New Tokusatsu US dub reconstruction of Tidal Wave (1975)

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Toby21
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New Tokusatsu US dub reconstruction of Tidal Wave (1975)

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I'm excited to announce my latest reconstruction of a Tokusatsu US dub - Tidal Wave (1975)

I’ve always admired the scale behind Japan Sinks (1973). And, I have wanted to work on a reconstruction of the US edition, Tidal Wave, for a long time. When I heard about the recent UHD release in Japan this raised my interest even more. The main issue has always been finding quality source material for the US version. Distributed in the US by Roger Corman’s New World Pictures, that movie features just over six minutes of specially shot footage directed by Andrew Meyer. Corman’s notoriously frugal methods featured only two basic sets. He instead spent his money on Lorne Greene to star in all of those six minutes.

The new scenes add nothing to the story, but did offer a chance to give drive-in movie goers a US perspective. Greene delivers a decent performance and has just enough gravitas to keep the inserted scenes from being too clumsy. Nowadays it appears the only versions out there all seem to stem from an old 16mm pan-and-scan edition prepared for TV. Several of my other projects have incorporated 4:3 footage, but this time all the copies available were of miserable quality. Worse than VHS, the US scenes were dark, and so blue they looked like they had been filmed night-for-night. I tried to pull these back to some form of useability, but the jump in quality was so jarring that I felt it pulled the viewer out of the movie experience. That’s when a new opportunity struck. My good friend, G-Man, had come across a 35mm film print of Tidal Wave. This was an Eastman Scope print originally circulated in Britain. We were able to get a good 4K scan out of this print and so the reconstruction was back on.

After examining the scan it was clear, the new widescreen footage would be a vast improvement over what was available before. There were some issues, including the typical dirt and scratches, but I’ll come back to those. The biggest concern involved what appeared to be “staining”, like some water damage, or possibly a chemical reaction over time to parts of the image. This basically manifested itself in color splotches moving across the images. Because this was inconsistent I wasn’t really sure I’d be able to remove.

The scratches and dirt could be dealt with by some powerful filters, such as PFClean. However, as with all automatic AI tools, they still need some human interaction to make sure that they don’t treat fast-moving objects as dirt to remove. So with filters applied I then went through the images a frame at a time and pulled back any AI too aggressive. The result ended up with pictures still with natural grain, but that could stand next to Toho’s 4K restoration and not look out of place. The next thing was to deal with the color grading. Although I still use Adobe Premiere Pro as my main editing tool, I have come to rely on Davinci Resolve as my go-to for color correction. The tools are much more robust, and give a broader range of results. Like many unpreserved older films, the print had shifted to a red tint as the other dyes faded. I was able to shift these back to more natural tones. Color grading is a very personal thing and if I re-graded these next month I might come up with different results, but I do think the US scenes turned out quite well here.

I had almost completed the restoration work when I discovered a new tool that might have a significant effect on the staining issue. The tool is mostly used to deflicker parts of an image by comparing adjacent frames and “normalizing” the colors across frames. I had previously tried something like this, but the end result ended up blurring the images, so I had not pursued. This new tool only affects the chroma and after several tests it did significantly improve the footage without affecting the original images. The color still shifts a bit in some of the shots, but overall the staining effect is softened and the film becomes viewable again. However, as this has a knock-on effect to the other restoration elements, I decided it would be best to complete this step first. So I threw out the work I had previously completed and started over with this new deflickering as the first step. Took more time, but it the end result was definitely worth it in the end!

Now it was time to move back to the reconstruction. The print we had scanned included a different distributors logo attached to the start of the film instead of the New World logo. This had obviously been spliced in later as it totally throws off the leader countdown. Since this was a British print possibly it was distrusted by a different company there, but this was easily repaired. As with most of my US reconstructions, my preference is to recreate the credits in a style totally authentic to the original presentation. This is because I can use much higher quality sources for the visuals from the Japanese restoration. Although I used some patches for sections from the film print, the majority of the titles have been very faithfully recreated using the same font and details.

The rest of the film had the Japanese footage synced, and the newly restored US scenes re-inserted. The US footage also being 4K helped maintain the look and feel across all material so that anyone viewing hopefully won’t notice or be pulled out of enjoying the movie.

I did come across some interesting things while reconstructing Tidal Wave. First, it became obvious quickly that New World were only given a copy of the International version, Submersion of Japan, to create their version from. Many online sources mention how Corman “hacked” the film down to an hour and 20 minutes, but the International version is only about 30 minutes longer. The scenes he cut didn’t really advance the plot, and let’s face it, most people were going to the drive-in to see the special effects destruction shots anyway. It was easy to tell that New World only had access to certain scenes, but also several of those scenes have unique edits in the International version that differ from the Japanese cut.

Additionally I became aware of two shots that I believe were added by mistake to the recent Japanese restoration. All previous home video releases, AND the film print for Tidal Wave, All contain two shots that are unique and NOT included in the recent 4K restoration. They are very minor shots, one of an explosion, and one during the United Nations discussion later in the film. Both appear to be included in the prints originally distributed in the 1970s. Since the recent restoration went back to some of the negatives, perhaps these shots got included by mistake. Either way, I’ve gone for what was included in the original film print we had scanned.

The audio from the film print was generally pretty clear, but I still did some minimal clean up to remove some base hiss and pops/clicks. Finally I added some chapters and a cover icon as I normally do. More screen captures and a before & after video are available at my Twitter page, link below. The reconstruction is available in either HD or 4K, just PM me for details, or contact me on Twitter.

I hope to soon be able to use more film scans directly in other reconstructions of US editions. I can’t thank @Kaiju_Fanatic for all his help and support. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out his reconstructions as well.

#PreserveTheDubs
#PreserveTheDubs

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