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.

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