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First steps #1: choose your sources

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OK, you have decided you want to start your own project; so you have a title in mind, and it's supposed you have some technical knowledge and skills about video, internet, computers...

The first step to make is to find the sources - plural, because probably you will need more than one; mandatory ones are video and audio (probably more than one audio track), while subtitle is not mandatory, but strongly suggested.

Now, let's face the truth, even if the golden rule is "OWN YOUR SOURCES", sometimes it will be quite difficult to have every one available to make a complete project; what I think is ethically good is to have the best commercially availble product of the title you would like to work with.

Let's make a real-life example: The Abyss.

I'd like to make a project about it; it will be in HD, the Extended Version, with five different languages, and related subtitles.

As there is no BD available up today, the best released source is DVD. I have it - a PAL one - plus a lot of laserdisc editions, so I'm ethically "safe"! Wink So, let's see the options:

for the video, I could upscale my PAL DVD, my NTSC LDs, or find another source
for the audio, I could use PAL DVD and NTSC LDs, but they have not all the ones I need
for subtitles, I could use PAL DVD, but it has not all the ones I need

For video, a real HD source will be better, so I did my homework, and found there are several HDTV recordings floating on the web; I will use more than ones if possible.

For audio tracks, I could extract the english and italian tracks, but they need to be converted from 25 to 23.976fps, so it means some little degradation will happen; no other option for the italian track, but for the english one there are many, like some NTSC DVDs with the right speed, and one with DTS audio; for the other languages, I could find some PAL DVDs with the needed tracks.

For the subtitles, same thing as the audio, but this time no quality loss if I will decide to use the PAL DVD ones; the fact is, it's easyier to get .srt subs from the web and work with them, because some syncs will be necessary.

Now it's time for the hard task of source research!

Digital releases - BD, HD-DVD, DVD etc. - as written before, the best quality format MUST be owned by the project maker, as well as the project viewers. The audio, video and subs tracks could be extracted from it, bit-perfect. For the missing tracks, we could buy the needed discs, rent it, ask a friend or relative to borrow them, or find them in another way...

Analog releases - LD, VHS etc. - the video and audio tracks could be captured in digital form; subs may be as well, but it's a quite hard work. As those are all out of print since years, if we have not yet, we could try to find out the needed ones for sale, or if we are lucky enough, to ask someone to borrow them, or capture them for us.

Digital unreleased - HDTV, SDTV etc. - These sources are captured from terrestrial or satellite TV broadcasting, usually bit-perfect; sometimes this is the only way to obtain a source in a given quality or version.

Analog unreleased - SVHS, VHS, Beta etc. - Usually the only reason to try to obtain these ones, recorded on analog tapes, is to find out a really obscure TV version broadcasted years ago, and not available in other formats.

In the next steps we'll talk more about the source themselves, and how to find out the needed ones.
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
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