Very odd DVD sound problem for "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Steve JD, May 13, 2005.

  1. Steve JD

    Steve JD Stunt Coordinator

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    I just watched “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef” on DVD.

    It was one of Fox’s first CinemaScope 4-track stereo films, and it’s now in the public domain (how the hell did THAT happen??). It was released on DVD by Lumivision. According to an internet review of the DVD, the transfer was done using a collector’s 35mm stereo print some years ago for the LaserDisc release, in widescreen with the sound in matrix surround. The same transfer was used for the DVD. The review went on about a decent picture and nice stereo sound with directional dialogue, etc. I found the DVD a complete mess…

    Compared to today’s releases, the image was bad to say the least, and the audio was very bizarre. It honestly sounded as if the audio that should be coming out of the Centre channel was coming from the Front Right channel, and the audio that should be coming from the Surround channels was coming from the Front Left channel. Which means echoey music only in Left channel (at a pretty low level), and dialogue/effects/music in Right channel (at normal level). This was in both 2-channel stereo, and in Dolby Surround mode. And when in surround, almost nothing came out of Centre channel, and what was coming out of Front channels was also in Surround channels.

    It was very annoying. I felt like screwing around with the wire connections to get the Right channel signal to go to the Centre speaker, and to get the Left channel signal to go to all the other speakers.

    And I thought I had seen it all! Has anyone else had similar problems with this DVD??

    Since it’s in the public domain and already out on DVD, I doubt Fox will ever release it in 4.0 sound and anamorphic widescreen…
     
  2. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    I did not have those problems with either the laserdisc or the dvd version.
    the sound was taken from a collectors print and the sound transfer was done at Chace Productions - one of the best post production houses for video sound.
    Chase, over many years has taken stereo sound from original four channel prints. Almost all of the Warners 1950s four channelmags were taken from collectors prints and transferred at Chace, including Lucky Me, King Richard and the Crusaders, Silver Chalice, Helen of Troy, East of Edn, Rebel Without a Cause, Spirit of st. Louis and Sayonara.
    the upcoming dvd release of High and the mIghty was originally transferred at Chace.
     
  3. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Hopefully this film gets an official Fox release. Possibly they have better elements than just prints?
     
  4. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Of course Fox has mor than prints - why wouldn't they? I'm sure the have the camera neg, color spes and master four channel stereo track.
    the lumivision dvd etc also has some minor cuts inthe film as some violence was censored in the U.K.
     
  5. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Well sadly history has shown that a lot of what are now considered valuable film elements were junked... including original stereo soundtracks.

    I'm curious as to how this film fell into the public domain. Administrative stuff up I guess.
     
  6. Gary Palmer

    Gary Palmer Stunt Coordinator

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    the lumivision dvd etc also has some minor cuts inthe film as some violence was censored in the U.K.

    Just to clarify, Joe: The film was censored by the BBFC when it was first submitted in 1954, but the subsequent video prints were passed uncut with a U certificate (the UK equivalent of a G rating). God knows what the BBFC thought was worth censoring back in the 1950's, but they rarely - if ever - curtail such material these days.
     
  7. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Again, jsut to clarify - Lumivision used an original 1954 British Print of Beneath for transfer - hence the cuts.
     
  8. Jeffrey Nelson

    Jeffrey Nelson Screenwriter

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    Is there an intact letterboxed print of this film on DVD?
     
  9. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I have read conflicting reviews that this version Is either 2.35:1 or 2.55:1. :
    http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B0...1.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

    Also, the first post in this thread says that the transfer was made for a laser disc. So it probably isn't that good by today's standards.
     
  10. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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    One reason there are conflicting DVD reviews of this feature is the fact there are a number of DVD versions available from various companies. After all, this is a public domain title.
     
  11. Steve JD

    Steve JD Stunt Coordinator

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    The awful sounding dvd I watched looked like 2.55:1, which is what it should be. The early CinemaScope films were a bit wider since they only had the 4 magnetic tracks. A couple of years later, CinemaScope had both mag sound and an optical track on one print, reducing the aspect ratio a wee bit. This way a print could be shown in any theatre, wether it was equiped with stereo or not.

    I remember reading (I think on this site) that at Fox, they did not keep their 4-track masters, only stereo prints of their films. If something happens to the print, they have the negative, but no back-up of the stereophonic sound. What a shame!

    I hope Warner releases the titles Joe mentionned, in 4.0 or 5.1 sound! They have just released Blood Alley and The Sea Chase in 2.0 Dolby Surround. : (

    I find that when you compare the 2.0 track and the 4.0 track of a 4-track Stereo film on DVD, too much of the info ends up in the Centre channel in 2.0, and the stereo separation seems nowhere near as wide as it does in 4.0, especially the music. Please Warner (and every other studio), when the original multi-tracks are available, please use them. We didn't wait for DVD so we can listen to classic films with awesome sound, in inferior 2.0, it can leave a lot to be desired... (Compare the original Love is a Many Splendored Thing DVD in 2.0, and the rerelease in 4.0 and you'll see what I mean).
     
  12. GregK

    GregK Screenwriter

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    Another problem with public domain titles is there's not much quality control, as PD release can vary greatly in the elements available and different grades of transfers. Sometimes a company will steal .. "borrow" someone else's transfer and sadly be within rights. Below is a cover of yet another DVD version of BENEATH THE 12 MILE REEF that claims to have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track.

    [​IMG]

    But is the 5.1 DD track the original discrete 4.0 mix, or is it a cheap-O DPL to 5.1 upconversion from one of the 2.0 surround mixes that's already available?? With PD titles ..anything goes...
     
  13. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Steve JD - I have never seen an article claiming Fox junked their four track stereo masters and only kept the prints - that would be absurd.
    Let me assure you that fox has kept almost all of thier four track stereo masters - and indeed these are used for DVDs. A few khave crept through in two channel mix downs from Fox dvd - why? I have no idea.
    Greg K - I don't know why too much info would end up in the center channel in a 2.0 mixdown - there is no reason why it should and having been involved in a bumch of 2.0 mixdowns for laser disc, I have never found this to be so.
    Interesting you brought up love is a Many Splendored thing. Both dvds use an inferior soundtrack- a DUPE of a four channel mag that has been badly noise gated taking out a lot of the crispness of the high end.
    you can compare for yourself - go to the Main title and swith back and forth from the English track to the French track (which uses an original stereo mag) and the french track sound miles better than the English track.
     
  14. Steve JD

    Steve JD Stunt Coordinator

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    I just remembered where I read about the junking of master stereo tracks, but sorry it was WARNER, not Fox. I read about it in film historian Ron Haver's book on the making of and restoration of the 1954 A Star is Born. They would erase the stereo masters at Warner Bros to re-use the tapes for something else. They would just keep a stereo print of films in the vaults (the only thing Haver found in the vaults at WB for the audio of ASIB, was the complete 3-hour mono track, the stereo ones appear to be long gone).

    I'm glad to hear Fox has kept most of their 4-track masters, but it's too bad they are not using them for all DVD releases... Peyton Place sounds nice in 4.0, whereas Return to Peyton Place sounds rather dreadful in 2.0 surround. Please Fox, go the extra mile when the material is just sitting there...
     

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