Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What’s So Special about Special Editions?

by Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

Nathan handed me some DVDs one night. It was some sort of re-mastered versions of the Macross portion of Robotech.

“I hate this!” he said.

Ok, it wasn’t that drastic. What he said was that he felt that maybe they overdid the audio portion of the re-mastering. He told me to give it to my 18 year old daughter, who became a Robotech fan when I sat down and watched it with her back in 2005. I told him that she has a better collection of the shows than I do. He said do with it what I would then. I figure that I’ll use it for my run through of all the Robotech material, and then give it to my daughter after that.

This got me to thinking about special editions, and why it is that people can’t just leave the perfection through imperfection alone. There’s really nothing wrong with the material as it was. It’s a little dated, but that’s because it was made almost 30 years ago. What do you expect? It’s like when Ted Turner thought it was a good idea to colourize black and white movies. Why?

I spoke with my brother about this. He is another one who is a bigger Robotech fan than I am. He took a drag of his pipe and said, “Holmes, old chap…”

He doesn’t smoke a pipe.

He said, “This is a lot like the dub/subtitle debate. Do you dub the material to make it easier for the English speaking audience to watch, or do you create subtitles for the English speaking audience to read?” This was an interesting point that I had to take under consideration.

Last year, I watched a Korean horror film called “The Host.” It was pretty good, and I would recommend it for most horror fans, but I would recommend that you watch it with subtitles. The English overdub was terrible. I don’t know if it was the fault of the voice actors, or the people directing the voice acting. I just know that I wish now that I’d just read the dialogue.

My brother made many good points that got me reconsidering the nature of the Robotech discs Nathan handed me. I soon realized that I had something to write:

Robotech Itself – Robotech was a reworking of three Japanese cartoons. The reworking was to accomplish two things. The first was to make it more appealing to the American audience. The second was to adhere to a strict TV scheduling process that required them to have thirteen weeks of episodes for a five day a week schedule.

Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, etc. – I guess the thing that made me realize that re-mastering isn’t all bad was when during the course of the discussion with my brother, I thought of the fact that many of the old analog recordings from bands of the 1970s and before (maybe even some after the 70s) had to be re-mastered into a digital format as part of better archiving, and as part of moving the music onto the CD format. The truth is that while some people might prefer the old analog versions, I don’t think my enjoyment of the music has ever suffered.

Updated Editions – The truth is that even in the realm of books, we sometimes see updated versions of books. If the book discusses money or finance, the totals might be adjusted for inflation. If the book discusses laws or procedures, those may be updated to give more accurate information. Even Steven King’s really, really long book, “The Stand,” was released as a really, really, really long version at one point, with much of the material that was cut from the original printing. This was an update of hundreds of pages.

John Ford – I read about the film director John Ford recently, and I was somewhat saddened to learn that of the 60+ silent films he directed, only a little over a dozen still exist. The archiving process was practically nonexistent at the start of moviemaking. I guess if we can be more assured that Robotech will be around for new generations as well, thanks to re-mastering efforts, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing.

I’m probably like the people who still own “Dark Side of the Moon” on vinyl with some things. Sometimes the flaws that gave the original release of something personality are hard to let go. In extreme cases, like the original Star Wars trilogy, it can feel like maybe people should leave well enough alone. Maybe in the case of Robotech they should have left well enough alone too, but while I was a little opposed before, I’m at least willing now to watch it to see what I think.

1 comment:

  1. I dont poo-poo all remasters. For instance Star Trek The Next Generation is getting a total remaster this year. I am looking forward to it... but they aren't altering anything. They altered the audio with Robotech, that was my issue, I found it distracting. I do have to say that I enjoy Dubbed Anime because that's the whole point... to watch the beautiful animation, not read during it...