Slowing down PAL DVDs with mplayer

I bought Casino Royale on DVD yesterday. Got up to the intro song and had to stop. I know Chris Cornell’s voice, and that wasn’t his. Well it was, but it was pitched about a semitone too high. The culprit fact was that it was a PAL DVD. The movie had been filmed at 24fps (or 23.976 to be precise, if it was first transferred to the North American NTSC format), but the PAL standard is 25 fps, or about 4% faster. The result usually for these DVDs is that the movie ends up slightly shorter and the sounds slightly higher, with no attempt on the part of the DVD creators to fix it. I’ve noticed it before, but it’s never irritated me enough to actually stop the film and do anything about it.

There are solutions apparently based on remastering the disc, but I just wanted an on-the-fly playback fix. According to what I found, WinDVD apparently has a feature to do this. I don’t have WinDVD, or at least I don’t remember where I put the disc that came with my drive. So the search for a Windows-capable media player that could slow the movie down on the fly began. VLC and GOM Player both failed.

So I looked to MPlayer. Well actually two Windows-based front-ends for it. I’m getting too old to remember commandline arguments for a media player. The first of them, SMPlayer, I had discovered when trying to find a player that could play an HD .mkv (Matroska) file smoothly. SMPlayer was the only one that could in the end. The second was MPUI.

Checking the MPlayer documentation revealed it had a handy-looking -speed argument that you pass a ratio to. Both SMPlayer and MPUI allow such arguments to be passed straight to MPlayer.

23.976 / 25 = 0.95904

Unfortunately SMPlayer sort of froze up when trying to play the DVD with -speed 0.96. Fortunately MPUI didn’t, and Chris Cornell’s voice was back to the right pitch.

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One response to “Slowing down PAL DVDs with mplayer

  1. could you explain to me how you eventually got this to work? (i don’t really know much about software and whatnot) I’m a mac user and was wondering if I could use the same technique (?) as you did.

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