Started work on a new starfleet dvd set

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Viscount Charles
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2004 8:36 am

Started work on a new starfleet dvd set

Postby Viscount Charles » Sun Aug 08, 2004 4:58 pm

Here are my comments, after buying the set and having watched the opening credits of disc 1. Presentation - the DVDs arrive in an envelope, inside two DVD sleeves to protect them from scratches in transit. The absence of boxes and cover art both keeps the price down and the postage costs. Perfectly acceptable IMO, especially as I have loads of empty DVD boxes sitting around that once contained free discs off the front of PC magazines. Perhaps somewhere down the road we could have four nice colour JPGs to print out to make our own covers? Menus - I've never got too exited about DVD menus. So long as I can find the "play episode" or "play movie" option I'm happy. And there aren't going to be any extras on a release like this. I'd say the Star Fleet menu screen was functional, without being anything special. Source material - looks like the US NTSC videotapes to me - I've not checked all 4 discs, let alone all 8 episodes, but the DVDs appear to have been transferred from original NTSC tapes rather than copied from copies. There might have been some concerns that these new DVDs were simply a re-packaging of starfleetdirect's VCDs - they are most definately not. Transfer quality - the transfer to DVD cannot put back into the frame that which was lost when the series was recorded on to videotape. What it will do is capture in a digital form that which would otherwise wear out and degrade over time. Present on the DVDs are all the problems with the film at the time it was transferred to tape (the scratches and blemishes on the film, for example), plus all the flaws in videotaped material (the poor resolution and less than stellar sound reproduction, particularly). It's clearly not possible to clean up either the film or the video without some serious expenditure in time and money that most studios are unwilling to put into a commercial DVD release. However, with these DVDs what detail remains after the butchery done by videotaping the series in the first place has remained intact, and colours are strong and vibrant (maybe a little too strong for some?). The one most noticeable improvement over the VCD set is the colour reproduction, with blacks appearing blacker while whites and light colours don't lose out - the VCDs suffered from a large amout of over-exposure, where light coloured parts of the picture would have all of the detail burnt out. The drawback is that there is also a large amount of "grain" present in the picture now - I don't know whether this has been introduced during the transfer (it looks like it could be noise induced by gain, possibly used to improve the colour levels), or was present on the source videotapes. The same grainy picture is not present on the VCDs, but the VCDs look so "washed out" that any grain would be impossible to spot. The DVD transfer does not suffer from the same level of burnt out detail as the VCDs, either. Overall impressions - the DVDs are superior to the VCDs in my opinion - not completely surprising, given that a DVD encodes far more picture information than a VCD. However, the discs don't deliver stunning clarity - they're limited by the source material, ie NTSC video tapes. And that's never going to get better, until someone does a commerical DVD release based off the original film (or broadcast videotape). For my money, these DVDs represent the best way to watch Star Fleet in English in the absence of a commercial release.

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Joined: Fri Dec 07, 2001 12:42 am

Started work on a new starfleet dvd set

Postby AndyThomas » Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:36 pm

I'm considering doing my own conversion now that I have the right equipment, probably to VCD, to preserve my US tapes. Now, I've only tried this once so far due to being busy at the moment but the obvious problem was the issue of frame rate conversion.To explain for those not familiar, NTSC, the US TV standard, displays at around 29 frames per second. PAL, which we use, only displays at 25 frames per second but uses more vertical lines.Now, given that my DVD player is PAL I decided to make a PAL format VCD as a test. To do this I simply TMPGEnc'd from a NTSC DV file to a PAL MPEG-1 with some cropping top and bottom to avoid any image stretching due to the additional vertical lines.Unfortunately the knock on effect of this is that although the sound stays locked well, the image appears to stutter in places. I know why - it's the frame rate dropping from 29 to 25 which means I lose just enough frames in the conversion to make it noticeable.I haven't yet tried seeing whether my DVD player will cope with a NTSC format VCD; I suspect it may do as regional encoding won't be an issue, it's just a question of it converting to PAL (or a close equivalent of PAL) from the NTSC signal. Which of course a lot of video recorders, let alone DVD players, can do. I'm assuming that the MPEG-2 encodes mentioned above are NTSC format but regionless? Or are they based on PAL60 style conversions?If anyone could suggest a freeware-style method for achieving a work-around for the frame rate problem I'd appreciate it, otherwise I'll just try the NTSC VCD option as another experiment.
Andy Thomas - SFXB Webmaster and Forum Moderator

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