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Post Production

Mishandling Pulldown

Computers and most mobile devices require progressive-scan video for optimal display. But many video download services are incorrectly handling sources with interlacing and pulldown.

An example of what can happen when you incorrectly reconstruct the original source from interlaced video.

Video, as idiosyncratic as it is, has been around for awhile. Which is why I can’t understand it when even today, broadcast networks and now online video distributors don’t get some of the fundamental issues of video – such as how to handle interlaced fields and pulldown – right.

I can understand where people with a print, photographic or web background would be caught off guard by some of the weird special cases of video. But if your job is broadcasting or selling video…I have considerably less sympathy for you. But I’m here to help.

John Tariot of Film | Video | Digital was kind enough to forward to me this article that exhaustively compares Apple iTunes, Netflix, Microsoft Zune, Amazon VoD and Hulu and the (in)ability to properly handle video with pulldown and interlacing for web distribution. I have a couple of issues with it – the author refers to the common frame rates as 30 and 24 fps rather than 29.97 and 23.976, you’re somewhat hosed if the source was interlaced without pulldown, and I have a some sympathy for a company that is trying to build a pipeline to automatically handle progressive, interlaced, and pulldown footage (some with broken cadences) – but it is still a very worthwhile read, including the comments.

As I alluded to in my rant intro, there is a lot of material out there on how to handle video correctly. For example, Trish and I have generated a lot of material on how to deal with interlacing and pulldown, most of it available for free:

In addition to our own musings, there are other great resources available too, such as:

Now, if I could just get our local network affiliates to stop deinterlacing their still image graphics…

The content contained in our books, videos, blogs, and articles for other sites are all copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


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Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS,…
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