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Superman (1978) opening credits out of tune. Anyone notice?


Eric_JWFAN
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To prep for SR, I watched the Superman Special Ediition DVD last night and noticed a little soundtrack glitch during the opening credits. The music starts out in tune (low brass/strings on those repeated Cs) and we see the Marlon Brando/Gene Hackman titles, etc. It stays in tune when you see the big Superman "S". But the moment the main melody starts (right when you see the word "Superman") the music jumps up about a 1/4 step, and continues somewhere in between C and Db major. I find it incredible that it stayed this way in the soundtrack.

Anyone else notice this?

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I noticed this tuning issue as well, but it's just in the film mix, right - not affecting the isolated score, or CD release(s)? Does it stay out-of-tune the entire duration of the film?

matt, too lazy to pull out the DVD and check

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No, it's not all the way through, but only for the main title. You can hear the drop in pitch at the start of the opening Krypton cue (the low G on the cellos and basses). It's rather disconcerting hearing a fairly substantial (to my ear) drop after having become accustomed to the sharper pitch.

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oh god...this is gonna kill me when I watch it...

I have perfect pitch and ... nothing drives me more crazy than something like that.

"Star Wars" fox fanfare and Main Theme (for A New Hope if you didn't catch that) drives me CRAZY... it's never...quite...right... Why don't they just fix it! I mean... how hard is it to notice "Hey...that's not right!" lol'

And it's not like they couldn't with star wars just replace it...and with Superman just...FIX it lol

oye...

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Yeah, I also noticed this and I wondered if it had to do w/ the editors trying to slightly speed up the music to fit w/ the rest of the opening credits/titles (granted, I know today one can speed up a track w/o affecting pitch but I don't know what the technology was like back in '78).

I'm just glad the soundtrack reissue doesn't contain this pitch issue.

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I noticed that. I guess the credits were shortened after Williams scored them...??

Was it shortened or lengthend?

oh god...this is gonna kill me when I watch it...

I have perfect pitch and ... nothing drives me more crazy than something like that.

"Star Wars" fox fanfare and Main Theme (for A New Hope if you didn't catch that) drives me CRAZY... it's never...quite...right... Why don't they just fix it!  I mean... how hard is it to notice "Hey...that's not right!" lol'

And it's not like they couldn't with star wars just replace it...and with Superman just...FIX it lol

oye...

Wait u mean u havent watched Superman: The Movie? Or its only isolated to the DVD? Or the last time you watched it was before you acquired/realised you had perfect pitch? :mrgreen: but yea, how about the iso score?

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You really don't need perfect pitch to hear the nasty pitch-shift in the opening credits. I was considering starting a Superman DVD thread as I watched the film yesterday too! I've never seen the extended version before and to be honest I found it a little irritating in places.

I really like the dialogue in the newly inserted scene between Christopher Reeve and Marlon Brando in the Fortress of Solitude. Some excellent acting on both parts. However, the visual effect on Brando's face is horrible! Why on earth couldn't they at least attempt to match the effect used in the earlier scenes? It was very distracting.

The extended scene in the Daily Planet office makes that part of the movie too slow! That just shouldn't be there at all.

The "gauntlet" leading to Luthor's lair is nice in theory, but it just doesn't work. Lex Luthor is portrayed as a master criminal living in a hidden room beneath a subway line. It's a little disorientating to suddenly see an elaborate series of traps (including an enormous bottomless shaft!) added to the entrance to his lair. And then when we cut back to the originally released material Luthor is suddenly sitting at his desk reading a paper. That scene should go too IMO.

I like the extended disaster scene after Luthor explodes his bomb. The only scene I would keep in addition to that one is the scene between Reeve and Brando. However I would seriously redo the effect on Brando's face!

Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere, but I only just saw the extended DVD.

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You really don't need perfect pitch to hear the nasty pitch-shift in the opening credits.

Yeah, most people would be fine if the entire soundtrack from start to finish was a quarter tone sharp or flat (somewhere in microtonal land) because there would be no "correct" pitch to compare it to. But the problem is, the first minute or so of the soundtrack sets the listener up for A440, and then the pitch shift. Very noticeable even for non perfect and relative pitch people.

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Well we have to remember that back then audio editing wasn't done on sophisticated tools like nowadays. The transitions were always abrupt and sharp. That woowing is so annoying. But then again when you had a cue that was, say, 3:28 in length and you had to place it in a time frame of 3:27 with an exact point cue as the Superman logo appears on screen, you had no choice!

Nothing worse than listening to it on a TV channel that's running an old pan&scan worn beta tape. It only enhances those shifts in pitch. Woo-oow-woo-oow-woo-oow... ARGH MY EARS :P

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Michael Matessino, who transferred the numerous bits of the score into an edited, coherent presentation on the Rhino CD, mentions the out of tune part of the Main Title. I've always noticed it from back in 1978. I recall something about the beginning credits changing considerably during preproduction. I seem to recall the F major version of the march was used to underscore the originally conceived opening titles.

That being said, I've also noticed some bits on the Rhino CD are flat (1/4 tone) - "Introducing Otis" and "The Helicopter Sequence". Playing along on a digital piano with the CD confirms this.

This would be painful in PAL. I guess we'd hear the march in Db with the "sharp" passage hovering between Db/D major!

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Its on UK telly tonight btw. Channel 5.

Oh and I have no idea what you guys are talking about.

There are still huge chunks of the UK who can't get that except on Satellite! I don't think we're any worse off for it either...

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To answer your question, No , I've never seen any of the Superman Movies... at least never sat down and watched them. I'm gonna wait till this comes out on DVD and buy them all as a set.

Same thing with the Aliens movies, The Matrix... and a few others...

lol

I think I have the isolated score, but I have the 2 disk Rhino release so I never listen to it.

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Its on UK telly tonight btw. Channel 5.

It was actually on Sky One. The transfer was anamorphic OAR, but it was from a terrible unrestored print. Faded colours and a monumental amount of print damage.

I watched the DVD instead.

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this would be a pi thread except i havent watched the movie in like 10 years since i was a kid. i will go see the new movie this weekend in theatres.

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  • 4 weeks later...

The pitch shift is certainly there, and I'm certain it always has been.

More annoyingly, it's also present in the isolated score track of the Director's Cut DVD. And, like it or not, that *is* called the Director's Cut.

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Very much so. He has much less to do with the forthcoming Donner Cut of SII, but he has been reviewing the edit and making suggestions. But he was intimately involved with the Directors Cut of S:TM.

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I was under the impression Donner had very little input on the extended DVD of Superman.

Neil would probably know, I'm too lazy to search the site for threads on Superman.

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ADM, it's not called "The Director's Cut". It's a "Special Edition". And Donner had very little to do with it. So much so that he expressed surprise to learn that the sound was drastically re-mixed.

Neil

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Here's part of the interview:

"IGNFF: There have been reports that the sound effects were recreated – that they are not the original sound effects.

DONNER: Let me just tell you something – if somebody did that and I don’t know about it, I’m going to kill somebody. Michael would not have done that.

IGNFF: There have been numerous reports of sounds that people remember well being completely different in this new mix, from the rings rotating around the Kryptonian criminals to the searing sounds of the title sequence…

DONNER: Do you mean different sounds, or they were enhanced?

IGNFF: Different sounds…

DONNER: That doesn’t make sense. I know we enhanced the sound, but I don’t think we added any. I, quite honestly, did not hear the final mix. I heard the three run-throughs, and all we did was enhance sound.

IGNFF: People claim the new sounds sound completely dissimilar from the originals…

DONNER: God almighty."

Neil

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Regarding Donner's involvement, I need to quote from another part of the aformentioned interview with IGNFF, wherein Thau says:

"I think it's ridiculous that anyone would think Dick hasn't been involved in this entire project – it's his cut, he’s there on the audio commentary, he's on camera in the documentaries, and he even sat there the other day and signed autographs on the DVDs for three hours!"

It talks a LOT about Donner's choices of shots and scenes to add back in. So even though Donner did not micromanage every detail of the film (as a good director shouldn't do) he was, nonetheless, intimately involved.

Elsewhere in the article, it refers to the film as the "Directors Cut." I stand partially corrected though, as the actual title, according to the fine print on the DVD case beside me, is "Superman: The Movie Expanded Edition." So it's neither SE nor DC, but EE as far as the official title is concerned.

P.S. Please finish quoting the article as it reads. After Donner says "God Almighty" that segment continues:

IGNFF: Of course, in cleaning up the sound, it could be that people are confusing clean sound with new sound…

DONNER: That they could have been brought through…Or they were re-emphasized.

For all interested, please read the Complete interview with Richard Donner and then make your own judgments as to whether or not he was involved with the Expanded Edition.

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  • 9 months later...
I have perfect pitch and ... nothing drives me more crazy than something like that.

"Star Wars" fox fanfare and Main Theme (for A New Hope if you didn't catch that) drives me CRAZY... it's never...quite...right... Why don't they just fix it! I mean... how hard is it to notice "Hey...that's not right!" lol'

I don't have perfect pitch (I don't think so) but I understand what you are talking about.

Can tell me if I am right or wrong ?

When I work on an audio rip of a DVD of Star Wars Episode III, I need to slow down a little to match the pitch of the album.

Is it because of the duration of the movie that differs between TV and theater ? Do we have in theaters the same pitch that the one on the album and the one as the orchestra played ?

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If you were working off a PAL DVD, the video and audio are sped up 4% (PAL runs at 25 fps, film at 24 fps). That is what causes your ripped audio to sound differently.

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