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Old 10-01-2011, 12:46 PM   #201
Rocket Surgeon
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HDD's Exclusive Interview with Paramount's VP of Preservation & Restoration Ron Smith

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Paramount's Vice President of Preservation & Restoration Ron Smith talked to High-Def Digest about his job and the studio's process of bringing older films to high-def. Smith explains what goes into the process, how faulty transfers may arise, how integral the filmmakers are in the process, and the status of 'Indiana Jones.

HDD: If you don't mind, we'll just jump right into this. What is the process Paramount goes through in choosing which titles get transferred?

Ron Smith: I'm actually celebrating my 19th anniversary here, so I've worked on most of these [titles] before, so I know which ones need the most help and are in the most dire shape. There's that, plus you've got to figure popularity has something to do with it. You have to - especially in restoration – try to recoup some of the cost that we spend. I know that eventually all of these things pay off because there's nothing better than protecting your assets, but this is show business and we are in the business of making money. You try to take your most popular [films] and make sure that everything is as good as can be on it. We didn't make a high definition master of 'The Godfather' until we did the restoration. It just wasn't worth spending the money. As much as people tried to fight with me about it, I just didn't believe in it. I suppose they could have made me do it, but I suggested we didn't do it – let's put it that way. And I was the same way with 'The Ten Commandments.' I said, “Until we can do this correctly and really make the film as good as it can be using the latest tools, then it's not worth doing.”

HDD: Can you talk about how much money goes into the restoration process from A to Z?

Ron Smith: Not really. The costs have actually come down because the more you do the more you can promise people, which is a lot better than a one-off project. [The cost] comes down because we get better at it. … As part of the process, you get more efficient at what you're doing. There's not as much guess work. Once you do a couple, especially in the same place or with the same people, you develop a certain shorthand and they know what you want to see. It's not a struggle anymore. I've been very fortunate to work with really really talented people on both picture and sound that just know what I want and how to get there. It's that initial sort of struggle having the same vision that takes a lot of time. But once you've established that, you can really provide some efficiencies, which translates to it costs less.

HDD: Some of the early Paramount titles to make it to Blu-ray feature standard audio. Is there any plan to go back and redo it with loseless? Would it even be worth it?

Ron Smith: I don't think it makes that much of a difference. I haven't thought of that. … I've been in the DVD business from pretty much the start until Blu-ray. After that I went into the catalog remastering – I've always been into that since I started here – particularly into the restoration. I didn't really think of that, so when somebody mentioned the lossless [for 'African Queen'], I thought, 'Oh, yeah. I guess they could have done that.' I suppose I could have pushed for that, but I didn't even think to ask the Blu-ray people about that. Honestly, it's mono. I mean, really? You wouldn't believe what we start with – a 60-year-old picture. It's a miracle that you can get it to sound smooth and not distracted. I was actually talking with the guy who did 'African Queen' … and he was like, “Yeah, you just don't want it to get in the way. You just want to enjoy the film and not be distracted by nasty audio – but to get it to that point using an optical 60-year-old track negative is a real effort.” I'm a little more a fan of the loseless with all the 5.1s we spend so much time on.

HDD: 'Braveheart,' 'Gladiator,' 'American Beauty' and 'Forrest Gump' were all really good.

Ron Smith: 'Braveheart' I know a little bit about because we spent a little time on that. We actually scanned the negative and brought the original director of photography, John Toll, to supervise that. We went back to the original tracks to do an original 5.1. That was really a work of – uh – let's say it took a lot of time (laughs). John was actually in Hawaii shooting 'Tropic Thunder,' so when he came back he said, “Let me take a look at it.” We went through it pretty well and spent a few days making it look as good as we possibly can. He's just wonderful to work with. I've been really fortunate to work with some great filmmakers and some great artists who do the color correction and sound mixing. These are the best people in the world.

HDD: From beginning to end, how long does the whole process take?

Ron Smith: The hard part is really mapping out what you're going to do and how you're going to do it, making sure that once you put up a negative you've got all your protections in place – photochemical and otherwise. The inspection and clean, all that kind of stuff, it takes we figure about six to eight months on a project like this. Something like 'Ten Commandments' or Godfather' is twice as long [running time-wise], so you've got to figure it's going to take twice as long – not that they give us twice as long to work on it, but again that's neither here nor there. I'll take whatever time they give me to make it work and I'm happy to get it. That doesn't mean I give it to them when they're ready – they pretty much get it when I'm ready to give it to them. “You didn't give me any time, so now I'm cutting into yours!”

HDD: Do you usually include a lot of the filmmakers in the process?

Ron Smith: Whenever we can, yeah. People make the time for this. I can't tell you how great it is to work with the original talent. We did 'Three Days of the Condor' a couple of years ago – we actually went over to screen 'The Godfather' and they invited people in the AFC. The guy who shot 'Three Days of the Condor' was there and I said, “Hey, I redoing this movie, do you want to stop in?” And he was like, “Yeah, sure! I'd love to. Give me a call.” They really do make themselves available. I have to tell you, they have such fascinating stories about the film and they have a perspective and knowledge that I could never have, the colorist could never have. This is where commentaries came from. We would sit in rooms with these people. Once they started talking, their stories were fascinating. It's like, “Damn. I wish I had recorded that.”

HDD: Personally, how do you feel about the backlash that buyers have? There were a lot of complaints about the transfer of 'Gladiator.'

Ron Smith: You never like that. We certainly don't like backlash. It's funny because Blu-ray started like HD DVD started and we always want to remaster everything, to start new and start fresh. But studios have their own agenda – they're trying to get as many titles out for a launch of a format. To remaster the best films in your library and say you're going to launch with 25 titles - which is what I think we did – that takes a long time. You're talking about making new film, re-scanning it and re-color correcting it, bringing in talent. We have relationships with the people who made these films and we want to bring them in, but you cannot make a schedule around the people who made the top 25 movies in our library. … It's all about their availability and once you pick up the phone, [you can't] just blow it off. You do the best you can. A lot of people went back and tried quick fixes to their masters, thinking that was the thing to do at the time, and – it's not like they're wrong – but being a new format, one of the problems was the compression at the time. It was sort of primitive. It developed as it went along. It was the same problem with standard def DVD. The first couple years, compression was a really big problem. They encouraged you to limit your grain and if you didn't do it, they would - I hate to say that. The same tools that are in a telecine room, a mastering room, are also in a compression and authoring facility, so if they got something that was a little, what they considered, too grainy, they would just run it through their grain management system. So it's not what everybody thinks it is. There's are so many different layers and different approaches and reason for why things were done a certain way.

HDD: I asked the High-Def Digest staff, “Are there any questions you want me to ask Ron Smith?” The most common one was “When is 'Indiana Jones' going Blu?

Ron Smith: (laughs)

HDD: I'm sure you get that question more often than any other.

Ron Smith: Well, we've actually been working on 'Raiders,' but we're working more on the negative to make theatrical prints for a digital cinema presentation. We are still working on the audio and any discussion of Blu-ray or not Blu-ray includes the other two films – all three films, I guess. Just because we're working on the picture 'Raiders,' it doesn't really mean anything – but we are working on it and we're thrilled about how it's turning out. The Blu-ray will happen whenever the Blu-ray happens, and that's up to Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Lucas and all the people at Paramount that know when the best time is, how to package it and all that stuff. Thankfully, I don't have to deal with that part of it.

HDD: You talk about working on these theatrical prints. Is there a re-release in the works for theaters?

Ron Smith: No. We're trying to make it available for repertoire and preservation. You know, it is its 30 year anniversary, so we had a screening at the Academy a couple months ago. It's very cool. It's a great movie that totally deserves our attention.
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Old 10-01-2011, 01:26 PM   #202
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Rocket, you've been following this issue as much as anyone else. You buy that they aren't really planning a theatrical re-release?
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:09 PM   #203
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Professor
Rocket, you've been following this issue as much as anyone else. You buy that they aren't really planning a theatrical re-release?
Marketing wise I can't see it as ANYTHING but a no brainer...

Re-releasing it on the re-release date, (a year after it's debut) would serve many purposes. It would slate the lazy media whores, ever ravening for that "new" buzz and byline while heralding the might of Raiders/Indiana Jones with regards to the now unheard of year long theatrical run.

...and it can serve TWO masters by greasing the wheels of today's Theatrical/Home release schedules, making it the perfect Christmas/Holiday gift.

It would also serve as a prominent vehicle for Lucas' own pet promotion: Digital Theaters.

He would have some new product to sell in the gift shop at the Museum Tour...

My heart says YES! My mind says probably not. I wish I knew.
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Old 10-01-2011, 02:30 PM   #204
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I would go again...
The Academy screening was incredible. Lucas has my money if they were to do that.
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Old 10-04-2011, 05:18 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
I thought it looked like crap.
Then we must agree to disagree.
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Old 10-05-2011, 07:42 AM   #206
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Originally Posted by Von Stalhein
Then we must agree to disagree.

I guess so...still the composite suffers some pretty tough synch issues.

I wouldn't mind some digital touch ups...
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Old 10-22-2011, 07:23 PM   #207
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rocket Surgeon
I guess so...still the composite suffers some pretty tough synch issues.

I wouldn't mind some digital touch ups...
Neither would I.
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Old 10-25-2011, 06:41 AM   #208
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Is the censusus that they should release the original trilogy as a box set or to include the already released KOTCS blu ray in there too?
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Old 10-25-2011, 06:57 AM   #209
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyLGR
Is the censusus that they should release the original trilogy as a box set or to include the already released KOTCS blu ray in there too?

I'd personally like all 4 movies together... and from the sounds of things they are already putting some additional special features togther for KOTCS (which indicates some form of re-release). Econically speaking, it makes sense for them to release as a 4 pack... as it means they can inflate the price, and even those who don't like KOTCS will ultimately buy it (because surely no one would miss out on the originals in HD just for the sake of KOTCS?).
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Old 10-25-2011, 08:40 AM   #210
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Vile
I'd personally like all 4 movies together... and from the sounds of things they are already putting some additional special features togther for KOTCS (which indicates some form of re-release). Econically speaking, it makes sense for them to release as a 4 pack... as it means they can inflate the price, and even those who don't like KOTCS will ultimately buy it (because surely no one would miss out on the originals in HD just for the sake of KOTCS?).
I didnt know they were doing something extra for KOTCS, I dont own it on blu ray yet and was going to wait, hopefully not too long, for a full set release.

I also dont think that they should be seen to be ostracising KOTCS from the franchise either, so I agree the 4 movie box set is the way to go.
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Old 01-21-2012, 11:54 AM   #211
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http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1000213911
10 years ago Amazon had a top 100 most wanted DVD page, and they still do, recategorized as "First To Know." Then as now, Indy's near the top. Not many other blockbusters left on this list, 2012 looks likely for blu ray. Lucas likes to put 4-5 years between releases regardless and it also meets his timetable.
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Old 01-25-2012, 07:39 PM   #212
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Indiana Jones Trilogy: September 2012

PARAMOUNT SPAIN HAS CONFIRMED A WORLDWIDE LAUNCH: SEPTEMBER 2012!!!

http://www.mubis.es/noticias/la-tril...fin-en-blu-ray
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:23 PM   #213
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Odds favor 2012, though no solid quote yet... from Google translate:
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Well, as we have confirmed from Paramount Spain on final release is scheduled for next September 2012, exact date to be specified. It would be a worldwide launch of the company itself warns that Lucasfilm has an absolute secrecy. Because of this we have not been able to confirm details
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Old 01-25-2012, 08:34 PM   #214
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moedred
Odds favor 2012, though no solid quote yet... from Google translate:

It says Paramount Spain has confirmed September 2012.

The only thing unconfirmed is the exact date and the details.
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Old 02-29-2012, 10:21 AM   #215
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From the print version of USA Today:
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New Indiana Jones Treasure: Blu-ray
Big news for Indiana Jones fans: The complete Indiana Jones Blu-ray collection will be out this fall from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Paramount Home Media Distribution.
Must be a wire report out there...
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:07 PM   #216
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They are coming !

http://www.slashfilm.com/indiana-jon...ced-fall-2012/
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Old 02-29-2012, 02:33 PM   #217
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My wallet is opening...
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:03 PM   #218
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayDee

from your link:

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The man with the hat is back – and looking better than ever! The world’s favorite globe-trotting archaeologist is, at long last, embarking on his greatest adventure – when “The Complete Indiana Jones Blu-ray Collection” comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lucasfilm Ltd. and Paramount Home Media Distribution. The Complete Indiana Jones Blu-ray Collection will be excavated in the fall of 2012 and will include all four of Indy’s thrilling adventures, using the highest possible high definition picture and audio presentation – along with a “best of” collection of documentaries, interviews, featurettes and a few new surprises.

Phew! For a second while reading this I was beginning to think that they were only going to repackage the bonus features from previous releases.

And Dr. Gonzo, your wallet is not alone.
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:09 PM   #219
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Those "surprises" better be deleted scenes!
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Old 02-29-2012, 03:29 PM   #220
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Hurray, Indy goodies!

Last edited by JuniorJones : 02-29-2012 at 03:34 PM.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:20 PM   #221
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Surprise!?

Not to nitpick so soon, but why not an “all of” collection of documentaries? Don't sell your DVDs yet...
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:22 PM   #222
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moedred


Surprise!?


HAHA!! Yeah right.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:54 PM   #223
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Trailer.



Hopefully the option to buy them separately is available.
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Old 02-29-2012, 04:58 PM   #224
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This is excellent news; I shall be buying this lot.

Has the trailer been linked to?

http://www.aintitcool.com/node/53950
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Old 02-29-2012, 06:26 PM   #225
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Forbidden Eye
Those "surprises" better be deleted scenes!

The egg scene from TOD!
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