What format are TV shows in (originally)?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jakob_S, Feb 5, 2002.

  1. Jakob_S

    Jakob_S Stunt Coordinator

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    I was wondering how a TV show (both cartoons, sitcoms and other TV series) is recorded. Are they originally recorded with 30 frames per second as an NTSC transfer? Or are they recorded with 24 frames per second like movies?

    Examples...

    Cartoons: "The Simpsons", "Walt Disney shorts", etc...

    Sitcoms: "Everybody Loves Raymond", "SpinCity", "Friends", etc...

    Other TV series: "X-Files", "Sopranos", "Ally McBeal", etc...

    In some way this topic is related to the very resent discusion thread about PAL vs. NTSC. If these series originally are in NTSC, then there have to be some kind of NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts on a R2/R4-disc like "The Simpsons: Season 1". But if they are recorded as movies with 24 frames per second, then the R1-transfers suffer from 3:2 Pull-Down.

    Is there a place where you can see how these series are recorded?
     
  2. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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    Most are 24fps open matte 35mm film.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Before the 1980's, many shows were either wholly filmed on 16mm stock or shown via video (and most very early shows were live. We see them now via kinescopes.)

    35mm is used now a lot because of better video systems (Who is going to see a great image on a rabbit ears TV in the 1970's, hence the use of cheap 16mm)
     
  4. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    TV shows are shot in various manners.

    Super16 is very popular right now for sitcoms, where they are shooting 1.78:1 (primary action in 4:3 for current release), and has been used for dramatic series like NYPD Blue and Wonderland, and Sex and the City. 35mm is used on some sitcoms and most dramatic series. When film is used it may be at 24 FPS, but is also shot at 30 FPS and 29.97 FPS for direct transfer. Many film cameras, like the Aaton XTR Prod which is very popular for sitcoms right now, have 29.97 FPS settings. A lot of shows originate on video, primarily some sitcoms, talk shows, game shows, sporting events, reality programming, and news related programming. Video formats vary greatly and include DV/DVcam, Beta SP, HD cameras and DigiBeta, D5 HD, and other decks.

    On a related note, most national/major market commercials originate on 35mm and 16mm, many shot 1.33:1 on Super35. Same with music videos, though 16mm has long been extremely popular for videos. I did a national spot last weekend on 16mm (the camera package is currently in my sig).
     
  5. Jeff Jacobson

    Jeff Jacobson Cinematographer

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    The Walt Disney shorts were originally shown theatrically, so I'm guessing that they were 24 fps.
     
  6. Roland Wandinger

    Roland Wandinger Stunt Coordinator

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  7. Andre Bijelic

    Andre Bijelic Stunt Coordinator

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    Anything photographed on film - either 16mm or 35mm - is shot at 24 fps [frames per second]. The original silent film frame rate was 18 fps. It was changed to 24 fps in the late 1920s.

    NTSC video, in its early black and white days, was designed to run at 30 fps. When colour was added, in order to accomodate the additional information in the signal, the effective frame rate was altered to 29.97 fps - that is, 30 frames in just over a second.

    Since NTSC is an interlaced format, each video frame is comprised of two video fields - two distinct pieces of video information.

    To transfer film running at 24 fps to video running at about 30 fps [i.e. 29.97], a process known as 3:2 (or 2:3) pulldown is used. The first film frame is placed on the first three fields of video (i.e. one frame and a half of video). The second film frame occupies the next two video fields. The third film frame occupies the next three video fields. The fourth film frame occupies the next two video fields...and so on.

    Most dramattic television shows are shot on 35mm and are subsequently transferred to video for post production and broadcast. A few lower budget shows are filmwed in 16mm.

    In recent years, it has become popular to shoot in super-16/super-35 in order to accomodate both the standard NTSC aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and the HDTV ratio of 1.78:1, as super-16/super-35 yields a full frame aspect ratio of 1.66:1.

    News and documentary programming is typically shot on video, while sitcoms are a mixed bag - some originate on film, others on video.
     
  8. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    Some hour-long programs (or "dramas," if you want) are going to video as well. I work for PAX TV, where I learned a little about two programs in particular.

    The final season of "Diagnosis Murder" was shot on DigiBeta. PAX's current series "The Ponderosa" is shot in 24p (24 frame progressive-scan) PAL DigiBeta (it's shot in Australia). The final masters are then sent to FilmLook, Inc. for processing to make it look more like film.

    There may be more programs going this route, but I don't know what they are at this time. I'm suspecting "The Education of Max Bickford" is another shot-on-video program, because of some odd movement artifacts I've seen on the show.
     
  9. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    I wonder if it's not CBS's compression system they use rather than being HD videotaped or filmed. The Practice is supposidly shot on HD video (I think I read at 1080p) and has none of the artifacts I see routinely on CBS shows: motion, pixelation, and really bad EE artifacts.

    Dan
     
  10. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Re Star Trek: The Next Generation: It was shot in 35mm, but many of the SFX were composited video--and you could tell it.
     
  11. bill lopez

    bill lopez Second Unit

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    The 60's GREEN HORNET was released in the 70's as a movie and was on dvd last year in 1:85 widescreen.
     
  12. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    As studios get a handle on appropriate archival materials and formats for films, many are still scratching their heads about how to best preserve television material. If it was shot on film with titles and digital effects done either in video or at video resolution, what should you keep in your archives?

    Regards,
     
  13. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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  14. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    Scott,
    Thanks once again for the fantastic and accurate technical explanations. [​IMG]
     

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