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Region 2 DVDs



On Tuesday I saw a bit about SyFy planning to remake the late 70's BBC series Blake's 7. It's a sci-fi series kinda-sorta-like Star Trek, but with a totalitarian federation. I watched most of them on PBS in the late 80s and quite enjoyed them.


I decided to look into getting the show on DVD but discovered that it was only released for region 2, which won't play on DVD players in the USA as we're region 1. You can read up on region codes here. It's possible to get multi-region players (my folks have one from when they lived overseas), but I didn't wish to acquire one for just one show. Some research let me know that I could switch the Mac's DVD drive to region 2 and then switch it back. You're limited to 5 switches per drive though, so the drive will be locked to the 5th region you set it to.


I decided that wouldn't be an issue as I could set it to region 2, rip all the episodes, then switch the drive back to region 1 after I confirmed that the rips were OK. I tracked the series down on Amazon (seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4) and ordered them. They arrived today. I was surprised to see that they were from the Netherlands, with all the text in Dutch:





I put the first disc in and sure enough, the DVD Player started and the Drive Region dialog popped up:



I then got to thinking that Handbrake (ripper) and VLC (player) might not care about the region codes, as they're open source projects, so I hit cancel - the Mac ejected the DVD. To prevent the DVD Player from starting up again when I reinserted the disk, I went into the System Preferences and changed it so that the DVD Player wouldn't launch automatically when a disc was inserted:



I put the disc in and launched VLC - it played it back just file. It was interesting to see the copyright warning in Dutch. The show is in English, with optional Dutch subtitles:

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I then launched Handbrake and ripped the first chapter of episode 1 just to see if there'd be any issues. Worked just fine:



I noticed right off that the show looked much better than I expected. I opened up an episode of BlackAdder, for which I have Region 1 DVDs, and compared it with Blake's 7:



The NTSC image is 635x480 (304,800 pixels) while the PAL image has 30% more detail at 688x576 (396,288 pixels)!

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I always thought that the Star Trek Federation was totalitarian, and all we were seeing was their carefully controlled propaganda.

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Yes, better vertical resolution at the cost of reduced frame rate. Horizontal resolution is debatable. IIRC DVD samples both at 13.5MHz and stores the same number of pixels per line (720, which includes some overscan) for both PAL & NTSC. I suspect the 635 & 688 numbers are scaled to keep the picture "square" and aren't the actual width (as stored on the disc).

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True, I didn't want to get in depth on horizontal resolution. Disregarding any difference there puts it at 20% more detail for PAL.


If the show was filmed (as opposed to video taped) then the reduced frame rate doesn't matter as film is done at 24 fps.

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Actually, film to TV telecine is better with NTSC as it's a simple 3:2 pulldown (show frame 1 for 3 fields, then frame 2 for 2 fields, repeat with minor adjustment every 1000 fields). For PAL there are two options - a simple 1 frame to 2 fields conversion but then everything runs 4% fast (and pitch goes up) or every 12th frame has 3 fields rather than 2 (which makes the film jerky).

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I need to buy this series as well as something to play it on. I really miss it.


I don't want to see a remake, though.

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something to play it on.

Based on what I've experienced, just download VLC and play it on your computer. Another option is to do what I did and use Handbrake to rip them, then play them back using something that's already hooked up to your TV - I think I've seen you post in the PS3 forum, I'll transfer an episode over to mine via USB later today and test if it works.


I don't want to see a remake, though.

I'm on the wall on this as well, though I didn't want to see a remaking of Being Human yet they did a great job of it.

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The PS3 didn't like the High Profile rips I did.


Once disc 1 of Season 3 is done, I'll try some test rips of just a chapter of an episode using the different presets and see if the PS3 likes any of those. These release notes say to use the Normal profile.

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No luck, the PS3 doesn't list any of the files on the USB stick.


I was able to leave them on my Mac and watch them on the PS3 via Media Link though. It does an on-the-fly conversion of videos to whatever format the PS3 recognizes. On the PS3 I was also able to select Copy and save the converted video onto the PS3's hard drive.

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