Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

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mfunk9786
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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#26 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 28, 2018 11:45 pm

perkizitore wrote:FIXED
mfunk9786 wrote:No discussion of how to pirate movies here, please. Even if they're unreleased.
You’re correct, thanks for that clarification!

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hearthesilence
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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#27 Post by hearthesilence » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:32 pm

perkizitore wrote:FIXED
mfunk9786 wrote:No discussion of how to pirate movies here, please. Even if they're unreleased.
Thanks for the clarification. Let me update my previous post and say that my estimate on the bottom frame was too conservative - it should be cropped a bit more, like 65 pixels. This will eliminate much of the burn-in timecode, but for some reason, they suddenly re-position the burn-in later in the picture at which point you'll get roughly half of the burn-in for the remainder of the film. Also unfortunate - the left and right side should have a little more picture, but for some reason they cropped the sides for the transfer.

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JamesF
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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#28 Post by JamesF » Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:14 am

A very kind soul passed me along the mkv file last year (thank you again!), and not long after I set about trying to use video from a 1080p copy of the theatrical version available to purchase online over the relevant scenes from the workprint to try and create a widescreen, "restored" (in the very loosest possible sense of that term) version.

I was able to do one rough draft before the project files were sadly lost in a drive crash; here's a private link to view the first couple of minutes, for those who are curious (and want to see how the framing compares): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12OgvcBe05o" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (Hopefully this doesn't break the rules, will delete if so!)

I'd like to start again from scratch at some point, but just haven't had the time unfortunately. In any event, the VHS transfer is very limited in terms of what can be yielded from it quality-wise, and certainly doesn't look good when you attempt to upscale to widescreen HD! Given that same workprint seemed to be the basis of the film's theatrical trailer (e.g. the WB logo at the start, shot of Ed Harris at 0:07 and the wipe transition at 0:09), one can only hope that a 35mm workprint is in fact hidden somewhere and could be the basis of a proper restoration one day.

I watched the two versions back-to-back, and to a less quick and perceptive viewer (*slowly raises hand*), there doesn't initially seem to be a great deal different between the two beyond the obvious; but getting into the nitty-gritty of it when attempting the "restoration" was a big eye-opener in terms of seeing just how much scenes are swapped around, truncated and replaced by alternate takes in ways that accumulate to something very different to Demme's original intentions indeed. To say nothing of the music changes! I wonder if he ultimately approved of the Carly Simon song? Or for that matter whether even the Pablo Ferro titles were compromised somehow? I suppose editor Craig McKay would be the best person to ask in Demme's absence.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#29 Post by hearthesilence » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:13 pm

Hah, I was going to attempt the same myself. I can see it's going to be really time consuming from your sample - just look at home many times they cut out of that great, long Steadicam shot. But I'm really impressed at how well you were able to match the shots - it's very noticeable but not so jarring that it would take me out of the film. Did you trim off the sides of the HD footage from the theatrical version? (i.e. to get it to match the bootleg?)

Also, how did you handle the frame rate difference? I think iTunes has the HD file of the theatrical cut at 24 (or really 23.976) fps but the circulating bootleg is at 29.97 fps. I tried to convert the bootleg to 23.976 using HandBrake but now the motion is choppy. I have a cursory understanding of Adobe Premiere, but since it is supposedly good at handling most video formats natively, would throwing both on the timeline sort itself out? (I doubt this, but perhaps I'm wrong?)

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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#30 Post by connor » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:32 pm

JamesF wrote:Given that same workprint seemed to be the basis of the film's theatrical trailer (e.g. the WB logo at the start, shot of Ed Harris at 0:07 and the wipe transition at 0:09), one can only hope that a 35mm workprint is in fact hidden somewhere and could be the basis of a proper restoration one day
I hope you're right about this. I saw Demme dismiss the possibility once in an interview but he could be wrong.

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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#31 Post by JamesF » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:31 pm

Me too! I wouldn’t doubt that Warner threw away all the negatives of those scenes, but it’s not impossible a positive workprint or some other element lower down the chain could still exist. Twenty years ago when Demme did that Q&A, the idea of using such an element in a restoration would be unsound, but less so nowadays with digital restoration tools.

heartthesilence - My memory’s a little fuzzy on it now, but I don’t think I cropped or adjusted the framing of the theatrical version at all; rather I zoomed and adjusted the VHS footage to match. And yes, on recent versions of Premiere, if you put a 29.97 video into a 23.976 timeline, it sorts out the IVTC automatically. Glad you liked the clip! I’d love to do more work on it, but the colours on the VHS rip are so dark and muddy I’m not sure what you could do other than degrade the HD footage to match, or start again with a 4:3 VHS of the theatrical version, neither of which would be ideal.

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Re: Swing Shift: The Director's Cut (Jonathan Demme, 1984)

#32 Post by hearthesilence » Mon Mar 12, 2018 7:39 pm

Couple things I noticed while comparing these two cuts:

First off, when you compare the bootleg to the now-dated HD transfer of the theatrical release, it really brings back memories of how horrible VHS could be in general, especially when used for multiple dubbing. Colors lose accuracy fast, and the dynamic range is horrendously narrow - there's probably a dozen shots (some very long) on the bootleg that are so crushed and dark that you can barely make out the action, if at all, while many of those same shots look perfectly fine in the theatrical cut, with facial expressions and skin tones completely visible.

In terms of the changes done to the edit, the BFI article does an expert job of detailing them though it does make one mistake, and it works out in the theatrical cut's favor: like Demme's cut, the theatrical cut does indeed retain a reaction shot to a man saying women were used to repetitive household tasks. However, the article doesn't mention a few other memorable moments that were dropped from the theatrical release: Lahti getting slapped by the shorter Fred Ward and then her immediately slapping him in retaliation, and Hawn holding on to her uniform so tightly that it has to be tugged hard out of her grip. They also took out Demme's signature straight-on close-up - it's used only once in the entire film, and it makes a big impact, but they opt for generic set-up (which is also accompanied by a small but wish-washy rewrite, one of many changes aimed at gutting out any ambiguities about the war).

Quite a few alternate takes - a different Steadicam shot for the first scene of Lahti singing in the nightclub, different shots used for Hawn wandering the party alone before stopping to listen to Kurt Russell on his horn (the key difference is in her facial expressions), Lahti's reaction shots to Fred Ward telling her he's shipping out, a different shot of Lahti walking up to Hawn when they reconcile (I guess someone didn't want to see Hawn's hand on the dog, but I liked it - it's like she's holding on to the dog as a security blanket), etc.

Re-shoots are major and they generally involve Hawn with Harris and Russell - as Demme originally said in 1984, the film was focused on Hawn's friendship to Lahti, not the men in their lives, and it does appear that Hawn's disagreement with this was the reason for the re-shoots. I have to say, they nearly capsize the film by pulling it in the wrong directions. This is especially true of the first time Russell goes to Hawn's house - the new material feels like it really belongs in a different movie. And when Harris comes home on leave, they completely make a hash of his scenes - his original scenes were far better and really solidified what the film was about in terms of how Hawn was changing.

Both cuts are about 104 minutes, and I want to say 80% of the picture in Demme's cut is in the theatrical cut. But this footage gets more and more scrambled as you get further into the movie. (I know - it was a pain jumping back and forth over and over again in my attempt at a visual upgrade.)

I mentioned the time code being repositioned in an earlier post - it is actually the whole frame in general, because once the time code moves up, one has to push the entire picture down even further to match the theatrical cut.

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