Sunday, April 25, 2010

Kentai Transfers Update


* DVD Encode - Currently Compiling "Final" Master (Test Encode shown above)
* Subtitles - Work In Progress (Darker Image Translation)
* Extras - vintage previews for THE WINGS OF HONNEAMISE + PINK NOISE


* DVD Encode - Finished (Progressive 30fps - Retail DVD Source)
* Subtitles - Finished (New Translation)
* Menus/Extras - Work In Progress


* DVD Transfer - Work In Progress (VHS Source)
* Subtitles - Status Unknown (Screen Edge Translation)
* Extras - vintage Satou Interview + vintage preview for TURTLE VISION

THE GUYVER: OUT OF STANDARD has been a real pain in my ass, due in no small part to the presence of field blending on the telecine. In the end I'm using the impressive AnimeIVTC pack on settings made for 'actual' 3:2 content, since I find the deinterlacing much less destructive, and even at stock Mode 1 settings it's smart enough to figure out that every shot of movement on this damn thing is pure interlaced material. The real reason I'm using it, though, is for the impressive antialiasing filters - I can almost stand the blending, but the jagged edges in the shot above were what really stuck in my craw. I won't lie and say the final DVD will be the best looking LD transfer in my catalog, but I will say that it'll look better than it ever has before, and won't be improved until somebody out there gets their hands on the 35mm negative.

SCARLET NINJA LEGEND: GAUSU is another eternal thorn in my side that I'll soon be able to walk away from forever. The final encode is unusual, being a mixture of 24fps animation with repeat frames and 30fps special effects, so the encode is essentially 30fps interlaced with progressive flags. There should be very little to no interlacing artifacts, and the transfer's signal noise, banding, and dot-crawl have all been cleaned up substantially. I might include the shoddy original Japanese transfer as an extra, just so those of you who are curious how much the image has been cleaned up can decide for yourselves if it was worth the wait.

THE BEDROOM is an unusual film, even for Hisayasu SATOU. It was released on DVD in the UK - and later the US - by the England based company Screen Edge, but both releases are identical, and were cut by the BBFC - I've yet to figure out exactly what was cut, though. This would be almost finished, if it weren't for the fact that my years' old DVD-RW are no longer reading properly in my computer drives. I can't tell if they just hate the cheap Memorex media or if the organic dye in this particular run has just melted into a useless goo, but either way I've already ordered a fresh pack so we can hopefully avoid needing to re-record titles.

I've just secured more materials for a classic anime title we've all been waiting for me to finish, but I won't get too excited until I can hear that "2.0" mix for myself first.

UPDATE:  Guyver's going to be interlaced after all. Sorry folks, I tried...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kentai Films: Missing Inaction

You might have noticed that I haven't uploaded or finished much for the blog as of late. Or maybe I'm slower than I think and I haven't yet fallen behind the expected schedule? (Boy, that's a scary thought...) In any case, I have a shockingly good reason for having all but dropped off the face of the Earth: A studio with projects I'm suitable for seems to like me, and is giving me about as much work as I can possibly handle.

While Kentai Films is not disappearing entirely - in fact, I've just approved a lossless encode for an upcoming remastered DVD transfer - it'll be more sluggish than usual while I finish work on a certain upcoming licensed DVD box set that should be right up all our alleys.

In the meantime, have a DELETED SCENE or two from Ivan Lai's DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS/滅門慘案之孳殺, fresh from the Kentai Films VHS Archive.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cacciatore del Vampiro, Kyuuketsuki Hantaa, Vampir-Jäger...

R2 Japan - NTSC (Sony Music Entertainment)

R2 Italy - PAL (Yamato Video)

R2 Germany - PAL (OVA Films)

...whatever language you speak, he is still just "D".

While the Italian transfer absolutely wipes the floor with the Japanese disc - it's component, progressive, largely free of debris and cue marks, and even has the more natural color timing - there is one thing I'm willing to say Sony got right and Yamato did not... ironically, it's the exact opposite problem that's kept me from settling for the OVA Films transfer.

Check the edges of the blown-out shot of Count Lee. Sony cropped maybe 5% of the film on all sides, and as a bonus got rid of the fluttering edges of the animation cels. Similar problems emerge, such as background ending suddenly or the frame just sort of trailing off into nothing - like in the first example especially. You'll also see the rounded bottom-right edge of the frame... pretty much constantly.

While I can only assume that Yamato specifically commissioned this new 4:3 transfer just to spite the hell out of OVA Films' prior widescreen transfer, they've inadvertently exposed much more of the frame than the film makers would have ever shown. In a properly run theater an apreture mask would have blocked out the outermost edges on all 4 sides - probably by roughly the same 5% we see above, unless the bastards decided to matte the feature into 1.85:1 widescreen. On analog video - the format for which Vampire Hunter D was literally created - TV sets circa 1985 had overscan that would have eaten up to 10% of the frame anyway, meaning we'd see MUCH less than we do now on our digital screens that don't (usually) force overscan on analog content.

The Japanese DVD accurately represents the original framing intended by the animators themselves, and even without director Toyoo ASHIDA telling us "this is the exact guide we used", it's obvious that we're not supposed to see the edge of the frame constantly fluttering on complicated special effects shots. This is quite literally the only quarter I can force myself to give the Sony transfer, since everything else about it is a joke in the wave of Yamato Video's gorgeous 4:3 telecine. All that said, Ashida himself was supposedly the guy who gave the thumbs-up to the OVA Films widescreen transfer, so I wouldn't trust his unionizing ass to supervise a proper HD restoration to begin with.

It's always a good spot of geeky fun to uncover more picture information, but just because the edge of the frame exists on the camera negative doesn't mean it's "supposed" to be there on the home video release. Just like blacker-than-black and grain that sticks to high contrast edges, it's just noise and doesn't contribute to the experience the creators intended. That said, I don't think it harms it either - if you're watching the corners of the frame instead of the properly centered animation, you can always zoom it in slightly using Media Player Classic Home Theater, your TV sets' overscan function, or any number of similar options. I certainly could shave off the edges, but I plan to embrace the Yamato transfer just as it is on NTSC terms, warts and all.

What's a shock to me is how much better both the resolution and shadow detail are on the OVA Films print. The cropping is - of course - inexcusable, and the overly bright, warm color palette have literally turned D's world into a neon phantom of its' formerly gothic self... and yet, damn it, just look at it. Thick, beautiful 35mm grain, vibrant green and red hues woven into the backdrops completely absent from the other heavily blue tinted prints, and a transfer so insanely sharp it looks as if you can reach into the screen and touch the background paintings. That cropping is an eye-sore, and I know from experience that I can't stand to watch the German "Remix" transfer for more than a few minutes at a time without getting a migraine from missing chins and foreheads, but... but...

It's just so goddamn pretty.

After years of suffering through the Sony and Urban Vision prints, it was like seeing half of the film for the first time, and now that I finally have the ideal 4:3 print in my hands, I just can't bring myself to deny that the OVA Films transfer has a raw film-like beauty that has yet to be equaled, despite simultaneously being the single most compromised transfer of the film available. I despite finding things to love in both transfers the way that I do, because it just makes my job of culling this release to its' bare, necessary components that much harder.

There's just one final piece of this puzzle left to be bought, so keep your fingers crossed that a fellow eBayer doesn't want that dub-only pile of crap DVD release (with a painfully relevant extra) any harder than I do...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sirabella, I am Disappoint...

So, my first hand impression of Ichi the Killer on Blu-ray... again.

Having taken the time to play the Media Blasters BD and DVD on the same setups, here's what I've found:

* Same exact print damage and erratic grain structure on both transfers.

So, it's got to be the same exact transfer Geneon released on DVD in Japan circa 2002. That may or may not be a bad thing... let's continue.

* The black levels are totally screwed up on the Blu-ray. Setting the DVD's dynamic range to 16-235 - or making the video appear roughtly 7.5% brighter than they should to account for old analog NTSC standards - makes the DVD black levels look identical to the Blu-ray at 0-255.

In other words, the DVD has proper "digital" black levels while the Blu-ray needs to have the display adjusted manually for optimal blacks. This is surely an honest mistake, and one that can be fixed by the end user, but it's still unacceptable for an "HD" Blu-ray title to even have this problem. What the fuck is this, 2002? (Oh, wait...)

* The level of digital noise inherent to the transfer is not remotely consistent with any other HD transfer I've seen before.

Now, remember how I mentioned the noise/compression was an issue last time? Having compared the two transfers further, I'm starting to think the issue isn't compression at all... I think what we're seeing is analog noise from the source tape.

And I don't think that source tape is anything close to HD-CAM, either.

Dragon Dynasty has been pawning off PAL SD upscales as "1080p Full HD" for a little while now, and despite the fact that Woo's The Killer passed the rudimentary Downscale Upscale test, I'm no longer convinced that it isn't an upscale. In fact, I'm damn sure it is - and I'll share why with you later on. The fact is an NTSC upscale can look pretty good, if the upsampling algorithms are there and the Digibeta source isn't just shit to start with. There are some god-awful upscales, but there are also upscales like Diebuster: The Movie and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, which fool most reviewers into thinking they're "real" HD animation. True, most reviewers are mouth breathers who wouldn't spot interlacing artifacts with a looking glass, but that does say a lot about how little resolution itself relates to a "pleasing" image, particularly when expectations are so low to begin with.

With that in mind, I'm not one bit convinced that ICHI THE KILLER isn't an upscale. A very good upscale - black levels aside - but it does explain why the image is soft and noisy at the same time, and why that noise looks more like blocky chunks of analog source noise than typical compression artifacts or banding.

The easiest way to look at it is this: Do you really thing Geneon would spend the money to transfer Ichi the Killer in HD circa 2002 - and not even mention it? For fuck's sake, the Japanese DVD was interlaced for the last 40 minutes of the film! If that now very dated Geneon transfer was in SD, so is this Blu-ray, end of story.

Suddenly, Media Blasters having delayed this title for a year and a half makes perfect sense: They kept asking IMAGI for an actual HD master, and eventually gave up, releasing an upscale instead.

Shout! Factory learned the hard way releasing Audition on Blu-ray that Japan isn't interested in restoring their own extreme Miike cult films, and if you want to restore it yourself you can have a chewed-up Internegative - and like it. Sirabella is clearly having none of that, and while an Interneg would mean more film grain and print damage (like cue marks and physical splices), it would also mean more detail than an upscale of a nearly decade-old Digibeta, and be much more deserving of the moniker "1080p High Definition".

That off my chest, I do stand by almost everything I've said prior: black levels aside, Miike's violent excess has never looked better, and short of the film getting a brand new transfer from the negative, it never will.

Could it look better? Absolutely.

Will it? Christ, it took us 8 years to get this far... your guess is as good as mine.

Oh, well. At LEAST Media Blasters' latest release of Utatane's COUNTDOWN includes the uncensored skull-fucking episode which has never been released in North America before. You win some, you lose some...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dead Reckoning: Anchor Bay and Arrow Video

Since it's easier to simply link to the comparisons than steal the images outright, I'm just going to thank the good folks at Caps-A-Holic for confirming a theory I've had for quite some time and then give you my findings here.

I've assumed from the start that Arrow Video would have used the Anchor Bay telecine for Dawn and Day of the dead respectively, since no other HD source for these two Romero zombie films were known to exist. We also knew that the Dawn of the Dead transfer in the UK was "different", and early promotional images promised a much grainier and, one would hope, more accurate presentation of the camera negative... that's not quite what we got, though, and I finally am starting to think Arrow was lying through their teeth about what source materials they had to work from.

The Arrow Video transfer of DAWN is slightly better than the Anchor Bay transfer in terms of raw detail, largely because there hasn't been any scratch-repair done on the print. I know, you'd think that would be a bad thing, but automated scratch removal filters - particularly when they're not used properly - tend to eat away at edges and small details that really AREN'T film damage.

Compare cap 3 and look carefully between the gloved fingers - you see those brown spots on the US transfer? Those are areas of grass incorrectly reported as "dirt", and filled in with the prior frame's glove information. The grain has also been softened out, a natural side effect when the process finds randomly dancing patterns of crystals to look suspiciously like a smattering of minor scuffs.

(Arrow Video)
Anchor Bay didn't get rid of that fucking scratch, either...

On the other hand, check out the 7th comparison to see why Anchor Bay would stoop to such digital short-cuts in the first place... the Dawn negative just isn't pretty. Wither you prefer looking at film damage, or the artifacts left over from their removal is a deeply personal call, and one I feel varies from situation to situation. Perhaps I'm a fuckwit for thinking this way, but I'd much rather see some mild dirt spotting than equally heinous digital artifacting on my 30+ year old fantasy-horror films. These shots don't look anywhere near as bad as similar problems on AB's release of Tenebrae, but I'm not convinced these images are even close to the worst of it, either...

The bad news for Arrow Video is that the Anchor Bay "Divimax" master has much bigger problems than scratch removal artifacts. One of the biggest problems on both transfers is the constant ghost-inducing DVNR issue, and can be seen in the 4th cap... personally, just posting this makes me puke a little in my own mouth.

(Arrow Video)

This frame is very is... strange, though. Typically you blend frames together temporally to remove grain, but Dawn is just as gritty in HD as it ever was on VHS. My theory is - and has been for a while - that what we're seeing isn't actually 35mm film grain, but high frequency digital noise dusted on top to emulate film grain - or "Digigrain", as I love to call it. Using DVNR before scratch-removal increases the level of dirt you can remove without much affecting constant details in the frame, so it makes sense to do it from a production standpoint... but, as you can see, the "improvements" it makes to the presentation are negligible to the other issues they tend to bring with them, including both a general loss of detail, and... whatever the hell we're seeing up there.

Odds are the trail-inducing DVNR was baked into the HD master tape via the telecine hardware, so the only way to un-do it would be to pull the negative out of storage, and then make a brand new transfer from scratch. It's very time consuming, and even more expensive, so the AB print is the one we'll be stuck with for quite some time. Italy and Germany seem to have sourced all of their recent DVD releases from it, so odds are until Anchor Bay themselves are dissatisfied, this is simply how Dawn of the Dead is going to look. It's pretty disappointing, but still far from the worst cult movie restoration I've seen this decade...

Even worse news is the fact that Arrow really dropped the ball on DAY. The 4th cap comparison sums up every problem this disc has; even compared to the already less then stellar Anchor Bay BD transfer it's soft, full of compression artifacts. For one reason or another (likely cost) Arrow used a single-layer BD25 instead of the dual layered BD50, and to compensate the transfer was vertically filtered, though as you can see that doesn't mean it isn't without compression artifacts. Neither of these factors, however, explain why the transfer is stretched into the wrong aspect ratio of 1.78:1... Dawn was left slightly open-matte by Arrow, which is fine, but Day shows blatant geometry problems from having been stretched vertically.

Both transfers have a slight disparity in color, and I'm not convinced that one is inherently superior to the other. While the Anchor Bay transfers seem to have slightly elevated color saturation, the flesh tones on the Arrow releases seem less true to life - the actual hues seem to shift from scene to scene on the Arrow release, being orange one scene and green the next, which makes me think Anchor Bay did further color correction on their transfer. Come to think of it, the color "boosting" on the AB release could be an encoder issue, or even a colorspace one... hard to say, really. Both discs have their original mono mixes, though Anchor Bay only includes them in DVD quality Dolby mixes.

Arrow Films' slaughters Anchor Bay in the extras department, but as the UK disc will set you back over twice as much as their American counterparts, you get what you pay for. The transfers are almost a wash, with Anchor Bay being slightly better on Day and Arrow Video (arguably) being slightly better on Dawn. If you have a goofy packaging fetish... well, then you're probably best off importing one of those crazy German Hardboxes anyway.

The Arrow Video release of both Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead mark the single most comprehensive assortment of special features available, and if you only own them on DVD then either Blu-ray releases are a notable - if not major - improvement. I really do want to support Arrow Films, despite being a Yank, but unfortunately the materials for Romero's zombie epic just aren't up to snuff to excite me for any High Definition release of these genuine American classics. This isn't a "Fuck You" post towards anyone, just one of mild professional curiosity, and of ever so slightly bitter fanboy disappointment.

I'm going to keep my fingers crossed and hope that Blue Underground doesn't happen to wipe the floor with them with their transfer of City of the Living Dead next month...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Ichi Killed the Ripper


I'll be damned... announced way back in December of 2008, Media Blasters/Tokyo Shock has finally released ICHI THE KILLER/殺し屋1 on High Definition Blu-ray, with BD format stalwart now shipping.

While in many ways this is not Takashi MIIKE's best work - that honor would likely go to Audition, The Bird People in China, Izo, or even Agitator (depending on your mood and native level of pretension) - it is still without a doubt his most gruesomely offensive, morally ambiguous, and internationally cherished film to this day. Despite the intentionally broken cinematic pacing, ultimate anti-climax and the fact that this jaw-dropping freak show is actually less disgusting than Hideo YAMAMOTO's original manga, it's anchored by strong performances from Asano, Syun, Oomori and Tsukamoto, and the biggest flaw the film has is in literally cock-teasing the audience (and the film's anti-hero Kakihara) with the titular Ichi... in effect, the whole film is about trying to find something that doesn't quite exist, and while the manga makes that painfully clear from the first chapter the film is - wisely, perhaps - more secretive of its' anti-villain. The final showdown is unforgettable, but not for any of the reasons the genre would leave you to expect... which is at once the strongest weakness in the film, and perhaps Miike's greatest facet as a film maker to start with. This may not encompass Miike's filmphraphy in one neat little package, but it does showcase both his strengths and weaknesses, and for fans this BD has been a very long time in coming.

As much as I would love to include screenshots, the "modified" version of my software based AACS descrambler won't let me without an update I can't access. I know, it serves me right, but seriously? $79 and change for a program that only decrypts data, and a license that has to be renewed annually? Suck my annual hole...

Here's the good news: Ichi the Killer has never once looked better, probably not even at a fancy festival on 35mm. The film is still hazy, gritty and unpleasant to look at from a purely aesthetic point of view, but if you expected any different you've probably never seen it before anyway. Ichi is a dirty, nasty little slut, and considering the pulp roots of the material and the fact that you're literally watching the perfect exploitation film for sadism-junkies, I can't say a little heavy grain on top of print damage mars the experience.

Naturally the uncut 126 minute R-18 version is included, as are every single one of the special features from the "Blood Bag" special edition. It's still missing a couple of the interviews and various still galleries from the Japanese release, but to make up for it we get interviews with... Eli Roth? I'm still not quite sure what the fuck he's doing here, but hell, I'm the only guy on the planet who liked Hostel Part 2 so I'll give him a pass on this one.

Audio comes in both original Japanese and English dubbing - and by "English" I mean "Low-end British dinner theater performers in a booth", so it's kind of its' own lulzmachine. The 5.1 tracks are lossless Dolby TrueHD, while the 2.0 mixes are standard 192kb DVD quality. The TrueHD track wins by default when pitted against the R2 full-bitrate DTS track, so anyone who takes issue with the audio mix has to complain to the sound designer himself.

What does disappoint, sadly, is the 1080p AVC compression. I'm not going to tell you that [bitrates = quality], because it really isn't that simple... a high quality encoder can produce a better looking encode at a lower bitrate, if the encoder itself is really just that good. Another issue is that there are some incredible encoders on the market, and 95% of the users don't have a clue what to do with them... as a guy who used CCE SP 2.70 for a several years without actually understanding what the "Quantizer Characteristics " setting does, I can relate, especially when most of the guys who come into this are editors first and compressionists second. (In fact, I doubt the title "Compressionist" even exists outside of a few oddly specific industry situations.) Encoders are amazingly complex programs, and even if you know what you're doing the coding can be flawed or the instructions so vague that well-meaning settings result in disaster.

Complex material requires higher bitrates, more complex algorithms, or for the high frequency information to be filtered rendering it inherently less complex. You can mix and match any combination of these three options, but at the end of the day grainy video plus low bitrates divided by shitty encoders is a recipe for disaster... and that's exactly what happened to Ichi. The film is extremely grainy, but the grain regularly breaks up into blotchy mush, and fast-motion tends to create nasty mosquito-noise artifacts similar to those found on insanely complex titles like 300. The slow-motion shot of Kakihara on the roof has never looked better, but the fine grid-work of chain-link fence is murder on the encode... if you can't spot it there, odds are you never will. The film proper only takes up some 18.59 gigs of the 24GB BD-25, and yes, I'm quite certain that having shuffled the extras to a second DVD-9 or having used a BD-50 would have made a substantial improvement on the transfer.

If compression were the only issue that would be a mark against the disc anyway, but the fact that the brightness looks to be turned up too high only makes matters worse. Ichi is, at times, a very dark film, and instead of looking into a black hole the whole image has a washed-out, milky quality. It could be a colorspace error or something equally similar, but that doesn't make it look any less awkward on the screen. I suppose I applaud MB for being damn sure not to crush the black levels, though...

All that bitching out of the way, the disc doesn't appear to be caked in DVNR or EE, and the contrast looks surprisingly natural. The color timing is very harsh and yellow, similar to the Japanese and American DVDs. It's not a stunning visual presentation, but it's very much like watching a decent 35mm print in a well maintained theater... with some compression artifacts, just for good measure. The disc certainly looks and sounds better than the blood pack SE DVD, but it doesn't look or sound stunning either. Fans (like me) will be delighted to have it at all, and to be honest, I can't picture any other English-friendly label tackling this film for a while.

IF I can ever get screencaps, I'll be sure to do a full comparison with the Blood Bag release.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Vampire Hunter- DAYUM!



How in the FUCK!? did I never know a 4:3 restored transfer of this existed until now?! To the gentlemen who sent me the information that this transfer exists, I thank you, for I will never, ever have touch the 1985 Japanese master again.

The screencaps above more or less speak for themselves. The German transfer's 16:9 ratio is unforgivable and the source print seems to have overemphasized both shadow detail and reds, making the whole transfer look too pink and washed out... but see all that wrinkly crap affixing itself to Doris' boobs on the German print? That's a film splice, and it isn't on the Italian print, so at least some of the problems found in the German transfer's color timing is the fault of whoever struck their new film print. It's still no excuse for the cropping, though... there will never be any proper excuse for that.

The Italian master seems very dark. At first that sounds like a good thing, but there are shadow details present on the German transfer that are sucked right into the inky blacks of the Italian transfer. The Italian encode is also rough around the edges, with a lot of minor compression artifacts on fast motion and some edge ringing. It's certainly a thousand times better than the milky gray LD era nightmare Sony, Manga and Urban Vision have shat upon the world, but it's not quite a title I'd reach for when thinking of reference titles, either.

There are unique problems with each transfer, based on the files I've had a chance to play around with; the Italian transfer crushed the black levels to avoid noise in shadows, while the German transfer boosted saturation to avoid noise in vivid colors. The German transfer also seems to have been stabilized quite dramatically, but the Italian transfer has more natural film grain - at least when the compression doesn't blur all of it away. OVA Films clearly tried to remaster Vampire Hunter D... they just fucked it up miserably. Meanwhile Yamato Video tried to present the materials in their original state, they just don't know how to encode worth a damn. The two of them are equal halves of a whole idiot, but the fact that - with any luck, at least - I'll soon have my hands on BOTH transfers can only mean one thing...

Vampire Hunter D's 25th anniversary just might to be the year that the Dhampir Hunter finally gets his proper DVD dues from Kentai Films.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sunken Expectations

You could say I've been on the Lam from my usual Kentai Films duties. I'm waiting for a new mid-level heatsink to arrive to quell this "idling at 50" nonsense, which will make encoding safer (but likely not much faster) and thus allow me to go back to restoring VHS and LD sources pretty much full time.

I've finished the subtitles for one project, and I'm glad to say that all of the extras will be subtitled. Getting the producers to cough up the scripts on a few of them was like pulling teeth from a hippo, and in the end a friend of mine did a fine thing by translating what was left over. We can thank him for the deleted scenes appearing on the DVD at all.

Now I'm balls-deep in an even more complex beast; basically I'm synching not only the English subtitles, but also the English dub to a surprisingly dark adventure film that's about 15 years old now. The dub is missing over 6 minutes worth of footage, so it's basically watching the film in English, waiting for it to go out of synch, cross-referencing the English dubbed source to figure out when it cuts back in, cutting the English dub track to account for the new footage, and replacing the blank audio track with the original dialog track. The English source I'm using doesn't even stay in synch with its' own video, so I'm also re-arranging individual scenes as best I can, so this may be the first time the English dub isn't regularly a quarter-second to a half-second off... too bad being in proper synch doesn't make the dub any less god-awful.

Splicing the original dialog back into the English dub is an unfortunate compromise, but in this situation it's the only one we really have. There's arguably an even bigger problem, but at least that's one I can do something about: Consistency.

The English audio is taken from an overly loud and constantly hissing VHS tape, while the original dialog is from a restored optical track. The rough cut I have now goes from "loud and rough" to "quiet and smooth" every time it has to cut to the original dialog, so I'm going to have to try some experiments with noise reduction on the English dialog and adjust the levels considerably on the original dialog, until the two are reasonably close to each other. I have my doubts that it'll be totally seamless - that's kind of unavoidable when you mix completely different prints, much less a digital restoration and a crappy analog holdover - but I'm certainly going to make the difference between them as nondescript as humanly possible.

The brief DVD encoding hiatus of 2010 is officially over. I've since installed a new Core-Contact 120 heat sink into my crammed midtower case, and while the massive brick of cold air has left me with zero room for a second fan, despite several hours spent trying with a crowbar and Astroglide. I've suspected for a while now that a new case with built-in cooling is going to be necessary if I want to keep the system stable and running for years to come, but if this giant chunk of cold copper could do the trick in the mean-time I'd be excited.

Even on its' own (turned up to "high") it's idling at 41~43, and on this cool night it only ever spiked up to 56. That's while simultaneously encoding a lossless video file using several temporal filters, surfing the web and playing a buggy BETA Mumorpger, mind you. It's also quiet as a church mouse... or at least as quiet as a bat emitting a strange high pitched whining squeak. It's a difficult sound to describe, but odds are it could be silenced with a higher quality fan clipped to the top. I can worry about all of this crap later, after I make some new DVD transfers.

Which brings me to...

BEAUTIFUL SISTERS: FLESH SLAVES. The finished DVD will, I promise, be made available at a certain private tracker in the next few days.

VHS Source
(NOT exact frame!)

It's a shame this is so close to the end of the line for these Pink VHS restorations, because I finally feel like I've made letterboxed Nikkatsu tapes my bitch. This may look like a grubby 16mm reduction print - and probably was, now that I think of it - but it still looks a heck of a lot more like actual film than any well-worn rental VHS deserves.

Oh yeah, the grain? I made my own custom matrix for it. (Based on Lyris' prior mod of GF3). It's much lighter and has finer particles than what I used on ETSG, which means it's perfect for making old VHS and LD sources look less... well, dead and plasticine. The "look" between this Female Leopard are absolutely night and day, and while I'm sure some folks will prefer the previous effort, I'm completely satisfied with the results I'm seeing on BSFS. Certainly there are some flaws left behind, but they're all things we can safely attribute to this being sourced from a mid 90s' video casette, rather than any lack of effort on my part to fix them. Try as I may, I'm just not a guy who can spin HI-8 into HD-CAM.