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How to tell when DVDs are taken from video or original film?

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Grand Dizzy, Dec 18, 2004.

  1. Grand Dizzy

    Grand Dizzy
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    I've bought many DVD of British TV shows (all region 2) and a few movies (in region 2, since I prefer the higher resolution). But when it comes to American TV series, I get stuck with which region to buy from.

    If the series is shot on video (The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air, for example) then obviously region 1 is the best format to get as it's not re-formatted for PAL and you're not losing picture/animation quality.

    But many (if not most) modern American TV shows (such as Angel or Star Trek The Next Generation) are originally shot on film. This is a big problem to be as I don't have a clue whether the DVD is taken straight from the final video (in which case region 1 is best) or if all the DVDs are remastered from the original film (in which case region 2 is higher resolution).

    And these series shot on film – are they filmed at 24 frames and pulled down for American TV, or are they actually filmed at 30 frames per second for TV?

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is there some big list anywhere with all the shows that are taken from film?
     
  2. LV426

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    I'd bre very surprised if your assumption about modern US TV shows is accurate (although I don't know for sure). Using film for such purposes was more or less discontinued in the mid 70s in favour of VT.

    To be honest, having seen the 1967 Avengers (film) on US DVD, on my big screen, I'd say the PQ was so close to perfect as makes no difference - the extra resolution of PAL is technically true, but practically academic.
     
  3. cwick

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    In a similar vein ... given there's a finite amount of space on a DVD, is there a trade-off made between resolution and bitrate for different formats ?

    Clearly there could be - assume you're comparing PAL and NTSC pressings which are identical (just the film, no trailers etc). Assume both discs are full. Since the PAL has more resolution, it must have a lower bitrate that the NTSC copy. But which would look best ? And does this actually happen ? And does it matter ?
     
  4. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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  5. Chrisw2k

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    ST NG, DS9 and Voyager were shot on film but were all edited on video.
     
  6. girliedrinker

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    It's highly likely that material shot on film for TV has a frame rate of 30fps. On the occasions when UK TV drama is shot on film the camera is run at 25fps.

    Regarding resolution/bitrates/disc space - yes, PAL has higher res but it also has fewer frames per second. So all other factors being equal, NTSC and PAL material of similar lengths will take up roughly the same amount of DVD space.
     
  7. AML

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    Newer TV shows like startrek Enterprise are being shot with digital cameras to save money and to ultimately improve picture quality.
    What will this give us in terms of DVD?
     
  8. Mr.D

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    This is an issue thats going to vary from show to show.
    Some are shot on film at 24fps some are 30fps. Some are edited at 30fps some at 24fps (not necessarily the same ones that were shot at 24fps or 30fps). Some shows are actually shot on a mixture of film and video (think older british shows like dad's army etc).

    Some get edited and mastered at 24fps (Band of Brothers) in HD and PAL and NTSC versions are easily subsampled from the HD master. Exactly like a normal film.

    Some get shot at 24fps and edited as 30fps NTSC. The masters are normally transcoded to whatever format they want . This is worst case even worse (not much though) than a 30fps transcode to PAL.
    Then you get interlaced which is normally only found on documentary these days and even that is gettting rarer.

    Even when a purer path exists of turning an american show into a pal disc they don't always bother. (lot of the x-files looks like a transcode albeit a pretty good one)

    Going back to the original film elements and remastering for a different format is a major deal

    Its a bit of a mess really.

    Smart way is to do it all at 24fps and then generate whatever format you like (either by speed up or pull down) This is actually quite easy on an Avid if the editor isn't a quack. This is the way most newer shows get handled (compare Enterprise with STNG).

    Shooting HD over film doesn't really make these issues vanish. If they care enough to shoot HD in the first place they will likely shoot 24fps rather than 30fps) Cinematographers prefer it.

    Lots of ways of doing it really. Most new stuff is likely to look as good as possible on either format(as long as you don't prefer 30fps capture over 24fps)

    I've been assured that going PAL to NTSC transcode is a lot less offensive than the other way round but I still say it depends on the original material.
     
  9. Grand Dizzy

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    Thanks for your replies, everyone! But I'm still non the wiser!

    I don't think I made this clear in my original post, but I'm not too bothered about framerate issues and I'm not in the slightest bothered about encoding quality. All I'm really bothered about is picture resolution. (NTSC is low resolution enough, without having the effective resolution reduced even further by converting it to PAL.)

    Compression quality is not anywhere near as noticeable as resolution, in my opinion. I'd rather have a 576-line picture with lousy compression, than a crystal clear 480-line image scaled up to 576.

    I don't mind buying something that's been sped up 4%. I believe there are already players that can compensate for this and slow everything back down (so I'll probably have one one day).

    The question I have when I buy any American TV series is very simple: is the region 2 sourced from a 480-line image or not? If not, I'll buy it. If it is sourced from 480-line image, then I'll buy the region 1.

    I guess there's really no way of knowing about the sourcing of an American TV show — other than to just watch it on both regions and see which looks best!
     
  10. Mr.D

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    Like I said maybe ,maybe not but its more likely to be a transfer that doesn't involve a transcode the more recent the series is.(the PAL version doesn't represent a compromise over the ntsc one ...if you are not bothered by speed up ) Some older series if they were shot at 24fps and the film elements are still usable can be remastered otherwise if all thats left is an NTSC master tape you'll get a transcode.

    Pretty sure quite a lot of the classics ( like Star Trek TOS) were shot 24fps and mastered on film with whatever video format needed telecined from the conformed film master. The Rockford Files , Miami Vice , Airwolf , A-team etc all look like 24fps masters to me as do most big budget mini-series.
    Some of the first series to make use of digital effects ( Babylon 5, TNG , Seaquest) are a complete mess and consist of different frame rate and progressive and interlaced material within the same programme sometimes even the same frame!
    TNG is an example of a badly mastered series given a quite nasty transcode going by the few episodes I ever watched (I'm not a trekker). It did get better over time but I think they just improved the transcode rather than strike PAL from a 24fps master. Its still a bit soft even after the improvement.

    Its actually easier to do it 24fps in the first place but its cheaper to conform your master on video and forget about the film elements ...but your stuck with a single master format. Not a problem if you are not worried about the international market.

    Transcoding (standards conversion) can be rubbish or it can be good and again will depend on whether the original is a 24fps 3:2 pulldowned master or an interlaced 60Hz video master.

    And the resolution difference between PAL and NTSC is not as important as how good the original telecine operator was in the first place.
     
  11. howard444

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    REVISED!

    Shooting Tv Programmes On 35mm Film Is A Standard Practise In The American Tv Industry...still.

    Yes Sometimes 16mm Is Used And Yes Sometimes Video Is Used But The Primary Medium In Us Tv Is 35mm.

    Shows Like Seinfeld Use Long Lenses To Get That Sense Of Distance That Seems For Some Strange Reason To Make Comedy Work Better.

    FOR EXAMPLE THE FIRST TWO UNDER-BUDGETED SEASONS OF "BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER" WERE SHOT ON 16MM. ONCE THE SHOW ESTABLISHED ITSELF (AND THE NEW NETWORK IT WAS ON ALSO) AND MADE MONEY THEY UPGRADED TO 35MM. SO ALL BUFFY FROM SEASON 3 THRU 7 WERE SHOT IN 35MM AT 24FPS THEN POSTED ON 30FPS NTSC VIDEO AFTER A 3-2 PULLDOWN PROCESSED APPLIED.
    THE SPECIAL FX WERE ADDED IN 30FPS.

    In USA TV film is shot at 24fps.

    The Americans take their film-stock shot material and transfer via a 3-2 Pulldown process to 30fps for video post-production. That has been standard for NTSC/60hz/30fps .
    Nowadays there is also HDTV in the mix which allows for 24fps Post Production and then electronic 3-2 Pull-down for NTSC distribution. This allows those of us with Progressive Scan Dvd Players to return it back to 24fps.

    Warning though on tv show box sets apart from R1 "FIREFLY" which is stunning; many Tv shows still play better in Interlaced meaning switch The Prog-scan off.
    As they are not native 24fps but after the fact encoded.
    For example "ANGEL" works way better without the Prog-scan. No doubt the Special Fx were added in at 30fps.

    Feature films that are 16:9 Anamorphic and R1 60hz deliver stunning 24fps Off A Prog-scan Player via Component 3 Phono-Video lead into an LCD projector Etc.
     
  12. howard444

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    REVISED!!

    The notion that TV shows shot on film in the USA are shot 30fps is pure wishful thinking. Sorry there is no evidence.

    Furthermore where the UK is concerned you are giving people in the industry too much credit for it to be true what you are saying, they would have to give a damn. They don't. Because 96% of the people employed in UK TV know nothing about the science of their own industry. Nowadays the easy option is to shoot digital and yes digital cameras like VARICAM give a full range of frame rate choices.
     
  13. expat

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    Hello moderators,

    Doesn't this belong in the "Television programmes and DVDs" forum? :rolleyes:
     
  14. Mr.D

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    In the UK and Europe it is not uncommon to shoot 25fps for material destined for TV ( film or hidef). I know this . I have done this. One of my mates is doing this at the moment. No one needs to learn anything thank you very much.

    Film can also be shot 30fps for NTSC although this is less common especially as the US is very aware of its foreign market. In fact if the material mixes field based video and frame this is the best way of shooting any film elements.

    As I've already stated you can shoot 24 fps and either introduce 3:2 pulldown for NTSC or 4% speed up from PAL. This would be the best case scenario mastering from 24fps material regardless of whether its shot on film or video or destined for TV or the cinema.

    The trouble arises when the non-native master is generated by transcoding from one format to the other rather than a best scenario master from the original elements.
    This rule applies both ways.

    If they shoot 24fps and the masters are discretely generated for each format by either introducing 3:2 pulldown for NTSC or 4% speedup ( 2:2 pulldown) for PAL then the question of which is superior is down to the limitations of each format rather than a specifically less than ideal mastering in either case.

    What girliedrinker is trying to ascertain is whether a region2 version of a US TV show represents a quality compromise over the NTSC one.

    The correct answer is sometimes but not if they do it properly.

    However bear in mind older shows will happily mix frame and field based material with little thought for non-domestic use (Babylon 5 is notorious as is ST:TNG ) There is little choice but to do some sort of transcode with this material in the same way as material shot entirely interlaced is transcoded by necessity.

    Incidentally shooting a show at 24fps mastering at 30fps and introducing effects at 30fps is the wrong way to do it. (Babylon 5 , ST:TNG again as well as buffy). The effects should be done and edited at 24fps with an associated 3:2 pulldown to bring everything to 30fps.

    Deinterlacing the end result is really a secondary issue to the subject under discussion but obviously if the cadence (frame structure) is maintained better ultimate deinterlacing results are achievable.


    The point is how to tell if the region2 represents a compromise over the region1. Without actually looking at the material there is little way of knowing as the mastering technique is not commonly revealed to teh general public. They've either done it the best way possible or not. the more recent the show is the more likely it is that the transfer to either format is optimum.

    Material shot as fields however is always best in its native format.
     
  15. Mr.D

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    And you obviously don't fall into that magical 4%.
     
  16. howard444

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    Well if some people are doing that on film that is fine and I thank you for telling me but I still maintain that it is not the norm. Why is it that there still many film-stock productions shot by or for the BBC and others wherein you can blatantly tell that is 24fps? I never said it was impossible to do otherwise and I did say HD and SD video formats offer 25fps. I never denied that.
    It was implied that in the US film for TV is shot 30fps but on the shows I mentioned that is clearly not the case. Nor it is the standard in the USA. Though I have seen one or two shows where I suspected that maybe, as the exception to the rule, it might have been done, but it is certainly not the norm. I just haven't come across any post-house website mentioning such as part of their post-prod mastering services. They tend to boast about what they do.

    But the bottom line is my original point concerning feature films and American TV shows both of which are shot at 24fps. My original point is that buying REGION 1 is the sensible and intelligent thing to do. Yes of course I have discs from European countries of European productions for TV and home video release. But all feature films (of any nationality) shot on film or HD24p and all American TV show box sets are best purchased on REGION 1 60HZ. The UK TV 24/25frame film stock issue was a sidebar and not my primary point or interest. I never said it was not possible to shoot film at other frame rates I was merely commenting on the kind of people in the industry who do not even think of such issues at all. So insulting me is a poor reflection of you not me. By the way there are plenty of people who could learn plenty from me. Like an entire committee at the UK FILM COUNCIL whose head admitted to me that in considering technology for a chain of digital arthouse cinemas, not one of the so-called experts on the panel ever one mentioned the issue of 50hz/60hz and native playback.
    Please do not get personal. I was not referring to anyone on this forum but the kind of people one bumps into at various companies and organisations.
     
  17. Mr.D

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    No .

    If the PAL version has been mastered correctly and does not represent a compromise then the only question is whether you are bothered more by NTSC 3:2 pulldown artifacts and slightly less resolution or PAL 4% speed up.

    This is not the subject under discussion. Neither is inverse telecine the subject under discussion. There is cause and effect when we bring deinterlacing into the equation but once again this is not the topic under discussion.

    The subject under discussion was which version do you buy . Ironically your assurance that the NTSC version should be the preffered choice as everything is shot 24p and this can be readily inverse telecined is exactly the scenario I would say that neither the PAL nor the NTSC version represents a compromise over the other.Its a matter of personal opinion as to which one you prefer.

    Conversely when they have fudged together differently shot material with little consideration of the cadence ( TNG , Babylon 5 and all those other rubbish scifi shows where they mix 24p and 60i , and things like Dad's Army in the UK that flit between 50i and 25p film) that is precisely when you SHOULD get the native version of the dvd. As the alternative version has no possibility of being anything other than a transcode.

    I have said this repeatedly and I have explained it as straight forwardly as I can.

    I'd be very interested in knowing how you can tell from watching it whether a piece of film has been shot at 25fps or has been sped up from 24 to 25fps.

    As for insulting people I was merely applying your own logic that 96% of the UK TV industry have no technical understanding of the medium they work in and have to assume you fall into that category. If you find that insulting maybe you shouldn't have made the claim.
     
  18. howard444

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    Having consulted colleagues with decades technical expertise in broadcasting; when I mentioned 25fps film-stock they all said the same thing.
    "Oh SPACE 1999 back in the 70's that was shot 25fps film stock! But I cannot recall any others."
    The other day on BBC WORLD there was a film shot documentary taken from BBC archives presented by Germaine Greer. Now knowing what her speaking voice is like say on the Late Review, there was that obvious sound pitch that thinned out the gravel from her voice that you get with film speed up. The first clue is always speaking voices and music.
    I still maintain that feature films and US TV shows are NOT native and not authentic when viewed on R2 DVD or PAL TV. I have friends from physics lecturers to broadcast engineers who totally agree with me on this. See my thread about "Region 1 DVD: Why Region UK 2 is pants". I concede that in the area of concert productions the problem in the UK is the general lack of standards. I have wonderful R2 discs of music concerts from France etc.
    I am not sure why you mentioned DAD'S ARMY that was video with just bits of 16mm for exteriors a British TV habit in the 70's. Indoor scenes shot on VT outdoor scenes on 16mm. In contrast the vast majority of American (A-list) TV history has been shot on 35mm at 24fps. As soon as a Columbo episode comes on channel 5 I am immediately aware and conscious of the wrong running speed.
     
  19. girliedrinker

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    Just wanted to say I was making an assumption regarding US TV being filmed at 30fps since I've worked on a few minor projects in the UK where the film camera was run at 25fps since they were always to be converted to 50i PAL. I had been led to believe by those I worked with that this was the norm for UK productions shot on film. Given that I predominantly work in live television my knowledge of film and its conversion is extremely limited so I bow to everyone's apparent superior knowledge.

    However, I was of the impression that most (actually, all) US TV series shown here and released on PAL DVD were merely transfered from NTSC versions, not direct from any sort of film masters, hence my post in the Seinfeld review about 4% speed up not being an issue with that series. But clearly I'm wrong and so have learned something new today!
     
  20. Gordon @ Convergent AV

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    Girliedrinker. I think it's good to learn something new everyday.

    Howard: I think that US films and some TV shows are not native on R1 or R2 DVD which is the crux of what Keith is getting at. R1 has no speed up but instead has judder associated with the telecine process. This judder is not present in the 24Frame orignal content....of course in the case of TV shows we wont have seen a 48Hz version like we would with the film at the cinema.

    Gordon
     
  21. pjclark1

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    comparing Alien Quadrilogy 9 disk boxset R2 and R1
    Allegedly the R2 version looks much better, as the R1 has been processed in such a way as to produce strange effects during pans. I had previously always assumed R1 was better as that is effectively the target audience. Looks like you just have to research every purchase these days.
     
  22. Mr.D

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    To be honest the soft mushy TV shows like seinfeld , frasier , friends are transcoded ( nothing else could make them look that bad) So you won't get any pitch shifting just rubbish picture quality.

    Buffy looks like a pretty nasty transcode to me as do all the star trek series with the exception of the original one which is very obviously a 25fps PAL telecine from the original; film elements and looks stunning and the latest one Enterprise which looking at it still appears to be a transcode ...just a very good one ( you still can't deinterlace it and make real frames out of it though). (in fact TNG looks like a transcode thats also been pitch-shifted)

    The X-files region2 is a transcode although the last few series are visually very good transcodes.
    24 when broadcast looked like a proper 25p PAL version subsampled from the 24p HD.
     
  23. Mr.D

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    HOW CAN YOU TELL BY WATCHING THAT SOMETHING SHOT AT 24p IS ACTUALLY BEING DISPLAYED AT 25FPS. "WATCHING" you know with the eyes.


    By "authentic" you mean has all the characteristics of an NTSC master ? In which case a PAL master does not have those characteristics. This is what you classify as "authentic". I classify that as the differences between NTSC and PAL nothing more nothing less.
    By your terminology I can argue that neither NTSC or PAL is authentic only watching the original footage at 24p is.


    I refer you to the subject of the thread. I refer you to the more than adequate explanation I've given of the issues inherent in dealing with standards converting material that consists of more than one type of cadence.


    With your eyes I take it ? And you'll be equally concious of the lack of "authentic" 3:2 pulldown artifacts and the slightly sharper picture?


    Get your physics friends to quantify which is more "authentic" , The original material at 24p (assuming its a consistent cadence) , the 3:2 pulldowned 525 60 version , the 4% sped up 625 50 version.

    Not one person on here has been debating the pros and cons of PAL vs NTSC. We are talking about if any particular version represents a compromise over the version available on the other side of the pond.

    Transcoding is bad if its avoidable , PAL or NTSC is a question of personal preference and the two issues are not the same thing.

    If you want to discuss "authenticity" I suggest your first port of call is your navel.
     
  24. Cliff

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    Interesting discussion chaps!
    I know that the BBC would nearly always shoot their news, documentaries and exterior shots at 25fps (16mm cameras had this option).
    Anything that was shot by the "big boys" at the film studios was shot at 24fps eg Avengers and ATV stuff- as this is the standard for film.
     

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