Remaster

"Each print has been completely restored, digitally remastered, restored again, then reverted back to crumbling nitrate film stock just for the jolly hell of it."
Jeff Fitzgerald, "Rare Jazz Films Restored"

Taken in the literal (and original) definiton, "remastering" is a process where video and audio is edited to (in theory) look newer, brighter, cleaner, etc. and put on new Master Recordings, likely of the digital kind in the post-'90s world. It initially started with music in the move to Compact Disc Digital Audio, abbreviated CDDA (the CDDA standard is known as the Red Book standard), and lately is more associated with aged movies.

Literal definition aside, though, Remastering is associated with the process of making an old product look more modern, or at least like it's in mint condition. The usual process of a remastering includes suchs things as;
  • Making the product look more colorful (Messing this up may lead to more brown, or oversaturated colors)
  • Making the audio sound more clear (although some just make stuff louder)
  • In the era of hi-definition, increasing the resolution of the masters.
  • And of course, some companies may think "Remaster" is a metaphor for "any kind of rerelease we feel like doing", and do changes to the product outright.

This normally does not happen to videogames because they're already digital (and thus, every copy identical to the original) by nature - they would be more prone to get an Updated Re-release or a Video Game Remake instead. Since the process tends to imply making an old product look like it's new, it can be seen as the opposite of a Retraux.

The quality of a remastered product tends to vary a lot. Generally, though, people appreciate Remasters the best when they're able to increase the visual and audio quality of their product/make them enjoyable to watch on their new Hi-Def monitors with as little modifications to the source material or their memories of the product as possible. Digital Destruction and Loudness War are when the Remaster actually makes the product worse than before; unfortunately, the common consumer is typically unaware of this happening.

It should be noted that one of the advantages of remastering film and video to digital is that the original process is done chemically, thus the quality of the transfer depends largely on the quality of the digital scan and not the film itself (much like taking a digital picture of real life). With a good transfer, a competently made movie made 50 years ago can look like it was made last week. The one disadvantage of moving to digital is that you are limited by the quality of the digital format, which is why digital filmmaking didn't take off until the image quality was sufficiently higher than modern HD formats so that they don't seem outdated in two weeks.

Remastered products tend to be sold as a Special Edition or an Anniversary Edition. Compare the George Lucas Altered Version.

The Other Wiki has some more general information. Also look up Master Recording for information on what Masters are when referring to this - so as not to confuse it with all the other kinds of masters there are or are not.


Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • The Dragon Box Sets. Not to be confused with FUNimation's previous remastered Dragon Ball Z box sets.
    • FUNimation also started doing their own Blu-ray remaster in 2012 from the 16mm elements they had on-hand, and the results were arguably even better than the Dragon Boxes. Unfortunately, they canceled their release after two volumes because of how expensive it was and are instead releasing cheaper Blu-rays with their 2007 DVD remaster (since it had already been done in HD).
  • "Renewal of Evangelion," known overseas as the "Platinum Edition." Painstaking efforts to eliminate as much grain as possible while keeping in as many details as possible were made, as well as fixing the infamous "shaking-camera" effect that the original footage suffered from. It's almost impossible to see any grain in the new footage at times.
    • There is a caveat, however: the original 16 mm master negative for episode 16 was lost somehow, so Gainax had to make do with an internegative. As a result, that episode has a blurrier and more "washed-out" look compared to all of the others.
  • Typically, anime from the 80's and early 90's get a clean-up job, with visuals made more contrasting in color and audio made crisper, when DVD/Blu-Ray releases come around. In most cases, the fans like them.
  • Lately anime from the 1960's and 70's has been getting this treatment as well, although most of it so far is a case of No Export for You or such.
  • Every Studio Ghibli film has been remastered, with Disney carrying over these same versions for their North American releases.
  • AKIRA underwent a major restoration in the US in 2001 to become THX certified. It was also redubbed because the original dub recorded in 1989 couldn't possibly live up to these standards on a technical level.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena has a rather notable remaster in that the grain reduction wasn't the biggest goal for them. In order to keep the fine lines and details in animation the show was famous for, they focused on color correction and redoing most of the sound effects. This has resulted in one of the best remasters of 90s anime, according for some reviewers, stating that it is on the same level as the Neon Genesis Evangelion 10th anniversary collection mentioned above.
  • Pokémon got the first episode remasters on Pokemon Smash on the 15th anniversary of the anime.
  • Remastering many anime TV shows from the early 2000s is difficult because they were animated digitally in standard definition. They would require an upscale, and the results often vary. Nonetheless, it has been done for early digi-paint shows like Fullmetal Alchemist, Blue Submarine No. 6, Shakugan no Shana, and Last Exile with mixed results. FUNimation also did their own upscales for later SD digi-paint shows like Ouran High School Host Club and Slayers Revolution.
    • Cowboy Bebop was mostly cel-animated, and benefited greatly from an HD remaster, though a few later episodes were entirely digitally animated and had to be upscaled. On the Blu-ray, they were noticeably of lower quality than the rest of the series. Ditto for Serial Experiments Lain from the same era. It's mostly cel-animated, but some shots were animated digitally and stuck out in the remaster. One Piece was animated in standard definition until around episode 200, when it switched to HD. HD upscales of original episodes don't look as good.
    • InuYasha has not been remastered because half of the show was cel-animated onto film (with some CGI effects), but it switched to digital with episode 98. Only the first half of the show would benefit from a remaster. However, Rumiko Takahashi's older shows (Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, and Ranma ˝) all have excellent HD remasters.

Comic Books
  • Youngblood's first five issues were completely redone for a hardcover release, with prolific writer Joe Casey redoing the story almost from scratch, changing every single piece of dialog and even re-organizing pages for coherence's sake. On top of that, the colors were redone entirely, fixing some of original colorist Brian Murray's less thought out color schemes.

Films — Live Action
  • Star Wars has had multiple remasters, starting with THX enhanced remasters on VHS in the early 90's. The Special Editions was another round before the onset of DVD's, with the added George Lucas Altered Version.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird uses many zooms in the film by zooming in the negative, increasing grain size. Instead of removing the grain for Blu-Ray, the restoration team matched it with the other grain to make the effect more seamless, while keeping the original picture.
  • Monochrome/Black and White movies. Sometimes companies try to color them, too, but that tends to upset some people.
  • Some DVD bonus features of films directed by The Coen Brothers parody this with Forever Young Film Preservation, whose "accomplishments" include restoring The Big Lebowski using an Italian film reel and redubbed audio, and making Blood Simple more "worthy of preservation" by cutting out "the boring parts".
  • The first 20 James Bond movies had digitally restored "Ultimate Edition" DVDs released during the same year as the premiere of Casino Royale.
  • Halloween has multiple remasters. Cinematographer Dean Cundey oversaw one in 1998 that was issued on a THX DVD, and another occurred in 2003 for the film's 25th anniversary. The latter has it's fans, but it's color timing was criticized by some (including Cundey) for being inaccurate (it attempted to make the daytime scenes look more like Fall; the original remaster made it obvious that the film was shot in Spring), and it's DVD fell out-of-print in favor of the 1998 THX DVD. The 2003 remaster was issued on Blu-ray in 2006, but another remaster (again supervised by Cundey) was issued in 2013 for the film's 35th anniversary Blu-ray. It was more well-received, but some fans still preferred the 2003 remaster. Anchor Bay realized this and included both Blu-rays in their 2014 franchise Blu-ray boxset. Unfortunately it still didn't stop the fans from arguing.
  • Prom Night has an excellent remaster that improved tremendously from prior DVD releases. Since the 90s, all releases of the film were struck from a PAL VHS that was slightly sped up, extremely dark (the nighttime scenes were incomprehensible), open-matte with boom mics visible in some shots, and with very muffled audio. When Synapse released the film on Blu-ray (and reissued it on DVD), they did a brand new 2k scan from the original film elements and the results were night and day compared to previous releases.

Live-Action TV
  • ABC advertised a Remaster of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, with CG edits, increased color saturation, higher contrast, a bit less print damage than some recent airings .
  • Again, black and white television.
  • The team that remaster the classic Doctor Who episodes care so much about the series that they practically (and sometimes literally) invented several methods of remastering (such as RSC, VIDFIRE, and the colour recovery techniques).
  • When it can to remastering Star Trek: The Next Generation in HD, there was no film master for episodes to restore, as the series was originally edited on videotape (though still shot on 35mm film). Instead, CBS Digital took the original camera film negatives and re-edited each episode shot-by-shot.
  • Friends was released on Blu-ray in one giant complete series set. The quality varied, but many fans were unhappy that the episodes didn't contain the extra scenes present on the DVD releases, since no HD materials existed for them (that, or Warner Bros. just didn't bother looking).
  • Averted for many TV shows (especially sitcoms) from the 70s, 80s, and 90s that were shot on video tape. Waiting on Blu-ray releases for Three's Company, Married... with Children, The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Full House, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? You're out of luck. All of those shows were shot on magnetic SD video tape, and cannot possibly be shown in true HD.

Music
  • Pretty much anything transferred from pre-CD tapes to, well, CD tapes or some other Digital media.
  • Many, many acts have remastered (and even remixed) part or all of their back catalogue long after the original mixes were released on CD. This isn't always a good thing.
    • This is often the result of Executive Meddling, especially if bands are no longer with the label. If the band has signed a bad contract, reissues might come out on budget labels and this leads to the band not getting as much in profits as they should be entitled to.
Video Games
  • Strangely, Don Bluth Studios made remasters of Dragon's Lair and Space Ace - although game data is digital, the LaserDisc video is analog as the format is analog — for high-definition gameplay. This makes these a notable case of video games being remastered.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers have a couple of remasters for Music/Californication, thanks to the egregious Loudness War on the CD and digital versions of the album. Some even include alternate, demo versions of the songs on the album and the b-sides of the singles.
  • Kinda questionable if it counts (yet), but with the way Satellaview games were released as ROMs - with huge chunks of data missing and all - many of the games require extensive hacking to make a project out of which requires restoration of various missing contents. Just check out the BS Zelda hacks, and compare them to the "original" ROM dumps. The difference is almost as drastic as the difference between a prototype and a final game. This trope applies more to the Satellaview's Soundlink audio, but so far the scale isn't quite that high - only a select few songs have been attempted so far, nothing amounting to the amount required for a full game.
  • Broken Sword II: The Smoking Mirror got a "Remastered" version shortly after the first game got a "Director's Cut" version. The game has several cartoon cutscenes so they're remastered justifying the title.
  • Many HD ports of video games are rerelases of the older titles that are usually redone to be in widescreen and have better quality character models and textures.

Western Animation
  • The Golden Age of Animation tends to have various cases of remasters with large amounts of controversy and drama.
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs became the first movie restored with digital computer software, in 1993.
  • Averted for almost all TV animation. It's extremely rare for an older cel-animated American cartoon to be remastered because of the costs and limited marketability. However, Warner Home Video has been teasing a Blu-ray release of the original Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (which did get an HD remaster).