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HD DVD Studio Canal Makeshift Pitch adjustment

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#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Dave Hackman

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Posted March 04 2007 - 01:03 PM

I own a couple of the French Studio Canal titles that visually look fantastic but suffer from an increased audio pitch. I bought these movies before the pitch error was discovered and had no option to return. I decided to alter the sound a bit further by sending the 2 channel analog audio through my old Pioneer DJM-500 mixer and see if its pitch shifter effect could lower the pitch a notch or four. The HD-A1 thankfully has a separate 2-channel output independent of the 5-channel output so I didn’t need to remove any cables. It took about 2 min to hook up and the good news is it indeed helped. The pitch shifter effect is engaged with a push of a button and allows for a +/-100% range of pitch adjustment that is easy to turn on and off to hear the differences. I put in my French Studio Canal version of Total Recall, which does suffer pretty badly from the increased pitch. In the beginning of the movie you notice a problem right away when Lori (Sharon Stone) and Douglas Quaid (Arnold) begin talking in bed. Sharon’s voice is too high and Arnold’s voice is not nearly as deep as normal. I reduced the entire incoming two channels soundtrack by –3 to –4 percent and Sharon’s/ Arnold’s voice came back down to what I perceived as normal. I watched the entire movie again with it reduced 3 to 4 percent and it did help me from noticing the audio error. I think the bar scene where Quaid goes to see Melina is a good test as its nearly all club music in the beginning, which definitely sounds a lot better with the pitch reduction. After this I fired up my DVD version of this film and synced them together. I toggled between the two to notice if the mixer’s pitch shifter was as good as the DVD soundtrack. I would say the pitch shifter did a pretty good job but it does degrade the quality a bit as does many of the pitch holding effects on DJ CD players. It’s not that noticeable unless you have earphones on. Of course the DVD soundtrack was much clearer without all the processing but they were close in pitch. As I had the DVD synced up with the HD picture I was able to watch the Studio Canal HD DVD video with the DVD sound. This is not something I would want to do every time I watch this film but it’s a possibility. I also own The Elephant Man that I read also suffers from the pitch problem. I don’t own the DVD to compare but the pitch variation was less obvious to me compared to Total Recall. There was a difference but my unfamiliarity with the actors and the film itself hampered by ability to appreciate the improvement. I’ll take others word for it and watch it through the mixer reduced. This MacGyver makeshift fix did allow me to improve these incorrectly pitched HD DVD’s to a point where its really hard to tell and perhaps its something I can use to correct sped up R2 DVD’s. I hope Studio Canal fixes their future releases.

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted March 05 2007 - 12:12 AM

Thanks for sharing this! I wonder if the increased audio pitch was in fact an error, or a misguided attempt by Studio Canal to provide what the majority of their consumers would perceive as desirable. Most would be familiar with the speeded-up sound on SD DVD R2 PAL releases.

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Gary Miller

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Posted March 05 2007 - 12:28 PM

"I put in my French Studio Canal version of Total Recall, which does suffer pretty badly from the increased pitch." I watched this HD-DVD, and would not have noticed this even if a multi-million jackpot was on the line. Now, it will probably drive me nuts every time I pop in the disc. Thank you. Anyway..great P.Q!!

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Dave Mack

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Posted March 05 2007 - 08:58 PM

I think they simply used older PAL audio transfers, the digitally slowed them down by 4% so they wouldn't have to create new audio transfers. I really doubt they purposefully pitched up the audio inaccurately.

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   Marko Berg

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Posted March 06 2007 - 07:19 PM

But wouldn't stretching the length of the audio data by 4% also decrease its pitch automatically? Regardless, it's sad that these promising early releases are incorrect.

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted March 06 2007 - 09:21 PM

Yes. It all doesn't make sense. Unless the authoring was done for 50Hz (fps) and are now played at 60 fps. But in that case, the film would run faster as well. We need to know more. (And, Dave, thanks!) Cees

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