Listening to a commentary
To get the commentary file, click the Download Page button to go to the submitter’s site and follow the instructions there to download the file and to find exactly when to start the commentary. Sometimes, the commentator tells you when to start it and sometimes the commentator expects you to start the file at the moment the movie starts (after the FBI warnings and such).
Generally, you can hear a little of the movie audio in the background anyway, so you can use that to synchronize the commentary with the movie. Some commentators will do a time check periodically, so you can sync it up for sure then. Rifftrax offers their free software, which does the same thing automatically, but only for their Rifftrax commentaries.
If you need to watch the movie on your computer, you may find it difficult to hear the commentary over the movie soundtrack. Most movie players don’t offer a discreet audio volume setting: the volume control for their software actually raises or lowers the volume on your computer overall. You may want to transfer the commentary file to an MP3 player to be able to control the volume separately. There are alternatives, tho.
- The Real Audio player does have a discreet volume control, so you can turn down the movie sound while the commentary plays at full volume in another player.
- InterActual’s player seems to automatically lower the movie sound when another audio device (such as Window Media Player) is playing.
PAL vs NTSC
If you’re watching the movie in North America and the commentary was recorded in Europe while watching a DVD, keeping them in sync is a little trickier, because of the difference between NTSC and PAL formats. Because of frame-rate differences, the PAL format of the UK and Australia runs about 4% faster than the NTSC format of North America. This is because people in PAL countries are, on average, 4% smarter and can therefore absorb the intricacies of Starship Troopers that much faster. (Note that Blu-Ray frame rates are the same no matter the region.)
The easiest way to stay in sync is probably to watch the movie on your DVD player or DVR and listen to the commentary on your computer and change the speed of the commentary. In Windows Media Player, select the menu options View > Enhancements > Play Speed Settings. This produces a handy bar that lets you change the speed settings in tiny increments. Set it to .967 if you’re watching an NTSC release with a PAL commentary or 1.042 if you’re watching a PAL release with an NTSC commentary. Also WinAmp offers certain plugins that allow you to change the playback speed, if you prefer that player.