Queen's "A Night at the Opera" in DTS!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael Allred, Aug 30, 2001.

  1. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    Work has commenced on transferring 'A Night At The Opera' from its original stereo format to DTS 5.1 Surround Sound.
    This article is taken from nuendo.com
    Queen goes Nuendo
    Recently a team of various product specialists and engineers working for the band Queen gathered together at Abbey Road's Studio 3 to supervise the transfer of the original multi-tracks of Queen's seminal "Night at the Opera" album from 1975 (which includes "Bohemian Rhapsody", "You're My Best Friend" and the epic "Prophet's Song") into Steinberg Nuendo at 24-bit 96kHz.
    This was in preparation for Elliot Scheiner's 5.1 Surround Sound Remix for DTS, the people who had previously commissioned him to do the same for Van Morrison's Moondance, The Eagles Hotel California, America's Homecoming (featuring Ventura Highway) and The Doobie Brothers The Captain and I (with both Long Train Running and China Grove)several of which have already been released in their Surround format on DVD-A.
    The transfers of all these 16track-based projects were effected using an Alesis Hard Disk recorder and Swissonic AD/DA96 converters, but as "Night of the Opera" was one of the earliest 24-track recordings, Elliot needed to look at a new system which could handle 24 track recording as there is no timecode on the original multi- tracks. He had settled on Nuendo having heard the results on the surround remix of Jackson Browne's Running on Empty. Swissonic supplied an extra two pairs of AD/DA96 to add the extra 6 tracks.
    Although the mix itself is being done in Glenn Frey's Hollywood studio facility, the transfers were done in London because Justin Shirley Smith from Queen Productions was extremely worried at the idea of putting the priceless multi-tracks in an aircraft hold. Abbey Road was chosen as the venue for the transfers because of their expertise in handling aging tapes and so Rob Hill from Steinberg North America who will be assisting Elliot Scheiner in the mix and actually operating Nuendo (having used it on the Surround Mix of Jackson Browne's Running on Empty) flew in from LA with his customised Nuendo rack.
    There he rendezvous'ed with Sam Wetmore of Steinberg UK and Paul Wiffen of Swissonic/Apple who were running a second Nuendo system on 733MHz Mac G4 with Swissonic converters. Both systems were using SCSI Raid arrays to handle the massive data transfer rates, Rob's PC with a 160GB 4 drive system built into the rack, the Mac with a striped dual drive kindly loaned by LaCie's London office for the project.
    From Queen's side, there was Justin and Chris, the engineer from Brian May's studio. When the multi-tracks were taken out of their boxes and loaded onto the 2" machine, an edit flew apart on the first wind through and then the house engineer, noticed that the tape was shedding oxide quite badly. Taking advice from Kerry in Abbey Road's archiving department that the tapes should be baked at 50degrees for 4 days, they were duly put into the Abbey Road oven. Four days later the team reassembled in Studio 3 and began the process of transferring the 24 track into Nuendo. The baking had successfully dried out the oxide on the tapes and so shedding was no longer a problem.
    Indeed the transfer of the "Bohemian Rhapsody" multitrack, done first as it was possibly the most problematic, as there were so many stories about it having numerous edits and having worn so thin you could see daylight through it, was accomplished quickly and with very little fuss. There were no edits or thin tape, so clearly at some point once the basic structure of the song had been edited together, the entire thing had been copied across to a piece of multitrack tape. However, there is no empty space on the tape, as every little space has been filled with additional harmony vocals or guitars, drum ambience or the famous gong. On one track Dolby A needed to be switched in and out during the transfer because it had been used on drums but not on anything else.
    The main thing was that everything from the original release was clearly on the tape and in the first playback it sounds remarkably like the mixed single, except for the three alternative lead vocals. Other tracks on the album were more complicated.
    The intro to the opening track "Death on Two Legs" was found in two sections after the main song on its multi-track, the loud guitars and effects in one section and the stereo piano part which is the first thing you hear on the record in a second, presumably spun in from a two track during the mixdown and fortunately copied to the end of the multitrack just for completeness.
    However, Nuendo's editing capabilities soon had this reassembled in the correct order ready for the mixdown.
    Similarly, engines being revved in a separate place on the multi-track of "I'm In Love with My Car" (originally the B-side of "Bohemian Rhapsody") were easily re-united with the main song.
    Sadly all the three sections of "The Prophet's Song" spread across two multi-tracks did not include all of the original song from the album, although the third section did go straight into "Love of My Life" as on the original album. However, the only sign of the a cappella vocal section in the middle was a tantalising 16-part track sheet which fell out of one of the 24-track boxes.
    A search has since failed to turn this tape up and so this section will have to be processed into 5.1 from the stereo master (something that had already been decided for the "God Save The Queen" guitar instrumental which closes the album, the multi-track of which was known to be missing before the transfer session started).
    All the material transferred into Nuendo has now been taken over to LA by Rob Hill for Elliot Scheiner to do the 5.1 mix of Night of the Opera which should be released by DTS some time in the autumn.
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  2. Paul Boyle

    Paul Boyle Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael ...
    Wow what an article! I wasnt really interested in the album but after reading your article I'll make sure I get it [​IMG]
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  3. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    One key question after a cursory read: Is A Night at the Opera going to be released as a DTS CD or will DTS release it in the DVD-Audio format?
    Also, this was interesting:
     
  4. Michael Allred

    Michael Allred Screenwriter

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    I think the reference to the other albums was just to say "so and so remastered this stuff as well" but had nothing to do with the actual format they were released on.
    My impression is that "..Opera" will be DVD audio. Could be wrong though.
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  5. Zack Scott

    Zack Scott Stunt Coordinator

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    YEs yes yes yes yes yes yes!!!!!
    I have been waiting for a 5.1 remastered Queen album since these came out.
    I'm so jazzed. Night is my favorite of the queen albums.
     
  6. Tim L

    Tim L Second Unit

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    drool-drool- I can't wait- I'm in the mood- since I just started transferring the freddie tribute concert broadcasted live on the radio at the time to CD along with other interviews etc. now lets get some concert dvds going!
    Tim
     
  7. Jim_C

    Jim_C Cinematographer

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    I'll buy this the millisecond it hits the stores. If I don't have the equipment to play it (DVD-A) then I'll buy it with this disk in mind.
    Queen was a huge influence in my youth. I can't wait to get this disk.
    Thanks for the info!
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  8. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

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    I was also wondering whether this was going to be a true DVD-A disc. DTS Entertainment has re-released a lot of its DTS 5.1 titles in the Super Jewel Box case, ostensibly to lead customers into thinking that they're DVD-A titles.
    But at the DTS site ( http://www.dtsonline.com/whatsnew.html
    [Edited last by Alan_Horner on November 03, 2001 at 12:19 PM]
    [Edited last by Alan_Horner on November 03, 2001 at 12:34 PM]
     
  9. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    This disc sounds very interesting. I have a DVD-Audio player, so I am definitely down for this one. I love A Night at the Opera. So, the disc will have a 24/96 DTS track that is separate from the DVD-Audio track? Wow! Can one play the 24/96 DTS track on any DVD player with DTS Digital Out (assuming the player can output a 24/96 bitstream at full resolution), or is a special player required?
    It would be very interesting to compare the 5.1 DVD-Audio track to the 24/96 DTS track. I'd love to compare the two tracks on my DVD-Audio player, which has a DTS decoder, but I doubt it will allow me to access the DTS track. DVD-Audio players seem to only allow you to access the DVD-Audio tracks. I don't know if the decoder can handle 24/96 DTS anyway. So, I'd probably have to use the digital output on my regular DVD player for the DTS track, if that will work. So, how does one play the 24/96 DTS track?
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  10. Alan_Horner

    Alan_Horner Stunt Coordinator

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    >>DVD-Audio players seem to only allow you to access the DVD-Audio tracks.
     
  11. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    This will be a must buy for me...
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  12. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    Alan, thanks for the info. on the Toshiba '4700. The ability to select the Dolby Digital or DTS track on a DVD-Audio disc is a first as far as I know for DVD-Audio players. I don't think my Technics DVD-A10 offers that. Even though you don't need a DTS decoder with the '4700, I am surprised that it doesn't have one. All other DVD-Audio players I have seen have both Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. I guess the feeling of manufacturers is that since one has to use the 5.1-channel outputs for DVD-Audio, then the same connection should handle Dolby Digital and DTS discs too.
    Also, I agree that A Night at the Opera is a huge title for the DVD-Audio format. "The Prophet's Song" should be especially good in 24/96 5.1.
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  13. John Geelan

    John Geelan Screenwriter

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    I have my copy on order at CDNow.
    Also Hotel California by The Eagles will be released on DVDA soon. Not sure of the exact date yet but that will also be a MUST own!
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  14. Harrison Shinn

    Harrison Shinn Stunt Coordinator

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    KeithH:
    I also have a Technics A10 and this is what I've found. I own one disc that is a DTS (DVD-Audio) Music Experience disc (Olivia Newton-John's "One Woman's Live Journey") and what happens when I put the disc in is that a menu screen will come up with sound format selections (DTS, DD 2.0 or MLP for DVD-Audio players). I suspect this disc should be the same.
    Also, if you're interested, I just got an ICBM-1 from Outlaw Audio, which is an Integrated Controlled Bass Manager and it's terrific! All of the DVD-A's that lacked bass (Barenaked Ladies, The Coors, ELP, Foreigner, etc.) are brilliant now thanks to this little piece of machinery.
    I have my player and the ICBM-1 hooked up to an Onkyo TX-DS989 and the results are nothing short of stunning.
    Cheers!
    Harry
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