Play: The Videos

For the first time ever on DVD the video collection you’ve been waiting for. Featuring 23 videos, with fully restored visuals and amazing new 5.1 mixes by Peter, Daniel Lanois and Richard Chappell, and extras including three bonus videos (also with full 5.1 surround mixes). The 5.1 mixes are presented for the first time in a DTS format that is at full 24bit/96khz surround for the ultimate audiophile experience. In addition, Dolby 5.1 and Dolby Stereo soundtracks are provided for those of us without the latest and greatest equipment.

Archive Search and Restoration

The PL>Y DVD was designed authored and encoded in house at Real World by the small 3 man team in Multimedia.

The first issue was in finding the best source material Peter’s videos, In the case of Sledgehammer this meant going back to the film and re Tele-Cineing the print to create a new Hi Definition master. There was a real jumble of sources ranging from 1″ tape and U-matic up to relatively pristine DigiBeta copies.

All of the videos that required restoration went through a couple of real time cleanup processes at Ascent media in Soho and then if necessary a final manual pass on an Edifis system to remove on a frame by frame basis. An operator goes through looks at each video frame and literally draws out imperfections such as dirt, scratches and hairs using the video in surrounding frames as a source. “We had to draw a balance between retaining the integrity of these videos and trying to bring them up to a good standard for the DVD – some of these videos are well over twenty years old and it’s a mistake to think that are going to polish up into something that looks like it was made yesterday.”

The restored videos were transferred to DigiBeta masters to allow us to proceed with the encoding via our Sonic Creator system and to maintain a timecode reference with the recording studio on the other side of the site.

“Timecode and Sync are the biggest technical headaches on a project like this where 8 tracks of audio (2 for stereo and 6 for 5.1) are being created in a separate studio – “it sounds like it should be simple, but particularly when converting the picture to NTSC and hence a different timecode it becomes a real monster. Each video on this disc has 3 soundtracks Dolby Stereo, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1, so we had to get it right 156 times over the two formats.”

Whilst the encoding runs on one machine we are busy designing the discs functionality, it’s graphical menus and working on additional assets, the ‘extras’ for the disc. “It’s the flexibility within the team that allows us to create a product as complex as this in a relatively short period of time”.

All the development work at real World was on Apple OS X systems, with the video stored on an X Raid accessed over a fibre channel connection. Using Blackmagic’s video cards meant we could work in uncompressed 10 bit video so there was no quality loss from the newly restored source material.

All the video work was done in After Effects and Final Cut Pro HD. The technology enabled us to deal with all sorts of unexpected issues, making changes to the videos with no quality loss between restoration and delivery on the DVD.

Surrounded By Play

The audio remixing was a very complex and time-consuming task. All the original songs analogue multitracks had to be located then baked in a special oven before being transferred at the highest possible quality through the Sony Oxford console into Pro Tools HD. The console would then provide the surround mixing to picture facilities that are required in this kind of project.

The Pro Tools operators had to quickly re-create the original edit and mixes as used on the videos, which sometime are based on edits and non-album versions of the tracks which never existed in a multitrack form.

Daniel Lanois, the producer on the So and Up albums, was drafted in by Peter to bring some new excitement and energy to the project. To meet the deadline of Dan Lanois’ arrival in the UK it took a team of six engineers working day and night to prepare the multitracks.

Once this was complete Dan started to work on the mixes with Richard Chappell, updating and improving as they went. One mix was finished each day, sometimes 2 or even 3, as Dan works very quickly to try and capture a vibe or mood. Even from the very first day as he arrived right from the airport and began work that day.

The main approach that Dan agreed with Peter on was to really use the 5.1 mix to fill the whole listening area and be bold and not work to any rules. The bass and vocal would mainly be sent to all speakers to really fill up the listening environment. Some of the more noticeable changes include the extreme drum surround panning in Red Rain and the more noticeable backing vocals by Kate Bush in Games Without Frontiers. But there are hundreds of new treatments and sounds in the new surround mixes to be heard if you have a system that will replay them.

Once the final mixes where completed they where taken to Tony Cousins at Metropolis Mastering for the final touch of “Fairy Dust” to really make the mixes shine.

The mastering process also included creating versions of the surround mixes at the more standard 16bit / 48khz audio format of Dolby Digital and at 24bit / 96khz for the new DTS surround encoder we had delivered here at Real World in a beta form especially to use on this product.

Track List

  1. Father, Son
  2. Sledgehammer
  3. Blood Of Eden
  4. Games Without Frontiers
  5. I Don’t Remember
  6. Big Time
  7. Lovetown
  8. Red Rain
  9. In Your Eyes
  10. Don’t Give Up
  11. The Barry Williams Show
  12. Washing Of The Water
  13. Biko
  14. Kiss That Frog
  15. Mercy Street
  16. Growing Up
  17. Shaking The Tree
  18. Shock The Monkey
  19. Steam
  20. The Drop
  21. Zaar
  22. Solsbury Hill
  23. Digging In The Dirt

All are presented in either Anamorphic 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratio, keeping the original aspect ration of the promo film. The audio tracks are remastered and remixed and presented in a choice of either Stereo (Encoded using Dolby Digital) or 5.1 Surround, which is presented in either 48khz/16bit Dolby Surround or 96khz/24bit DTS.


Each music video has a short introduction for which can be turned on or off on the main menu. These comprise of a mixture of archive footage and recent interviews.

  1. Games Without Frontiers (Live 2004) *
  2. Modern Love *
  3. The Nest That Sailed The Sky *
  4. Trailer for Growing Up Live
  5. Trailer for A Family Portrait
  6. Trailer for Secret World Live
  7. Credits **

* Audio tracks are presented in the same three formats used in the main track list and setting the audio menu with you selection will also affect the extras menu.

** Features an exclusive new instrumental mix of In Your Eyes by Richard Chappell.

Playlist Programme

The DVD also features a way of programming you own playlist of up to 18 videos, which can be looped for ever and also uses the Introductions preference on the Main Menu.

To use the ‘Programme’ feature all you need to do is select the track you want to add and press your enter/ok button. The track will be placed into your playlist ready to be watched and you can then add another. The tracks will play in the order in which you add them, and at all times you can see how many spaces you have left in the bottom-right of the menu. You’ve got up to 18 slots, but don’t feel you have to use them all and you can add the same track more than once if you’ve got a real favourite. When you’re happy with your playlist you can choose to play it once or or on a loop, and unless you select the ‘clear list’ option your playlist will be saved until the DVD is ejected. It couldn’t be easier to create your own personal programme.

How to Set Up Your DVD Player

All the assets on the DVD are mixed 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen and 4:3 format. To display as intended on your TV the DVD player needs to be told what sort of Aspect Ratio the TV you own has. There are usually three options, 16:9 Widescreen, 4:3 Letterbox and 4:3 Pan And Scan.

Enter the setup screen of your DVD player. Widescreen TV owners should choose the 16:9 Widescreen option and for those with 4:3 TV’s we recomend using the 4:3 Letterbox option as the Pan and Scan option will crop the left and right sides of the 16:9 assets so you will miss a third of the image!

What Audio Soundtrack Should I Use?

You should use the best soundtrack for your system. If you own a DTS capable 5.1 surround system then this is the preferred option. If you have a surround system that only supports Dolby Digital then this is the next best.

We have provided a Stereo soundtrack for those without and Surround capability and in our experience although most DVD players can provide what is known as a downmix to stereo of the surround audio tracks this will not provide the best audio experience for stereo or mono TV users.