26 octobre 2000

THX: To Infinity and Beyond!

The lucky purchasers of the ULTIMATE TOY-BOX - superb Disney zone 1 set, including the two episodes of the Toy Story cartoon film, as well as a third disc filled to the last millimetre of its substrate, with absolutely incredible supplements - couldn't help but notice and appreciate the presence among all this of two THX trailers, up until now available on DVD’s distributed to the general public.

The two "killings" in question carry the names of "TEX" (in its initial Dolby Digital – not Surround EX format) and the "TEX 2 - MOO CAN". They constitute, in the present case, the opening with great fanfare of each of the adventures of the Space Rangers "Buzz Lightyear" and his cowboy sidekick, "Woody".

The integration of these two exceptional demos in this boxed set is no coincidence. To convince oneself, it suffices to loo, at the origins of these trailers: closely linked to PIXAR, the creative studios (among others) of the fabulous Toy Story 1 & 2, as well as the not less spectacular Bugs Life.

Moreover, the character "TEX" had already been present in an introductory clip in the Toy Story laserdisc NTSC collectors’ set – the first of its kind.

But the best thing is to give yourself a grounding in the complete background to these two little marvels, an historic based on the pages of the presentation for the official THX DVD, which came out around three years ago, which you can consult in the left hand column of this article.

TEX (1996):

Seen for the first time on cinema screens in 1996, for the occasion of the release of the "Independence Day", this trailer has the unique goal (apart from bombarding your ears and eyes – NDLR) of showing the advantages of THX treatment as well as the extreme quality and precision of the digital sound it employs.

TEX was born from the fruitful co-operation between Lucasfilm and John Lasseter, at the head of the PIXAR animation studios, responsible for, among other things, for the film, "Toy Story".

It should be underlined that John Lasseter is not, what one could say, wet behind the ears… A former employee of the Disney studios, then of Lucasfilm Ltd., he has since been devoting all his energies to the "little geniuses" at PIXAR, in whose company he has developed what constitutes what is nothing more nor less than the most highly perfected programmes for graphic creation currently available on the world market
Apart from that, I imagine that, like you or me, he takes out the garbage at night when the bins are full…

Getting back to the trailer, the sound recording was put, for its part, into the capable hands of Gary Rydstrom, a talented sound engineer already honoured on numerous occasions at the Academy Awards.

TEX, in the version destined for movie theatres, includes, on the same spool, the entire range of sound formats currently available to professionals (and some individuals), such as: Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS (the latter being the only one not to find its place in home cinema).

It’s also worth noting that a remake of the trailer in THX Surround EX format saw the light of day in 1999 (the same, except that after having performed a series of repairs on the lateral surround channels, TEX makes three hammer blows and bursts his phalanx on the central rear channel, finally coming back to the front of the house and launches the magic logo that has us all dreaming and fosters sales.

This variation on the theme is only currently available on the THX Surround EX demonstration DVD, distributed to authorised professionals for the occasion of the last CES in Las Vegas, and which is, as you might have guessed, not for sale to the public. A lucky few (including yours truly) having participated in the THX edition 2000 training session, also have it in their possession, and I believe that others have been able to obtain it by begging the THX consultant, and brilliant conference speaker to boot, Tony Grimaldi at the Sound and Image Monomial. It’s a disc that pedals on the home cinema black market for around 2000 French Francs or 305 Euros. Quite a sought-after item!

TEX 2 - MOO CAN (1997):

Due to popular demand, TEX was back in 1997, for the occasion of the Thanksgiving weekend, to yet again show (in case some hadn’t quite understood the first time), the virtues of THX as "value added" in cinema digital multi-channel applications.

The brave robot will this time use a humorous comparison of sound: "with THX" and "without THX".

As one normally doesn’t change a winning team, it was yet again the PIXAR studios and John Lasseter who worked with passion on the project… an example of artists loving their work!

On the other hand, the sound mixing is henceforth in the hands of Marco d’Ambrosio, who goes as far as sampling the "Mooooos" of cows on the "Skywalker Ranch", for more realism.

The cinema cut of the TEX 2 – MOO CAN trailer also includes the three favourite multi-channel formats of Dolby Digital, DTS and SDDS.

Despite an original mix in THX Surround EX on the sequel of Toy Story, advantage totally preserved in the present boxed set, the trailer of TEX-2 doesn’t seem to have undergone the "sound lift" in order to align it technically with the film, which is somewhat regrettable.

Finally, you should know that the zone 2 DVD’s of these same films, out at the beginning of November, will not include the aforementioned little "jewels", for the very simply reason that they will apparently not be labelled THX: No label, no trailers… logical really.

In any case, the supplementary disc will also not be available in the edition that is reserved to us: you know what remains to do…

Another solution to get your hands on them consists of downloading them directly from CineNow! in VOB format (DVD quality) with original Dolby Digital sound. Of course, this is much longer and requires a powerful computer set-up, equipped at least with an MPEG-2 decompression card. With this hardware, the screening should go without any problems.

Head off to our DOWNLOADS section: it’s on-line, up to the minute and waiting for you!


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