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Telecine is the process of converting film, which operates at 24 FPS, to television/video, which operates at 25 or 29.97 FPS.


3:2 Pulldown

NTSC television sets refresh at 60 fields per second (30 frames per second), while film is at 23.976 (24) FPS. 3:2 pulldown allows 24 FPS film to be displayed at 30 FPS by first splitting each frame into 2 fields. The first field contains the odd numbered lines in the frame (top field), the second frame the even numbered lines (bottom field) - when two fields are combined, they reproduce the original frame. Then, certain fields are duplicated to create an additional frame for every 4 frames.

For example, these are 4 frames in a 24 FPS film:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Using the interlaced nature of NTSC, these frames are split into odd (T - top) and even (B - bottom) fields:

1T 1B | 2T 2B | 3T 3B | 4T 4B

We now apply duplication of certain fields to create the extra frame (* indicate repeated frames):

1T 1B | 1T* 2B | 2T 3B | 3T 3B* | 4T 4B

The image below demonstrates the same process.


As you can probably notice, because certain frames contain an extra field, the repeated fields will cause the smoothness of the picture to be affected, causing what is known as Telecine Judder.

3:3 Pulldown

Some modern displays can now refresh at 72 Hz (72 fields per second). Because 72 is a multiple of 24, the telecine process then becomes 3:3, basically duplicating a field for every frame, rather than for every second frame as in 3:2 pulldown. The advantage of doing this is that there Telecine Judder is no longer an issue, you can get a much smoother playback.

5:5 Pulldown

Taking the 72 Hz approach and refreshing at a higher 120 Hz rate, the telecine process then becomes 5:5, essentially quintupling the frames. Some TVs also employ motion enhancers (such as LG's "TruMotion" or Sony's "Motionflow"), which takes the difference between the two frames and interpolates what an in-between frame will look like. This provides ultra smooth motion for 24p content, such as Blu-ray, which some people find unnatural. Some TVs allow motion enhancers to be switched off, but some do not.

PAL Speedup

To convert film's 24 FPS to PAL, the process is often much less complicated. Instead of messing with repeated fields, the 24 FPS film is simply sped up to 25 FPS (along with a higher pitch for the audio). This introduces a 1/24, or 4.17% speed up, and so movies in PAL are often "shorter" than their NTSC counterparts, even when the actual content is the same.

Inverse Telecine (IVTC)

As the name suggests, this is the process of reversing Telecine, or in other words, obtaining the original 24 FPS film material from a television source (at 29.97 FPS).