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Problems with UK PAL DVDs playing overseas

Mar 23, 2009 4:30 AM

Hi Everyone,

Apologies if this is obvious to most people, but having just started working in DVDs, after many years producing audio CDs I find there are many more pitfalls. Sorry if this is answered elswehere....

I've just produced a music DVD in the UK, mainly aimed at the UK/European market but with the possibility of a few copies being bought overseas (mostly US and Australia) The discs were produced in PAL and coded region 2. (widescreen 16:9 aspect)

It seems that the person who was doing the job before me had all-region coding but PAL projects.

We have had a few customers in the US who have been able to play our DVDs before, but not this one. I thought that US machines would not generally play PAL discs even if they have region-free players?

Also, am I right in thinking someone in Australia with a region-free player should be able to play back a Region 2 PAL DVD without any problem?

Many thanks in advance
Daniel
 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 23, 2009 1:13 PM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    Most NTSC set top DVD players won't play PAL DVDs.

    Australia uses PAL so a PAL DVD should be okay. If you are talking about burned DVDs (not replicated/pressed DVDs) then there is no region setting, i.e. the DVD will be "all regions" anyway. Only replicated DVDs can have region limitations.

    For additional info please have a look at the DVD Demystified FAQ: Is DVD-Video a worldwide standard? Does it work with NTSC, PAL, and SECAM?
     
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    Mar 23, 2009 4:38 PM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    >Any idea why customers could play PAL all-region DVDs but not a region 2 one?

    Unless I misunderstand your question, a Region 2 disc will only play on players located in/manufactured for Region 2. It has nothing to do with PAL/NTSC. Australia is in Region 4.

    An all-region player can play discs from any region at all. If it is an NTSC player, then it probably can't play a PAL disc no matter what region is set for the disc.

    Region affects geographic area.

    NTSC/PAL affects video system used to produce the disc.

    -Jeff
     
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    Mar 24, 2009 9:17 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    Google for "Region Code Enhanced" or RCE.
     
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    Mar 24, 2009 10:13 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    Could it be that the customer actually has a "multi-standard" (NTSC + PAL) player instead of an "all-region" one? In that case the region limitation could still apply.
     
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    Mar 24, 2009 11:24 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    Daniel,

    I am in Europe, without any NTSC worries. :p

    The manual for the Pioneer DV-563A doesn't give any indication that the player is either "multi-standard" or "all-region". On page 81 there is a heading " Setting the TV System (Except DV-563A and DV-667A Taiwanese model)", indicating that the DV-563A is NTSC only. And on page 74 it says "Your DVD player also has a region mark, which you can find on the rear panel. Discs from incompatible regions will not play in this player."

    Perhaps your customer has downloaded a region code crack somewhere (which isn't working).
     
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    Mar 25, 2009 2:09 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)
    Those Pioneer models are all capable of multi-region & multi-standard playback - It all depends on the firmware installed.
    The whole situation is frankly a mess with this. It is about to become illegal in the UK/EU to even sell a player without region coding circuitry, and previously it has always been illegal for the
    i manufacturers
    to sell them, yet certain stores (Richer Sounds in the UK) have always modded their players with multi-region firmware before selling them.
    Thanks to a concerted campaign by an MEP (who just happens to be the wife of one of the directors of Vivendi Universal, so no conflict of interest then) this is going to be stopped.
    It's pointless though, as the firmware can easily be found as just about every player manufactured (with the notable exceptions of makers like Toshiba) controls region coding in firmware making manufacture pretty much identical for all countries to reduce costs (but not to the end user) and the upshot is that there are very few players out there that are incapable of being hacked with the remote unit or else by special firmware to make them multi-region.

    The whole PAL/NTSC thing is another kettle of fish. The 563 (or the 565 as it was known in the UK) is certainly one of those that is multi-standard capable, although this is not necessarily enabled by default.

    No written disc is capable of region locking.
     
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    Jun 26, 2010 2:49 PM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)

    26th June, 2010.

     

    Hi Anyone !

     

    Does anyone have the current situation (June 2010), since the last comments are one year old.

     

    I am in the UK at the moment, and would like to purchase a DVD from the Natural Trust entitled "6,000 years of British History - Britain from the Air" narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi, as a gift to a client who has not yet visited the UK (but is of Greek origin)

     

    The DVD is labelled as "PAL" but the sales staff did know, and I have made a couple of other enquiries, but nobody knows for sure if it can be played on a North American DVD player. Since it costs 25.00 pounds and is for a client, I do not want to buy it with this uncertainty.

     

    We are returning to the UK on July 1st, and I would need a couple of days to find the DVD again - but could probably get it at Hampton Court, which is close to where I am staying.

     

    I will also try an e-mail to the National Trust, and "Flying Pictures Heritage Collection Ltd," who Ithink produced the DVD.

     

    Cheers, and thanks for any help that could be offered.

     

    John Sullivan

     

    E-mail: johnwsullivan@shaw.ca

     
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    Jun 27, 2010 7:29 AM   in reply to john868

    PAL will not play in a standard NTSC "North American" DVD player... it requires a player that is designed for that purpose... the standard for one in the US is not designed for that

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 3:33 AM   in reply to John T Smith

    Hi John;

     

    Many thanks for your prompt reply.

     

    Over the last weekend I met someone wearing a "Geek" T-shirt, so asked him if he knew the answer to my problem !  Seemed to be a responsible type probably in his mid-30's, and he has kindly e-mailed me a site for a free download to enable "Pal" to be played on a north American DVD player.(We live in Vancouver)

     

    He e-mailed it to me today, and I have downloaded it - the reference is " DVDRegionFree59.exe"  (1.19 MB)

     

    I will not know if it works until I purchase the DVD and try it at home -- the download is " Open" to be downloaded until July 3rd.

     

    If you could throw any more light on this matter, it would be appreciated.

     

    Many thanks.

     

    John868

     

    Monday 28th June, 2010

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 4:44 AM   in reply to john868

    -----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
    Van: Chris Nierop [mailto:moonplace@planet.nl]
    Verzonden: maandag 28 juni 2010 13:32
    Aan: clearspace-1058022820-428069-2-2930558@mail.forums.adobe.com
    Onderwerp: RE: [DVD Lounge] Re: Problems with UK PAL DVDs playing overseas

    I think it is not the PAL versus NTSC that makes the problem as described in this forum earlier.

    In Europe we have PAL, but we can play NTSC also on our DVD players. Our players (and TV sets) are compatible to both PAL and NTSC.

    What makes the problem is the region code. In Europe we have code 2 and in the US you have code 1.

    For a region free DVD the code 0 is given.

    So you have to look at the DVD that you will purchase in which code the DVD has been made. Is it code 1 than you have to need to have a player who accept region 1 code or a region free player.

    If the DVD has code 2 than you cannot play it on a American players, made with code 1, or this player is a region free type.

    Most players have the region code build in the software of the player and you can make region free if you know the software code to do so. If the code has been cracked many shops do it for you for a little amnount of money (in the Netherlands that is). It the code is not known than it is not possible to encode the player to a region free type.

    Some players have a region code build into the hardware (as the Sony types), and it is almost not possible to change the code.

    When you make a mistake in the software encoding than it is possible that the player will not function correctly anymore, and every type has its own softwarecode, even within a certain fabricate. So it is a bit tricky to do.

    On the internet you can search if the player you have has a possibility to encode the player into a regionfree type. Many hobbyist have found the software encoding method to do so and make that public on the internet. Simply use Google or so to find out, or ask your local shop if they can do it for you.

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 9:35 AM   in reply to john868

    john868 wrote:

     

    He e-mailed it to me today, and I have downloaded it - the reference is " DVDRegionFree59.exe"  (1.19 MB)


    I will GUESS that exe is really to play a DVD on a computer, since any update to the firmware of a regular DVD player is going to have to come from the vendor of that brand... Sony, Panasonic, etc

     

    The only way I know of to update the firmware of a non-computer DVD player is to obtain an update disc from the vendor... since the DVD player must read the update in its own drive in order to load the update into ROM

     

    It MAY be that the exe you mention is for a specific player, and includes a routine to write the update to a DVD... but since you really don't specify what you have and what the exe is for... I don't know if it will do anything for you for a non-computer DVD player

     

    There are other forums that discuss DVD players (I don't have a link handy) but I **think** there are 2 different issues here

     

    NTSC and PAL have two different video standards... this has nothing to do with region coding, which is (as far as I know) only designed to make it so you need to buy a disc that is specific to the country where you are located

     

    Many/most PAL players will also play NTSC... from what I have read in this forum

     

    Many/most NTSC players will NOT play a PAL disc... again from what I have read here

     

    So... if you have a PAL region 2 disc, and you do not have a PAL all region player, and you live in region 3... you can't play the disc

     

    If you have a North American NTSC player that is not SPECIFICALLY designed to play PAL... you can't play PAL

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 11:37 AM   in reply to John T Smith

    Join this forum to ask questions about DVD players

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/forumdisplay.php?f=18
     
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    Jun 28, 2010 12:19 PM   in reply to John T Smith

    I Googled the software you mentioned... and it is, as far as I can tell without actually installing, only for a computer... not for a standalone DVD player

     

    See http://www.fbmsoftware.com/spyware-net/process/DVDRegionFree59_exe/384 1/

     

    I also found mention that it MAY be malware... or at least that there may be some versions floating around that are malware

     

    http://www.bestspywarescanner.net/errors/DVDRegionFree59.exe.html

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 2:30 PM   in reply to John T Smith

    I do not know much about American players, the players in the Netherlands can play PAL and NTSC. The only problem here is the region code if we (in the Netherlands we have code 2 as region code)  want to play an american code 1 disk.

    The changing of firmware to make the player region free pricipally must be done by the vendor (but he shall not do so), but many hobbyists have done it by trail and error and publiced the method on the web and then this will be used by the shop who sell the player to make it region free and use it as a selling point.This is not forbidden in the netherlands.

    Sometimes you must use your remote control to change the firmware, sometimes  you must use a small computer with blue tooth or so. It very much depent on the player. It is true that you cannot be shure if the given method is correct but you find in some forums the discussion about this and then try it for good or better. I don't know if in the US the firmware works the same way as the players in the netherlands, I did make my 3 DVD players region free using this method. The warning is that if it doesn't work out the player can stop working and must reset by the vendor.

    Chris

     

    .

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 2:36 PM   in reply to John T Smith

    Hi John;

     

    Many thanks for your replies, and the trouble you have taken to find me an answer.

     

    I understand your comment that the "download" is probably only if one is trying to play the DVD on a computer.

     

    I also telephoned the National Trust and a very helpful guy indicated that the DVD I was interested in purchasing could not be adapted to play on North American players, but another DVD they have about many of the National Trust properties can be read by both systems.

     

    So, I have decided not to pursue this idea.

     

    Your assistance has been appreciated by a non-geek guy ! I presume that your expression "malware" means it could have a virus attached. I will watch for your reply tomorrow!

     

    Cheers,

     

    John.

     
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    Jun 28, 2010 3:48 PM   in reply to john868

    >expression "malware" means it could have a virus attached

     

    Click the links I provided

     
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    Jul 11, 2010 4:17 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)

    The Software mentioned above will allow a computer based player to play the discs in the wrong regions.

    Be VERY careful here, as you will be doing the following:

    1 - Modifying your firmware of the drive - this allows 4 resets, sometimes 5 before it is permanent.

    2 - Invalidating your drive warranty.

     

    If you need a disc to play anywhere outside PAL/Region 2 areas, you must do BOTH of the following:

    1 - Region-Free authoring (all regions, or Region 0)

    2 - Use NTSC.

     
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    Aug 28, 2010 4:35 PM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)

    Hi

     

    I was interested to see that my original post had sparked off new debate. I thought you might like an update from my point of view. We have a few customers in the US, and they CAN now read the PAL discs we produce. However they went to the shops with a disc in their hand to try them first to be safe! It seems there is no absolute certainty without trying the discs but if you do look up the model numbers some will show support for PAL. My label's releases have no need for Region coding, so now I produce all releases encoded for all regions - at leaset that cuts out one pitfall, and allows Australian customers to play DVDs without problems.

     

    Daniel

     
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    Sep 3, 2010 5:06 AM   in reply to (Daniel_Lock)

    Indeed, the conversation was already dated a year ago. It wasn't accurate then, or now.

     

    I sometimes wonder how much people have actually tested DVD players, rather than repeat a decade-old dogma that "NTSC players don't handle PAL DVDs". Starting about 5 years ago, most DVD players are made from cheap universal kits in cheap-labor Asian countries like China. Back when most DVD players were made in Japan, sure, the North American players were NTSC only, as Japan and North America are NTSC. But with the cheap kits, made in PAL-native lands, virtually all players all over the world can now play NTSC and PAL, and it's been that way for half a decade.

     

    "You can't play PAL in NTSC players" is no longer an accurate statement. Most of them do, in fact, now play PAL without any issues, and have for several years. This includes DVD recorders.

     

    It's not required to play PAL, and maybe 25% of them are still NTSC only (and I think that % is maybe a tad high, but I'm being conservative here). But pretty much everything currently sold new in stores is capable of PAL and NTSC both. The only real obstacle is region encoding. But of course, commercial DVDs can be ripped and copied (no region after that process strips it). And then many DVD players have firmware hacks or "secret" remote codes (service menus) to ignore region coding (or RCE).

     

    For more details, there's a pretty good conversation here: http://www.digitalFAQ.com/forum/showthread.php/uk-dvds-regions-1948.ht ml

     
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    Jul 28, 2011 7:42 PM   in reply to LordSmurf

    I want to comment on LordSmurf's post above, and then I have a related question.

     

    My comment:

     

    I don't know what percentage of US-sold DVD players can play PAL as well as NTSC. One of mine doesn't (3 years old), and one does (2 years old).

     

    However one thing you should know is that even the ones that do play PAL have to convert the PAL signal to NTSC to play on standard US TV sets. They have to change the frame rate because PAL has fewer frames per second than NTSC, and they have to change the resolution of the picture because PAL has more lines than NTSC. And they have to do this on the fly! To do this conversion well requires software and hardware that are not going to be built into any consumer grade DVD player.

     

    So even if your NTSC player is multi-system and can play PAL, smooth motion will be visibly jerky as the player doubles every sixth frame. And the picture will be softened. Depending on the quality of their player and the content of the DVD, viewers may or may not notice it. (This is not an issue when playing the DVD on a computer, as the computer and its screen can play any frame rate equally well and have plenty of 'lines' of resolution.)

     

    My question (probably best answered by people in PAL countries):

     

    I am having a DVD commercially produced, intended for sale in the US. But unfortunately I went ahead and pre-sold a PAL version of the DVD ... which it turns out I won't have.

     

    The DVDs I do have will be NTSC and "all region" and therefore playable on (for example) standard European DVD players.

     

    I don't expect that the NTSC DVD will look as good on those players as it does on an all-NTSC system, for the obverse of the reasons above -- but how bad will it look? Do European buyers expect better, or do they order and play NTSC DVDs frequently and don't seem to really care?

     
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    Jul 29, 2011 12:05 AM   in reply to Rich-LMF

    Whilst the situation has got better, it is still by no means ideal as most NTSC DVD players will not play a PAL disc.

    There are exceptions, but I know a lot of folks on t'other side of the pond and most of them are having trouble with PAL discs.

    Rich-LMF wrote:

     

    However one thing you should know is that even the ones that do play PAL have to convert the PAL signal to NTSC to play on standard US TV sets. They have to change the frame rate because PAL has fewer frames per second than NTSC, and they have to change the resolution of the picture because PAL has more lines than NTSC. And they have to do this on the fly! To do this conversion well requires software and hardware that are not going to be built into any consumer grade DVD player.

     

    So even if your NTSC player is multi-system and can play PAL, smooth motion will be visibly jerky as the player doubles every sixth frame. And the picture will be softened. Depending on the quality of their player and the content of the DVD, viewers may or may not notice it. (This is not an issue when playing the DVD on a computer, as the computer and its screen can play any frame rate equally well and have plenty of 'lines' of resolution.)

    And this is a very accurate descriptV set that will ultimately decide what will play & what will not play, as NO NTSC CRT set will output a PAL signal no matter what the player does, and there are still a considerable number of folks with CRT sets. One thing you must always remember as a DVD author is that not everyone has the latest tech, with around 50% of people having first or second generation players and CRT screens.

    But onwards......

     

    Rich-LMF wrote:

     

    My question (probably best answered by people in PAL countries):

     

    I am having a DVD commercially produced, intended for sale in the US. But unfortunately I went ahead and pre-sold a PAL version of the DVD ... which it turns out I won't have.

     

    The DVDs I do have will be NTSC and "all region" and therefore playable on (for example) standard European DVD players.

     

    I don't expect that the NTSC DVD will look as good on those players as it does on an all-NTSC system, for the obverse of the reasons above -- but how bad will it look? Do European buyers expect better, or do they order and play NTSC DVDs frequently and don't seem to really care?

    You should be just fine, assuming the standards conversion was done properly - and this is the key.

    In one way, NTSC - despite the reduction in vertical resolution - looks better than PAL simply because of 2 factors - the higher frame rate (and the resulting trick of a 2:3 pull with 24p content on DVD meaning there is no issue with audio pitch, but that's another thread altogether) and the less rectangular pixel aspect ratio - remember NTSC widescreen pixels are at 1.2 whereas PAL widescreen is at a whopping 1.4.

    However, there is still the issue of those customers with CRT TV sets running older players - we are still in a very nasty recession and buying new DVD or BD players is not exactly top of most priority lists when the gas bills just went up another 20% last week.

     

    If you do NTSC only, you will get some returns but not nearly as many as you would get selling PAL in the US & Japan.

     
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    Aug 4, 2011 9:48 AM   in reply to Neil Wilkes

    Thanks, that was very helpful!

     
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    Sep 29, 2011 8:46 AM   in reply to Rich-LMF

    I don't know what percentage of US-sold DVD players can play PAL as well as NTSC.

    For the most part, it's as simple as country of origin. Most cheaply made players from Asia (non-Japan) can play PAL. There are only a few cheap MPEG DVD decoder chipsets, and a few common kits. In fact, many brands are just rebadging players from a company like Funai (Toshiba, Philip, Magnavox and a few others). I don't know the exact percentage, but it can be pretty well estimated using that information.

     

    However one thing you should know is that even the ones that do play PAL have to convert the PAL signal to NTSC to play on standard US TV sets. They have to change the frame rate because PAL has fewer frames per second than NTSC, and they have to change the resolution of the picture because PAL has more lines than NTSC. And they have to do this on the fly! To do this conversion well requires software and hardware that are not going to be built into any consumer grade DVD player.  So even if your NTSC player is multi-system and can play PAL, smooth motion will be visibly jerky as the player doubles every sixth frame. And the picture will be softened. Depending on the quality of their player and the content of the DVD, viewers may or may not notice it. (This is not an issue when playing the DVD on a computer, as the computer and its screen can play any frame rate equally well and have plenty of 'lines' of resolution.)

    While this can be true, it doesn't have to be. Because there isn't a standardized way to convert (or even pseudo convert a "good enough" signal), it varies from model to model. Some crop instead of resize. (Not to mention it's upsize that causes softening, not downsize.) Some interpolate frames quite well, and there's no jerky motion. Most of them simply blur 6 new frames, so motion is still not jerky.

     

    with around 50% of people having first or second generation players and CRT screens

    Sorry, but I dispute this information. Most DVD players die within 3-4 years, so it's highly unlikely anybody has an old DVD player that still functions. And then the massive sales of HDTV panels in recent years has easily dislodged a 50% CRT saturation that may have existed, unless you want to count TV sets in kitchens and garages.

    nasty recession and buying new DVD or BD players is not exactly top of most priority lists

    Walmart, $25. To most people, a functioning DVD player is a priority (right or wrong as that may be.)

     

    Only do standards conversion if you know how to do it properly. Otherwise you'll just mess it up further than any DVD player would have done. That's what I've been getting at -- that was my whole point.

     
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