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james-20014,709 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
In fact coming to Channel 4 showing 4:3 copies of HD shows, it was the same with King of Queens, and still is with Everybody Loves Raymond. BBC2 showd 4:3 versions of My Wife and Kids circa 2007 too, I don't think 16:9 versions of that turned up in the UK until the Channel 5 spin offs picked it up a couple of years back (I saw them on German TV though, even before BBC2 picked it up).

Similarly, 5USA were showing 4:3 versions of Malcolm In The Middle even though BBC2 and Sky One had been showing them in 16:9 for years before.

I remember early Channel 4 showings of Smallville and The OC switching between 4:3 and 16:9 from episode to episode too.

Just seemed to be a common thing for years.
james-20014,709 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
Home Improvement being a show that can't be converted to HD due to being shot on video. Common with US sitcoms in the 70s and 80s (maybe even the majority at one point), but for whatever reason died out during the 90s and was pretty much extinct by the 00s.

Still pretty much the standard look for UK studio sitcoms though (the few that still get made, anyway), even in the HD era.
noggin14,277 posts since 26 Jun 2001
Home Improvement being a show that can't be converted to HD due to being shot on video. Common with US sitcoms in the 70s and 80s (maybe even the majority at one point), but for whatever reason died out during the 90s and was pretty much extinct by the 00s.


Yes - lower budget US sit coms were shot multicamera NTSC SD video to tape - Kate and Allie, Family Ties, Diff'rent Strokes are three that stick in my mind. Tubed cameras, NTSC colo(u)r, nasty 80s standards conversions etc...

Higher budget sitcoms like Cheers were shot multicamera film (often 35mm) - an approach also used for Friends, Frasier etc. (This still uses a multicamera shooting style - which avoids the multiple takes required for single-camera 'movie-sty'e film production and allows for shooting in front of a studio audience sensibly, and getting a 'flow' to a scene)

Unlike the SD video stuff, even in SD PAL these looked a lot better as the film didn't have to be standards converted, just 4% PAL sped-up. They can also be retransferred in HD and look great.

Multicamera film was never really used in the UK (it's very expensive) - though it was trialled in the 60s as a way of shooting in an internationally compatible way (as 50Hz region 25fps film can be run at 24fps film in 60Hz regions without standards conversion)

I suspect any relatively recent multicamera sitcoms in the US will be acquired electronically though - either on 'video' cameras (as UK HD Sitcoms) or more 'e-cinema' cameras (like Alexa/Amira, Red, F65 etc.)
Last edited by noggin on 11 June 2019 1:25am
thegeek4,818 posts since 1 Jan 2002
London London

Unlike the SD video stuff, even in SD PAL these looked a lot better as the film didn't have to be standards converted, just 4% PAL sped-up. They can also be retransferred in HD and look great.


So would they edit on film and then telecine it twice, or was this late enough on to be offline edited? Presumably the examples you gave weren't quite advanced enough to be scanned then online edited.
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Colorman gave kudos
james-20014,709 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
I think until the mid-late 80s they'd actually distrubute film shot & edited shows as film prints, not videotapes, so there was no telecine involved until it was broadcast.

I have read when Dallas switched from being edited/distributed on film to video, the difference in picture quality got noticed to the point it was mentioned on points of view. I presume in the US it looked no different to how it did before, but we would have had the lower resolution of NTSC and standards conversion with 80s technology thrown in the mix that wasn't there before.
noggin14,277 posts since 26 Jun 2001

Unlike the SD video stuff, even in SD PAL these looked a lot better as the film didn't have to be standards converted, just 4% PAL sped-up. They can also be retransferred in HD and look great.


So would they edit on film and then telecine it twice, or was this late enough on to be offline edited? Presumably the examples you gave weren't quite advanced enough to be scanned then online edited.


In the 70s and up until the late 80s the production process was 'all film' - with the series shot and edited on film, and film optical titles etc. Effectively the production process was identical to movies. 625/50 broadcasters either received a film copy to telecine themselves, or a 625/50 telecine made in the US on videotape.

I think until the mid-late 80s they'd actually distrubute film shot & edited shows as film prints, not videotapes, so there was no telecine involved until it was broadcast.

I have read when Dallas switched from being edited/distributed on film to video, the difference in picture quality got noticed to the point it was mentioned on points of view. I presume in the US it looked no different to how it did before, but we would have had the lower resolution of NTSC and standards conversion with 80s technology thrown in the mix that wasn't there before.


Yes - the Dallas switch from 'all film' to 'shoot film, edit tape' meant no major quality loss in the US (you had just moved where the 480/60 (*) telecine and 3:2 pulldown took place) but caused huge issues in 625/50 territories where 4-field/4-line adaptive standards conversion was the norm, which did a lousy job with 3:2 content (they weren't grade at 60Hz native stuff, but the 3:2 cadence made them a lot, lot worse). The picture quality made Points of View with people complaining. ISTR that a number of techniques were introduced by the industry to mitigate this.

1. 3:2 flagging in post. This allowed the duplicate fields to be discarded as they were flagged by the post production process, and a 480i 2:2 48Hz signal created that could be scaled to 576i 2:2 48Hz and recorded as 'Slow PAL' When this was replayed at 50Hz you got a regular PAL signal. (I think Laser Pacific or similar - a major post house in the US - introduced this)

2. DEFT 3:2 pulldown detection and removal. This was a technique created by Snell & Wilcox (who merged with Quantel to become SAM and who were recently bought by Grass Valley). DEFT = Digital Electronic Film Transfer. This system used image analysis to detect the repeated 3:2 field, remove it, scale the result and create a similar 576i 2:2 48Hz Slow PAL output that could be recorded on a Slow PAL compatible VTR for later replay at 576i 50Hz on regular VTRs.

1. and 2. both added a 480 line footprint to the production master, and so compromised quality for 625/50 territories, but were the only real options if you were cutting on linear tape, or had a tape master only. As composite tape was still in widespread use you also often had the NTSC subcarrier quality drop to also cope with (as this reduced chroma bandwidth compare to PAL)

3. Quantel's Editbox solution. This required that rushes were telecined at 576i 2:2 50Hz (i.e. a regular 625/50 territory TK) - but with no audio correction. The Editbox then treated these as if they were 576i 2:2 48Hz internally. You edited in the 24fps domain non-linearly (Editbox was an on-line quality non-linear editor) and then could play out 576i 2:2 50Hz regular speed 'PAL" masters for 625/50 territories, or get Editbox to playout at 480i 3:2 60Hz (i.e. scale 576i to 480i and add a 3:2 cadence) for 'NTSC" masters for 525/60 territories. As Editbox was digital component you could deliver on a digital component format too - and neither master was compromised. I believe later series of The X Files may have used this workflow or a similar one to deliver 480i 16:9 masters to Fox.(**)

(*) Or more accurately 59.94Hz and 23.976fps.
(**) Fox launched their 'HD' services on OTA digital in the US as 480p broadcasts - but all their network distribution was 480i based with the affiliates doing a deinterlace to 480p prior to MPEG2 encoding.
james-20014,709 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
Even now you sometimes see 24fps material not sped up- when I recently caught the Channel 4 morning showings of Cheers (now using HD masters rather than the poor SD ones they used to use), it wasn't sped up, but with some iffy looking motion.

I've also seen some US 60i content with some incredibly jerky motion over the last few years, almost as if they've treated it as if it was 24p with 3:2 pulldown and removing every 5th field even though it's actually full 60i motion. It's incredibly poor standards conversion whatever causes it, especially as we're now in a digital HD era.

Watching the BBC4 TOTPs, as we're in the era the US version was running and they showed some performances from it, you can see how poor the picture quality is on those performances compared to the rest of the show.

And I seem to remember reading when BBC2 first started showing Laugh-in in the late 60s, it was shown with a black border round the edge, presumably that's how the standards converters they used worked? Must have been one of the earliest US videotaped shows shown over here.
Markymark6,632 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today


And I seem to remember reading when BBC2 first started showing Laugh-in in the late 60s, it was shown with a black border round the edge, presumably that's how the standards converters they used worked? Must have been one of the earliest US videotaped shows shown over here.


Yes, it was a 'feature' on 1960's 525/60 > 625/50 standards converters, there was an old BBC paper that
explained why, but I think it was related to not being able to interpolate the '525' image into '625' and therefore
50 lines were lost top and bottom (I've over simplified immensely!). The horizontal line period was shortened accordingly to preserve the aspect ratio, so you ended up with a 'postage stamp' image

There's reference to it on pdf page 17 here

https://www.bbceng.info/additions/2017/TV%20Broadcasting%201960-70%20(J.%20Redmond%20IEEE%20review%20Vol.%20117).pdf

And another mention here
http://www.vtoldboys.com/arc10.htm