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While we wait for A few words about...™ Raiders of the Lost Ark -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 04:45 AM

About a week ago, I received a private message on HTF asking what I knew about the new Raiders of the Lost Ark “restoration.”


I knew nothing, and at that point had not fully read the promotional material re: the Imax presentations, although I was aware of the forthcoming Blu-ray.


Best thing to do was to go to the source, which in this case is the team responsible for restoration and mastering at Paramount.  A conference call was arranged with Andrea Kalas, VP of Archives, Laura Thornburg, Exec. Dir, Restoration and Preservation, Archives, and Jeff Cava, Supervising Librarian, Restoration and Preservation, Archives.  Jeff is an old friend, who had overseen the audio work with Walter Murch, updating and cleaning the original tracks for the 2007 restoration of The Godfather(s).


My initial question was “What’s being restored?”  I was given a shopping list of both visual and aural work that had been performed, all with the greatest of respect for the original, and with an eye toward both the future as well as the past, in that full preservation had gone hand-in-hand with the regimen.


But was the work what I would consider to be a bona-fide “restoration?”  The bottom line is that to my mind, it isn’t.  But that statement alone would be unfair to the amount of work and the spirit with which it was performed.


The original negative had been scanned at 4k – full resolution – which without the analogue cover of generations of dupes from original to theatrical print, made matte lines and effects a bit more obvious than they had original been on screen.  This is normal.


Color and densities were captured with more perfection and detail via the scan, and I’m told that grain was left untainted.  A digital cleansing of the image, to wipe away bits of minus density and detritus, were also up to spec for a serious project.  And make no mistake, this is a serious project.


For audio, Mr. Cava took counsel from Ben Burtt, the original sound designer, and the two created a newly designed mix, based with great care, upon the originals.


I make note of originals, as there were two.  The first was a 6-track discreet mix, used for sounding 70mm prints, formatted L-C-R, with baby booms in positions 2 and 4, and with a monaural surround channel.  35mm prints used a 2-track Dolby encoded, toward the creation of an optical SVA track.


Mssrs. Burtt and Cava returned to the original audio units, gently bringing the audio into the 21st century.


So, how do I answer the question about a “restoration?”  To my mind, this isn’t one, yet the term adds a certain amount of sizzle to the work performed.  That's great for marketing, but isn't precise enough to separate work of this kind from bona fide restorations, with all their heavy lifting.


But neither is this a simple mastering or re-mastering, which could be performed from a color-corrected IP with little expense or loss of sleep.


Our little discussion group came to the opinion that possibly a new term is needed for this type of work.  Not a restoration, as there’s really nothing to be restored.  The elements had been well kept and highly protected over the years.  The OCN is intact, and original tracks are in perfect condition.  Yet, this is something highly technical, with all parties working on all 12 cylinders, and at the highest level of technical proficiency.


For the moment, and until someone can coin a better phrase, I’m going to call this a DBR, a Digital Based Re-Visualization.


That said, and now knowing what has been involved, I can’t wait to see the final results on Blu-ray.  No doubt, Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures is going to be one of the Blu-ray best sellers of 2012, and deservedly so.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#2 of 705 Robert Crawford

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:31 AM

In short, a restoration wasn't needed for the film elements, but some work was necessary and completed in order for these films to look and sound their best on BRD and today's movie screens.









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#3 of 705 HDvision

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:37 AM

I'm seeing it on the big screen (digital projection) september 6. Can't wait, it's my favorite of the series.



#4 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:51 AM

Originally Posted by Robert Crawford 

In short, a restoration wasn't needed for the film elements, but some work was necessary and completed in order for these films to look and sound their best on BRD and today's movie screens.


Crawdaddy


Not really necessary.  This was a desire by the filmmakers and and studio, to do something more than a bit special, with what they had.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#5 of 705 Paul Penna

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:55 AM

Thanks for the authoritative word on what's gone on; sounds good all the way around. I'm a little uneasy about using "re-visualization" in a new term for this kind of thing, though. To me, when I hear it, it makes me think of the kinds of things they do in an attempt to make familiar, classic and even iconic characters and stories "relevant," like dressing up Looney Tunes characters in skater garb and giving them "attitude." They say "re-visualize" when they really mean "ruin." Maybe refurbishing? Renovation? Spring cleaning?

#6 of 705 Richard--W

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:59 AM

Raiders of the Lost Ark is about the most fun I ever had at the movies. I'm uncomfortable with the term "Re-Visualization." It sounds like your changing the DNA for an inferior reboot or a remake. Wasn't the remake of The Haunting called a "Re-Visualization"? How about another term. I'll be seeing this twice at the Imax. Followed by Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein in October. Who would have thought.

#7 of 705 Scott Calvert

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:03 AM

The best term is an old one: "Digitally Remastered" Then they could add whatever they want to add more details i.e. "Digitally remastered from 4K digital scans of the original camera negative"

#8 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:03 AM

Originally Posted by Scott Calvert 

The best term is an old one: "Digitally Remastered"
Then they could add whatever they want to add more details i.e. "Digitally remastered from 4K digital scans of the original camera negative"


You're welcome to come up with something else.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#9 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:04 AM

Originally Posted by Scott Calvert 

The best term is an old one: "Digitally Remastered"
Then they could add whatever they want to add more details i.e. "Digitally remastered from 4K digital scans of the original camera negative"

It's changed -- for the better.  Not simply re-mastering.  Something more.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#10 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:05 AM

Originally Posted by Paul Penna 

Thanks for the authoritative word on what's gone on; sounds good all the way around.
I'm a little uneasy about using "re-visualization" in a new term for this kind of thing, though. To me, when I hear it, it makes me think of the kinds of things they do in an attempt to make familiar, classic and even iconic characters and stories "relevant," like dressing up Looney Tunes characters in skater garb and giving them "attitude." They say "re-visualize" when they really mean "ruin." Maybe refurbishing? Renovation? Spring cleaning?

Refurbishing is something that's done to a suit.  Renovation fixes or updates perceived problems.  Spring cleaning, too seasonal.


Same hat, same whip.


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#11 of 705 bgart13

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:07 AM

Revitalization?

#12 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:14 AM

I should add, that a number of years ago, a group of archivists tried to come up with a definition of "restoration," and failed.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#13 of 705 Robert Crawford

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:15 AM

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


Not really necessary.  This was a desire by the filmmakers and and studio, to do something more than a bit special, with what they had.

So even what they did wasn't necessary?  Then why do it?


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#14 of 705 Scott Calvert

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:22 AM

You're welcome to come up with something else.

I thought I just did :confused:

#15 of 705 Richard--W

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:31 AM

I'm sure the Blu-ray is going to be a knock-out, in any case.

#16 of 705 Robert Harris

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:31 AM

Originally Posted by Robert Crawford 

So even what they did wasn't necessary?  Then why do it?

To create a better overall presentation.  But probably almost as important, to give publicists a rationale to add sizzle, with the use of the term "restored."


If the film sounds better than it might by simply using the original 6-track, I'm all for it.  And knowing the abilities of those involved, it's going to be very, very good.  The film won the Academy Award for Best Sound, but can one accurately reproduce that in a home theater setting without baby booms?  Close, certainly.


RAH


"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#17 of 705 Adam_S

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Posted August 31 2012 - 01:41 PM

This sounds excellent.


I note that Mr. Spielberg's Empire of the Sun was slated for a June release and then mysteriously disappeared from the schedule.


My suspicion is that Mr. Spielberg, who also has Jaws, E.T., and the four Indiana Jones films all coming to bluray (as well as some more recent films) was spent some amount of time approving the various elements he is asked to approve.  We know that Jaws, ET and Indiana Jones all are brand new 4k scans of the negative.  Is it possible that Empire of the Sun was scanned from a new print (the academy struck a new print last year for it's tribute to Tak) and Mr. Spielberg was unhappy with the result--particularly if he compared it to the Jaws result--and asked WB to go back to the original negative for a full 4K scan?


Do you know if this might be what happened, that Empire of the Sun was delayed in order to make it better, or more in line with the other Spielberg releases this year (in terms of the quality of elements used)?


 

#18 of 705 SRW1000

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Posted August 31 2012 - 03:09 PM

I had the pleasure of attending the Indiana Jone panel at last weekend's Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. The speakers were Robert Watts, Ben Burtt, and Lorne Peterson. Most of the panel was spent discussing the making of the movies, which was a lot of fun to listen to, and it was good to see these three guys interact and appreciate each others work. There were some details about the new release, mostly about Raiders.
  • The Raiders soundtrack was redone from the original elements. While Burtt didn't specifically mention the two sets of audio mention in Robert's original post, he did say that there weren't any new elements added; the original sources were transferred at 96kHz; and the mix was then updated for today's surround standards. Dolby hadn't been widely adapted by that many theaters back in the 1980's, so the surround mix had to be enhanced, and the bass content has been improved to meet today's audience expectations. The result is an improvement in fidelity that remains true to the original soundtrack. Burtt didn't talk about the other three films.
  • No new digital content has been added. This was in response to an audience member's question about a blooper, which was prompted by Burtt's earlier panel discussion about editing in today's digital environment. While characters can now be easily combined from two different takes of the same scene, nothing like that was done to Raiders.
  • They showed a clip of one of the extras from Raiders, featuring some behind the scenes footage from Raiders interspersed with some deleted scenes. This particular documentary will feature never before seen clips, juxtaposed with documentary clips, but without any narration. They showed a clip, and it was interesting to see Spielberg working as a director, and then the completed scene that ended up being discarded.
It was a fun panel, with the only disappointment being that it only lasted for an hour. One of those fun moments happened when Lorne mentioned that he seen the movie a week or two earlier, when the host asked him how it sounded, he said "Pretty good," or something like that, which prompted Ben to say something like, "Remember those special effects that you won an Oscar for? Well, they were just OK." That exchange got a good laugh from the audience. Lorne went on to say that he had taken along his girlfriend, who's not part of the movie industry, and she was thrilled with the new presentation. He was genuinely surprised by how strong her reaction was, and used it as a testimony for how good this new edition looked and sounded. I can't wait to see these movies in HD! Scott

#19 of 705 Moe Dickstein

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Posted August 31 2012 - 05:51 PM

Too bad "rejuvination" already has a meaning - maybe "Digitally Rejuvinated" lol
Yes, these strange things happen all the time - PT Anderson, Magnolia

#20 of 705 Persianimmortal

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Posted August 31 2012 - 06:20 PM

Interesting information regarding the work, thanks for posting it Mr Harris.

To create a better overall presentation.  But probably almost as important, to give publicists a rationale to add sizzle, with the use of the term "restored."

The fact that movies of this caliber and popularity, as well as commercial importance, were given extra "unnecessary" attention is certainly nothing to complain about. Despite Mr Spielberg assuring people that the films would not be altered ala George Lucas' recent Star Wars efforts, I think people would be extremely wary of any term such as "re-visualization". It sounds too close to "alteration" for people to like. We need only look at people already complaining about the fact that the cobra's reflection has been removed from the snake pit scene in Raiders (according to a person who worked on the new blu-rays, posting on another forum). To me, the reflection always took me out of the realism of that scene; I'm glad that reflection has been removed. But many fans don't see it that way. Personally, I'd be happy with a simple term like Digitally Enhanced Remaster, or some other play on the word "Enhancement", because that seems to me what's happened. However again, people might be scared off by such a term, implying unwanted changes such as EE or DNR. So I suppose the marketing folks might just as well stick to the term Restoration, which implies bringing something back to its original glory, even if this is technically inaccurate.





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