Monday, November 9, 2009

That momentary pause

I used Becoming Jane as my poster art for the following post, but I could have used the other movie I watched yesterday on DVD (Who'll Stop the Rain? from 1978), or any number of movies I've seen on DVD in the last couple years.

Because this is a phenomenon I experience quite frequently: the momentary pause.

Have you seen this? Do you know what I'm talking about?

You're watching a movie, going along fine, either liking it or not liking it as the case may be, and then suddenly the movie freezes.

You have about enough time to think "Oh crap, what's wrong wi --" before it comes back out of the freeze and resumes as normal. The whole thing is over in under a second, and then usually doesn't happen again.

Have you seen this? Do you know what I'm talking about?

It must have something to do with the DVD technology. But what seems particularly strange to me is that it always seems to happen when the shot is changing -- never just in the middle of the shot.

As I am typing these words out, it occurs to me that this could easily be a little bit of a stutter between chapters on the DVD. In fact, that's the most likely explanation I guess. I hadn't directly drawn that conclusion previously because I didn't think these pauses necessarily came at the end of a scene, per se. Then again, it's entirely up to the company that presses the DVD when the chapter breaks occur. I've seen some strangely timed chapter breaks -- one chapter will last two minutes, and then the next one will last ten.

But as I said, it usually doesn't happen more than once per movie, and doesn't happen in every movie. Maybe that's just the randomness of technological glitches for you. I guess I've got an easy enough way to test it -- next time this happens, go back and check if the moment where it happens is a chapter break. But you've got to do it at the actual time it happens -- or at least record the time it happens for later review -- or you'll forget. Already forgotten for Becoming Jane and Who'll Stop the Rain? (hey, those rhyme), and besides, already dropped Becoming Jane in the mail yesterday anyway.

It could also just be our DVD player. For reasons that are too long to go into right now, we are currently using an HD DVD player for our primary DVD player. (Okay, it's a short explanation -- there was a fire sale on them when BluRay won the war, and my wife bought one for very cheap when our old one died.) The only consequences we get from this player are a message about adjusting the resolution when you first insert the disc, and possibly, these momentary pauses.

Anyway, I just thought I should mention it. If you have a different theory, I'd love to hear it.


Lord Vader said...

A more likely explanation is that the pause is occurring at the layer change, ie the point at which the player needs to start reading data from the second layer on the disc - hence it only occurring once per film. Most players these days are capable of handling layer changes quite seamlessly, it's surprising that new tech such as a HD-DVD player would have this issue, but I'd say that's what it is!

Don Handsome said...

I had this problem with my old DVD player...and it only happened at chapter changes, like the player had to think for a couple extra beats before starting the next chapter. Not sure if this is an issue with layers on the disc, and I can't remember if it ever happened more than once a movie, but I did notice it more often on rented discs, and had nothing to do with scrathes, so I always explained it as something to do with wear to the disc.