Now, remember that 24fps feature I mentioned earlier? Well, although 1080p 24Hz is definitely the feature of the moment when it comes to HD sources, it brings with it a few problems when you’re working in the DVD arena. The issues come from the way NTSC and PAL DVDs are created. Because the PAL TV system works on a 50Hz interlaced standard, it means that video needs to be encoded at 25fps, with each frame split into two, thus creating PAL 50Hz. Since film is shot at 24fps, the easiest way to convert it to 25fps is to simply speed it up by a factor of four per cent – thus giving you one extra frame per second.
Converting film to an NTSC format on the other hand is far more complicated, since NTSC employs a 60Hz interlaced standard. This means that the original 24fps film has to be converted to 30fps and then interlaced. To achieve this a method called 3:2 pulldown is employed – this process is complicated, messy and often produces questionable results. It does at least avoid the slight change in audio pitch that occurs using the PAL speed up method, but unless you flick between a PAL encoded movie and an original source, you’re unlikely to notice that.
According to Toshiba, the XD-E500 is able to reverse the 3:2 pulldown process, thus recreating a 24fps stream, which is an interesting concept. So you’re starting with a 24fps source, that the goes through significant post processing to create the 60Hz interlaced output that the NTSC TV system requires, that 60Hz interlaced stream is then reconstituted into a 24Hz signal by the XD-E500 before being sent to your TV. That’s quite a lot of processing to get you back to where you started!
You may have noticed from the paragraph above, that the 24fps feature on the XD-E500 is only applicable to NTSC sources, where the reverse 3:2 pulldown processing can be applied. This brings a slight issue to UK consumers, since our discs are PAL and therefore the 24fps feature is pretty much useless. Add to this the fact that the XD-E500 is region coded, so you couldn’t play Region 1 NTSC discs even if you wanted to, and it’s clear that this feature is for the US market only. Of course you can hack the player to be multi-region, as I always do, but how many average consumers bother, and then also bother to import Region 1 discs in the first place?
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