Monthly Three: Which is the true version; remaster or original?

When Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition was released, it was largely panned by the fans due to its remastering. The original Predator has a lot of film grain and dust in its image due to the film stock used. The aforementioned BD release had gone through a heavy digital remastering, as for whatever reason the amount of grain and dust was deemed unacceptable by the higher powers whoever decided on these matters. The removal of dust and grain can have an impact on the film, and at times characters look like wax figures of themselves due to the smoothing. Another thing that’s usually done with remasters is colour correcting and brightening the scenes for further clarity. The AVS Forums has a rather expanded comparison with few selected screencaps.

The question is, is this the “real” version of Predator? The remastered one, or the original grainy one? The intention of the remastered version was to upgrade the movie to new generation and definition, and it can be argued that Predator has never looked so slick, but at the same time, the remaster is largely panned by the fans due to the remastering itself. To many, simply digitally remastering from the original film reels, i.e. basically post-process it again with modern techniques. The size of the film, the quality of the stock and how degraded it is affects the final quality quite a lot. Digital remastering didn’t become common until sometime mid-2000’s, and most of original release DVDs before that either had a second grade LD or VHS transfer on them. It’s not uncommon to find VHS and Beta tapes that look better than some of their DVD counterparts, and LD largely had better sound quality than DVDs due to the compression methods. One could argue that it wasn’t until LD’s quality became completely obsoleted, but neither LD or VHS are completely obsolete, as not even half of the movies that are on those two formats have seen digital conversion for either DVD or BD.

Similar applies to music. Original masters are taken and modernised for whatever chosen format. Loudness War began with the advent of CD, and this has impacted how your music sounds. The same applies to mp3, but mp3 in itself is a lossy format that music enthusiasts want to avoid. The louder the music, the less definition each individual element in the song becomes, with dynamics reduced. Rather than trying to explain it further myself, I’d better let higher authority to explain all this.

Like with films, enthusiasts look for older versions of released albums because they have better mastering, and modern remasters are too loud. If you have followed ARG podcasts I do occasionally with Alternative Projects’ people, you should notice that they are ultimately a little low on volume, as I do not turn up the volume for loudness.

Does a remaster look better with its visuals against the original is up to an opinion, but at the same time we should consider the age pieces have been made in.

Visual and sound technology advances constantly, sound less so. If you want to keep up with the best pictures, you’d need to purchase a new screen once in five years at least. With sound, you can run with a good set for a good decade and then some. Star Trek is a good example of remastering, as the BD versions comes with both original version and ones that have been retouched with newly recorded sound and CG to replace old effects as well as add new elements to the screen. Star Trek is old and was made to be seen on 1960’s television, not on 2016’s 4k screens. While the BD’s remasters look great after their proper remastering, you can see every single seam, scratch and crack on the sets and costumes.

Whether or not you regard the changes depicted in the video above to be valid or something to be desired, that’s completely up to one’s own devices.

With video games, old PC porting could be regarded as remastering the original code for a new platform, as a new platform always required a new level of coding. For example, the visuals, sound and controls between ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and NES versions of Double Dragon all differ largely due to the platforms themselves and the code in them.

Unlike with audio and films, porting a game usually required some sort of reworking, sometimes from the ground up, down- or upgrading, or completely reworking sprites and other assets from original version, be it arcade or whatever else. In modern era, most games are developed porting in mind for multiple platforms and everything from design and visuals mirror this, with PC version often getting shafted because of the cross-contamination of platforms.

HD Collection are the game equivalent of film and music remastering, as the original elements have been taken and given a sleeker look to them. Nevertheless, the code underneath the new visuals has been reworked in every HD re-release, for better or worse. Zone of the Enders HD Collection is a good example of a long-awaited port, which fares worse than its PS2 original. While the games between platforms are essentially the same game, the HD port suffers from constant slowdowns and framedrops, with some particle effects and the like losing to the visuals of the PS2 originals. With video and audio, one doesn’t need to concern themselves on the action of the consumer, as there is no interaction between the consumer and the piece, unlike with games.

In order for any HD port to make their original versions obsolete, it has three core criteria; it has to run at least as well as the original with no drops in FPS count that did not occur in the original, the visuals need to be clearer and in higher definition and the sound mixing needs to be on the same level. Some HD remasters simple don’t do it, running worse than the original, and very few get a chance, like ZOE did. Konami essentially reworked ZOE HD Collection‘s code to run the game better, which is a rarity.

With remasters there comes the question what is the definitive version of each works? Is the original, untouched version of Predator the one true version over the BD digital remaster? Remasters rarely try to actively change the product, but with the likes of Star Trek you have sound, backgrounds and visual effects changed completely. Is the original, unaltered footage the true version of the series, or is the new reworked footage that contain alterations? Furthermore, Metropolis‘ BD release didn’t simply see a remaster, but almost complete restoration of missing footage that was edited out due to how badly the original cut of the film was received.

While Star Trek’s footage was tweaked, the episodes themselves have not altered in story or pace, and whichever version is the definitive one is up to opinions. However, with Metropolis this is not the case. Because of Channing Pollock’s cut altered the story and the pace of the movie to a large degree to the point of altering Fritz Lang’s original vision, some argue that it is not the definitive version over the restored one, despite Pollock’s cut being the one that defined the film in history. Rather than calling on cut more definitive over the other, I would call the restored one being more in-line with Lang’s vision of the movie, in all good and bad, and Pollock’s cut being the more iconic one. SF Debris reviewed Metropolis recently, and goes over some of these elements in more depth.

Whatever one’s personal view is on remasters, they have their place due to the constant advance in technology and formats. Remastering in itself is not the thing to be worried about, but the methods, intentions and goals that remastering has. At times, remasters will see something like with the Predator, trying to fix and upgrade the original to new standards with rather lacklustre results. Other times, the remaster is simply stays true to the original look and intention of the piece without mucking around with it, like with the recent Fight! Iczer-1 release.

Creating an expansive franchise

I don’t know what drugs âge’s staff was in when they thought up Muv.Luv’s premise, but I want some. A normal guy getting transferred to an alternate world where he must grow through endless trials until he comes to a point where he must take matters at his own hands. The setting allows them to expand the story as much as they please in principle. The first part, Muv-Luv EXTRA, is its own entity and needs no further story. However, the general world of Unlimited and Alternative is a treasure trove.

In Unlimited the reader does not really see much of the world where BETA roam. We see the main character Shirogane Takeru’s survival as a soldier in another world and that’s basically that. We never see the enemy, we only hear about them. We never see the world surrounding the military base, we just hear about it. In Alternative we see much more of the world, the politics that are going on and the players on the world’s theatre. It’s a masterfully plaid out and presented, and the build of the world is cohesive and expanding. However, in Alternative itself the world is but a stage and the story follows where Takeru goes. It’s his and Sumika’s story, nothing more, nothing less.

Her story is something that… well, I’ll let it be for now

âge has opted to doing numerous side stories for Muv-Luv’s BETA-verse, so to speak. Muv-Luv Alternative Chronicles are a set of discs that contain stories that are about the world and it’s history Takeru lives in, and ultimately gives his most in. Takeru is the end of the current stories told; Muv-Luv Unlimited the Day After, Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse, The Faraway Dawn, Euro Front, Schwarzesmarken and so on. All of these stories take place before the main series, before Takeru’s story, except The Day After, but we’ll come to that. Schwarzesmarken for example takes place far before Takeru enters this world, and expands the backgrounds on the Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF) and the how the political situations have been building up. Faraway Dawn takes a closer look at your normal run-of-the-mill Surface Pilot’s desperate fight against the BETA. This is actually a turned-based tactics game, which allows a bit more immersion and insight how difficult the fight against the BETA really is. Total Eclipse, which is getting an animation series released this summer, follows bunch of test pilots that develops the next generation of TSFs, and the characters give more insight to certain factions in the world at large.

The Day After is part of Takeru’s story, but in another way. It’s part that we never see during the main series, but what we will feel through his introspection. The Day After takes place after Unlimited’s endings, where the world is in brink of collapse. The BETA are everywhere, the world’s oceans has crashed elsewhere in Europe, flooding it. Humanity fights more among themselves than against the BETA, and people are abusing each other as well as manipulating to their own ends. Takeru lives through these events more than once. These events are the ones that finally make him to man up, and push him towards his own selected destiny.

âge most likely had thought this over as they developed the story and the world back in the early 2000’s after releasing Kimi ga Nozomu Eien. They had a franchise at their hands, but no real direction where to go with it, or no knowledge what the general audience would think of it. Well, seeing Muv-Luv’s one of the most revered visual novel series to date tells something. The BETA-verse in Unlimited and Alternative has literally a world filled with untapped potential. âge can tell stories before the BETA, the stories during the first contact with the BETA, and everything that came after. Everything that happens during before Takeru’s story will tell a story of brave men and women fighting a losing fight, where there is no real way to win, not until a light of hope is glistening in the horizon. If âge ever decides to tell stories after Takeru’s efforts, the tone will be much different; there will be hope and newly found strength that wasn’t there before.

This is how a potentially killer app franchise can be made through one compelling story.

Giving the audience something they can relate to at first, and then taking them along the ride, introducing them to something else and completely open allows them to ask What is there? When the audience begs this question to be answered, the storyteller may sit down and tell what there is to tell.

Expansive is the keyword, but it can’t be a world that lacks content. In Muv-Luv’s case you have a world’s full of content already there, never seen. There’s a huge sourcebook, Muv-Luv Alternative Integral Works, that basically tells the ´current´ state of the world and a little bit more. There’s nothing keeping âge from telling stories outside the main series, as they matter just as much. Takeru’s story is intertwined with the BETA-verse’s own history, but can be told as a separate entity.

What certain franchises lack is the content of the world. For example, while the Alien comics and books have expanded the Alien universe, they’re just expansion of the world, they’re not organically part of it, similarly to Star Wars’ prequel films are like different tree of the world rather than part of the supporting body. Predators actually has potential to have organic growth, if the Predators’ hunting society was more elaborated on. Predators actually managed to expand the world a bit more, but for some reason the film wasn’t really well received.

You can’t add stories to a franchise and be done with it. It isn’t really enough just to do an additional story in the spirit of the original work, thou it helps a lot. The original story itself has to have content that’s not used as background information or the like. Star Wars IV did this well by just telling a bit about the Clone Wars, but the Clone Wars that we got wasn’t in spirit of the original work.

A game sequels on the other hand have something different to work on. They have to have more content, but they should always stay true to the original content. It has to be organic growth, like Super Mario Bros. to Super Mario Bros. 3. You see more of the Mushroom Kingdom, you get more usable items, you get the map screen etc.

In Muv-Luv’s case, all the side stories are tied to the main series in the main series’ content. The stories, and the tactical games, all are part of the world. They’re not hanging threads here and there with only few connections, but something that the audience asked for.

And for now, something completely different