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Re-mixed audio tracks on video releases

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As a huge fan of Carpenter's early body of work and particularly Escape from New York, I was disgusted back in 2001 when the MGM Special Edition NTSC DVD only provided a re-mixed 5.1 track. This re-mix changed many sound effects, while positioning on others changed in the soundfield. Some examples of changes in sound effects is when Snake is injected, or the rape scene in the theater basement. There are a few others that I don't recall at the moment. But the thing that is the most affected in this track is the score which was re-mixed by Alan Howarth, the most obvious and radical difference is the scene when Plisken tries to save the president at the train where the score was completely changed from how it originally was presented. As a purist I don't like these changes at all but also just as a remix the track fails miserably IMO, the sound is muffled where the original audio mix was crystal clear.

A few years ago dark_jedi took the original Dolby Stereo track which was available on the first DVD release of the film and synced the track beautifully to the Special Edition DVD transfer, and since then it's been my go to version whenever I get the urge to re-watch this film, thank you again, d_j! :) So, is there anyone familiar with and knows how the audio has now been treated on the blu-ray releases?

An other Carpenter classic that got its audio mix butchered on DVD is The Fog, I think MGM was the great masters in the field when it came to fuck up audio mixes on DVD, they even went as far as to state on their boxes that their alternative mono tracks were the original theatrical mixes on several titles even though it was just a fold down of the re-mix. On The Fog DVD I don't know what went wrong, but the 5.1 re-mix is actually closer to the original mix than the included mono track but several sound effects is missing. Also, not an MGM title but I recall Anchor Bay's THX DVD of Carpenter's Halloween stated that their included mono track was the original mix when it was just a fold down of the 5.1 re-mix. I'm not saying that all re-mixes are bad but this kind of shit makes me furious, either you include the original track or you don't.

We all know about the more famous titles where only bad re-mixes were provided such as on the The Terminator and Jaws DVD's but please help and add to what I started in this thread as I fear this trend is here to stay, and it kills me to know that there is people out there that have no idea that their DVD's or Blu-ray's of their favorite films have butchered audio tracks.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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I didn't even know EFNY was out on Blu here. I'll have to look for it.

I have Halloween on Blu, but have only listened to the commentary track so far.

Amazingly, Universal did not remix They Live or Prince of Darkness, but maybe they didn't want to spend too much on those DVD releases.

At least in most cases, there is a Laserdisc out there to preserve the original audio mix.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Here's a post I made a few years ago and the DVD was rubbish! Okay good for Dolby Stereo Digital discrete not so good with what they did to this classic Dolby Stereo mix. 

 

You’ve only got 4 hours to respond to this and your, free man. LOL 

I want you to play this part from (chapter 3) and pay strict attention to sound and I want to know what you can hear between, the guard’s voice only and only the guard’s voice “He’s dangerous, sir”. Tell me where you can hear voice? 

Your countdown clock as been activated, you now have 2 hours to respond!

 

Have listen to where Snake, lights up a fag, and then tosses the match into an ashtray. Now where is the sound? Its not on the laserdisc and its certainly not on the DVD. Seems like Foley error or that match has the highest 20Khz that is so hard to hear?

Also towards the end when he rips the tape apart the sound is like WTF! 

You can't hear the tape being thrown away. Now for real ear-wigging listen to the audio commentary with Debra Hill you can hear the sound of the tape.

Nope I will not buy the bluaru with dtsHDMA as the film was mixed recoded and released in Dolby and should only be presented in the 40 year preferred listening true format.

Nope I will not even sale my Laserdisc copy no fu%cking way.   

I hardly play the DVD its not worthy even though its in prefect Dolby someone mixer who did that re-mix is taking the piss with it.

 

 

Only the originals from the 70mm six-track Dolby stereo Dolby format 42 will sound better on DVD/Bluray.

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Have you seen the 1080i HDTV version of EFNY that's floating around? If so, does it contain the original 2.0 mix?

From what I've read, the picture is way too dark on the US blu ray and is an SD upscale on the Euro/Australian blu rays. Aye, yaye, yaye...

If all this is true, then the HDTV version might be the way to go.

EDIT: So it looks like the HDTV version had 5.1 audio:

Escape.From.New.York.OAR.1080i.DD5.1.ts

Escape.From.NY.1080i.nfo



MPEG2Repair: F:\Escape from New York OAR 1080i DD5.1.ts

Sequence Frame 178222(0-I) / Time 1:39:06 :
Info: End of MPEG2 sequence

Sequence Summary:

File Size Processed: 12.78 GB, Play Time: 01h:39m:06s
1920 x 1080, 29.97 fps, 65.00 Mbps (17.56 Mbps Average).
Average Video Quality: 71.51 KB/Frame, 0.28 Bits/Pixel.
AC3 Audio: 3/2 Channels (L, C, R, SL, SR) + LFE, 48.0 kHz, 384 kbps.
Dialog Normalization: -31.0 dB, Center Mix Level: -3.0 dB, Surround Mix Level: -3.0 dB
0 of 178222 video frames found with errors.
0 of 185833 audio frames found with errors.
0 corrupted video bytes in file.
0.000000 seconds of video timestamp gaps.
0.000000 seconds of audio timestamp gaps.

End of Log

Probably the remix then, huh?

Anyway, more on the blu ray video side of things:

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/blu-ray_reviews51/escape_from_new_york_blu-ray.htm

The HDTV video was definitely superior to both BD releases (had the DVD's colour/contrast and in high def) but, being 1080i MPEG2, probably had its own problems, I'm sure.

It would be nice to mux the 2.0 audio and the HDTV picture together, me thinks.

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An American Tail. I'm serious about this one. The 5.1 DVD remix is semi-notorious for being altered from the original Dolby Stereo. As with Superman, they added sound effects and they are sometimes quite intrusive. For example, Fievel is being pushed through the snow by one cat towards another, they added a train whistle sound. I know this is a cartoon, but that sound was not there originally, and it is inappropriately zany.

Also, there is additional walla and background "human world" dialogue. When we track in on the house at the beginning, you can hear laughter from the human inhabitants which spoils the music. When that lady in the apartment changes the cylinder in the gramophone, you can here a background conversation that was not in the original mix. Also, the frightened "A mouse!" screaming is different, and again more cartoonish, like something out of Tom and Jerry.

There is additional ADR that is by main cast members, so that was obviously recorded during production, but again, it is an alteration.

The most infamous change are the three orphans who taunt Fievel late in the film. In the original mix, their voices are either by kids or sound appropriately childlike. In the remix, they are clearly adults, and the actual lines are different. The most egregious difference (for many) is that as they are laughing at them, the one orphan doesn't chime in "Pit-ee-ful!"

However, most critics of this mix are wrong on one thing: they were not newly redubbed. The "new" voices are, in fact, the original tracks that the animation was synched to - the DVD version matches the mouth movements and the original mix doesn't. During post, they replaced the adult voices (Don Bluth's crew members, maybe?) with the ones heard in the final '86 mix. "Pitiful" may have even been an adlib by the kid brought in to redub the voice.

Who'd have thought this movie would have such an unfaithful remix? Fortunately, in this case the HDTV version is the original stereo from '86.

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Is it possible AAT had a 70mm release? As with Star Wars there can be noticeable variations in the mix between 70mm and 35mm.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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No. Animated films didn't get 70mm blowups. The film was 35mm only, Dolby Stereo only. The mix heard on VHS, Beta, Laserdisc, and the HDTV broadcasts is the one and only original mix. The 5.1 remix was done by Universal about 10 years ago, with no input from Don Bluth or anyone involved with the production.

Perhaps the additional/alternate SFX and walla were alternate/unused stems from '86, like the additional off-screen dialogue and the alternate voices for the orphans. But whether they were new or just not utilized in the released mix back in '86, I must reiterate, they were not in the original, approved, released mix.

Sometimes it's additional effects or dialogue. Sometimes it's missing effects or dialogue. You may recall the 5.1 remix of Animal House, where for some reason Neidermeyer's "Now drop and give me 20!" is joined in progress, so it's just "--drop and give me 20!" Even if a 5.1 remix is made entirely from original stems, it needs to be meticulously checked against the original final mix.

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Fantasia did for the 50th anniversary reissue. Not to mention The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast in their original runs.

As Spielberg was involved with AAT, I thought there was a chance of it.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Oh, I forgot those. I do believe, though, that by then the master sound mixes were in 6-track, so the Dolby Stereo tracks were usually just LCRS mixdowns. However, I can't say whether the modern 5.1 mixes are the same as the original 6-track mixes.

But thanks for reminding me - Fantasia is another screwed-up 5.1 remix, not even counting the fact that Deems Taylor's real voice is replaced by a Corey Burton impersonation. For some reason the directional effects are less pronounced than the 1990 restoration, which was intended to be the closest possible re-creation of the original 1940 Fantasound version.

One of the best examples is the opening of "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" - I saw a theatrical screening of a 1990 print recently, and I was just blown away when Leopold Stokowski motions to the players on the left, and the sound comes out of the left side, then he motions to the right, and it comes out the right side. Stuff like that is nowhere near as powerful in the modern remixes.

In addition, the 5.1 remixes were absolutely steamrolled by noise reduction, destroying the ambience and finer sound details. Also, the 5.1 mixes sound "flatter" to me. Not sure if this is just because of noise reduction, or different equalization (probably some of both).

I know that the 1990 version was hissy and I think it may have had some peaking/distortion issues, but the mixing changes and overzealous denoising negate any improvements in the later 5.1 versions. Luckily, the standard CAV laserdisc (i.e., the gatefold, not the deluxe box) is cheap and easy to find.

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I definitely saw the 1990 Fantasia reissue. The Laserdisc does it justice.

I hope someday Disney sees the money in doing a Blade Runner type boxset containing every version.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Does anyone know what the story is on Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The DTS tracks on DVD and Blu-ray get univerally good reviews, but having never seen/heard the film theatrically I just wondered if the original 6-track mix had been significantly tampered with in its transition to home theatre (a la Jaws).

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I thought the Rat did 70s of Sleeping Beauty and maybe Black Cauldron?

"Right now the coffees are doing their final work." (Airi, Masked Rider Den-o episode 1)

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The Griff, thanks for the info on the EFNY HDTV version, will check it out. The original Dolby Stereo mix should apparently be available on the Blu-ray according to someone who posted about it here: http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/309515/5-1-remix-soundtracks-on-films-first-released-on-older-media-in-stereo

"On a sidenote, I recently picked up ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK on Bluray, and was pleased to find out the 2.0 track was the original Dolby Stereo mix and not a simple downmix of the new 5.1 track. (Lazy downmixes are sadly not a rare thing, vs being a truely separate mix) The original mix retains the original sound effects and occasional directional dialog."

Both the Optimum (UK) and MGM (Fox) release includes an additional Dolby 2.0 track, hmm...

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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Molly, I was talking about most animated films, I know that those two were 70mm. My point was that nothing that was not Disney ever had 70mm blowups, so An American Tail was only 35mm.

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Jonno said:

Does anyone know what the story is on Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The DTS tracks on DVD and Blu-ray get univerally good reviews, but having never seen/heard the film theatrically I just wondered if the original 6-track mix had been significantly tampered with in its transition to home theatre (a la Jaws).

Jaws was mono. CE3K was 6-track. I can't say whether the modern mixes are faithful to the original 6-track or not, since I've never seen the film in a theater, but the bass humming when the UFOs fly by seems robust, so I'm guessing that the "baby boom" effects are intact (unlike a certain other film from 1977).

Late 70s/early 80s 6-track releases often seem to have faithful 5.1 "remixes." We all know about Alien, but I can't recall complaints about CE3K, or Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Blade Runner.

Now Superman...I have no idea what happened to the 1978 6-track mix for that. The theatrical cut releases only have a 2.0 track that sounds to have the standard 35mm Dolby Stereo dynamic range. (However, some people on Home Theater Forum have complained of phasing/bleeding issues that aren't present on the old laserdiscs. Supposedly, the laserdisc may more accurately reflect the original Dolby Stereo? I can't comment on that.)

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TServo2049 said:

Jonno said:

Does anyone know what the story is on Close Encounters of the Third Kind? The DTS tracks on DVD and Blu-ray get univerally good reviews, but having never seen/heard the film theatrically I just wondered if the original 6-track mix had been significantly tampered with in its transition to home theatre (a la Jaws).

Jaws was mono. CE3K was 6-track.

Sorry, I should have been more clear - I was referring to the tampering rather than the type of mix. Not really a la Jaws in that respect.

Thanks for the info, it's good to know that the studios occasionally get these things right. It seems unlikely we'll ever hear the 70mm mix of Superman, unless someone decided to do a Hairy Hen style restoration (and even if someone were interested, what would the reference be?)

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Jonno said:

Thanks for the info, it's good to know that the studios occasionally get these things right.

I can't say if they got them right or not. There are plenty of people who would know more than I. For example, Neil S. Bulk is the one who confirmed that Raiders is accurate to the 6-track (while the old laserdisc mixes weren't).

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I'm not a fan of the spruced-up sound effects and anemic music track featured in the 5.1 remix for DIRTY HARRY. I sorely miss the original mono mix.

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Great, keep them coming! Didn't know they had done that to Dirty Harry. So have the original mix been absent since the LD format?

 

Raiders and Blade Runner were treated right in the audio department as far as I know, not that familiar with the mix on CE3K, some info from Michael Thau regarding the audio on the 2000 restoration of Superman:

Going back to the original mix, we were shocked when we heard it. We grabbed the original 70mm full-coat that actually had the label from the Pinewood stage on it; it had a date of November 1978. We put it up in a dubbing stage. We had Dolby down there a couple times verifying that the set up on the Dolby units, the decoding, was correct. Superman was the first film that was originally recorded in a 70mm 6-track split surround but here's the rub that no one knows about but it's the truth. They mixed in split surrounds but they did not use the surrounds very much, especially in a stereo way because it was very new and they were very scared of it. At the last second, here in America, they brought it over to do some final mastering on the 70mm and they chickened out and the film was only released with mono surround in the 70mm format. So they mixed it for stereo surround, but it was never released that way and the fact is that there wasn't much difference anyway.

In 1978, Dolby was just beginning to become prominent and on their recording dubber they could put a 6-track head up, a 4-track head up, a 3-track head or a 1-track. The 4-track would be for the standard Dolby mix: left, center, right, surround and the Dolby system had an crossover, where anything below a certain frequency would go to a subwoofer. The 6-track would be the same except they would have two added channels of baby-boom (low frequency bass) with more volume. The 3-track would be for the mono stems: dialog, music and effects, and the single-track would be for the mono mix. But they didn't have three recorders; they only had one at the time, the same here in the U.S. as well. So they could not record simultaneous 4-track dialog, music and sound effects stems (left, center, right, and surround.) You do a whole mix, and then you do another mix. They recorded first, the 6-track mix, then the four, then the mono mix, then the mono stems. They tried to make them one after another so they would sound the same. There really isn't much of a difference in the 6-track or 4, except in volume and bass. But you weren't preserving your stereo stems at that point. So, what came off the stage was the full mix or mono stems, which is one reason why we couldn't even reconstruct anything. We only had the mono stems. With dialog it doesn't really matter that much because you normally put the dialog down in the center channel anyway. Superman was different; they actually draped it across the whole front three speakers, which really prevented us from using any of the original mix. It doesn't work that well and sounds strange. Stereo was kind of a new gadget and I think they were just playing with the new toy. Dialog is best kept in the center channel for clarity.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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msycamore said:

Great, keep them coming! Didn't know they had done that to Dirty Harry. So have the original mix been absent since the LD format?

AFAIK, the 5.1 remix has been the only available English-language option on all DVD and BD releases. The LDs were mono.

If you wanna sample the difference, perhaps try playing one of the other languages for the first five minutes (until the credits finish) and during the rooftop shoot-out (under the 'Jesus Saves' sign). That should give you an idea of the overall differences between the original and remixed tracks.

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Remixes on the Bonds for me. The new 5.1 tracks are hideously overdone, especially for the mono films. Too wide of separation and notable added sound effects.

And other classic films that were originally mono do not need remixes.

I've never seen the need for remixing Dolby Stereo and SR films into 5.1. They weren't discrete in the first place!

 

Hmm...I really need to see Escape from New York.

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The Griff said:

AFAIK, the 5.1 remix has been the only available English-language option on all DVD and BD releases. The LDs were mono.

If you wanna sample the difference, perhaps try playing one of the other languages for the first five minutes (until the credits finish) and during the rooftop shoot-out (under the 'Jesus Saves' sign). That should give you an idea of the overall differences between the original and remixed tracks.

I see, modern gun shots sound effects I presume, I actually own it on LD and haven't upgraded yet, so I haven't been exposed to the re-mix. But I can imagine how unfitting the new sound effects may be. I absolutely don't care if they make these unnecessary re-mixes, it's when they replace the original mix it becomes a rewriting of film history. There's no single reason why they cannot include the original mixes alongside the re-mix, are the guys who do the re-mixes afraid to get their work compared with the originals or what!? It's damn tiring.

 

About the mix on Raiders of the Lost Ark, everything point towards the 70mm blowups being originally in Dolby format 42, which means; no split surrounds. So a 4.1 configuration seems actually more appropriate for it, but I cannot complain on the DVD audio, it sounds great IMO. It will be interesting to see how they treat the audio on the Blu-ray release.

 

Another re-mix to be aware of; the New Line Reg 1 DVD of Twin Peaks - Fire Walk With Me only provided a 5.1 re-mix. In the partyland "Welcome to Canada" sequence, the Center dialogue is about 8-10 db louder than in the original Dolby Stereo mix, in the re-mix you can hear the dialogue so clearly that the subtitles become completely unnecessary. In the scene where Cooper is introduced at Philadelphia, a cymbal hit is missing, and the scene at the end where the monkey says "Judy", it's mixed approximately 6 db louder than in the Dolby Stereo mix. Really need to rip the Dolby Stereo from the LD sometime.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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msycamore said:

About the mix on Raiders of the Lost Ark, everything point towards the 70mm blowups being originally in Dolby format 42, which means; no split surrounds. 

Curious why you would say that. Have you forgotten this discussion?

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The reason being an answer I got from two projectionists I asked over at Film-Tech Forum, both said that it was in format 42 and that only Last Crusade was in format 43 - Split Surround. I still find it kind of odd (if this is truly the case) that Lucas didn't want to take advantage of this format for either the SW-sequels nor Indy, when Last Crusade came along the format had been around for 10 years.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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msycamore said:

The Griff said:

AFAIK, the 5.1 remix has been the only available English-language option on all DVD and BD releases. The LDs were mono.

If you wanna sample the difference, perhaps try playing one of the other languages for the first five minutes (until the credits finish) and during the rooftop shoot-out (under the 'Jesus Saves' sign). That should give you an idea of the overall differences between the original and remixed tracks.

I see, modern gun shots sound effects I presume, I actually own it on LD and haven't upgraded yet, so I haven't been exposed to the re-mix. But I can imagine how unfitting the new sound effects may be. I absolutely don't care if they make these unnecessary re-mixes, it's when they replace the original mix it becomes a rewriting of film history. There's no single reason why they cannot include the original mixes alongside the re-mix, are the guys who do the re-mixes afraid to get their work compared with the originals or what!? It's damn tiring.

Did they replace the iconic .44 Magnum sound effect, the same one that Leia's gun makes in the mono mix of ANH? Or is it iconic enough to have been retained? (I know that in the hijacking scene in Magnum Force, they replaced it to fix a blooper where the sound came out of a gun that wasn't a Magnum.)

That stock Magnum gunshot is one of my favorite sound effects, and it's one of the biggest casualties of 5.1 remixes. It was replaced in Superman, The Terminator, and who knows what else.

Way back when Superman first came out on DVD, one critic said that the new gunshots sounded like they had silencers on them - that person basically hit it on the nose. The modern gunshot sounds are often less powerful and less punchy than the ones in the original mixes - even if they use the original effects, they're often buried in aural mush.