Cumming Attractions!

By Will Seagers

 

Hi folks! Will here.

We're taking a little bit of a break after the two year run of my blog with Bijou.

To celebrate the two years of fun that I've had, here is a gala video for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!

 

Will Seagers in L.A. Tool & Die, stylized image
Will Seagers in L.A. Tool & Die, stylized image

 

Bio of Will Seagers:


Will Seagers (also credited as Matt Harper), within his multifaceted careers and participation in numerous gay communities across the country in the '70s and '80s and beyond, worked as a print model, film performer, and DJ, just to name a few. He made iconic appearances in releases from Falcon, Hand in Hand, Joe Gage, Target (Bullet), J. Brian, Steve Scott, and more, including in lead roles in major classics like Gage's L.A. Tool & Die (1979) and Scott's Wanted (1980). He brought strong screen presence and exceptional acting to his roles and was scene partners with many fellow legends of classic porn.
 

Will Seagers, present day image

 


You can read Will Seagers' previous blogs for Bijou here:
Welcome Matt/Will
What's For Dessert?
On and Off the Set of L.A. Tool & Die
Wanted, Weekend Lockup and Weekends in Hermosa Beach
Honeymoon in the Palms
Birds of a Feather
The Stereo Maven of Castro Street
The Pass Around Boy
The Ecstasy and the Agony
Fitness and Fantasy: The Early Gyms
Chasing the Boys and Chasing the Sun: My Story of Sun Worship and Where It Got Me
Becoming Invisible
The Reverse Story of Dorian Gray
Pin Money
One Organ Leads to Another! Part 1
The Wheels of Steel
Feast and Famine: The 1970s to the 1980s
An Alphabet Soup of Powders and Pills
Merry Christmas (and Getting Re-Organized)
Now and Then
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: The Badlands
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: Moby Dick Bar
DEEP INSIDE THE CASTRO: "Just Another Stroll Down the Castro!"
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Hamburger Mary's
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Long Live the Stud!
Diving Into SoMa/Folsom: Club Life..."Hit me with your Rhythm Stick!”
A "Split Ticket" - SoMa/Folsom and The Haight!
Back to Basics: "Staying Vanilla in a Flavorful Culture!"
A Little Secret
"I love a Parade!" Recollections of the 1977 S.F. Gay Pride Parade
Pics, Pics & More Pics... Life's a Beach
Flora & Fauna - the Flora part anyway!
Once Is Just Not Enough!
A Love of Cultures – A Knack for Languages!
"For the Birds": My Lifetime With Feathered Friends!
"It's About Time!" My Love Affair With Clocks & Fine Watches
The Perfect Storm
Hello Chicago/Adieu Fire Island Pines!
Sex in the Woods!
My Life at the Gym: An Unexpected Surrender to a Life Sentence!
The Last Picture Show

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Porn Remastering Pt. 2: Challenging Restorations

Posted by guest blogger Miriam Webster

 

This is a follow up on last Sunday’s blog on some of the simpler remastering processes we go through when preparing classic gay porn films for DVD and streaming release. Many of the movies that wind up more straight-forward to work on turn out beautifully (best illustrated in last week’s example, Hot Truckin’), especially when they meet all or most of the best case scenario criteria: originally being well-shot, us having a well-preserved and fully intact film or video source available, and having a high quality transfer of that source.

When these best case scenarios are not met, the remastering work can sometimes be challenging. I may spend a great deal of time working on a movie and improving upon its image quality and color, but we can’t create new image or color information that is not present in the source. We also sometimes encounter troubleshooting issues, in working with the combination of older formats and newer technology, where the software companies we work with don’t even know how to help us because they aren’t familiar with older formats (like VHS) and their needs and what is feasible to do with them, resulting in us doing a lot of detective work and tests.

Since I’m currently working from home because of the coronavirus, I don’t have access to all of our files, but I would love to provide before and after images from the movies I’m discussing in this blog. I plan on sending out a future blog with a number of before/after examples, as I think they are interesting illustrations of what our remastering work actually has actually done to improve upon the quality of our releases.

The movies we carry that took the most time and were the most complex to work on might be surprising. For example, our recent release, Steve Scott’s excellent 1984 film, Doing It, was one of the most time-consuming projects I’ve undertaken in all my years working for Bijou Video. For this movie, we digitized, in house, several different VHS sources. These appeared to have used the same original transfer, which was lacking in image clarity, and these all had different degrees of aging and of video noise present. I was able to run the best-preserved option through a plug-in that decreases video noise with a lot of success, so I was optimistic about its restoration.

 

Doing It DVD box cover
Box cover for Doing It

 

However, when I cut the shots apart and got into the color correction process, I noticed that, throughout the entire movie, the color within shots wildly fluctuated back and forth between different color schemes. (The same was true of each of these VHS versions.) This meant that I was not able to apply a color correction to a full shot. Instead, I had to make dozens of cuts within each shot to attempt to stabilize the color as much as possible. This was a far more complicated version of what I have to do with some other movies - particularly many Nova films, which often fluctuate in color - but those generally have slow shifts between color schemes and are relatively manageable to balance, whereas this movie had many constant, quick, sharp changes between different adjustment needs. Balancing all of these was a nearly insurmountable time commitment, but I was able to tackle evening out most of them. This source, even as the best option, also had some tracking issues in a few scenes. I was able to eliminate the briefer moments of tracking, but not the more extensive ones.

After this was complete, we happened to track down yet another source for Doing It, and it luckily was in far better shape, without the color fluctuation and with clearer image quality throughout. However, the audio was in worse shape, some shots had extremely dull color, and there were a few short sections that had been eliminated entirely from this VHS release. I synced the previous restoration with this new source. I was able to use almost all of the new source, thankfully, which eliminated most of the remaining color fluctuation issues and all of the tracking problems. I used the previous restoration’s audio and, in the sections with too little color information and for the missing chunks, I used the previous restoration’s image. I color corrected this new source. Then, I eliminated splice lines. None of the audio sources from any tape we checked out were perfect (all sounded slightly blown out during some of the dialogue), but I was able to make the audio less muddy and better sounding.

I’m grateful we found this additional source, because the final version of Doing It feels like a dramatic improvement. It is a good, watchable presentation of an excitingly well-made, very hot movie by one of the major classic porn directors and is one of Bijou’s final additions to the Steve Scott collection in our aim to preserve his work and make it available. You can stream this movie or watch it on DVD - or check out other Steve Scott titles!

 

Stills from Doing It
Stills from our final restoration of Doing It

 

Another great classic that we worked hard to preserve from available materials was the 1979 French porn film, Le Beau Mec (also known as Dude), directed by Wallace Potts (ballet star Rudolf Nureyev’s lover) and co-written by him and its muscular star, Karl Forest. This was another movie where I had to sync multiple VHS sources and pick and choose the best shots from each. Each source had moments of better color or worse tracking issues, but overall, I was able to cut together the best possible version. From there, I worked on matching the color between the shots from the various sources. The color in every source was faded (they also seem to have all originated from the same initial transfer), but I was able to reduce the VHS noise and add some enhancement to the color and clarity. Find this movie streaming and on DVD.

 

Stills from Le Beau Mec
Stills from Le Beau Mec (Dude)

 

We have plans to spend more time with an additional classic French porn film, From Paris to New York (1977), in the near future. Several years ago, we released a version from a Beta source. This source was all we had available at the time and it had limited color information, but we worked with it to try to bring some back in. One unique and exciting thing about Bijou's release of this movie, however, is that it is the only English subtitled version that exists (it contains dialogue in French and English). We had someone translate the French sections and we added in subtitles to our release. Another issue with the Beta source we used was that some scenes were missing. The company that put out that version unfortunately eliminated many of the lengthy and fascinating non-sex scenes from the movie to make for a more purely sex-focused release. We recently found a different source that contains the missing scenes (they’re great) and we are going to add this to our version, also with subtitles. Keep an eye out for that, coming soon!

 

Our goal at Bijou Video is always to release the best possible version of a movie, given the sources, resources, and technology we have available. We are often redoing restorations of movies already in our catalog, and will continue to do so, whenever better options become available to us. One aim is to do more future re-restorations of some of the best classics that we have film prints and negatives of, so also keep an eye out for those down the line, in addition to the pile of entirely new releases - many never before made available on DVD or streaming - that I’m ready to tackle when I get back into the office!

Read Part 3!

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Porn Remastering Pt. 1: Simple Restorations

Posted by Guest Blogger Miriam Webster

 

I’ve been working on remastering many of the Bijou Video titles for the past 11 (nearly 12) years and I’ve yet to write a blog about the process! I’m currently working from home and therefore not on additional restorations during this bizarre point in time in which we’re living. (Hoping many of you are also able to stay at home as much as possible or are as safe as you can be if you’re someone who has to be out there caring for others). Taking this opportunity now to fill you all in on how we approach remastering these classic porn titles.

Often the movies that wind up looking the best in the end, when the customer watches them on DVD or on our streaming site
are much simpler to work on than the movies that wind up still rough around the edges. We try to find the best possible sources to use, but finding great copies of some movies can be tricky and there are many variables at play. Some of the movies were originally shot beautifully and we have well-preserved film prints or negatives available - or, if they were originally shot on video, well-preserved copies on VHS, Beta, or ¾” or 1” tape. This is the best-case scenario. Sometimes, however, there are not many options available as a source for a particular movie and the available ones have not held up well over time. Maybe we have a heavily projected film print that’s scratched and dusty. Maybe it’s a VHS tape with some tracking issues. Maybe it’s a video copy that’s missing chunks of the movie because it was released on video at a time when certain acts were heavily censored (like fisting) - and optimally, in that case we have another source from which to pull those missing sections.

Our goal is always to put out the best possible version of a movie, given the sources and resources available. We're often redoing restorations of the movies in our catalog when better sources turn up and will continue to do so.

One collection from which we have excellent copies of many movies is Hand in Hand Films (all of which you can find at both BijouWorld and BijouGayPorn), an important early gay porn studio and distributor. Bijou Video bought their collection in 1988 and many of our Hand in Hand releases (including The Idol, Drive, A Night at the Adonis, and Centurians of Rome) come from digitizations of well-preserved original film prints or negatives. We were recently able to remaster a beautiful, high quality scan of a well-preserved film print of one of their movies: Tom DeSimone’s Hot Truckin’ (1978), starring Gordon Grant and Nick Rodgers. (Available on DVD and
streaming.)

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 1
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

This film fit all of the ideal scenario categories: it was originally well-shot by DeSimone, whose movies were extremely professionally made; the print, while initially looking very red (which often happens to aging film prints), wound up still containing a lot of color information when I brought it into our editing software and began tinkering with it; and the digitization was a recent, well-done one and extremely high resolution.

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 2
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

Working with a film transfer usually yields better color results than a video transfer, as there is often more color information present (unless the print truly has deteriorated to a dramatic degree). Though this project was satisfying and relatively simple in that the source held up well and responded well to color adjustments, there were still a number of stages to go through in working with it.

 

Hot Truckin' before/after images 3
Hot Truckin' Before/After color correction images

 

I had to first sync the image to audio from our previously-released video source of the movie, because this print was image only. The transfer included a little bit of room beyond the frame, so I adjusted the scale to remove the excess edges, then cut every shot apart to prepare for color correction (and occasionally made cuts and transitions within shots where shots contained a shift in color or lighting with different adjustment needs). I went through every shot and adjusted the color to make it look as natural as possible. I removed splice lines (thick lines across the frame from where shots were edited together on film). The splices, in this copy, made the film jump in the gate momentarily, but since the transfer contained a little extra room beyond the frame, I was able to adjust the position of the image during these moments to reduce or eliminate the jumps. This print had minimal dust and scratches, but I removed the handful of large scratches that were present. This print did not yet have the opening credits laid onto the footage, but had them separately over black before the start of the film for someone to later superimpose. I was able to reference the previous video release for the correct placement and fades into/out of these credits and replicate these digitally.

 

Hot Truckin' still with credit Directed By Lancer Brooks
Credit for director Tom DeSimone's pseudonym, Lancer Brooks, in Hot Truckin'

 

A recent release from a video source, Joe Tiffenbach’s Tall Tales (1986), was also a relatively straight-forward restoration process, if a less glossy final product than Hot Truckin'. Tall Tales was made during the video era and shot on a cheaper format and all in a room full of yellow and green decor. Often, older video sources make skin tones overly yellow, so this initially appeared to be pretty far in that range, between the decor and image quality. However, the VHS copy we used had held up well, with well-preserved sound and image and not much video noise or tracking to worry about, and it was luckily pretty responsive to color adjustments. We digitize video sources in-house, so I transferred this tape. I ran it through a plug-in to reduce video noise, then cut apart every shot and adjusted the color to make skin tones look natural and to find more of a color range beyond the yellow/green scenario. I made sound adjustments to reduce audio noise and enhance clarity. Next, I watched through the full movie to fine-tune it, cutting out the handful of significant tracking glitches and further tweaking the audio (this movie had recorded the dialogue at very different levels, so I had to manually balance these). This was all a fairly quick process, as far as restorations go, without a lot of major troubleshooting. I was able to make improvements to it and wind up with a decent product, so it also fell into the camp of being satisfying to work on.

 

Tall Tales post-restoration images
Post-restoration images from Tall Tales, available on DVD and streaming

 

Read the second installment in this restoration series, discussing more challenging restoration processes, whether this is from source deterioration, needing to cobble together multiple sources, or other issues. And now the new Part 3!

 
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Christopher
I'm so happy to know that someone is doing remasters of vintage gay porn! It is my favorite kind of gay porn. I would rather watch... Read More
Sunday, 26 April 2020 15:09
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