Warner Archive MODs – what is "newly remastered?"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Traveling Matt, May 4, 2012.

  1. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Second Unit

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    Could anyone describe the standard by which the Warner Archive calls their products "newly remastered?"
    I don’t purchase DVD-Rs, but am hoping WHV will one day release pressed sets of some films (especially the lesser-known Bogarts) and would like to know how they're being handled at the MOD level. Much thanks!
     
  2. jdee28

    jdee28 Screenwriter

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    It seems that each title the Warner Archive now releases is digitized -- maybe that's a better word for it -- being made HD ready. The issue now is what elements are being digitized. I would guess that if they find an already existing master that would translate well digitally, they use it. Hence their release of the Bogart title Conflict (1945). If they can't find an already existing master that would translate well digitally, they then create it and digitize that. For these titles they label the box a "remastered edition"; Bogart titles like The Wagons Roll at Night (1941) and The Two Mrs. Carrolls (1947).
    Titles are being digitized for television and titles are being digitized for the Archive. It looks like the Archive has access to newly digitized television transfers, but won't allow television to use the new digital transfers that the Archive itself has created.
     
  3. battlebeast

    battlebeast Screenwriter

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    I recently asked the Warner Archive via Facebook what "digitally remastering" actually involved and they told me they wouldn't tell because each film was different Basically, it's a trade secret and they won't spill the beans like Bush's secret family recipe.

    I belive it's simply creating a new, master copy of the film.If they don't do that, many early films will be lost.
     
  4. DeWilson

    DeWilson Cinematographer

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    This is the biggest crock of **** I've ever heard!
     
  5. Traveling Matt

    Traveling Matt Second Unit

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    Thanks guys. John, if I understand you correctly, you mean "remastered" or not depends solely on the source material (no actual restoration) and that none of the films are fully restored? Is that the case for all Archive titles?
    If so, it would be a real shame in Bogie's case. Fully-restored sets, or a box, of his remaining Warner films (which constitute the majority of his unreleased filmography) would be wonderful. And probably not too bad a seller.
     
  6. John Morgan

    John Morgan Supporting Actor

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    For the most part, I think the titles labeled newly remastered are a vast improvement on what TCM has shown in the past. RHAPSODY IN BLUE is absolutely first rate, both in picture and sound. I think this title would have had to come from a new transfer from the camera negative.
    I also assumed that a new transfer would come from the nearest element they have to the original camera negative and not the so-so transfers these early films had in the 50s to safety fine grains. A lot of those seem to have splices and bad sound and not so hot color for those Technicolor films. If early color films like GOLD IS WHERE YOU FIND IT, GOD’S COUNTRY AND THE WOMAN, VALLEY OF THE GIANTS ever make it to the archives, I am sure something would have to be done to improve them. And a film like THE OKLAHOMA KID looks and sounds terrible on the master TCM uses, so I feel if that is ever announced, it will be quite good and deserve a remastering.
    I was fooled once when the Archives offered the Davis film A STOLEN LIFE. I had recorded it off of TCM for years, and it was dingy, had a couple of horrible splices and was frustrated that the archive version didn’t have that REMASTER logo on it. Well, I ordered it anyway and was surprised it was a newer transfer with sharp picture and wonderful sound, so I only surmise this was remastered sometime ago for a proposed Davis box set that didn’t make it to standard DVD. I gave up trying to get a good copy off of TCM, but I gave up too soon, as this version has been playing awhile now...I am told. So in that case I couldn’t be happier to get a great copy with the TCM bug.
    And am I correct in assuming that a 16x9 transfer of an older CinemaScope film would have to have a new transfer from film to video as the older “letterbox” versions were done within the 4x3 frame?. I suspect that films like KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS is letterboxed in the 4x3 frame and blown up for TCMHD channel, but not sure.
     
  7. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
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    All "Newly remastered" tells you is that they went back made a new transfer from whatever film element was available. Even if that film element was the same one used previously, improvements in mastering technology since the last transfer would yield superior results. However, there's no guarantee that any digital cleanup was done, much less any true restoration work. Usually, it's just a re-transfer from the best existing materials available and presented "as is."
    And any 16x9 titles are guaranteed to be "newly remastered" because existing masters made for 4:3 use are useless. "The Light in the Piazza" was "newly remastered" and looks quite a bit better than the old TCM transfer by virtue of being 16x9. However, the source print looks identical as the color is still contains that pale look of aged Eastman Color.
     
  8. JoHud

    JoHud Producer

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    Since this topic seems to crop up a lot in the main WA thread, so I'll just begin by repeating what I said earlier:
    The "remastered" banner is a pretty big misnomer in some respects because it seems to suggest that titles that don't have that banner are inferior prints/transfers. This is not true at all (especially in terms of more recent releases), and sometimes the remastered discs aren't all that hot, obviously owing to the variable state of the elements currently in the WB vaults. The best quality print of a more well-known Gable picture may not be in as good condition compared to the best available print (if not the OCN) of an obscure Guy Kibbee movie. It's best not expect multi-million dollar restorations. They are working on restoring titles, though only on really need it, though it can be a very long process and therefore represent a lower percentage of overall WA releases. So expect reel markers or occasional dirt/scratches on some of the releases along with the (usually) good video quality.
    They seem to only put "remastered" on titles remastered by the WA team and only singles. The Buster Keaton MGM Film Collection and Vitaphone Varieties, for example, are definitely remastered from quality elements, yet have no banner. Why? Who knows, but it's certainly kept me from taking the banner too literally compared to the other releases.
    Overall, I'd just ignore that bit of advertising entirely and either blind buy or read reviews. Pretty much any new release has much better quality control than when the WA launched, so I would recommend looking at the release year of the disc. 2009 would be the most suspect, while 2011-2012 would be safer buys, since WB has long learned their lesson on issuing Turner-era transfers through the WA. Titles that were worked on by UCLA should also be recommended.
     

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