Understanding DVD Regional playing issues
Sideline DVDs are coded ‘region free’ and are originated in PAL format.
This means that our DVDs are readable in any region but NTSC based TV systems may not be able to play them. If you have an NTSC based system please check if can be switched to PAL, temporarily, to play the DVD.
If a DVD fails to play it is for one of 2 reasons
DVD player cannot read the DVD – the DVD may be blocked by ‘regional coding’
DVD player / TV cannot display – DVD is not blocked (it is coded ‘region free’) but the picture format is not compatible with your local TV system
1 – Regional coding
Regional coding is used to prevent the DVD being played if used outside the region where it was intended to be sold and played. For example a DVD coded as region 2 (Europe) can be coded not to play in region 1 (USA) or any other region. This regional coding protection is an industry standard introduced and applied to protect against illegal copying or to enable studios to release movies at different times in different regions. A DVD will always state the region status –usually on the back cover. In practice what happens is that your DVD player checks the coding on the DVD to see if it is matched to the local settings and if it does it plays, if it doesn’t match it will not play. Simple as that !.
However, DVD producers can opt to release ‘region free’ which means there is no blocking or protection. Sideline DVDs are released code free.
So releasing a DVD in ‘region or code free’ should solve the problem? Well, not entirely.
2 - Picture Formats
There are different video formats used to for TV. We will focus on the main two:
PAL – used in Europe, parts of Asia, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, parts of Africa
NTSC – used in North America , Japan, Central America, parts of South America
Without getting into too much technical stuff a TV picture is made up of the number of lines on the TV screen and the number of frames per second. The greater the number of lines the greater the resolution and more frames per second the better the quality. PAL and NTSC differ in both resolution and in frame rate.
So how are DVDs affected by the different picture formats? The problem goes back to the source. When video source material is transferred to DVD, it is usually transferred in the format the original footage was created in - PAL or NTSC.
The best format to record and play back video programming on DVD in is the format in which the programming was originally created. If it was videotaped in the PAL format, then the PAL DVD will be the version of choice. If it was videotaped in the NTSC format, then the NTSC DVD will be the version of choice.
Some Solutions for NTSC users
Some DVD players and TVs are multi-system, which means that the user can switch the settings to select either NTSC or PAL. Usually you can check the settings with the remote menu or check with the brand retailer.
PC or laptop – most up-to-date PCs and laptops come with DVD ROM drive which enables DVD viewing. Because computer monitors differ from TV monitors the PAL or NTSC problem may not be a problem.
Sideline is working closely with a DVD manufacturer / duplicator with a view to releasing DVDs with both PAL and NTSC formats and indications are that we may be able to do so for some of our releases.