18 February 2015

TBS compresses Seinfeld - updated

"Upper-right is a live feed from my tuner card from tonight's Seinfeld rerun. Lower-right is a digital recording from Fox Chicago about 10 years ago on the same hardware. TBS's broadcast gained 15 seconds in 3:22. This amounts to almost 2 full minutes for the entire episode."
Discussed at Reddit where there are comments that the image is cropped to make it "wide screen" and that the content is sometimes edited as well, and a notation that this is sometimes done with broadcast music.  The purpose apparently is to create more time for commercials.

Although the result is described as a "speeding up" of the program, I would think that even a 7.5% increase in speed would alter voice pitch, so I wonder if the process is instead some sort of computerized microediting - removing seconds of stares, views of a door about to open, shortening nonrolling credits, and such.  The process would be similar to time-compressed speech.

Confession:  I've never seen even a single episode of Seinfeld.  Apparently I'm the only living person with that distinction.

Addendum:  This video and the Reddit discussion generated a more-extended discussion of the technology at Digital Trends:
One provider is called Prime Image, which advertises a product called the Time Tailor. According to the site, the service “optimizes video runtime to seamlessly insert new ad spots, shrink content runtime without cutting scenes” and allow for several other solutions which alter programming to fit the network’s specifications. The service is automated, essentially allowing networks to program the time warping necessary, sit back, and collect that extra cash...


  1. I'm a hobbyist musician with a little home studio where I record my own music. With the right software you can very easily stretch or compress audio without changing pitch...

  2. The old versions (before 2.0) of VLC Media Player have a speed slide where you can adjust speed to 7.5% faster, now it just has jumps to 2/3, 1/2, 1, 1.5 etc. This method does change pitch but it is barely noticeable at 10 - 15%, though I used to play melodic songs just slow enough to make female singers sound androgynous.

    There is also this thing where in PAL regions all 24 frame/s movie footage hat to fit 25 frames per second to accommodate 50 Hz TV signal, so I believe the frames were synchronized and the film+audio speed up by 4.16%, a difference you can see if you look at movie running times for DVDs, I suppose.

  3. I've never seen an episode either, & don't really intend to.
    Muzzman is right. As a professional video editor and composer, I can affirm there are many digital tools to alter speed without altering pitch. There are always tradeoffs in quality or artifacts, but the technology is quite good these days. No need for the micro-edits you postulated - just speed the thing up. At a certain point, the speech would become so clipped (regardless of pitch) that it would be noticeable and unacceptable.

  4. I believe the speeding up is done with a machine called a Q-bomb. It was first used to speed up Star Trek in syndication.

  5. I've also never seen an entire episode of Seinfeld. Put it on a couple times to see what the fuss was about and got so bored I turned it off.

  6. Total lack of respect for the original artistic product, all in name of making a few bucks more.

  7. I've never seen a full episode either.

    But I have time-compressed thousands of commercials for broadcast.


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