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[Request] NEAR DARK NTSC audio
#1
I'm trying to assemble a preservation of NEAR DARK from the best available elements, but have found that the best is not really good enough as far as what I've got already, despite me owning 4 copies of this film: 3 Blu-ray Disc releases and 1 double-disc PAL DVD from Anchor Bay.

The trouble is, the audio on all of these is screwed up in different ways...

  1. The DVD actually hasn't been pitch shifted by PAL speedup, Anchor Bay seems to have done a decent job of that, but the trouble is I'd need to stretch it back to 23.967 fps. I tried doing so in Audacity (Change Tempo -4.096%) and it sounded like absolute crap, with that metallic clangy quality that often comes with slowing down audio or modifying it in similar ways. Being a DVD source, it's only available in AC3.

  2. The UK Blu-ray Disc (presumably identical to the US one, though I'm not certain), the Spanish BD, and the French BD, all do have "PAL" pitch-shifted audio for some stupid reason, despite having 23.976 fps playback and no speedup. I can only assume that this is the result of some incredibly idiotic NTSC -> PAL -> NTSC conversion over time, but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me. I found the exact same issue with a much more recent release of a much newer film (German copy of Snowpiercer) so it's not just bad archival that seems to be causing distributors to do this. In any case, to fix this, I'd need to pitch-shift the audio back down again by some undetermined value (somewhere roughly close to a semitone, but not precisely) but that would introduce yet another conversion to the chain that would degrade the audio even further than it is already, making the LPCM/DTS-HD encodes available here less useful than they otherwise might have been.
So what I'm after is at least one or ideally all of the following (in order of preference), which are likely to have varying degrees of availability:

  1. The LaserDisc audio, which appears to have been digital so should be possible to obtain a direct LPCM rip of without quality loss (presumably not readily available)

  2. The NTSC DVD audio, ideally from the equivalent Anchor Bay release (which includes a director commentary track), so that I can substitite out my PAL audio

  3. Any other BD audio, specifically from the US BD, to see if it has the same pitch-shift problem as my PAL-region copies. It has occurred to me that this might have been an intentional effect for the European market, anticipating that we would expect to hear the higher pitched audio because of PAL speedup previously affecting VHS and DVD releases here, but they screwed that one up considering the Anchor Bay PAL DVDs didn't have that pitch shift in the first place!
There is an upcoming German Mediabook release, which appears to be a repackaging of a Mediabook that was already released previously. If anyone has one of those, I'd be grateful if you could confirm whether the pitch is correct or not on the English tracks.

To verify this, by the way, I compared the film audio on each release to the soundtrack CD by Tangerine Dream, and the only one that matched was the old PAL DVD!
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#2
I have the NTSC disc from anchor bay. will fish it out and rip it for you
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#3
(2020-04-17, 12:26 PM)Bigrob Wrote: I have the NTSC disc from anchor bay. will fish it out and rip it for you
Hero! Chuck me a PM when ready. Really appreciate the assist.

Anybody got the US Blu-ray or even LaserDisc?
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#4
(2020-04-17, 03:17 PM)pipefan413 Wrote:
(2020-04-17, 12:26 PM)Bigrob Wrote: I have the NTSC disc from anchor bay. will fish it out and rip it for you
Hero! Chuck me a PM when ready. Really appreciate the assist.

Anybody got the US Blu-ray or even LaserDisc?

I'll pick the disc up Sunday as it's in storage at my ex wife's house
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#5
Did you check the german Blu-ray?

I have the US Blu-ray if needed, but one track is off pitch, I think it's the 2.0 as the 5.1 tone matches the R1 DVD 5.1.

What you need to find is the 2.0 unaltered in pitch. If not, as it's in DTS-HD MA, converting the pitch only back to 23.976 should be easy with audacity.

You could also consider blending the different encodes to get the best out of it.
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#6
(2020-04-17, 07:29 PM)Stamper Wrote: Did you check the german Blu-ray?

I have the US Blu-ray if needed, but one track is off pitch, I think it's the 2.0 as the 5.1 tone matches the R1 DVD 5.1.

What you need to find is the 2.0 unaltered in pitch. If not, as it's in DTS-HD MA, converting the pitch only back to 23.976 should be easy with audacity.

You could also consider blending the different encodes to get the best out of it.
Currently, I'm splitting the video, audio and subtitles from the French BD after the last frame of the StudioCanal logo, to allow me to losslessly sync audio (mainly the commentary) and subtitles from the US BD by doing the same thing with that (I don't think Bigelow actually starts speaking until after the film itself begins, so that shouldn't be a problem). I will, however, need a source for the US BD because my UK one has neither the commentary (which I only have on PAL DVD) nor any of the extras (such as the making of documentary and deleted scene). The French disc *also* lacks the commentary (probably because it's English) and does have the documentary but only with forced French subtitles, same as the main film.

Re. the German releases: I don't have a German copy but there's a new Mediabook about to land that I've preordered (it looks like a repackaging of the 2019 limited edition Mediabooks that had 3 cover art options, which I think I've found a source for in the meantime). However, that one only has the English 2.0 in AC3, and I have no idea if it suffers from the pitch issue [EDIT: it does, on both the 2.0 and 5.1 English tracks, plus the English commentary], but it seems to be primarily sourced from the French master and even includes the French extras (Jean-Baptiste Thoret foreword and so on) so I'm guessing it'll probably have its AC3 stereo sourced from that bloody stupid pitch-shifted master [yup].

If this upcoming German BD doesn't force German subtitles on the film or extras, it might still be useful to a certain extent, so I'll leave my preorder in place for now. However, I'd still be really grateful for the US BD image to lift things like the commentary from!


Here's the rundown of what I have access to thus far:

UK DVD (PAL):
English 2.0 mix, AC3 - corrected pitch (end title theme starts on a C)
English 4.0 commentary with Kathryn Bigelow, AC3 - corrected pitch

UK BD:
English 2.0 mix, LPCM - wrong pitch (end title theme starts on a not-quite-C#)
English 5.1 mix, DTS-HD MA - correct pitch
(NOTE: no commentary or even subtitles of any kind!)

Spanish BD:
Spanish 2.0 mix, DTS-HD MA - wrong pitch
English 2.0 mix, DTS-HD MA - wrong pitch

French BD:
French 2.0 mix, DTS-HD MA - correct pitch, but French dub
English 5.1 mix, DTS-HD MA - wrong pitch
English 2.0 mix, DTS-HD MA - wrong pitch

German BD:
German 2.0 mix, DTS-HD MA - correct pitch, but German dub
German 5.1 mix, DTS-HD MA - correct pitch, but German dub
English 5.1 mix, DTS-HD MA - wrong pitch (presumably from French BD)
English 2.0 mix, AC3 - wrong pitch (presumably from French BD)
English 2.0 commentary with Kathryn Bigelow, AC3 - wrong pitch
German 2.0 commentary with Marcus Stiglegger, AC3
German 2.0 commentary with Dominik Starck, AC3

Feature comparison:
[Image: Near-Dark-Comparison.png]
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#7
I have the original french DVD from way back, will check it out but it's Pal.
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#8
Updated info in last post. Short version is that the German BD has all the bonus content with non-forced German subtitles, but

1. the only 2.0 English option is AC3 and is pitch-shifted upwards (so is the 5.1 English track, same as the French BD, unlike the US/UK 5.1 tracks)
2. the Kathryn Bigelow commentary is 2.0 AC3 (rather than 4.0 AC3 from the DVD) and also pitch-shifted upwards

I've decoded the DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English audio from the French BD, cropped the first 516 frames off (the new StudioCanal logo) and pitch-corrected by shifting back down by 4.096%* in Audacity, which sounds at a very brief listen like it might be OK. However, it still has that rather tinny quality to my ear that I get from the BD tracks but not the old DVD one (incidentally, this is the same reason I prefer the LaserDisc mono for Halloween to the TrueHD mono from the out of print 2014 box set Blu-ray Disc). Hopefully the NTSC DVD audio has the sort of warmth I remember, probably similar to the LaserDisc, and I'm hoping the US commentary track sounds OK off the BD but the NTSC DVD has that as well.

* diff = PAL FPS - NTSC FPS = 25 - (24000/1001) = 1.023976...
%diff = diff / 25 * 100 = 4.09590409590... %
but Audacity's Change Pitch function only works to 3 decimal places, hence rounding to 4.096%
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#9
With Near Dark, it's smells like the HD master StudioCanal had was 25fps native, but then back converted to 24fps and somehow left the higher pitch intact even if the video is true 24fps throughout (unless there's also dropped/dupe frames from a bad 25fps conversion like I've seen with some supplements on European BDs). This phenomenon happens when the software or encoder only changes tempo to 4.096 to match the 24fps rate, but not adjust pitch within the same setting or adjust tempo+pitch. It's happened before with other StudioCanal releases and even Kino Lorber's US BD of Bitter Moon, which was a very interesting case of their mistake moreso than StudioCanal's. The Kino insider said the master they got from them was 1080i 25fps (higher pitched) and they back converted it to 23.976 but left the 25fps pitch intact. Kino denied it to the moon and claimed the other German and Korean BDs using StudioCanal's master at 24fps being compared were too low or incorrect. In the end they refused to do a replacement program which caused a big mess of bickering and bannings on the BD.com discussion.

It's not just StudioCanal that regularly botches pitch conversions from 24fps to 25 and vice versa. The 5.1 track on the Second Sight and Scream Factory BD Creepshow suffer this flaw too, along with several other high profile releases even ones from MGM/Fox like their BDs of The Black Stallion and A Fish Called Wanda (which have correct sounding 2.0 and mono mixes on the Criterion and Arrow releases respectively, but the 5.1s are still mucked).

Then there's also cases of 25fps masters that had pitch correction done so it matches the 24fps pitch to reduce "The chipmunk effect". A lot of the time when whoever does the conversion form 25fps to 24, they usually have the encoder/software preset to strange auto settings that doesn't always adjust pitch when adjusting tempo. Thus they'll often sound lower pitched than the original 24fps version and makes everyone sound like they're on quaaludes.
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#10
Forgot to mention that when I rented the US Anchor Bay THX DVD from a library a few years ago, I noticed the 2.0 and 5.1 DTS tracks sounded super low pitched (as if the pitch corrected 25fps master used for the UK DVD was sped down to 24fps without keeping the pitch) right down from the StudioCanal logo. I also noticed they reused that same 2000s StudioCanal master for the Lionsgate BD and the UK one, but the audio is strangely different there like pipefan413 had mentioned.
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