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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:07 pm 
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Yep. They didn't start doing anamorphic on a regular basis until a year or two in.

They had a huge inventory of expensive non-anamorphic LD transfers they didn't want to (or couldn't afford to) go back and do over again.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 3:19 pm 
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Rspaight wrote:
Lots of discs ended up like this at the time -- the Criterion Brazil box is another good example of exactly the same phenomenon.

Ryan


Ah, yes. However, I still love the job they did on that DVD. It's great to be able to compare the two different versions of the film side by side. Still one of my favorite movies, and definitely my favorite DVD.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:07 pm 
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The note in the original article about how nobody the author knows decides they want to rent a "Paramount" tonight is amusing in light of the usual DVD-Review site methodology. Many will begin an review of the nth bare-bones, unspectacular Paramount reissue by specifically noting the pattern in the company's releases. Before I started reading those reviews I was calibrated to the CD mindset, in which the company isn't quite as important as the sub-team behind the reissue. In this case, though, outfits like Warners and Paramount are far more "tied" to the movies than record labels are to albums.

In any case, I'm interested in picking up the new North by Northwest...where's the best place to grab it? Is it an expensive release? I've actually never seen the movie, and it's one of my mom's favorites...

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 7:16 pm 
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It's been out for a few years, so it shouldn't be terribly dear. You may well find it used somewhere. it was just included in a larger Warner Hitchcock box, so some people may have bought that and dumped their old copies of NxNW, since they're identical AFAIK.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2005 9:52 pm 
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I'm pretty partial to the Criterion Gimme Shelter myself.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 12:56 am 
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Anyone seen the Criterion Spinal Tap? Is it worth seeking out on Ebay?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 12:59 am 
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Ryan made me a copy. It's interesting, although other than the commentary I'm unsure of what extras appear here and don't appear on the "regular" set.

As for eBay prices? The nice thing about easily copyable DVDs is that...well, uh, you can copy 'em. Spinal Tap is dual-sided, single layered, so it fits without recompression--without monkeying of any sort, actually--onto two DVDRs.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 1:05 am 
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I used to have the Criterion version. Place a kick me sign on my back, not quite sure why I got rid of it.

IMHO, the commentary on the Criterion is worth it especially since it's no longer available. There's also a CD-ROM version that Criterion put out of Spinal Tap which also has the commentary. Might be a little cheaper seeking that one out.

I think the extras between the MGM and Criterion are the same mind you I am going off memory. I thought initially there were a couple of additional scenes not on the Criterion, but I don't think that appears to be the case.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:06 am 
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The outtakes are definitely different between the MGM and the Criterion. The Criterion's got some that the MGM doesn't have, and vice versa.

The Criterion has a *great* commentary with the actors and a decent one with the crew. The MGM "in character" commentary is kind of funny, but not anything close to the quality of the Criterion actor commentary.

There are some differences in the other extras, but I don't know exactly what they are off the top of my head. Interestingly, the Criterion LD has a video feature (Spinal Tap's first TV appearance from the late 70s) and a bunch of still images that didn't make it to either DVD.

The MGM is anamorphic with player-generated subtitles (for the location cards and such) and a new 5.1 mix. The Criterion is non-anamorphic with the original burned-in subs, and the original Pro-Logic mix.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 9:23 am 
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I still have the Criterion LD. As soon as I get a LD-or-VHS-to-DVD transfer doohickey, I'm going to copy it.

The Criterion commentaries are very nice, but as others have mentioned the extras on the MGM are comparable. My reward for purchasing the MGM DVD the week it was released is a transfer without the burned-in subs. I'm still surprised that no one discovered that problem before the initial pressing.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:16 am 
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It's not a "problem" -- it was done on purpose. MGM's policy with subs (at least when this disc was issued) was to use player-generated subs whenever possible to facilitate presenting them in different languages according to the audio track selection. I'm not a fan of that because the resulting subs are ugly and distracting.

I'm not aware the disc has ever been issued from MGM with the original burned-in subs.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:21 am 
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Hmmmm, I thought I remembered reading at the time that it was unintentional. Perhaps not. I do know that my copy doesn't have the player-generated subs, though. Maybe that's the "problem" I was thinking of.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2005 10:37 am 
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Ah. That could well be it. You should at least get the ugly player-generated stuff.

Now that you mention it, I do dimly remember an issue of that sort.

Ryan

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 3:57 pm 
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Slashdot picked this up, and somebody posted something I found fascinating:

Bruce Perens wrote:
I worked on the Snow White restoration with Kodak Cinesite while at Pixar. The film was made with nitrate stock, as were all films back then - there wasn't another good method to make clear plastic stock. Nitrate is great organic fertilizer - as well as being chemically quite close to nitroglycerine and a tremendous fire hazard if the projector jams and the hot lamp burns the film.

The negative was preserved in a climate-controlled vault for 60 years. When it was finally opened, they found that fungus had grown on the negative.

The negative was chemically cleaned. Then, it was digitized in a wet-gate telecine. This is an impressive bit of optical technology: the film is immersed in a fluid with the same refractive index as the film itself. The fluid fills pits and scratches in the film, and they disappear.

The resulting digital movie went through an algorithmic "dust-buster" process, and then the reels with the worst damage were retouched by hand frame-by-frame. An operator got about 90 seconds to retouch a frame. There are 24 frames per second of film. This stretched the computer technology at the time, MIPS-based Sun or SGI workstations with clock speeds of a few hundred MHz, as it was difficult to simply read and write the film frame in sufficient time. It would be easier today on a fast PC.

Bruce

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