The system used in America & Canada is called "NTSC". Western Europe and Australia use a system called "PAL", and Eastern Europe and France use "SECAM". Without standards conversion, it is impossible to view a video program that is recorded in a foreign country without first converting it.
You need a converter to switch from one to the other.
This 2004 article in camcorderinfo.com explains...
As far as camcorders are concerned, NTSC video is characterized by a frame size of 720x480, and produces images at a rate of around 30 frames per second. PAL video is slightly different in that there is a bit more image quality - the frame size is 720x576 - but it only produces 25 frames per second.
When a miniDV camcorder sends data out from its DV port (known similarly as firewire, i.Link and IEEE1394), it doesn't matter what format the video was shot in. As far as the computer is concerned, it's just a bunch of ones and zeroes. In fact, if you do some basic math, you see that NTSC and PAL have a common bandwidth that makes data transmission work:
NTSC: 720 x 480 x 30 = 10,368,000
PAL: 720 x 576 x 25 = 10,368,000
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