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Old 09-27-2017, 11:31 AM   #1
turbine turbine is offline
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Hi there,

we come across this question regularly and I thought we might just ask for some comments here...

Quick question: Why is 50Hz content an issue in North America? Is 50Hz really an issue in North America?

In short: For many decades Europe was PAL (ignore the French with SECAM ; also same resolution etc.), USA and JAPAN were NTSC. So VHS tapes were a nightmare to deal with, speaking of imports.

Things got better with DVD, but not to the fullest extent. Old DVD players sold in the states might play PAL DVDs, but it's not a requirement. Newer DVD players do, Blu-ray players just play everything (23.98 up to 59.97 Hz) as long as the disc itself is codefree. The only issue might be the display, although everything made after 2010 should be fine, too.

Is there any reason why a film enthusiast would prefer an NTSC over a PAL disc? Just by looking at the specs... the only pro for the NTSC disc is that it runs at (almost) the exact speed of the theatrical source. Speaking of resolution: NTSC has 640 * 480 = 307200 pixels. Let's say 300k pixels. PAL has 768 x 576 = 442368 pixels. Let's say 440k pixels. That means, NTSC has about 1/3rd less pixel information - resolution - than PAL. Yes, it's got a higher framerate, but that would only help for sports, not for a feature film.

The PAL speedup of the film and the corresponding pitch shift of the audio can be compensated for in mastering. So that should not me regarded an issue here. Also, PAL would run more smoothly without stutter, as there's no 3:2 pulldown involved (to convert from 24fps to 59.97).

Conclusion: PAL shouldn't be an issue in North America these days. Or is it?


PS: For the record... I am ware that it's wrong to use the terms NTSC and PAL for digital media, as what we're looking at is resolution * framerate and the terms above refer to the color coding scheme via analogue wires. I just felt that using 525/59.97 or 625/50 might complicate things.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:00 PM   #2
benricci benricci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbine View Post
Quick question: Why is 50Hz content an issue in North America? Is 50Hz really an issue in North America?
It's an issue because most of our disc players and displays cannot handle 50Hz material. So yeah, it's a problem.

Good thing most blu-rays don't have this issue and can play properly (assuming it's region free) on any player and HD TV around the world. There are a handful of UK discs with 50Hz material (1080i programming, for example), which sucks, but those are few and far between. And sometimes there are US versions of those titles that do away with that issue.

But yeah, PAL (for the most part), is a no-go for the vast majority of North American consumers.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:04 PM   #3
benricci benricci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbine View Post
The PAL speedup of the film and the corresponding pitch shift of the audio can be compensated for in mastering. So that should not me regarded an issue here.
Sure, it can be. But it hardly ever was, at least for the PAL videos and DVDs I've seen. The pitch issue was rarely adjusted for, so everyone's voice is annoyingly high-pitched and unnatural, especially if you're accustomed to what the actor sounds like in real life.

Last edited by benricci; 09-27-2017 at 12:24 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 12:17 PM   #4
Akibiyori Akibiyori is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbine View Post
sNewer DVD players do, Blu-ray players just play everything (23.98 up to 59.97 Hz) as long as the disc itself is codefree. The only issue might be the display, although everything made after 2010 should be fine, too.
Most NA Blu-ray players do not play PAL. I've had four different region A locked players and only the PS4 plays PAL content...and the conversion is terrible compared to my region free blu-ray player. Only Europe gets the play both PAL and NTSC capability regularly.

As pointed out above, most PAL DVDs aren't pitch shifted to correct the audio, so it is in fact an issue. I generally don't mind though.

NTSC pull down is something that can actually be fixed with on HDTVs and players with the right settings. It involves using Motionflow/Pure Motion/etc., but the default auto settings won't do it. On my Samsung, you set it to custom and both values to 0 and you get the desired effect - the pulldown judder is gone but none of the bad effects of these options appear (looks much more like theatrical projection and Blu-ray than before.)

As for resolution, it seems to be a small difference and compression quality is vastly more important.
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Old 09-27-2017, 01:10 PM   #5
turbine turbine is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by benricci View Post
It's an issue because most of our disc players and displays cannot handle 50Hz material. So yeah, it's a problem.
This is ODD. This is what the spec says:



So every BD Player _must_ support these. I did not come here to nitpick but find out if that's the reality. In other words... over here (Germany) we're also used to getting devices with meaningful factory settings. I know from people working at e.g. Sony that the only major difference between models for different continents usually is the power supply (although universal ones can be built, it seems to be cheaper or more effective (in regard to region-locking them to avoid them being exported) to keep it this way).

I am wondering if setting a display to AUTO and the player to AUTO would solve these problems. I can confirm that if I set certain devices to 50 and play 60Hz content (or vice versa), the result looks shoddy.

Again, not trying to nitpick. We're just planning a new release which will be code free, we have the option to do the DVD in NTSC or PAL and it seems odd to sacrifice resolution. And yes, the disc will have the correct pitch.

Would you mind writing down your exact model of player and TV set so I can check if the big players are really violating the BD spec? Yes, this does not necessarily mean they do the same for the DVD capability of their device, but that would at least answer if 50Hz content on BDs should be an issue or not.

Thanks.
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Old 09-27-2017, 01:28 PM   #6
benricci benricci is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbine View Post
This is ODD. This is what the spec says:



So every BD Player _must_ support these. I did not come here to nitpick but find out if that's the reality. In other words... over here (Germany) we're also used to getting devices with meaningful factory settings. I know from people working at e.g. Sony that the only major difference between models for different continents usually is the power supply (although universal ones can be built, it seems to be cheaper or more effective (in regard to region-locking them to avoid them being exported) to keep it this way).

I am wondering if setting a display to AUTO and the player to AUTO would solve these problems. I can confirm that if I set certain devices to 50 and play 60Hz content (or vice versa), the result looks shoddy.

Again, not trying to nitpick. We're just planning a new release which will be code free, we have the option to do the DVD in NTSC or PAL and it seems odd to sacrifice resolution. And yes, the disc will have the correct pitch.

Would you mind writing down your exact model of player and TV set so I can check if the big players are really violating the BD spec? Yes, this does not necessarily mean they do the same for the DVD capability of their device, but that would at least answer if 50Hz content on BDs should be an issue or not.

Thanks.
Many U.S. televisions and DVD players do not natively support 50Hz video. So PAL simply is not an option for a large percentage of us over here with the equipment we currently have in our homes.

I'm not really sure what else to tell you. What a blu-ray player can output and what your TV can display are two different things. If you are planning to sell your DVD in the North American market, it wouldn't make any sense to do it in PAL. You're gonna have nothing but headaches.

I have the region-free blu-ray of the Joe Strummer documentary, The Future is Unwritten. Great! At least that's what I thought. Pop it in my Sony blu-ray player, and it gets to the menu and stalls. Apparently they encoded the feature in 50Hz, so I can't watch it on my TV. That's the sort of complaint you're gonna get releasing any PAL content on DVD in the States or Canada, regardless of whether or not it's region coded. Now, I get that in this example, PAL isn't the issue since we're talking about a blu-ray, but the point is the same. It's more trouble than it's worth.

Last edited by benricci; 09-27-2017 at 01:41 PM.
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Old 09-27-2017, 03:37 PM   #7
hariseldon hariseldon is online now
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SD PAL or BD 50Hz is NOT required for NA players and TV/Monitor

25/50/100fps compatibility is still not required capability for NA 4H/UHD equipment.

Even when the audio is pitch corrected there are pace/tempo/playback issues that some are quite sensitive to. I don't know if it's either required or pretty much 100% that EU equipment is/has been multifrequency compatible for decades, but the NA/US market has it's own reasons whether it's political, business, technological, or practical. Certainly most of us wish it would just be a requirement and join the rest of the world as fully compatible, but it isn't and apparently will not be for the foreseeable future
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Old 11-04-2017, 01:53 PM   #8
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R1 DVDs are encoded at 720x480, not 640x480. Likewise, R2 DVDs are 720x576, so you're only really getting an increase in vertical resolution.

Regardless, there's numerous benefits to NTSC over PAL. The latter runs at the wrong speed with high-pitched audio. There were ways to get around this, but you usually ended up with other weird audio defects/artifacts. On a CRT (which is what most people would've been watching movies/TV on before BD/streaming arrived), 50 Hz flickers more compared to 60 Hz, and on modern digital sets, 3:2 pulldown can be bypassed anyway to get full fat 480p/24 video.

It's your choice, a small increase in vertical resolution vs. clean audio at the right speed (unless you live in the U. S., where there's no 50 Hz support).

Last edited by Shalashaska; 11-04-2017 at 01:57 PM.
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:06 PM   #9
Rory Rory is offline
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Why are you guys talking about two dinosaurs? Because they're not yet extinct?
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Old 11-04-2017, 02:48 PM   #10
rdodolak rdodolak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbine View Post
This is ODD. This is what the spec says:

So every BD Player _must_ support these. I did not come here to nitpick but find out if that's the reality. In other words... over here (Germany) we're also used to getting devices with meaningful factory settings. I know from people working at e.g. Sony that the only major difference between models for different continents usually is the power supply (although universal ones can be built, it seems to be cheaper or more effective (in regard to region-locking them to avoid them being exported) to keep it this way).
Actually Sony is notorious for removing the PAL capability out of their NA players and televisions even though their European equivalent models supports PAL. An individual must have both a player AND a television which supports PAL in order to display PAL content. Since European equipment supports both, but NA equipment isn't guaranteed to support both it would make more sense to go with NTSC if you want to maximize compatibility.
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Old 11-10-2017, 12:50 PM   #11
richieb1971 richieb1971 is offline
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When we went HD there was absolutely no reason not to uniform everything in some way.

Its ridiculous that we have differing standards.

If I buy a camcorder in the UK its 50fps, if I buy the same camcorder in the USA its 60fps. Phones are universal, so if it were a problem then they would be affected, as are drones by the look of it.

Take youtube, it requires conversion to get 50fps working at all and even then it stutters. I had to buy a Dell monitor which was 50/60hz compatible to get super smooth images on both 50hz and 60hz material.

Then you have the USA/Canada TV's not supporting 50hz at all. Its all nonsense.
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Old 11-10-2017, 07:43 PM   #12
Geoff D Geoff D is online now
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Yep, I've had identical Panasonic player models from the US and UK and the US one would choke on 50Hz content, not displaying it at all. It's not a hardware limitation, just a firmware one for the most part as CE manufacturers are still not all the way PAL friendly in North America. 60Hz compatibility wasn't always a sure thing on this side of the water either though, it was a fairly rare feature on your average UK TV 25-odd years ago. (IIRC some had an in-between mode which didn't change the frame rate but altered the colour frequency from 3.58 Mhz to 4.43 Mhz which was more PAL friendly).

Where we really lucked out player-wise was with the DVD spec due to Japan being included in the R2 region code along with Europe, it meant that PAL/NTSC compatibility was built into our DVD decks from day one. I don't mean multiregion, I mean the physical ability to output native 50/60Hz material, and naturally this was carried over into the HD domain despite Japan's region for Blu-ray being relocated alongside North America (A). Huzzah! And since we've moved into the flat panel era most UK sets are fully 60Hz friendly, in fact I think some UK plasma sets actually looked better with 60Hz content anyway as they were so 60Hz-centric in terms of their processing that 50Hz actually had some bugs.

As for 4K: as said above, 25/50Hz is NOT a mandatory requirement for UHD Blu-ray players, only in countries which are 50Hz territories.

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Old 12-15-2017, 10:53 PM   #13
DaveSimonH DaveSimonH is online now
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It is pretty annoying that the blu-ray spec didn't include an option for 1080p/25, so basically anything shot for UK TV etc. can only be either 1080i/50 or slowed down to 1080p/24. The latter is what you'll see in US releases due to most player/TVs not being able to handle 50hz content.

"But why continue to shoot at 25fps, why not swap to 30fps or 24fps?", probably down to the differences in our power grid. It operates at 50hz vs 60Hz in the US. So if you film with UK lighting at 30fps, you'd be out of sync with the frequency of the lights (causes a light flickering/strobing effect).
I believe you can sync up 30fps using certain shutter angles & speeds, but I guess that would limit their options.
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Old 12-31-2017, 01:46 PM   #14
Region_unlocked Region_unlocked is offline
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Oh wow, you guys really didn't know. Yeah 50hz content straight up will not play in the majority of North American players. I've run into situations where I can't play an otherwise region free disc from the UK just because the forced start-up logos are in 50hz. I think I put one of your "Amazing Stories" discs into my PS3 one time and it'll get all the way to the menu on there, because those discs are region free (thanks for that BTW, that makes them a lot less annoying to play) but you can't play any episodes at all due to the 50hz incompatibility.
On a half related note: Why are your "Rocko's Modern Life" and "Back to the Future: The Animated Series" sets B Locked? Those are Paramount and Universal properties and both of those companies are 100% region free. ("Back to the Future" being B locked was particularly confusing considering "Amazing Stories" is also from Universal and those sets were region free.) Is there some kind of German intermediate between you guys and those companies that controls the German distribution rights or something?
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:20 PM   #15
hariseldon hariseldon is online now
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Wish I actually knew the breakdown of NorthAmerican players by brand. The term majority or most has always bugged me for some reason. I've even seen almost none or large majority thrown in which never seemed right.

I'm guessing 90+% of anything not named Sony plays 50Hz fine and with PS4 replacing PS3 over time even that may shift. Most Panasonics will , almost (or possibly) all LG/Samsung/Seiki/Oppo.

I'm guessing pretty much all of the cheap Chinese store brands will
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Old 12-31-2017, 08:56 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hariseldon View Post
Wish I actually knew the breakdown of NorthAmerican players by brand. The term majority or most has always bugged me for some reason. I've even seen almost none or large majority thrown in which never seemed right.

I'm guessing 90+% of anything not named Sony plays 50Hz fine and with PS4 replacing PS3 over time even that may shift. Most Panasonics will, almost (or possibly) all LG/Samsung/Seiki/Oppo.

I'm guessing pretty much all of the cheap Chinese store brands will.
The player I use for 50Hz stuff is an LG.
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Old 02-21-2018, 02:53 AM   #17
RedSabbath RedSabbath is offline
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Question My First (And Probably Last) UK Blu....

Damn I'm confused. I'm buying my first Region Free "United Kingdom" disc. It's from 88 Films. Will it play or not in my Sony American Blu Ray player and regular HD TV?
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Old 03-08-2018, 01:48 AM   #18
thatguamguy thatguamguy is online now
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If the disc's region-free, the movie should be fine. SD bonus content would be PAL, but HD bonus content should be fine.
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