Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Material Girl II: All Secrets (Except Titles) Revealed!

Finished another project in full that I can't directly talk about here, and thankfully this one only took a couple weeks - not months! Suffice to say the materials for it were much less horrifying than the last legitimate DVD I worked on, so I just smoothed out some ugly primitive digital-video related issues, synced up a couple audio tracks, and was disappointed to find that I had to edit the ever living shit out of the subtitles.

Honestly, I can't believe the script I worked from was ever approved by anyone, much less a legitimate US DVD licensor; there's a scene where the English word "Africa" is translated as "America". I only wish I were making that up...

Now I'm sure a few savvy consumers will watch the release when it comes out, seeing the film again for the first time, as is so often the case. They'll contemplate on the experience, wallow in the nostalgia they once had for it with a newfound appreciation that comes with revisiting a classic, perhaps take a slow sip of Ballentine's in their drawing room, preferably whilst wearing a smoking jacket, draw in a deep sigh, and write the following on their blogs and twitter accounts - dictated, but certainly not read:

"It's been DVNR'ed - I can tell by the pixels and having seen quite a few DVNR in my day. Boycott them. Steal the disc and then take a shit on it. Burn the studio to the ground with pitchforks and torches! Murder the employee's children! NEEEEERRRDDD-RAAAAAGGGEEEEEE!!"

To these inevitable dissertations, I'll confirm that there is some processing on the materials I was given. However, there was digital tampering long before I got to them - though as I said, I'm dealing with a decent source instead of a nightmarish one, it's still an analog transfer from the turn of the century, and neither looks like glorious 35mm nor was ever a reference telecine to start with. There was, unfortunately, an irregular coating of smeared, inconsistent analog noise that simply wouldn't compress into anything but cringe inducing mosquito noise, so yes, I may have smoothed over some of the high-frequencies before compression. I went through about a half-dozen filter combinations until I found one that I felt retained as much detail as was humanly possible whilst still eradicating much of the distracting noise which often looked nothing like "reall" film grain. I assure you all, whatever minor advantages I could have squeezed out in terms of sharpness of "grain structure" (which was already borked) would have turned to macroblocking anyway.

Had this looked like a legitimate 35mm print to start with I wouldn't have filtered it at all, but I'm working from a transfer that's old enough to be in the fourth grade! What can I say? I'm an independent DVD post house, not a Vatican Warlock Assassin... they must be throwing out my paperwork. I never hear back from that damned Pope.

I'm going to be getting my hands on an NTSC copy of the "other" project I'm doing for my boss later in the week, at which point I'll be doing some exhaustive comparisons between it and the PAL materials I have already. If he prefers the PAL sourced transfer I'm more than happy to deliver it to him, but I just want to make sure that we've explored all options available to us before we make any rash decisions. I make these discs for him, certainly, but I also make them for you. If I wouldn't use Print X as a master for my own release, I do what I can to find what I would - that's only fair to my boss, and all the fans who are willing to support the release. Mind you the licensor I'm working with is (thankfully) quite good about sniffing out materials to start with, but sometimes you're just stuck with picking between a rock or a hard place.

I won't lie: Both of them suck. But I think with some TLC the one we were trying to avoid using might actually suck just slightly less. Until I can actually get my hands on the original disc and not a badly re-compressed bootleg I've had kicking around for years, though, I can't be sure.

Both of these are films I really like, too, so you can imagine I'm trying everything I can think of with the materials at hand, just to see what happens.

Apologies to anyone who cares about the Kentai Films sales site. I do know the navigation is somewhat broken, and I'm looking into what I'll have to do to fix it. I'm thinking "Scorched Earth" might be the only realistic option to do that, but we'll find out in the next week or two.

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