Mono DVD's: What were they thinking?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Gary->dee, Feb 21, 2003.

  1. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I have 2 DVD's that can only be heard in mono, not even stereo let alone 5.1 surround. They are Conan The Barbarian Collector's Edition and Jaws 2.

    My question: Why do they only have a mono audio track?

    I'm not certain, but I think the videotape versions of these same movies were at least available in stereo. I could be wrong! Conan is a good movie, one of Arnie's best in my opinion and it features a great score by Basil Poledouris. It definitely deserves the 5.1 treatment. Jaws 2, while not as good as the original, still has its moments.
     
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    Perhaps they were thinking, "we're going to provide these films on DVD as originally presented theatrically." And what an odd notion that would be.

    DJ
     
  3. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  4. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Interesting, thanks guys. To me it's like someone giving you a rooster at McDonald's and saying, "Here's your chicken mcnuggets, as originally presented." The point being is that since these movies are on DVD, aren't there things that could be done to improve the viewing experience because of the format regardless of how they were originally presented?

    I heard rumors of a stereo or 5.1 Conan disc being put out?
     
  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  6. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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  7. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Lead Actor

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    "Improvement" is a relative concept. Some see colorization as an "improvement", but I would think you'd find few here who would agree. Some see "fullscreen" as an improvement, again few here would agree.

    DVD, or video in general, shouldn't be about changing the original to fit your image of "better". It's best when used to preserve, not alter.

    The films are not here to serve the technology- rather the technology should serve the films.

    -vince
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Sometimes the elements don't exist to allow a remix of an older soundtrack. Sometimes the fidelity of what does exist isn't good enough to justify the effort. Sometimes it's just too expensive.

    I can tell you one thing for certain, though. Every time a major classic or cult favorite has been remixed from mono to stereo (or 5.1) or from stereo to 5.1, there have been loud and sustained protests from long-time fans of the film. When it comes to soundtracks, one person's "improved viewing experience" is another person's desecration.

    M.
     
  9. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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  10. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Ok so now I see that there's sort of a "DVD ethics" issue in play here and I do understand the logic in that.
     
  11. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Lead Actor

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    This kinda thing never stops amazing me, no matter how many times I see it. Speaking as someone who has done film sound, and would very much love to make my life doing so- I think respect for the film as a whole should extend to sound.

    I've never understood why altering the image was seen as bad, but an alteration to sound is "only sound".

    -vince
     
  12. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    Contrary to what you might think my opinion of sound is, Vince, I place enough of an importance on the audio portion of a movie to want to at least hear it in stereo, if not 5.1. Speaking just for myself, I don't hold the original material so close to my heart that I'd prefer to see and hear the original theatrical presentation when it could be made to sound better.

    Basically to me the insult, for lack of a better word, is keeping it mono as opposed to remastering it to stereo or 5.1 for the DVD release. I very much have a respect for sound, but not enough to want to hear a mono audio track on a DVD because that's the way it sounded when it first came out in theaters.
     
  13. Rob Gardiner

    Rob Gardiner Cinematographer

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    Gary,

    Part of the objection to remixing mono films into 5.1 is that changes are introduced. For example -- the original mono mix of TERMINATOR features the sound of a knife being drwan over the opening titles -- this sound effect was missing in the 5.1 mix. The 5.1 mix of SUPERMAN contains new sound effects that were not in the original. The remix of HARD DAY'S NIGHT features heavy reverb on the final concert sequence that was not present in the original. If a remix is done faithfully, as on the Kubrick discs, (i.e. music in stereo, dialogue mainly from the center, and the SAME sound effects as before, just spread out appropriately) we do not complain as loudly, although if they were available in mono I would only watch them that way. But some remixes like the 3 above are "botched" in my opinion. Look for the previous thread about the CONAN issue, and folks who are more familiar with the film than I have pointed out unnecessary changes in the new 5.1 mix.
     
  14. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    I agree with the sentiments expressed above at the alarming double-standards many DVD enthusiasts have for image and sound on DVDs.

    In an ideal world, all mono and stereo films would presented as such in uncompressed PCM.

    The DD and PCM formats are essentially non-anamorphic vs. anamorphic when it comes to soundtracks, only the improvement in clarity, detail and fidelity is one hell of a lot more than 33%.
     
  15. Gary->dee

    Gary->dee Screenwriter

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    I can dig it, Rob. Yeah the examples you pointed out seem as though it was just a matter of incorrectly remixing the audio. I agree that sounds heard in the original version shouldn't be ommitted in the translation to 5.1 and likewise sounds shouldn't be blatantly added just for effect. Although I don't have any objections to the added sounds to Superman's 5.1 mix. For me they don't deter from the experience of seeing the movie.

    I can understand the argument of either doing it right or not at all.


    Btw I'm glad I brought this subject up because now I'm more aware of not only the technical issues involved by also the insights and opinions of DVD's owners about this matter.
     
  16. Brendan Brown

    Brendan Brown Stunt Coordinator

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    My opinion is that a filmmaker can do whatever he wants to the film, as long as he leaves the original version intact and at a decent quality. (Smiles at Spielberg, Glares at Lucas)

    So in the case of Mono to 5.1 mixes, make sure to leave that mono track available.
     
  17. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Perhaps it's important to point out that DVD isn't about being the best, but most accurately conveying the original theatrical experience to the home. If the original theatrical experience was mono, than that's fine for me.

    'Jaws' had the best mono track I ever heard with a nice, full robust range. Sure, sounds didn't spark from all of my speakers--but, I never once wished they had because it sounded great. The only imporvments made to mono tracks would be clean up to remove hiss and the like.
     
  18. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  19. Rain

    Rain Producer

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  20. Eugene Esterly

    Eugene Esterly Supporting Actor

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    DVD's which are only contain a mono soundtrack pretty much means that the theatrical movie was in mono sound.

    Remember, not every company will remix mono to 5.1 . It's up to the studio to decide if they want to remix the audio.
     

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