Fat Albert set appears to be PAL sourced

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Jeff Adkins, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I just watched the first episode on the new Fat Albert box set and it appears to me that these were PAL transfers converted to NTSC. Right off the bat, the theme song sounded wrong. I've heard this theme hundreds of times over the years, so it was immediately noticeable. Also, during the opening monologue, the pitch of Bill Cosby's voice definitely sounds sped up. Not horrible, but definitely noticeable. Also, I see lots of ghosting which is common on PAL-NTSC conversions. There seems to be lots of other compression artifacts as well, but the ghosting was the most annoying.

    I'm no expert, so I would love to hear someone else's opinion on this.

    Also, if anyone has the Time/Life Fat Albert discs, I would like to know if those are true NTSC transfers. I may just end up getting those.

    Jeff
     
  2. Glenise

    Glenise Supporting Actor

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    I wonder if the one disc version is the same way?
     
  3. Joe McCabe

    Joe McCabe Second Unit

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    This news really disappoints me.

    I was REALLY looking forward to watching this set with my kids, but what you've described sounds awful.
     
  4. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Is the quality much less in comparison to the Time-Life discs?

    If this is a big issue, someone should inform Craig Crumpton who has been in contact with the company producing these sets and passing along advice and suggestions on our behalf. It would be good to address the issue before the 2-disc chronological volumes are issued so that if there is a significant problem with the video quality or transfers, it can be corrected before future volumes are released...
     
  5. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    I have the Fat Albert Time-Life set and it looks pristine, sharp, not sped up at all. In fact, it looks like they used the original film negatives to master the DVD set because unlike other DVD releases (Lost In Space comes to mind) where you can see video scanning lines (because they were mastered from video sources), the Fat Albert Time-Life sets look beautiful. The only problem with them is the fact that they didn't include every episode of the series. Here is a list of all the episodes not included in the Time-Life set:

    1st season Episodes missing:

    The Runt
    Fish Out Of Water
    The Hospital

    2nd season Episodes missing:

    Mom or Pop
    How the West Was Lost
    Sign Off

    3rd season Episodes missing:

    None

    4th season Episodes missing:

    What Say?

    5th season Episodes missing:

    The Dancer
    Spare The Rod
    Sweet Sorrow
    Poll Time
    The Mainstream
    Soft Core


    If you can live without these episodes ( I have so far), I suggest you buy the Time-Life set. Maybe eventually someone will release a set that'll include the missing episodes. I was thinking of buying the new set only so I could have the episodes not included on the Time-Life sets, but after reading the reviews, I think I'll pass.
     
  6. ZackR

    ZackR Supporting Actor

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    Hey Guys,

    Semi-unrelated question for you Fat Albert fans. I desperately want a copy of the Fat Albert Christmas special on DVD. I have seen a couple on Ebay, but I have questions about their authenticity. Was it released as part of the Time-Life sets? If so, was it available on its own? My mom taped it off TV when I was kid in like 1985 and I always loved it. Thanks for any info!
     
  7. StacyV

    StacyV Second Unit

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    Yes Zack, the Christmas special was released through TimeLife, on a single disc along with the Halloween special, the Holiday Adventures of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids. I actually got my copy through eBay a couple of years ago.
     
  8. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    It's also tentatively planned for release through Urban Entertainment next year.
     
  9. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Well, I still want to wait until someone else can confirm whether or not my suspicions are correct. Again, I'm not expert. It just sounded to my ear that the pitch is off and I noticed ghosting throughout. Those are 2 symptoms of a PAL-NTSC converted transfer. But I'll wait until someonw with more experience can confirm this.

    Anyone else found a review anywhere?
     
  10. ZackR

    ZackR Supporting Actor

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    Great! Thank you very much for the info. [​IMG]
     
  11. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Well, since Fat Albert is now owned by British company "Entertainment Rights", perhaps they were lazy and had some PAL video masters converted to NTSC, rather than searching for NTSC video masters (if they even have them). Who knows if ER even has the original film prints?

    I knew of someone who temped for Hallmark who was boxing the stuff up in anticipation of the "sale" to ER. He said many of the shows were on digital tape. Since Filmation material was in distribution in the UK and other regions for a much longer time than the USA, I suppose it's possible that the only videotape masters (in a modern format, that is) are in PAL, so perhaps ER were either too lazy or too cheap to have new NTSC masters made.

    The Time/Life sets were made when Hallmark owned the series.
     
  12. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    And thank God they were made at all, because the quality of the Time/Life sets looks superb. I'm a huge fan of the old Filmation shows (Archies, Groovie Ghoolies, Sabrina, Isis, etc. I have been anticipating these shows being released on DVD eventually. However, if this British company plans on releasing these shows the same way they did with Fat Albert, they won't be seeing one penny from me. I don't understand why they would take a show done in the U.S. in the NTSC video standard, transfer the shows to the PAL standard, then re-convert them back to NTSC for distribution in the states. This makes no sense. Maybe this "Entertainment Rights" company should sell the rights of these shows to some other company, hopefully one who takes a little pride and care in releasing a quality product to the public.
     
  13. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    Animation was produced and finished completely on film back then. That eliminates "NTSC source" issues. When Entertainment Rights bought the property, they were almost certainly provided negatives or master prints, and they made new transfers of those. In PAL.

    There should have been two transfers made. (Or one, to HD, with downconversions made from that.)

    Sounds like they didn't, alas.
     
  14. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    In total agreement with you there.
     
  15. Jay Pennington

    Jay Pennington Screenwriter

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    You're right, that is possible as well.
     
  16. Craig Crumpton

    Craig Crumpton Auditioning

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    I'm in the midst of reviewing the "Fat Albert" box set for toonzone.net and I won't have it published until sometime next week. But I wanted to address the issues brought up here.

    1. The issue of the audio sounding "sped-up" on the box set has been exaggerated. To the average ear, the audio on the box set will sound fine. And if the audio does sound "sped-up", it's so minor that it's not going to be noticable except to a well-trained ear. The pitch difference is so slight that it's not even a half-step higher, and as far as most people's ears are concerned I really doubt that's going to be an issue for 99% of fans. I have been a "Fat Albert" for 25+ years and have also heard the theme hundreds of times, and to my ears the theme song sounds fine.

    I also compared the audio of UrbanWorks' box set to the Time-Life "Fat Albert" DVD that I own and the audio is EXACTLY the same -- the theme is pitched ever-so-slightly higher than the original. For comparison, I used a CD set called "Television's Greatest Tunes" that includes FA's theme, and the pitch variation is so slight on the box set, I really doubt it's going to be noticable to most viewers. And it's the same on TL's titles as well.

    As for Cosby's voice sounding "sped-up" as well, I disagree. If you ever watched any of Cosby's TV shows, or heard his routines where he talks about his childhood, Cosby tends to pitch his voice higher when he's talking to kids or about kids (especially his material recorded 30+ years ago).

    2. There is some "ghosting" on the box set, but it's nothing as bad as has been presented here. The picture quality on UrbanWorks' box set is equal to the Time-Life releases, *and* the same ghosting is on TL's DVD as well, although I will say that it appears to be slightly more evident on UrbanWorks' box set. And I don't know what DVDs Carlos got from Time-Life, but the picture quality for the one I have could hardly be called "pristine", "superb", or "sharp", and they are certainly not "beautiful".

    So far in my review, I have only noted "ghosting" during Cosby's live-action segments, and it varies from ep to ep -- some have very minor ghosting, and some -- none at all.

    Either way, the ghosting *might* be a distraction if you've been spoiled on HD-TV. IMO, the picture quality is fine -- granted, it could use some digital remastering, but the picture looks much better than old grainy VHS of the show I've seen, and it looks better than it does on TV too.

    3. The Time-Life DVDs are in NO WAY "superb" nor "beautiful" when compared to UrbanWorks' box set. And I'll tell you why:

    - Time-Life's customer "service" is notoriously poor. If I had the time, I'd tell you my own tale of my nightmare experience trying to order just ONE title from them.

    - TL released totally random episodes with no sense of organization -- I don't think releasing episodes in chronological order ever even crossed their minds.

    - TL's DVDs seriously lack bonus content -- the title I have includes a third episode as a "bonus" (can you say cheap?), and a "show fact" and a random Brown Hornet short offered as "additonal bonus features". The only way their "bonus" could have been more pathetic is if they'd listed "Interactive Menus!" or "Spanish Subtitles!" as "special features".

    While UWE's box set may not include what DVD enthusiasts would consider "bonus material," it does include episodes that have never been on DVD and furthermore that many FA fans have never even seen (did you know that the show tackled themes -- in the 1970's -- like teen pregnancy and even pornography? Me neither!). Additionally, there's a booklet included that has an extensive interview with the show's producer, Lou Scheimer. And whoever it was at UWE who interviewed Lou knew his source material extremely well -- obviously a big fan of the show. So for anyone who tries to say that UWE doesn't know what they have, they're just plain wrong.

    - Up until recently, TL has charged an average of $25 -- PLUS shipping and handling -- for a 3-episode DVD. I've bought 4-disc box sets for less than that, for crying out. A fan with any sense of integrity would have never given into such blatant exploitation and bought Time-Life's grossly overpriced DVDs. I knew if I waited long enough, my patience would be rewarded -- and thankfully UrbanWorks has delivered.

    As for the issues of transfer and compression -- I'll be completely honest and say that I don't understand compression. From the transfer, there is some noticable lint/dust, film scratches, and color/image blurring from time to time, but then Filmation was never known for producing quality animation anyway. However, the TL DVDs have the very same transfer issues -- I'd speculate that they came from the exact same transfers, so I don't see how anyone could say TL's DVDs are "superb" compared to UWE's' box set, especially if they've never even seen the box set.

    From what I remember of watching the show originally and in reruns since then, compared to what I'm seeing now for the first time in 20 years, it actually looks better on DVD than it did whenever I've seen it on TV previously.

    I'll post a heads-up here when my complete review is published at toonzone.net (and I'm reviewing the single-disc release too, as soon as it arrives from UWE), but for now I'll just say very emphatically that I do not recommend Time-Life's set for the above-mentioned reasons. Even though they've finally marked them down now, I still wouldn't buy them on account of UWE releasing 12-episode volume sets in chronological order in 2005. I'd rather have volume sets on my shelf than a bunch of 3-episode titles cluttering it up.

    I wish UWE had released season sets, and even suggested that they do so. UWE chose volume sets, and while the DVD purist in me prefers season sets, I'm okay with it. As a Fat Albert fan, I'm pleased with how promising their 2005 rollout looks (the complete list was posted earlier this week at toonzone.net), especially with the hopes that the bonus materials they're considering are included on them. I'm especially looking forward to the "Brown Hornet" box set, and the "Lost Episodes" box set for 2006 that has so many episodes I never even got to see.

    I hope this covers the questions and issues raised here. And I'd like to add one final comment, direct from a UWE representative, who has looked in on this discussion: "We are still going to explore the issues raised to ensure that we are providing the best experience for FA fans."
     
  17. Carlos Garcia

    Carlos Garcia Screenwriter

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    That's all fine and dandy. Now that I know your hatred for Time-Life and their over-pricing of the FA titles, I can understand how you don't experience ghosting, sped up sound or the PAL to NTSC conversion look of the set. I also can understand how you feel both the TL and ER releases probably came from the same source. While I agree with you that the TL sets were over-priced, this does not take away from the quality of the set, which I still feel looks pristine, with vivid colors and excellent transfers, and I don't experience any ghosting whatsoever. I also agree that it was bogus for the TL set to only give us 3 random episodes (based on themes rather than season sets), and to include 1 of those 3 episodes as a "bonus extra" is also a cheap way of duping the public. Any fan of the show would know that the Brown Hornet segments were simply a part of the show, so they too should not be considered "extras". That being said, I will stand by what I've previously said. The TL sets look spectacular, and I have no plans on getting the ER release simply to get the few episodes the TL sets didn't include. Especially with the quality issues that I've not only read about on this thread, but on other DVD sites as well.
     
  18. Craig Crumpton

    Craig Crumpton Auditioning

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    No, I said I did note ghosting, but it's not prevalent. I've just finished reviewing the first two discs, and there's really only one episode that has ghosting where it's actually irritating: the background in a lot of the city scenes for the "Soft Core" episode on disc 2 has a shaky ghosting effect and it's kinda annoying. It's too bad it wasn't corrected before the box set was released, because I must admit it is obvious. I hadn't noticed it prior to my earlier post, and I apologize for that.

    As for the picture quality, I compared the episode "Creativity" from the box set and the TL set frame-for-frame in certain sections, and the transfers are identical. Also, the other 4 episodes on disc 2 are excellent transfers -- the picture quality is very clear and the colors are very clean and vivid. There's no ghosting at all on those.

    And I've already explained the audio issues. To my ears, the audio is identical for both TL's and UWE's releases, at least for the title I have.

    As for the PAL/NTSC issue -- are most DVD buyers actually aware of this when they see it? I can tell the difference between a quality transfer and VHS-quality dumped onto DVD, like Disney has been known to do. But I honestly can't believe that the average consumer is going to have a problem with the PAL/NTSC issue. The back of the FA box set says "NTSC" -- sorry, but I just cannot believe that Entertainment Rights/UrbanWorks would just outright lie about that.

    You're perfectly entitled to your opinion, but you're going to have to help me undertand how you can pass judgement on something you've never seen. I would like to see these other sites that have reviewed the Fat Albert DVDs, and especially any ones that compare the quality to Time-Life's. The Time-Life DVD I have is much less than "spectacular". I'd reserve that kind of praise for a Disney/Pixar DVD release, but certainly not Time-Life's. You're actually the first person I've ever encountered that had positive things to say about Time-Life's DVDs. Everyone else says they suck -- not just their customer service, but their product as well, and especially their animated titles.
     
  19. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

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    A PAL to NTSC disc is technically NTSC, so that isn't a lie.
     
  20. Mark_Wilson

    Mark_Wilson Screenwriter

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    What about the running times?
     

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