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 Side breaks

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laserkb

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PostSubject: Side breaks   Wed Mar 30, 2011 9:31 am

One issue peculiar to laserdiscs is the issue of where to put the side breaks during mastering. I've seen some really terrible examples where the break comes almost in the middle of a spoken sentence. Quite often, there's a much more obvious point a few minutes later or earlier, a scene end, for example, with a fade to black. Who decided these things and on what basis? Clearly, disc side lengths were a factor (CLV as opposed to CAV) but the breaks were often placed thoughtlessly and arbitrarily.

I discovered that the side break for certain movies varied according to the edition. The following titles all had 'poor' breaks in earlier editions that were 'improved' in later releases. Paramount's first pressing of GREMLINS was a prime example, the later remastered edition was much better in this respect. Similarly, the earlier and later pressings of FROM DUSK TILL DAWN were another good example. Most dramatic was the CLV edition of NATURAL BORN KILLERS - Side 1 ended right in the middle of a dramatic highlight - while the CAV boxed set put the breaks in just the right places.

You'd have thought the decision was obvious in most cases, but apparently not. Does anyone else have examples of particularly irritating side breaks, or especially sensitive ones?
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HippieDalek

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Wed Mar 30, 2011 10:20 am

I'd say the best side breaks I've seen have been on the Abyss Special Edition (PAL CLV) and Jurassic Park (NTSC CAV).

The Abyss placed them very well, each one felt really natural and in some cases came at the resolution of a dramatic moment of plot, so was very satisfying.

I found the side breaks on Jurassic Park very interesting as, for me, they actually changed the tone of the film and highlighted its more comedic aspects. For example the first side ends with Dr. Grant treading in triceratops droppings, another side ends with "Well...we're back in the car again..." etc. Each side ends with a joke.

So far I've not encountered any bad side changes though on the Flash Gordon serials there's the occasional break in the middle of an episode, and when an episode is around 20 minutes long it's a bit irritating, but I guess by doing this they were able to keep the boxsets down to three discs each rather than four.
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laserkb

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:10 pm

Yes, I thought the PAL edition of THE ABYSS was well done, but unfortunately it had the 'Beanie Takes A Dip' censored out at the request, I understand, of the RSPCA. That's why I've stuck with the NTSC edition.

And you're right about side breaks in the middle of episodes of old serials - they're very annoying and really interrupt the flow. THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN MARVEL and ZORRO RIDES AGAIN are two more examples where this happens, but if you're into old 'chapter plays' on laserdisc look out for some of the 1950s sci-fi serials from Republic - KING OF THE ROCKET MEN, RADAR MEN FROM THE MOON, ZOMBIES OF THE STRATOSPHERE - 12 episodes each. That's 3 per side on double disc sets - and no interruptions!
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HippieDalek

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:23 pm

Love the sound of Zombies of the Stratosphere, will have to check it out.

I don't really mind the censoring on the Abyss PAL laserdisc...it's just the way it was done, the picture quality drops dramatically and even changes aspect ratio! It sticks out like a sore thumb! Apparently the VHS versions had the same problems.

I've been thinking about getting the NTSC Abyss Special Edition, but I'm not sure the US version is available in CLV, all seems to be CAV. As I don't have a player with auto-flip on the whole I prefer CLV. Basically the PAL copy is perfect for me except for that shoddy bit of editing.
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laserkb

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:18 pm

My NTSC version of THE ABYSS is CLV. It's the longer restored Director's Cut, over 4 sides in a gatefold sleeve and includes the documentary "The Making of..." as well. It's a great edition, THX mastering, AC-3 for those with the equipment, and a superb picture, easily the equal of the DVD. And Beany does his fluid breathing intact (Chapter 13 on Side 1). It's worth picking up a copy if you can find one. I had the PAL edition from Encore Entertainment but this Fox edition in NTSC really takes the underwater biscuit!
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nissling



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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Sat Apr 02, 2011 11:30 am

The US widescreen edition of Reservoir dogs has a terrible sidebreak. Last line on the first side is a question and the first line on the second side is the answer. What's strange is that the Pan&Scan-edition that was released by the same time has a much more sensible sidebreak, what happened?
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HippieDalek

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Sun Apr 03, 2011 1:04 pm

laserkb wrote:
My NTSC version of THE ABYSS is CLV.

That sounds great, sound exactly like my PAL one but without the shoddy editing.

Is this the one? [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]? All the 'Special Edition' ones seem to be CAV, but this one is the 'Extended Edition' and I've always wondered what the difference is.

Thanks for the info.
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laserkb

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PostSubject: The Abyss Extended Version   Sun Apr 03, 2011 5:35 pm

To HippieDalek:

Yes, this is the edition I've got from 1993. I never had the CAV so-called Special Edition so I can't compare, but this edition says on the back cover:

"Featuring 28 minutes of restored footage not shown in theatrical release, this THX certified LaserDisc transfer, with the incredible realistic impact of Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound, will plunge you deeper into THE ABYSS than ever before."

It's actually 28 minutes of restored footage and 3 extra minutes of credits. My only comparison is with the 1989 theatrical version (which I saw), and the most memorable addition is the 2½ minute sequence with the huge wave approaching the beach with all the holidaymakers on it which is then halted before it crashes onto them. However, these's lots more added stuff which occurs more or less throughout the entire movie and it's all notated and described in detail with Chapter references in the gatefold inside sleeve.

Worth getting if you can track down a copy. The sound alone is an improvement on the PAL version.
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HippieDalek

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Sun Apr 03, 2011 6:10 pm

Cheers, sounds like the NTSC equivalent of the one I have, will try and track it down.
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Darth Laser

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:37 pm

Just witnessed a cracker,
watching the PAL Alien 3 and Ralph Brown's character in response to the "death by giant fan" scene states:

"F*CK"

cut to black... classy!
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HippieDalek

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PostSubject: Re: Side breaks   Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:41 am

Darth Laser wrote:
"F*CK" cut to black... classy!

Ha ha, I like that one
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