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hairy_hen

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27-Mar-2006
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3-Apr-2021
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Post
#1105557
Topic
Video Games - a general discussion thread
Time

Game systems that originally rendered in 240p resolution (ie, everything Nintendo 64 and earlier) should always be viewed on a CRT display if at all possible, or with something that mimics what a CRT does to the image. It’s the only way for it to look right, and to see what the game designers would have actually seen at the time the game was made. Anything else–whether it be horrid blocky pixelation, or destructive smearing filters–just looks wrong and ruins the intended presentation.

The CRT effect preserves all the resolution the game produces while smoothing pixelation in a way that our eyes naturally respond to. Blocky edges are rounded out very nicely, and the visible ‘scan lines’ (which are actually blank space in between the lines of resolution, and appear due to the nature of the 240p signal) break up the harshness of the pixelation, tricking our brains into seeing a more detailed image than what is actually shown. In a way it’s similar to how film grain can trick us into thinking we see a sharper image than we really do–even though it’s an illusion, it is one that fits very well with our perception. In contrast with this analog goodness, digital displays are very unforgiving and show only the harshness of the raw image, ruining the illusion the low resolution art is trying to create unless it can be brought back as a post-processing effect.

Just recently I took the plunge and ordered the XRGB-Mini Framemeister upscaler, which excels at turning 240p signals into HD resolutions and can add convincing scan lines as well. The experience of playing classic games through this unit (using S-video, component, or RGB connections) far exceeds the results typically experienced by plugging an old console straight into an HDTV. Almost entirely without fail, modern TV’s misinterpret the 240p signal as 480i, applying unnecessary deinterlacing and ruining image detail, as well as adding a significant amount of input lag. The result is thoroughly unsatisfying, and nothing at all like the original experience. The Framemeister brilliantly restores the image quality and playability of classic games on modern displays, and I’m thrilled to have it. Last year I did pull my old CRT out of the closet and I’ve played a bunch of old games on it since then, and nothing can really beat the experience of using the real thing (that analog ‘glow’ it imparts on the image cannot be entirely replicated by any digital display, although CRT shaders are becoming quite nice), but since CRT’s are no longer made, I like having the ability to use my old systems on newer TV’s as well.

A couple years ago I spent a lot of time messing around with emulators, but lately I haven’t been all that interested in them. With some systems, like the SNES, it has become good enough that I don’t mind it, but others like the Nintendo 64 continue to be unsatisfying. I became very frustrated with the ubiquitous graphics glitches and inaccuracies, the near-constant need to mess with settings, and my progress being hampered by crashes. Once I got my controller fixed and started using the real N64 again, the experience was so much more satisfying that I never intend to go back to emulation if I can help it. Playing on a console is just better than doing it on a computer; it feels more ‘real’ somehow, and in the near future I want to get an Everdrive so I can play a wider selection of games than I’ve been able to find actual copies of.

Post
#1095776
Topic
Info: article on Empire Strikes Back audio/70mm Dolby mix
Time

Nah, the 1993 versions are mono surround only.

The one for the first movie was made by using the four main channels of the 70mm mix (L, C, R, S), combining it with additional bass derived from a separate sfx-only master, and then adding new sound effects on top of it in certain places. The mono surround of the 70mm is presented as is with no modifications, aside from some of the new additions also appearing in the rear from time to time.

For ESB, they did not use the 70mm version, but instead took it from the original four-track master conformed to the 35mm edit, adding in bass using the same method. Minor differences exist between this version and both theatrical mixes, but they are very small and the overall sound is very close to what the 70 would have been (when the film was slightly re-edited for 35mm, the entire mix was not re-done but only given minor modification, mainly for the new edits). Again, the surround effects are mono.

Unlike the other two, RotJ '93 is a new mix from multitrack stems, and so does not reflect what the 70mm would have sounded like except in the general sense. However, it was done in the same way, and again has mono surrounds. Since these were only made for home video viewing and intended to be decoded by Dolby Prologic (stereo surround decoding did not yet exist in any Dolby product), there was no reason to do them in any sort of 5.1 style. No 4 or 5 channel version of the 1993 versions was ever made; they were matrixed stereo digital mixes only.

When decoded with Prologic II or other stereo-surround capable algorithms, it is true that these mixes will show separation between the derived surround channels. However, this content consists only of crosstalk from the front. The actual surround effects themselves are mono; they are equal in level between both rear channels. Discrete channel 70mm versions would not have had such crosstalk, so a decoding scheme that allows for the least perceptible amount of it will most accurately reflect what the source would have sounded like prior to matrix encoding.

Post
#1093529
Topic
Info Wanted: Is there 5.1 surround sound on the Despecialized Editions?
Time

junh1024 said:

If you’re upscaling to 5.1 just for the purpose of including the LFE, I wouldn’t bother as it’s a lot more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe mix in the LFE @ -10dB.

Or there’s a more elegant way of delivering stereo+LFE - direct bitstream configuration.

AC3 & DTSMA can support 2.1 natively, and encoders are readily available.

If you’ve actually heard what my 5.1 mixes sound like with the LFE, it’s unlikely you’d say it wasn’t worth it.

As for encoding in 2.1 format, I did try that a long time ago, but I won’t do it again. 2.1 is out of spec for AC3, and only non-Dolby encoders allow for this channel configuration. DTS does allow it, but receivers can be quite unreliable as to whether they’ll actually play it back properly. Some of them will, but others will treat it as a stereo signal only and ignore the .1 altogether. Upmixing to five channels and combining with LFE in order to create a standard 5.1 format was the only way I could reliably obtain both the surround audio and the enhanced bass response together in one mix.

Post
#1093092
Topic
Return of the Pug (ROTP) - webpage and screenshots (Released)
Time

I just got CatBus’ PM about this, and have downloaded the file posted by Puggo. Since I’ve been rather swamped with work lately I might not get to it right away, but I will investigate this mono version for any possible differences to the stereo mix.

Without having heard any of it yet, it seems likely to me that it would be a separate mix, but with only minimal differences in content. If the other two movies are anything to go by, there might be a few minor discrepancies in which sound effects are included, but probably nothing particularly significant.

Post
#1082783
Topic
How Does Princess Leia Remember Her Mother in Return of the Jedi?
Time

If you read the RotJ novelization, it states clearly during the Obi-wan scene that Leia was taken to Alderaan by her mother, and that her mother lived there with her for a while, dying when Leia was a few years old.

In this context, Leia’s ability to remember her is suddenly much more plausible. It also says that when Vader turned to the dark side and joined the Emperor, he had no idea his wife was pregnant — indicating that his turn happened for quite different reasons. And before anyone tries to discount the validity of the novelization as a source, remember that it was based closely on the film script and contains quite a bit of dialog that was written by Kasdan and Lucas but never actually made the final cut of the movie.

So even though these details aren’t in the movie itself, they are nonetheless quite important to the backstory context the film-makers had in mind while working on it. I’ve been aware of them ever since reading the novelization when I was 9. I fully expected that the prequels would adhere to them, and was extremely disappointed when I realized the extent of lazy revisionism that was going on.

Post
#1078613
Topic
Extreme Prequel Plot Holes And Inconsistencies
Time

I rest my case about serious mental gymnastics being required to try to stitch these contradictory elements together.

They do not fit and are not even telling the same story. Nothing will ever make them fit, no matter how much threadbare string and worn-out duct tape you try to wrap around them.

These repeated attempts at retconning remind me of a straight woman married to a gay man, who remains adamantly convinced she can make him be attracted to her despite all the evidence that this will never happen. The only solution is to let it go and seek happiness elsewhere…

Post
#1077922
Topic
Info Wanted: Star Wars 77 six track mix with mono changes?
Time

I’ve occasionally thought of making such a thing. A combination of the 1993 and 1997 mixes would probably be the best way to do it, but in some places that wouldn’t work and more creative editing would be necessary.

Any such thing could only ever be a rough approximation of the mono mix in stereo form, of course: the mono version has so many changes to the balance of the mix that for many of them it is probably not possible to get any results that truly resemble it. The 1997 version did add many mono mix effects, but they are often quite loud compared to the rest of the track, much louder than they were in the real mono mix. To actually blend them relatively seamlessly would take a lot of effort… if I cared more about the mono version I’d probably have already tried to do this, but since I quite prefer the mix balance of the stereo and 70mm versions I could never really be bothered. Still, one day I may end up trying it.

Post
#1077917
Topic
Extreme Prequel Plot Holes And Inconsistencies
Time

These kinds of retcons suck and are lame. They are obviously not at all what anyone had in mind when the earlier stories were made, and frankly they insult the intelligence of the viewer by expecting us to believe they actually make any kind of sense.

It is far preferable to simply dismiss the contradictory elements rather than trying pretend they fit together as part of some grand plan. The mental gymnastics required to twist them around into such illogical shapes ends up being too tiring and frustrating to keep track of, so at this point I don’t bother even paying attention to a word of any so-called ‘official’ continuity explanations.

Post
#1076189
Topic
The Matrix 35mm (Released)
Time

The reason for this is because it seems that film prints didn’t actually look that, and the green tint slathered all over the image most likely actually was only added for home video. During the production itself, the main methods by which the unreality of the Matrix was emphasized visually was through bleaching out the sky to eliminate as much blue from it as they possibly could, creating unusual contrast through lighting on set, and sometimes using green filters in-camera and in the color timing. On film, this is evident because some of the Matrix scenes do look somewhat greenish, but not all of them, and not nearly to the extent that they do on video. The DVD already diverges from the original look to a considerable extent, and the Bluray is particularly revisionist (in a nasty, ‘digital’ sort of way), and looks nothing like the film version.

Post
#1076170
Topic
Ghostbusters - Criterion PCM Track (see Jonno's post; plus lots more info) (Released)
Time

Ghostbusters 2 on Bluray looks pretty good for the most part. It can be a bit over-contrasty sometimes, and the slime seems oddly oversaturated in the magenta range, but it’s not too bad.

The only real problem it has is that in the scenes of Vigo in the museum at the end, particularly as he is about to be reborn, earlier versions had a warm, golden glow throughout, while the Bluray seems to have abandoned this and merely has a neutral color scheme. Evidently they did not look at any existing prints of the film when deciding on the colors for this scene, which is disappointing because it looked rather better in the earlier versions.

Post
#1073621
Topic
Info Wanted: Is there 5.1 surround sound on the Despecialized Editions?
Time

True, the surround channel delay is supposed to be implemented by playback hardware only. And it is only supposed to happen during upmixing, not when playing 5.1 mixes.

In this case, the ‘hardware’ is the Dolby Media Decoder application that created the upmix. So for this scenario, it takes the place of the upmixer in the receiver, and the receiver only sees a 5.1 mix. It has no way of knowing that it originally came from a 2-channel source, and so will not apply any additional surround delay beyond what it is already doing to time-align the speakers. Thus when playing it back in 5.1 format, it will sound the same as if the receiver had done the upmix, aside from the addition of the LFE channel. (The LFE channel is, of course, the only reason for even bothering with making it 5.1 in the first place; if not for this, I would have distributed my edits in stereo and just let people upmix them in their receivers like they would anything else.)

So really the only part that is up to interpretation is how much surround delay should be applied in the Dolby software, since it gives full control over parameters which are normally hidden in most consumer equipment. I used longer delays in Empire and Jedi specifically to minimize the comb-filtering issue when the 5.1 is downmixed, since I knew I could not prevent people from doing this no matter how much I urged them not to. The only way to eliminate it completely would be to apply no surround delay at all, which is not an option in Prologic II movie mode or in the original Prologic. Only Prologic II music mode offers this option, but the lower channel separation in this mode is not ideal for film content. I could manually compensate for the delay in Pro Tools after recording the upmix, but then we’re back to the problem of crosstalk influencing the listener into thinking sounds that are front-panned are coming from the back of the room. Dolby specifically designed their movie upmixers to take advantage of the Haas effect, and since my 5.1 is an unusual case, I realized I had to follow their principles as well as I could while taking the differences into account.

Anyway, like I said, I believe I’ll be able to further reduce this in a subsequent version to the point that it will no longer be an issue, taking advantage of the audio engineering experience I’ve gained since then.

Post
#1073590
Topic
Info Wanted: Is there 5.1 surround sound on the Despecialized Editions?
Time

The delay of the upmixed surround channels is separate from the delay set by the receiver to time-align the speakers. This is done deliberately by the Dolby process in order to take advantage of the Haas precedence effect.

Due to the way our hearing works, when we hear closely repeated versions of the same sound coming from multiple locations, we perceive it as only emanating from the direction of the closest source, providing the time delay between them is less than 40 milliseconds. Longer delays are perceived as discrete echoes, but for shorter delay values our ears/brain fuse them together and only use the more distant sources to give clues to the size of the space the sound is located in. We cannot distinctly hear identical events that are that closely spaced together. Dolby upmixers take advantage of the Haas effect by delaying the surround channels compared to the front, with a variable range from 15 to 35 milliseconds, so that the inevitable leakage of sound from the front into the rear channels will arrive at the listeners’ ears after the same sounds have already arrived from the front channels. This way it is less likely that crosstalk will influence the listener into believing that front channel cues have come from the surrounds, thus increasing immersion into the aural landscape of the film.

This system works very well when upmixing a matrixed stereo track into multiple channels. When the channels combine acoustically in the air, it sounds as it should. But when downmixing them again after this, which is never intended to happen, a hollow comb-filtered sound is hard to avoid. Shorter delay times, as I used for the first movie, sound rather worse than longer ones. The other two films are less bad in this regard because I set the surround delays longer, resulting in less phase cancellation and weirdness.

Post
#1073281
Topic
Info Wanted: Is there 5.1 surround sound on the Despecialized Editions?
Time

That’s an interesting case. You can try it both ways and see what sounds better. I tried to make them sound listenable when downmixed, since I knew it would be inevitable that it would be heard that way in some cases. My assertion that the stereo mix is preferable for two-channel systems is more of a strong recommendation than an absolute “NO YOU CAN’T DO THAT!” sort of thing. 😉

The main issue when downmixing is that the rear channels contain crosstalk from the front, and are delayed in time compared to the front channels. Inevitably, this results in comb filtering due to not being time-aligned with the front when the channels are recombined into stereo again. I tried to minimize it, but couldn’t eliminate it completely. This will be most noticeable in the first movie, less so in the other two. If you don’t find this to be an issue, then playing the 5.1 on a 3.1 system would certainly still provide a benefit, since you’ll still get the dynamics and extra bass, just not the surroundy-ness. The stereo mix is rather less dynamic and doesn’t have much bass, so on a more powerful sound system it may seem somewhat muted in comparison.

In the next version (assuming again that I have time to do a next version), I’m hoping that this downmixing problem will be much less of an issue.

Post
#1072435
Topic
Info Wanted: Is there 5.1 surround sound on the Despecialized Editions?
Time

CatBus said:

Supposedly, h_h got access to Pro DPL decoder software for the latest DeEd’s. So ROTJ 2.5 may sound better (or not).

Correct. The most recent 5.1 versions for all three films were created using official Dolby software, so they will sound quite close to what comes out of a Prologic II equipped receiver, aside from the minor modifications I made for the handling of low frequency content.

Actually, I’ve given some thought to using the original Prologic for a possible new version, since the surrounds would then be more fully mono, and front-channel crosstalk greatly reduced. This may not be an improvement to everyone’s ears, but it would be a rather more authentic presentation. I’ve done some tests and I like the way it sounds for these movies quite a lot. Combine that with a new approach to the LFE track and it could turn out very well indeed . . . assuming, of course, that I have the time to do it. With a Disney release of the original versions not looking likely any time soon, my motivation to revisit them seems to once again be on the rise (based as much on my annoyance with them as a company as anything).

Post
#1064439
Topic
Beauty and the Beast - 35mm "Help Needed" (a WIP)
Time

I was intrigued to see that the color timing of The Matrix trailer seems very much like how it is on the film print scan we have.

This could mean one of two things: either this was an early version of the color scheme that only appeared on the first run of prints, and later prints were revised to the more familiar green; or else that all prints appeared this way, and the green was only introduced on home video months later. For the most part, I think this film version just looks better than it ever did later on: the look is clearly artificial, but it still has that organic look that well made film provides, without being completely antiseptic and cold like the later revisions.

Anyway, not to derail the thread, but I thought that was interesting . . .

Post
#1062192
Topic
Info Wanted: OT Sound Mixes
Time

When assembling the 5.1 audio for RotJ Despecialized v2.5, I noticed that the 1993 version for that film actually does contain two sound effects that are not present in the 1983 stereo mix.

The first is at the very beginning of the Dagobah scene, before it cuts to the interior of Yoda’s house: in the original mix, there is one sound of thunder in the distance, while the 1993 version has two.

The other added effect is at the end of the film, as the Millennium Falcon flies away from the exploding Death Star: in the original mix, the sound of the ship is heard in the front channels only, moving from center to right as it goes off-screen. The 1993 version has exactly the same front channel content, but adds the sound of the ship zooming into the rear channels as well.

I’m not sure exactly when these additional effects were introduced. Unlike the other two films, RotJ’s 1993 mix is not copied from an original master mix but was made from the separate stem recordings, so it is possible that these were present in the sound effects stems and not a deliberate change. Why then they would not be present in the 35mm stereo mix is unclear. Either they were added to the stems at the last minute and did not make it in time to be included in that version, or else they were present but deliberately muted. They might be in the 70mm version of Jedi, but since there is no copy of that available, there is no way to know.

More significant than either of these are some of the different mixing choices between the '83 and '93 versions. The '83 has the music consistently more prominent throughout most of the movie, especially when Han is unfrozen from carbonite and when Luke defeats Vader; although the '93 does have it louder in a few places, notably the Rancor scene and the Emperor’s arrival. There is some panned dialog in a couple spots in the original, but all dialog is completely centered in the remix. Finally, during the scene on Endor where Luke tells Leia how they are related, the sound of birds chirping is much more noticeable in the '93 remix. In the '83 stereo, it is present but quite subdued. Again, there is no way to know how it is in the 70mm version, although I expect that the 70mm resembles the 35mm more than the '93.

My version uses the 1993 for its dynamic range but I did insert the 35mm for Vader’s defeat, since the music sounds so much more glorious in that version. The unfreezing scene is still the '93, but increased in level during that section to make the music stand out more.

Post
#1043106
Topic
GOUT Technicolor regrade (single pass) (* unfinished project * - lots of info)
Time

Hmm . . . the sunset scene still doesn’t look like the prints. I didn’t think it would; apparently too much blue/purple has been added for a single correction to get it back. The only other problem shot I see is the first shot of Artoo in the canyon being excessively red, but it’s like that in the GOUT already. The rest of the movie looks fantastic with the adjustments.