Production Diary for ARTISAN's T2 Ultimate DVD
Date: March 3, 2000
By: Guido Henkel
As we had already pointed out in our ongoing Production Diary of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's "The Abyss," yet another film by acclaimed director James Cameron is currently making its way to DVD in a spectacular special edition.
Noted as the first dual-layer DVD released in history, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" was already released on DVD about two years ago. Now, the folks at Artisan Entertainment, together with producer Van Ling, are busy at workcreating a special edition of this action-packed movie that will have "Terminator" fans salivating in anticipation.
The idea to create an elaborate special edition release of the movie on DVD was already on the table in late 1996, at a time when DVD was a mere spec and had not yet made it to market. With their foresight, Artisan Home Entertainment recognized the opportunities DVD would offer and approached Van Ling for the project. "It was kinda funny," Ling remembers, "because DVD was still a nascent format, where people were just trying to get it working consistently on a basic level. But the folks in Artisan's post-production department were looking ahead, since the company had the rights to Carolco's library of films, including T2. They were fans of the T2 Special Edition laserdisc that I had done while at Lightstorm, and felt that I was the right person to do the DVD. We talked a lot about the project, and shared general ideas. I told them what I personally wanted to do with the project, and also what I thought Lightstorm would like to see in such a project. We all felt that since the laserdisc was considered somewhat of a benchmark for the laserdisc medium, the DVD needed to match it.
Unfortunately DVD had its share of technical problems as it quickly turned out after the format's introduction. The high level of interactivity and flexibility of a non-linear medium like DVD was prone to many errors and problems, and many early DVD players supported only the most basic functionality of the format's specifications. It became obvious that DVD as a medium needed to mature a little more for the elaborate ideas Van and Artisan had thought up. "We ended up waiting," he tells me. "But every year we would talk about it again, and found every time that DVD was still not ready. Last year we finally got to the point where we could actually do this and the Artisan DVD team was instrumental in championing both the project and me as the right producer for the project.
Considering that Van was the original creative supervisor and visual effects coordinator on the movie itself, and also responsible for the "Terminator 2 Special Edition" Laserdisc box set, it must have been clear to everyone that he was really the only person they should consider for the job.
Two different versions are available of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day". The first one is the 137-minute long original cut of the movie as it was shown in theaters, and then there is the 154-minute special edition cut that was done by James Cameron in 1993, two years after the film's theatrical run. Artisan Home Entertainment has long been on the cutting edge of DVD technology, as it was they who were releasing the first dual-layer disc (DVD-9) in the market with the theatrical version of "Terminator 2" in early 1998. It was also Artisan that released the first double-sided dual-layer disc (DVD-18) in the market with "Stephen King's The Stand" in late 1999. And in creating a number of titles utilizing DVD's advanced branching capabilities, such as the special edition of Roland Emmerich's "Stargate," Artisan Entertainment has once again proven its leadership position on the forefront of DVD technology since the format's inception. With that in mind it is hardly surprising that the special edition DVD Artisan is preparing for release later this year will feature both cuts of the film, using DVD's branching capabilities.
Producer Van Ling has been able to gather some experience creating titles that utilize DVD's branching technology through his work on the aforementioned "Stargate" and "The Abyss." "With every title you learn a little more," he says, but also indicated that it was still a very laborious process to create the correct branching stream for the two versions of the movie. Although the DVD specifications ask for the ability to interleave segments to quickly jump from one path to the other, the exact implementation of the feature still needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis.. To produce "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" Van is working closely with the folks at the Warner Advanced Media Organization (WAMO), a DVD compression center that also offers authoring and replication facilities.
The first DVD release of T2 was originally created by Laser Pacific, who did a great job, especially considering the technological hurdles that had to be taken at the time. For the creation of the special edition of the movie however, Artisan Home Entertainment decided to bring in WAMO--mostly for their capabilities and experience in creating complex, multi-story-like titles, like what they had in mind for this project.
"Joe Kane did his Video Essentials disc there," Van remembers as one of the first DVD titles he was involved in. "At the time no one but WAMO was able to make this disc work according to its high end specs. When Artisan suggested WAMO do the T2 disc, it was great for me, because I already had a relationship with them."
According to Van Ling, the biggest challenge has been finding all the materials for the DVD. "In the middle of last year we started looking for materials," he confides. "We began looking for elements and putting real ideas together."
"It was a bit of archeology," he laughs, "sometimes to find what we were looking for. The main problem was that Carolco Pictures, the company that produced T2, had gone through many changes, and the film was now owned by Canal Plus, a French studio. Now, the problem in our case was not that we found too few elements, as you might expect, but rather that we found too many. All the material that we found needed to be sorted to locate exactly what we were looking for. To make matters worse, most of the material we found was mislabeled or not labeled at all. So, you picked up a reel that said "6-track" and it turned out it was a 4-track master only. Over time it became a real challenge to catalog, label and sort all these elements - but it was interesting."
But that was not all, as Van recalls. "On top of that we had done so many different versions of T2 over time that it was hard to keep track of them all. Fortunately we did all our video work at Fotokem in Burbank, and when we went there they had about two dozen plus versions of "Terminator 2". There were letterboxed versions of the theatrical cut, a pan and scan version, the special edition cut in widescreen, one in pan & scan, a 16x9 transfer, a high definition transfer, PAL transfers, airline cuts, network TV versions and many more. And since movies don't fit on a single D1 master tape, it is always split into parts. Then the sidebreaks for the special edition are obviously different than the one for the theatrical version because of the different running times, and so on. So you have over 60 master tapes in a vault to cover all of these different versions. I am sure you can image how challenging it was to find the right material for our needs."
Fortunately the elements for the supplements were relatively handy. "I kept most of the material in digital form from when we did the Laserdisc," he tells me. "So we had a lot of the still frame masters, and the pre-builds. Whenever possible we wanted to go back to the original source however, and it took some time finding out where the source material came from. I was very happy and fortunate that Artisan felt the same way and supported my efforts and the idea to take the time to do it right."
After locating all the materials of the film, Van brought in Gary Rydstrom, the movie's original sound designer and the re-recording mixer who had won two of his four Oscars for T2, to begin re-mixing the entire movie and adjust it to near-field listening environments. "We did the mix last November," Van recalls. He and Lightstorm representatives went to George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch to remix the movie's soundtrack for use on the DVD. It took them about a week to do the work needed for both versions of the film and several other elements for the disc. "Luckily in 1993 when we did the Special Edition Laserdisc, we tried to do all the audio materials in six track, which helped us immensely now."
The soundtrack for the previous DVD release of T2 was created using a Sony linear 6-track, but for this release, Van and Gary went back to the original source elements they found. The result is a brand new 5.1 Dolby Digital mix that even contains spatial information for an additional rear center speaker as outlined in the Dolby Surround EX specifications. "The disc will actually contain the Dolby Digital 5.1 plus-EX track and a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix. We're also planning to create a DTS audio track, but we're currently still discussing whether that will be a separate release," Van explains. Because of DTS' heavy storage requirements he is concerned that adding the DTS track to the existing disc would ultimately force them to sacrifice the image quality, a tradeoff no one involved is willing to take on this prestigious project.
"Terminator 2: Judgment Day" is slated to be another one of Artisan Home Entertainment's DVD-18 releases, a DVD that has dual layer surfaces on both sides of the disc. The first side of the release will contain the movie in its two different versions that are both presented in 16x9 enhanced widescreen transfers, certified by THX. You will easily be able to select the version you want to watch from your main menu as you play the disc. This side of the release will also feature the commentary track created for the laserdisc, featuring 26 members of the cast and crew commenting upon the various scenes in the film.
On the flip side of the disc you will find hours of supplemental material, such has a variety of trailers, storyboards, and a comparison of the movie's widescreen version to its pan and scan incarnation. As a baseline Ling hopes to cover the contents of the Laserdisc box set he did in 1993; if so, you will also find all the stills, photos and video footage on the DVD that were part of the box set release.
However, Van is also trying to create and add some new material that would make it an even better package. "We're also including the featurettes that were not on the Laserdisc," he tells me. "There is a "Making Of Terminator 2" documentary that was done for TV at the time the movie opened theatrically and then we have "T2 - More than meets the eye," a piece that was done for "Showtime". It aired when we were releasing the special edition and it is a featurette that actually covers the making of the special edition."
The DVD will also contain a DVD-ROM section that will contain some exciting bonus material. A few other supplements are plannedbut much of it is still pending legal approval and clearances. We will keep you up to date how things evolve however in this Production Diary.
Some time has passed since we last checked in with Van Ling on the production of the Special Edition of "Terminator 2." Sometimes it is hard to describe how progress is made on a specific title, as much of the work is just very laborious and takes its time, without yielding too many visible results.
As we reported in our last installment, "Terminator 2" will be released as a DVD-18, which is the technical term for a DVD that has dual-layer surfaces on both sides. Only a handful of titles are currently in the market in this format, one of them the Stephen King min-series "The Stand" with which Artisan Entertainment had already pioneered the DVD-18 development. One side of the disc will feature the film's actual presentation, while the second disc will be filled to the rim with extras that grow on an almost daily basis.
Since our last entry in the Production Diary a lot of testing has been done to evaluate whether the DVD could actually hold a 5.1 Dolby Digital and a DTS audio version of the movie on the same side. After plenty of testing and evaluation, the decision has now been made to actually have both versions released on the same disc. This decision inevitably begs the question whether it will be possible to maintain a top-notch presentation of the movie, especially given its considerable running length.
The answer is yes. THX, Lightstorm and Artisan have all evaluated and approved the quality of the movie and according to producer Van Ling, it helps enormously that the anamorphic video source material the disc is created from is of extremely high quality, which translates into a video stream that is easier to compress. Authoring facility WAMO is also using Sony's encoder for this DVD, which is renown for its superior quality while keeping data throughput manageable.
Another reason why this is suddenly possible has to do a change in the way DTS is approaching the DVD market. Originally, DTS audio tracks used an incredibly high bitrate, decoding the audio data stream at 1536 kps. A high end Dolby Digital audio track by comparison runs at a bitrate of 448 kps which is substantially lower.
Since DTS had been running into a lot of obstacles because of the real estate their audio tracks used up on DVD discs, they had to rethink their approach and took their technology back to the labs. After conducting countless listening tests, they found out that the data throughput could actually be reduced quite a bit, still without introducing noticeable degradation of the material.
Now, DTS tracks can be encoded to run at a bitrate of 768 kps, which is much more storage friendlier than the original specifications. "Of course everything has a price," you say, suggesting that with the downscaling of the specifications, a loss in quality would be imminent. You may want to reconsider this however when you hear that one of last year's hottest DTS DVD titles was encoded at the new lower 768 kps bitrate. The title is Dreamworks' "Saving Private Ryan." The disc is clearly touted as one of the best DTS enabled DVD releases in the market and stands as a reference for the format.
To ensure the sonic quality of the DTS encoded track is still perfect, the encoding/decoding technology was perfected in the DTS labs and it appears that there is no soundtrack that cannot be handled with the 768 kps decoding. If you wonder what other titles have been using the new DTS standard, as a rule of thumb you can simply assume that every DVD disc that contains a Dolby Digital track and a DTS track alongside the movie presentation on the same disc is inevitably following the new specifications.
As a nice side effect of the lower bitrate it is now finally also possible to better compare Dolby Digital and DTS audio tracks, as their technical requirements and specs are coming closer together, and we are no longer comparing apples to oranges. Like some other titles in the market, the "Terminator 2" disc will make an excellent disc to evaluate both sound formats side by side under comparable conditions.
As we mentioned in our previous installment of this diary, already, the soundtrack for "Terminator 2" has been completely remixed by Gary Rydstrom, the original sound designer and re-recording mixer who had won two of his four Oscars for his work on T2. As we had pointed out before, the disc will contain a Dolby Digital Surround EX audio track that adds an additional center channel to the mix, and since the release also contains a DTS audio track, it will also feature an additional rear center channel encoded in the DTS ES process. "When we remixed the film for the DVD, we created a new center surround channel," Van explains to me. "So the mix was actually in 6.1, and we had that center surround channel matrixed into the left and right surrounds so that it came out as your standard 5.1 channels. When we encoded it to 5.1 with the EX specification, it preserves the matrixedcenter surround channel so that if you have a Dolby Surround EX decoder, it will extract the matrixed data to recreate the center surround channel."
Enough of the techno-lingo, though. You came here to hear about the development of the DVD in general, and what is going to be on it. One area we had not really touched upon yet is the DVD-ROM content you will find on the special edition of "Terminator 2."
We are still hammering out the exact details for the DVD-ROM side," Van Ling tells me. "Especially with DVD-ROM material we are coming a gray area where licensing is becoming more of an issue. Some companies have certain exclusive computer game rights to the movie for example and it becomes a question of where their rights end and Artisan's begin. Especially since Playstation 2 will also play DVD, it's becoming even trickier and we have to be very careful not to infringe on existing gaming licenses."
However, there is material that can safely go onto the DVD-ROM portion of the release. The movie's script is one of them. Like on "The Abyss," Ling has prepared the entire script so it can be read from a set top DVD Video player as well as a DVD-ROM drive.
Over the past weeks, Van was mostly working on many of the text and menu screens for the release. "I am trying to create a continuous environment for the menu system," Van notes. "We won't be going to the extremes that we took for "The Abyss" this time because we are a little strapped for space on the first side of the disc, and ultimately the video quality of the movie is more important than fancy menus. On the second side however, we will have a labyrinth of information and we are playing around with the whole Cyberdyne/Skynet theme for these menus. It will be very cool!"
Although you would think there is plenty of room on a DVD where an entire dual-layer DVD side is dedicated to extras, Van also tells me that space is always something to keep in mind. "If you have room, you can add a lot of interesting things, like the text commentary we did on "The Abyss." Here, we have more supplements that require more room and as a result we have to cut down on some of the text-only content."
However after another long night's work until 5:30 in the morning, Van also tells me that his focus is currently on some exciting material regarding "Terminator 2: 3D" that will also be part of the release. As most of you certainly know, "Terminator 2: 3D" is an exciting 3-dimensional thrill-ride at Universal Studios Florida. The footage for the ride was directed by James Cameron himself and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. However, the ride does not only consist of filmed content, but also includes live action elements, such as stunt people playing Sarah and John Connor. They are stalked by the T-1000, who in turn is facing off against the Terminator. With live explosions and theatrics, the ride is a breathtaking spectacle, and the material on the DVD will give everyone the chance to experience some of its thrills.
Over 250 pages of text and images regarding "Terminator 2: 3D" will be part of the "Terminator 2" Special Edition as Van tells me excitedly. "The entire Cinefex article is there," he points out, speaking of the incredible making-of article "Battle Across Three Dimensions" that appeared in the December 1996 issue of the magazine. "We also have a lot of pictures from the production and a full 20-minute featurette."
While Van is busy toiling away at the elaborate content of the disc, I am sure you are eagerly anticipating this masterpiece in the making. With all the extras and features, it is easy to predict that "Terminator 2" will be one of the hottest DVDs in the market by the time it hits the streets later this year. While still no exact release date has been determined for this DVD, we will let you know as soon as this changes. Make sure to come back for our nest installment in the "Terminator 2" Production Diary, where we will shed even more light on this large-scale production.
On August 29, Skynet becomes self-aware and launches its missiles upon Russia as a counter attack and as a result starts the war between Humans and the Machines in "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" Artisan Entertainment has finally set a release date for the special edition DVD of the movie, and incidentally, that date is also August 29, Judgment Day! If you think this is too much of a coincidence, you are absolutely correct, this was calculated. "We actually wanted to do this disc years ago and have it release on August 29th, 1997, but DVD wasn't advanced enough yet," producer Van Ling tells me candidly with a laugh.
The release will hit retail shelves under the title "Terminator 2: Judgment Day - The Ultimate Edition DVD." Artisan is preparing to announce the release very soon and has created a full page advertising that will run in an upcoming issue of "Video Business" magazine that you can see below.
With a limited print run, this will be a limited edition of the title, coming in an exclusive packaging. Since DVD-18 production capacities are very limited - currently only WAMO is able of replicating DVD-18 discs - Artisan decided to release the DVD in two stages. The first one will hit retail stores on the important August 29 in an edition that is limited in numbers, and then a second, unlimited wave that will be released in October, featuring a different packaging and cover artwork for the release. Currently Artisan is still playing with various ideas for the packaging and no design has been finalized yet. In terms of content, both releases will be identical however. As soon as we are informed about the number of copies included in the limited edition, or the finalized packaging design, we will of course update you accordingly as part of this diary.
Here now is a complete run-down of features and contents that you will find on the "Terminator 2 Ultimate Edition DVD" as they currently stand.
T2: Judgment Day - The Ultimate Edition DVD | SIDE 1:
- Terminator 2, Theatrical Version
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
Dolby Surround 2.0
DTS 5.1 ES
Audio Commentary with 26 cast and crew members
- Terminator 2, Special Edition Version
Contains 15 minutes of additional footage
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
Dolby Surround 2.0
DTS 5.1 ES
Audio Commentary with 26 cast and crew members
- Terminator 2, Extended Special Edition Version (Hidden Easter Egg)
Contains 5 minutes of additional, never-before-seen footage
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
Dolby Surround 2.0
DTS 5.1 ES
Audio Commentary with 26 cast and crew members
- Custom Terminator 2 THX trailer
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
Dolby Surround 2.0
DTS 5.1 ES
- Extensive Biographies and Filmographies for
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong, Robert Patrick, James Cameron, William Wisher, Adam Greenberg, Brad Fiedel
- DVD-ROM program
To allow viewing the film while simultaneously reading the script and looking at the storyboards
- THX Optimode
Test signal package for quick TV monitor calibration by the consumer
T2: Judgment Day - The Ultimate Edition DVD | SIDE 2:
The Making of Terminator 2
Terminator 2: More Than Meets The Eye
The Making of Terminator2 3D: Breaking the Screen Barrier
- Teasers & Trailers
Terminator 2 Teaser
Terminator 2 Teaser #2, which became Trailer #1
Terminator 2 Trailer #2
Terminator 2 SE Trailer
Terminator 2 3D/MCA promo spot
Terminator 2 Japanese Teaser A
Terminator 2 Japanese Teaser B
Terminator 2 Japanese Trailer A
Terminator 2 Japanese Trailer B
Terminator 2 Japanese Trailer C
Custom Terminator 2 THX trailer
Terminator 2 Screenplay
700+ Original Storyboards
Terminator 2 3D, Cinefex article "Battle Across Three Dimensions" by Estelle Shay
- Ultimate T2 DVD Supplement
This segment is a combination of still photos, text frames and video segments, presented in different chapters;
Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Table of Contents
Chapter 3: Development
Chapter 4: Screenplay
Chapter 5: Research
Chapter 6: Design
Chapter 7: Storyboards
Chapter 8: Preproduction
Chapter 9: Casting
Chapter 10: Production Logistics
Chapter 11: Location Scouting
Chapter 12: The Sets
Chapter 13: Training
Chapter 14: Production
Chapter 15: Props and Costumes
Chapter 16: Makeup
Chapter 17: Cinematography
Chapter 18: Location Shooting
Chapter 19: Stage Shooting
Chapter 20: Stunts and Practical Effects
Chapter 21: Weapons
Chapter 22: Visual Effects
Chapter 23: Industrial Light and Magic
Chapter 24: Stan Winston Studio
Chapter 25: Fantasy II Film Effects
Chapter 26: 4-Ward Productions
Chapter 27: Pacific Data Images
Chapter 28: Video Image
Chapter 29: Pacific Title
Chapter 30: Process Photography
Chapter 31: Post-Production
Chapter 32: Editing
Chapter 33: Sound
Chapter 34: Music
Chapter 35: Printing Process
Chapter 36: Video Transfer
Chapter 37: Restoration
Chapter 38: Omitted Scenes
Chapter 39: Publicity
Chapter 40: Marketing Concept
Chapter 41: Teasers and Trailers
Chapter 42: Posters and Ads
Chapter 43: Press Materials
Chapter 44: Promotions
Chapter 45: Critical Response
Chapter 46: Merchandising
Chapter 47: International Appeal
Chapter 48: Terminator 2 - 3D
Chapter 49: Epilogue
Chapter 50: Disc Credits
- DVD-ROM - Web Link
While producer Van Ling has been toiling away at the final menu screens for the special edition of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," the good folks at Artisan Entertainment have been busy at work, creating the cover artwork for the release. But also some other details for the release have been finalized, as the title slowly approaches its August 29 release date.
Here we have the cover artwork for the Limited Edition of the "T2 Ultimate Edition DVD." Artisan is still checking the pricing for the packaging to see if there will be a possibility to have the disc released in an actual aluminum box. Since the pricing has been very high so far however, there is a chance, the studio may have to revert to a cardboard packaging that is printed to look as if it were a metal case. As soon as more information on the subject turns up, we will of course inform you as part of this Diary.
The production of DVD-18 releases - DVDs that have dual-layered surfaces on both sides of the disc - is still a bit of a bottleneck throughout the industry. Only very few replicators are actually capable of replicating DVD-18 titles at all, and fewer still are capable of handling high volumes. As a result, Artisan is releasing the special Edition of Terminator 2 in two stages, as we reported earlier. The first wave of discs will be the limited DVD in the metal-style case, as you can see above, limited to 200.000 units, to be released on Judgment Day, August 29. Keep in mind though, that this number may change in order to meet production limitations.
The next wave of discs will then be released on September 15, if all goes well, in an unlimited run that will carry the cover artwork you can see here. The disc will have the same contents as the limited edition but come in a regular Amaray keepcase. Both versions will carry a suggested retail price of $39.99.
In our next update we will hopefully be able to bring you the first screenshots from the DVD's menu screens that Van has been preparing so painstakingly with his collaborators, so keep your fingers crossed and make sure to come back to get the full scoop on Artisan's "Terminator 2: Judgment Day."
As you may remember from our previous installments in this Production Diary, Artisan Entertainment was considering to create a special metal packaging for the initial Limited Edition run of the release. After long deliberation, a decision has now been made and I am glad to tell you that the release will indeed come in a true aluminum case. I know how many of you feverishly hoped that this would be the case and I am glad that I can finally put your minds to rest. But it's getting even better! Due to the attractive pricing that Artisan Entertainment has been able to get on this metal packaging, the plan is now to ship the entire release - and not only a limited number - in this metal packaging. Plans to number the initial release batch were in discussion but have ultimately been put to rest for practical reasons - I think engraving serial numbers into an aluminum case is just prohibitively expensive as everyone will understand. The distinction between the initial release batch and the second one, which is nothing but a practical result of the production bottlenecks that come with high-volume DVD-18 releases at this point, will therefore go altogether, and there will be only one version of the "Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Ultimate Edition."
Many of you have also wondered whether the Guns'N Roses video will be part of the DVD, especially since it was part of the laserdisc release and not listed in our previous listing of the features for the DVD. Unfortunately, Artisan Entertainment was not able to obtain clearance for this video due to the licensing costs. Too bad on one hand, but at the same time, there is so much cool and new stuff on the DVD that it shouldn't really matter.
Here you get a look at the chapter stop menus of the release. As you can see, a nice transition leads to the actual chapter stop display, which consists of an array of still images imprinted on the cubes of the Terminator's neural net processor. Although motion menus were considered for those chapter stops, producer Van Ling tells me that especially with the DTS track on the same disc, there just wasn't enough room. "We actually had to make the menus on side 1 as minimal as possible," he tells me, "to allow the most space for the movie, the DTS track and so on. I think the viewers would rather have more bits devoted to making the movie look and sound good than to making the chapter menus move."
The entire sequence has been modeled from scratch in 3D for this menu. "There was a Japanese model kit available that was created from the original Stan Winston molds of the terminator endoskeleton head. We got one of those model kits and digitized it into a 3D model for these menus. Then we built the entire room around it and made lit the whole scene. You can actually see the room refracting from the metal textures on the head. The whole sequence is a combination of some nice composite work and 3D work. Digital Artist Johnathan Banta, who also worked with me on "The Abyss" and "Independence Day" DVD menus, was once again my lead 3D artist and he modeled, textured, lit and animated the endoskeleton and assembly room sequences I designed, while I built and animated the chip stuff, and did all of the compositing."
The opening sequence for the feature fiml side of the release immediately puts you in the right mindset for the movie, as you can see in this animation we have prepared based on images producer Van Ling and Artisan made available to us.
All in all, it took Van Ling and Jonathan Banta about 6 weeks to create and complete the menus for the first side of the DVD and another 6 weeks for those on the second side using tools like Electric Image and Adobe After Effects to do the job; once the visuals of the menus were done, video editor Lauryl Duplechan added sound effects and music to the motion menus on Ling's Avid system before it was all laid off digitally for encoding by WAMO. "Like on the previous discs, it was just the three of us doing round-the-clock renders on multiple Macintoshes -- and I was also working on all of the supplement materials for the DVD at the same time! It was exhausting, but it was a blast."
After months and months of elaborate work and many long nights of work for producer Van Ling and his crew, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day: The Ultimate Edition" is finally finished. The production of the actual release has begun and we have been able to take a first look at the actual product. It is hard to produce DVD-18 and the failure rate during production is extremely high. This is the reason why Artisan had to start weeks ahead of the shipping date to produce this DVD in order to have all the units ready by the time it is released on August 29. This first thing I noticed when I finally held the DVD in my hands was how cool it looks and how heavy it actually weighs. Trust me, you get quite some bang for your bucks here, no doubt!
As I write these lines, Artisan Home Entertainment is actually shipping the Ultimate Edition of "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" to retailers across the country to make sure they are all well-stocked when the DVD finally makes its public appearance on August 29. Most of you have undoubtedly put in their pre-orders weeks ago and are now feverishly waiting for the disc to arrive on their doorsteps.
Although it seems that the work is over, this may be deceptive. Producer Van Ling has already been doing a lot of work for the "Terminator Special Edition" that MGM will release next year, after he had finished his workload for "Terminator 2" but interestingly, these days he has returned to the T-1000 once again.
"I'm currently doing the Japanese version of the DVD," he tells me as we talk. Apparently Artisan Home Entertainment has been able to make sure the Ultimate Edition will also be available in Japan and instead of simply trying to sell the original American version of the DVD into that market, it was decided to create a localized Japanese release instead.
"All the menus are in Japanese," Van explains and points out that it is currently considered to have all the text screens of the release translated, which means Van would have to prepare them all anew for the release. "Sounds like a lot of work?" he asks jokingly. "Believe me, it is!"
Considering that there are 4,000 text screens with production notes and other detailed information, I have to admit that I do not necessarily envy Van for the job, but then again, that is part of the workload that awaits a DVD producer. He prepares the images as layered Photoshop files of a still frame menu, with the text separated from the background image that is then sent to Japan for translation. They put the translation on a new layer in the Photoshop image and send the file back to Van, which he then modifies and builds into his renders for the animations.
How well Van does his job becomes evident on an entirely different front these days, too. Last week the final nominees for this year's DiVi Awards were announced. As you may know, we at DVD Review have been preparing the DiVi Awards in conjunction with IRMA, handling the title submissions, selection of the judging panel, judging, and tallying the ballots. From over 200 submissions in 12 different categories, "Terminator 2" managed to receive no less than 7 nominations, while Van's previously produced special edition of "The Abyss" raked in another three nominations. It shows that his dedication and love for the movies pays off.
During the actual DiVi Awards ceremony Van Ling and Artisan's Michelle Friedman, the two people who made this release happen, finally had the chance to pick up two of the coveted industry awards, as "Terminator 2" was honored for "Best Authoring" and as "Best Special Edition," while Van's efforts in "The Abyss" were honored by winning the award for "Best Menu Design."
With that, it is time for us to wrap up this Production Diary. The title is finished and in less than 2 weeks you will be able to see for yourself how all the work that went into this project paid off. With everything you read in this Production Diary I am also sure that you will most likely look differently at the release with an added appreciation for all the hard labor that went into it. It is easy to forget that DVDs only look so good because people make them look so good, so never take it for granted. Enjoy it!
I would like to thank the disc's producer Van Ling for his never-ending support and openness. For the past months, Van has been constantly supplying me with new information, details and materials to create this diary. It may have been my writing, but ultimately it was his work that made it happen. I would also like to thank everyone at Artisan Home Entertainment, especially Michelle Friedman for her continuous help and support, and Miguel Casillas for making sure we would always have timely clearance of materials as well as information on our hands when we needed it. With his efforts he has saved the day more than once!
Special thanks also go out to MPRM's Alan Amman and David Delgrosso from DTS for the help and information they supplied. Most importantly, thanks go out to the people who made the movie and who allow us fans to take a look behind the scenes, James Cameron and the entire cast and crew of "Terminator 2."