South Park Sped Up by a Semitone

While watching South Park tonight, we noticed something which surprised us. Big thanks goes to Bec for noticing this right away, as she has perfect pitch. It took me a little longer, but I heard it too. The episode played at a faster speed, almost a semitone higher!

This might not seem like much to a non-audio person, but your brain does notice it on some level. To me, the music sounded thinner, and something just felt off. Bec says it gives her a headache. She has never noticed a Television show that has done this before, she has only heard this on Clear Channel radio stations. As a blind viewer, I can’t also help but wonder if sighted people notice the affect on video. They would have to speed that up as well to keep it synchronized with the audio. It sort of ills me out, because they just get away with doing it, and probably nobody notices.

Listen to Bec’s audio demonstration and hear for yourself. First, you will hear a very clear doorbell played at normal speed as it did when the episode first aired. Next, you will hear it as it aired tonight sped up. After that, you will hear a segment of music from the original episode, and then from tonight’s rearing. Notice how the original sounds fuller?

And why did Comedy Central do this? A segment has an average of eight fewer seconds. A show has three segments. This makes twenty-four (24) fewer seconds or thereabouts in total. Just enough time to show yet another ad for Jackass in 3D. Just what we wanted, and sandwiched in the middle, an ad for “Power to the People” a CD of John Lennon’s greatest hits. He would have loved that.

And they wonder why they have fewer viewers. In tonight’s season premier, Cartman becomes a Nascar driver, and does a podcast, and they really make it sound like it. Some audio person actually said: “Make this sound like some kid’s crappy podcast.” and equalized it to sound like a Laptop’s crappy internal microphone. To see such fine audio work wasted on commercialism disgusts me. Fair to note, they did not speed up the premier, but the point remains. Consumers must demand better. Do people know? Artists must demand better. Do Matt and Trey know? We all must demand better. If we don’t, we will live in a world with nothing but sped up processed content, with plenty of room for commercials.