Anyone else remember good old Laserdisc, the forgotten format? It was the father of DVD and subsequently the grandfather of BluRay. The picture quality was variable (sometimes superior to VHS, sometimes inferior), the discs were big and bulky (same size as a LP but considerably heavier) and certainly here in the UK they were very hard to get hold of. But what really scuppered the format was the staggering cost. Leaving aside the price of the player itself (£500-£600 - a heck of a lot of bread back in the 80's/90's) the discs generally cost at least £35-£40... and often a lot more. In fact I got this 'Thunderball' US box set for "only" £60 in a sale. Other box sets I collected ('Seven', 'Evita', Branagh's 'Hamlet', etc.) set me back a whopping £130-£140. And when I say box set we're talking about just ONE film! Nevertheless, back in those pre-DVD days getting a film you loved in it's correct widescreen ratio and complete with bonus materials was so damn cool!
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But did it worked well on its time? Or it was any failure?
Some of the younger members here probably can't imagine what a gigantic leap forward VCRs were - to be able to watch a show any time you wanted to, and to be able to see a movie anytime that you wanted to (as long as it was about a year after it left theatres!). Suddenly we could do so many more things outside the house; we weren't tethered to our TVs and a slave to the schedule anymore!
the inner gate fold of my OHMSS cover is signed by George Lazenby and hanging on my wall
TWINE was released on LD. Good luck finding a copy!
So if you've ever wondered how the old video masters were made, or where they originated and how Bond used to be on video..look no further because I get super nerdy. Pretty much every master originated on LD and made its way down to VHS, Beta and then eventually the LD materials prepped for special editions were used on the DVDs.
Unfortunately the sad truth is that due to the remixing of audio tracks these days, there are many cases where the LD digital PCM audio tracks are still better sounding than technically superior releases. I'd argue that the original mixes are still best heard on LD for DN through TND, NSNA and CR '67 becuase they are uncompressed and digitally tampered with in any way.
GE and TND sound great on the Blu-ray Dts-hdma, but I give the nod the the DTS Laserdiscs for sounding just a tad bit more dynamic. GE also had the old Dolby mix with the very heavy bass LFE on the Laserdisc and first DVDs.
Completely loving your Bond laser disc videos. I'm always fascinated by previous video transfers of the Bonds. Never had a laser disc player myself, but remember watching some of these discs at a friend's house. I always felt the laser disc transfers looked more true to the cinematic prints in terms of color.
Some like DN are actually print sourced and most seem to have been from vaulted interpositives. They became the basis for all the tape and broadcast releases so it is like seeing something closer to the video master and properly letterboxed. Additionally the final runs were new remasters that tweaked color and added extras. Some improved and some were probably slightly less accurate. A boxset for each film was planned but this was abandoned due to the format ending and all the materials then became the Special edition DVDs. If you’ve ever seen those for the few titles that came out on the last THX Laserdisc run (DN, FRWL, GF, TB,TSWLM,MR) then you have essentially the same master digitally.
I too am fascinated by the older releases and have even seen some Beta and CED examples. LD is the way to go for quality and the letterboxed ones are the only way to do it properly. While it’s nice seeing the oldest releases and they are quite surprisingly watchable-it’s not recommended due to pan and scanning and hysterically bad time compression on the cbsfox initial LD releases.
One of my biggest wishes is to see a properly preserved original print of every film at least just for reference but sadly I’ve only gotten to see a handful and then a number of varying reissue prints.
It's really a interesting experience looking at copies that pre-date even the 1982-3 CBS/Fox USA VHS/Beta/LD releases. For the most part they are the same source but some have a few quirks and differences.
My video on Japanese 1980's Bond Laserdiscs
I'm curious about one thing regarding TLD. You brought up that the Fox release looked like it was based off of an actual print. I only have the VHS, but I assume that used the same transfer as the LD. During the sniper scene the point of view from the night vision sniper scope isn't bright green on the Fox video like it would be from the MGM LD up to 4K. It looks like it's just the raw footage of Kara on the balcony before they applied the night vision filter effect. Is it the same case with the Japanese LD or does it have the night vision filter?
I was going to ask the same thing. I remember thinking the CBS/Fox VHS release looked quite a bit like the cinematic prints. I would imagine it's the same source used on their LD. I don't have a LD player, but It might be worth me tracking down an old CBS/Fox VHS copy of this film just for the accurate color timing, even if it was pan and scan.
Excellent points there. I'd say another odd blue/green mix is the blackjack table in LTK. Some transfers it looks a bit turquoise greenish, others a rich blue. Most colors stills I've seen lean towards the blue side.