Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by oreoboy13, Feb 13, 2002.
As the thread says.
Thanks in advance
Most R1 titles have an NTSC picture signal. European R2s usually have a PAL signal; Japanese R2s have an NTSC signal. Your question, therefore, would more properly read, is there any difference between PAL and NTSC.
PAL: 50hz field refresh rate (aka 25 frames per second), 625 horizontal lines of which 576 are used.
NTSC: 60hz refresh (aka 30 fps), 525 lines, 480 used.
So, PAL has a lower refresh rate which is visible to some people on CRT and DLP devices (refresh rate has no effect on LCDs).
PAL has more horizontal lines so theoretically has more definition.
In addition, films (which are always shot at 24fps) are transferred to video differently.
For the 25fps used in PAL, the film is speeded up from 24 to 25 - a 4% increase - so the film actually plays more quickly. This is rarely if ever noticeable.
For NTSC 30fps, the film is run at its correct speed, but additional, duplicate frames are added, one for every 5. This can give rise to jerkiness in moving objects - known as 3:2 pulldown.
That's the theory.
In practice, the improved definition of PAL is rarely visible. Other factors in the disc mastering process can create greater differences in image quality so I wouldn't base a disc choice on this factor alone.
The 4% speedup of PAL is rarely visible, so I wouldn't base a disc choice on this factor, either.
The 3:2 pulldown is probably the most visible of the factors. However, the majority of my library is NTSC and I rarely if ever notice it.
More significant factors should govern your choice of disc - depending on your preferences - better soundtracks, more extras etc. I wouldn't get hung up on the PAL vs NTSC issue.
The theoretical differences between PAL and NTSC rarely govern my choices.
I am starting to find that NTSC (american in my case) discs seem to be the more reliable choice as far as picture quality goes. The problem is that there are very few comparison sites that look at more then just the specs (extras, dts, etc).
Even though they don't review everything Jenz's site www.bulletsnbabesdvds.com is one of the better ones (not least because he has a very revealiing test system).
Hope that helps
I would like to thank you for the effort you clearly made in your response.
The input is appreicated
In addition to nigels well informed comments, sound is also an issue for PAL(R2) Vs NTSC(R1).
Nigel was right about speeding up the PAL picture rate 4% faster (4.1% to be exact) the sound track is also sped up as well to match the picture framerate, this results in the pitch of the sound track on a PAL disk being raised about one semi tone.
This does not sound like much, but it does make a difference especialy to dialogue, male children for example can sound like young girls!
Some of these sped up sound tracks, but not all of them, are then processed in a very expensive Lexicon pitch corrector to lower the the pitch back to its original state (it lowers the pitch but retains the speed (lots of computer type maths involved), but this also can have negative results like a whoosing effect on certain sounds and a "pumping" of volume.
NTSC on the other hand has a sound frame rate of 23.98 frames per second which is only 0.2% slower than the original 24 frames per second feature film speed. The difference is therefore tiny
If you can, get hold of a copy of both a R1 and a R2 copy of a film and play a scene back to back and see if you can(hear I mean!) the difference. Remember that some soundtracks as mentioned above have been "processed"
Basically a PAL transfered disk generally is not what the feature film director and sound mixer intended you to hear
In my opinion R1 (NTSC) is better than R2 (PAL)
thanks Nigel and the others. Certainly a very informative lot of info and makes me glad I come here..
Darth - do you really notice the pitch difference on the PAL discs (+ 4%)?
4% is a (relatively) tiny increase and unless anyone is extremely pitch sensitive I doubt they'd notice it unless they were running the movies side by side for easy comparison.
I have never watched a PAL film and thought that the soundtrack sounded fast. What I do notice though is the affect the 3:2 pulldown on NTSC has - especially on panning shots. I find the juddering this causes very annoying.
I know I notice it.
First happened when I needed to buy a couple of Star Trek Next Gen tapes a long time ago (just to fill in the gaps when I missed a couple on TV).
The crew sounded as though they'd been snorting helium on tapes from the fourth season, but normal from the first.
Movement can look odd even with just a 4% speedup.
I can see 2-3 pulldown, but it's not as irritating to me as audio errors.
I'm not saying this is the case with you MATTS, but the most vociferous complainers wrt pulldown are those who's players convert 60fps NTSC to 50fps PAL - they've got a £200 DVD deck trying to do the job a £100,000 standards converter can just about do transparently.
To MATTS and any one else interested.
I work as an audio engineer in in the sound department of a Film Studio in which part of my job requires me to perform the sped up versions of the soundtrack, so obviously I can hear the difference as I have the ability to do quick comparisons.
A recent feature film we have mixed in the theatre that I work in, has lots of scenes with male and female children in. In the sped up version, the male children really do sound almost like the girls!.
Confucius is right, some actors can sound like they are on helium.
Another issue is an exaggeration of sibilance, this is the high pitched "Ssss" sound made by saying words with an "S" in (or other "S" sounding letters like "C" for example) which is more common in women than men. In original non sped up versions some sibilance is hardly noticeable, but once sped up it can become more prominant and can become distorted to the point of it being very irritating!.
One last point that I forgot to mention before is that in general, Films and TV programs that are made just for PAL TV and video (eg. soaps, sitcoms etc..) are recorded at 25 frames per second and are not sped up, slowed down or pitch corrected, so they are not affected by any of my previous comments. It is only feature films first shown in cinemas which are recorded at 24 f.p.s. that are affected.
Darth, that's an interesting point you make about films and (presumably) filmed TV shows made for the PAL format. Since a great many of our classic TV shows featured at least some filmed inserts - generally 'on location' scenes - I guess these would be examples to which you refer.
I've often wondered if the actors' voice pitch would have been 'correct' only if shown on the NTSC format, it would appear not! And of course explains the constant pitch when cutting between film & video in the TV shows.
I know that these days most on location scenes seem to be done on video unless the director specifically requires a filmic look. Were (and are) special cameras required for 25 frame per second films, or were regular cameras simply run 4% quicker. Also, has this 'always' been the case - I am collecting all my favorite television shows from the 50s to the present day on DVD and I tend to go for whichever region spawned the series where possible, in terms of audio this would seem to be the best policy.
Ermmmmm... Is there a difference between the value of the bitrate quality of R1 and R2 sound? I'm sure i read something about R2 having a lower bitrate due to the extra space needed for the extra subtitles for european countries and arabia etc...?
Isn't R2 DD about 384KBps
R1 DD about 448KBps?
I cant tell the difference anyway! My ears are buggered from listening to things for too long and too loud!!!!!!
To Pete, aka Confucius.
Regarding PAL TV productions shooting film on location, the film cameras can be made to speed up to film at 25 f.p.s. and so can the sound recorder which used to be a 2 track 1/4" reel to reel analogue tape machine called a NAGRA, but a digital DAT recorder is now usually used. this should then blend with the studio shot footage also shot at 25 f.p.s. the only difference being the picture quality between film and video. but as you have pointed out this not always the case.
As my expertise is in Post Production feature film sound (i.e. after the scenes have been filmed and edited), not in location TV filming, my following explanation is partial guess work and I stand corrected if I am wrong!.
Where I think the difference in sound between film and video scenes when the sound has NOT been speeded up. Is that recording on location sometimes is not as easy and straight forward as recording in a studio where the enviroment can be totally controlled. On location, stray sound (e.g. aeroplane noise, car horns, general background noise etc...) as well as general hiss and noise created by locations, can ruin a perfectly good take, To save time and money (as is the case with most TV productions) the production can rerecord the sound of a previously filmed scene in a recording theatre that specialises in sound effects (FOLEY) and rerecorded dialogue (ADR). this could sound different to the studio scenes as different equipment is used. When the sound is mixed and mastered, the mixers try to make the sound between differently recorded scenes blend together but they are not miracle workers!.
So this is my best guess as to why location filming can sound different from the studio video scenes, even if the no speed changes have been administered.
I agree with you about collecting TV shows on disks and video, if possible buy from the territories that they were originally intended for. As for feature films stick to R1 as they are better in general for sound + the extras are usually better.
Although most of this is academic as sound on TV shows is not given the same attention as feature films, statistics show most people still watch TV programs on mono sets so why bother with superduper sound if most people cannot hear the benefit? (apart from us lucky few!). Any way most of the sound broadcast on TV, including the films on Sky and ITV Digital are dynamicaly compressed to cater for the lowest common denominator (mono TV's agian!) this is the attitude of the TV companies not mine!. Home cinema fans with systems cabable of full frequency responcies are in effect being ignored by both analogue and digital TV companies. Anyway this is another debate best saved for another day!.
Sorry this has turned into a lecture, I get carried away sometimes!.
May the force be with you.....
A lecture maybe, but a most interesting one. Thanks for taking the time to write all that out
as your area of expertise is sound, I'd expect you to be more sensitive to it. I agree that the PAL doesn't give you the original movie, but then neither does NTSC which adds in visual artifacting due to the 3:2 pulldown.
Both of these are more, or less, noticable to different people. Horses for courses.
and how many people will play an NTSC and PAL version of the same movie at the same time to compare them?
In fact, there could be an argument that PAL discs are more suitable for PAL countries because the voices will sound the same as they are on TV. These voices will be more recognisable as the 'real' voices of the actors (even though they are too fast), because that is how we have been conditioned.
BTW, what happens to NTSC TV shows converted to PAL? What mechanism is used to convert, and what effect does this have on picture or sound?
Sorry, I can't properly comment on your comments regarding DVD bit rates varying with R1 & R2, as DVD mastering is a whole different ballgame from cinema sound production.
If there is a difference in bit rates on DVD from different reigions, it may be to do with the PAL picture being of a higher horizontal resolution than NTSC picture thus taking up more space on the disk as well as extra thigs like extra subtitles. This was the case with Laser Discs, when Dolby Digital 5.1 was introduced to the NTSC format LD. The PAL format disks did not get the same treatment. At the time I phoned Pioneer to ask why the european market was being left out, they explained that on a PAL disk the extra video information used did not leave enough room for a DD 5.1 sound track AND the standard stereo Pro Logic Encoded sound track, it had to be one OR the other. They chose the stereo tracks over the DD ones because at the time (this was quite a few years ago remember) hardly anyone in europe had DD decoders so therefore would not hear the benefit. They suggested the only way to get DD was to import them from the U.S. which I did and they were great, untill DVD arrived!.
I agree with you, the sound difference bothers me because I am sensitive to the problem. If anyone else doesn't care or can't hear the differences in the sound, thats fine, thats their opinion and they are intitled to it. My original point made on this thread was to make people aware that sound is affected by PAL conversion not just the picture.
About TV actors sounding different on films and on TV I think you might have missed my point. On TV programs made using PAL and then shown on PAL TV you are hearing the correct pitch of the actors because they have NOT been sped up or changed in any way (Recorded at 25 f.p.s. & Broadcast at 25 f.p.s.) Where you would hear them higher pitched is when they make a feature film. Mike Reid of EastEnders fame (RICKYYYY) Is a perfect example. As I mentioned above, on EastEnders Mike's dialogue will not sound pitched up from his real voice, nor will it in his performance in "Snatch" in the cinema, but watch the PAL DVD of 'Snatch" and his voice sounds different.
Regarding your question about converting NTSC to PAL, to be honest I'm not sure, as I have said before. my experience lies in feature films not TV, I'll tell you what I'll ask some TV type people at work on monday and hopfully get back to you.
Great thread and excellent information, Darth.
If you want an example of the efect of PAL speedup, go here:
And click on boot_alarm.mp3
This is a sample from a sound segment of Das Boot, with the NTSC and the PAL versions back-to-back.
If I listened only to one of the versions, I probably wouldn't tell the differences. But they are painfully obvious when compared to each other.
I did a comparision myself with the R1 & 2 Blade Runner DVD's last year (I'm a BIG fan of this film, so I have it on numerous formats!). I sampled the same scene from both disks on to my computer from the Left and Right Pre Outs of my amp, and synced them both together at the start of the scene using a software program called Pro Tools. In essence what I had was both the tracks running at the same time so I could mute one and listen to the other and vise versa so I could do quick" A B" comparisons.
What I found was:
1) The difference of pitch, which as you have found out for yourself this is very noticable. The Vangellis score in this film sounded really different and was more noticable than the dialogue that was also present and notably different.
2) Another thing that is different, was that the two sound tracks ran out of sync with each other almost immediately!. 4.1% faster on PAL does not sound like much on paper but it is very apparent when you listen to it side by with an NTSC track. By the end of the three minute sections I had recorded, the NTSC version was lagging behind the PAL version by a couple of seconds. If you then imagine how far out of sync it runs over the entire course of the film. In essence you are getting a much shorter film for your money with a PAL disk!.
The last two points I expected to hear, but the third one listed below suprised me!.
3) The PAL version was a few dB's lower in volume on average than the NTSC version. This was audible (to my ears anyway!) and the level meters on Pro Tools confirmed this. I must point out the between disk changes and recordings the input gains of my sound card and the volume of my amp were NOT altered in any way. So I can only conclude that the volume difference was on the disks or the different way my DVD player handles audio between the two formats and not because of any changes made on the computer. This probably has nothing to do with the speed difference and probably more to do with general audio levels when it was being transfered. It is however another (potential) difference between the two formats.
But it does mean that when you're in a hurry you can watch the whole movie in less time....
Ah come on thats like saying if two blokes each buy a fish supper the one who eats it slower is getting better value for money.
625/50 has slightly higher res compared with 525/60 although the vagaries of Mpeg2 make this harder to accurately quantify. 525/50 has 3:2 pulldown 625/50 doesn't. 625/50 has 4% speed-up 525/60 doesn't ( and I dispute if this is any more ( possibly less in fact) of an issue to most people than 3:2 pulldown unless you do an A/B viewing and how often does anyone do that even as an experiment)
Its swings and roundabouts. At least we have the luxury of choice.
Personally its the quality of the telecine from film I look at and in most cases the region1 discs are a bit better than the region2 ones. The advantage of region1 availability months before the region2 version and more often than not the cheaper price normally swings it to region 1 for me. My point is though that you can't proclaim either format superior than the other . The technical disadvantages between the two near enough level each format in the quality stakes.
I get your point about proclaiming which format is superiour on a technical level. Its just that IMO NTSC is truer to the original film when it was shown in the cinema. OK I admit 3:2 pulldown is'nt very cinematic but pesonally I can live with it more than the PAL speed issue, as this bugs me more. But I do realise that other people will find the opposite is more irritating and would prefer PAL. I guess I've got a bee in my bonnet regarding sound as it is my job and I am perhaps more sensitive to it than most. Of course sound is only half the HC experience and I get a bit carried away some times!. My original intension on this thread was to inform people that that the 4% speed up affected the sound as well as the picture so readers of this thread had a bit more info to make up thier own minds on the R1 Vs R2 debate. But I think that the sound issue has gone on for long enough and I will refrain from commenting on sound agian on this thread.
Oh, come on Darth, it didn't get that ugly, did it?
I've seen really heated arguments about this topic on other forums and you wouldn't imagine how passionate people can get in defence of their positions.
Apart from that, there is some nationalism going on. You know, what with NTSC being 'American' and PAL being 'European' (German, actually), people tend to defend their own thing. It's as if I argued with a Yank about 240V being better than 110V. :rolleyes
Other home cinema debates that can lead to online violence:
- CRT projectors vs digital projectors
- 100Hz vs 50Hz televisions
- Coaxial vs optical digital connections
- Expensive vs cheap cables
And on and on...
No it has not got ugly Grubert.
It's just that I have nothing more to add. I've had my say and it is someone elses turn to add something new.
Separate names with a comma.