THRILLER RESTORED: THE FIRST REAL INVESTMENT FOR MICHAEL JACKSON’S LEGACY
With all the goodies the Michael Jackson estate has spoiled us with during this 8 years – fake songs – garbage remixes – DVD of grotesque quality – probably no one noticed but strangely happened that they put some real money into the preservation of Michael Jackson’s work! And surely a good chunk.
Last summer began with a few MJ’ estate executor’s interviews informing the fans that there would be no other forms of un-released songs or albums, but there would soon be an announcement of new projects.
In fact, (I cannot say the timing was like a Swiss watch) a press release announcing a special Michael Jackson Halloween animation theme would be televised in the fall on CBS. Predictably, the reaction of many fans was once again very critical in relation to this new project of the Estate.
“Thriller” 3-D version announcement arrived. A world premiere at the 74th Annual Venice Film Festival, Italy, alongside its original matched film “The Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller” – the hour-long behind-the-scenes documentary whose broadcasted sale to MTV and Showtime and released in VHS format at that time.
The “Making of Thriller” has never been released in any other format, and Thriller has never been released on Blu-ray. We also had much hype announced of a fans-useless “Scream” compilation, but I have no word to spend for it.
I’ve never appreciated any of the products the estate has released after MJ’s demise, but Thriller 3-D clearly intrigued me; especially since having seen Captain EO as far back as 1992 – when Disneyland Park Paris was called Euro Disney – and it was stunning. I was so amazed to see MJ in 3-D in Captain EO and I would not be surprised to be thrilled for “Thriller 3-D”. The 3-D vision is an experience and has nothing to do with going to the cinema to see a movie. You are in the movie!
Having a Smart TV with a cinema home setting, I also appreciated the 3-D effect in the extras of the “This Is It” documentary, (introductions to Thriller, Earth Song, and Smooth Criminal) which are pretty nice to see. Some of the visual effects seemed to emerge from the screen straight into the room!
It’s not a big surprise if I share publicly that there is not one single release from the estate that causes a vibration of my soul. However, I never thought I’d have reason to doubt that Mr. John Landis would allow anyone to ruin a direct “relative” of his dream movie. It might be that many don’t remember the 1981 “An American Werewolf in London”. Landis wrote the script when he was a teenager. Rick Baker won the first Oscar for makeup for that movie.
And Michael Jackson was a big fan of both. That’s why he called Landis and told him of his appreciation of An American Werewolf in London and of Baker’s work particularly while asking him to direct his “Thriller” video.
Unfortunately, public disputes in the community were set in motion following an interview with Engineer Martin Nessi explaining the technical issues he had on mixing “Thriller” for Dolby audio.
Fans screaming “to the sacrilege – the sound has been disrupted, tarnished” jumping to conclusions such as ” the original audio track is lost – Why couldn’t it be provided – Sony archives are crap” – (I also jumped on this bandwagon at first).
And with the “Scream” London party the tragedy begins. Despite the fantastic restoration and the exciting 3-D interjection, the sound is strange. The result is that many other component sounds are totally missing except for the percussions.
Our poor engineer, Martin Nessi, comes onto twitter attempting to give a professional explanation but soon withdraws from the scene due to the rudeness he was apostrophized; after having to do a titanic job he had to deal with even the most stupendous insults.
News from the next “Scream” party in Sidney assures that Sony sent a new audio and that the sound is mostly conformed to the original.
Good! We have the privilege to have another clip on the web and again fans screaming: “chopped, reframed, cut”…
Say it again? But it’s not that….did people forget that the video has been transformed into another format and we are talking about a 3-D interaction?
Even if the Adobe is only a preview of a 3-D broadcast, the details and beauty of the restoration are notable. Plus you need to appreciate 3D.
I agree that everyone can have opinions but I believe that a video taken with a smartphone while sitting in a chair and displaying the shadow of a row of chairs at the bottom of the screen, proves nothing from the technical point of view; it’s what can be called a “glimpse“. And complaining for the sake of it denotes a cruel intent to stir things up in an already conflictual community.
“All of the copies of Thriller out there now are duped,” Landis tells Billboard, “and it used to drive me crazy. I’d been trying to get to the negative for a long time as the new digital technologies are amazing at restoring films. And Michael and I always intended for people to see Thriller in a movie theater”.
In more than one interview John Landis emphasized that his primary interest was to get the original master and restore the negatives of the video clip Thriller and “The making of”.
Restoring old films from the negative with new technology is crucial for their preservation in the years ahead. “There are countless films that disintegrate because the chemical base of the film corrodes over time. Once the camera negative, internegative and last print of a film are gone, the film is gone forever.”
And the 3-D has nothing to do with the original clip. It’s an alternative way to see it. It is a homage to Michael Jackson that a technology he loved very much was used. The shift from 2-D to 3-D is very impactful. It’s an almost faithful representation of the real world. It creates an illusion so real and reactive that it trumps our senses and becomes every bit as real as the physical world itself. If you don’t like it, never mind. You still have the original video wholly restored from now on. That’s the most important thing!
The good news is that the videos have been restored! The Estate of Michael Jackson put some real Michael Jackson money into the preservation of Michael Jackson’s work! And surely a good chunk.
I know, with all the goodies the estate has spoiled us with during this 8 years – fake songs – garbage remixes – DVD of grotesque quality – probably no one noticed but it actually and strangely happened.
It is not necessary to thank and worship Sony or his estate executors, it is their duty to celebrate and take care to preserve Michael Jackson artistry.
Yet in the end, Martin Nessi’s explanation is more than reliable. He did nothing other than the same procedure (with a different technology) done in 1983.
In fact in the book “I Want My MTV” written by Craig Marks, there is an anecdote of how the audio for the video clip Thriller came out:
“The version of the song in the video is different from the one on the album. On the album, the song begins with a series of spooky sound effects that don’t lend themselves to dancing. Editing the song for the video was a challenge since producer Quincy Jones wouldn’t release the master tapes. Landis explains how they got around this restriction. “The song was five minutes long, and I needed it to be 12 minutes for the video,” he said. “So Michael and I went to the recording studio at three in the morning. We walked past the guard – ‘Hi, Michael.’ ‘Hi’ – put the tracks in a big suitcase and walked out with them. Then we drove across Hollywood, duped them, and put them back.”
Landis told the same story in an interview in 2008 for the release of “Thriller 25” to the magazine “Horrorhound” September/October 2008:
“Making the Music Video”
The music in the video and this is so interesting to me that no one has ever figured this out. But “Thriller”, the song, is just over five minutes long and the song in the movie is about twelve minutes long.
Landis explains the difference. Quincy Jones the producer of the album and Bruce Swedien, the mixer said that we couldn’t get the original track. So Michael, George and I went to the studio in the Valley and we stole the tracks. There were only about 38 tracks. It wasn’t that complicated a song. We mixed down and then re-cut it completely – they’re TOTALLY different songs. Really different! And people don’t hear it.
Even the Vincent Price rap was re-recorded for the video. What happened was the original takes were tied in with a synthesizer track and I couldn’t separate it. I asked Vincent Price to come back and re-record, and he did. “
So, as you can read, they had to proceed in a very similar way as Martin Nessi, already explained in his interview at https://www.izotope.com/…/3d-thiller-mixing-michael-jackson…
Concerning the restoration of the movie and the “ The Making Of Thriller” Landis supervised the restoration and conversion from the original 35mm negative, provided by the Jackson estate archives. In addition to the visual work, the film’s audio – the song, the effects, and Elmer Bernstein’s original score – has been upgraded to 5.7, 7.1, and Atmos standards.
We know the estate artistically is far from the mark. We should not buy things that do not suit us, it seems to me the minimum. It will not necessarily change much as long as the general public continues to buy any record.
I’m sure one day the fans will, once again, be the target. That’s why it is useful to formulate constructive criticism and let the estate know that fans will not buy anything. But I think it seems important to differentiate between a 3-D, Thriller and a “Scream”.
I also would like to remind all concerned that Michael Jackson always wanted to do something “special” for Halloween, and a project was already planned to air on CBS in 2009. When Michael Jackson signed with AEG Live for the concert at the O2 Arena in London, his agreement had a specific requirement; AEG had to help him venture into the cinema.
The first thing Michael wanted was to produce something special for Halloween on television, focusing on what he had done in the field of horror with “Thriller” and “Ghosts“. And Randy Phillips organized a meeting between Michael and the program’s producer, Ken Ehrlich. The meeting took place before rehearsals on June 24, 2009, at the Staples Center on the eve of Michael Jackson’s death.
Ken Ehrlich, who was to produce the show for Michael, later said, “When I saw him the day before his death, we had a meeting on a Halloween project that Michael wanted to do with CBS.” The intention was to create an annual Halloween special on television. Michael was going to be the guest and perform in the show. Michael wanted to put forward his short film “Ghosts” and the first “Michael Jackson Halloween Special” had to be broadcast on October 31, 2009, on television.
It would have been the perfect timing for all the involved parties and Michael would have been free thanks to a three-month break planned during his tour. The first part of the tour was due to end on September 29, 2009, and Michael Jackson was not scheduled to return until January 7, 2010, the start of the second part.
Since Michael was not on tour during the broadcast, his performance for the special would have been taken from a series of high definition footage that AEG Live had planned to capture during the first part of the tour.
Thriller, Ghosts and Threatened live shows were also scheduled for this special evening, giving the audience the opportunity to see Michael Jackson’s triumphant comeback, and also giving AEG excellent publicity that the tour will continue in cities around the world.
Frank Dileo said that Michael was satisfied to see the special Halloween he wanted with the film Ghosts and his own participation. He agreed with all of this. Everyone knows, unfortunately, this special Halloween eventually did not take place.
So for once let’s take this sign in a positive way, even if we know very well that this Michael Jackson Halloween season is not what it could have been with him not being in charge of the project.¨
(Read the story at Damien Shield website: http://www.damienshields.com/michael-jacksons-halloween-special-that-never-was/)
Let’s not forget that the power of MJ’s message created an event such as “Thrill the world” in 2006; an annual international dance event and world record-breaking attempt. The title of the event is an allusion to another one of Michael’s songs, “Heal the World“. http://www.thrilltheworld.com/
The syllogism that through a “monstrous” dance we can “heal the world” is simply fantastic. It is an invitation to the world to dance simultaneously in an almost tribal dance that goes beyond the “thriller”. A sort of spiritual dance about the struggle that is taking place between good and evil, light and dark. Warding off evil spirits with the art of dance and a proving that connecting the world in a fun, a joyful celebration is a key to understand that you can do more than you think you can.
In addition to sharing the joy of dance, the celebration of community and the passion for living, the communities participating in the simultaneous dance use the event to raise money for local charities to help others in need.
It’s also an encouragement to people to pursue any dream, vision, idea, and passion that they would like to see realized. Nothing is impossible. Impossible just means it hasn’t been done yet. Do the impossible! It is a celebration of the genius of Michael Jackson and his commitment to better the world.
For once let’s not think of who is behind these events development, but think of the beauty to have a worldwide event in honor of Michael Jackson.
This is Michael! His work, his legacy, and just one of the many reasons of why he will be remembered forever.