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The Snowman (1982) custom AVCHD
This is very much a best-I-can-do-for-now project.  I made it in a couple of free days in the run-up to Christmas so that I could have a version of The Snowman that I could stand to watch.  My goals were as follows.
  • to use the 1080p version of the original opening featuring Raymond Briggs, which was included as an extra on the BD
  • to use the PCM audio that came with the BD
  • to prepare a release that respects the original aspect ratio and eschews the cropped-to-16:9 material
I like the later opening with David Bowie and the even later one with Mel Smith (as Father Christmas), but the original opening with Raymond Briggs is my favorite by far.  It's the only one that retains the significance of the opening shot, in which the live-action footage of the snowy landscape morphs into the animation.  (The voice-over explains all.)  While it is a great shame that the BD was cropped to 16:9, it did at least preserve the original opening in high quality at 1080p (and with PCM audio).

First Version (obsolete)

After the opening, all the rest is an upscale of Sony's R1 DVD, which preserved the OAR of 1.33:1.  (I chose not to use the 4:3 PAL disc: it is too different in terms of color, and the AR looks stretched.)  The Raymond Briggs intro on the BD was in fact 1.37:1, and I wanted to keep this intact, so the R1 DVD footage was cropped very slightly after upscaling to integrate it with the opening.  I also nudged the colors of the R1 DVD toward those of the BD so that the change from genuine HD to upscaled material is not quite so jarring.  See the screenshots below.

Second Version

The second version is finished.  It's not as much of an improvement as I'd hoped, but it's a definite advance on last year's release and is the best that I can do to meet a pre-Christmas Eve release date.  In other words, like last year, I've run out of time to work on this.  Sad

The video is now based on a better DVD source than the first version.  It has been upscaled using an improved technique and color-corrected to match the BD.

  • AVCHD (DVD-5)
  • 2.0 PCM (from the UK BD)
  • AC-3 2.0 @ 224kbps (instrumental version)
  • chapter-stops (from the UK BD)
  • Peter Auty is now in the end credits.
  • 25fps and 23.976fps versions available

The AC-3 track is identical to the PCM apart from the Walking in the Air sequence, in which the instrumental version is used.  This is sourced from a low-bitrate AAC recompression of the original VHS audio, and I had to resample it, so the difference in quality is pretty jarring.  I've included it only for its novelty value, but you might enjoy having it on the disc.

For the second version, I used a different approach when making the 23.976fps disc. I think that the result is an improvement.

N.B.  If you can play 25fps content, then that's the one you want; otherwise, take the 23.976fps version.

The result is far from perfect, but given the limitations of the available material, I'm fairly pleased with it.  I hope that someone else finds a use for it.  PM me if you are interested (specifying which version you want).


Please do not:

pass on my links;
remux my releases;
re-encode my releases.
Thanks given by: greek_yogurt , Bolofan
I watched this last night, haven't seen it in years. Great job on this project Chewtobacca, it really is the only way to watch it.
What might be an interesting project down the road, is combing the 2 sources to get even more picture, and adding grain to the SD to match the BD of course.

Film Addict    

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Thanks for the feedback, Doombot.  I agree that far more could be done with The Snowman.  This project really is just a quick fix in time for Christmas.

Denoising is even more problematic than it normally is: the "furry" style of the animation means that denoising filters pick up much of the image as noise.  I tried a few out but decided that tweaking them would require far more time than I had available.

The opening looks so good in 1.37:1; the BD release really was a missed opportunity.  If only there were an HDTV version!
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Yes, that BD transfer was very well done aside from the cropping. Not sure why they felt the need to chop the picture off. That same mentality, oh we must fill the tv screen up. Just like the DVD days of pan and scan, always bothered me.
I wondered my self if there was an HDTV cap somewhere. I'm sure you've looked?

Film Addict    

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Yes; I've looked...

...and looked and looked. Sad
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It's especially a shame because the transfer used to make the 16:9 version is more "open" on the sides (thank goodness for that, it means the 16:9 version doesn't lose AS much on the top/bottom). A theoretical 1.37:1 version could also have had more on the top/bottom than the previous official 4:3 releases.

For a future preservation project, I wonder if a 16mm print could be found and this audio synced to it. I think the 16mm prints had the Briggs intro (at least some of them also had an *instrumental* rendition of "Walking in the Air" - you can hear this version on the Weston Woods/Children's Circle VHS).
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TServo2049 Wrote:For a future preservation project, I wonder if a 16mm print could be found and this audio synced to it.

That would be marvelous.  The 4:3 DVDs of The Snowman are in such poor shape that I don't think that it's possible to integrate them seamlessly with the HD material.

I didn't realize that there was an instrumental version of Walking in the Air on one of the VHS releases.  I'd love to hear it!
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Yeah, it was on the Weston Woods VHS releases. They had the school/library 16mm rights. I think that version has been posted to YouTube.
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(2015-12-24, 03:48 AM)TServo2049 Wrote: I think that version has been posted to YouTube.

It has!  Thanks for the heads-up.  While I prefer the song, the instrumental version is lovely too and worthy of preservation.  It would make a wonderful alternative track.  I wonder if it was released on CD.

It's funny, but I've never thought of LD releases until now.  The LaserDisc Database lists four.

CSLW 1149
50LS 4011
081 622-1
CSLW 1150
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(2015-12-24, 04:30 AM)Chewtobacca Wrote: It's funny, but I've never thought of LD releases until now.  The LaserDisc Database lists four.

CSLW 1149
50LS 4011
081 622-1
CSLW 1150
There are only two JP releases. One of the three JP ones above is in error. I own both.

I purchased them because I think a raw capture would look better than the DVD. Animation or not, this program is an encoding nightmare.
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