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Old 11-18-2012, 10:02 AM
samwiseb samwiseb is offline
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 1,208

Originally Posted by kevin View Post
See, I always get a little confused with Blu Ray on this remastering concept because I'm never sure what they mean when they say a film has been remastered (as the region 2 Blu Ray releases of the Star Trek films state).

Forgive me for the tangent but as it seems to have arisen............

I get a little vague between remasters and restorations and when a film needs one or other. And the cost of doing so.

For example, 'Jaws' I recently bought on Blu Ray was, I think advertised as a full 'frame by frame' restoration AND remaster from the ground up and cost supposedly around $250,000 (as part of Universals work on 13 catalogue titles as part of it's 100th Anniversary) to do. And it looks frankly superb in the process.

Newer films of the last few years have obviously been shot with Blu Ray and HD in mind so look great from the start, but with some older catalogue films I can never be sure which level of work they've had done moving from format to format. Or does it all depend on the quality of the source prints to start with. And is that cheaper?

It just confuses me sometimes - Transfers, Remasters, Frame by Frame Restorations and how you know what's what. Like for example, I read there were two Blu Ray versions of 'Gladiator', initially a transfer copy not remastered and then later released in the same packaging a remastered version but you could only tell by the presence of a small logo on the back of the packaging. I read there were different transfers of 'Terminator 2' as well - a standard and then the fully done Skynet edition (which was the one I bought and does look amazing frankly).

Sorry for going off tangent. I just felt like throwing it out to see if anyone knew more.
I'm not exactly clear on it either, and with digital I think it becomes even less clear. However...

On film you have your original negative, plus the interpositive you create from it. From that you create secondary (slightly lower quality) negatives, and then from THAT you create your release prints (which are positives) to distribute to theaters. (Of course nowadays you probably scan your interpositive to a 4k digital file and then distribute copies of that to project digitally at either 2k or 4k... assuming you even shot on film to begin with. But I digress).

Now the interpositive (I think!) is your master. It's going to disintegrate over time (I think even faster than the negatives), plus everytime you copy it you're going to be scratching and destroying it. So you try to use it as little as possible. Your secondary negatives are going to get the living crap beat out of them in the process of photocopying your release prints, and those prints... well, most of us are old enough to remember how banged up they used to look after a couple months.

But here's the thing, your O-neg is also disintegrating alone in its storage vault. And (from what I understand) there's really not much you can do to it, as even cleaning it can cause damage. To remaster is to go back to the O-neg and make another interpositive (master) from it, and any photochemical restoration work is applied during this step (to the master, not the O-neg; as long as the O-neg is not TOO damaged you kind of just have to let it continue disintegrating).

If this all sounds problematic, then it begins to make sense why only over the last couple decades have they really gotten remastering down to a science. Nowadays you would more than likely scan either the O-neg or the master (at 8k or whatever) and then go inside your computer and clean it up digitally. So you're not really restoring the actual film per se. Not sure about the exact terminology, and I'm sure these terms get used interchangeably anyway, however I *believe* 'restoration' is meant to imply that the degraded film was already considered beyond salvaging in the physical/photochemical world (which is where we fear the SW original negatives are).

Videotape also degrades, at least if it's analogue. Back during the glorious 1st decade-and-a-half of VHS, the VHS masters scanned from the film interpostive (master) would degrade, and eventually you would have to make a new film-to-video transfer in order to have a new VHS masters from which to make more VHS copies. Things probably stabilized a bit with digital video and commercial laserdisc, however the industry would continue to make new video transfers of their films as video capturing and home media playback technology was perceived to be improving. The tradeoff: as the technology to make new video transfers improves, the film masters are still continuing to degrade.

So your 1991 VHS copy of STII: The Wrath of Khan may have looked cleaner -or less fuzzy- from a 'video' standpoint, and featured a more nuanced sound mix (which kind of sucked for you if you were still using a mono TV and missed being able to actually hear those nuanced sounds in mono), however the older 1987 copy you borrowed from your friend might betray fewer film scratches, stains or other artifacts.

The Star Trek films I'm a little vague on as well, probably because they are less high-profile and specifics might not be as readily available. I don't believe most of them have ever actually been remastered. With two possible exceptions: Star Trek The Motion Picture for the 2001 director's cut release, and STII: The Wrath of Khan for the more recent BluRay release.

To the former, some considerable ("frame-by-frame"?) cleanup work was applied to the film footage, while artificial 'film grain' was reportedly added to the new special effects. This is because those two components needed to come together -and visually approximate each other in texture- to form a viable new version of the film. But in what form and at what resolution the cleanup was applied I'm not sure... and this would affect 'whether or not' the newer BluRays of TMP also benefited from this cleanup work. 'Supposedly' the color correction of certain details (like the Enterprise deflector dish) survives to the current BluRay of the theatrical version... which would seem to 'suggest' that this work might have been done at a high enough resolution to constitute a legitimate remaster of the film rather than just a cleaned up transfer (although in my mind, even doing it at 1080p for BluRay wouldn't count. 4k is what approaches film quality, not 1080p).

Wrath of Khan... I think it was stated in 2008-09 that it was the one film which had disintegrated enough to need a new master. And 'supposedly' Nick Meyer himself was involved in the technical process. What I can tell you about the BluRay is that the colors are over-corrected, resulting in a bluish tint throughout. I'm really hoping that was just a transfer issue... although only people who saw the surprise ST09 pre-screening (which Nimoy attended) would know for sure.

Newer transfers of the First Four STs were done at least a couple times during the VHS days, with the more recent transfers mirroring what was on the laserdiscs. Early DVDs were divided: V-VII got the laserdisc (letterbox) transfers while I-IV got newer (anamorphic) transfers. When the collector's editions were made, V-VII finally got the anamorphic treatment while II-IV (even though II was being reedited into a director's cut!) reused the earlier anamorphic transfers just with higher DVD compression. All the films got re-transferred for BluRay. But again, only the first two are believed to have ever been remastered... depending on who you ask.

How's all of this for off-tangent?

Last edited by samwiseb : 11-18-2012 at 10:15 AM.
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