Kim Aubry interview HD : DVD producer Coppola, George Lucas

En 2007 j’ai demandé à trois producteurs stars de DVD ce qu’ils pensent de la HD, est-elle tout bonus ?…
Kim Aubry, ingénieur du son, collaborateur intime de Francis Coppola a conçu les DVD de THX-1138, Apocalypse Now, Le Parrain… Des pans entiers du cinéma !

Version originale anglaise complète ci-dessous après la version française éditée pour publication

Version française éditée

Bliss : Quel est le premier film/DVD sur lequel vous travaillez avec un format HD ?

Kim Aubry : Notre premier enregistrement en vidéo HD a été une interview de Francis Coppola en 2004 pour le DVD de son film La Vallée du Bonheur (1967), jamais utilisé en HD. En 2005 nous avons commencé à filmer en HD des documentaires pour l’édition 2 DVD de Apocalyse Now The Complete Dossier, mais on nous a dit qu’à cause de la confusion de l’industrie autour des formats, le film sortirait sur DVD SD (Z1). Notre premier gros effort en HD a été fourni pour filmer les 70’ de bonus pour la nouvelle édition du Dracula (Coppola, 1992). Le documentaire d’époque a été filmé dans 16 mm impeccable, nous avons pu le transférer en HD. Sony a l’intention de sortir le film sur 2 DVD SD et en Blu-ray dans l’année. Nous avons créé les menus (formidables, ndr) et les bonus pour le DVD de Marie-Antoinette qui doit sortir en Blu-ray. Nous travaillons sur une édition spéciale de L’Idéaliste (1998) qui aura des éléments en HD.

Bliss : Avez-vous une approche différente pour les bonus selon les formats HD DVD et Blu-ray ?

Kim Aubry : Préparation des menus et programmation sont deux choses différentes. Nous concevons les éléments graphiques et l’authoring est confié à d’autres.

Bliss : Si l’un de vos précédents DVD ressort en HD, y travaillerez-vous ? Comment allez vous effectuer la transition entre SD et HD pour les documents d’archives déjà mastérisés ou à venir ?

Kim Aubry : Le transfert et la restauration coûte plus cher en HD parce que les imperfections sont beaucoup plus visibles en haute résolution et la réparation digitale bien plus longue et onéreuse. De nombreux professionnels m’ont dit que d’après leurs enquêtes marketings, la plupart des gens trouvent que de la SD lue sur un lecteur DVD capable d’upscaling ou même sur un lecteur HD DVD ou Blu-ray comme la PlayStation 3 rend très bien sur un diffuseur HD. Les studios n’ont donc aucune motivation pour dépenser plus d’argent pour remastériser les bonus en HD.

Bliss : Est-ce utile de filmer documentaires et interviews en HD ?

Kim Aubry : Nous avons commencé à filmer avec une HDCAM le documentaire d’un film tourné en Afrique du Nord, et pour des raisons de budget et les incertitudes concernant le Blu-ray et le HD DVD, l’équipe a continué avec des caméras SD !

Bliss : Les réalisateurs avec qui vous travaillez sont-ils concernés par la HD ?

Kim Aubry : C’est une distraction pour eux. Ils sont d’abord préoccupés à finir leur film ou planifier leur prochain.

Bliss : Les fonctions interactives propres au Blu-ray et au HD DVD ouvrent-elles de nouvelles possibilités ?

Kim Aubry : Dans les DVD du Parrain et de THX 1138 nous avons créé un peu d’interactivité. Si nous utilisons nous-mêmes ces nouveaux outils sur des BD ou des HD DVD, cela ouvrira des portes. Si d’autres le font, ce ne sera qu’un gadget.

Bliss : Avez-vous une préférence professionnelle entre le HD DVD ou le Blu-ray ?

Kim Aubry : Non. C’est Coca Cola et Pepsi.

Propos recueillis et traduits en mars 2007 par François Bliss de la Boissière

Lire aussi…

  • Charles de Lauzirika : DVD producteur pour Ridley et Tony Scott
  • Van Ling : DVD producer pour James Cameron,  Star Wars Trilogy…

Version originale anglaise complète

Bliss : Do you think there is a need for high definition bonus or is it still for some happy few passionate? Meaning, is it worth the efforts for you, the studios and even the movie directors?



Kim Aubry : I can’t really speak to the economics of creating new bonus content in the HD format for release on HD homevideo.
I can say that IF you have access to visual elements that are potentially of higher quality than standard definition video, obviously anything you produce will be of greater value eventually, as the world switches to HD.

Bliss : What is the first film you worked, or are working on, that is going to be released on any HD formats?

Kim Aubry : The first visual element that we photographed in HD was an on-camera video introduction by Francis Coppola for the 2004 re-release of the 1967 film “Finian’s Rainbow” on DVD, although this never went out in HD.
We began work on documentary featurettes for our special 2-disc “Apocalypse Now – The Complete Dossier” in 2005. Originally, we intended to shoot and finish all new materials in HD because the North American distributor intended an HD home video release. But shortly after starting work, we were told that due to confusion in the industry over formats, the plan was to release the DVD in just standard definition. We ended up finalizing only the “Watch Apocalypse Now with Francis Coppola” featurette in HD, and as of this writing, we are unaware of any plans to release the film or sbonus materials in an HD format.

Our first full-blown HD effort was in 2006 when we completed around 70 minutes of new bonus materials for a new release of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” (1992).
It is Sony’s plan to release both a 2-disc SD and a BD version of the film later this year with these new documentaries produced in HD.  
We created menus and some bonus materials for the release of Marie Antoinette which may get a BD release. 
We are now working on a special edition DVD of Coppola’s 1997 film “The Rainmaker” which will have some elements in HD. We do not know the distributor’s plans regarding HD-DVD or BD release on this title.

Bliss : Do you have a different approach regarding extras on HD DVD or Blu-ray?
 


Kim Aubry : No. The menu preparation and programming is different, but we only do graphic design elements which are authored by others.

Bliss : If, or when, one of your previous DVD is re-released on a HD format, will you work on it ? Would the bonus be a simple transfer from the DVD or would you work again on it?

Kim Aubry : 

I would say it depends on whether or not we can improve the original bonus content in any way by incorporating newer or better visual elements.
If the distributor plans to just re-use the original SD materials, they don’t need us. Many industry insiders have told me that, according to their marketing research, most people think standard definition materials viewed on a up-converting DVD player or even a HD-DVD or BD player (like a Sony PS3) when seen on an HD display look great, and they have no motivation to spend more money to re-master the bonus elements in HD.

Bliss : Did the digital transfers of past archives have been readied for HD formats and could be ported without going back to the digital scan? What is your opinion regarding those past documents? Going HD with them or keeping the already digital transfer? What is the position of the studios you work with regarding this issue?



Kim Aubry : No simple answer, no official position that I know of. Every case is different. 
There are HD 1920 X 1080 transfers of films made 3-5 years ago that are not very good. 
No doubt, there are “2-k” scans that have been made that could be improved upon.
There are other HD transfers made 6 years ago that are fantastic. 
Some films are finished (for creating theatrical 35mm release prints) using Digital Intermediate technology for color correction, replacing the laboratory color timing step. But until quite recently, the “DI” masters did not necessarily consider the issue of making HD masters directly for the eventual broadcast, or home video markets. Indeed, most films finished with DI, end up with a film negative element that is scanned on a Telecine for home video, which might sound a bit strange. I say, this is a constantly evolving process, and the most important thing a responsible studio can and should do is to consult the filmmakers anytime they re-transfer the image to confirm that they are reflecting the original artistic intent.

At the moment, some of the distributors are having internal discussions about what characteristics make an older film title suitable for HD-DVD or BD release. 
I have heard many executives dismiss important classic films for BD because they fear it will not “wow” the audience sufficiently. Imagine a 1950s recording industry executive saying “We don’t need to release this recording of Pablo Casals from the 1940s on LP, we want to launch the new HiFi LP format with just brand new “sparkling” stereophonic recordings!”
 I find this point of view very strange.

Bliss : What about future archives you might dig up, which kind of technical treatment would you do for the HD formats (or not)?

Kim Aubry : 

Don’t understand the question. We are doing some restoration work for some wonderful documentary films made in the 1960s and 1970s. 
We encouraged the filmmakers to locate the best film elements possible and we transferred them to HD format on a good telecine. 
We see that the cost of doing transfer and restoration at HD is far greater than SD, because imperfections that require DNR or other kinds of treatments are far more visible at the greater resolution, and digital repair work is far more time consuming and expensive.

Bliss : Are you shooting your documentaries and interviews in HD ? Since when, or do you plan to? Is it relevant to do so?


Kim Aubry : Yes, we do. (See #2 above). Since 2003. Sometimes HDCAM 1920 X 1080 24P, sometimes Varicam 24 P.

Bliss : Are movie directors you work with concerned, interested by those high def contents that they may have to provide for future HD DVD or Blu-ray releases? Whether for a new projects or past projects?

Kim Aubry : Most directors I work with (so far) are preoccupied with finishing their film, or with making plans for their next film, and the technical details of the home video release seem like a distraction to them at the time. But this is changing, as filmmakers recognize the importance of the home video and electronic record we are creating, both artistically and commercially.

Bliss : Both HD DVD and Blu-ray may be programmed for some special interactivities during movie footage… Did you start working on that technology? Is it easy to do?  Does is really open some new doors for you as a DVD producer and maybe the consumer or is it just a gimmick?

Kim Aubry : 

I have very little experience with the interactivity. We tried to do some very basic interactive “added value” on some of our titles, including The Godfather DVD Collection which had a Corleaone Timeline plotted against actual news events, and a living Corleone Family Tree with many hidden aster eggs. In our THX 1138 DVD, we provided a “white rabbit” function that allowed viewers to jump out of the movie at pre-selected times and view sections of a documentary in which Walter Murch explained the audio style of that scene. If we use any of these new technical features in BD or HD-DVD, it will open doors; if someone else uses them, it will be a gimmick.

Bliss : 

Do you have a preference as a professional between the two formats : Blu-ray and HD DVD?



Kim Aubry : No. Coke and Pepsi. Warsaw Pact and NATO… One more note regarding the Dracula project.

 We were greatly aided in this because the “behind the scenes” unit that was on the set during the shooting of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1991-1992) was a proper 16mm film crew. We accessed the original 16mm documentary negative (more than 20 hours of behind-the-scenes footage) negative which was pristine, and we transferred it to HD. We cropped the original 4:3 aspect to 16:9 on a scene by scene basis. We also made use of over 80 hours of informal doc footage shot on Hi 8 videotape at 60i. We had to treat this footage to make it 24 fps progressive. These days, “making of” units on the set are shooting in MiniDV, or sometimes in Digibeta, but it is almost always standard def. 

We are working on creating bonus materials for a new feature that began photography in North Africa with a doc unit shooting in HDCAM, but after a few weeks, for budget reasons and uncertainties about BD and HD-DVD, the documentary unit actually switched down to standard definition cameras!

Ironically, the older films with doc footage on 16mm will make the transition to HD better.

Propos recueillis et traduits en mars 2007 par François Bliss de la Boissière

THX 1138 DVD menu by Kim Aubry
(Publié en 2007 dans le mensuel Les Années Laser)

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