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November 02 2003

Season 6 PAL dvd 4% speed-up sound issue. just wanted to share this problem with people that are planning to buy the region2 pal dvd...

I just bought the season 6 region 2 dvd recently and to my surprise all the sound and dialogue sounds abit high pitched.

When I inquired about this problem I discovered a known issue called "PAL's 4% Speedup" which happens when converting from film with 24 frames per second to a PAL system which is 25 frames per second (this issue doesn't occur on NTSC).

"Video and audio has to be sped up by 4% which means audio for the film is both 4% faster and 4% higher in pitch. In musical terms, this equates to a rise in pitch of approximately one semitone."

Although when hearing the characters talk it doesn't bother that much (and in the previous pal dvd seasons I bought I haven't even noticed it) , this was highly objectionable when listening to the musical episode where all the songs play faster and everyone sings higher and not in their normal voices.
As someone who heard the soundtrack and seen the broadcast version of the musical at least a million time this is really annoying and just not the right way these episodes were meant to be heard.

I found this problem can be corrected by watching the dvd on a computer dvd-rom with a program like windvd which has an option to slow down to the correct speed. But I don't know if there are any regular pal dvd players out there which also have this kind of option (mine don't).

So I recommend everyone to wait and buy the region 1 ntsc dvd's which come out this summer . Although region 1 won't be in widescreen this feature isn't that important compared to the sound issue in my opinion.

Film is 24 frames per second.
NTSC is 30 fps.
PAL is 25 fps.

The advantage of PAL over NTSC is the 100 additional lines of resolution (625 for PAL vs. 525 for NTSC).
I just watched Season 6 on PAL DVD and honestly could not tell a difference in any of the dialog or the music/dialog on OMWF. BUT the Buffy theme song IS really noticably faster on all the PAL DVDs. The strange thing is that the editing of the visuals to the theme song is actually better in the PAL. The action is timed exactly to the music in the faster version. It seems a little behind in the NTSC DVDs.
Erm, spike26, are you being paid by fox or something in an attempt to stop people importing the DVDs. Honestly I don't think OMWF sounding a little high (I havent noticed it and I have both the box set version and the standalone DVD, Ive listended to the soundtrack god knows how many times) is going to make fans wait over a year. I like the widescreen feature, and I like getting the DVDs reasonably quickly (though this wait for Buffy7 and Angel4 is really annoying me)
On the contrary,if fox paid me I would (first be very happy) and then be urging you to buy both versions:) Also region 2 costs twice as much as region 1 so I guess fox is very glad people buy them from no matter where in the world.

Just run a little test : play a song from the soundtrack or the original broadcast (or the avi that has been made out of the "NTSC EMI consideration dvd") simultaneously to a song from the dvd (not the kareoky one's cause it seems those are at the correct speed )and you'll see that the dvd songs sound a bit higher in pitch and quickly play faster then the original song. And this effect is on all the episodes, when I compared "older and far away" to the broadcast feed I have of it, the dvd episode ends 1:40 minutes before the original. So does the musical end at 48 min instead of 50.

I guess this effect is not that noticeable or catastrophic but to a musical inclined ear it is very bothersome.
I bought the OMWF Region 2 DVD and I couldn't stand it. That slightly higher pitch just drove me nuts until I found the correction on WinDVD. I'm actually surprised some people can't notice it.
It's quite possible that there are multiple batches of the season out there by now. It is also possible that the speed problem was noticed and fixed between batches, likely why some are hearing the problem and others are not.

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