Special features on laserdisc, DVD; Chapin supplements (Was: Chaplin lasers)

From: David P. Hayes
Date: 1997/11/09
Newsgroups: alt.movies.chaplin, alt.video.dvd, alt.video.laserdisc

> I (David P. Hayes) wrote:
> > Computer-data formats (CD-ROM, DVD) allow preprogrammed skipping from one
> > point on the disc to another without user notice.  Duplicated footage
> > could be transferred only once, and nonduplicated footage (titles, kiss
> > ending, trims, alternate takes) jumped over when the narrated version is
> > selected.  The synchronization of the '42 soundtrack wouldn't be
> > compromised.  It's a technical matter

Uli Ruedel <uruedel@umich.edu> wrote in article <3465E297.38CB@umich.edu>… … .that, it seems, hasn't been properly solved yet on DVD. Just think of
> Hitchcock's "Strangers on a Train", which has both the _full_ british
> and US version although they have like, I guess, 95 or nearly 100
> minutes in common.

It could be done.  Warner in making their "Strangers" DVD probably found it simpler to put each version on disc in full because each version could be put on a different side of the disc.  The film is short enough (roughly 100 minutes per version) that there wouldn't be a difficult problem with compression.  If they had they had integrated the two versions and put in markers to make possible the playing of one version or another, they would have had to have someone very carefully check that the work was done properly--again, a technical matter, yet one that requires labor and observation that tends not to be expended at companies with relentless workloads.

Voyager/Criterion issued a laserdisc set of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" with the footage from both the original release and the "Special Edition" recut/expanded version. Instructions on the back of the box told users which tracks to program and in which order in order to see the "Special Edition" or all of the footage in the proper sequence.  (The original cut was the default program.)  On DVD, CD-ROM or other computer-integrated format, it would be possible for there to be an option to play one of three cuts (original, Special Edition, or all footage) at the touch of a remote-button, with that touch setting off a macro that translates within the player to the full list of chapter stops.

It's not unusual at the professional level to transfer just once footage that is repeated in the version seen at home.  If you look at many of the Republic cliffhanger serials released by Republic Home Video on laserdisc and VHS, it's obvious that the opening credits of the many chapters were transferred just once.  The grain patterns are the same; on film prints, the scratches and emulsion splotches differ from chapter to chapter, but Republic Home Video apparently found the best negative among the chapters, made video fixes on it, then duplicated it to all chapters (except on first chapters where the first chapters have longer credits). If you see the Republic Home Video laserdisc of "The Perils of Nyoka" (a.k.a. "Nyoka and the Tigermen"), on which there is a commentary track, there is no commentary over the opening credits of the chapters; apparently the commentary was matched to the master tape on which there were no duplicated credits, so that had commentary been affixed to the credits, there would have been the same commentary remarks over the credits of all but the first chapters. (It's obvious that Republic had their commentary tracks made to the time-code of their master tapes.  On "Marjorie Morningstar," which was time-compressed to fit a single disc, at the same points where the film was sped up, the commentary is obviously sped up as well.)

> …I was surprised, though, that the "Legacy of Laughter" LD did not at
> least contain the additional opening and ending shots of the silent
> version of GR as a supplement.
> Uli

There were some odd omissions on the "Legacy of Laughter" laserdiscs.  The footage from the opening of "Chaplin Revue" was included with the First National sets, yet not the voice-overs from "Chaplin Revue."  "Shoulder Arms" in "Chaplin Revue" is preceded by a montage of WW1 footage on which Chaplin narrates the background of his making "Shoulder Arms."  At the end of "Shoulder Arms" on "Chaplin Revue," during that short's closing credits, Chaplin narrates some remarks about "Sunnyside."  On "Legacy of Laughter," the closing credits for "Shoulder Arms" go silent at the point where the narration began.  You would think that the narration could have been transferred to dark footage just prior to the beginning of the laserdisc presentation of "Sunnyside" (or to have put the narration on an alternate audio channel), but it's nowhere to be heard.

David Hayes


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