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Rod Stephens wrote:

> When I worked for a video company in the '60's, we had a variation on
> the NTSC phrase: "Never Twice the Same Color" since, unlike many
> European systems, we have knobs on our equipment that allow us to make
> the video picture look any way we want.

Talk to any European, other than the French (they're, as usual, a special
case), and they will tell you that their PAL (Phase Alternating Line) system
means "Perfection At Last". Then ask him/her about how he/she can stand the
50 Hz flicker in the picture (the US rate is approx. 60 Hz) and the response
will be "What flicker?"

The French had to have their own system called SECAM (pardon my spelling,
but it's approximately Systeme Electronique Colour Avec Memoire), which some
people call "System Entirely Contrary to American Methods." It's an
incredibly complex system which prevents production and post-production work
in its own standard (i.e. signals must be manipulated as component signals
or composite PAL signals).

Of course, with the coming of digital video much of this information may
quickly be for historical purposes only.

> Unfortunately, there is no
> "standard" way for most people to set up their picture monitors unless
> they use professional vector scopes with a system generated (as in a
> professional video  facility) color bars test signal.  I've seen some
> pretty strange results when people use their naked eyes at home.

The simplest way to set up a monitor is to use SMPTE (Society of Motion
Picture and Television Engineers) color bars, which is a long-established
variant of simple color bars. The extra information allows the user to set
brightness and color-balance to a (more-or-less) repeatable setting so that
the color of a production can be properly evaluated.

Aaron Z