Question about PAL Speed-Up

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Will Krupp, Aug 15, 2004.

  1. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    I tried to find the answer to this myself, but have been unsuccessful. I'm hoping a forum member can help me in answering this.

    I know that all 24fps film based material is transferred to 25fps PAL format for broadcast on UK television. My QUESTION concerns British made-for-television FILM BASED product. I'm referring specifically to 16mm (?) productions such as the Joan Hickson MISS MARPLE series and television movies such as MOTHER LOVE or IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE, as well as filmed inserts in otherwise videotaped series like MONTY PYTHON. And while I'm thinking about it, what about 35mm shows like THE AVENGERS, THE PRISONER, or THE SAINT?

    These were all produced with the PAL format in mind, correct? Were they shot at 24fps and sped-up for original broadcast? Were they shot at 25fps using a different format? I know this sounds like a silly question, but it came to me yesterday and I cannot find the answer.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated by my obsessive Gemini mind.

    Thanks in advance,
    Will
     
  2. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

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    While I'm not sure about the specific shows you asked about, there are film cameras than can shoot 25 fps.
     
  3. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    They'll have been shot 25 fps on film - there's no way the channel could time them efficiently otherwise.
     
  4. Charlie O.

    Charlie O. Supporting Actor

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    Can they fix the PAL seed problem digitally these days. Silent film would have a similar problem because of the frame rate and I think they fix those digitally.
     
  5. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    They can blend the frames to 25fps, with ugly smeary results.

    Alternatively, they can fix the pitch... but do they? No. Not in the majority of cases anyway.

    With regard to UK TV, I'm pretty sure that it's now all filmed at 25fps. But I'm less sure about the old ITC shows. It'd be nice if someone who knows for definite could chime in.

    (Aside)
    I was watching an ep of Frasier (R1 DVD) the other day. Afterwards I switched to Channel 4 (a UK, i.e. PAL, tv channel), and Frasier was coincidentally being shown. O.M.F.G. Frasier really did sound like he'd been breathing in helium. I kid you not.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    Generally PAL speedup isn't an issue for UK viewers, and I'm always amused by Brit DVD users who piously say 'I won't buy R2 discs because I can detect the speedup' but who happily watched films on Brit TV for years without noticing it once until someone told them about speedup.

    Philip is quite right - placed back to back you can tell a difference, but there are very very few people who in truly blind tests can tell when they see a PAL speedup movie by itself.

    Which is a long way of saying that generally Brit TV wasn't and isn't very concerned about speedup because it didn't and doesn't cause problems. I believe that in the old days, a lot of film was shot at 25 fps so that it could synchronise with video footage (a lot of Brit TV used to use film for exterior shots and video for interior). However, this wasn't slavishly followed.
     
  7. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    Most Brits don't notice a speedup because they have no basis of comparison (and still don't unless they import DVDs, or go to the cinema really often, or are soundtrack junkies). Most Brits I tell about PAL speedup just shrug or say "that's interesting" - but then again, those are the same people who listen to DVDs through their TV's speakers.

    (Having just said that, that Frasier comparison I mentioned was on my 14" 4:3 spare tv set, so you do not need good equipment to tell the difference)

    I remember that when Star Trek TNG was released on VHS here, for its first season it was blurry (but not speeded up). People complained about the poor picture. When the second season arrived the picture was better, but then a lot of other people commented "Why is Riker now talking in soprano?" [​IMG]

    And I should add that if I can stomach the first five minutes of a PAL-speeded-up film (actually I'm usually laughing through it like I used to laugh at "rewind" back in the old days when VHS first appeared), then I quickly forget about the audio effect for the remainder.
     
  8. Rob Pritchard

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    Generally PAL speedup isn't an issue for UK viewers, and I'm always amused by Brit DVD users who piously say 'I won't buy R2 discs because I can detect the speedup' but who happily watched films on Brit TV for years without noticing it once until someone told them about speedup.

    Hah-hah-hah!!! Very well said, Andrew! [​IMG] I couldn't agree more.

    I know that all 24fps film based material is transferred to 25fps PAL format for broadcast on UK television. My QUESTION concerns British made-for-television FILM BASED product. I'm referring specifically to 16mm (?) productions such as the Joan Hickson MISS MARPLE series and television movies such as MOTHER LOVE or IN THIS HOUSE OF BREDE, as well as filmed inserts in otherwise videotaped series like MONTY PYTHON. And while I'm thinking about it, what about 35mm shows like THE AVENGERS, THE PRISONER, or THE SAINT?

    Will, I would be sceptical of anyone claiming a definitive answer to this. Unless they happen to be the actual cameraman or part of the camera crew that worked on the show then how can anyone know for sure? British film series like The Avengers and all those Lew Grade projects like The Prisoner were produced for the international market - so on that basis alone I'd have thought they were 24fps.

    The Python video sequences would obviously be 25fps since that's the frame rate for PAL video. Whether the on location film sequences were 25fps or 24fps, I have no idea. But does it matter? Incidentally, I'm pretty sure that 'In This House of Brede' was 35mm not 16mm -- at least if you're referring to the version starring Diana Rigg. If you're worried about PAL speedup being an issue that might affect your enjoyment, don't be. As Andrew has said, there's an awful lot of exaggeration on this subject.
     
  9. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Thanks Rob. No, I'm not concerned because I'm afraid it will affect my enjoyment, it's really just an academic question as to how they were originally broadcast to British viewers.

    After writing IN THIS HOSE OF BREDE and thinking about it for awhile, I realized that it was probably shot in 35mm....I just included it as a title designed for the PAL market and lumped it with the other tv product before making a 35mm distinction. I was typing as I was thinking.

    I'm not necessarily anti-PAL, by the way....but I'm none too thrilled about some of the PAL-NTSC conversion peculiarities (that's for another thread, though)

    This all started because I was started thinking about UK shows like MISS MARPLE, POIROT, and BRIDESHEAD REVISITED...next thing I know my fevered brain starts thinking about all film-based television product and I thought of no better place to ask the question than here.

    I guess I'm just curious as to whether or not there is (or was)a standard in place for film product designed to be seen primarily in the PAL format.

    Thanks for the help, guys.....

    :b
     
  10. Rob Pritchard

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    I'm not necessarily anti-PAL, by the way....but I'm none too thrilled about some of the PAL-NTSC conversion peculiarities (that's for another thread, though)

    Yeah, I've read some horrendously critical comments on this subject. I don't know if you're at all familiar with a 1970's British series called, 'Upstairs, Downstairs'? Not too long ago I was looking at a web site devoted to the series. They'd posted some comparison shots of the R1 vs the R2 DVD's and the former looked dreadful. I don't think it was the encoding which was at fault, just the atrocious PAL-NTSC conversion. I was somewhat taken aback at the thought of people paying for that kind of quality. It was not good! 'The Sandbaggers'and 'Thick As Thieves' are two more UK series where I understand there are problems with the conversion.

    Just a thought, but might you be better off going for the proper R2/PAL version - at least if you have a region free computer?
     
  11. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    Now sugah I'm SURE that condescension in your post was ENTIRELY accidental. [​IMG]

    I'm just pulling your leg, but OF COURSE I've heard of Upstairs, Downstairs (that's the comedy where they run alot isn't it? Like Benny Hill?)

    I don't mind watching a PAL source converted to NTSC (the muddy picture somehow adds to the British-ness of the piece anyway) my only real problems are with American movies mastered for PAL and THEN converted back to NTSC (THE GREAT DICTATOR, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, and the current tv print of the restored BECKY SHARP spring to mind) in which we not only get a speed-up but also the "ghosting" artifacts of the backward conversion and none of the PAL advantages.

    But anyway, I was REALLY just trying to find out at what speed the tv product was shot for PAL playback, but I do appreciate your posts.

    And I WAS just teasing you at the top. Don't be mad :wink:
     
  12. andrew markworthy

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    Just watched a re-run on satellite TV this lunchtime. They're up to the Lesley-Anne Downe episodes. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Simon Young

    Simon Young Stunt Coordinator

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    Thought I'd chime in with this. As someone who definitely notices PAL speed-up - and not just when I have a basis for comparison - I find it amusing when other people say they find it amusing when I say that I notice it. So there.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Rob Pritchard

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    And I WAS just teasing you at the top. Don't be mad

    No problem, it's just that I didn't know if U,D was a niche cult appeal thing in your country or a big success. So I thought I'd better not assume that you knew what it was. [​IMG] Is it as well known as Monty Python or The Avengers?
     
  15. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    Hear, hear! I have about 50% R1 discs and 50% R2 discs and I just don't notice any difference and I'm sure 99% of viewers don't either. This is the biggest non-issue of all!
     
  16. Doug Bull

    Doug Bull Advanced Member

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    Watching PAL TV since it's beginnings here in Australia, I was not aware of the Speedup until the mid 80s when I bought my first NTSC Laserdisc.
    Playing a Movie I was very familiar with, I immediately thought that something was wrong, because the Music was far too slow and the voices had a deep resononence I had never heard before.
    Little did I know at the time that I was hearing the Soundtrack as it was meant to be heard.

    Well 100s of NTSC Laserdiscs and 100s of NTSC Region 1 DVDs later, I can only say that I can certainly still hear that difference on material I am familiar with.

    I think that is the crux of the matter. "Material I am familiar with"

    When viewing or playing PAL, If I'm not familiar with the music or the actor's voice, then I can honestly say that I am mostly unaware of any Speedup.
     
  17. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

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    I'd also add that PAL speed up seems more obvious on music, but that's kinda expected, yes? For instance, watching Enterprise on broadcast (we're on PAL; colonial legacy no doubt) I got used to the way the theme sounds, but when I heard it on the radio, it seemed a little slow. A similar thing happens with the Smallville theme (though it's less obvious, at least to me).

    I now realise my Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" is R4 PAL. Any idea if there's a speed-up issue there? Better give it a spin this evening and have a listen... [​IMG]
     
  18. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I have 2 questions regarding PAL that might seem pretty dumb:

    1) What is the purpose of PAL? Does it have to do with differing electrical currents or something like that? I'm just trying to figure out why one country goes with 24fps/NTSC and it seems like a majority of the rest of the world is 25fps/PAL.

    2) Can someone watch R1 NTSC DVDs on region-free DVD player in another PAL region?

    I might be moving to Europe, specifically Sweden, and I'd like to know if I could bring my DVDs over with me or if I'll have to sell them because they'll be unwatchable.
     
  19. John Whittle

    John Whittle Stunt Coordinator

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    Most PAL countries have AC current at 50 Hz and in the US/Canada the AC current is at 60 Hz. Back in the dawn of creation, television frame rates were tied to line frequency to minimize beat frequencies in the pictures hence PAL was 25 FPS and 50 Fields per second and NTSC was 30 FPS and 60 Fields. When NTSC compatiable color was introducted the need to tie to line rate was gone and the frame/field rates were slowed down to use the color burst of 3.58. (59.97 instead of 60 fields and all numbers a bit slower as well. This lead to the problem of drop frame and non-drop frame time code--but that's a story for another day).

    When I do PAL transfers, they are 25 FPS from film at 24 FPS (speed up) and we run the sound through a pitch corrector to take out the shift from the faster speed. The pace of the action and the tempo of the music are still 4% faster.

    With the advent of digital television, there really is no need for the 25/30 difference but it's is a "legacy" standard. For a time we did film transfers in what was called "slow PAL" back when it was still analogue and we wanted a master to use for both NTSC and PAL. It was simple to convert the 24 fps PAL to NTSC and no problem to play the tape faster to get the PAL version.

    With the introduction of DigiBeta and D-1, and D-5 the issue went away.

    As for region free players--someone will have to anwser that has hands on information in that area. I can only speak to production issues.

    John
     
  20. EnricoE

    EnricoE Supporting Actor

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    about region free dvd players in pal countrys: every dvd player that is mainly a pal player can play ntsc without problem. you have two choices for viewing ntsc: 1 is native ntsc and 2nd is pal60. pal60 is nothing more then ntsc in pal res at 60hz. not every dvd player supports both methods but if you can choose use native ntsc with the highest possible output (s-video, rgb, etc.)
     

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