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This review is from: Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot: The Complete Series (DVD)
A few years ago, digitally remastered, complete eps of Johnny Sokko, began airing on Hulu. They looked good, but were high pitched. Furthermore, the opening sequence began sort of abruptly, cutting off the first second and a half or so. Finally, at the end of each episode, there was no preview sequence, showing clips from the next episode. Those of us who remember the show, and who were fortunate enough to own bootlegs, remember this little preview sequence, quite well.
When a dvd release of this series was announced, I assumed it was going to be put together, using the same source elements as the episodes on Hulu, and I was right. Same pitch problem, same opening sequence, and no previews sequence. But there was one other problem. Unfortunately, SHOUT FACTORY goofed in the printing process of some of the episodes, and got the focus out of whack, as some people have observed. So, in that respect, what you see on Hulu is actually BETTER than the DVD release.
So, here's what I suggest. If you can't simply capture the eps from Hulu, then buy the DVDs. If you can, then don't. Unfortunately, my current computer doesn't allow me to capture very well, so I'm glad I got the dvds. If you're in the same boat as me, here's what I suggest: Rip the episodes to your hard drive, extract the audio, pitch it down to normal, then rejoin it to the video. Then find the episodes that are slightly blurry, and put them into an editing program that allows you to sharpen them a bit. It ain't perfect, but will likely help, a little.
But again, if you can stream Hulu flawlessly, and have a video capture device, that's your best bet. The booklet is fun and informative, but not to the tune of $30.00. LOL.
With all due respect to SHOUT, this release needs to be redone. Until it is, stick with your bootleg or Hulu, if one of those two is a current option. If not, then get the dvds, and enjoy them for what they are...childhood memories.
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 3, 2013 11:48:42 AM PDT
I'm interested in this focus issue, which you say affects some episodes. Can you point to specific episodes?
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2013 9:11:24 AM PDT
One King says:
Hey, my friend. Sorry for the delayed response. I'm just now getting to my "restoration" project for Johnny Sokko, and have only now begun to really take a good look at each episode. One thing that I noticed upon closer inspection is that "blurry" is a bit misleading. It's more like some episodes are "cleaner" looking than others. It's not a focus issue. It's just that some look rather "dull." The edges of buildings aren't as crisp, and the colors aren't as vibrant. Just think of watching an old movie on a syndicated channel, vs owning a digitally remastered copy on dvd. Same thing here. Some have that older "syndicated" look, and others have a more "dvd" look. None are BAD. All are a CLEAR improvement over the old vhs bootlegs, but are no different from the Hulu episodes.
If you still want me to tell you exactly what episodes are inferior, I can go through and make a note of them. Clearly, Shout didn't get the best prints to work from. Even the "good" ones are no match for the "Giant Robo" laserdiscs from Japan. Wow! If I could order those, that would be great. I already have the english soundtrack, thanks to Shout. I would just replace the Japanese track with the english one, and I'd be in business! LOL
Anyway, I'm probably just going to keep my set and punch up the color a bit, sharpen the edges, and redo the opening credits by finding all of those shots of Giant Robot, as they appear in the episodes and using THOSE shots instead. As for the actual credits, I'll choose a font that's a bit more exciting, and get rid of the long, drawn-out Orion Pictures logo that comes before every episode. LOL That, plus pitching the sound to the normal key, should make for a pretty good set. I'll probably post the new opening Credits on youtube, when I'm done. LOL.
Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. Let me know your thoughts, my friend. Always fun to chat with other Giant Robot fans.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2013 10:20:42 AM PDT
Thanks for the thorough response. I'm glad to hear it's likely not a focus issue, as that would be a serious error warranting a replacement program. As it stands, it seems like these discs are faithful transfers of flawed prints. I would suspect that the occasional softness comes from either soft photography, generation loss, or both. Again, I'm just glad it's not an issue with Shout scanning the print incorrectly. Thanks again, and good luck with your editing project!
In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2013 7:47:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2013 8:33:35 AM PDT
Great... So you totally drop the ball. The problem with the video on these dvd's is that they are over-sharped, not denoised at all, and bit-starved in high-action scenes. Johnny Sokko deserved more attention than this. They are not a "faithful transfer of flawed prints", because they show encoding artifacts (blockiness, over-sharping). There are places during the credits where still images have been used to replace static content, but no effort was made to clean up the still image used. Much of the video displays kinescoping artifacts consisting of heavy static (non-moving) dust and dirt which should have been easy for a professional lab to clean up.
In reply to an earlier post on May 2, 2013 12:29:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 2, 2013 12:30:37 PM PDT
Sorry if I was vague, but by "transfer" I was referring to Shout's initial (pre MPEG encoding) treatment and digitization of the film elements they had on hand. I stand by my statement that they transferred these elements with minimal apparent interference, which is both good and bad. The problems you are referring to are related to the encode as released on disc, not what people usually call the transfer.
What we have here is 26 episodes on four discs, with the video being encoded in VBR MPEG-2 at around 4-5 Mbps. Naturally, this will result in various compression artifacts including the macroblocking that you mentioned. This is especially true considering the elements used, which appear to have been 16mm prints removed from the original masters by multiple generations. Video compression algorithms such as MPEG-2 are bad at dealing with random noise such as grain, so given the inherent graininess of the source and the bandwidth of DVD, compression artifacts are to be expected.
Regarding noise reduction, I don't think there is much they could have done besides use more discs to allow for higher bitrate video. If they had de-noised the original transfer (i.e. reduced the appearance of film grain) it would have played less havoc with the compression algorithm, but would have also sacrificed what detail remained in the source elements. But since the noise you are referring to is mostly the result of MPEG-2 compression, no de-noising could be applied during mastering to remove it. If your television or player have options for reducing noise, as many do nowadays, you could try that.
Regarding sharpening, you may be right, but it is hard to tell given the layers of noise from film grain and compression artifacts. I got the impression of a fairly soft image behind this noise, but if you can point to a specific shot that shows obvious oversharpening, I'll look again.
Perhaps Johnny Sokko does deserve a more deluxe treatment, but that may not have been feasible. The only way to get top-quality masters would be to license the original series directly from Toei and release the Japanese version "Giant Robo". To then release the American version "Johnny Sokko" would require an additional license from MGM. While it would have been great for us fans if Shout had paid to license the show twice and then release it on a 5 or 6 disc set, it would likely have been a poor business decision due to the increase in cost. So of course what we got was the US version of the program, "Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot" along with the flawed master that is currently available for it, presented in a fairly low bitrate.
In reply to an earlier post on May 3, 2013 8:31:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 3, 2013 8:38:46 AM PDT
The "transfer" in this case was a kinescope job done by American International or Orion, or MGM. Not sure what you think you are talking about. Over-sharping is clearly visible as white lines around large dark regions. Should you really be going on at length about something you clearly know nothing about? Ever heard of a lowpass filter? Temporal denoising? Low bitrate is not the problem here, it's that the bits were eaten up by encoded non-gaussian noise, i.e. dust and dirt.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2013 4:30:42 AM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Aug 25, 2013 1:26:44 AM PDT]
Posted on Oct 9, 2013 5:30:03 PM PDT
Its to bad they were to lazy to clean them up, maybe Blu Ray will?
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