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frame rate settings are 60i and 30p but 30p is really 30i?? I'm a little confused about this.
You're not the first. Camera makers have yet to get this one right, and that causes a LOT of confusion for a lot of people. Here's how it works.
Long format notation lists the horizontal resolution, followed by an i for interlaced or p for progressive, a slash, and then the frame rate. Like this:
480i/30 (Normal video)
480p/24 (Film look video)
1080i/30 (HD video)
720p/60 (Another HD video standard)
Short format notation drops the resolution and the slash, and moves the i or p after the frame rate. Like this:
Now you'll notice that in both cases, only the frame rate is listed. Camera makers screw up this standard notation by listing the field rate (a field is half a frame) for interlaced settings. But this is not correct. So when a format should correctly be listed as 30i (30 interlaced frames per second), camera makers incorrectly list it as 60i (60 interlaced fields per second). This is wrong for two reasons. First, proper notation is to list only the frame rate, so technically speaking, 60i actually means 60 interlaced frames per second, and there just is no such thing. You can have 60 progressive frames, but not 60 interlaced. And second, interlacing implies fields. It's understood. So saying "interlaced fields" is a bit like saying a "female woman". It's a rather ridiculous phrasing because all woman are female. You can say woman, or female, but no one says both. With video, you can say it's interlaced (this is what the "i" means), or you can say that it has fields instead of whole frames, but not both. It's absurd. And since everyone by default uses the "i", you just don't ever list the field rate in the specs. You use i or p, and list only frame rate.
So, the upshot here is that 60i is the incorrect way of saying 30i. 30p is actually something different. 30i means 30 interlaced frames, 30p means 30 progressive frames. Both are genuine formats, and both are correctly annotated. If you shoot in 60i mode on your camera, you're actually shooting in 30i, and this is what PP is showing you.
The final piece of the puzzle is that the actual frame rate for video is 30,000/1001 frames per second. But saying or even writing that is very cumbersome, so it get's shortened to 29.97, and that often get's further shortened to just 30.
do I need to start the project over?
Not necessarily. As previously stated, 60i really means 30i, so if your sequence is 30i, you're good to go. If for whatever reason you do need to change the sequence, all you do is create the new sequence, and Copy/Paste all the clips into it.
Thank you guys for the info regarding the camera settings. Any advise on getting that source footage to play back as smooth after encoding as it does when I watch the raw .mts file on my computer??
For TV display, make sure your frame rate and Interlaced or Progressive settings match. Change only the resolution if you need to (for example, going from HD down to DVD).
For web or computer playback, you can also change from Interlaced to Progressive (in fact, you should), but do always keep the same frame rate.
So after two days of playing around with presets trying to figure out why I was getting jaggy playback I tried playing the video in windows media player instead of VLC and it plays back smooth as silk. So it looks like the problem was VLC. anyone have any idea why this would be??
Usually it's the other way around.
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VLC doesn't seem to play interlaced footage very well most of the time. However did you make sure that when you opened VLC you right clicked and selected "video" then turned "deinterlace" to on. Whenever I play files that are interlaced from my NX5U cam if I don't turn that on when playing things inside of VLC the playback looks horrible.
Back when the station I worked at was still SD I used to have to avoid VLC all together because it did such a poor job of deinterlacing our lower field first footage. With our HD interlaced footage that is upper field first as long as you turn deinterlacing on it does a fairly decent job though. Honestly for most HD delivery style formats though I'd really recommend using splash lite media player. It plays interlaced HD footage wonderfully without any tweaking although it's overall ability to play a lot of different containers/codecs is terrible.