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DVD Engineer - Rick Dean


DVD Press Conference
September 7, 2001

JW - Jim Ward
VL - Van Ling
RM - Rick McCallum
PH - Pablo Helman
RD - Rick Dean
JS - Jon Shenk

JW: OK, the next person we'd like to have up here is Rick Dean, who is the Supervising Engineer on the entire THX certification process. So, Rick, there he is. So for all those technical questions I could not answer yesterday guys, this is the man.

Q: Did you use a digital master for the DVD?

RD: A video master was created for the VHS. This was the same source material that was used for the digital release as well. We simply went back to that grand master and ensured that it was cleaned up and ready for DVD. One of the differences between DVD and VHS of course is you've got much more on the DVD format. So we did pay extra attention, but the same source material was used.

JW: What is the average video bit rate on this?

RD: The bit rate is really a measure more of the type of content that's throughout the movie. You know compression is a matter of being efficient with the bits that you have to work with. And so with this type of title, it's a scene by scene process to make sure that every scene was replicated correctly using (?) compression. So it was a tedious task to make sure. Actually if you just say what the average bit rate is it really doesn't measure what the quality of the movie is.

JW: Since THX was involved step by step with Lucasfilm on this project will that foretell the future for THX?

RD: I think the program as it started out with laserdisc it was rumored that we were simply a looking over the shoulder process. Very much now what we' ve done over the last two years and with DVD becoming such a heavy implement in the business now, is we're kind of much more of a post production service as management group. And this is the first time that we've been able to really spread our wings and practice. Lucasfilm was very, very receptive to a lot of the things that we did. We had a lot of the heavy consultation from Van Ling, folks at ILM, the creative folks up here at the Ranch, and it was just a wonderful collaboration of effort.

JW: How did you decide to use Laser Pacific?

RD: The technology that we implemented with this, and again I'll go with what was mentioned earlier, we did not develop technology because it's cool. We use the technology in the best way to tell the story here. And to bring the story out on DVD. Laser Pacific had certain experiences with high-definition 24 frame, and because a lot of his post was done down in the Burbank/Hollywood area they were the chosen facility for this.

JW: Were there any changes in the soundtrack in the Dolby Surround EX mix?

RD: No, there was not. We were very keen on keeping the original acoustic design of Episode I that was used in the theatre for the home as well.

JW: Is there any sacrifice having EX mix on the DVD disc?

RD: Actually part of the beauty of what EX does is it simply adds additional information that can be extracted in the rear surrounds. So really, you are hearing this content. Even if you don't have the EX system. What you won't do is you won't hear the added benefit of the rear channel. But this does not take any more bits. The surround channels are stereo in a 5.1 mix anyway. So this is just a more efficient use of that.

JW: What is THX's point of view on the dual air change, and then particular on this disc.

RD: That's a very detailed selection. What you don't want to do is have areas of the movie that will have a sustained music going between scenes or any dissolves because inherent with DVD there is going to be an interruption right at that point. So yes, this is a very often a difficult decision. At one point it actually took quite a long time to come to agreement on.

JW: Alright any other question.How long was the process for your involvement in compression in particular?

RD: It's hard for me to even come to a number of days with that. After the movie was finally approved we went right into this mode. Some of the best facilities that we knew of were selected for this, and I can say that the repeat of creating the movie was done again for the DVD. Certainly not a matter of years but certainly a matter of a lot of time, a lot of hours working in small, dark rooms and as I'm sure most of you know. And one of the things that we focused on and were given the leverage to do is to actually question each and every (time?). Rather than have this go through in a factory stance, we were able to go through and tweak things. And this often did not take more time. We were very efficient with the use of time, use of manpower, but applying the technologies that we've been developing for the last three years, and really putting them into practice with this. These facilities who do DVD titles every day of the year are now using a lot of these new techniques in their everyday work now too. So that's rewarding in itself.

JW: OK, that's great Rick.

Q: Is there an international education program to teach people about the benefits of THX?

RD: I think the most efficient way to do that is through our website. We are trying to come up with more of an education forum on this as well. There has been an unfortunate misconception that we have not even told our story as fully as we should as we go along. Again, we are not just a Quality Control...

(missing end of quote because of tape change from side A to side B)

JW: OK great, Rick thanks so much

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