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» Film-Tech Forum   » Community   » The Afterlife   » THE LAST EMPEROR sound problem with Blu-Ray & DVD (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: THE LAST EMPEROR sound problem with Blu-Ray & DVD
Claude S. Ayakawa
Film God

Posts: 2726
From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 07-28-2009 09:54 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Shortly after DVDs were introduced in 1997, THE LAST EMPEROR was released in the format and the picture quality was terrible. Nothing was done to correct the problem until recently when Criterion and Image Entertainment released the movie on both DVD and Blu-Ray. When it was released early this year, I did not have a BD player and had no intention of getting one so I purchased the DVD collectors edition and I was very happy with it. Now that I have a BD player and a 1080p HD set, I really wanted to get the best version of the movie and when Amazon dropped the price from about $40.00 to $20.00, I felt it was time for a upgrade. The disc arrived yesterday and I played a couple of minutes of it before I watched another movie and I thought it sounded great. I went back to the BD of THE LAST EMPEROR after I finished watching the other disc and made a interesting discovery. There was something wrong with the DTS sound. Instead of the main sound source coming from the front centre speaker such as dialogue, they were coming from the right and left front speakers. There was only a faint trace of sound coming from the centre speaker. Out of curiosity, I decided to check the DVD version that has 5.1 Dolby sound and it too had the same sound problem. Thinking there was something wrong with my sound system, I played other DVDs with Dolby 5.1 sound and Blu Ray's with DTS sound and all the discs played back perfectly! It was very interesting to note that the BD of THE LAST EMPEROR did not seem to have an alternate Dolby 5.1 track - only DTS. If any of you have either the DVD or the Blu-Ray of THE LAST EMPEROR, how does it sound on your system?

As far as the picture quality of the movie on Blu Ray, I was very happy I up graded and got the BD because it was almost as I remember seeing it in 70mm at the Cinerama Theatre in Honolulu. It was gorgeous! There was a lot of discussion about the aspect ratio of THE LAST EMPEROR at various home video forums when everybody was very unhappy when the film's director of photography, Vittorio Storaro insisted that the film is presented in the 2,00:1 aspect ratio instead of the 2,20:1 70mm and 2.35:1 35mm ratios on the Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray. As much as I preferred the wider ratio, I must admit the composition in 2.00:1 does not look bad at all.

-Claude

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Joe Redifer
You need a beating today

Posts: 12859
From: Denver, Colorado
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 - posted 07-28-2009 10:19 PM      Profile for Joe Redifer   Author's Homepage   Email Joe Redifer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The movie was meant to be watched solo with you dead center between the left and right channels. You are not permitted to so much as even turn your head. You can also watch it with headphones. [Razz]

Anyway, this is a 2.0 mix. Not 5.1. So you will have to engage the Pro Logic or DTS Neo mode ( think that's what they call DTS' equivalent of Pro Logic) on your receiver.

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Darryl Spicer
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From: Lexington, KY, USA
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 - posted 07-28-2009 10:31 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Claude,

I don't know why they would have the sound recorded that way. Did you try using the prologic or the DTS neo6 or whatever it is called on your receiver to see if it would shift the dialog to the center.

What Joe Said.......

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David Stambaugh
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 - posted 07-28-2009 10:34 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What you talkin about? You mean the 70mm release prints were only stereo? Did theaters fold down the dialog for the center channel? I saw this movie in 70mm at least twice, in different theaters, and I don't recall thinking Hey, that's not the usual 6-track Dolby mix. OMG I'm questioning my reality now. [Wink]

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Darryl Spicer
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From: Lexington, KY, USA
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 - posted 07-28-2009 10:53 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The movie is stereo but 4.0 down mixed to 2.0 but will play correctly in prologic or the DTS version of prologic. I think the 70mm mix only had mono surrounds. This is the case with the Blu-ray and regular DVD of this title.

This is why Claude:
Last Emperor Bluray Review

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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From: Lawton, OK, USA
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 - posted 07-29-2009 01:08 AM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Mono surrounds were normal for the vast majority of 70mm 6-track Dolby Stereo mag prints. The split surround Format 43 was used very rarely throughout the 1980s'. It only started to become common for 70mm print use in the late 1980's and early 1990's when the format was on its death bed.

I'll be the first to agree Vittorio Storaro is a great cinematographer, but the guy's ego is way the hell out of this earth. This whole "everything I ever shot must be 2:1 ratio" thing is a bunch of revisionist NONSENSE. It is absolutely retarded.

Whether Storaro likes it or not, his work on The Last Emperor was indeed composed for the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, not some phoney 2:1 stupidity. It really pisses me way the hell off when someone has the audacity to say, "hey, we really need only ONE framing ratio for everything." I have only one response to that: "FUCK YOU!"

2:1 for everything is CLOSE MINDED IGNORANCE.

So. In my own humble opinion, I feel Storaro's Oscar-winning work really should be shown on Blu-ray in the original aspect ratio as what was presented in commercial movie theaters. 2:1 is NOT a theatrical format. Apocalypse Now was 2.35:1. The Last Emperor was also 2.35:1. Both had 70mm blow up prints, but both were originally shot in 'scope format in 35mm ("Technovision" to be exact).

There is growing, negative criticism about this foot-dragging from Storaro and his defenders on the 2:1 aspect ratio thing. A bunch of image detail is being deleted from the movies in order to do this stupid 2:1 ratio shit. I've seen at least a couple reviews of the new BD of The Last Emperor where they showed old laserdisc footage of the full 2.35:1 image and what has been cropped in the pan and scan 2:1 version.

Really, if 2:1 is such a great damned format, why didn't Storaro film all his movies "flat" in 1.85:1 in the first place? It's practically the same damned format as that precious 2:1! Oh, but no. We shot it first in 'scope so then we could pan and scan the image into a kinda sorta flat ratio. Storaro only seemed to figure out he liked the flat ratio more when he shot Dick Tracy and The Sheltering Sky -two "flat" ratio movies hardly anyone gives a damn about.

Oh. And the sound mix is another curiosity. I distinctly remember seeing the ads in the NY Times back in the late 1980s when I lived in New York City. Those ads clearly exclaimed "presented in 70mm 6-track Dolby Stereo." I have NEVER seen a 70mm engagement advertised as "presented in 70mm 2-track stereo" or even "presented in 70mm 4-track stereo." So what the hell is exactly going on with this crap?

Vittorio Storaro can smugly shit out some 2:1 and stereo-only judgment on any project he participated with producing. Of course, I have to ask if directors like Francis Coppola or Bernardo Bertolucci have any balls to say, "no, I want MY movie that I directed to be presented in the aspect ratio we shot 20/30 years ago! You're an employee. I am the damned BOSS!"

Storaro can make the fools frame the movies he photographed in whatever way he likes. Hell, let's have some 1:1 ratio square movies!! The square is a perfect shape. It goes with the circle. Leonardo Da Vinci even said so. There's God and harmony involved. I had this hammered into my head via numerous art history classes. So even Storaro is wrong! 1:1 ratio is the shit! So let's have every single thing ever photographed be framed in 1:1 ratio! Ben Hur? Delete 2/3 of the picture! Let's also stab out one of our eyeballs so our own eyesight can be 1:1 too!

In the end...you have to convince the customer to buy the disc. The problem is I am NOT buying some bullshit 2:1 ratio, 2-track stereo nonsense when I know the original theatrical release had something a whole lot better. NO SALE ASSHOLES. Stick that one in your cap, Storaro! The customer has a say in the deal.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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 - posted 07-29-2009 07:16 AM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Last Emperor was definitely a format 42 film...I showed it in 70mm in, at least, two venues (Jenifer and Uptown). I do not recall if the "boom" channels were used nor recall any part of the soundtrack that would have benefitted from them. So I would think that it was a 4-channel mix. I remember Amadeus also only using 4-channels on its 70mm print. 4-track was/is a viable full-coat format too so it would seem reasonable that if one is not adding boom to have used it.

Why they wouldn't take the 4-track master to make the videos is beyond me. However, Dolby 2.0 definitely exists and is a pain in the ass. The Dolby CP650 will NOT do a pro-logic decode of it either...it will only use Left and Right. The Dolby DMA8 and DMA8 Plus will do pro-logic mix downs. Also, most any consumer quality A/V receiver will do mix downs.

Its too bad on The Last Emperor...I always enjoyed both its picture and sound quality.

Steve

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David Stambaugh
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 - posted 07-29-2009 09:25 AM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Just for the record I fully understand that so-called 6-Track Dolby of that era used mono surrounds. That wasn't my point.

Now if the mix was 4-channel then why in the heck would they release it to home video in 2.0. That's the question. Could the audio masters been lost or damaged or something? That seems unlikely for such a relatively recent movie that won Best Picture. [Confused]

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Darryl Spicer
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From: Lexington, KY, USA
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 - posted 07-29-2009 12:39 PM      Profile for Darryl Spicer     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There are a lot of whys involved on this title. Like why they only used the DTS master audio on the Blu-ray and no Dolby anything. The mono surround comment was more so a clarification to Claude whether he new it or not. I wasn't trying to correct anyone even if there were only a few stereo surround titles in the 80's. Why they chose 2.0 is any one's guess. Maybe there were issues with the discreet tracks and they had to go with a two channel stereo mix matrixed to four that was used for optical sound presentations. Maybe it was just another stupid decision made for the sound just like they did for the picture.

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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 - posted 07-29-2009 01:34 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My understanding is Criterion makes their Blu-ray discs according to the demands of the filmmakers. If someone wants to chop off parts of the picture or only have the film in mono then that's how they will master it.

Likewise, I have no ill will toward Criterion over what they're being forced to do with certain Blu-ray releases. Really, I feel bad for them over all the angry mail and online comments they have received. The flames need to be directed at the film director and its cinematographer. Kinda like what I did in my last post. I was trying to be a little over the top/funny with it like [joe] is with so many of his posts. Not sure if that really came across.

quote: Darryl Spicer
There are a lot of whys involved on this title. Like why they only used the DTS master audio on the Blu-ray and no Dolby anything.
All Blu-ray Disc players have to feature built in decoding for both Dolby Digital and DTS data lossy formats. This is why quite a lot of movies on Blu-ray only have DTS tracks and not Dolby.

I think DTS charges lower licensing costs for DTS-HD Master Audio than what Dolby charges for Dolby TrueHD. This may be another reason why certain movie studios release some, many or even all of their titles with DTS-HD tracks.

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Claude S. Ayakawa
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From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 07-29-2009 01:41 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was wrong, there is nothing wrong with the soundtrack of the DVD version of THE LAST EMPEROR. It only has a Pro Logic track and not 5.1. Playback is fine with dialogue coming from the centre and music and sound effects reproduced by the left, right and mono surround tracKs. It sounds great even if it is not 5.1. The DTS track however is a different matter. It is exactly as I had described and there is no back up Pro Logic track I could use to enjoy the movie. It just sounds terrible and I just don't know what to do. I bought it from Amazon and was thinking about returning it for a refund but I love the Blu Ray picture quality. After watching parts of the movie in Blu Ray and discovering how gorgeous it is, there is no way I can watch the DVD anymore. I have found the only way I can play the BD with the dialogue coming from the front centre speaker on my Denon receiver is a setting that sends all of the sound to the front centre speaker and gives me plain mono sound [Mad] Criterion is known for producing high quality DVDs and BD's but they really screwed up badly with this movie in Blu Ray.

-Claude

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Scott Jentsch
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 - posted 07-30-2009 01:54 PM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Claude,

I looked at the review of the Last Emperor Blu-ray on Widescreen Review (they tend to be very picky about sound and picture, so if there was something amiss, they would mention it), and they do mention that the soundtrack is 2 channel stereo only.

http://www.widescreenreview.com/hddisc_detail.php?recid=11540

quote:
But, unfortunately, the presentation, while credited as stereo surround and indicated on our processor as DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo, is monaural, spread to the stereo channels.
Dolby ProLogic will steer mono signals in the fronts to the center, but in the discrete sound formats, strict decoding dictates that a mono signal spread to the left and right channels will be output in the left and right channels (if I understand the decoding process correctly).

Unless your receiver can apply some DSP effects to steer mono sound in the L/R to the Center, your center channel speaker is going to remain silent for this movie. Look through any DSP modes you might have that can forcibly derive channels of information when none are flagged in the source, a la DTS Neo 6 or Dolby ProLogic IIx.

I did some looking around and there's no shortage of complaints about this Blu-ray release, so you're not alone in your dissatisfaction.

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Claude S. Ayakawa
Film God

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From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 07-30-2009 04:23 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you, Scott

I watched the movie in it's entirety last night in Blu-Ray after I had resigned myself that there is noting I can do about the sound, I ignored the problem and enjoyed seeing the movie again in awesome Blu Ray. The only thing lacking was the opportunity to see the movie in the correct 2.35:1 Technovision aspect ratio. Yes Bobby, I agree with you completely when you said Vitorio Storaro was a ego driven cinematographer who pushed his weight around when he insisted his scope pictures should be released on DVD and Blu Ray in the stupid 2,00:1 ratio. I originally thought the narrow composition was acceptable but after watching the movie last night, I saw many scenes that were terrible and looked like the 'hack' job television network and stations do when they crop scope movies and show them on television. Storaro won a Cinematography Academy Award for THE LAST EMPEROR by members of the AMPAS who all saw the film in either 2.20:1 (70mm) or 2.35:1 (35mm) ratio and NOT 2.00:00. If members saw the movie the way Storaro now insist it should be seen, I doubt he would have won the Oscar.

-Claude

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Claude S. Ayakawa
Film God

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From: Waipahu, Hawaii, USA
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 - posted 08-01-2009 03:44 PM      Profile for Claude S. Ayakawa   Author's Homepage   Email Claude S. Ayakawa   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Something is definitely wrong when the people who prepared THE LAST EMPEROR for release on the current DVD and Blu-Ray would not go to the trouble of remixing the soundtrack for 5.1 payback. If Warners could do an excellent job creating a 5.1 soundtrack for a mono film like DIRTY HARRY and UNiversal with VERTIGO, there is no excuse for TLE to have a lousy soundtrack with a gorgeous picture. What I find even more puzzling with the exception of WideScreen Review magazine , no one who had reviewed the movie on DVD and Blu RAy had mentioned there was a problem with the soundtrack on the discs. Do you suppose the reviewers were able to find away to playback the sound properly on their state of the art audio system?

-Claude

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Chris Slycord
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 - posted 08-01-2009 08:47 PM      Profile for Chris Slycord   Email Chris Slycord   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I can understand being miffed at the fact that they gave you a disc with what seems like worse quality than the original soundtrack, but to say that there's "something wrong with not remixing for 5.1" seems a bit much. This is like saying that there's something wrong with George Lucas if he had decided to leave his original Star Wars movies alone.

Also, the reviewers probably didn't note the soundtrack because you are more picky about sound than they are. They might not have even remembered how the movie sounded originally to compare or they might be too young to have seen it. Who knows?

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