Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What's Kentai's complaint of a... "Real" Life?

Yeah, it's been awfully quiet in these here parts, I know. It's like Shigeru CHIBA always used to say; No Requiem For The Wicked! Get Your One Way Ticket to Hell Ready!!

The good news is that THE BEDROOM is done - went up about two weeks ago - and if y'all keep track of the cool things in my sidebar, you may find a pleasant surprise in it being fully subtitled. Yes, even the exclusive interview with the man himself, Sato HISAYASU! That'll be far from the last Sato film I have to work with... but holy hell, what am I supposed to do with this?!

What's on your mind, Chuck?

So, I've finally learned how to successfully use VTS Bridges that allow me to - basically - use a worm-hole within DVD Spec allowing me to seamlessly jump from one titleset to another. This will come in handy for titles that have plenty of special features in differing aspect ratios or language options, and you can expect to see it in action sooner or later.

Dan Oniroku's 1982 SM classic BLACK HAIR, VELVET SOUL is next up on the Pink Restoration Block, and it looks like this will be another manual IVTC for a perfect 480p24 FILM transfer, rather than the usual deinterlaced clusterfuck. This is also one of the earliest Nikkatsu Roman Pornos to have been fraimed at 1.85:1, though oddly enough I'm working on another Japanese production circa 1982, and it's framed at 1.37:1...I'm not sure when, or indeed *IF* the Japanese film industry officially switched to the 1.85:1 and 2.35:1 Hollywood standards at a massive level, it's just interesting to see which studios decided that the middle-ground of flat widescreen gave them the best bang for their buck in the theater and the living room alike.

Still a Work In Progress, but you get the idea.

The audio has already been cleaned up, eliminating the prevalent analog hiss that dates back to the original mono recording. VHS audio is a reasonably high quality analog source - you can actually hear the static switch from being rather inoffensive to downright harsh once the 35mm sourced Nikkatsu logo pops up. All digital aural noise reduction I've experimented with give the final mix a certain digital "harshness" that's hard to describe without doing an A/B comparison, but I've found a combination of noise removal and low-pass filtering in Audacity 1.3 have given me results that minimize the analog problems without making the whole film sound like it was dubbed underwater with Fisher Price equipment.

Curious? Here's some free SAMPLES, comparing the original recording to the restored track. Feel free to crank up that volume to really wallow deep in how much analog hiss was there.

The video is just a bit more... complex. I've given the whole 66 minute film a manual IVTC, and the result is a progressive 480p24 source, but with some chroma combing. For whatever reason - probably the ancient video suite used to add pixelation on some of the more daring shots - the color signal is not only delayed by about two frames, but it's also got additional noise and combing problems that seem totally independent of the relatively stable greyscale it's riding on top of. Odds are most people would never notice it if I never brought it up to start with, but it's things like this that drive me bonkers.

The print has been stabilized and given a scratch removal pass, both of which have improved the source dramatically. I may still give it an additional pass of noise reduction before adding grain and encoding it to DVD, but I'm worried that using DVNR would remove what little detail the source had to offer. The analog noise on display is lighter than many comparable tapes from Nikkatsu's catalog (maybe because it was taken from a "flat" print rather than a scope film, which was probably shot on two-perf?), and a great deal of it was eaten during the scratch removal phase, so I'm likely going to skip the DVNR entirely. Yes, that means keeping some of the yucky analog squiggly crap that VHS is so prone to, but I think the results are still pretty acceptable. You'll all be able to judge soon enough if I'm right.

Anyway, I'll be buried in both Kentai and Official work alike - plus all of that "real life" crap I keep bitching about from time to time - but I'll make it a point to poke my head back in here and tell you whenever something new is done. I may also have a couple things to say about various culty releases too, but those'll be lower on the to do list, so don't hold your breath with anticipation or anything.

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