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Purchasing US shows from other regions


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#1 of 22 OFFLINE   smithb

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Posted April 25 2009 - 06:14 PM

Then was another recent thread discussing purchases from other regions but I could not find, so I ended up starting a new one.

I'm new to buying from other regions. I started primarily for items just not available in the US. However, looking at Amazon UK I noticed some really good prices on US TV shows. For example:

- The Wire for $27 US dollars shipped when Amazon in the US has it for $40+.
- The Shield for $19 US dollars shipped when Amazon in the US has it for $35+.

How many buy PAL versions of US shows because of cheaper prices? Is this pricing difference common or did I just stumble on a few good examples?

#2 of 22 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted April 26 2009 - 12:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithb
Then was another recent thread discussing purchases from other regions but I could not find, so I ended up starting a new one.

I'm new to buying from other regions. I started primarily for items just not available in the US. However, looking at Amazon UK I noticed some really good prices on US TV shows. For example:

- The Wire for $27 US dollars shipped when Amazon in the US has it for $40+.
- The Shield for $19 US dollars shipped when Amazon in the US has it for $35+.

How many buy PAL versions of US shows because of cheaper prices? Is this pricing difference common or did I just stumble on a few good examples?
BSmith,

I realize you didn't ask about this aspect of it, but I purchase other regions when the product is superior (special features, packaging, etc.). For me, price is rarely a consideration.

#3 of 22 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted April 26 2009 - 05:42 AM

Brad,

I buy R2/4 PAL sets for the same reason as Scott...availibility and when the item contains the original music content when the R1 set does not (ie Happy Days S1 & 2).

I've been able to enjoy several DVD's from R2/4 that have yet to see releases in the U.S. since I bought that R-Free (Upconvert) player. It's the best home ent purchase I've made.

Bionic Woman S1 & 2
Happy Days S1 & 2 (original music in both)
Man in a Suitcase series set
Rich Man Poor Man Bk 1 & 2
The Saint Complete B/W set
6M$M S2

Plus, a few R2/4 movie DVD's that aren't available in R1 Anamorphic formats

ml1fyo.jpg  "Checkmate King Two, 'Out'" "Combat! A Selmur Production"

 

TV/DVD Collector, mainly 50's thru 90's with a few 2000+ shows.
My 2 all-time favorite TV shows:
"Combat!" & "The Fugitive"
My 2 all-time best blind-buys: "The Fugitive"   "The Donna Reed Show"


#4 of 22 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted April 26 2009 - 06:29 AM

Price isn't the only thing you should look at, though, especially when it comes to movies, or American TV shows that were shot on film, because the PAL versions, if duplicated from the film elements, will play at a 4% faster speed than they should, and if mastered from tape, will have been standards-converted (to PAL) and then your player would then have to do another standards conversion back to NTSC (plus, most region-free players with built-in converters have trouble preserving the "shot-on-tape" look of videotaped shows that end up undergoing an in-player standards conversion).

There are a few instances, though, where I bought the PAL version anyway, due to the superior extras, such as the R2 version of the Flash Gordon movie (with Brian Blessed on the commentary track).

#5 of 22 ONLINE   Harry-N

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Posted April 26 2009 - 09:19 AM

The PAL speedup is a dealbreaker for me. I just can't get past the chipmunky-y sound, as I seem to be VERY sensitive to those kind of discrepancies.

If it were something I absolutely HAD to have and couldn't get an R1 version, then I'd acquiesce and perhaps investigate an all-region player. But for now, count me out.

Harry
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#6 of 22 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted April 26 2009 - 11:23 AM

Andy mentions a good point to keep in mind about the "tape-shot" conversion. I'm fortunate since all of my PAL sets are shot on film so the conversion on my player's excellent.

Harry also points out that the PAL speedup seems to be an individualized issue since I have played my PAL DVD's for friends and family members and no one has yet been able to detect the 4% speedup difference. But there's a Wiki article about the PAL/NTSC issue that mentions that a small % of the population can detect the speedup difference more readily than others. That's not to give Wiki a "blank check" on accuracy Posted Image, but it's interesting that none of my friends can detect the difference between an NTSC & PAL DVD unless they're compared on a "side-to-side" comparison.

For me, what I've found out with this is that I can hear the PAL speedup in an opening TV show theme and the closing credits music but I can't hear it during the main show presentation.

When I watch the "Combat!" Image DVD's, I can detect what's similar to a PAL speedup in the opening & closing music since most of the Image Combat! episodes (excepting Season 5) are time-compressed. But the TC doesn't bother me during the main part of the episodes themselves.

ml1fyo.jpg  "Checkmate King Two, 'Out'" "Combat! A Selmur Production"

 

TV/DVD Collector, mainly 50's thru 90's with a few 2000+ shows.
My 2 all-time favorite TV shows:
"Combat!" & "The Fugitive"
My 2 all-time best blind-buys: "The Fugitive"   "The Donna Reed Show"


#7 of 22 OFFLINE   smithb

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Posted April 26 2009 - 12:34 PM

Fortunately, my output device can handle NTSC or PAL, so I'm not doing any additional conversions when I play a PAL disk.

So far I have picked up:
- Saint, Monochrome set
- Phar Lap, not available in R1
- Man From Snowy River I/II, Pal version better and part 2 is anamorphic
- African Queen, not available R1
- High Road to China, not available R1

Either the ones I've watched are not spead up or I am not susceptible, hoping the later since I still plan on adding Combat! with the time compressed episodes.

I guess since I have not had any issues I'm wondering how far I should go with this. The music issue for some US TV shows definitely could be incentive. I was just surprised to see some highly regarded US TV shows for so much cheaper in R2 when I thought it would be the other way around.

Since PAL speed up is determined based on the originating source, it might be useful to have a thread listing ones known to have or not have speed up so potential buyers know what they are getting into.

Thanks for the feedback.

#8 of 22 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted April 26 2009 - 04:13 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithb
Either the ones I've watched are not spead up or I am not susceptible, hoping the later since I still plan on adding Combat! with the time compressed episodes.

Brad,

From reading your post, I'd guess that you're not in the susceptible group. As I posted earlier, no one that has watched my PAL DVD's has been able to detect any difference from an NTSC DVD. I recently played one of the Saint B/W DVD episodes for my nephew and asked him before watching the episode to see if he could notice anything "different" from the episode and any other U.S. DVD. He said that after we watched the episode, "I give up. What's the story with this DVD?" Posted Image When I told him that it was a PAL DVD that was converted back to NTSC for the TV output, he was surprised.

Perhaps there's some differences in the (standard) DVD Players that are Region-Free with the internal PAL/NTSC Converters. That could possibly explain some users' noticing a video/audio Q dropoff in the conversion process. I do know that some of the earlier DVD players used inferior Converters but in most cases that conversion quality problems would only be noticable when converting some of the anamorphic PAL movie DVD's to NTSC.

I have a Pioneer DV-400V standard upconverting player with a 32Mb internal PAL/NTSC Converter. Here's an excerpt from a lab test report on the converter performance:

Quote:
Originally Posted by an independent lab test report

The 400 uses the Mediatek all-in-one MPEG decoder solution. This chip has some great strong points to it, including being extremely fast in its functionality. This can be seen in both the user interface and layer change of the player. This is the first Pioneer player to have a completely seamless layer change and extremely fast menu and chapter navigation.
This chip also excels at its PAL to NTSC conversion, which is excellent. I went through a lot of the demo material on the PAL edition of the Digital Video Essentials disc and there wasn’t a trace of artifacts or improper timing. If this player could be made region free, it would be an excellent offering for those with monitors that only accept NTSC.

A point of interest regarding the "If this player could be made region free..." line: That is the lab tech's referral regarding a general comment that most (perhaps all?) of the Std Pioneer players can't be "hacked" for R-free playback. I chose to spend more $$'s to buy a "chipped" player that came with a lifetime guarantee (covering the internal mods) to play any region's (std) DVD worldwide, including any RCE (region coded enhanced) encoded movie DVD. I tested my player on a known R1 RCE-encoded movie DVD when I initially installed the player and it played the movie perfectly. Some, but not most, "hacked" players may occasionally have problems playing back an RCE-encoded movie DVD. That's why I went with a hardware-modified player.

Regarding your referral to the "Combat!" set, there are a few of the B/W episodes from S1-4 in the series that escaped the time-compression from years ago when the masters were put to tape by Worldvision. One of these episodes is the S3 episode "The Hard Way Back" (guest star: Sal Mineo). When I watched that episode, I could tell that it was a non-time-compressed episode from the moment that the opening music theme began. But for me, as well as friends that have watched other TC'ed episodes from this show, the TC issue doesn't bother me at all when watching the episodes.

Bottom line for me is that there was no way I was going to pass on Combat! (or other TC R1 TV/DVD sets) or that Saint PAL set due to any 4% speedup issue. What you're talking about here is a time difference of 46-47 min's for a PAL (or R1 TC) ep vs, say, a 51-52 min show from the early-mid 60's era. When I watched the Bionic Woman S1/S2 sets from the UK and Australia, the only way that I could detect the speedup was when I played back the opening music theme on my PC (WAV file) and then went back to my TV and played the opening theme on the PAL DVD. I asked Mom about this (she's a retired music teacher with a masters degree) and she noticed the 1/2 pitch difference in the PAL vs NTSC audio but also has watched many PAL episodes with me and the speedup doesn't bother her during the main episodes. She didn't notice it during the episodes themselves.

ml1fyo.jpg  "Checkmate King Two, 'Out'" "Combat! A Selmur Production"

 

TV/DVD Collector, mainly 50's thru 90's with a few 2000+ shows.
My 2 all-time favorite TV shows:
"Combat!" & "The Fugitive"
My 2 all-time best blind-buys: "The Fugitive"   "The Donna Reed Show"


#9 of 22 OFFLINE   BobSchneider

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Posted April 26 2009 - 05:42 PM

Well I bought Ironside s3 r4 got it around the end of 2008 and I'm very happy with the set. The video and sound captures of madmans r4 verison are superior to shouts r1 releases. I'm so pleased with s3 Ive got a pre release order of the s4 release (late june 09) right now with mad man. And getting a region free player isnt a horrible burden , infact it opens up a world of great releases that will never be release in r1. I'll keep ordering Ironside or any other favorite shows or movies from any region I like.Posted ImagePosted Image
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#10 of 22 OFFLINE   smithb

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Posted April 26 2009 - 11:59 PM

I just picked up the Marantz DV4001 for my region free play back. I was considering the Oppo's but the two better one's are no longer in production. When considering the Oppo 970, it was stated that the PAL conversion wasn't quite as good as its successors. So I started looking around and I'm glad I did. The Marantz originally cost about $299 when released early 2007 but now can be had for $69 plus shipping. It also uses the Mediatek cheap but I'm unsure whether it is the same part number or not as your Pioneer. So while the Oppo 970 has basically stayed the same price, the Marantz has gone down considerably. The Marantz also supports an easy remote control adjustment to make it region-free.

One thing that may be working in my favor is that I don't need the PAl -> NTSC conversion. My projector can play both. So while the Marantz can convert, I am just using it to play a PAL disk output as PAL. So far I like the results.

I just received the Saint monochrome edition and watched the first episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it and didn't notice anything strange. So this one is sped up?

I saw the first two episodes of Combat! from a download to see if I would like it. I was hooked from the beginning but waiting for the right sale to get the entire set. I purchased a boat load of CBS/P shoes on sale this past month. I'm waiting for the semi-annual DD sale because I would like to pick up Combat!, Dick Van Dyke Show, Father Knows Best, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. After that I think I will be caught up and good to go for quite some time.

#11 of 22 OFFLINE   Ockeghem

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Posted April 27 2009 - 02:09 AM

And for some (such as myself), the 4% speed-up issue is restricted to definite (rather than indefinite) pitch. And spoken dialogue does not effect me nearly as much as music which is playing at a faster rate of speed.

#12 of 22 OFFLINE   cajunhillbilly

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Posted April 27 2009 - 02:54 AM

I use an inexpensive Philips that has no problem with PAL to NTSC conversion. Bought it a month ago after my earlier region free unit stopped reading disks.

#13 of 22 OFFLINE   BobSchneider

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Posted April 27 2009 - 04:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cajunhillbilly
I use an inexpensive Philips that has no problem with PAL to NTSC conversion. Bought it a month ago after my earlier region free unit stopped reading disks.


Yeah me too I've got 39.00 philips that works great after I punch in the regionless code I found on google search. Also by a happy accident my pansonic upscaling dvd player works region free with no code (found out by putting a r4 ironside disk by mistake). Neither player has problems with pal to ntsc and no chipmonk vocies on ethier player.Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
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#14 of 22 OFFLINE   cajunhillbilly

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Posted April 27 2009 - 04:20 AM

I used the same code on my Philips and I love being able to watch Six Million Dollar Man, Bionic Woman, Cybill and other shows that have not gotten a region 1 release.

#15 of 22 OFFLINE   Tim Tucker

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Posted April 27 2009 - 04:41 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by BobSchneider
Also by a happy accident my pansonic upscaling dvd player works region free with no code (found out by putting a r4 ironside disk by mistake).
Bob, what's the model number for that Panasonic?
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MORTON DILL: No... no, ma'am, I... I'm from Alabama.
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#16 of 22 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted April 27 2009 - 05:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by smithb
Fortunately, my output device can handle NTSC or PAL, so I'm not doing any additional conversions when I play a PAL disk.

So far I have picked up:
- Saint, Monochrome set
- Phar Lap, not available in R1
- Man From Snowy River I/II, Pal version better and part 2 is anamorphic
- African Queen, not available R1
- High Road to China, not available R1

Either the ones I've watched are not spead up or I am not susceptible, hoping the later since I still plan on adding Combat! with the time compressed episodes.

No, even though your equipment is outputting a true PAL picture (i.e. no conversion), you are still experiencing the 4% speedup.

PAL speedup has nothing to to with standards conversion to NTSC, it's all in the conversion from 24fps film to the PAL standard. People in native PAL countries experience the same speedup when they watch American TV or cinema films (i.e. film shot at 24fps) on TV, whether it's just a broadcast, on a VHS tape or on a DVD. It's all to do with the frame rates.

All of the examples you mention above would've been shot at 24fps, yes, even The Saint, because ITC shot all their filmed series* (at that time) in the "international" speed of 24fps.

One important thing to note, though, is that just being "shot on film" does not automatically mean there will be a PAL speedup. Shows that were shot on film specifically for British TV were often shot at 25fps, because the TV companies knew they didn't want to deal with the speedup problem. So, the film inserts in BBC shows (like Doctor Who, Monty Python, etc) have always played at the proper speed in PAL countries.

*—one exception is Space 1999, where a lot of stuff was shot 25fps to avoid the "vertical roll" on the TV monitors in Moonbase Alpha.


So, in short: all cinematic movies will be affected by the PAL speedup, as will all American-filmed TV shows. Filmed programmes that were made for British consumption likely are not affected (and, thus, might mean that NTSC version could be playing 4% too slow!). Of course, British TV that was completely on-film is rarer, anyway, and most likely, any American DVDs of such was probably standards-converted from a PAL duplication tape (rather than from the originaly film elements) and, thus, probably wouldn't suffer a slowdown, just a standards conversion.

#17 of 22 OFFLINE   AndyMcKinney

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Posted April 27 2009 - 05:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry-N
The PAL speedup is a dealbreaker for me. I just can't get past the chipmunky-y sound, as I seem to be VERY sensitive to those kind of discrepancies.

Harry:
You do know this only applies to film material, yes? Shows that were shot-on-tape, or were filmed in the UK, would not be affected by the speedup.

#18 of 22 OFFLINE   smithb

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Posted April 27 2009 - 07:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyMcKinney
No, even though your equipment is outputting a true PAL picture (i.e. no conversion), you are still experiencing the 4% speedup..

Yes, I did understand this. My comment about playing a PAL disk, output in PAL to a PAL capable device was in reply to another part of your post that was referencing an NTSC converted to PAL from a tape and then reconverted back to NTSC by the player to play on an NTSC device (i.e., NTSC -> PAL -> NTSC). In my case, I would not be doing the extra conversion back to NTSC.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyMcKinney
All of the examples you mention above would've been shot at 24fps, yes, even The Saint, because ITC shot all their filmed series* (at that time) in the "international" speed of 24fps.

If that's the case, it shows I'm not affected since I didn't notice any issues with any of these from a speedup perspective.

#19 of 22 OFFLINE   David Levine

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Posted April 27 2009 - 08:00 AM

I don't notice the speed-up either. Even when I'm told its there.

I mostly buy other region when something isn't available in the US, but I've been known to buy movies that have better special editions in other countries.

#20 of 22 OFFLINE   Mary_P

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Posted April 27 2009 - 09:04 AM

PAL speed-up bugs me, but it's a trade-off I'm sometimes willing to make if the material is otherwise unavailable. As Andy noted, it doesn't affect material that was filmed with a British video presentation in mind, so it's not an issue with most of the music titles I might buy overseas of artists whose work isn't released in the US.

But I do notice it on things like "Ally McBeal," which I bought from overseas because it's doubtful it'll ever get a proper release here with all its music intact. I'd rather have it play slightly faster and have the pitch be slightly higher than have the music replaced. BTW, one of my el cheapo Daewoo players actually has a pitch control on it, though it introduces some other problems into the audio so I rarely use it.


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