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  #21  
Old 11-17-2012, 01:27 PM
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Definitely agree that case-by-case should be the way to go, I can only say normally I'm happier (where an appreciable difference exists) with the newer versions based on past experience. An exception to that off the top of my head would be 'The Wolfman' Director's Cut where I think the theatrical version is punchier even as it loses a nice scene with Max Von Sydow.

But that isn't an important or notable film!

But then, as you point out it's also worth bearing in mind when a Director's Cut IS actually the work of the director coming back themselves to rework the film perhaps as they originally wanted to and not where the studio just goes in and makes such additions themselves without considering how to put things back in yet markets it as a DC. I'm obviously also not necessarily talking about the recent emergence of 'unrated' cuts which are proliferating especially in the horror/sci-fi genre because those are just cash ins for the home market I find that just add more gore etc

I'm talking about your 'Aliens: SE', 'The Abyss: SE' and your Ridley Scott stuff and even the likes of Robert Wise's work on TMP.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:48 PM
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Yes, one thing I love about James Cameron's extended cut movies is that the extended cut is almost a completely different movie from the theatrical release. The Abyss is the most marked example of this. ALIENS is probably the second most standout example. I still have yet to see the extended cut of Avatar to see if the changes are as radical as in the previous two examples.

Hell, Terminator 2: Judgment Day actually had three different cuts... the 2hr and 20 minute theatrical, the 2 hr and 35 minute extended cut, and the hidden extended cut which adds even a few more scenes or makes certain changes to the narrative....the hidden cut would have to be accessed via a special remote control trick.

Alien 3 is another one of those movies (David Fincher, director) where the extended cut makes it almost a completely different story. The additional 30 minutes of footage made it about as long as the theatrical cut of ALIENS before it.

Ridley Scott actually released the director's cut of ALIEN theatrically on one night, Halloween, back in '99 I believe. He actually trimmed several segments to increase the pacing of the film. This was also offset by the couple of scenes that he restored to the film....but yeah, for all that, it still resulted in being a marginally shorter film than the original '79 release.

Overall, I believe I got my money's worth out of the Quadrilogy (and later the Anthology on Blu-Ray.)
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Old 11-18-2012, 12:16 AM
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It was Halloween '03, Dude... the Quadrilogy DVD set was already being finalized and they wanted to give it a marketing push. They considered the special edition of ALIENS and the new 'director's cut' of A L I E N (which Scott had conceded to make because the studio would otherwise have put something together without him; they wanted two versions of each film for their DVD set). A L I E N won the coin toss. You had about two weeks to catch the movie (at least here in Vegas we did), and some auditoriums screening it were IMAX. The teaser for the dreaded ALIENS vs Predator ("whoever wins... we lose") was specifically attached to this limited release.

For me, it was a chance to finally see the first movie on a projected screen. And the rearranging of footage handled better than it could have been. Major improvement over the bogus 'director's cut' VHS bootleg I previously had (which was literally some turkey buying the '92 special edition laserdisc and dubbing it to VHS with the deleted scenes on Disc 2 now inserted into the dub).

The TMP director's cut is interesting, because it calls into question exactly how these things are prepared technologically speaking. I had always previously assumed that most director's cuts existed on film, and I still want to believe that's been the case. However it was obviously not the case with TMP, which can't be released to BluRay in its present form because the newer digital effects were rendered in SD.

It's frustrating in a way, because it almost feels like the TMP director's cut both does and doesn't exist. Even if they recreated the fx in HD, it would still be much lower quality than the actual 1979 film. To really do it justice, I think you would have to go 2k at the least if not 4k. I believe the LOTR extended cuts were edited in 4k (whereas the theatrical cuts still exist on film), however don't quote me there. Clearly Paramount was thinking "Meh... people are only going to watch this on DVD, right?" Even though ENT was already being prepped for shooting in HD.

So then how were most director's cuts made prior?

The Blade Runner director's cut supposedly received a limited theatrical release, so it must have existed on film. The Final Cut likewise was screened in some theaters (although in the age of digital cinema, it suppose it could have been created by scanning the film and re-editing it in digital... then printing it again for any 'analogue' theaters wanting to screen it... does anyone here know?).

What of The Abyss and ALIENS? Were they ever screened theatrically in their extended versions? Are those special editions proven to have existed on film?

The ALIENS special edition was first created for broadcast on CBS. It had 'some' of the restored footage, but not all of it. And the special edition proper was initially available on laserdisc in the early '90s, after additional special effects work (for some of the previously unused scenes) was completed.

So... would Cameron have had the freedom to reedit his movie on film? Or would it have been "meh... they're only going to watch it on laserdisc, right?"

The Abyss... same situation, same question. Additional effects work had to be finished for the special edition release... on laserdisc. Would they have reedited on film for that?

My thinking is you wouldn't cut up the original negative, even in the analogue days. Because then you'd only have to change it back (and each time, you would be destroying it). So maybe you make a new negative from one of your interpositives... and then splice THAT together with the previously unused footage. If the studio will pay for it.

Or do you scan everything to videotape and then reedit your movie there (if you know it's not getting a theatrical re-release)? Only now you have to 'rebuild' the new cut of your film every time there's an upgrade in home video technology.

Nowadays, you don't even know what's film or digital anymore (JJ Abrams likes 35mm film; I guess that's a comfort). But at least with the advance of HD and the mastering of films at 2k/4k/6k/8k, you can assume there's an approximate level of quality across the mediums. If they wanted to release the extended cuts of LOTR theatrically, they could (and did).

So did Paramount really drop the ball on ST:TMP? Or is that just the way it was 'often' done up until that time?
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Old 11-18-2012, 02:36 AM
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Em............some of that goes into more techie stuff than my knowledge covers but according to this:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abyss#section_5

Then Cameron (per the history of the SE section) was the one who spearheaded the work to redo 'The Abyss' and it did get a limited theatrical re-release in 1993. But that's because I think Cameron would never let a version of one of his films go out without being involved in whatever version it was.

I don't think 'Aliens' had a theatrical re-release. But wouldn't they have needed a film version for the work to transfer to Blu Ray for the Anthology? Or am I quite wrong?

When it comes to TMP I don't know if it was ever asked why the new effects were only done in SD and not HD. I guess perhaps there may have been a sense of 'it's only for home viewing though'. That's possible. Does that mean the Blu Ray edition available is the 1979 unaltered version? I'm still using the twenty disc 2002 Special Collector's Edition DVD box set for the original films as I'm not satisfied with the options and/or packaging of the ten films on Blu Ray so far.
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Old 11-18-2012, 03:49 AM
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Yeah, The ST:I-X BluRays are all the theatrical versions. On the positive side, this is the first time VI: The Undiscovered Country has been released in its original edit and theatrical aspect ratio (as opposed to the slightly longer version with his preferred 2.05/1 aspect ratio known to all prior video releases of the film).

Interestingly enough, some of the color correction work on TMP's director's edition (mostly stuff like restoring consistency to spaceship model shots) did crossbleed back into the BluRay presentation of TMP's theatrical cut. So there's that. The film would've had to have been scanned in order to be color-corrected (right?), and if that stuff's at a high enough resolution for BluRay (again, I would hope it was scanned at 4k or higher and not just 1080p) it makes their decisions regarding the new CG effects all the more perplexing.

All the Alien movies were scanned at 8k and remastered for the DVD Quadrilogy set, and the first two films were remastered again for the BluRay Anthology set. So even if Cameron's special editions had previously existed on video only, they would've been rebuilt at the times of these remastering efforts. However I had missed the part about The Abyss' special edition getting a limited theatrical release even though I read the same article you did. So... cheers. I think that seems to settle it then, Paramount's execs were out to lunch and they shafted Robert Wise to save money.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:23 AM
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Good wealth of knowledge there, Sam. I stand corrected on the ALIEN theatrical re-release. I thought it seemed more recent than that, but I guess I thought '99 because it was the 20th anniversary of ALIEN. (I was in --whimper-- West Virginia at the time, and I should've been more wary of the time.)

It is good that Cameron gets such backing (or at least, has enough of his own capital) to finance a remaster/redux of his movies. Too bad other companies don't have that kind of vision and forethought. Star Trek TMP was a financial success, if not a critical one. It should've made complete sense to Paramount to give Rob Wise everything he needed to make the DC a big screen release, or at least, big screen release-ready.

Dune (1984, Universal). That film was not a financial success, but gets (without Fincher's approval or involvement) a restoration of footage. I loved the movie, and they could've made it a much better film if they properly backed both Fincher and the film for the process. Yeah, I was sorely disappointed that they used the paintings in the prologue to represent establishing shots of planets instead of sticking with the much superior theatrical effects shots for them. Why in the hell would they resort to that? The painting was fine for the prologue, but THAT's where it should've stayed. It felt like a real "middle finger" to David Fincher.

Also, at the time of the TMP Director's Cut release on DVD (and even VHS), DVD was the prime standard at the time, so everything for the film was apparently remastered to DVD resolution.....Blu-Ray probably wasn't even thought of at the time, or at least, was only on the drawing boards.

When the TMP DC was "screened" for TMP's cast and crew, it was done so, if I recall correctly, on a 100 inch, progressive scan TV. Apparently, they at least had a full Dolby set up in the room to make as close to the big screen experience as possible.

One would also figure that with all the capital Paramount made off its recent Star Trek theatrical movie, that Paramount would want to go back and make all of its older movies live up to the current medium's specs in their restored forms. Then again, film resolution and home video resolution are going up all the time, so Paramount probably doesn't see it as a viable investment.
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Old 11-18-2012, 06:42 AM
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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............but I get a little vague between remasters and restorations and when a film needs one or other. And the cost of doing them. 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.

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.
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  #28  
Old 11-18-2012, 06:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by martok2112 View Post
One would also figure that with all the capital Paramount made off its recent Star Trek theatrical movie, that Paramount would want to go back and make all of its older movies live up to the current medium's specs in their restored forms. Then again, film resolution and home video resolution are going up all the time, so Paramount probably doesn't see it as a viable investment.
I think they'll have to eventually, if the TMP director's cut is to survive. Only problem is Foundation Imaging is no longer together. All that work may have to be completely redone if the CG renders were not saved.
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
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?
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Old 11-18-2012, 10:35 AM
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Very much so. But also informative so thank you for covering it.

The little I know usually only comes from either Blu Ray featurettes on how a film was restored or cleaned up for the Blu Ray version but not all films obviously cover that aspect in their extras. And often they use a lot of terms in conversation but without necessarily explaining them.

My curiosity stemmed mostly because I had picked up several older films the last while on Blu Ray that are supposed to be a combination of Restorations, Remasters etc (such as Double Indemnity, North by Northwest, Chinatown, Jaws and even the Back to the Future trilogy) and so many of these look so amazing in their picture quality it's as if they were filmed yesterday with state of the art equipment used.

I'm just continually amazed by what can be done with such old films when someone puts in the effort to bring them back. I used to be so skeptical of the Blu Ray difference before I actually bought a player and started building my collection in the format.
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