Overseas Video - FAQ's Back to FAQ's
Video tapes come in a variety standards, each incompatible with the other. To watch video tapes from overseas that are not the same video standard as your own, you'll need what is called a multisystem VCR and a multisystem TV, or a Digital Video Standards Converter and VCR, or a VCR with a built-in Converter.
NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) is a standard used in North America and Japan. It has the ability to display up to 525 lines of resolution. PAL (Phase Alternating Line), a standard used almost everywhere else in the world, has the ability to display 625 lines of resolution. SECAM (Sequential Color Memory) is used sparingly around the world and can be found in France, parts of Greece, Eastern Europe, Russia, Africa and a few other parts of the world. However, any SECAM country can display PAL tapes in full color, but not all PAL countries can display all SECAM tapes in color. Only if they are true SECAM and not MESECAM can those VCR's display SECAM.
If you're in North America, Japan, Korea, the Philippines and parts of South America, you use NTSC. Most other areas of the world use PAL or SECAM. Half of Brazil uses NTSC while the other half uses PAL-M. Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay use PAL-N. The rest of the world uses mainly PAL. If you're unsure what your video standard is, contact your local cable or broadcast company. Also, on the back of most video tapes is indicate what video standard the tape is. This is a good representation of what your video standard is.
Yes. Video tapes come in their own simplified video tape standards: NTSC, SECAM, PAL, PAL-M, and PAL-N. However, broadcasts standards are a different matter. The video signal you receive through your antenna, cable or satellite may be slightly different. For example: SECAM video tapes only come in SECAM; there are no variations. However, there are many SECAM broadcast standards. There are SECAM B, G, D, K and L, and all slightly different.
Let's say you want to record a television show on your VCR in France, where they broadcast in SECAM-L. The recording format will simply be SECAM. "L" is merely the broadcast transmission frequency that the television station uses to broadcast a SECAM program. Likewise, PAL B/G broadcasts are PAL programs being broadcast in the B/G frequencies and would be recorded on your VCR as PAL.In the USA, these frequencies are VHF and UHF, but there is no need to add those letters to the term, NTSC. Video tapes are blank, you can record any video standard onto it.
These two standards are an exception to the rule. PAL-M and PAL-N (both found in the South America) are both broadcast standards and video tape standards. If you're receiving a PAL-M broadcast and record it onto a video tape, it will be recorded onto the video tape as PAL-M.
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