IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

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Paul Manning
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IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#1 Post by Paul Manning »

Good afternoon friends,

Firstly, I must say I’m delighted with the new transfer and restoration of It Couldn’t Happen Here. I’ve seen the film probably hundreds of times over the years. My original PMI VHS copy always had a rather lamentable soundtrack, so I was very much looking forward to this brand new release. However, upon watching the film, I was surprised to discover that all of songs on the accompanying score, are all presented exactly one semitone lower than their original versions. I’d not noticed this until this new transfer.

I was wondering if this was how the original score was presented, with the songs maybe being pitched or slowed to better suit the cues and progression of the film’s edit? Or is it possibly an oversight or mistake?

I’ve been trying to wrack my brains to remember if this has ever been discussed by Neil and Chris before, or if any discussions were had during the preparation and restoration of this new release, as to whether or not to remaster the score back to the song’s original key, so it matches the versions released on various albums and compilations since?

All the best

Paul

Future Lover
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#2 Post by Future Lover »

It was discussed before in another thread, it's due to a mismatch between 25fps and 24fps, which has something to do with the formats. If we're being extra precise, 25/24 is less than a semitone difference, but very close to one!

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Greendrake
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#3 Post by Greendrake »

Paul Manning wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:26 pm I was wondering if this was how the original score was presented, with the songs maybe being pitched or slowed to better suit the cues and progression of the film’s edit? Or is it possibly an oversight or mistake?
We don't know with 100% certainty but, on the face of it, the film was filmed and edited at 25 fps (because it was a Picture Music International film targeted for PAL TV/VHS/LD). The pitch was normal there.

Then in the US it was released in NTSC 23.976 fps. Simply 4% slower, both the image and pitch.

Now the BFI release contains both versions:
  • The DVD is PAL 25 fps, running 1h 22m 22.12s, normal pitch
  • The Blu-ray runs at 24 fps for 1h 25m 48.041s, obviously 4% lower pitch
Thankfully, there was no frame re-sampling done: both versions contain the same number of frames. They're just played at different speed. Which makes it easy to run the HD version at 25fps (normal pitch) — my instruction is here.

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#4 Post by Enfant Terrible »

Greendrake wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:54 pm
Paul Manning wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:26 pm I was wondering if this was how the original score was presented, with the songs maybe being pitched or slowed to better suit the cues and progression of the film’s edit? Or is it possibly an oversight or mistake?
We don't know with 100% certainty but, on the face of it, the film was filmed and edited at 25 fps (because it was a Picture Music International film targeted for PAL TV/VHS/LD). The pitch was normal there.

Then in the US it was released in NTSC 23.976 fps. Simply 4% slower, both the image and pitch.

Now the BFI release contains both versions:
  • The DVD is PAL 25 fps, running 1h 22m 22.12s, normal pitch
  • The Blu-ray runs at 24 fps for 1h 25m 48.041s, obviously 4% lower pitch
Thankfully, there was no frame re-sampling done: both versions contain the same number of frames. They're just played at different speed. Which makes it easy to run the HD version at 25fps (normal pitch) — my instruction is here.
The weird thing is that, although the DVD plays at a faster speed than the Blu Ray disc, the songs are still pitched too low - try playing the original album version of ICHH alongside the soundtrack version at the start of the film...the pitch is lower (not as much as the Blu Ray, but it's still low). Weird.
Thanks for your solution for getting the Blu Ray at the right speed though - it worked for me!

Paul Manning
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#5 Post by Paul Manning »

I thought it might have something to do with US/UK, PAL/NTSC. etc. I’ve got it on US Laserdisc too, but haven’t got my Laserdisc players hooked up at the moment. Thanks for the replies 😎

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Oznerol
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#6 Post by Oznerol »

Greendrake wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:54 pm
Paul Manning wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:26 pm I was wondering if this was how the original score was presented, with the songs maybe being pitched or slowed to better suit the cues and progression of the film’s edit? Or is it possibly an oversight or mistake?
We don't know with 100% certainty but, on the face of it, the film was filmed and edited at 25 fps (because it was a Picture Music International film targeted for PAL TV/VHS/LD). The pitch was normal there.

Then in the US it was released in NTSC 23.976 fps. Simply 4% slower, both the image and pitch.

Now the BFI release contains both versions:
  • The DVD is PAL 25 fps, running 1h 22m 22.12s, normal pitch
  • The Blu-ray runs at 24 fps for 1h 25m 48.041s, obviously 4% lower pitch
Thankfully, there was no frame re-sampling done: both versions contain the same number of frames. They're just played at different speed. Which makes it easy to run the HD version at 25fps (normal pitch) — my instruction is here.
Isn´t the NTSC frame rate 30fps? I work on animation...and all accross the yeas, all the projects I worked on for NTSC were animated at 30fps... and that´s the actual frame rate of all the NTSC VHS/DVDs I ever edited... I´know that a 23.976 fps do exist..but never knew when it applies actually... (???)
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#7 Post by TwizzleUK »

Enfant Terrible wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 4:21 pmThe weird thing is that, although the DVD plays at a faster speed than the Blu Ray disc, the songs are still pitched too low - try playing the original album version of ICHH alongside the soundtrack version at the start of the film...the pitch is lower (not as much as the Blu Ray, but it's still low). Weird.
I made this observation a while ago in the original thread and it's a significant point. We shouldn't be upping the frame rate of the Blu-ray to match the DVD. Both should match the speed and pitch of the original audio on the recorded songs.

Been looking forward to this release for ages. It looks beautiful and it's great to see it again, but the slow speed on both formats has certainly taken the edge off it for me. Disappointing.

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#8 Post by Oznerol »

TwizzleUK wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 7:34 pm
Enfant Terrible wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 4:21 pmThe weird thing is that, although the DVD plays at a faster speed than the Blu Ray disc, the songs are still pitched too low - try playing the original album version of ICHH alongside the soundtrack version at the start of the film...the pitch is lower (not as much as the Blu Ray, but it's still low). Weird.
I made this observation a while ago in the original thread and it's a significant point. We shouldn't be upping the frame rate of the Blu-ray to match the DVD. Both should match the speed and pitch of the original audio on the recorded songs.

Been looking forward to this release for ages. It looks beautiful and it's great to see it again, but the slow speed on both formats has certainly taken the edge off it for me. Disappointing.
But how is it possible, if the duration of the DVD is shorter tan the Bluray, that both of them are still running at the same speed?? Or the DVD is faster..but not faster enough?
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Greendrake
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#9 Post by Greendrake »

Enfant Terrible wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 4:21 pm The weird thing is that, although the DVD plays at a faster speed than the Blu Ray disc, the songs are still pitched too low - try playing the original album version of ICHH alongside the soundtrack version at the start of the film...the pitch is lower (not as much as the Blu Ray, but it's still low). Weird.
I just tried that. I opened both the film sound track (as at 25 fps) and the album, Actually in Audacity and trimmed to the first two verses of the song It couldn't happen here — starting from "Yesterday..." and ending just before "Now it almost seems impossible" begins.

The two results were exactly the same length-wise: 64 seconds. I also did not notice any difference in pitch.

So, to me, the songs played at 25 fps sound just right.
Oznerol wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 6:06 pm Isn´t the NTSC frame rate 30fps? I work on animation...and all accross the yeas, all the projects I worked on for NTSC were animated at 30fps... and that´s the actual frame rate of all the NTSC VHS/DVDs I ever edited... I´know that a 23.976 fps do exist..but never knew when it applies actually... (???)
Oh, there's a shitload of various frame rates for NTSC. But none of them is 25 fps :mrgreen: .

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Sage
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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#10 Post by Sage »

Finally got my copy. The music is definitely quite off! How could anyone in QA not notice this.
It sounds like a vaporwave remix.
I checked the Always On My Mind special feature, I'm pretty sure they said it would be HD but it's not. Then I spooled up the movie and skipped to a random part, it's the Always On My Mind section but clearly sounds slowed down and lower in pitch by comparison.

I'd expect them to recall the Blu-ray and reissue the movie.

I'll have to try Greendrake's tweak.

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#11 Post by NotInvisible »

Greendrake wrote: Fri 03 Jul 2020, 3:54 pmWe don't know with 100% certainty but, on the face of it, the film was filmed and edited at 25 fps (because it was a Picture Music International film targeted for PAL TV/VHS/LD).
I'm not sure the bolded bit is true - has Jack Bond clarified this or is it an assumption? Theatrical presentations were rarely assembled specifically for ancillary release; thinking about a future PAL home video release normally wouldn't have been a factor in the thinking behind a theatrical feature shot on film.

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#12 Post by Greendrake »

NotInvisible wrote: Tue 04 Aug 2020, 2:59 pm I'm not sure the bolded bit is true - has Jack Bond clarified this or is it an assumption? Theatrical presentations were rarely assembled specifically for ancillary release; thinking about a future PAL home video release normally wouldn't have been a factor in the thinking behind a theatrical feature shot on film.
The film wasn't really intended to be theatrical until they had already been deep into filming it. Originally it was intended to be just an hour long music video. (From the brochure).

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#13 Post by NotInvisible »

Greendrake wrote: Tue 04 Aug 2020, 4:01 pmThe film wasn't really intended to be theatrical until they had already been deep into filming it. Originally it was intended to be just an hour long music video. (From the brochure).
Interesting.

Were the filmed (as opposed to taped) '80s PSB videos shot at 24fps or 25fps?

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#14 Post by Greendrake »

Sage wrote: Tue 04 Aug 2020, 10:20 am I'd expect them to recall the Blu-ray and reissue the movie.
That would have been horrible because Blu-rays have to be 24 fps, so they would have to resample every 25 frames of the original 25 fps footage into new 24 frames interpolating those 25 to keep the speed right. (They have actually done precisely this with the Always on my mind video on the blu-ray). I am super grateful they did not rape the whole movie that way: now we have every real frame as it was on the actual film. And the wrong out-of-the-box speed is just a trade-off which is easily fixable (and which actually happened with the original US ICHH release on LD/VHS too, so BFI isn't the first here).
NotInvisible wrote: Tue 04 Aug 2020, 5:20 pm Were the filmed (as opposed to taped) '80s PSB videos shot at 24fps or 25fps?
Well I would not know that directly, but I am reasonably sure that they were 25 fps for the same reason: why would PMI shoot at 24 fps if the target was PAL TV/VHS? To amplify the costs, create jobs for people who would convert 24 to 25? To use the 25th frame for hidden advertising/propaganda lol? I assume that the 24 fps setting was not hard-built into film cameras, it was just a switch or something.

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Re: IT COULDN’T HAPPEN HERE BLU-RAY SCORE A SEMITONE LOWER

#15 Post by NotInvisible »

Greendrake wrote: Tue 04 Aug 2020, 10:50 pmWell I would not know that directly, but I am reasonably sure that they were 25 fps for the same reason: why would PMI shoot at 24 fps if the target was PAL TV/VHS?
Because the target probably wasn't PAL TV and it certainly wasn't PAL VHS. Home video was a negligible consideration - videos were marketing pieces designed to sell records, and the biggest game in town was obviously MTV in the States. Most UK music videos from the era were shot 24fps because of that.

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