New visitors please read this Blog from Old to New using Chronoblog, the past is important!

Sunday 30 March 2014

January 1990 Pt3. or Can't play Anime on my TV.

What Anime Hasshin was also doing though The Rose (its Newsletter) was supporting a fledgling company in its endeavours to release Anime in the America and Canada 'AnimEigo' presented their VHS Cassette Tape of a Subtitled Anime 'Metal Skin Panic Madox-01' (45 minutes) at $39.95 + p&p. 
It was about this time that for me that I needed to address the unbalanced situation of Anime that was released on the Japanese & American television system (NTSC). and how to overcome being able watch Japanese animation on VHS video tape when Japan & America share a different television format than that of the UK.

So I hope you will indulge me in this semi-technical (not all the boring details) about the old days of Analog television systems, and their respective players and machines for recording.
By the mid to late 1980's the VHS Cassette Tape (that used Magnetic tape to record Audio and video) was the standard (being the most popular) format for recording and playback World wide, but different Countries had developed other standards of transmitting and receiving television signals, thus televisions and VCRs (Video Cassette Recorders) had basic electronic components to handle receiving and transmitting television signals in that Country alone!

[Note: the main alternative systems were; NTSC mainly used in Japan, the United States of America, and some South America countries; SECAM mainly used in France, most of the former USSR, and some African countries; and the PAL system mainly used in Australia, the United Kingdom, most of Europe, about 2\3 of African countries, China, and Asia a few South America countries.... the list goes on.]

[Note: If you were lucky to have a VCR or TV that had an infra-red remote control, NO amount of typing in a coded set of numbers would make a machine multi-region, and NO internet to search for technical details.] 

[Note: VHS Cassette tapes of Anime (from1992) the top one is PAL and the bottom one is NTSC.]

Televisions that are now considered to be old-fashioned now, used to run on a system based on a device called a cathode-ray tube (CRT), had a square aspect ratio in general, and built to receive and decode Analog signals.

Now back then in the World of Analog signals and the not at all intelligent VCR, with its mechanical mechanism running magnetic tape (VHS tape) at speed, to be picked-up by 2 or more heads that read the audio and video encoded tape, could not tell if the VHS tape was PAL, SECAM, or NTSC, so what your TV tried to decode came out as speeded-up video, with high pitched voices Pal viewed by NTSC), or a chopped-up slanted picture with very poor colour or a Black and White images and distorted sound NTSC viewed by PAL).

Those good people at Panasonic where able to do some fancy Transcoding with some electronics in a few new Pal VCRs (in1989\1990) that now had “NTSC Playback” a hybrid signal that the TV could understand, but other Pal VCRs could not record from.

This “NTSC Playback” feature was very hard to find, as tens of companies had many models of VCRs trying to sell you one feature or and other, and “NTSC Playback” was for a very small market for those that could import, or get imported VHS tapes. I lived in a village and none of my local electronic shops or stores stock or even knew about “NTSC Playback” (much like today's multi- region Blue-ray players!), not even my two nearest cities within 20 miles had shops that stocked VCRs with this feature.

There was NO alternative but to take a 100 mile and 2 hours or so trip to the big capital city of London, and find Tottenham Court Road, the nexus of consumer electronics shops in the Country!

[Note: As I was a village lad not use to the ways of big cities, let alone the Capital City of London, with no map (and at a time before mobile phones, Smart phones, and the World Wide Web), and clueless about transport in London, my mum came along with me, and we took the train down to London for the day.]

In finding Tottenham Court Road and a shop that had a VCR with “NTSC Playback”, the Panasonic VCR NV-L28, costing me about month's wage at £450, (in the year 1990\1, that's about £870 in today's money as of 2014), my window to Anime was soon to be opened!!

Only about a month later I was able to find that in a nearby town the TV and Audio shop of 'Stuart Westmoreland' that indeed had a compatible Panasonic TV of the grand size of 24”, this square CRT TV the Panasonic TX-24T1, was also £449.99 back in July of 1991 (about £870 in today's money as of 2014, sadly now about £20 to£30 to off-load it, as it is very heavy and big!). This TV was smart enough to understand different signals with different frame rates and colour encodings being sent to it.
[UPDATE: £449.99 in 1991 is worth £1,236.04 today (February 2023) in purchasing power.]

[NOTE: I still use the television today to show and play PC Engine 8-bit games, in their proper Retro Aspect ratio 5:4  (24 inches), and colours, and that feel of the right scan rates.]

I hope you the reader have come to the same conclusion upon reading this Blog-page, that of in the late1980's to mid 1990's just getting the equipment to watch Anime was a Herculean task, and one of some considerable expense which did much to hinder the growth of the UK Anime Fandom in the early years, wear-as it was just a trip to your local consumer electronics shop for the Anime Fandom of America and Canada!

[Note: from 1990 to 1996 the Panasonic VCR NV-L28 was my VHS player, and that of my Anime club's showings, a damn fine workhorse.] 

Just to show you the scale of the cases, a DVD next to a VHS cassette case on your left, and to your right an NTSC VHS cassette tape and below that a PAL DVD.

No comments:

Post a Comment