Random semiconscious musings

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

This week you get... a RANT!

A continual, subconcious, and vehemently futile pursuit of mine is to try to understand what exactly goes on in the minds of certain individuals who make decisions in the interest of a larger group.

This effort of mine is especially wasted whenever I apply it to those responsible for archiving and restoring historic properties so that the legacies can live on.

In an imaginary world someone is put in charge of restoring "La Giaconda" (the Mona Lisa) so that her beauty, originality, and essence will survive for future generations to witness and experience.

Announcements are made. Publicity is distributed. Excitement builds. The public awaits.

Then we are presented with the following.

It updates her prettiness, doesn't it? It's only a slight 'embellishment', isn't it? It adds a bit more life and visual pleasure to the image, right?


Am I the only one who would be outraged by it....?

Now let me bring this example into context.

I recently received a DVD boxset containing a 'restored' collection of animated works, which I personally had been looking forward to since learning of it last year. It was the animated series of an obscure, but relatively cool concept of a kids' show made in the 70s which I enjoyed, called "Mission: Magic".

The only available memories I could muster up of this show prior to this DVD release were from prints of old 16mm versions that I purchased from collectors years ago. I have watched them quite a few times while reliving my days of childhood, enjoying them in a purely nostalgic and innocent manner.

I couldn't wait to get into this newly 'restored' boxed set. After taking a look at the first two episodes, I was sorely disappointed.

While watching the opening credits, I sang along to the theme song while briefly revisiting my youth. However, at a point onscreen showing the characters float out of a magic hat and across the scene, some 'tinkling electro-generated' magical sound effect drove out of my speakers and into my ears like crystallized darts.

"WTF was that", I thought. I didn't have long to think about it, because in roughly 4 more seconds, the next display of 'magic' onscreen warranted the VERY SAME sound effect, plugged in like some hi-fidelity patch, piercing the melody of the title song. And it happened again, two more times by the end of the opening credits, louder and more annoying than any other audio stream coming through from the original production.

I felt stunned and betrayed- I suddenly imagined the thoughts of the person responsible for doing this, while running the originals through a restoration suite: "Hmph. This old stuff bores me. It's so dated. Hey, I know what will make it better, I'll make some neat-o stereophonic enhancements. Everyone will agree with me that it's better and I'll bring happiness to all those 40-something nostalgiacs watching it right now on their Dolby-Digital fantasy systems, and in years to come."

I thought maybe this might have been just an impulsive move on the part of the restoration staff member.... but NO! ....Later on in the episode during another scene where a character bounced along the ribcage of a dinosaur skeleton, I heard another 'wowie-zowie' blipping sound effect which literally penetrated my eardrum membrane. Sad to say, this kind of treatment continued throughout the next two episodes I watched.

I'll cut to the chase: what I want to know is this: Where does someone get off on thinking that they're doing the restoration justice by altering it this way? Whatever happened to "PRESERVING ORIGINALS"? Since this particular property is not likely to ever be given any attention in the near future, this is the way it's going to stay for generations to come.

To the person who made the decision to 'improve' or 'upgrade' the product like this:

Is this your subtle way of thumbing your nose at anyone who might appreciate something you personally don't like or care about?

Did you do this just because YOU CAN?

Is it because you've got to make some mark in history by adjusting the past?

Is it some self-empowering move you felt you needed to apply to help your already trampled self-image... or your way of rebelling against the machine?

Thanks a f**king lot, jerkoff... and to you and your posse of 'embellishing', 'DVNR-ing', 'so-called color-correcting', and 'censoring for the sake of others' ilk. F**k the whole lot of youse. You're not doing anybody any favours by trying to rewrite history.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. :)


  • Cartoons always seem to get the worst of it from new technology in home video. First it was time compression, as seen on some of the Golden Jubilee videotapes. Winstar added horrible sound effects to their videos. Some black and white cartoons were computer colorized on Warner's laserdiscs (a sacrilege, I say). DVNR ruined the Betty Boop Definitive Collection laserdiscs.

    Now with DVD we get grain smoothing, DVNR, and boosting of the contrast, color and sharpness levels.

    I wonder what the next round of technology will bring?

    By Blogger J. J. Hunsecker, at 3:01 AM  

  • Hey J.J.

    You're absolutely right.

    This DVD set also has all those elements which I forgot to complain about as well: Contrasting (Rick Springfield's suit sometimes turns so white he looks like an outline); Time compression (all voices and music have been sped up slightly); DVNR (and how.... even though hardly anything moves anyway, in the Filmation world, when it does it's a blurry mess).

    I fear the next round of restoration 'technology'... it will probably be some sort of audio re-creation so that all references and asides will be updated.

    By Blogger Larry T, at 8:03 AM  

  • Larry, I felt even angrier when they tried to syndicate the Harveytoons in the early 1990s with those completely new voice, music and SFX sounds, in some delusional effort to "modernize" the cartoon (or, in the case of the Buzzy shorts, eliminate the Eddie Anderson voice characture). The only redeeming factor was watching one made you appreciate how much the work of Winston Sharples and voice artists like Jack Mercer, Jackson Beck, Arnold Stang and Sid Raymond were to the success of the Paramount cartoons.

    I've got some PD cartoons that have had their soundtracks altered with new SFX, but at least I can understand the motivation there -- naked greed, in an effort to earn a separate copyright for the cartoon using the least amount of effort. When the company that actually owns the original cartoons proceeds to butcher their product with lame "improvements" you have to be angry and wonder what the thought process was over there, or if anyone was thinking at all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:16 PM  

  • I agree too with J.J. I never notice the DVNR before in the past before meet you but i still had a argue about time-compression. (Look at the foreign channels for better understand) And about J. Lee, i think the 1990's Casper and Friends was for me a fake instead but when i watch this, the early 1950's cartoons was intact with correct music and sounds if i remember.

    I'm sorry that you was disapointed about the DVD set Larry. I have this feeling too when i watch Tom and Jerry's Greatest Chases DVD the first time. The cartoons looks ok (except for the Yanke Doodle Mouse) except i don't have the same feeling than the 1980's VHS Tom and Jerry i had with much clever prints.

    I wanna know what's mean SFX?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:35 PM  

  • Do you suffer fro high blood pressure --- yet? ;-)

    Seriously, a good rant AND a good point!

    Really glad I found your blogsite (via Michael Sporn): call on me sometime: I've posts on Disney, Carroll and several other interests we probably share...

    I'll be back! :-)

    By Blogger Brian Sibley, at 3:11 AM  

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