Sound and Picture Transfers

Discussion in 'DVD' started by JayKellen, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. JayKellen

    JayKellen Stunt Coordinator

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    I have always wondered how DVD publishers and the studios upgrade the quality of audio and video to new remastered DVD's?? Also, why do some movies have DTS and Dolby Digital sound formats that sound better than others?? Does it depend on the age of the film, or did the studio just produce a better sound mix than another one did??

    Some movies I have on DVD, Predator, for example, are in 5.1 Dolby Digital, but the sound is really not that great. The explosions are ok, but compared to explosions of other Dolby Digital films, it doesnt even compare. So, I guess my questions are how do they take the original film and make it so much better for DVD, and why do some Dolby Digital and DTS sound better than others?? (Does it depend on age of the movie, laziness of the studio, or they didnt have much to work with to begin with??)

    Thanks for any information, and I could not find this on some FAQ boards, so I figured someone here would definitely know.
     
  2. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    It's not as if there's a simple answer to "find". The factors that differentiate one transfer from another, or one soundtrack from another, are various and complex. Every transfer has its own story.

    BTW, this belongs in the Software forum.

    M.
     
  3. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    The sound quality depends on the mix.

    For example, the 5.1 track on one title may sound "sub-par" because it's not emitting sound from all 6 speakers continously. A "great" 5.1 track may be a gimmicky one which bounces the sound around incorrectly (Like the 5.1 remix of Some Like It Hot)

    As for remastering...

    It can depend on a lot of things:

    For Casablanca, the original DVD was from a great 35mm source (probably off the restored fine-grain positive) and looked very nice. The special edition used that source and further cleaned away the imperfections caused by duplication and wear. (Lowry Digital Images performed this digital refurbishing)

    For Lawrence of Arabia, the original DVD was off of a fantastic HD master... but had extra edge enhancement added and had incorrect color timing. The Superbit used the exact same HD source, but with corrected color timing and no further processing to the image. The sound was also fixed to resemble the original mix much closer (the original DVD featured some botched edits and was a little bit tinnier) Also worth noting is that the LE used two DVD-9's (with the movie taking 3 layers) and had one 5.1 track and 6 2.0 surround tracks. The Superbit spreads the film over 4 layers with only 5.1 DTS and Dolby Digital tracks.


    Remastering can be a lot more subtle, though. The new "Ultimate Video Collection" of "Weird Al" Yankovic's music videos looks the same as the earlier Image Entertainment DVD... except that the Image edition had edge enhancement added. Plus, while the 1997 Image disc only had a weak 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo track, the 2003 Volcano re-release has high bit-rate 5.1 stereo surround tracks. The re-release also spreads the program over a DVD-9.
     
  4. Todd_Anisman

    Todd_Anisman Auditioning

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    Jay- I can probably shed some light on this- I am a mixer at Technicolor Sound in LA.

    Basically here's what happens for a DVD re-master:

    A)We receive picture and audio elements and do an Evaluation on all elements. However, due to the natural aging process, loss, labeling etc. we may not have a great quality element, even for a relatively young film, like predator. We might have killer elements for 4 reels, but if that set is missing R5, then we can't use it-It's more distracting for the quality to change than it is for the quality to be consistent, but lesser.

    B)At this point one of two things can happen with picture-Either the Film is re-transferred via telecine to an HD master, which is then Downconverted to a NTSC Digibeta

    -Or-

    We use a standard def master that was already existing. Keep in mind that even though a studio may own the rights to a picture, it may not have the original transfer masters. This happens more often that you might think.

    Obviously, a re-transfer to a Hidef master is ideal, but finances often dictate this. A Hidef telecine job costs about 100k or more, depending on how much color correction is required.

    C)Meanwhile in Audio, we also select the best element. For any film more than 5 years old, chances are that it is on Analog 35mm 6track Reels. Quality on these can be excellent, but often is not, as many are x-copies of another master. we don't get the Dolby Digital Printmaster-we can't use it, only Dolby can. Nowadays, we do often get the Digital Master stems, which is improving quality.

    We then conform them to the master video, and Encode them into an AC3 File. DTS is done at their labs only (A big reason why it isn't more universal). At this point, all elements go to the DVD Authors.

    Now, often, as is the case with Predator (i think...), there is NO SR-D 5.1 Audio mix; we were still mixing in LCRS format at that point (1989) So, what happens is this:
    More often than not, a 5.1 Mix is derived from the LCRS mix. This is why it doesn't have the punch of a Modern 5.1 Mix- When you mix in LCRS, you have to be very cognizant of the maximum level that the Optical on the 35mm Print can handle- +12dB over 0VU. This means that you aren't going to utilize the complete headroom that you have available on a Dub stage (Actually +20dB or greater over 0VU). So, in essence you have a Dynamically limited mix available, and it is impossible to create dynamics out of a very compressed mix. Also, the surrounds are bandpass limited from 100hz to 7k, which also takes some punch out of the tracks.
    Hope this answers your question...Sorry for being long-winded

    Peace-
    Todd Anisman
     
  5. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    Todd,

    That was one great post. Thanks for taking the time.

    -Reagan
     
  6. chris*b

    chris*b Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, very awesome post. Get long winded whenever you want![​IMG]
     
  7. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Todd, thanks for all those valuable insights. One question:

    While this was certainly the case in the early days of DTS releases, my understanding is that DTS no longer does the encoding in their facilities. Indeed, I believe it was DTS's decision to license/sell their encoders to studios and mixing facilities that led to a meaningful increase in the number of titles being released with DTS tracks. Is that incorrect?

    M.
     
  8. Todd_Anisman

    Todd_Anisman Auditioning

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    Michael-

    Yes, It is true. However, these products really haven't made it into very many studios, including ours. I am not completely sure what the reason for that is, but we still send the Printmasters to the Lab for DTS encoding, rather than doing it ourselves. I know a number of other major studios which do the same, which is why I made the comment about how it's only done at the labs. I *think* it has to do with licensing and costs, along with equipment expense, but I am not sure. Tell you what, I'll find out and get back to you tommorrow.

    -Todd Anisman
     
  9. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    Great insight into the mastering process. Thanks, Todd.
     
  10. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Lead Actor
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    Appreciate you taking the time for the post, Todd. I find all of this stuff fascinating.
     
  11. Todd_Anisman

    Todd_Anisman Auditioning

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    Reagan, Steve, Josh, Chris, Mike-

    Thanks!!
    -Todd
     
  12. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    Thanks, Todd!
    And, welcome too the Forum!!
    Happy New 2004!!!
     
  13. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Thanks Todd. Posts like yours are one of the key reasons that many of us visit and read the board here at HTF.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Todd_Anisman

    Todd_Anisman Auditioning

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    Michael (And others..)

    sorry for the delay in getting back up here...
    I spoke with Bruce Graham, VP of Audio about DTS. The basic reason that we still don't encode in house is simply demand. Film DTS releases are done at the lab, and then the DTS info is given to the DVD authoring house directly-No additional Audio mastering is needed. For those older titles, very few get a DTS mastering step. So, as usual, it's all about economics.

    peace-
    -Todd A
     
  15. Dwayne

    Dwayne Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for your insightful posts, Todd.


    When they ship you the DTS streams, are they at full bit rate? The reason why I ask is that I wonder if they lower the bit rate at their labs or yours.
     
  16. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Todd,

    Thanks for a great post, and that DTS info is very interesting.

    Cees
     

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