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Sound of Music: GREAT extras but sound a disappointment


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#1 of 42 Tyler Ruggeri

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Posted August 28 2000 - 02:15 PM

I got the Sound of Music today and am pleased for the most part except for a few things, and I'm surprised you guys haven't posted more on this. Sure, it's sweet and sugary, but for the most part the film is great and enjoyable.

The picture is perfect. Beautiful, unprecedented. A fantastic restoration job. I would go on and on about the old VHS I have that I compared it to, but you just have to see it for yourself. The extras are also unbelievable. A 90-minute documentary, a 15-minute documentary, endless trailers and audio stuff like interviews and radio spots, a commentary, storyboards galore, everything galore! The text supplements are incredible. Well-written, concise, none of the "talent files" crap we so often see, and as good an insight to the film as any deconstructive book.

Now, for the bad, or the not-so bad: The sound. I hate to say it, but I cringed during many parts, especially the My Favorite Things scene. The sound is recorded way too low, and the bass is too much. I heard quite a bit of hiss and distortion throughout the track, although many parts played fine. I DID like how the volume of dialogue in the mains when it carried over was the same as the volume in the center so the character wasn't loud on the left and softer in the center. The music seemed muffled at times. An example of this is the nuns at the beginning, where if you play it loud enough isn't clear at all. Some of the louder musical cues had this problem, and the sound was often distorted.

Still, it's a great movie and a welcome addition to DVD with the extras. The sound is a pretty decent complaint from me, since I am a sound nut. I'd like to hear everyone else's comments and their experienced with this track. I listened to the 4.1, which is almost identical to the 2.0

Tyler Ruggeri

#2 of 42 Trav

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Posted August 28 2000 - 03:05 PM

I've gotten about half way through the movie so far and I think my reaction is almost opposite. I was impressed with the clarity of the soundtrack (especially the vocal), but was slightly disappointed in the video. The colors seemed to change intermittently. And in the opening, the brightness changes when the credits appear on the screen (don't know if this is because of the restoration or if it was like that all along). There are some areas where the color shifts hues very slightly while the movie is playing (almost like the Macrovision effect when playing through a VCR but not as noticeable). But the video is sharp and very vibrant.

I haven't even gotten to the extras yet, but this is one of my favorite things (ahemmm, movies) so I can't wait!

Travis


#3 of 42 Tyler Ruggeri

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Posted August 28 2000 - 04:07 PM

I noticed the "Macrovision effect," too. Very distracting during the opening credits. There were a few other isolated incidents with that effect throughout, mostly noticeable in backgrounds, but it's at its worst during the credits.

Tyler Ruggeri

#4 of 42 Ronald Epstein

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Posted August 28 2000 - 09:54 PM


I am interested to read your opinions on
the video quality.

Obi, Jeff McNeal, Bill Hunt and I all thought
the video was subpar on this set. Colors were
faded and overall, it was not an impressive
video transfer.

Guido Henkel thought it was the best transfer
since sliced bread.

Just wondering what you folks thought...

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#5 of 42 Donovan

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Posted August 28 2000 - 11:16 PM

For me, this is one of those times where the DVD so much improved on the VHS (never saw it on LD) that I can't knitpick on the video. This classic just looked a hundred times better on DVD than on any other format I've ever seen it. Just to see a widescreen version was good enough for me.

Regarding the audio, I agree that the recording level is low, but yet again it sounded great for an "old" film. The rumble of thunder as it panned from left to right was terrific! IMO, Fox did a great job.

Donovan

#6 of 42 Scott Helberg

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Posted August 29 2000 - 12:24 AM

I too thought the recording level was a bit low on this one, but overall I was impressed with the audio quality.
In my opinion, anytime someone starts complaining about a transfer that brings out the limitations of the source material, it can't be all bad.
The video was more of a disappointment to me. Apart from the color shifting (which I'm assuming was a result of the restoration work), the picture seemed a bit soft and lacking in detail. Pay close attention to the characters when they're not in closeup; it's hard to make out much detail in them. It's all just slightly out of focus.
Since I'm viewing my discs on a 32" Sony, I can only assume that the problem gets worse on larger screens.
That being said, I'm still thrilled to have the best-to-date presentation of this classic in my library, and with so many interesting extras to boot.

#7 of 42 Eric Finn

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Posted August 29 2000 - 01:33 AM

Well I guess I'll throw my two cents in on this. First of all you must know that somehow or other I've managed to never see this film in its entirety so I've got no previous experience viewing this film to compare the DVD with. I thought the colors were a bit muted or soft. They don't really jump out at you. Then again what do you expect for a film that's so old.

I don't really see how you can consider this a restored version of the film though. The opening credits were HORRIBLE. I mean it looked like you were watching it on an old filmstrip projector as it was just warming up. It would fade in and out. There was obvious dust or dirt or something that even I could make out on my 27" tv. Once you get past the first 5 minutes or so I can't say that I was distracted by the video quality to the point that it pulled me out of the story but it didn't jump out at me as being impressive either.

As far as the audio quality I thought it was at least adequate. Once again I didn't find it distracting but that's not much of an endorsement for a musical. Posted Image

Later,
Eric

#8 of 42 Jeff McNeal

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Posted August 29 2000 - 01:46 AM

I too was interested by Tyler's opening comments regarding the video, which I totally disagree with, by the way -- but I DO agree on his complaints regarding the audio.

I received a private e-mail from film restoration guru Robert A. Harris last evening and without divulging the contents specifically, let me just say that he was, in a word, appalled with the video quality -- even more so than any of us were who were critical of it.

I wish I had permission to reprint his comments because they were QUITE provocative. As far as I'm concerned, I stand by my original comments as posted in my review at TBP.

And with all due respect, I think I'm going to "Rolf" myself (pun intended) if I see another irrelevent comparison to the analog laserdisc version of ANY film with its digital DVD counterpart. The DVD should inherently, by nature of its superior format, ALWAYS look better than the LD did. Comparisons are even less than irrelevent for those who have never owned a Laserdisc version of the film in question. It's like comparing DVD to Hi Def. There IS no comparing the two, folks. They're different formats.

To gush "Wow! It's so much better than the laserdisc version!" is a terrible cop-out, IMO. The only meaningful comparison that can be drawn from a DVD is when it is compared against another well-mastered DVD. Sorry to vent, but this is a peeve that's been bothering me for some time.

Best wishes,

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#9 of 42 Tyler Ruggeri

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Posted August 29 2000 - 05:05 AM

I thought that the hazy, soft look the film has in a couple of scenes was done intentionally for effect (look at the shot of Maria and the kids by the water in the Do Re Mi sequence or the Something Good scene). I haven't listened to the commentary, so maybe Robert Wise says something about it. He could have used filters to make it softer on purpose, and it occurred too much for me to think it was something the restoration team did but more something that Wise intended. On some DVDs of old films, I've heard of directors speaking of imperfections like that the restorers dealt with that they had to go back and fix again because it was an intended effect, not the fault of the print.

Tyler Ruggeri

#10 of 42 Mark Booth

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Posted August 29 2000 - 05:17 AM

After viewing SOM on DVD for the forth time, color me satisfied! Posted Image Possible imperfections aside, every fan of the film needs this DVD in their collection.

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#11 of 42 Peter Kline

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Posted August 29 2000 - 06:04 AM

I believe the color "problems" are because of the process used. DeLuxe, 20th's in-house processing lab didn't have the "oomph" of the Technicolor folks. I remember seeing this originally in first run at the Rivoli Theatre in New York and it always has had a muted look too it. Some scenes were shot in soft focus to give it a certain look. A film's color has nothing to do with it being old. It is a matter of the process, the art director and cinematographer and what the director was aiming for.

One last thing. The film will play at the New Ziegfeld Theatre in New York next month (I believe) in the "sing along format." You can do that with the DVD by selecting English Subtitles and English Audio 4. You will get only the orchestra track!

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#12 of 42 Phil Iturralde

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Posted August 29 2000 - 07:12 AM

IMHO - I'm extremely pleased with this DVD - especially so, . . .when you think that it's 35 years old (1965).

Thank you 20th Century Fox and THX for the restoration job!

Phil

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#13 of 42 ScottR

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Posted August 29 2000 - 07:34 AM

This disc is beautiful! I agree with Peter Kline's comments on the Deluxe color "look." Deluxe color had a more realistic, muted look to it than Technicolor did. It is really unfair to compare the color quality of this restoration to that of My Fair Lady, which was shot in Technicolor. The Sound of Music looks and sounds gorgeous.

#14 of 42 MatthewA

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Posted August 29 2000 - 10:13 AM

I pre-ordered this DVD a few weeks ago. And I ain't going to that "sing-along" version in NY; I'd love to see this film on the big screen, but not if I have to hear the inadequate singing voices of the audiences mixing with Julie Andrews' voice.

This reminded me of when I went to see Grease in theaters 2 years ago, for the reissue. There were a bunch of teenage girls in the audience (probably 90%), and they ended up singing out loud with the film. It was tantamount to talking during the movie. Considering that I hadn't seen the film in awhile, I wanted to hear the actors singing, not a bunch of teenyboppers who weren't born when this film first came out!

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#15 of 42 Dan Lassiter

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Posted August 29 2000 - 10:20 AM

For the most part TSOM looked and sounded much better than the boxed set laserdisc from a few years back.

The one thing I did notice though was the pulsing of the brightness of the picture as credits rolled at the start.

Other than that, I'm as happy as a clam.

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#16 of 42 Perry Sun

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Posted August 29 2000 - 12:07 PM

I sat in on the same HD telecine session that Guido Henkel did for his feature on dvdreview.com, and I have to say that, at least in the HD stage, the transfer looked wonderful.

However, having looked at the DVD picture here on one of our setups through a DWIN Transcanner and Sony G90 projector, I'm not quite as compelled, particularly with some of the edge enhancements and some pixellization.

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#17 of 42 Mike Matessino

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Posted August 29 2000 - 01:38 PM

To clarify a few points mentioned above...

TSOM was shot with Harrison filters throughout and with even naturalistic colors because Bob Wise and Ted McCord, the cinematographer, wanted to be careful about having it look overly sugary. This was especially difficult on location because Salzburg is so postcard-perfect that it looks unreal. The filters added atmospheric depth and muted the colors. In scenes that have a light source hitting a dark object, like the edge of the nuns' habits, you'll see the light "bend" around the edge rather than create a sharp highlight. The soft-focus effect was done with the intention of keeping the film in the 70mm format and projecting it in a large theatre where it's so big and clear it doesn't "seem" soft. This look is extremely difficult to reproduce on video, which tends to sharpen everything and lose any photography subtlety that was intended. Previous transfers have made the mistake of pumping too much color into it and making it over-sharp.

The telecine colorist was given Bob Wise's and Ted McCord's notes on the film, and the 65mm element was very tricky in itself, so it was a very meticulous process --- and yes, Wise does discuss this in the commentary track. The contrast shifts on the main title have always been there on every print and transfer of the film. This transfer is so accurate, and DVD so detailed, that it's just coming through more obviously than before.

The hi-def transfer from 65mm looked absolutely stunning. I too experienced some deflation when I looked at the NTSC down conversion, and even more when I saw the compressed automation for DVD., Then, unless you have a 16:9 monitor -- which I don't at home -- it can get blurrier when down-converting it further for 4:3 depending on the player. The bottom line is that DVD on its own does not represent the "best" possible quality, because down-conversion and compression do compromise it. (Nor, by the way, is DVD consistently better than Laserdisc. I happen to think that MGM's DVD of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF does not look as good as my laserdisc.) Given the process I think THE SOUND OF MUSIC looks (and sounds) as accurate and as high-quality as is possible.

#18 of 42 RAF

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Posted August 29 2000 - 02:17 PM

O.K. Gang, here's my take on The Sound of Music DVD.

Sound: Very Good
Video: So-so. Certainly a disappointment considering all the hype.

Let me explain a bit.

Yes, I realize that this is a 35 year old movie, etc. etc. but I found the video very disappointing even taking this into consideration. Remember, this is an anamorphic presentation and I am viewing it on equipment that might be considered "state of the art" at this point, a 16:9 SONY VW10HT (without getting into a CRT/DLP/LCD/D-ILA debate at this point. That's something for another place and another time.) What I am saying here is that my equipment is capable of taking advantage of anamorphic presentations and the 110" diameter screen will very quickly show any flaws.

I have to agree with Jeff McNeal. This disc does not have a good picture. It's very grainy and, as someone pointed out, the opening looks a bit like a 16 mm print, complete with occasional film flaws (vertical lines, etc.)

I have seen some remarkable anamorphic transfers on my equipment. This disc does not qualify. I'll even go so far as to state that in my opinion, the anamorphic transfer of The Sound of Music does not look as good as the non-anamorphic transfer of The Planet of the Apes! And you don't have to be a very discriminating viewer to see this. This is not nit-picking. This is fact.

As to the sound, it is really not bad at all for a DD4.0 mix. In fact, I really like the directionality of the presentation. I'm using M&K 150 speakers all around and I must say that the dialogue and the music come through very, very nicely with this set-up. All words are clear both vocals and spoken. I thoroughly enjoy the songs in this musical and I found myself almost singing along.

In fact, the sound almost makes up for the video. This is definitely a must have DVD set for the serious collector, but it is not a demo disc.

And, as an aside let me add that this has been quite a couple of days for the DVD fan. Sound of Music,T2, Magnolia, The Haunting, Repo Man (in a tin!), and Braveheart.

Posted Image Posted ImageUnfreakinbelievable! Posted Image Posted Image


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#19 of 42 Greg Menzel

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Posted August 30 2000 - 12:41 AM

OK, so it's not just me. This is one of my parents' all-time favorite movies, so I ordered it thinking to have them over some night to watch it.

I received it a few days ago and decided to quick pop it in to see for myself the "stunning transfer, etc." I had read in so many of the reviews.

I was not impressed with the video, in fact I thought it rather poor to what I expected. Yes, the movie is old, but I have seen better transfers of movies as old or older.

I wonder how one can review such a disc as having "stunning" video? Compared to what? In the future, I'll have to keep in mind the "..given the age of the film" caveat while interpreting such reviews.


They'll still enjoy it anyway...

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#20 of 42 Joseph Bolus

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Posted August 30 2000 - 02:20 AM

I have to totally agree with what has been stated above regarding the video transfer: It doesn't look as good as the non-anamorphic Planet of the Apes disc; either on my 16:9 capable projector or my RPTV. The main problem seems to be the edge enhancement. It was very evident even in the 16:9 mode.

My wife and I still sat enthralled throughout the presentation. This is a must have DVD; no question about that. It's just not a presentation quality DVD. And that's a shame.

Joseph

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