Tuesday, August 15, 2006

DVD-9: The Second Coming of Boneheaded Bootlegging

As usual, I'm wasting time on projects that won't make me a dime rather than focusing on doing something useful. Now I have been making menu's and learning how to make the menu editor in DVD Maestro do what -I- want it to do... but let's just say Maestro isa sort of one way relationship and leave it at that. KAZE TO KI NO UTA is so fucking close to done that I just no longer give a rat's ass if the menu's look perfect. This disk has taken well over a year due to hardware issues and my own incompitence, but things are looking up for this nearly 20 year old VHS sourced beauty.

There is a laserdisc... but I've never seen one for sale, so the VHS will have to do for fans. Hey, if one of them can go "look! I have an LD" I'll buy it from them and do a remaster. See? That's what we call a bluff-because-we-know-better. Like John Sirabella saying he'd remaster A Lizard in a Woman's Skin if a watchable uncensored/widescreen print was available. There isn't, so he doesn't have to. Short of someone finding a chewed-up 35mm print from the early 70's, Lizard is going to be seen in fullscreen in semi-watchable quality or in widescreen on nth generation Greek (I assume) tape bootlegs. Yeah... a washed out 3rd gen VHS from 1984 is teh best master evah, I'm tellin' ya'.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah; the Kaze LD. Seen a cover, but it's rarer than fuck, so the VHS master is what you get. That's what happens sometimes, I'm afraid.

But the things that won't make me money; in this case, it was the series Adventure Kid. Ever seen the US DVD? It's the most unwatchable piece of shit to ever slide down Anime 18's butt crack. I don't blame A18, per se; it's clear that the master they had was pretty fux0red. There's an odd sort of digital banding issue in every single shot that looks like they were given a damaged DV tape or... something. I dunno' the exact details. I just know the US DVD is the most farking hideous thing they've ever done. Considering Urotsukidoji 3 was mastered from a so-so PAL UK master and then all 3+ hours were compressed to hell to fit on to a single DVD-9, that's no small feat. So my partner in crime bought the Japanese DVD's and sent me the first volume so I could compare them.

The R2, naturally, rapes the visual hell out of the fugly US DVD. With almost no composite rainbows, better image clarity and a more mellow, accurate color hue to every scene the R2 looks about as good as Adventure Kid - a very low budget show by Maeda standards from 1993, and one that doesn't suddenly get more money at episode 3 like Demon Beast Invasion did - likely ever could look on DVD. The R2's are also about 2.6 gigs a piece... which led me to do some math and figure the entire series would be under 8.5 gigs in total. Which just happens to be the size of a single dual-layer DVD+R DL.

Now it should be noted that nobody - and I mbean NOBODY - who sells DVD-R bootlegs has ever sold on dual layer media. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is that, until very recently, these bastards could cost $5 and upwards per disk, whereas a compitent brand of DVD-/+R was a dollar or less. Another reason is that nobody really knew how to burn a "proper" DVD+R DL since only Nero really supported it, and Nero is a total piece of fecal matter when it comes to burning DVD-Video. (Fine for data though.) The secret is simple; create the DVD image in DVD-Lab, or Maestro or TMPGEnc DVD Author or whatever, and then create/burn an ISO using ImageTool and DVD Dectypter together - the best DVD ripping and burning software EVER. (Shame the latter was bought out and desposed of, but google is your friend, believe me.) So with that out of the way... there's still the cost thing. A good DVD-R from Taiyo Yuden can be had for about 40 cents. A good DVD+R DL from Verbatim costs around $3 minimum. Carry the 3.. yeah, pricey in comparison ain't the little bastards? This is why all bootleggers - who hold Cannibal King (and Damaged Dog - cool guy, that Damaged Dog) as a sort of ideal as to what the boot should be like - have never switched to DL. You can sell a 2 DVD set that includes all the extras and (slightly) compress the film for $1 worth of material, or keep the film on a DVD-9 and tripple the overall cost - moreso if the film AND extras are each a DVD-9's worth of data.

It's also hard enough to guarantee that all DVD-R's will play on every DVD player... factor in the dual-layer equation and your likelyhood of playback drop from something like 96% to 82%, something along those lines. NOT good odds if you don't like refunding people for unplayable DVD's.

But I like to think of myself as progressive. I release cartoon gay kid rape porn, I'm not above remastering controversial films people are more than happy with shit versions of, and hopefully before the end of the year I may well be the first bastard on eBay and beyond to bootleg on printable DVD+R DL.

All this having been said, not every disk NEEDS a DL. The R2 of Wicked City is a DVD-9 (which I'm likely going to remaster in the forseeable future, depending on how well a certain "other" 80's anime does...), with about half the disk allocated to the film, the rest to the extras. Cheaper to produce, no quality loss, and best of all I can market it as a "2 DVD special edition". Win-win, right? Same with Amon: Apocalypse of Devilman, The Ghost in the Shell and plenty of other films I'm interested in releasing in the future. The arguments -for- dual-layer releases see, pretty limp for films where the film is only 5 gigs or less... so let's look at another film that, in my crazy opinion, really needs some love: Zebraman. You ever seen the Cannibal King DVD? I have. It's non-anamorphic, 2.0, and is absolutely crawling with mosquito noise ("digital grain" from low bitrates). It's great to see the film at all, but come on CK, you can do better and we all know it. (I could also say a few things about his AWESOME presentation of IZO... but that's available on R1, so I'll just let it go.)

I'm not bringing Zebraman up specifically to say that I plan on taking down CK's empire; not only is that pretty much impossible with the fanbase he's aquired over the years, but his focus is on old samurai and yakuza films with the occasional "big" Japanese movie to keep him in business. I focus on movies I like - just as he does - rather than whatever is the most controversial or hip film from the land of the rising sun. (I like Miike films; that others do isn't a bad thing. But I'd be willing to do a totally tits DVD-9 version of AGITATOR or ZEBRAMAN wither I'd get a dime for it or not. Considering that most Miike fans in America want GOZU and ICHI THE KILLER more than his family films I'm willing to bet I wouldn't profit in the slightest.) I refuse to believe any other bastard on the planet is dumb enough to do a remastered version of Adventure Kid, let alone offer it to the public who probably doesn't like the show/give much of a damn how it looks if it's still censored. Hey, kinda' guy I am.

The other reason to start mastering my new DVD's as DL's is simple: the price is going to start dropping. Why? HD-DVD and Blu-Ray drives are already appearing on the consumer market. For the cost of a BD-RW drive and the blank BD-R's you could buy about 6 hard drives with more storage, but as they get cheaper and more user-friendly (as DVD burners did), the price of DVD+R DL's will drop. CD-R's are pennies a piece, and dropped once DVD-R's increased storage space seemed like the logical way to go. 3 times the price for 6 times the space? DVD-R versus CD-R was simply a no-brainer. And DVD recordable's will get much the same way before too long. While a DL blank is in the $3-5 dollar range soon, it'll probably be in the $2-4 in a year's time at the latest, and when you factor in that you buy them buy the spindle of 10 or 50 a piece, a dollar per disk really adds up. I've always focused on creating high-quality DVD's, wither it's for the market or just to watch and, y'know. Enjoy. So why should I make anyone buying my shit suffer? If it's easier (if not cheaper) to sell Urotsukidouji 3: Mirai-Hen on a pair of DL's than it is on a set of 4 -R's, why the hell shouldn't I? Quality is better than quantity, but I'd much rather stuff a double case than spend just as much money buying those flimy quad-cases. Plus I could include an -R version of the movie... but, I'm getting ahead of myself again.

Now, would I release Sakuya Youkai-den (a personal favorite fantasy film) on a DL? That's a tough one. On the one hand, it'd be great to keep the DTS track and Japanese commentary - even if I have no plans to actually subtitle it, it should be there goddamn it. On the other hand... Sakuya is a film I doubt I'd sell more than 10 copies of in a year, and perhaps more importantly, who buying low budget Japanese fantasy films is picky about how awesome their DTS tracks? Hell, if THE THING has already been announced for an HD-DVD release (yay!) and if Grindhouse call sell out of their limited Cannibal Holocaust ultimate edition in less than a month, maybe fans of what's essentially an awesomely goofy Japanese remake of BUFFY with musical numbers involving 1960's muppets will show the DTS track more love than I assume they will.

So, will Adventure Kid be the first Kentai DL DVD? Beats the crap out of me. It just seems ideal in terms of what I want to put on the disk, and reminds me that this is a very new and untapped market. There's usually a reason for that... but only time (and my obvious insanity) will ever tell.

Back to working on a DVD that probably -will- sell a few copies.

Oh, and as far as Agitator goes... the UK edition claims to be anamorphic with a DTS 5.1 track. I believe them on both counts, but the DTS track is clearly a worthless last minute upmix, and knowing that the "anamorphic" version of JUNK available in the UK is simply the old non-anamorphic DV master upconverted, I'm not sure how good this TARTAN! (uh-oh...) print will actually look. Unfortunately, it and the difficult to find Russian DVD are the only non-VHS sourced prints available, and with no one in the US interested in Miike's 150 minute director's cut... well, I'm not quite sure what to do with this gritty masterpiece.

No comments: