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Info Wanted: Buck Rogers In The 25th Century - HD Widescreen Theatrical Cut?

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Has a widescreen hd version of this ever aired anywhere… and been saved for posterity?

I have the bluray set, which is great. Interested if the above even exists? Thank you all for your hoped-for replies!!!

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Buck was originally intended as a tv miniseries and the switch to feature film came very late in production. Open matte full frame is probably best for it.

It’s too bad the stereo mix on the old Discovision Laserdisc hasn’t been carried over to modern releases.

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The DVD set of the series has the theatrical version, not the 2 part episodic version which features some different scenes.

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Universal reissued Buck as individual season sets in 2012. (Single sided discs this time.) Season One has the two parter now. Not sure if they kept the movie version.
Uni’s double sided discs seem to go bad so often I dread revisiting my complete series set.

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SilverWook said:

It’s too bad the stereo mix on the old Discovision Laserdisc hasn’t been carried over to modern releases.

Oh? Can you elaborate about this, please? Is it better/different to that on the DVD and the uncompressed 2.0 LPCM stereo on the Blu-ray?

JEDIT: Ah, the Blu-ray is actually mono. Bill Hunt seems to have misreported the specs.

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/item/buck-rogers-25th-century-complete-series-regb-brd

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SilverWook said:

Universal reissued Buck as individual season sets in 2012. (Single sided discs this time.) Season One has the two parter now. Not sure if they kept the movie version.
Uni’s double sided discs seem to go bad so often I dread revisiting my complete series set.

I’ll have to look into that. With Battlestar Galactica they issued the multipart in the box set and they issued the movie version separately. I saw both the BG and BR movies in the theater.

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The BSG Blu Ray is a significant upgrade, but Universal deserves a Cylon invasion for bundling it with cropped for widescreen versions. You can’t get the full frame set separately unless someone breaks up the set on Ebay.

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JayArgonaut said:

SilverWook said:

It’s too bad the stereo mix on the old Discovision Laserdisc hasn’t been carried over to modern releases.

Oh? Can you elaborate about this, please? Is it better/different to that on the DVD and the uncompressed 2.0 LPCM stereo on the Blu-ray?

JEDIT: Ah, the Blu-ray is actually mono. Bill Hunt seems to have misreported the specs.

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/item/buck-rogers-25th-century-complete-series-regb-brd

There was a thread over at the LDDB forum where it was discussed in detail.
http://forum.lddb.com/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=3104
As it’s an early title the discs are prone to the same defects and rot as most Discovision pressings are. I have two copies, and the rot affects the sound on both.
Is it possible somebody could work some digital magic cleaning the audio up?

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SilverWook said:

The BSG Blu Ray is a significant upgrade, but Universal deserves a Cylon invasion for bundling it with cropped for widescreen versions. You can’t get the full frame set separately unless someone breaks up the set on Ebay.

I think the UK release is just the 4x3 versions…

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Sorry for arriving late to this party. Yes the packaging for the Australian Buck Rogers Blu-ray set indicates 2 channel LPCM stereo, but all the audio is actually 2 channel mono (center channel/subwoofer only when DPL processed). The blu-rays have the broadcast version of the pilot in HD with the mono audio as expected for a television show of that time. It also has a PAL upscale of the theatrical cut, but again with mono audio. The region 1 DVD set has the theatrical cut with mono audio as well.

I recently tracked down a “Discovision” laserdisc to hear the stereo mix. The image on the disc was mostly OK - a bit of white noise dots, but nothing like badly rotted discs that I have encountered long before. The analog, non-CX audio on this disc is like what others here have stated - a lot of crackling noise. The audio is definitely stereo though - typical of a matrix encoded stereo track of that time. I had thought about trying to remove the noise, but this would probably be a huge task. An ebay search turned up a European laserdisc release. I don’t have an LD player that will play PAL laserdiscs. Then there is also the issue that PAL transfers speed up standard 24fps movies by four percent so they play back at PAL’s 25fps with noticeable difference in pitch for the audio and temporal motion for the video. Finally, I don’t know if the PAL disc would fare any better after all these years when it comes to laser rot. I was hoping there was a Japanese LD release (as there was with Mission Galactica - 1987-ish release for the LD) as this would readily play in US NTSC laserdisc players, but I have not found any evidence that Buck Rogers was ever released on Laserdisc in Japan.

I decided to try one other legacy format. I found an old VHS tape (yellow box). The side of the box was only marked “Hi-Fi” - without the word “stereo” which normally would mean that the audio was two channel mono. The cassette itself only had the Dolby “double D” mark; which alone only means that the linear audio tracks have “B-type” noise reduction. However the tape tracked and played back well through an old industrial Hi-Fi VTR and the audio was the same stereo as the Discovision LD. Unless someone can find a laserdisc without rot, this VHS Hi-Fi stereo may be the best audio available for the theatrical cut of Buck Rogers. This was also released on Beta back in the day as well, but those tapes are harder to find and I have never had any Beta decks.

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Interesting! I always thought the tape releases were mono for some reason. Alas, my betamax is in storage with all my other gear for the foreseeable future.

Tapes were sometimes mislabled in the early days of Hi-Fi, or not all the duplication facilities had upgraded their equipment. (Hi-Fi could actually be switched off on some industrial recorders.) I even had an LD of an unrelated film with no digital tracks even though the jacket had digital sound markings. A second copy I later found of similar vintage had digital sound as advertised.

The LDDB has a PAL copy for sale, but the tech specs say that release was mono.
https://www.lddb.com/laserdisc/39163/LVG-1015/Buck-Rogers-in-the-25th-Century

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Vhs hifi tracks can be quite good. It’s a pure analog recording with 20-20000 frequency response. I think that noise is also quite low.

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Oh yes, they sound great. I was able to track down a factory sealed VHS Hi-Fi of Grease to capture the original Dolby Stereo mix a few years back.

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Monolith149 said:
Unless someone can find a laserdisc without rot, this VHS Hi-Fi stereo may be the best audio available for the theatrical cut of Buck Rogers. This was also released on Beta back in the day as well, but those tapes are harder to find and I have never had any Beta decks.

Hey great post Monolith149, and thanks to everyone else for keeping this thread alive.
The Buck stereo audio has been on my media bucketlist for a while now, having read the same info from Disclord that Silverwook mentioned. I would be willing to pitch in if a decent capture can be made.

Just a thought, but has a bad print or mastering already been ruled out i.e. the noise isn’t identical on all discs, it’s definitely rot?
Does anyone have a section on their LD that is more or less noise-free, so it can be compared to the same section from VHS? I would love to hear samples just to get an idea of how much improvement the LD offers over the vhs.

Assuming noise on everyone’s LD copy is different, and the crackling isn’t continuous on every disc, a complete copy might be possible using the different discs, and possibly patching with the vhs if necessary.

Another approach could just be to go directly to the LD community and see if anyone has a clean disc to sell or at least capture the audio. I used to be in a facebook LD group but don’t have an account any longer.
-T

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4throck is correct - VHS Hi-Fi specs were good; 20-20KHz frequency response along with a SN ratio of 80dB, definitely exceeding what one heard from the SVA tracks in the theater. Analog LD sound topped out at 19KHz and the Discovision disc would have been made before CX noise reduction was used on analog LD audio tracks. I have made lossless captures from both the VHS Hi-Fi tracks and the Discovision disc using very good equipment and setting manual recording levels and later checking the recordings to make sure that I did not clip any peaks. (I even had a fan restoration project in mind) The crackling on my LD is continuous and gets worse at times. Looking at the waveform of the capture, at best I would say there is only 20dB of dynamic range due to the crackling. The VHS Hi-Fi fares much better, although it does not use the entire 80dB that the Hi-Fi format has. Noise from the source recording comes in as the program starts and goes away after it ends with Hi-Fi pilot indicator being lit all the while.

But get this! I just read at the digital bits that Kino Lorber is planning a new blu-ray release of Buck Rogers - including the theatrical cut of the pilot! No audio specs at the moment. I did e-mail Bill Hunt as well as Kino Lorber to ask about this. Maybe if a few more people do the same we can finally have the stereo track on blu-ray. If I get a response I will post the answer(s).

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I’ve been waiting to hear back from a colleague who has multiple copies of Discovision titles. They have a player that’s even better than my old gas tube monster at playing such problematic discs. Fingers crossed the stereo tracks turn up on the new Blu Ray though.

I am a bit concerned about the aspect ratio, as the movie started production as a tv miniseries and was not shot with widescreen in mind, AFAIK.

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Monolith149 said:

4throck is correct - VHS Hi-Fi specs were good; 20-20KHz frequency response along with a SN ratio of 80dB, definitely exceeding what one heard from the SVA tracks in the theater. Analog LD sound topped out at 19KHz and the Discovision disc would have been made before CX noise reduction was used on analog LD audio tracks. I have made lossless captures from both the VHS Hi-Fi tracks and the Discovision disc using very good equipment and setting manual recording levels and later checking the recordings to make sure that I did not clip any peaks. (I even had a fan restoration project in mind) The crackling on my LD is continuous and gets worse at times. Looking at the waveform of the capture, at best I would say there is only 20dB of dynamic range due to the crackling. The VHS Hi-Fi fares much better, although it does not use the entire 80dB that the Hi-Fi format has. Noise from the source recording comes in as the program starts and goes away after it ends with Hi-Fi pilot indicator being lit all the while.

But get this! I just read at the digital bits that Kino Lorber is planning a new blu-ray release of Buck Rogers - including the theatrical cut of the pilot! No audio specs at the moment. I did e-mail Bill Hunt as well as Kino Lorber to ask about this. Maybe if a few more people do the same we can finally have the stereo track on blu-ray. If I get a response I will post the answer(s).

I messed around plenty with hi-fi vhs back in the day and always using my audio receiver vs the tv. Just assumed laserdiscs (and certainly sound from the film print) would have better frequency range than tape, especially low end. Then there’s the issue of tape hiss or transport imperfections which may be minor but again I assumed wouldn’t be present with ld’s. Of course if all ld’s of Awakening are as bad as yours then it doesn’t sound like a ld audio restoration would be practical. Glad to hear the tape releases were stereo!

The new blu set would be a welcome surprise if they get it right. FWIW I just found out about a uk set from 2018 & someone actually claims it’s stereo, though probably confused by the disc info (dual mono):
https://www.avforums.com/threads/buck-rogers-in-the-25th-century-the-complete-series-on-blu-ray-17-08-2016.2032178/page-5#post-26371646

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On Laserdiscs where there are dropouts and the sound sounds like bacon crisping in a pan, you cannot really do anything can you?

Years ago i tried to capture a rotted title and even with software i couldn’t restore the sound even with filling in gaps from another source.

It simply was easier to get the VHS or DVD counterpart and use the audio from those.

I still hope you can find a solution on how to capture the DiscoVision audio.

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A couple of people above made “coming soon” mentions of it, but now up on Amazon for pre-order is the (KL) new HD version of the theatrical cut. I’m worried about putting a direct link as it could change or the like, but on US Amazon search for

  • “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - Theatrical Feature”
    or
  • “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - The Complete Collection”

Release date: November 24, 2020.

LightWave + MaxwellRender + 3960X computer = fun times with gfx for me :)

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Well there are reviews of the new Kino Lorber Buck Rogers in the 25th Century blu-rays (both the theatrical cut and the box set) at The Digital Bits. Audio for all is reported as being two channel mono DTS-HD Master Audio. Now for the series, I am not surprised that it is mono. Universal never put in the effort to find the elements and remaster the audio for 5.1 as they did for the original Battlestar Galactica series. The Digital Bits review for the theatrical cut is curious: “The soundstage is front and center as you might expect, though modestly wide.” If one plays a two channel mono soundtrack in Dolby Pro-Logic, sound should only come from the center channel with low frequencies crossed over to the subwoofer(s) (as long as phase and amplitude of the two mono channels perfectly match), so the “modestly wide” comment is interesting. Kino Lorber just e-mailed me stating that my shipment is being prepared. Guess I will know for sure whether their theatrical cut is mono or stereo soon. I will post again when it arrives…

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Is it possible the elements were lost in that vault fire some years ago?

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