Beatles "Hard Days Night" on Critierion DVD/BluRay with Giles Martin 5.1 mix

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elmer

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Announced yesterday on Beatles fan site WogBlog. No specific date but a good guess is July 6, the 50th anniversary of the original world premier. Either way, WogBlog is a pretty reliable source and is for no other reason a fun place to visit for all things Beatles. Here's the 411;

Criterion (USA)/Second Sight Films (UK) version (2014)
The film will reportedly be shown in aspect ratio 1.75:1
This is the actual original theatrical aspect ratio from the film's release in 1964, so that's a first!

Distribution:
We are only guessing that Criterion will handle the U.S. market and Second Sight Films the U.K. one. Originally, Criterion was reported as the distributor and their parent company Janus Film is cited by the TCM Classic Films Festival to be the company behind the restoration of the film from the original negative. However, the independent British distributors Second Sight Films recently announced that they were working on a Blu-ray release of the film. With two distributors in the mix, we just have to guess.

Audio:
The music has been remixed in true 5.1-surround by Giles Martin. Another selectable audio option will be Ron Furmanek's restored original mono soundtrack. Furmanek prepared this audio for the Miramax DVD, but his work was tampered with, turning it into faux-5.1-surround. This decision was heavily criticised by fans at the time of release. The problem was that the company who owned the rights to the film did not own a stereo version of the soundtrack, just the original mono sound. So this time, some sort of agreement must have been made between that company and the Beatles/Apple Corps Ltd/Universal Music Group. Or, the Beatles/Apple Corps Ltd may have bought back the rights to the film. Or, speculating further, the company who owns the film may be a part of the Universal group of companies. Either way, the fans will benefit.

Rights:
The rights to "A Hard Day's Night" originally belonged to the film's producer, Walter Shenson. The current owners are Miramax Films and The Weinstein Company. In 2011 Disney sold Miramax films to Filmyard Holdings, LLC, and the home video sub-license is transferred to Lionsgate. However, Miramax's film library is still owned by Disney. In December 2013, Miramax and The Weinstein Company entered a 20-year joint-venture agreement to develop and produce films, TV series, and stage shows. The deal will allow the Weinsteins to exploit the 700-film Miramax library. Whether or not this has anything to do with the re-release of "A Hard Day's Night", we don't know.

Bonus material:
No one knows, and probably won't, until the film is out in the shops. But there's no way they are going to include everything that was on the Miramax release, so you'll probably want to keep that. Miramax did a good job on the bonus material.

Criterion has released A Hard Day's Night previously. That was before the DVD age, they released it on laser disc back in 1987. Bonus material then was the original theatrical trailer, an interview with Richard Lester, and his The Running Jumping & Standing Still Film.

Back in the day, the BBC produced a documentary on the making of A Hard Day's Night. No, we're not talking about the 1995 "You Can't Do That! The Making of 'A Hard Day's Night'" documentary hosted by Phil Collins, but a 1964 documentary, "Follow the Beatles". It was broadcasted by the BBC on August 3rd, 1964 and has rarely been seen since. The documentary was mostly filmed and recorded on the set of "A Hard Day's Night". Now that would make a fine accompaniment alongside other bonus material, such as the original trailers.


http://wogew.blogspot.com/2014/02/a-hard-days-night-comparison.html
 

alk3997

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Edit: I needed to make a "clarification" below. When I talked about the left channel originally, I was talking about sounds that only came from the left channel in a stereo context. I think a better way to have said that would have been "left side" since anything in the center of the stereo field comes out of the left channel (as well as the right channel). So I've changed left-channel to left-side to describe where the 1st track audio is normally output. The same with the right side...

-------

This seems like a good time to throw in some recording tidbits on A Hard Day's Night.

This was the Beatles first 4-track recorded album. 4-track for the Beatles was inaugurated with I Want to Hold Your Hand and this was the first album afterwards. Interestingly, Abbey Road actually had a 4-track recorder before this but "pop acts" were not high enough on the food chain to warrant its use. The Beatles and George Martin changed that.

The 4-track recording process was very simple. The layout of the tracks were slightly different on A Hard Day's Night album than they would be on later Beatles 4-track recorded albums. Normally what appeared in the left side of the stereo mix was almost always track 1 and was usually drums and bass guitar. What was on track 2 was usually the guitars and is often heard coming from the right side. Then vocals were added on track 3 and those were usually heard in the center of the stereo mix. Track 4 is the one that is very interesting from a 5.1 channel point.

Track 4 through Revolver was used for filling-out the sound. Double-tracked vocals would be added on track 4 as would cowbells or tambourines or other sounds to fill-out the song. In those cases the vocals and cowbells would be recorded together on track 4. It was also possible to add sound to a particular point by dropping-in the record head at a spot on the tape. This had to be done very carefully to not record over a sound that was to be kept! Many times the guitar solos were on track 4 because it took a while for George to perfect the solo and it was easier if he could just work on it separately. The Beatles didn't always exactly follow this arrangement on A Hard Day's Night album but it is a good generalization.

Separating out track 4 into its individual components greatly enhances the 5.1-channel sound. This way double-track vocals can remain "up front" but the cowbells or tambourine can stay in the surround channels.

For A Hard Day's Night album recording, the above formula had yet to be fully established. Instead the tracks were used in the order the instruments were recorded. So, if the rhythm section was recorded first and the first set of vocals second, then rhythm would be on track 1 and vocals on track 2. This still lent itself to having the "filling-out" instruments end up on track 4. All of the songs on A Hard Day's Night album included double-tracked vocals at some point in the song.

One thing that makes 5.1-channel mixes more difficult in this era is that headphones were not used for overdubbing. The "white elephant" speaker was used instead to playback the other tracks. The white elephant was placed 90 degrees off the microphone in a dead spot while the vocalists could stand at either the 0 degree or 180 degree position. But some sound always leaked into track 4, it seems.

However, with modern software the bass guitar and drums can be separated. It's actually fairly easy to recover the bass drum separately. So, hopefully the folks at Abbey Road will use this technique to help add more "tracks" to the original 4-track recording.

One final note - unlike later albums none of the A Hard Day's Night songs required more than 4 tracks. In other words, there were no bounce-downs for this album. Tape-to-tape transfers were used quite a bit with 2-track recordings but why would you need more than 4 tracks, anyway?? It wasn't until Help! that a bounce down was required again.
 
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JonUrban

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Excellent news two-fold.

Getting the 5.1 mix AND the original mono mix is outstanding, best of BOTH worlds.

I have the BluRay from Canada, and as I reported here back when it was release, IT SUCKED (Audio-wise). If they do a 5.1 mix that is comparable to LOVE or the latest HELP! DVD/BluRay release, that would be awesome.

It would be sweet to have the double-track vocals split into two speakers, but I bet that would be impossible as they probably merged them on the masters and there's no going back. Still, this is a great film that stands the test of time, and even those that are sick of hearing how great The Beatles are/were can watch this film and be entertained.
 

alk3997

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The normal way was for lead and harmony to be recorded on a single track (nearly impossible to extract as you said) and then the double-tracked vocal/harmony would be on track 4. So a John and a Paul singing together might be on one track. But two Johns or two Pauls would be separate (obviously). The tough part is figuring out which is which since they both could sing like the other. The somewhat annoying thing (not that I'm really complaining) is that even when they went to 8 track on The Beatles (The White Album), they still sang together on one track.

I had said the normal way for the Beatles to record was using track 3 and 4 for vocals. On A Hard Days Night they didn't always follow the normal method. Here are two examples:

Here's the layout for A Hard Day's Night:
Track 1 - Drums, Bass, Guitars
Track 2 - Vocals
Track 3 - Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bongos and Cowbells
Track 4 - Piano, Electric Guitar

So, they didn't follow the usual formula on A Hard Days Night. Track 3 was recorded like Track 4 normally was. BTW, the opening chord uses 3 of the 4 tracks. It's why it was so difficult for people to figure out for many years.

I Should Have Known Better:
Track 1 - Drums, Bass and Guitar
Track 2 - Vocals
Track 3 - Vocals
Track 4 - Electric Guitar and Harmonica

Electric Guitar and harmonica would be separated out from a single track. Drums, Bass and Guitar could all be separated. So you could have 7 or more elements to make a 5.1-channel mix.

Separating the double-tracked vocals is sometimes not advantageous in that they sometimes sound "funny" by themselves, particularly if they are harmony vocals. There are some instances such as Dear Prudence where the harmony vocals alone are stunning. But a song like "Things We Said Today" has harmony vocals that you almost start laughing with but they sound great when blended with the main vocals. It would really depend upon the song whether you would want to present them separately.

BTW, Can't Buy Me Love can be made into a really nice 5.1-channel mix by moving some of Georges guitar work (not the solo part) into the surrounds with a delay between the channels. The solos are actually two guitars recorded on separate tracks.

That may be more than you wanted to know but it's an interesting subject to me.
 

cupboy

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Apparently the Canadian Blu-ray is out of print now and you should see the silly prices amazon sellers want for these disks that sold for around $10 new. Will be nice to have Criterion stick it to 'em. They won't even get $5 for them then.
 
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EMB

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First of all, while the 1.75 aspect ratio might replicate what was seen in UK theaters, I remember someone telling me (I was too young to remember, since I first saw it in 1964 at age nine) that U.S. prints were typically shown in the 1.33:1 US aspect; that is, the original camera frame ratio. Therefore the 1.75:1 is a matting of the top and bottom of the image, which can be proven by sourcing past, non-letterboxed sources like Criterion's laserdisc edition. This was apparently also true of HELP! but, to be honest, this minor framing change doesn't bother me much, regardless of how it was shown in theaters (at least 1.75:1 is logical for the time).

A 5.1 soundtrack, IF properly manipulated, could be great fun, for what it is: an update and a manipulation, fun the way HELP!'s 5.1 is. BUT...the original actual mono film soundtrack? I'm not sure that even any longer exists, unless it can be found on an original print of the film. One problem is the Criterion laserdisc, which dubbed in many songs in stereo, but these also left out sound effects that were mixed into the original mono film track. Not only that, but the 'sudden stereo' around an otherwise mono sound track is very distracting, a reminder that I'm not watching the original source film. Since the tracks are stereo on the original audio sources, the perfect way to hear this is in mono, not stereo or 5.1, so you can experience to a degree how people saw and heard it back in the day.

Still, that Giles Martin is involved has to be a positive sign. The Miramax faux 5.1 DVD edition was not unwatchable but I found it just about unlistenable.

As for 5.1 audio, the AHDN songs themselves can probably be separated enough to just about work, though a few tracks heard in snippets like "All My Loving" or "I Wanna Be Your Man" won't amount to anything in 5.1. Everything else? That could get interesting or strange, given that I don't believe any separate elements (voices, sound effects) exist (and as said, I'm not sure the actual mono film sound track exists), so some trickery and clever panning would have to be employed to bring a thorough 5.1 AHDN film track together. But with modern equipment and Giles doing the work, could turn out quite well (again, for what it is).

ED :)
 

rtbluray

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Is there a link anywhere for this?
Cannot find it on the Criterion site.......
It's just a rumor at this point that Criterion will be releasing this on Blu-Ray. Nothing has been confirmed or denied by them.
I would say to check their site again on Tuesday when they announce new releases for May but I already know what they are, and "A Hard Day's Night" is not one of them.
My guess is that if Criterion really are releasing this, the soonest they would probably announce it would be April, when they announce July releases. (Cause "A Hard Day's Night" was originally released in July of 1964). Again, just a guess, but if it does happen, it will surely be THE definitive release of the film. :)
 

alk3997

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...


As for 5.1 audio, the AHDN songs themselves can probably be separated enough to just about work, though a few tracks heard in snippets like "All My Loving" or "I Wanna Be Your Man" won't amount to anything in 5.1. ED :)
I did a little more research. Obviously I Wanna Be Your Man is a twin track recording. For separation purposes with the drums, Ringo's vocals were overdubbed on I Wanna Be Your Man. The white elephant speaker provided some leakage but it's about -18dB from the vocals. So there is plenty of isolated vocals to work with, including the John/Paul background vocals.

Drums, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, organ (George Martin playing?) and bass guitar were all recorded on track one. While the above vocals were recorded on the second track. I believe separating the drums and bass guitar would not be difficult. With some surround phasing and reverb, a very effective 5.1-channel mix could be created for the little bit of time that the song is heard during A Hard Day's Night.
 

alk3997

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Also let me give proper credit for some (but not all) of what I've written in this thread. Some of the information comes from, "Recording The Beatles - The Studio Equipment and Techniques Used to Create Their Classic Albums" by Kehew & Ryan. The book is published by Curvebender Publishing and is (c) 2006. It runs a "paltry" 537 pages with illustrations and a fold-out chart of the REDD.51 mixing desk. This is a highly recommended book.
 

blue.monk

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Also let me give proper credit for some (but not all) of what I've written in this thread. Some of the information comes from, "Recording The Beatles - The Studio Equipment and Techniques Used to Create Their Classic Albums" by Kehew & Ryan. The book is published by Curvebender Publishing and is (c) 2006. It runs a "paltry" 537 pages with illustrations and a fold-out chart of the REDD.51 mixing desk. This is a highly recommended book.
This is an absolutely incredible book. Just about every engineer who worked with the Beatles (and other EMI artists) was interviewed by the authors. It's a fascinating look at the equipment, recording techniques and personnel responsible for the Beatles' recordings as well as an illustrated history of Abbey Road studios.
 

atrocity

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First of all, while the 1.75 aspect ratio might replicate what was seen in UK theaters, I remember someone telling me (I was too young to remember, since I first saw it in 1964 at age nine) that U.S. prints were typically shown in the 1.33:1 US aspect; that is, the original camera frame ratio. Therefore the 1.75:1 is a matting of the top and bottom of the image, which can be proven by sourcing past, non-letterboxed sources like Criterion's laserdisc edition. This was apparently also true of HELP! but, to be honest, this minor framing change doesn't bother me much, regardless of how it was shown in theaters (at least 1.75:1 is logical for the time).
I saw the 1980s reissue with the slapped-together stereo soundtrack projected from 35mm at 1.33:1. I'm not sure why they ran it that way...1964 was a good ten or so years past the point when when 1.66:1 had become the least wide ratio in common use.
 

ChristopherLees

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The real problem with A Hard day's night is the slow speed of the songs..alot of the film was done at 25 f.p.s. to match the tv monitor screen replays in the movie which were Uk pal based 50hz interlaced...they didn't alter the speed of the songs to mime too when they originally filmed it, so all the songs are running slow when you go back to normal 24 f.p.s,,,However, when shown in the old days on Pal tv at 50hz interlaced, the songs are fine...

there have been the odd bootleg attempts at correcting this error..... not to mention any bootleg re edit attempts with "you can't do that" thrown back into the concert scene...or a few bonus audience scenes thrown in to extend "tell me why " to full length as well
 

EMB

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I don't remember the songs being so slow when I first saw the film, but then, I was very young and it was 1964, so who knows? That is a situation that should be easily fixed in the digital age, though, and I'm not sure anyone would mind if some of AHDN were, literally, 'brought up to speed'....

ED :)
 

rtbluray

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The songs are definitely too slow in the Miramax edition, AND (I've come to find out as others have pointed out) it's fake stereo/surround as well…a truly discrete (and sympathetic) 5.1 remix by Giles Martin would be MUCH appreciated for this new edition. :)
 

alk3997

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Remember the only reason for the fake surround was that Miramax didn't own the copyright for anything but the original mono soundtrack. Now why they would take a mono soundtrack and try to make 5.1-channel music out of it, with mid-2000s software, is beyond me. Judging by the dialog quality, the mono soundtrack had been significantly upgraded but then downgraded in order to place the 5.1-channel sticker on the box.

With this release I suspect Giles Martin doesn't have that problem. The people he works-for own the copyright to the multichannel masters and he'll also have the upgraded mono dialog to work with. Hopefully this will be definitive version of the film (until the next definite version of the film is released in 5-10 years). I just want this to be better than the late-1990s release, which was much better than the later ones from an audio standpoint.
 

ChristopherLees

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only the laserdisc was true stereo for everything ...even the little bits like during the dancing scene at the party were in true stereo...but unless you're watching a pal version recorded from a showing on pal tv, the whole thing has always been slow, and the later part with the concert is the slowest part...just compare the 2 versions of "I should have known better" the train version is in a slightly higher key to the concert version.
 
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