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Mono DVD's: What were they thinking?


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#1 of 216 OFFLINE   Gary->dee

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Posted February 21 2003 - 04:40 AM

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.
[quote] You better do something about this one, because I don't intend to go through that hell again!
-Police Chief Martin Brody [quote] I really like John Williams' score and I think it's a nice follow-up to his work on the first movie. I even bought the Jaws 2 soundtrack, so the score is available in stereo.

So why were these DVD's issued in mono?

Does it have to do with money in remastering the sound for these particular titles?

Is it a case of Universal crapping out yet again?

#2 of 216 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted February 21 2003 - 04:43 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:01 AM

[quote] I even bought the Jaws 2 soundtrack, so the score is available in stereo. [quote]
It's not unusual for soundtrack scores to be recorded in stereo but then mixed to mono for a final film mix. The DVDs present the films as they were originally presented.

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#4 of 216 OFFLINE   Gary->dee

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:06 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:12 AM

[quote] I heard rumors of a stereo or 5.1 Conan disc being put out? [quote]
I believe there's an R4 Australian disc with a 5.1 track.

DJ

#6 of 216 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:13 AM

[quote] aren't there things that could be done to improve the viewing experience because of the format regardless of how they were originally presented? [quote]

Like the way George Lucas "improved" the Star Wars trilogy? Posted Image

#7 of 216 OFFLINE   Vince Maskeeper

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:15 AM

"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
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#8 of 216 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:16 AM

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.
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#9 of 216 OFFLINE   Scott Merryfield

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:17 AM

[quote] Like the way George Lucas "improved" the Star Wars trilogy? [quote]
...or the way Turner "improved" Casablanca by colorizing it? Posted Image

#10 of 216 OFFLINE   Gary->dee

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:29 AM

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. [quote] 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. [quote]

Hmm, interesting. I would think a better sound mix would be welcomed, especially since it doesn't alter the image, only the sound, unlike colorizing the image or adding some lame "Greedo shooting first" crap. But I guess the word "better" is relative and a matter of opinion. I just wish DVD's for titles that were originally released in mono also had either an optional stereo/5.1 track or perhaps another re-mixed version also availabe like the Jaws 5.1 and Jaws DTS versions that are out there.

However, I do realize that it has to do with the economics and popularity of the titles in question.

#11 of 216 OFFLINE   Vince Maskeeper

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:45 AM

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
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#12 of 216 OFFLINE   Gary->dee

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Posted February 21 2003 - 05:57 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted February 21 2003 - 06:37 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Jon Robertson

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Posted February 21 2003 - 06:52 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Gary->dee

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Posted February 21 2003 - 06:53 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Brendan Brown

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Posted February 21 2003 - 07:05 AM

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.
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#17 of 216 OFFLINE   Chad R

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Posted February 21 2003 - 07:11 AM

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 of 216 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted February 21 2003 - 07:17 AM

[quote] ...or the way Turner "improved" Casablanca by colorizing it? [quote]
FYI, most video stores had the colorized version costing more than the original B&W version. I'm sure you can tell what sold better.



As for mono to 5.1...

Some films benifit, some don't. Films such as Being There, It Happened One Night, and 8 1/2 are fine in their original mono form. Why would a 5.1 track be needed for these films?

On the other hand, many films have sound stems still existing and can benifit from a remix. North By Northwest was released in mono originally, but the fantastic score by Bernard Herrmann was recorded in 2-track magnetic stereo. The quality is amazing. The DVD presents a tastefully done remix which keeps dialogue up front and adds a little space to the effects. The score is all around you, which is nice. I'm sure the original mono is fine, but a remix done right isn't a problem. On the other hand, the 5.1 remix for Gone With The Wind is useless.

Mono is fine, 5.1 remixes are fine, but it's not bad if a mono track doesn't get 5.1 and isn't bad if it gets a good remix.

#19 of 216 OFFLINE   Rain

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Posted February 21 2003 - 07:53 AM

[quote] 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? [quote] Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

DVD should be used to present films as closely as possible to their original forms, not to try to "improve" them.

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#20 of 216 OFFLINE   Eugene Esterly

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Posted February 21 2003 - 08:00 AM

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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