"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."
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
Anime & Manga
- The Dragon Box Sets. Not to be confused with FUNimation's previous Dragon Ball Z box sets.
- "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.
- 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.
Films — Live Action
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.