A Few Words About A few words about...™ Tommy -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    When The Who's "rock opera" Tommy was released as a double LP in 1969 I found it mildly interesting. Without my help it grew into a musical phenomenon.
     

    Six years later, under the directorial hand of the usually brilliant Ken Russell, it became a motion picture with an all-star cast. While I found it interesting and generally enjoyable, to me it was also one of the longest 111 minute films that I'd ever seen.

     

    Again, to me, the most important and interesting element of the production was its use of "quintaphonic sound."

     

    Quintaphonic audio was unique to the release prints of Tommy. Using standard four-track magnetic only 35mm prints, ie. Fox sprocket, The prints were not meant to be run optically.

     

    With a speaker layout, which is reasonably standard to today's home theater, there were three speakers behind the screen in Left, Center, and Right positions. In addition there were Rear Left and Rear Right. Tracks were encoded (and decoded) using a Sansui unit.

     

    Chace Audio has posted an explanation here:

     

    http://triggertone.com/term/Quintaphonic_Stereo

     

    Sony's new Blu-ray of Mr. Russell's film is perfect. While I still find it a long 111 minutes, the image quality is superb, and the newly created 5.1, as well as the original 5.0 are nothing short of breath-taking.

     

    My perception is that this is a Blu-ray release worth the investment for the audio alone.

     

    Recommended.

     

    RAH
     
  2. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    If you thought the movie of Tommy was wacky, you should've seen the Broadway show!

     

    This is tempting. The movie is awfully dated, but the music is classic.
     
  3. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    Ann Margaret ... baked beans.

     

    Some things are timeless.
     
  4. James_Garner

    James_Garner Stunt Coordinator

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    I have a question. Is the center channel audio on either of the two 5 channel configurations isolated vocals only or vocals-mixed-with the instrumentals? I ask because on the british 2-disc DVD, the restored five-channel audio had isolated vocals on the center channel. This was done by the original theatrical audio mixers. If the blu-ray's center channel on either track is (mostly) vocal-only, I will upgrade; if not, this is a missed opportunity by Sony
     
  5. jt19006

    jt19006 Auditioning

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    The US DVD release of the "Superbit" version included the original Quintophonic sound mix. According to the specs the blu-ray disc has the original 5.0 channel theatrical Quintophonic mix and a new 5.1 channel surround mix.
     
  6. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Thanks for your timely seal of approval, RAH, even though the film does not interest you much.

     

     
  7. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    And I liked The Who's Tommy...it was the first show I ever saw on Broadway, after seeing the tour in Dallas two weeks earlier.
     

    I'm not sure I can stomach the movie again, though.
     

     
  8. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Oh, the Broadway show was hilariously nutty. That can be a good thing if one is in the right mood. ;)

     

    Man-Fai, thanks for the tip!
     
  9. James_Garner

    James_Garner Stunt Coordinator

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    I've been doing research about the DVD-era releases of "Tommy" and after listening to the Sony's original 1999 DVD and 2002 superbit DVD (as well as the region-free British 2-disc set) i can confirm that Sony has FINALLY used the correct original Quintaphonic mix originally heard on the British 2-DVD version. Yes, I am fully aware that the original 1999 dvd had the original Quintaphonic audio; but someone erroneously mixed the 5.0's center channel to use both vocals and intruments (instead of vocals and select sound effects only) throughout the entire movie, spoiling the intended effect. If you are a fan of the film, the corrected original quinaphonic mix alone is worth the upgrade to the blu-ray version. I hope Sony ultilizes original sound mixes for more of their library titles (cough, "Lawrence of Arabia," cough).
     
  10. Powell&Pressburger

    Powell&Pressburger Screenwriter

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    Sounds like this new BLU release got the audio correct.

     

    I think it sounds great myself, I don't have my old SuperBit to compare it to etc... but, inside the BD case is a nice long audio write up on the tapes etc used for this mix. So they did their homework.

     

    I still think the image is really top notch.
     

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