Color mode: NTSC or HDTV in Video Settings?

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In Camtasia 9, when I create a custom format to export my video, within the MP4 file format options, there is the possibility to choose the Color mode: HDTV or NTSC. The default is NTSC.

I have been unable to find any documentation from Techsmith about this option, which is new in version 9. 

What are the advantages or disadvantages to each option? I am producing HD videos, so I'm not sure if I should choose HDTV or not. Thanks for any help.

 
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fdr

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Posted 2 years ago

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kayakman, Champion

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excellent question; I've wondered about it myself

when CS9 first released, I tried doing some web research, but found nothing directly relevant
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Bill.Wandersleben

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I would also like to see some technical documentation for the different options with guidelines of what and where to apply. I'am not a technical video Weenie so need something simple!
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Fred Grover, Champion

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Well I did a little research on this and found this website that had a pretty good explanation and description of the differences. Check it out and maybe it will make some sense or not. The link is below:

http://www.nobell.org/~gjm/dtv/hdtv-aspect.html

I hope this helps and you find it useful information. I asked a friend of mine in the TV and Broadcast Business about this and he explained it to me and gave me this link also. Thanks for posting and have a great day/night.

Best Regards ~ Fred.
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fdr

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Thanks, Fred. That article seems to be centered on the "aspect ratio" of NTSC vs HDTV.

The new Camtasia option, however, is entitled "color mode." As best I can tell, the article doesn't mention anything about color that could shed some light about what difference this particular setting makes in Camtasia 9.
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Joe Morgan

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Hello there fdr,

NTSC is essentially the common broadcast signal used in the USA and Canada. They encode colors differently.

If you're planning on broadcasting your videos to televisions over the airways than you want to go with NTSC.

Computer monitors cannot decode NTSB.

Therefore, you would want to stick to HDTV /  mp4, avi , etc. For sharing over the internet.

Regards,Joe
(Edited)
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fdr

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OK, I ran some tests, exporting the same video with the same settings, the first with the NTSC color mode, and the second with the HDTV.

Here is the MediaInfo from the NTSC color mode:


And here is the Media Info from the HDTV version:

The only value that changed between the two files was the "Matrix coefficient." NTSC outputs the Matrix Coefficient to BT.601, while HDTV outputs BT.709.

I ran a test using the Just Color Picker to compare the colors in the two videos. I decoded the video using Media Player Classic Home Cinema, having installed the KLite Codec Pack and using its default settings.

The colors were actually slightly different! The version NTSC version, which used BT.601, was slightly "whiter" on average than the HDTV version.  So, the almost-white background of the video in BT.709 averaged a reading of 255, 252, 242, while in the BT.601 version the average was 255, 253, 244. So, not a big difference, but there was definitely a difference.

Next, I figured I'd see what color mode Camtasia records in when I record my screen. So, I recorded my screen and then unzipped the content of the recording file. Media Info was unable to identify the color matrix information of the file. So, I loaded it up in Media Player Classic and started to see what I could find. Turns out that right-clicking on a video, there is an option to choose the color mode:


So, once again I used Just Color Picker to see what color mode was being "Auto-Detected" by Media Player Classic. But, I haven't consistently noticed enough of a difference to know for sure. 

So... anyway, for the moment I'm thinking I'll stick with the default, the NTSC mode. Hoping that this will provide the most faithful rendition of what was actually recorded and hoping that is why its the default! However, if there are those who know better, please share! :) I'm interested in outputting videos for consumption on a computer / Internet. 
(Edited)
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kayakman, Champion

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thanks for doing all this; I too just stick with the NTSC default

but I would still appreciate hearing the official TechSmith position on all this
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Joe Morgan

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There is  such a thing as broadcast safe colors. "Maybe" that's why the choice is available???

In a digital world I'm not sure why the " National Television System Committee" standards for analog broadcast signals are important to most of us.

It's such a yesterday thing in my opinion. It's kinda like worrying about the fact that your VCR cannot play a PAL VCR tape.

I'm sure there's some form of underling motive. I'd love to hear what it is myself.

Regards,Joe
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Kevin Mojek, Employee

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This option was added because of a long-standing problem with MP4 production. Colors in the final video would sometimes be slightly off from the colors in preview or when produced to other video formats.  One of the ways that video is compressed in the H.264 standard is by converting from the RGB color model to a luminance-chrominance color model (YCbCr) and storing the color info (CbCr) at a lower resolution. A pretty good description can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YCbCr There are two different sets of formulas used to do the color conversion,  BT.601 and BT.709.
If the colors are converted with one standard and then converted back with the other standard, the result will be a color shift. So the H.264 specification provides a way to specify which was used in encoding the video, which is what's shown in fdr's screenshot above. This info is more-or-less a hint to the decoder though... some players will look at it and choose the same standard for converting colors back to RGB and others will not. The default setting (NTSC) was chosen to provide accurate colors with most players (Chrome and Firefox browsers, VLC media player, QuickTime Player) while HDTV seems to work better with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
(Edited)
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Joe Morgan

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Thanks for posting that.

So bottom line.
It's still a bit of a crap shoot which setting  you chose. Neither choice is ever going to be right  in many situations.

Oh well, I suppose it's an improbability for the entire planet to come together and standardize a format worldwide.

Regards,Joe
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fdr

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Thanks, Kevin, much appreciated. I ran across this forum post (already 5 years old, so it may be out of date in part), that echoes a lot of the ideas and recommendations of your post: http://forum.doom9.org/showthread.php?t=164378