The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby TheTimeWanderer » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:40 pm

Because I think that everyone should watch the workprint version of the film to see why it's worth it for it to be restored into a more watchable form, I've uploaded my torrented copy of it, since torrents can easily die at any time.

The Dark Crystal. BGM Workprint: http://depositfiles.com/files/oy3kb2cfp

Here's exactly what the original uploader of the workprint had to say about it:
Gifts from the Inn of the Indigo Phoenix, brought to you by 卯侍 藍凰舎 (ぼうジ あいこうしゃ) Aikousha

First, let me apologize for letting this exceed 700MB, but I tried encoding this five different times... The .avi encode couldn't handle the audio, and the video size/quality ratio sucked under that encode... So I fell back upon my trusty .mp4 encoder...

The Dark Crystal:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083791/

And this will definitely be of interest to Dark Crystal fans:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0460907/

Way back, when the state of the art in computer graphics was 280x192 in 8 colors, and no such thing as CGI effects existed, Jim Henson made a beautiful classic little fantasy film called, "The Dark Crystal." Long before the movie was released to theatres in the US and UK, it was provided to test audiences for reactions. The surveys taken at the showings, guide the filmmakers and producers in how to tweak and make final edits to the film. I GOT TO SEE IT THIS WAY!

As a kid, I was overjoyed with this, it was better than ANYTHING else provided for kids at the time (I still LOVE this film!). Jim Henson was a GOD!

Unfortunately, the test audience comprised a large number of mundanes and the dramatic challenged, people better suited to be couch-potatos, not theatre-goers.

When the movie was finally released to theatres, I got a shock, when what I had been waiting to see again was chopped up, and dumbed down immensely. It was great to finally see most of the special effects, but the film became severely hobbled, and the benefit of paying attention to get all the details was destroyed by having everything explained plainly or tossed in your face. These variations may not seem that big, but they were very noticeable to me... and I had waited so long to see this film again.

Then I attended The Answer, "The Rat Stuff!," the 42nd WorldCon in Los Angeles. There I found a large number of fans of the film, most who were twice my age at the time, and one of them knew a person who knew another person.... And so after waiting several more weeks, I received this precious little videotape. It was a copy of a workprint of the film, used to review different background music soundtracks to the film (anybody remember "Legend" where it was released in the UK with a Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack, and in the US with Tangerine Dream?). The first two were Trevor Jones (the actual choice, a strikingly beautiful OST, like all his work) and Vangelis. Unfotunately the VHS tape was not long enough for more than 15 minutes of the Vangelis material.

So, after my last move, I dove into my 3000 tape VHS collection and fished out that old tape, and encoded it. Hopefully you will enjoy it, if not as a curiosity, an example of what minor things can be done to a film by others, a better version, or at least a view of what is, effectively, the directors cut of the movie.

Some things to be aware of before you watch this:
1. It is a WORK-PRINT, it was never intended to be anything but a quick hack together by the editors to test things like timing, edit points, level corrections, etc.

2. This is in black & white. My assumption is that they used monochrome stock because it was cheaper to deal with and it was not at the stage for color work.

3. As a work-print, edits, cuts, and notes are actually marked on the film with both grease-pencil and marker. You will see a lot of this. As an edit test, light levels also were not a concern, and therefore black and white levels vary considerably from one scene to another. This made it impossible for me to do any correction work. A filter might clean up one scene but completely destroy the next.

4. The film stock was actually handled by a very large number of people, and ended up picking up lots of dirt. Again having a dirty print did not matter for this work print, image clarity was not important.

5. The work print was transferred first to professional videotape, each of the small spools of film were transferred, so between each of the nearly dozen small spools of film, there was a hard analog videotape break, with all the expected audio and video noise one would expect. I edited most of these out, but that was nearly 3 minutes of hashing and breakups.

6. That tape was then transferred to VHS from which my copy of the tape was made. unfortunately, this was a long time ago and image stabilization was not yet a large part of the electronics of the consumer VHS market. Therefore, any time there was a little jump or a little noise in the original tape, the machine could not maintain the image and it often lost a lock on the image. Noise on the original tape made for chaos on the copies, and this is most apparent during the Skesis' banquet segment.

7. Many of the special effects, and things like the titles, were not present at this stage of work, so odd things tend to show up in places. Characters appearing on black or grey backgrounds, only a small area of the screen is used because a matte would be added later, seeing a bit of the English countryside in a shot, or seeing an oddly shaped object ascending on a rope in place of the special effect of the Ur-skeks ascension... A few of the voices are even a little different.

Of the things you will notice different from the released film are the cutting of several scenes (notably a naked Jen, and the Skesis funeral), re-arrangement of some of the scenes (mostly at the start of the film), trimming of some scenes (Podling villager festival), the addition of voice-overs (lord was that distracting), added narration, and a complete re-dub of all the non-English languages. In the test version, English represented the Gelfling tongue, you should hear only English when Gelfling is spoken... Every other race had it's own language, but the final film changed that, and you really have to look hard to see that all the races did not speak the same language. I must have been an odd child, because I didn't have any problem understanding the gist of what was being said, when the characters didn't speak English. I find that touch added quite a lot to the proper feel of the film.

So, here it is, Monochrome 704x352, mono audio 44.1khz AAC. This encode is the best balance of file-size versus quality I could get from the source. If anybody wants to try enhancing this, feel free, but it's probably not worth it.

This won't play on iPods, as the width of the image is too great.

Since there was probably only one copy of the test audience print (35mm clean color version of this), and no sign of this version of the film on any of the seven releases (soon to be eight) of the film to the consumer market, I am guessing that this may be the only surviving version of the film in this form. I hope it isn't, because I would love to see this in HQ color. However, two of the more recent DVD releases of the film reference the loss of the deleted material. Specifically that the only full copies of the Skeksis funeral was from the camera videotapes (even though a segment of the funeral was on the preview spot that appeared in theatres).

I do plan to make a 4.38GB version of this to archive on DVD (my capture is nearly 8GB), but unless there is a VERY LARGE demand for it, I have no plans on posting it in any other form, than this.

Enjoy.
--卯侍 藍凰舎 Aiko
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:28 am

I have been trying to find a way to contact the person who originally uploaded the workprint. However, it was originally uploaded on Demonoid which currently does not exist, except as a tracker. I have found someone with a different user name which uploads content with the same "Gifts from the Inn of the Indigo Phoenix, brought to you by Aikousha" title. However, that username is different and PirateBay does not have "profiles" by which you can email people.

I may just post a comment to an existing un-related video and see if the person responds.

Obviously a full resolution version of the workprint VHS would be great, however, a higher quality version of the audio would likely be the ideal for Garrett's uses in this case.

I'll see what I can do overall though. A full, high-resolution version would be nice.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 7:45 am

I posted the following as a comment to a recent upload by the user IotIP, who appears to be the same user who uploaded the workprint. I uploaded it on an upload of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Season 2 torrent which the user uploaded and is fairly active:

IotIP,

First, I apologize that this message does not have to do with this particular torrent. Unfortunately, I don't know of other ways to contact you.

A while back you had uploaded a low-resolution workprint of The Dark Crystal on Demonoid. This workprint has been making its rounds amonst Henson fans ever since.

I am part of a forum which supports different fan restoration efforts by a director named Garrett Gilchrist, who is most known for his Star Wars: Deleted Magic and The Thief and the Cobbler Recobbled Cut fan edits. However, he also restored a laser disc version of The Jim Henson Hour: Dog City. All of these are on PirateBay posted under the user name TygerBug.

Anyway, Garrett has been wanting to do a restoration of The Dark Crystal, using at least as much of the work print audio as possible and by re-arranging the scenes to fit the audio.

I was wondering if it would be possible to upload a full-quality, high-resolution copy of that workprint VHS? You had said in the original torrent that if there was a call for it that you might post it.

The full quality workprint would not only aid in the fan restoration project but, would also be of great archival interest for Henson fans the world over. As you mentioned, your copy might be the only copy of the workprint in existence.

If you want to check out the fan edit project's information, you can head to the orangecow.org forums. We would be more than happy to see you there and are sure that you would find the restorations that Garrett does to be of extreme interest.

Thanks,
Chris


UPDATE: I have also gone off of a hint that this person is an anime fan-subber and have tried to track him/her down through those contact channels. The only way provided was via IRC. I connected to the specified server and attempted to go into the correct room. The problem is, it didn't exist so, I ended up creating the channel instead. Obviously that means that I am currently the only one in the channel.

I will hang around in there and see if anyone else shows up. I doubt it though.

Second UPDATE:

I tracked down a person who is part of the Aikousha fan sub group to the Anime Suki forums. However, they do not accept private messages and their account hasn't been active for several years. I was able to post something on their profile page though, which now says it is "awaiting moderation". I am hoping that this might have sent an email to the individual.

I was also able to confirm that I am going to the correct MIRC server and node in order to access the proper room/channel but, that it only exists when I create it. We'll see if anyone jumps in.

Lastly, I went to archive.org's wayback machine and tried to access the old Aikousha.com website to find any contact information that might be present. Sadly, there was none.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:27 am

TheTimeWanderer wrote:Because I think that everyone should watch the workprint version of the film to see why it's worth it for it to be restored into a more watchable form, I've uploaded my torrented copy of it, since torrents can easily die at any time.

The Dark Crystal. BGM Workprint: http://depositfiles.com/files/oy3kb2cfp


I am downloading the workprint right now. As you can see in my previous post, I am on the prowl trying to track down the uploader so that we might get stereo sound and/or a full resolution video. I am uncertain as to whether or not I will be successful but, I had to try.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Sun Mar 10, 2013 10:48 am

I wonder if a higher quality version of the workprint might be "restorable". It would depend on if the amount of noise is due to the quality of the workprint and the VHS tape degradation or if it is a result of pixelation due to the compression.

Even so, the image itself is blurry and likely is unusable.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:51 pm

The audio from the DVD version of the workprint (which I also have) is posted on the previous page, and will be very mildly better, but the quality is extremely poor regardless, and the uploader will not have a better version than the DVD version. It is not worth trying to salvage the video from this version.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Mon Mar 11, 2013 8:51 am

If only we could find a better copy... There HAS to be one out there somewhere. The issue is simply connecting with the person who has access to it.

Just for ha ha's, I did a google search and contacted a few people claiming to have a workprint of Dark Crystal. Chances are that they most likely have the same workprint DVD that Garrett already possesses but, there is never a harm in trying.

If nothing else, the forums might gain a few more members interested in the restoration/fan edit.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby Aikousha » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:07 pm

PirateBay was a successful connect... Actually going for the anime subbing group, was far off, as their name means "fan," mine 藍凰舎, loosely translates to "indigo-phoenix-inn", which is part of my Japanese/Chinese name. Second, I didn't even find out about them until somebody a while back asked me about them, and I discovered they didn't really get into digital work... most of their stuff was analog. I went to LDs and my brother's brain for most of my anime. I've actually only translated four anime episodes... most of my work has been recoding or correcting poorly translated anime.

So, I really like the description of your working on it (at least until the end about 5 years back). You managed to put in words a lot of specifics about the changes that I had a bit of trouble doing.
I also realize I was under a misnomer. I believed that you had been in possession of the first distributed DVD version of the workprint. There was such a clamoring for a DVD source, I spent a very long time working on several of the Mac workstations in the computer art department at Drexel. I actually built a proper DVD for it, including several subtitle streams, easter-eggs, and DVD_RAM material. The torrent died during one of the longer Demonoid downtimes, and since it was long after I removed both the project files and the DVD torrent from my personal HDD, I was not able to restore it. I then discovered that my personal copy to play as a test on other DVD players, was severely damaged (somebody had removed it from it's case and scratched it up horribly). Can't say which of the young relatives it was, but I wasn't too angry, as I thought I could just resurrect it. I was really wrong... Drexel had upgraded their machines, and their software. I also did not have a valid reason for being on that part of the campus, and shortly later, on campus at all.

I went about working on upgrading it, instead, which didn't require running DSP until the last step, since most of it was going to be bitrate related, as well as adding a large amount of extra-material. I discovered later that the only versions of the software I could get, would not work on our home Mac (too old). Even though I have the project backed up to 3 HDDs, I can't compile any of them.
So, the good news: the quality will be noticeably better from the 8GB dv-stream... The bad news: not by much. It can't possibly be better than a 3rd generation tape transfer (2 of those being VHS). Add to that a several decades... even though I have kept my LD and tape library pristine.

As far as getting a better copy, there really is only going to be four ways... miraculously finding the 35mm Audience Test Print hidden away in some storage locker or something, finding a copy of the color videotape made off the filming cameras (but this means music and voices won't be close to final) or one of the later film to tape workprint transfers. However, professional videotape was expensive and it's best attribute was being reusable. It's also possible someone might find the person with the VHS tape one generation earlier... but I have no clue who that person was, and AFAIK they wanted to remain invisible. And that doesn't count the loss due to time, as most others probably wore out, got tired of, or just tossed out in the two following video revolutions. (after all, my only remaining S-VHS VCR is near to dead, and there is no way to repair it anymore.

Hopefully one of the people that claimed to have the workprint, have the DVD version of it. Problem is that even though lots of people downloaded it, it's quite apparent that it was a lot of 1.0s or a lot of hit and runs, since that project really boosted my ratio on Demonoid. Unfortunately, it died during one of Demonoid's down-times after I had removed both the project files and the DVD torrent for the need of disc space for other projects. No one re-seeded it either. Even more surprising, no one has re-posted it anywhere...

I do still have the 8GB file, so if you want that, we just have to find a way to get it to you.
Hopefully we will soon be getting a quad-or-better-core computer, and I can make it a Linux/Windows7/Hackintosh multi-boot, and I can run one of the DSP copies up on KAT or TPB, and I can build the second version of the DVD.

Let me know.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby Garrett Gilchrist » Sat Mar 16, 2013 8:48 pm

Wonderful to see you here, Aikousha! You did a great thing by sharing this rare tape.

The DVD version I have of your workprint post had DVD-ROM extras, unless I'm thinking of something else. I don't remember it having subtitles or anything fancy about it but I don't think I ever checked either.

I'd be happy to have a better quality rip of the audio - whatever you can do from the 8GB file - since I've asked Christoph Nass to restore the source anyway. If you can post just the audio to depositfiles or rapidgator or mediafire or something ..... or Christoph's FTP .... But you can mail me anything you like as well.
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Re: The Darker Crystal: A FanEdit

Postby ctlw83 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:48 pm

Yes, great to have you here! I'm glad my piratebay shoutout was of some success.
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