The Truth Behind the "Scanners" DVD...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff Krispow, Sep 16, 2001.

  1. Jeff Krispow

    Jeff Krispow Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Everyone,
    As many of you know, MGM recently released "Scanners" on DVD as part of their budget-lineup. "Scanners" is a terrific film, but many people are apparently avoiding it like the plague. Both here on the HTF and elsewhere, people have been complaining that the DVD is "defective" because it has a lip-sync problem.
    Making matters worse are several websites and their reviewers who have also been erroneously reporting that the lip-sync problem was caused by MGM'S DVD Production Department, is defective, and/or should be recalled. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY NOT THE CASE. MGM has made mistakes in the past -- and I'm sure they'll make some in the future -- but for once, MGM is not to blame.
    While there ARE lip-sync issues with the film itself, it isn't DVD-related, and this is something that these reviewers could have discovered for themselves. It just takes a smidgen of investigation rather than making quick, incorrect judgments that place blame where it doesn't belong...in this case, on MGM (more on this later). Then consumers read these reviews, or misunderstand the problem themselves, and the "word-of-mouth" starts to spread that "Scanners" is a bad disc.
    It is because of these "misconceptions" I felt the issue needed to be properly addressed.
    The lip-sync problems related to "Scanners" have nothing whatsoever to do with MGM's quality control, a bad transfer, a disc pressing error, or anything else DVD-related. It's actually a problem with the film's original soundtrack -- believe it or
    not, "Scanners" was mixed and released theatrically this way. If anyone is to blame, then it falls squarely on the shoulders of director David Cronenberg.
    Like most of Cronenberg's early efforts, "Scanners" was a very low-budget film, and things were quite often done as cheaply and quickly as possible. With regard to the dialogue, most of it was re-recorded in the studio during post-production and subsquently inserted over the existing film footage during editing. Much of that re-recorded dialogue never fully matched. Even worse, in some parts, the dialogue is waaaaay off from the onscreen "lip movements," making it resemble a very badly-dubbed foreign film. Maybe Cronenberg could have matched the dialogue better, but since he had limited time and a limited budget, the dialogue track is the way it is and has some lip-sync issues. Oh well...
    I saw "Scanners" multiple times prior to its original theatrical release (two different early edits of the film, as well as its final edit), and also saw it several times once it finally hit theatres a year later, and every single print I saw had the same lip-sync issues. They were definitely present back in 1981, and 20 years later it remains the same in its new DVD incarnation.
    MGM's recent release of "Scanners" is a 100% absolutely faithful representation of David Cronenberg's film, warts and all. Could MGM have gone back and "fixed" the lip-sync problems? Sure, they could have. Why didn't they? I frankly don't know. Maybe they simply don't have the separate audio stems, without which it would be extremely difficult to do any audio remixing. Maybe it was a budgetary decision, since it would be very unlikely for MGM to recoup any costs involved with syncing up the dialogue. Perhaps the recorded dialogue simply can't be synced-up with the "lip movements" because they're just too different. Or what if MGM just simply decided to do the right thing by releasing the DVD with the film's audio mix intact, just as Cronenberg intended it to be, and without any tampering on their part?
    Getting back to those "erroneous reviews" I mentioned at the top of this posting, I'm sure that for most of the websites out there, their statements blaming the studio were simply an oversight. On the surface, the lip-sync problems certainly looks (and sounds) like a DVD -related issue, and unless you were well-versed in the film's history, you really had no reason to believe otherwise. The same goes for the many consumers who purchased the disc and mistakenly believed it to be defective. However, there are a couple of major websites out there that SHOULD have known better, and their posted reviews are way off base. At the very least, their reviewers should have made an attempt to contact their MGM representative to determine the cause of this problem before passing off their final judgment -- Did the lip-sync error occur during the DVD production stage, or is it a problem inherent in the film itself? These are important questions that should have been asked, and certainly ones I would have covered were I still an active reviewer. I did attempt to send in a correction to one of these websites, which I previously held in rather high regard, but I was repeatedly told to "bugger off" (not their actual words, which I won't get into here, but that was the basic gist behind their replies). So much for trying to help out...
    Well, folks, that's the story behind "Scanners," and I hope it helps set the story straight and helps you folks out somehow. If you 're a fan of "Scanners" and want a 100% faithful and accurate presentation of the film, then don't hesitate to pick up the DVD. Sure, there definitely is a major lip-sync problem present, but remember, this is a problem inherent with the original audio track for every single print of "Scanners," and it will always be there. Maybe Cronenberg and MGM will someday decide to try and remix the audio in an attempt to sync-up the dialogue better, but I highly doubt it, so I'm just going to enjoy the disc we currently have. Put the lip-sync problems in perspective with the times and way it was made, and think of them as part of the "charm" of the film... [​IMG] "Scanners" IS a good DVD, one I'm glad to have in my collection, and I wouldn't hestitate to recommend it to any fan of the film. However, if you really feel that you can't deal with having the original audio tracks as they are, than you should definitely avoid this DVD.
    Best wishes,
    Jeff
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    Jeff Krispow
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  2. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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    Despite the reviews that I read that spoke about the lip sync problem, I picked the disc up anyways. I had never seen or heard of it before MGM released it, it looked intresting, so I bought it anyways. Yes, I noticed the sync problem, it bothered me a bit, but I really liked the movie. It's good to know the reason behind the problem.
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    [Edited last by Kyle McKnight on September 16, 2001 at 05:07 PM]
     
  3. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

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    I recalled the lip sync problem back when I used to watch it on cable tv in the 80's, so the reports/reviews didn't bother me. I knew this issue pre-dated the DVD.
    Besides, I had the disc purchased the Sat. before street date. [​IMG]
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  4. Sean Patrick

    Sean Patrick Supporting Actor

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    plus, the lip syncing problems in question last for all of 2 or 3 minutes of the movie's duration.
    the big problem i had with the sound was how varying the levels seemed to be. the loud parts seemed really loud and the dialogue often dipped below audible levels.
    sean
     
  5. DanL

    DanL Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, as a Scanners fan, I can confirm the lip-sync deal is indeed somethin that's always been there. Almost the entire film was dubbed in post, and not 100% accurately.
     
  6. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Bah Humbug Lipsynch my ass, this a great DVD and as you say the problems has always been in the movie from day one. Bad ADR work I believe.
    If you did not buy this disc because you read about a couple of mins with a lip synch problems then you don't deserve this fine low cost DVD.
    Max
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  7. Mattias_ka

    Mattias_ka Supporting Actor

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    I saw the great widescreen laserdisc awhile ago and I did not notice this.
     
  8. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Okay, but how's the picture look? The Howling look's like shit.
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  9. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Kevin,
    While it does not look like one of todays movies transfered from a HI Def Master, It does not look really bad. I actually thought they captured the look and feel of the original film.
    BTW my comments about the look are based on viewing ona 73" Widescreen TV with a Sony 9000 ES Porg Scan Player.
    (I always feel that know the equipment of a reviewer is important)
    Max
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  10. Ricky f

    Ricky f Supporting Actor

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  11. david cro

    david cro Agent

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    "......people have been complaining that the DVD is "defective" because it has a lip-sync problem......MGM is not to blame".
    Of coarse they are to blame, they should have corrected this problem before they released it, especially if it's only a question of a few minutes, but then again we are talking about MGM here aren't we.
     
  12. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    quote: Of coarse they are to blame, they should have corrected this problem before they released it[/quote] Did you even bother to read Jeff Krispow's detailed comments?
    The only way to correct the problem is to re-record (and probably rewrite) the dialogue. That's not something MGM can is in any position to do.
    M.
    [Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 19, 2001 at 12:57 PM]
     
  13. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

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  14. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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    Reason #132432 why the HTF is an invaluable resource. Just finished watching this film for the first time and was quite impressed. Thanks for another fine recommendation. [​IMG]
    I did find the lip-synch to be quite annoying, but knowing that this is the best there is, unless there is a major restorative effort, made me relax and simply enjoy.
     
  15. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    It is not a matter of a restorative effort or blaming MGM.
    The Lipsynch issues are from Poor ADR at the time of the films production. This is how it was actually released. Granted maybe they could have done a better job with it originally but now is not the time to go back and muck about with a movie nearly 20 years after it's release.
    As for MGM, They have been doing a fantastic job of releasing catlog titles at low low prices and are getting pretty consistent about 16x9 video transfers as well.
    I would challange you all to name for me one other company that has anything even close to what MGM has been doing with catlog titles. Sure some of these companies are using BIG hits from the old stuff and giving them expensive SEs and others are releasing catalog bare bones editions at high prices.
    MGM is kicking ass lately They have been paying attention to comments and have improved.
    Max
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  16. Brian Lawrence

    Brian Lawrence Producer

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  17. Jeff Krispow

    Jeff Krispow Stunt Coordinator

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    If I must say so myself (which I do), well spoken Max! Who would have known that bad ADR work would cause so much controversy 20 years down the line...
    As for "david cro" -- did you even glance at my comments above? They explain in detail the reasons behind the lip-synch problem and why MGM cannot (and should not) "fix" it. Scroll back up there, read , and and learn... You know, this is exactly the type of quick judgments I was talking about in my earlier statements -- let's blame MGM for something that isn't their fault. Sheesh...
    And Greg, I'd glad you made the effort to overlook the bad ADR (I know it must have been a bit difficult at times) and instead concentrate on the terrific film that "Scanners" is. I 'm glad you enjoyed it!!!
    Knowledge is golden, and one can only hope that "david cro" and any other complainers out there will actually read my explaination and become "enlightened." Read it and then follow Greg's shining example -- watch and enjoy the film without any of this unnecessary bias.
    Jeff
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    Jeff Krispow
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