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[Archived] Aliens (1986) [Project: Celluloid — Branching Regrade]
#1
Hello everyone, been a while since I've done a regrade project. Had to put my Big Trouble In Little China one on hold since I was never fully happy with my results at the time (though I may revisit it one day since I have better ideas at how to handle that).

Anyways, I want preface this thread also real fast that this is not intending to undermine PDB's future efforts with his James Cameron Project as it's intended to stand alone as its own thing, especially given that I didn't create this grade as an attempt to fully recreate the original 35mm color timing but rather just adjust the BD's grading to give a photochemical leaning. I also imagine PDB's project will turn out better looking with his proper shot-by-shot adjustments along with general master enhancements as a whole to help hide any visible artifacting.



So with that said, I present to you all the "seamlessly branching" Project: Celluloid blanket regrade of Aliens!

[Image: Aliens-1986-Branching-Regrade-Project-Ce...-00-59.jpg]



The regrade itself is fairly simple in principle: A Dr. Dre generated LUT that was then further adjusted in Resolve to properly set a clean white point (no highlights should be clipped—though the image as a whole will appear brighter as a result of the grade which may make some of the master's baked clipping more noticeable) and then applied to all of the available footage from the Anthology Blu-ray master of both Theatrical and Special Edition.

[Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h45m12s172.png] [Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h45m15s324.png]

[Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h52m28s351.png] [Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h52m31s246.png]

[Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h59m54s055.png] [Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-15h59m57s334.png]

[Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-16h05m52s921.png] [Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-16h06m05s514.png]

[Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-16h09m04s578.png] [Image: vlcsnap-2022-08-20-16h09m07s642.png]

As a whole saturation has been pushed harder—with blues especially taking on a rich cyan tone now rather than the dull teals of the BD—with color separation also being generally improved as a result. It's a bit quirky in areas but I think it's generally a massive improvement for the most part.

Furthermore the regrade was rendered in Rec.2020 and then converted to xvYCC via AviSynth in an attempt to help contain some of the more extreme colors tints within some sort of wider gamut / color space. I have no way to tell if it exactly works admittedly, but given it displays Rec.709 fine for the most part (with slight color shifting in the reds being the most notable byproduct of the process) I just decided to take a leap of faith given hardly anyone's encoding their projects with that particular transfer characteristic in mind and wanted to see what happens.



Now one of the other interesting things about this project that I want to go over is the aforementioned "seamless branching". Originally I tried to research creating my own custom BD disc with seamless branching but unfortunately it seems the only software that can actually do this is behind a giant paywall, so that was tossed out the window. However, I was determined to try and figure out an alternative to seamless branching somehow, stumbling across a rather odd feature MKVs have known as "Ordered Chapters".

With a bit of research and a lot of patience, I've been able to create a single MKV with properly setup ordered chapters for all three of the movie's primary cuts: Theatrical, Special Edition & CBS Television.

HOWEVER, there is one big caveat with this feature, and that is that—unfortunately—support for ordered chapters is rather limited it seems for most players. Thus I'll lay it out like so...
  • The Good: Ordered chapters are confirmed to be functional with VLC, MPC-HC and MPV and the theatrical should work on any player (doesn't use ordered chapters to stitch together the cut)
  • The Bad: Ordered chapters' end times are loose depending on programs, leading to scenes cutting sooner than it should be (with VLC jumping prematurely by around 1 second and MPC-HC by approximately 5 frames)
  • The Ugly: MPV is the only tested player that switches accurately, but it doesn't detect the "hidden" chapter flag and requires the user to do a lot of skipping if they want to watch the TV cut specifically

The default edition plays each of the cuts one after the other, so for players that can't switch titles (like MPV), all you'd have to do is skip ahead once for the theatrical cut and twice for the special edition and, unfortunately, as implied above, 28 times for the television cut. I'll also put the timestamps down below as displayed in MPV to keep in mind...

  1. Theatrical: 00:01:58.618
  2. Special Edition: 02:19:12.594
  3. CBS Television: 04:53:39.602

It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's definitely cumbersome if one wanted to watch one of the alternative cuts. That said, I do think it's a far better solution than trying to encode the regrade three separate times for each individual cut. Not to mention the fact that most people prefer the theatrical cut anyways (I'm in the minority who grew up with the Special Edition cut and favor it).



As far as included audio and subtitle tracks go, I practically muxed in everything the BD had to offer. That said, about half the tracks are not supported by the alternative cuts of the movie, so a fair handful of the tracks will have "{Theatrical}" prefix to indicate this issue. The only track that got re-encoded was the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (which got compressed to FLAC to save space).

Additionally, I've synced up the THX and SE LD tracks as lossless Dolby stereo solutions (replacing the AC3 2.0 track included on the BD). I'm not 100% happy with them as I think they're a bit loose / drifty for my liking, but I don't think you'd notice anything under normal circumstances (as I believe they're only off by a frame or two depending on the scene at hand). I patched in the SE / TC scenes depending on the track though they're very makeshift.

Not sure exactly what track I recommend using overall, but given this past thread, I'm theorizing the following:

People who want to listen to the movie to how it sounded theatrically would probably best be reaching for the 4.1 AC3 track (which is unfortunately lossy and offers no SE support). However, the THX LD mix should be stemming from the 70mm elements as well (if the 4.1 wasn't) but remixed to 5.1 for home video. This mix was then likely remastered to the DTS-HD MA track on the BD as they seem to be very similar as a whole to my ears—which makes sense given both sport the THX label.

Of course, take my opinion regarding that subject as you will.



Without further ado, if you wish to download a copy of this MKV, please shoot me a message in private. I also feel inclined to remind y'all though that requesters are presumed to be BD owners of the movie—as this project is intended to be a companion piece and not as a means of piracy.
[Image: ivwz24G.jpg]
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#2
Congratulations on the finished project!
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Thanks given by: LucasGodzilla
#3
(2022-08-21, 04:50 PM)applesandrice Wrote: Congratulations on the finished project!

Agreed, looks like a real winner!

Love that the TV cut was included.
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Thanks given by: LucasGodzilla , Stamper
#4
From what I tested it seemed to work just fine in kodi, at least for theatrical and special edition. I couldn't get it to play the TV cut at all, it just stopped after the credits of the SE. I didn't sit down and watch the whole thing straight through yet to test if there was any noticeable frame-skipping. MPV worked just fine. I see why ordered chapters aren't used very much, it's a pretty clunky setup.
But otherwise I really like how this looks! Much nicer then the colors on the blu-ray IMHO.
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Thanks given by: LucasGodzilla
#5
Haven't gotten a chance to comment, this is an EXPERT regrade, very much meticulously done with DrDre's matching tool. The care to really line it up with a 35mm reference shows.

Congrats @LucasGodzilla , it's an awesome one!
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Thanks given by: LucasGodzilla
#6
(2022-09-14, 04:46 PM)The Aluminum Falcon Wrote: Haven't gotten a chance to comment, this is an EXPERT regrade, very much meticulously done with DrDre's matching tool. The care to really line it up with a 35mm reference shows.

Congrats @LucasGodzilla , it's an awesome one!

Agreed
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Thanks given by: LucasGodzilla
#7
Hi everyone.
Does anyone have a link to a copy of this project?
Aliens is one of my favorite movies, but the author no longer has it available.
Thanks!
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