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Meteor: why is the DVD mono?


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 OFFLINE   Todd Stout

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Posted May 22 2004 - 07:12 AM

I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the 1979 disaster film Meteor but it's a childhood guilty pleasure of mine. I have the Image laserdisc of the movie and it has a decent stereo soundtrack that plays just fine in Pro Logic mode (I belive the sound was originally encoded as Dolby Stereo). The DVD I picked up has a 2 channel mono Dolby Digital soundtrack. Any idea what happened? Meteor was even nominated for an Oscar for best sound in 1980 so it just seems odd that the DVD would have a mono soundtrack.

Could this error have been fixed on more recent copies of the DVD or is it still in mono? I may end up just transferring my laserdisc over to DVD-R to preserve the stereo sound. The transfers on both the laserdisc and the DVD appear to have come from the same source but the DVD has more vibrant colors and is a tad sharper.

I'm not sure what forum to ask this in so I will just tack it on to the end of this post. My Meteor laserdisc has adhesive residue on one side that apears to have come from a security tag that was on the disc sleeve. Is there an easy and/or safe way to remove adhesive residue from the surfaces of a laserdisc?

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted May 22 2004 - 07:20 AM

Quote:
I'm not sure how many of you are familiar with the 1979 disaster film Meteor but it's a childhood guilty pleasure of mine. I have the Image laserdisc of the movie and it has a decent stereo soundtrack that plays just fine in Pro Logic mode (I belive the sound was originally encoded as Dolby Stereo). The DVD I picked up has a 2 channel mono Dolby Digital soundtrack. Any idea what happened? Meteor was even nominated for an Oscar for best sound in 1980 so it just seems odd that the DVD would have a mono soundtrack.


I believe that the original theatrical soundtrack was mono. AIP probably didn't have the budget for a Dolby Stereo soundtrack. It isn't particularly odd that a mnono film would've been nominated for best sound in 1980.

DJ

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted May 22 2004 - 08:07 AM

You know Todd, I had to step back and take a look at the Academy Award sound nomination too.

The IMDb doesn't give the original specs for sound and see that the LD was "Stereo" while the DVD is DD "Mono". The general listing says the sound mix is Mono.

Looking at the Academy's database I see that the following were nominated for Achievement in Sound: "1941", "Apocalypse Now", "The Electric Horseman", "Meteor", and "The Rose"...."Apocalypse Now" won.

This only adds to the confusion because not all of the above titles are stereo or surround sound movies. "The Electric Horseman" is also Mono.

Maybe these movies were still being nominated at a time when Dobly was still coming into play and to be fair, Mono movies were nominated depending on composition as well as use of sound rather than dazzling with FX. Also maybe not all theaters had been converted to Dobly by this time? It wasn't until the mid 1970's before Dolby Stereo was even becoming popular in theaters and "Apocalypse Now" was the first true movie using it with surround sound hence the award.

Possibly the LD was altered to fake stereo when the real mix was mono?

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#4 of 34 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted May 22 2004 - 08:25 AM

Quote:
The IMDb doesn't give the original specs for sound and see that the LD was "Stereo" while the DVD is DD "Mono". The general listing says the sound mix is Mono.


IMDb's specification of Mono under "Sound Mix" on the film's main page is the original spec.

Quote:
Maybe these movies were still being nominated at a time when Dobly was still coming into play and to be fair, Mono movies were nominated depending on composition as well as use of sound rather than dazzling with FX. Also maybe not all theaters had been converted to Dobly by this time? It wasn't until the mid 1970's before Dolby Stereo was even becoming popular in theaters and "Apocalypse Now" was the first true movie using it with surround sound hence the award.

Dolby Stereo didn't even exist until the mid-1970s, so it would've had a hard time becoming popular before that time. Still, many films had used it before Apocalypse Now (such as Star Wars, Tommy, and A Star is Born). What was revolutionary about Apocalypse Now's soundtrack was that it was the first general release of Dolby's 6-track 70mm format in the modern 5.1 design (which was quite a different animal than Dolby Stereo).

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#5 of 34 OFFLINE   StevenFC

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Posted May 22 2004 - 09:08 AM

Yeah, I'm pretty sure what I heard in the theatre way back then was mono. I remember the sound as being loud but not stereophonic. Anyway, I think it would say in the movie credits would it not?
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#6 of 34 OFFLINE   Gary Palmer

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Posted May 22 2004 - 10:05 AM

There appears to be some confusion over the sound format for this title. I have a list of Dolby-encoded films that was published in the UK in 1996, and it clearly lists METEOR as being in Dolby Stereo. However, 'Widescreen Review' - the most reliable source on the Net for this kind of info - lists the film as optical mono, while Dolby's own website lists METEOR as being in Dolby Digital (which, of course, can't be right as DD wasn't developed until long after METEOR was released). I'd be VERY interested to hear if there's a Dolby credit on the DVD print, though I know of at least one other Dolby-encoded film (THE CHANGELING) which doesn't credit Dolby at all. As the two films were released around the same time, the mystery may not be cleared up, even if there isn't a Dolby credit on the METEOR print.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted May 22 2004 - 11:16 AM

Quote:
Meteor was even nominated for an Oscar for best sound in 1980 so it just seems odd that the DVD would have a mono soundtrack.

I'd like to point out that "mono" does not mean "poor sound", just as monochromatic (b&w) film does not mean poor cinematography. If the original theatrical release was mono, then the DVD is correct.

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#8 of 34 OFFLINE   John*C

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Posted May 22 2004 - 11:43 AM

I have the in monaural W/S "Meteor" starring Sean Connery, Natalie Wood and Brian Keith as the Soviet commander and owner of the launch platform, it's kind of like a "Deep Impact" story where both the USSR and the USA get together and launch to get the Meteor from colliding into Earth, the movie "Gorath" comes to mind also. You can't expect all movies to have Stereo or Dolby Surround, for the movie company has a budget and the Studio doing the transfer for it to become a DVD! I believe there will be no SE or UE, for the movie is thrilling, but we have all seen our share of disastor films.


Things get a bit out of hand and they are forced downwards while Connery charactor is falling for the Russian interprator that Natalie Wood played. The underground parking garage they took refuge in was near a river which started coming in and they had to get themselves out with the Soviet President Brian Keith played. The 'nuke' missles were all launched from both the American and Soviet launch platforms(Peter the Great) after a course correction instead of downwards to a upward trajectory to meet the meteor head on, and took the comet on a path into outer space saving the Earth from a Armageddon type impact. The top Soviet noticed the fondness between woods and connerys charactor, and said we must come back to America someday yes and she said yes in a while, all well that ends well.


#9 of 34 OFFLINE   Todd Stout

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Posted May 22 2004 - 04:38 PM

Wow... I leave the computer for a few hours and see my question has generated quite a response!

I have nothing at all against mono soundtracks. I think many of them sound quite good as a matter of fact. My biggest question I guess was why the Image laserdisc has a stereo soundtrack while the DVD does not. The laserdisc even includes meteor fly over sound effects as well as a stereo music score that sounds pretty decent when played back through my receiver's Pro Logic decoder. I have not yet looked at the credits for this piece of 70's cheese to see if there is any sort of Dolby Stereo logo but I may just do that soon.

#10 of 34 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted May 22 2004 - 04:44 PM

Just popped in my copy of Meteor and there is no reference to the sound anywhere... only optics and lab.

If someone could look this movie up in the Film Institute's books then I am sure it will give the sound mix in it. Our state library here in Virginia has them but closes Sunday and Mondays.

Damin is correct in saying that "stereo" in movie theaters was not popular until the 1980s as in 1979 only 15 had it. There were stereo movies made but could only be played in mono. Tommy was the first movie in Dolby Stereo and shown in the UK.

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#11 of 34 OFFLINE   MattHR

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Posted May 22 2004 - 04:51 PM

Fox's THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE is another example where the laserdisc had a nice stereo soundtrack while the DVD is mono.

#12 of 34 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted May 22 2004 - 05:50 PM

Couldn't the stereo LD vs. mono DVD be an early example of remixing much like "new" 5.1 remixes of old movie soundtracks today?

Professional software for wav and mp3 music have options to convert mono to simulated stereo. Maybe the LD was an example of this and the studio reverted back to mono for the purest?

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#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Harry-N

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Posted May 23 2004 - 12:18 AM

If this LaserDisc is an example of of a mono track made into stere, then it's a darned good one. I just sampled a few sections of the movie using headphones to better sample the stereo "stage" of the soundtrack. It's very discrete sounding, like it belonged that way. Sound effects that were trailing off to the right of the screen, trailed off to the right of the stereo image as well, while dialog continues rock solid in the middle.

The music track is most definitely stereo here, and sounds rather good.

If Image/Orion created this stereo track for the LaserDisc release, then I'm impressed.

I don't own the DVD, and now I'm not sure I want to.

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#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Chris Dugger

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Posted May 23 2004 - 01:08 AM

The "POSEIDEN" was orignally shown in theatres as mono.

Same is the case for "METEOR". AIP ran out of money during the production.

It is also the film the shut the studio down due to it's bust at the box office!

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#15 of 34 OFFLINE   John*C

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Posted May 23 2004 - 02:35 AM

I don't know why this happens, I guess they don't listen to what they have made or they 'don't' care. "The Final Cut" Region 2 was listed as monaural, but it played beautifully on Sennheiser DSP_PRO 2.0 upconverted to 4.0 Dolby Pro-Logic. I use Fostex Studio Quality Full size stereo T40 Headphones with all sound from any audio source, including DVD, CD, and VHS.....sometimes from my Dell I8500 laptop computer, but with the laptop there is no audio output to input my DSP_PRO Dolby Pro Logic decoder. I have 8 of the Sennheiser decoders, all lined on top of the table that's next to me. The Fostex are a step up (from my Denon AH D-750 headphones), and can be seen in the DVD "The Beach Boys:Nashville Sounds, first performer is Lorrie Morgan whose headphones are older Fostex T20 in 1998 when Carl Wilson was still living!

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   TedD

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Posted May 23 2004 - 12:00 PM

Quote:
Tommy was the first movie in Dolby Stereo and shown in the UK.


Tommy prints were four track magnetic, and came in two mixes: Quintaphonic and standard 4 track mag. They did carry a Dolby logo on them, however it was not a "Dolby Stereo" logo but rather a "Dolby Noise Reduction' logo.

Check this out for a description of the quintaphonic releases.

http://www.cinephoto...._theatre_8.htm

I remember it well, because I was working at the Flatirons Theater in Boulder CO. at the time, and we actually installed 4 track Magnetic for the engagement.

This predated any Dolby Stereo installations in the Denver metro area.


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#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted May 23 2004 - 02:40 PM

Quote:
Tommy prints were four track magnetic, and came in two mixes: Quintaphonic and standard 4 track mag. They did carry a Dolby logo on them, however it was not a "Dolby Stereo" logo but rather a "Dolby Noise Reduction' logo.


As you can see on Dolby's own timeline, Tommy was exhibited in Dolby Stereo at its London premiere using the very first Dolby Stereo processor model. This was the first test exhibition of Dolby Stereo, with the first general release exhibtion with matrixed surrounds coming the following year with A Star is Born.

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#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Paul Linfesty

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Posted May 23 2004 - 05:40 PM

For the record, METEOR was released in both 4-track mag/optic combined prints as well as standard optical mono prints. Dolby had nothing to dop with this film.

THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE had some 70mm 6-track mag stereo prints playing in the United States.

TOMMY used a number of soundtrack formats. The Quintaphonic Sound format used Dolby NR for the mag tracks in London only. DBX was used for NR in the QS version in the United States and Canada (there was a lisencing dispute over the use of the matrix being used by Dolby). If you read the fine print under the Dolby logo in the credits, it does state "optical prints."

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Mike_Richardson

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Posted May 24 2004 - 01:23 AM

Whether it was remixed or not, recorded in Dolby or not, the LD of METEOR sounds fantastic while the DVD sounds like crap by comparison. If the LD was remixed, someone went to an awful lot of trouble because it absolutely sounds discreet as one poster said, with separated channel effects and a musical score that sounds 100 times better on the LD than it does on the DVD.

METEOR is one movie I've kept on LD and sold the DVD off long ago.

#20 of 34 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted May 24 2004 - 05:55 AM

Quote:
For the record, METEOR was released in both 4-track mag/optic combined prints as well as standard optical mono prints.

Can you tell us more about this? I'm not very familiar with the mag/optical sound format. I understand it was used on some early Cinemascope films, is that correct?


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