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Superman and possibly II/DC
#1
So here's one I've pondered about and researched for some time. We all know how the Supes BDs were re-timed for those with new transfers: Theatrical, II, III and IV. Then there has been the long standing mystery about the various audio mixes of I and the split stereo Dolby 70mm test mix.

Well..I think I may have finally figured it out. I saw a vintage 35mm print last night at the local which was obtained form a private source. It had the Bass 70's logo and they played the Dolby stereo mix back with A type. I had some discussion with the projectionist and they said the owner had no idea what mix it was so they played it with what was accurate to the time.
The matrixing picked up some of the music and spread it a little bit, and the theaters subwoofer enhancement picked up most things in the low end. Otherwise it had a very flat feeling, many times going almost mono-ish particularly in the dialogue scenes.
This fits almost exactly with the simple 1978 2.0 mix found on the Blu-ray and corrected DVDs. it also ties in with an interview Michael Thau gave about the restoration in 2001 of Superman and how he and Richard Donner were shocked at how "mono" Donner's personal print sounded.
http://web.archive.org/web/2004062720280...hau_4.html
(this long article also explains how even the 2001 version was re-timed and tweaked over several passes)
Here he mentions that the split stereo 70mm mix was abandoned at the last minute due to technical worries, and that each mix had to be created from scratch due to there only being one working station. Thus each mix is unique and the overall process was quite rushed resulting in mixes that aren't all what they should be probably.

Now, after going back and forth I can absolutely swear to it that the 1990 WS LD that has the whooshing titles and far more active matrix is NOT at all like what I just heard last night nor does it sound like the '78 mix on BD. In fact it sounds so superior that I'm now under the impression it is instead the Dolby 4 track 70mm mix that was done separately--without the split stereo surround. Everything is better mixed and presented, and there is far better usage of the extra channels. The regular 2.0 is so tame by comparison that you would lose very little if played back mono.

Onto color: the print last night had varying levels of brightness between reels. For example the fortress scene was so bright that it practically remained pure white throughout. There were one or two brief moments of pink in one reel, but this was for only one or two shots total. Overall it was in nice shape for the age, and revealed just how much of the blown out light sources are really there. Once we get out of Smallville, they practically dominate and are extremely bright. In the day scenes it appears as fi there is no sky at all, just a big bright grayish-white void. The new BD transfers are accused of infusing teal all over the place, but actually it seems much more subtle than that. In places the new BD is very close to the print, so it leaves me to think that the MPI colorists (who color to a plasma TV) have an issue with wanting to push certain tones into that teal-land. This is what even Gordon Willis decried on the BD of ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN, saying that all the older copies were correct. They also handled Disney's 20,000 LEAGUES restoration which lead to the itunes HD copy showing teal infusion.
The suit's color is the big culprit and on the big screen never once did it show teal. It did however show a much darker tone, more of a richer dark blue in the live scenes-and only in the many sfx shots did it appear lighter to a sort of teal look, which had to be done at the time to match the footage.

The bright night lights onscreen and the final Earth shot did have some of that green-teal cast to them in the print, so the new BD is again, not entirely off. What needs to be addressed is the overdoing of some levels resulting in too much "popping image". If this can be corrected I think it would be a more faithful scan than the 2001 version which Thau had do do over and over again in more outdated and less accurate video methods. That being said the overall tonality of the 2001 version on BD is better than the theatrical about 90% of the time or more.

And never complain about the BD looking soft. The print last night was so soft that much detail was totally obscured. Soft, soft, soft, soft, soft to the point of wondering if the focus was completely out of whack (it wasn't). This film was shot in such a way to look almost from another time and combined with the stock used and the lighting choices, it will never have much sharpness if any at all. Easily one of the softest prints in any format I've EVER seen. Even the credits are soft.


I can't say that I'm 100% certain on these, but after researching this stuff for some time I'm pretty confident about it now. The 35mm Dolby and BD 2.0 seem a very slight bit different, but I think that comes down to my receiver having only a very simple prologic decoder. They other wise seem identical in their overall weak stereo spread and pale against the LD. So if we could somehow figure out what levels to address for the video and sync the LD PCM; the theatrical Superman would be about as good a presentation as we could get it.

I should also think that similar work could be done to II, and have often wondered what the Donner Cut would play like if it's shared elements were combined with the more polished and of the era elements from II such as the original mix/scoring etc. for shared footage.

I see Booshman started working on IV, and indeed these problems are in all the new transfers that were done for Blu-ray. This has become a common problem on many catalog titles, this infusion but not takeover of teal, and if researched it seems most if not all can be traced back to Warner's MPI.

I think now that the old video transfers for all four do a pretty good job at representing the prints. All are very contrasty in a way to that they in effect seem a bit washed out. why and how this occurred I can't exactly say but I would think it might have something to do with the production and budgeting as other Salkind films such as the Three Musketeers have this same kind of hazy almost cheapish 70's look to them. I got the BD set, but went and found the old DVD box for the older looks to compare. By matching them to each other it should help to try and eliminate the color pushing they did and better approximate the source. The DVDs sourced originally from LDs try and make the source work better with video, and the new BDs reveal more of the source intent such as the blown out backgrounds. That they went overboard with the color timing is really the only issue other than lacking original audio.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#2
(2015-09-28, 10:39 PM)captainsolo Wrote: Well..I think I may have finally figured it out. I saw a vintage 35mm print last night at the local which was obtained form a private source. It had the Bass 70's logo and they played the Dolby stereo mix back with A type. I had some discussion with the projectionist and they said the owner had no idea what mix it was so they played it with what was accurate to the time.
The matrixing picked up some of the music and spread it a little bit, and the theaters subwoofer enhancement picked up most things in the low end. Otherwise it had a very flat feeling, many times going almost mono-ish particularly in the dialogue scenes.
This fits almost exactly with the simple 1978 2.0 mix found on the Blu-ray and corrected DVDs. it also ties in with an interview Michael Thau gave about the restoration in 2001 of Superman and how he and Richard Donner were shocked at how "mono" Donner's personal print sounded.
http://web.archive.org/web/2004062720280...hau_4.html
(this long article also explains how even the 2001 version was re-timed and tweaked over several passes)
Here he mentions that the split stereo 70mm mix was abandoned at the last minute due to technical worries, and that each mix had to be created from scratch due to there only being one working station. Thus each mix is unique and the overall process was quite rushed resulting in mixes that aren't all what they should be probably.

That's cool to see it with the Bass logo.

Jonno captured the LD soundtrack for Superman and also found the track to be not very dynamic sort of backing up what you said here captainsolo. Sounds like at least theatrically, Superman never had a really great mix.
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#3
The LD is the best I've heard and has more multi-channel usage than the 2.0 or the theatrical print. That's what made me wonder if someone simply grabbed the wrong material and transferred the Dolby 70mm mix.
The biggest loss in SQ I think comes from the multiple sources and times of recording in addition to quality which was all over the place. Most of all was the hasty post process, multiple mixes being done quickly one by one which left the 35mm mix being very "mono-ish" and the only real matrixing being accidental leakages. Even worse was that there was a hasty remixing again into regular Dolby before the US premiere because they feared the split surround wouldn't work.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#4
I have heard that a lot of the sky blowout was intentional. I know that in II and III, there were outdoor scenes with wire work that were photochemically pushed to have white-gray blown-out skies, to hide the wires. (The DVD transfers went back to an earlier generation with blue skies and visible wires. The BDs still had blue skies, and they digitally erased the wires.)

Interesting to note that I just saw a print of another Donner film, The Goonies, where the cloudy skies were also often blown-out and close to white. (Though the scenes from II/III I was mentioning in the above paragraph were Richard Lester.)

Also, I heard that the 70mm mix (the actual released one with mono surrounds?) had directional dialogue...but not through the whole movie. Supposedly it was mainly in the Krypton stuff? I have Jonno's preservation, I didn't notice any directional dialogue.

And how the hell did you see a vintage print that wasn't faded? If it was from 1978, it certainly wouldn't be LPP. (Are you in the UK, or the US?)
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#5
In the US. Saw in TN at the Belcourt. The logo would indicate a print from '78-'84, as would that the audio track was not SR encoded. So I know for sure it had to be from that period.
As I said there were only a few instances of pink I could see but in flashes really-and it never had gone to full fade either.

The blown out look is intentional, and they seem to have brought it back in the new transfers. This is another level of their more correct look, but they simultaneously tweaked things and went in the opposite direction. Go figure.

Is Jonno's track available? I'm wondering if the difference is like the difference in the LD tracks of RAIDERS, where the analog was very narrowed and softer in comparison to the the beefed up WS LD mix. I'd think it would be a similar thing where one would be 35mm Dolby stereo and the other probably a 70mm mix.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#6
I don't think the WS LD mix of Raiders wasn't the 70mm mix. The staff-drop sound replacement isn't in any other version, the DVD 5.1 mix was supposedly derived from the 6-track masters and it has the "clank" sound just like all other mixed. Also, the WS LD mix has a weird phasing effect that I've never heard in other mixes; listen to the end credits music through headphones.

Nothing to do with Superman, but just wanted to bring it up.

More correct, but going in the opposite direction? Reminds me of how we're re-evaluating some of the recent Cameron transfers after seeing more clues to what they looked like in 35mm. Also reminds me of (I think) another Warner MPI job, The Neverending Story, which had all sorts of color changes from previous transfers that everyone hated, but I once saw a clip from a Derann digest (albeit a video camera pointed at a screen) that looked similar, but without the shadow-crushing and with the blanket tints not being as overpowering. (Now there's a movie I'd love to see a print of.)
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