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The Materiality Of Video
Bernhard Frankel
The Materiality of Video

The European standard for television (PAL) is 25 frames per second (for North America, Japan and some other places it is 30 fps.) In other words every 25th of a second a different frame is displayed on the TV screen. Each of these frames is made of two fields, an upper and a lower. Each field is every second line of the image so the upper field is lines 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,etc and the lower field is lines 2,4,6,8,10.... up till 576. These two fields are a 50th of a second apart: we have 50 half images displayed/recorded per second.

When you capture a still frame on the computer this is what you get: two fields making one frame. If any degree of motion has happened between the 2 fields the image will look stripy. Some video cameras can be set to a mode called progressive scan where the 2 fields are taken at the same time and thus the image has no difference between the 2 fields. Some people describe the resulting video as looking more 'filmic'.

An example of the 2 fields and the time distance between the two.
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