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Re: legacy transfers

Rob Lingelbach <rob at alegria.com> asked about THIS IS SPINAL TAP on the
Telecine Internet Group:

>I enjoyed the film very much but certainly not the transfer, and
>wondered if it is common practice to use the original (shall I call it
>legacy, as is used in computer apps) film transfer when mastering a
>DVD of an older film?  Whose decision would that be, and whose
>influence could be brought to effect a retransfer?

If you're talking about the Criterion transfer, I believe that company's
assets have been sold a couple of times, as has that of the studio (which I
think was Nelson, then Polygram, and now MCA) .  Whoever now owns their
masters probably pulled a ten year-old VHS check cassette, glanced at it
and said, "aaaaaa, it looks good enough," and shipped it as-is.  I bet it
was done to 1"C, at least 10-12 years ago.

Warner Bros., Universal, Columbia, and a few of the other studios have used
DVD as one reason to go back and re-do a lot of transfers.  Most of them
understand that you should at least start with a *component* transfer, and
replace the old analog and/or composite-digital 1980s transfers.  A lot of
them would benefit from the better noise-reduction tools we have today,
plus the extended range of the color-correctors.

But the real villain is money.  Too many upstart DVD firms are out to make
a quick buck, and are foisting off some pretty lame transfers on the
public.  As an example, somebody gave me a five-disc Hitchcock B&W DVD set
as an Xmas gift, and I was pretty appalled by what I saw.  It would've only
taken another few hours to actually make those transfers acceptable, though
the elements they used were marginal at best.  As far as I know, the only
way we as consumers can get these companies to wise up and transfer these
films correctly for DVD is to complain.

I did see the new transfers of AMERICAN GRAFFITI, ANIMAL HOUSE, BLUES
BROTHERS, and PSYCHO done for Universal's DVDs, and those were exemplary
throughout.  Some parts of the "making of" documentaries weren't very
well-lit, but content-wise, they were terrific.  The AMERICAN GRAFFITI
documentary was particularly good, though I was surprised that Lucas didn't
mention in his interview segment about how they modified the opening shot
via CGI, adding the sunset sky.

--Marc Wielage / Complete Post
  Hollywood, USA

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