Yes, The Pastoral Symphony will remain uncensored.
That’s not what this is, though I wish it were. Until Mr. Taylor’s complete commentary tracks somehow surface, the aim of this project is to reassemble the general release version in much higher quality than is currently available. As of this writing, I’m unable to provide an estimated completion date but will be making updates here as often as I can.
That’s because no work has been done on the picture yet. What you’re seeing is an SD, color-corrected sample provided by a private collector for this raw audio demonstration, not the restored scan that’s intended to be used for the final project. (But yes, Technicolor Fantasia does look spectacular.)
As promised, a sample.
The facility that performed the sound capture is more than capable of correcting Reel 3’s right channel problem so I’ll have that arranged as soon as possible. In the meantime, I’m waiting on a collector who may (I emphasize may) have an original IB Tech trailer for the 1956 SuperScope reissue. If/when that one arrives, every trailer from every theatrical release will be sent in for scanning. That includes the 1941 trailer for the RKO-distributed release, the previous owner of which claims is a reduction print sourced directly from the original nitrate negatives.
I’ve also crossed off a huge part of the project bill recently and purchased every necessary component for a new PC build. Assembly isn’t too far along and once it’s put together it’ll serve as the primary system for the project. I suppose it’s only a matter of (finally) sending in the Fantasia prints for UHD/HDR scanning shortly thereafter, and Lord be willing, of course.
Stay tuned; at the very least, I’ll whet a few appetites with the UHD trailers. I do have a 60 second sample of the mag audio with Tech footage from a particular print locked and loaded, but I’m waiting for the print/scan owner’s approval to share the footage sample. I’ll follow up this post with that very video if I’m given the go.
It’s actually closer to 9GB, and I have seen it, but would honestly get very little use out of it for this particular project, as great a LaserDisc preservation as it is on its own. I already have the Dolby Stereo soundtrack digitized and plan on including it in this project as an alternative listening option.
Hey, all. Apologies for being so MIA, but rest assured I have most certainly not forgotten about the project. I somehow managed to get a hold of the 1982 reissue trailer and will be having it scanned along with the other trailers as soon as possible. Mag audio samples will be cooked up soon as well. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: I’m thrilled to inform all of you that the magnetic stereo soundtrack has been successfully digitized. Though I’m exceedingly satisfied with the facility’s work, the soundtrack itself is, not surprisingly, in need of some patching and restorative work before it’s in a presentable state.
Plenty of ticks and pops in quieter passages that need to be removed, tons of phase problems to correct, and the right channel to an entire reel has crackling in it that’s almost impossible to ignore. I’m chalking that last one up to the age and condition of the particular reel itself, as this isn’t a problem anywhere else in the print. But I was prepared for just about anything, and even the incessant crackling can be attenuated without destroying important frequencies. Overall, the soundtrack is discrete, exceptionally well separated, and the noise is surprisingly low for an audio source of its age. There’s no signal dropout of any kind, and absolutely no wow and flutter anywhere to be heard, which is what I was most afraid of and prepared to combat. It’s a stellar, archival-grade capture that I can totally work with, and I haven’t even gotten the rest of the audio sources preserved yet. Things are looking very good so far. I’ll post comparative audio samples as soon as I am able to. Stay tuned.
Do you also plan on scanning a 1985 LPP Irwin Kostal version if you find one?
Funny you should mention that. I know a collector with a 1982 print that they claim is in pristine physical condition, even though the color has mostly faded. It contains the 4-track magnetic Kostal soundtrack, and honestly, that may be the thing worth saving the most at this point. IIRC, the key differences in the footage from the Kostal version from, say, the ‘56/‘63 reissue is the way it’s introduced; there’s a dedication to Leopold Stokowski after the Buena Vista logo fades out and before the Fantasia title card fades in. After that, members of the orchestra take their respective places and start tuning. The rest of the film plays out in much the same way the general release versions do, minus an on-screen Deems Taylor during the opening and throughout the rest of the program with a dub substituting his voice. That and the “Mickey meets Stokowski” scene after The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was also dubbed.
You could (relatively) easily cut around the ‘82 soundtrack using the IB Tech footage, and just use the first minute or so of the Kostal print to include the Buena Vista logo and Stokowski dedication, which, if I do move forward with preserving the mag mix, may be the best course of action. You get the same theatrical experience editorially speaking, but with Technicolor footage and the discrete Kostal soundtrack. But first things first: I need the Tech/mag reels that I already have to be scanned. Everything else will hopefully follow after that in due time.
That’s correct. I want to assure anybody concerned over funding that I would not have even announced this project if I was not financially prepared for it. I didn’t just happen on the idea of preserving this film a few days or weeks before posting in April— it’s been years in the making and in that time I‘ve always made sure to set aside whatever I could to eventually afford the UHD scans and audio captures, once I tracked down the right source material as well.
Speaking of which, that’s the real help I’m asking for: to track down R1 and R4 from another 8-reel Technicolor print. I may be receiving such help very soon. I’ll share any good news when I’m able to.
Monsieur Hulot said:
I was thinking to myself, will you release a grindhouse?
A grindhouse release is not currently planned. The aim is to get the picture quality as close to that of an official release as I can get it, so the transfer needs to be free of gate weave and any physical print damage before it goes into HDR grading, and the real work begins after that. Several scenes have far more crawling dirt, cel scratches, stray hairs, debris, lint, and other such anomalies embedded into the original photography that were clearly never intended to be there in the first place, and those shots will need more careful attention than others. Scene 22 from the Fugue segment illustrates this issue perfectly.
35mm IB Tech
(The 35mm still is not from my scan. This comes from a 70’s IB Tech print scan, the owner of which has chosen to remain anonymous.)
Lowry Digital Transfer (Blu-ray)
At the moment I’m still waiting to hear back from the sound facility over the magnetic stereo print. Hopefully, they’re not having trouble with it and just taking their time to produce the best capture. After that’s done (and if it’s done well), I’ll likely have the IB Tech reels and two of the mag print reels scanned. I’ll take things from there and even fashion a progress chart in the main post, so those who want to keep track of the project may do so simply by just revisiting this thread.
I researched Fantasound as well and I’m recreating the Fantasound sountrack by using two sources, the 1957 stereo LP soundtrack and the mono soundtrack. For the choir and soloist parts i also used the linear track (which also has the mono mix) on my PAL VHS of Fantasia.
Tried that years ago (even brought it up in the old editorial) and realizing the originally intended sound design is going to be a helluva lot more complicated than just sandwiching the LP and VHS audio together. Assuming you used optimal equipment to yield a clean capture, synchronizing a slightly faster or slower LP recording to marry perfectly to the timing of the animation is its own challenge, but then comes the issue of a narrowed sound field after slapping a monoraul downmix over the stereophonic recordings— a lot of the movement will be hard-centered and destroy the illusion of sound that’s supposed to follow the action on screen. No one particular soundtrack source— even the magnetic stereo tracks— will ever get you the sonic experience that Disney and Stokowski intended. Each come with their own set of problems that restrict them from meeting today’s exacting high-resolution audio standards. But to reveal exactly how one would go about bringing the best quality out of mag recordings (which themselves are only copies of a copy of recordings from the late 30s) would spoil the contents of the upcoming editorial. I can promise you this much: it’ll be well worth the wait.
Until then, you’re more than welcome to give it a shot anyway; this community embraces the exploration and research of various source material after all. But take it from me, you’ll be spinning your wheels with this one. Again, restoring Fantasound is all lot more complicated than you think.
I have my 1990 NTSC VHS and I just picked up the 1990 version on LD. I can see potential problems since the LD splits the movie into 3 pieces. But a lot of good LD’s found quiet spots to break or repeated the audio enough to overlap.
Yes, the splits between every disc only occur after a fade out. The PCM LaserDisc audio will be included as a listening option on this release.
Can Walpugis Night (The Animated Crossover) and Fantasound: Restoring The Soundtrack To Walt Disney’s Fantasia be featured as extras🤔🤔🤔🤔
I considered including that video (no promises), but the Fantasound editorial needs to be entirely redone; both the minimal research that went into it and the before/after comparisons are woefully outdated.
Do you plan on scanning the two trailers you’ve obtained as extras?
Oh, yes, forgot to bring that up here. UHD scans of the 1977 and 1990 reissue trailers will be provided as bonus features. Still tracking down the SuperScope and Irwin Kostal reissue trailers to include those as well.
Trust me, I’m itching to get this one off the proverbial back burner. It’s the Disney film that’s had the most profound creative influence on me, and I’m still often reduced to tears by the end of the Ave Maria segment. The only real update I can provide at the moment is that I’m having the stereo print looked over by a professional sound facility as of this writing. Practically praying at this point that they don’t have trouble capturing the soundtrack without wow, flutter, or dropout of any kind. Fingers crossed.
Yes, Jacob, I’ve just explained that.
Okay, so the original mix actually contained only 3 channels of audio, not 4; no mono surround. Just left, centre, and right, with a fourth “control track” burned in to adjust the dynamic range when need be, as seen above. Those three channels were then mixed live during the night of the world premiere in NYC. According to Bill Garity, who led the charge in the production of the Fantasound system, the only time the film actually played in surround was during the Ave Maria segment, where the sound of the pilgrims choir began at the back of the room and then slowly moved their way down to the screen as the sequence progressed. Then, for the Carthay Circle Theatre premiere in Los Angeles, automatic mixing replaced manual mixing, but again, surrounds were apparently only turned on for the finale when the bells begin to chime near the end of the Bald Mountain segment. So to recap, the final Fantasound had only 3 channels of audio, but panned around a room containing anywhere between 5-96 speakers, if not more (the answer is always different depending on who you ask). And yes, when the film entered wider distribution through RKO, a mono mixed was prepared in ‘41.
The 2000 5.0 mix, technically, respects most of the original theatrical mixing approach by having the sound play entirely in the fronts, with all the left, centre, and right pans left intact. Unfortunately, when it comes time for the bells to start ringing at the back of the room near the end of Bald Mountain, and the choir to move from rear to front channels in Ave Maria, nothing. The audio is still anchored to the front stage, and that is not what was intended. On top of that, the music sounds like a little too much digital noise reduction and filtering was applied, hampering the impact of Stokowski’s arrangements and aggressive execution. Honestly, the score sounds like it’s being shot out of a metal tin can in that mix; no low end frequencies to give it any weight, and since there’s no high end frequency information left in these recordings to play with anymore, the whole thing just sounds pretty flat. The 2010 mix tries to correct these problems with better EQ’ing, but the directional effects of the mix that Disney and Stokowski intended are almost entirely lost. Very little movement from left to right, and it has a different problem than the 2000 mix had— now there’s sound playing simultaneously from every direction. You’re filling the space with Stokowski’s music, yes, but once again, not as originally intended, where the mix would mostly be entirely in the front, but then sometimes find its way to the back, then sometimes just the front right, then just the rear left, and so on. I can think of one instance in Nutcracker where the sound actually swirls around the room in the Dolby Stereo remix. That effect is lost in every mix post 1991 LaserDisc/VHS.
So yeah, neither the 2000 or 2010 releases got the audio right. The closest thing to the original Fantasound is the reconstructed mix that Terry Porter fashioned for the 50th anniversary reissue in 1990, and even that only exists as a matrix-encoded stereo track that you have to feed through the right receiver to be able to fully appreciate. If all goes well with capturing the sound elements I have access to, we should see a mix more faithful to what was originally intended. Stay tuned.
This is a project I’ll have to keep an eye on. I had not realized that they have screwed up the audio mixed on so many things. Disney really needs someone who knows what they are doing with these home video releases. I’m going to have to find that 1990 audio and listen for myself. I do have my old VHS still, but playing it is not so easy.
The audio is most effective when you feed it through a receiver that can decode Dolby ProLogic (not ProLogic II) so the matrix-encoded mono surround channel is sent to the back of the room as it was intended. When it’s most active, however brief those moments may be, the mix goes all over the room, and it’s pretty darn cool.
The biggest challenge will have to be how to handle the Deems audio. Do you put the shortened intros? Do you put the full video with Deems where available and subs where not? Do you provide the dub as an alternate track?
I don’t want to reveal too much about what I want to do w/ the audio just yet, but as far as the interstitials go, for now, the truncated versions are all I can use as the release containing the extended audio (brought up in the main post) has not yet surfaced as of this writing, and suddenly muting Taylor’s audio to turn on subtitles for prolonged periods is less a cohesive experience than I was planning on creating. At the moment I’m not entirely sure I would go through the trouble of cutting together a truncated version of the 2000 dub, either. I’m honestly not too fond of it and as it turns out, many other fans aren’t, either. Perhaps the dubbed interstitials could be provided as individual bonus features for those who have never even bothered purchasing any official release and want to see the original footage play out completely.
I’m curious as to how this magnetic stereo mix differs from the 1990 reissue’s amazing soundmix.
The most important sonic characteristic which sets the mag soundtrack apart from the 1990 remix is that the former is dry as a bone; absolutely no artificial reverb or post-processing effects were thrown in to “sweeten” the audio. These really are the original left/centre/right channels of theatrical audio, albeit a generation or two away from the hissy nitrate sources. The Dolby Stereo remix from 1990 was the first time since 1940 that the movie was experienced as it was originally intended, but I noticed several times in that very mix that the centre channel, for some reason, sounded noticeably more muted than the left and right, so more than several passages of music throughout the program don’t quite have as much impact as they do on the mag tracks. On top of that, in some instances, Terry Porter doubled and slightly delayed certain passages of music in the rear channels to recreate the enveloping effects Stokowski originally intended, but even when it’s properly unfolded from the Dolby Surround track, frankly, it really sticks out and draws a lot of attention to itself, and not necessarily in a good way. In the event that I get the mag tracks (again, hoping for the best), I’ll post an A/B comparison with empirical evidence to demonstrate key differences.
What do the colours look like in the final shot of the film during Ave Maria🤔😊😉😊😉
Frankly, pretty close to what it looks like on Blu-ray.
One of the changes that encouraged this preservation project were scenes like this from A Night on Bald Mountain. Needs no explanation.
2010 DTS Lowry Restoration
Original Technicolor Timing
Those guys are great, and I have asked around a few times publicly and privately for a mag IB print. Not long after, someone offered the 1956 SuperScope print, and unfortunately I haven’t heard from them in almost two years. The stereo mag print I currently have is on SP color and already turned a very strong red. But the scanner this print is (hopefully) going through has an on-the fly fade correction algorithm that works exceptionally well, and there’s still plenty of blue and green information left intact on every reel. So again, worst case scenario, I do still have plenty of great 35mm material to worth from, thank God; I simply prefer the video be entirely sourced from an IB Tech print. If the restored mag footage looks just as good as new after going through the scanner, though, I’m seriously not splitting hairs. This project needs to move forward at some point after all. =)
Honestly, the only thing I really need help with is what I brought up in the first post: finding Reels 1 and 4 from another 8-reel IB Tech print. Preferably from the mono '63 or '69 reissues.
I wouldn’t be able to at the moment as that remix has not been completed yet. Perhaps when it’s finished, I will likely cut together “before and after” samples that highlight the differences and improvements made from the film’s last official release.