Video/DVD Formats in Europe
Berkeley Parents Network >
The Arts, Books, Entertainment, & Media >
Video/DVD Formats in Europe
We have recently moved over from the UK and have a stash of
English DVD's that are gathering dust that we would love to
watch. We have a multi-regional DVD player and have tried
changing it from PAL to NTSC with no luck. I can only assume
that the ''Multi-regional'' means that it can be plugged in
anywhere in the world but doesn't necessarily play the DVD's.
However, in the instructions it does indicate that it can play
DVD's from many regions. So now we are completely stumped.
Does anyone have any idea of how we get to watch our DVD's.
The only alternative is to get them converted somehow to the US
format - anyone got any ideas on where and how much that might
To play UK DVDs here, you need to get a DVD player that can play
PAL format, region 2 discs. If they have a DVD player that can
play PAL format, it also needs to be region-free; in other words
it can play both region one discs (US) and region 2 (Europe).
This region coding on DVDs is an extra restriction that did not
apply to VHS tapes.
If their DVD player is truly region-free, then it should be able
to play discs from all regions. But they may have to adjust the
settings on their main menu, since it is possible that it may
have been set to region one by the manufacturer. If they are
having difficulty changing the region setting, they could either
check with the retailer, or do a search on the internet to find
out how to adjust their player.
If they can't get their DVD player to play region 2 discs, then
they can purchase a region-free player over the internet. Just
do a search for region free DVD player on Yahoo, and they'll see
a number of sites.
This is probably a better option than trying to get the DVDs
Courtesy of husband who spent a lot of time figuring out how to
play our region 2 dvds.
Does anybody know if commercial videos bought in the U.S work in
european VCRs? We know that TVs and VCRs work on different systems, so
the question is - are the videos different too?
We would like to buy some as presents for family at home, but need to
find out if it makes any sense.
Unfortunately, videotapes bought in the US will not work on a standard
European VCR. Some people in Europe have made it a point of buying a
tri-standard VCR, which will play all three formats: PAL, SECAM and NTSC
(this last one being the format in use here in the US). So, before you rule out videotapes as possible gifts, you may want to enquire whether your family over there owns a tri-standard machine.
By the way, DVDs and DVD players have a similar problem -- ie no universal
standard but several different world "zones".
The videos used in Europe are on the PAL system and are not the same as the ones sold for use in the U.S. It may be possible to purchase a PAL version here on special request, but most videos are not. There are some VCRs available here and in Europe that can read both U.S. and PAL videos so ask your relatives if their machine has this dual function. Whenever we take videos of the kids for family in Europe, we have it translated at a local video production shop.
We had this same question regarding videos brought back from London to play here. The answer is that the formats are different. This web site will give you a list of each country and the format they use (look for the type of format on the video or the box).
I'm not sure where in Europe you are going but In England they us PAL format and USA is NTSC. No they are not compatable.We have had to reformat videos given to us in PAL....it costs more than the original video. The only other way around this is if they have a video player which can accept either format. They sell these in Asia....not sure if they are used in Europe.
Unfortunately they probably won't work. There are two formats of VHS...
Pal and NTSC VHS. They are both 1/4" formats which look the same but won't work the same. Most Western European Countries use PAL as their TV standard and as a result, their video standard. For a complete reference guide, check:
(Rick Davis' Video Page)
However, there are a few places on University (and one on College near the
Rockridge BART station) that can transfer from one format to another. I can't recommend one over another, but I suspect they all use the same sort
If you have further questions, my partner in crime would probably be able
to help you (He's a video engineer)
I know the answer to this because my parents just returned from
England. I had faxed them and asked them to buy some British
Teletubbies videos for my addicted son, thinking it would be
interesting to see them in their original form. At the checkout
stand in the video store in London, the clerk recognized my mother's
accent and kindly informed her that the videos would be useless in
the states, as their actual format--not just the VCR's themselves--is
different from VHS that we use here. I was informed, however, by a
friend who is a film editor, that you can take foreign videos to labs
that will transfer them onto VHS format, but that seemed like WAY
more effort than the Teletubbies deserved, and if you're thinking of
gifts, it might be more trouble and expense than you want.
While VHS tapes and DVD's are physically the same worldwide a couple
of things prevent you from being able to send them to friends in
other countries. First and most importantly the video on either
format (VHS tape or DVD disk) is encoded in a specific way. For
example in the US this is called NTSC and in the UK they use PAL. The
formats are completely incompatible. Another more subtle problem is
that NTSC is recorded at 60 frames per second and PAL equipment
generally runs at 50. This becomes a problem if you send a NTSC video
to someone in the UK that has a "NTSC capable" VCR. They still might
not be able to get a stable picture because their TV might only play
at 50 frames. With DVD players a whole extra problem was added
(deliberately!) DVD's come with a code on them which indicates what
area (like North America) it was intended for, players will only play
DVD's from one region. A whole grey market has sprung up for modify
players to play any region code DVD's. A VCR that will play and
record any of these formats onto VHS tapes runs about $700.
We have avoided this costly option by sending videos to family in
England via amazon.co.uk They ship anywhere in Europe and carry most
commercial videos available in the US.
this page was last updated: Aug 14, 2006
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2013 Berkeley Parents Network