Community Conversations Stick drive video – NTSC, PAL, does it matter?

  • Mads Nybo jørgensen

    October 25, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    Hey Nancy,

    If using the USB port, it will be universal.

    Depending on the operating system and security, the computer may not be able to see the drive.

    Also, NTSC or PAL, you are most likely to be working in High Definition, or even 4K.
    However, if you are referring to “NTSC” or “PAL” frame-rates, then most computers will disregard this and play back any frame-rate.
    Word of advice, do make sure to use a universal codec for encoding your files, as not all computers will playback AVI or ProRes, even MTS can be a problem. So go with H264 / MP4 formats.
    Then you also need to consider quality, based on the size of the screen or projector that your video will be displayed on. If quality is too low, it will be all large bricks of colour across the screen, rather than sharp nice video.

    Hope that this helps.
    Good Luck!


  • Nancy Smith

    October 25, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you very much! Format was my worry when looking at the Premiere PAL export formats, there doesn’t seem to be an MP4 and I don’t dare send them an AVI or Quicktime or MPEG2 (which I thought was weird that it’s still an option). We just have to trust that the stick drive is going into a computer and then to a projector and I think the mp4 is the best format for that use. Appreciate the information, I will share it with my doc team.

  • Mads Nybo jørgensen

    October 25, 2022 at 9:35 pm

    You are very welcome.

    Do check what format the video was shot in?
    If HD, make sure that your timeline is a HD too.
    Then export H264 (MP4) out of PPro.

    If at all possible, avoid PAL and NTSC.


  • Eric Santiago

    October 26, 2022 at 2:14 am

    Aspect ratio is the PITA when not knowing which computer its playing on.

  • Douglas Bowker

    October 28, 2022 at 2:39 pm

    OK, here are things that will be critical for this to work:

    USB Formatting: Must be FAT32, which is readable by both Mac and PC. This is absolutely the first thing that needs to be verified.

    As already stated, NTSC and PAL do not apply anymore. These were/are old broadcast standards. 1080p at either 30fps or 24fps is standard today. Use whatever frame rate the video was shot in.

    However: what you DO need to be concerned with is reliable, smooth playback. To that end, 4K should be absolutely OFF the table. You have no idea what the computer is going to be and USB 2.0 (which nearly all USB drives are) is not high bandwidth. I’ve done volunteer work for both elementary and high schools (including public and private) in the US and the tech I’ve encountered can be ALL over the map!

    Even in the same school, one class might have higher-end Mac, and another class might have a 15 year old PC running Windows XP. Or another could have a brand new PC, and the next class has one of those all-in-one iMacs with a CRT screen! I am not exaggerating; this is based on actual experience. You might not have to assume the very worst, but probably a good standard would be: what kind of computer do your parents own? Also: assume that level of technical expertise too, because I’ve encountered many teachers (even highly experienced, really GREAT teachers) who are utterly technology-phobic. Others love it and are very comfortable with anything, but you need to cater to those who are not.

    -Don’t export via Premiere; use Media Encoder if at all possible.

    -Reliable playback settings:

    MP4: VIDEO: 1080p at 30fps, Variable bitrate (10-12mbps) sRGB color space AUDIO: 256kbps 16-bit

    TESTING: Make one USB stick with your video on it, and go play it on the worst computer or laptop in your office, like the old sad-looking one used in payroll or whatever. Then go play it on your parent’s computer, or on an under powered Chromebook; basically anyone you know that has a garbage piece of tech with a USB port: stick it in and hit Play. Look and sound OK, with no stuttering? Good to go!

    No? Dial the playback compression to 8-10mbps, maybe the Audio down to 128kbs.

    Good luck!

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