Watching Region 2 DVDs
January 6, 2005 8:26 PM   Subscribe

DVDHellFilter: I live in Region 1, I want to watch a Region 2 PAL disc (or a copy of it) on my NTSC TV, how can I do this? I'm willing to either go with a new player or try to copy the disc and convert the region, or whatever will work. (further questions await your expertise inside)

Also, where does the PAL or NTSC information come from? Is it in the way the disc itself is encoded, or does the disc just tell the player to put out PAL or NTSC, or what? Also also, are Japanese NTSC Region 2 discs different from other Region 2 PAL discs (if so, why are they both Region 2?)? Also also also, why is it that some films aren't made available in Region (foo), so that film buffs like me who just wanna see the frickin' movie have to ask experts like you questions like this?
posted by biscotti to Media & Arts (11 answers total)
yes, pal/ntsc is how the data is encoded: things like framerate, refresh rate, resolution. which is why you normally can't watch pal content on an ntsc tv and vice versa (altho I think many/most tvs on "the continent" can display ntsc as well as pal ... we're not so lucky in region 1)

the easiest way may be to have a home theatre pc. but if you want a component dvd player, there are companies like malata that make decent players which are region-free and have the ability to display pal discs on an ntsc television.

short form: the whole region thing (as well as the pal/ntsc/secam/etc. thing) is more or less a nightmare and annoying as hell to regular people. personal computers solve most or all of this, if you can deal with watching media that way.

you could also rip the dvd, re-encode it as ntsc, and burn it back onto a dvd. sans region code. hasslesome, but it would certainly work.
posted by dorian at 8:42 PM on January 6, 2005

also, I'm not sure why japan and europe are both region 2, but yes I have quite a lot of japanese dvds which work fine on my region-free ntsc-only dvd player... go fig.

the whole point of the regions is markets, to make money for the suits. lots of money can be made or lost simply by when something is made available to the general public. the various formats are just what various countries have traditionally had. so yes, sometimes you will see a french film that is only out on region 2 pal dvd... or maybe it also later gets released on region 1 ntsc, but maybe that version is english-dub only, or parts of the film are cut, or some similar bullshite. as I said, it's often a true nightmare to us who just want to watch a damned film as it was meant to be watched.
posted by dorian at 8:49 PM on January 6, 2005

This player does the PAL -> NTSC conversion. Also I found a code on the web that region unlocked it. My UK DVDs play just fine and they look OK. Under $80 too.
posted by Flat Feet Pete at 9:01 PM on January 6, 2005

If your computer has a DVD drive, DVD Shrink will take care of all your problems.
posted by muckster at 9:18 PM on January 6, 2005

RE: Computer Playback

Of course, if you have a newer drive (okay, just about any drive -- lucky me having a pre 1997 DVD drive) it will be RPC-2 locked. That means if you put the disc in the drive it will just get angry and do nothing unless you switch regions on it.

You will need to risk your DVD-ROM by flashing new (hacked) RPC-1 or RPC-FREE firmware to it. You can get them from places like this. HTH.

Note that if you don't use a firmware like that, and you insert this disc in an RPC-2 drive, and let it switch regions, you'll need to switch it to region 1 again later. You only get 5 such switches before the drive will no longer switch (ever, period, unless you send it back to the manufacturer and pay $$$$$ to reset it), and you used one up when you played your first region 1 DVD in the drive.

posted by shepd at 9:33 PM on January 6, 2005

Note: some of the below may violate the DMCA. Proceed with legal caution. You need to solve two problems: the region and the video standard (PAL vs. NTSC). You also have two options for fixing each: on your DVD player or fixing the disc on your computer.

Your player may already do the PAL-NTSC conversion. Look your player up on the DVD player list on to see if it does (it'll say "Multisystem PAL/NTSC Convert" under the "More Features" list if it does). You can also program it to be region-free or for a specific region. Once again, look it up on the DVD Hacks part of Note that some of these are kind of risky -- you're into uncharted territory here. Strangely enough, both of these features/hacks are more prevalent on the cheaper players. Less is more.

Okay, so say for instance your player can convert PAL but you can't (or don't want to) unlock the region. That's when you use something like DVD Shrink to copy the disc and remove the region protection. (note: DVD Shrink can't convert PAL to NTSC). Now, the DVD drive you'll be using to read the disc also has a region. It can actually be set several times before you can't change it any more. DVD Shrink can set this for you (I think -- otherwise you can change it in Windows) if you have enough changes left. If you're going to be doing this often, you'll need to flash your DVD drive with a region-free firmware. Look your drive up at, download the firmware and apply it. When doing so, make sure nothing else is running on your system; it's a sensitive process.

If you need to convert a disc from PAL to NTSC, that's a whole other ball of wax. has lots of guides and there are PAL/NTSC conversion ones out there.
posted by zsazsa at 9:52 PM on January 6, 2005

I have a cheap Apex dvd player which, as it turns out, has a backdoor key sequence that lets me watch PAL discs, as well as discs from any region. I paid something like thirty bucks for the player, and later discovered the back door code.

If you search online you will find sites that list what players currently on the market have backdoor codes that let you do it. It's more common than you might think.
posted by Lokheed at 9:52 PM on January 6, 2005

If you choose to go a'duping DVDs, doom9 is chock full o' answers.
posted by Jack Karaoke at 9:56 PM on January 6, 2005

A little more info:

The reason Japan and Europe are both region 2 is precisely because of the PAL/NTSC divide. The idea is, instead of making a new region for each, they can share the region number because the PAL/NTSC issue will form the effective barrier against importing.

The XBox, by the way, has an interesting approach to region locking. In order to decrease production costs, there is no DVD region initially set on the XBox (though there is a game region setting). Instead, (I forget which of the following two were true) when you 1) put in the first DVD ever, or 2) connect the DVD playback dongle, it sets the region code permanently. The XBox also handles both NTSC and PAL, and switches on the fly. I've played both PAL and NTSC region 0 DVDs (yeah, yeah, I know) on the same XBox with no problem.
posted by Bugbread at 4:14 AM on January 7, 2005

If you are willing to watch it on the computer, VLC is pretty great.
posted by kreinsch at 4:41 AM on January 7, 2005

I second Lokheed's advice. Pick up a cheap Apex/Mintek player that you can use a region-free remote hack on. Even if you don't want to hack them, these cheapo players tend to be more forgiving with varying formats and regions. I have an older Mintek (not hacked) that I picked up new for 40 bucks. It plays DVDs and VCDs that my newer Sony will not. One warning on the cheapos -- they can be picky about DVD media brands. Check that DVD Player list linked above before you shell out for any blank media.
posted by Otis at 5:35 AM on January 7, 2005

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