UFOcast – Frame Rates

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Another week where we haven’t been able to record our normal episode in its place is this special video episode looking at a difference between the DVD and the Blu-Ray versions of UFO.

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UFO – Volumes 1-4 Collector’s Edition [1970] [DVD]

UFO – Volumes 5-8 Collector’s Edition [DVD] [1970]

UFO: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]

11 thoughts on “UFOcast – Frame Rates

  1. Hey John.
    If I read you right, thanks for reminding me that TV broadcast in the UK was at the same frame rate as film (24 frames). It was mainland Europe that was 25 frames, and only marginally different. Although I was raised in the UK, I have been living in Canada for the last 28 years,and the memory fades!
    Here in North America, we use(d) the oddball 29.97 frames per second, which is a considerable difference. As a musician, I still really, really, really notice it on media that I was raised with and remember at the ‘proper’ 24 frames – like ‘U.F.O.’ and ‘The Prisoner’. I am curious as to why the European Broadcasters Union (EBU) chose 25 frames. Continental bloody mindedness probably! Maybe pride and technology patents too. Brexit anyone?
    Getting tech-nerdy, for those of you that wonder why America chose the really oddball 29.97 frames, it’s because originally their black and white broadcasts were at 30 frames (the aforementioned bloody mindedness again?) and when they rushed prematurely into NTSC colour broadcast (aka ‘Never The Same Color’ sic) they found that the additional colour information in the broadcast signal resulted in distortion (in the audio I think) on domestic playback equipment. By slowing down the frame rate ever so slightly to 29.97 frames, the distortion was eliminated. What a hack job!
    This left a multiplicity of methods of how to deal with the issue (particularly for music composers) including ‘pure’ 29.97 frames (rarely used) and the more common 29.97 ‘drop frame’ where a frame or two was actually ‘dropped’ after counting a certain number of frames per minute. It was a nightmare for audio post production sync, but I believe the issue has been eliminated now everything is digital. That is why American video transfers always looked so crap on British TV in the seventies and eighties, particularly on cheap sit-coms, soaps, and US News gathering. There were other reasons too!
    Whew. I don’t know if anyone cares, but that’s the story!
    Cheers!

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    1. Britain broadcasts TV at 25fps like the rest of Europe. This is linked to the fact that our alternating current runs at 50hz whereas the US and Canada uses 60hz. So you get one frame every two cycles.

      UFO was made at 24fps, so I’m wrong in the video. Quite why when it was never going to be broadcast at that rate I don’t know. More research on my part is needed.

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    2. UK is 25 fps on TV, whereas film is recorded at 24fps.

      I suppose that having the BluRay at 24fps, it is a more accurate reproduction of what was shot

      John

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  2. Hey Guys. Great podcast. Regarding the frame rate difference, I have worked in the field of audio production and done a few years of TV commercial music – though I don’t think this really gives me any special insight into the UFO frame rate issue as the issue is pretty basic. So onward….
    With the UFO being filmed at 24 frames per second, any audio recorded on-location (with actors, not model shots) has to be played back at the same 24 frames per second for it to be at the same pitch as what was actually recorded at the same time as the visuals. Likewise, post production audio would also have been likely to be performed at 24 frames per second.
    Therefore 24 frames per second is the ‘proper’ version – despite those involved knowing that everything would be likely to be broadcast at 24 frames per second in Europe (or 29.97 frames in the states). This has been a minor issue for years, at least in the pre-digital transfer and sample rate correction days. However, in the industry this was always considered a necessary but minor evil that was of no real consequence to the typical viewer. Things ran faster (slightly higher pitched and shorter running time) in the North America, and that was that!
    Personally I feel that the DVD should have been remastered at the frame rate it was broadcast in for each region. However, I understand that Blue Rays DVD is not regionalised in the same way as Standard Def DVDs were (maybe I’m wrong). It’s one size fits all for the whole world. So they had to pick a frame rate …. which one? It was probably an arbitrary choice considered of no real consequence. I would love to know either way …. and you raise a great question.
    Thanks again for a fantastic podcast. I was born in 1963 and encountered UFO in my formative years. I have very fond memories of getting a ‘Dinky’ manufactured interceptor for a birthday. Wish I still had it, along with the Dinky James Bond Aston Martin. Thankfully I still have my ‘Space 1999’ Eagle Interceptor and Freighters, and a copy of ‘The Making of Space 1999″ autographed by Gerry Anderson in 1978!
    Keep up the excellent work gentlemen.

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    1. Ahh. Typos. I actually meant to say ‘… those involved knowing that everything would be likely to be broadcast at 25 frames per second in Europe (or 29.97 frames in the states).’ Sorry sorry.

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  3. Very interesting discovery/observation. I appreciate your attention to these details and enjoy your discussions of this under appreciated ACI-fi gen.

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  4. Hi Luke and Michael. Great work I look forward to every episode of your UFOcast. Can you at some point please let us know the differences, if any, of the bonus extras between the DVD set and the Blu Ray set. Have the commentary episodes been edited for content at all ? Thanks again Neil (NZ).

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  5. Hi, I have noticed the differences. I thought 24fps was the original frame rate the program was intended to be shown with but the UK TV PAL system uses 25fps (I may be wrong about this). If I am right I’m happy with the longer run times as intended. Best wishes, Gary

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    1. Historically, when making films, film cameras typically ran at 24 fps. However, TV runs at 25 fps.

      Consequently, when films are shown on TV they have to be slightly speeded up to ensure matching.

      DVDs are made to be shown on TV, hence why they run at 25fps.

      But so are Blu-Rays (i.e. meant to be made for TV). Sounds like a mistake was made in making it.

      But, can the average human spot the difference if they are not told?

      John

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    2. Yes, you’re right. I am wrong in this episode. Whilst other programmes that used film (or were partially shot on film) were made at 25fps UFO was made at standard film speed of 24fps. I need to do some more research and then remake this episode.

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