Why does US TV look so bad in UK?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Dagless, Apr 25, 2006.

  1. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #1
    Just wondering what the reason was. Just I caught a bit of Friends before (or is it F.R.I.E.N.D.S., I never remember) and the picture looked terrible. I've noticed it for years but never really questioned why. I mean do salts from sea water deteriorate the film when they ship it over or what? ;)

    The only show I've seen with the sharpness of British TV is something called "Fat obnoxious boss" or something. I suppose it's down to NTSC and PAL. But how?!
     
  2. miniConvert macrumors 68040

    miniConvert

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    #2
    Going off this site I'd simply say it's because NTSC sucks. In the table on that page PAL pictures simply contain more information. So, I guess converting PAL to NTSC can be done with little/no loss, where as NTSC to PAL means having to pad.

    Also, in the UK we're lucky in that due to the BBC we have very high technical standards, which the independent channels then match/compete with as best they can. In the States, what with it being far more commercial, technical quality seems to have suffered - historically anyway.

    Old Friends episodes look awful I agree, but the newer ones seem ok?
     
  3. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

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    #3
    I'd always assumed it was because NTSC had fewer lines than PAL - so when the show is converted from NTSC to PAL, they have to 'fill' them in but it will never be as clear as something orginally shot in PAL.

    Presumably as more shows are shot in HD, the problem will go away, assuming both countries have the same HD standard?
     
  4. mpw Guest

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    Jun 18, 2004
    #4
    I know the US had/have fewer lines which was why their picture was inferior a while ago but I'm surprised that you found Friends poor quality as the US have been HD for longer than the UK and Friends was filmed on film rather than tape so they should be able to offer the best quality for whatever market they're broadcasting to.

    I have noticed that some channels have poorer quality than offers on the UK SKY system and I can only imagine its a bandwidth thing that they choose to broadcast in extra low quality to save money or something.
     
  5. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #5
    It has to be the salt water. Now that you mention it, I think I've finally realized one of my great putoffs with British TV - it looks horrible. The only time I've really found it to be sharp was when I saw The Office. But, that was on DVD, so the plastic must have stopped the salt water...or something like that
     
  6. Temujin macrumors 6502a

    Temujin

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    #6
    As the OP points out it's the other way around. PAL -> NTSC should work fine.
     
  7. decksnap macrumors 68040

    decksnap

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    #7
    You would think- but most english TV looks like crap compared to standard US stuff over here too. My guess is it's the channel carrying it.
     
  8. Mr. Durden macrumors 6502a

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    #8
    I've found that the image quality of the Brit shows is fine. Its the content itself that sucks.:p


    Just kidding, just kidding. Love the British shows. Hustle in particular.;)
     
  9. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #9
    I haven't seen any current UK t.v. programmes but the older stuff compares well with U.S. programmes of the time. It still looks a bit odd but quite sharp. Having not seen the original on a PAL-compatible t.v. I can't tell whether the lighting is unusual, although it often seems that way.
     
  10. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #10
    NTSC:
    Lines/Field: 525/60
    Horizantal Frequency: 15.734 kHz
    Vertical Frequency: 60 Hz
    Colour Subcarrier Frequency: 3.579545 MHz
    Video Bandwidth: 4.2 MHz
    Sound Carrier: 4.5 MHz

    PAL:
    Line/Field: 625/50
    Horizontal Frequency: 15.625 kHz
    Vertical Frequency: 50 Hz
    Colour Sub Carrier Frequency: 4.433618 MHz
    Video Bandwidth: 5.0 MHz 5.5
    Sound Carrier: 5.5 MHz 6.0
     
  11. Dagless thread starter macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    #11
    Ah so Pal for the detail, NTSC for the smoothness?

    Incidentally, does refresh rate mean anything with progressive scan? Just PAL progressive scan on my PowerBook is i n c r e d i b l y beautiful.
     
  12. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #12
    yeah, LCD displays have a refresh rate. Its basically the FPS.
    ... I think.
    Edit* PAL is higher in resolution (576 horizontal lines) than NTSC (480 horizontal lines), but NTSC updates the on-screen image more frequently than PAL (30 times per second versus 25 times per second). What does this mean in practice? NTSC video is lower in resolution than PAL video, but because the screen updates more frequently, motion is rendered better in NTSC video than it is in PAL video. There is less jerkiness visible. When video source material is transferred to DVD, it is usually transferred in the format it was created in - PAL or NTSC, and the subsequent image has either higher temporal resolution (more frames per second - NTSC) or higher spatial resolution (more lines per image - PAL).

    As for the LCD vs. CRT thing...
    Typically, the optimal refresh rate for a CRT monitor is 75Hz, meaning that the image is redrawn 75 times every second. Too low of a refresh rate is a common occurrence and is often a major case of tired eyes and office fatigue. “Power users” will tell you they will often sit down at other people’s workstations and notice right away that the refresh rate was too low for comfort.

    When dealing with LCDs, refresh rate is not much of a concern since they use a different technology to draw the image. Refresh rates as low as 40Hz or 60Hz are perfectly acceptable with LCD monitors.

    What is important is the concept of response time – the time in milliseconds it takes for the screen to update the pixel colors. This is a big deal because a slower response time will give the illusion of “ghosting” – the effect of pixels not updating with new information fast enough, so that a trail is left behind a moving object. This usually happens in high action movies or games and is one of the main reasons why LCDs are often not recommended for gamers. This is changing however, as displays with 20ms – which are just fine for gaming - are becoming more prevalent.
     
  13. Hoef macrumors 6502a

    Hoef

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    #13
    Most Friends episodes look terrible to me, either in Europe or US. Ok I admit, I hate Friends :D
     
  14. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #14
    That must have been written a while ago. Only the real low end LCDs are anywhere near 20 ms today. 8-12ms is the norm.

    I really don't see why it would matter for TV though since 25-30fps is no more than 30 ms. Throw in a factor of two and 16ms should be more than enough.

    B
     
  15. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #15
    ntsc= not the same color

    pal = perfect at last

    ntsc always looks grainy and washed out compared to pal.
     
  16. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #16
    It's usually "Never The Same Color" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTSC, but the sentiment is right.

    I like "Never Tested Since Christ" from Wiki too, hand't heard that one before. ;)

    I think the old French SECAM system was marginally better than PAL.

    EDIT: Seems like I remember incorrectly, probably since most of the shows I used to watch were on French TV rather than Swiss I got used to it. ;)


    B
     
  17. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

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    #17
    I skimmed the thread so excuse me if I'm repeating, but refresh rate has something to do with it as well.

    I work on some virtual invironments and when I render, I can choose several different types,

    16, 20,--,--,30, and so on, if I want to render in PAL its always higher.
    I think US tv is 29.X.

    Film is 30 I believe.
     
  18. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #18
    Nope, Film is usually 24fps.

    B
     
  19. Peyton macrumors 68000

    Peyton

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    #19
    You're right, sorry :eek:
     
  20. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #20
    Film is generally shot at 24FPS, hence the big hype about digital cameras capable of capturing "24p"
    At 24 FPS there is enough flicker to give it the "film look" without being distracting or particularly noticeable. 30 (well, 29.97) FPS tends to make things look flat and plastic-y. Im not really being clear, am I?
    Okay, so something shot in 30i looks flat and perfect. 24p has more depth and is [slightly] flicker-y to mimic 35mm film (like comparing a cheap throw away camera with a professional SLR). wow now I'm getting really confusing! :eek:
     
  21. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #21
    Think you're mixing a couple of things up, though I could be wrong as well.

    The usual "p" vs. "i" for video cameras is progressive vs. interlaced, i.e is the whole frame updated at once (like film) or only half at a time (like standard NTSC/PAL).

    See the discussion here where he tries to propose renaming 480i (standard NTSC) to 240i to clarify what it really means.
    http://alvyray.com/DigitalTV/Naming_Proposal.htm

    EDIT: As long you compare apples to apples 30 fps should look more like real life than 24 fps, but 24 fps is usually good enough. The problems come in when you try to compare 30 fps interlaced vs 24 fps progressive.

    B
     
  22. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #22
    I'm not disagreeing with that. I'm just saying that the problem seems to go both ways. NTSC looks like crap for him/them, PAL looks like crap for me/us.
     
  23. greatdevourer macrumors 68000

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    #23
    However, a lot of stuff on DVDs, nearly everything off Sky, etc, is in 60Hz, because there are 60Hz PAL TVs (we own one :D - a nociable, if small, difference to gaming :D)

    And it's going to look slightly crap, which ever way you do it (although NTSC->PAL will look worse), as they aren't divisible by each other. The NTSC:PAL pixel ratio is 1:1.2, and it's very hard to display 1.2 pixels on a screen
     
  24. Kingsly macrumors 68040

    Kingsly

    #24
    I know the difference between p and i. I was meaning to refer to p for everything in my post, but I screwed up and put i. :eek:
     
  25. Mord macrumors G4

    Mord

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    #25
    a thing people forget is that when you move things between two formats no matter how much one is better than the other the format the original was in will always look better unless digital enhancement is done as converted video contains the flaws of both systems.
     

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