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Chat Transcript: DVD producer
Jonathan Gaines
on Home Theater Forum

The following is a complete transcript of the on-line chat with DVD producer Jonathan Gaines (of Acoustic Visions) held last night (February 28th) on The Home Theater Forum. Thanks to Ron Epstein and Parker Clack (of the HTF) for all their hard work, and for providing the transcript for all to read. Enjoy!

Session Start: Sun Feb 28 21:26:42 1999

[RonEpstein] Okay, gang...

[RonEpstein] Let's begin...

[RonEpstein] I'd like to welcome Jonathan Gaines of ACOUSTIC VISIONS

[Jonathan_Gaines] Thank you,Ron

[RonEpstein] I'd like to know a bit about what you do and what Acoustic Visions is all about

[Jonathan_Gaines] I started Acoustic Visions about 2 years ago after producing the 10th ann. ld of Highlander while working at Republic Pictures. I had always been a fan of the LD format and loved all the extras that they had to offer. At the same time, I knew DVD was waiting in the wings and the potential was great. I have always been a film buff and wanted to learn as much about film making as possible and I saw DVD as the best medium to educate, entertain and archive the making of a film. That is my goal when I produce a disc. I want the viewer to come away for a new appreciation for the art of film making

[RonEpstein] How many discs have you produced these past 10 years?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I have only been an independant producer for a little over 2 years and in that time I would have to say about 40

[RonEpstein] And your most notable titles include CONTACT and TOMORROW NEVER DIES SE?

[Jonathan_Gaines] yes

[Jonathan_Gaines] The Ronin internet event, I'm pretty proud of

[RonEpstein] You are involved with the Ronin on-line event in March. Can you briefly tell us how?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I am producing the actual event that you will see on the net. all of the content. I then hand it off to the internt company that will compile it for the presentation

[RonEpstein] And the date is Sunday March 14th

[RonEpstein] Details are inside the RONIN DVD box

[Jonathan_Gaines] I interviewed John Frankenheimer for it and had to go through a ton of b-roll to come up with a narrative

[RonEpstein] What are a few other DVD or LD titles that you have personally produced that some of our members may remember?

[Jonathan_Gaines] co-produced LA Confidential, A Perfect Murder, Austin Powers LD, Liar Liar LD, I was also very involved with the T2 disc

[RonEpstein] I am sure many members will want to know about that...

[RonEpstein] I have been talking away here. Are you ready to take some questions from our members?

[Jonathan_Gaines] go ahead

[RonEpstein] First up is Stephen...

[StephenK] Jonathan, how do you get involved in the first place with the production of the special contant on a DVD?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I will either be hired on by the studio to do the disc or I will pitch an idea to the studio with contacts with the filmmakers already in place.

[StephenK] Thank you.

[RonEpstein] up is GregStaten...

[GregStaten] A few kickoff technical q's: On what media is the video typically provided to you? DigiBeta, DCT, D5, (hopefully not) D2? If a 1080 transfer was done, do you get the HD master or the downcoversion? Same question if the transfer was 625/24 DCT.

[Jonathan_Gaines] I will get a master of the film on digibeta either a squeezed 16x9 or leterboxed 4x3.

[GregStaten] Sound on a DA-88?

[Jonathan_Gaines] My b-roll and outtakes usually comes from beta sp (done)

[Jonathan_Gaines] If a commentary has more than two people I will record on a DA88 otherwise a Dat.

[RonEpstein] Okay, next is Dimitri

[Dimitri] Jonathan, what are some of the things that go into the making of a supplement like Ronin, or say, Contact?

[Jonathan_Gaines] A lot of phone calls and letters. 90 % of any SE is making the contacts and scheduling

[Jonathan_Gaines] Then you have to know what materials are available and then what idea you want to present. Keeping on schedule is also important

[RonEpstein] Next up is Ned Vogler....

[NedVogler] Mr. Gaines - Can you enlighten us of any other SE content you will be providing on any DVD/LD's in the future?? Specific titles, maybe?? Specific SE content as related to those specific titles??

[Jonathan_Gaines] I just finished the dvd of Message in a Bottle. That will have a commentary track by the producer and director , deleted scenes and some hidden menu "easter eggs"

[Jonathan_Gaines] I will be starting The Matrix very soon too

[Jonathan_Gaines] I also just finished Halloween H20

[NedVogler] great, thanks!

[RonEpstein] Next up is StephenK

[StephenK] Jonathan, do you typically get involved in producing special content for a dvd while the movie is still in the theater? I'm surprised to see that Message in a Bottle is done since it's in the theaters.

[Jonathan_Gaines] Given the longer physical production time needed to make a DVD in order to make the day in date with vhs you have to start while the film is still in theaters. The best case scenario would be to begin while the film is in production. The problem is that once the film is finished all the prinicpals are on other projects and dont have the time

[RonEpstein] Next up...

[RonEpstein] Kenn

[Kenn] Do you have, out of the discs you have produced a personal favorite that stands out above the rest to you?

[Jonathan_Gaines] Contact was a dream come true for me. Meeting Zemeckis and Foster. I am also very proud of the TND SE

[RonEpstein] Next up is CHRIS DUGGER

[ChrisDugger] Who deceides what Special content is to be used? Studio? Director? etc. etc.? Where does the plan of attack start?

[Jonathan_Gaines] The studio and I will discuss what would be of interst to include, then we contact the film makers and inquire as to their interst and availability. A lot of what you see on a disc is determined by what is around. On some films there is nothing and others a ton. Budget set forth by the srudio has a lot to do with content too.

[RonEpstein] Next up is Dimitri

[Dimitri] Following up on Kenn's question, what disc that you produced turned out the least to your satisfaction? (And why?)

[Jonathan_Gaines] The Postman and Lethal Weapon 4 because I had a lot of things planned for both and most of the principals would not participate

[RonEpstein] Next up is SamRossi

[SamRossi] Your thoughts on MLP and competing 5.1 audio formats ?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I personnaly think DTS missed the boat and lost the war at the same time

[Jonathan_Gaines] MLP has potential and will probably be the winner in the music arena

[RonEpstein] My question..

[RonEpstein] Mr. gaines, you said something very interesting before the chat began...

[RonEpstein] You said don't expect Disney animation to DVD....

[RonEpstein] yet...

[RonEpstein] Disney has sort of hinted that by year end there will be animated releases.

[RonEpstein] Your thoughts?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I think that release will be Toy Story to coincide with the sequel. I personally think that Disney will hold on to their classics until a deeper consumer base is established and they are satisfied with copy protection

[RonEpstein] next up is GregStaten...

[GregStaten] What tools do you use to produce your special edition content (authoring sw, video efx sw, editing sw)?

[Jonathan_Gaines] most of the materials are edited on an Avid then finished at an on-line facility

[Jonathan_Gaines] Audio is recorded on the Audio File and recorded on DAT

[Jonathan_Gaines] Classic software like Photoshop and After Effects are used too

[RonEpstein] Next up is StephenK

[StephenK] Jonathan - you spoke of things you wanted included in Lethal Weapon 4 but were never included. What were they? I love this movie.

[Jonathan_Gaines] I was on set for a couple of days shooting and wanted to present a who's who on a film set presentation.

[Jonathan_Gaines] But the shooting schedule permitted me from finishing and getting everyone I needed

[RonEpstein] Next up is Dimitri

[Dimitri] How long is the process of creating a DVD from conception to the time you have a finished product ready for mastering?

[Jonathan_Gaines] It depends on how early I get involved. sometimes a few months in the rare case up to a year Contact took about 7 months to produce

[RonEpstein] Next up is Marko

[MarkO] Will new movies be made with multi endings,multi angles,etc,with DvD in mind ?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I don't think you will see major films produced with that feature in mind. Smaller, independant films might take advantage of it

[RonEpstein] GregStaten is next...

[GregStaten] Do you have a hand in deciding who is asked to provide a commentary? For example, I'd love to see more film editors involved. Walter Murch on Unbearable Lightness... and Thelma Schoonmaker on Raging Bull are two of my favorite commentaries.

[Jonathan_Gaines] yes I do. A lot has to do with who is available and willing to record. Some filmmakers have never done a commentary before and a hesitant to agree. But once they have done it and survived they are more apt to do another. I like to look at each film and decide who besides the director would be interested in hearing from. Especially if they are an icon in the bizz and have never done one before and future filmmakers can learn something from them. For example... I got the opporunity to work on The Fabulous Baker Boys and Michael Ballhaus. Here is a DP who has worked on some great films with some of the greatest filmmakes, but has never done a commentary. I felt this was a crime. And he was very pleased to be asked.

[GregStaten] Thanks! I've heard Walter Murch speak for a day on English Patient. He'd be great on any commentary.

[Jonathan_Gaines] I met Walter when he was doing the 5.1 on Apocalypse Now. A very nice man

[RonEpstein] Next up is ChrisPatterson

[Chris_Patterson] Are you currently slated to work on any upcoming DVD-Audio titles and if so, are there plans to make them dual-format titles with both DVD-Audio and DVD-Video compatible DD5.1 audio tracks? How are studios approaching DVD-Audio in terms of backward compatibility?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I unfortunatly am not invoved with music only, but would like to. I think the dual format is a good idea

[RonEpstein] Next up is Dimitri...

[Dimitri] Of the discs you haven't been involved with, which would you say is the best-produced? What would you have liked to work on but didn't get the chance?

[Jonathan_Gaines] good question...

[Jonathan_Gaines] I'm thinking, hold on...

[Jonathan_Gaines] I'm blanking for now, but I would like to workon some of the New Line titles but they do everything in house.

[RonEpstein] I have the next question. Jonathan, your upcoming title is going to be TERMINATOR 2: SE. Other than what was on the major laserdisc edition, what extras are being prepared exclusively for the DVD release, and, when is the anticipated release date of TERMINATER 2 SE on DVD?

[Jonathan_Gaines] There is some confusion, I worked on the current DVD and am not working on the new SE sorry

[RonEpstein] ahhh, I misunderstood

[RonEpstein] Next up is StephenK

[StephenK] Ron, you just took my question!

[StephenK] hehe

[StephenK] Jonathan - do you have any exciting projects coming up?

[Jonathan_Gaines] The Matrix ,, The Green Mile, and some others I can't discuss yet

[RonEpstein] RandallCharris is up...

[randallcharris] I recenlty viewed BOUND, and the commentary. I would normally have thought that many people doing a comentary would be too confusing to follow, but this was very good. It had about 5 people and was very interesting. Any plans implementing more of these type of 'multi-person' commentaries instead of just the producer or director?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I actually put the bound commentary together...

[randallcharris] WOW - I didn't know that, congrats, it was very good and cohesive.

[randallcharris] It was very nice how some of the cast came in during the middle of it too.

[Jonathan_Gaines] We got very lucky with Bound with everyones schedules. Usually we have to record people seperately then edit them together

[RonEpstein] Next up is GregStaten

[GregStaten] BTW - I think Michael's working on Wild Wild West... Q: It seems all of the non-HTML DVD-ROM content thusfar has required Windows. There are a lot of Mac users with DVD-ROM drives. Do you see dual-platform content on the horizon?

[Jonathan_Gaines] I do see dual platform on the horizon. the problem was that the mac software was not ready when the format began. they are catching up

[RonEpstein] Next up is Dimitri

[Dimitri] Say I'm just an ordinary viewer who wants to see something particular on an upcoming DVD SE. What's the best way of having an impact on that?

[Jonathan_Gaines] write the studio that is making the film and the producers Get some talk on the net going a lot of the decission makers surf the net and listen to whats being said.

[RonEpstein] Next up is NedVogler

[NedVogler] Mr. Gaines - You mentioned titles from Warner, MGM, and others, and stated that New Line does most of their work in-house... do you have anything on the table with either Fox or Paramount at present?? You also mentioned Toy Story... will there be any SE content on that DVD if and when it does appear??

[Jonathan_Gaines] I have tried to get projects off the ground at both Fox and Paramount but they are more interested for now with just getting product out and being day in date with vhs.

[Jonathan_Gaines] I think you will start to see SE's from them next year. I dont know anyting about Toy Story

[RonEpstein] GregStaten is next...

[GregStaten] Now that moving video on menus has almost become "standard" instead of a novelty and several studios are doing DVD-ROM, what do you see coming that will be the next "innovation"?

[Jonathan_Gaines] DVD 18 is very exciting because we can put more on it... I think you will start to see more intergration with the net too. like on Ronin

[RonEpstein] RandalCharris is next..

[randallcharris] This is more of a general DVD question. What are a couple of DVD's that have left you very impressed with the quality of the audio and video (That you were involved with)? And is it becoming more or less costly to get a high quality product onto DVD? (thanks)

[Jonathan_Gaines] Contact turned our great so did Tomorrow Never Dies. Both are great demo discs for home theater. Prices are getting better but DVD and the technology that is in it is still relativly new so the costs are still high compared to VHs. Plus a lot of studios are doing hi def transfers and that costs a lot now

[RonEpstein] StephenK is next

[StephenK] Jonathan - was there any talk of a sequel to Contact?

[Jonathan_Gaines] not that I know of If Carl Sagan had written on than maybe

[RonEpstein] Next up is Kenn...

[Kenn] You had said eairlier tonight that you have always had a love for the movies... could you pick a movie that stands out as your favorite from childhood until now?

[Jonathan_Gaines] Star Wars, its the reason I'm in the biz

[RonEpstein] JeromyVanLoon is next...

[JeromyVanLoon] Mr. Gaines, I saw a mention of The Green Mile a couple of minutes ago. Do you have any further content info on that title?

[Jonathan_Gaines] We are working closley with Darabont but nothing has been decided

[RonEpstein] Next is GregStaten...

[GregStaten] Final question (from me): What do you feel is driving the development of spec. ed content? The studios, producers, content creators such as yourselves, end users?

[Jonathan_Gaines] It is a combination of all. for the most part the people who I work with at the studios love SE's too.

[RonEpstein] Next up is SamRossi

[SamRossi] Is the talent as excited about DVD and its myriad possibilities as the home theaterphile ?

[Jonathan_Gaines] Film makers love DVD because it offers the closest home representation of their film outside the theater. plus they love to get to write a closing chapter on the making of their film

[RonEpstein] Well...

[RonEpstein] This has been very informative...

[RonEpstein] I really need to thank Jonathan Gaines for his time this evening

[RonEpstein] I do hope that he will return periodically

[Jonathan_Gaines] my pleasure, and yes I would love to do this again. Just ask

[RonEpstein] Thank You, Jonathan

[Jonathan_Gaines] Your welcome. Take care all...

Session Close: Sun Feb 28 23:36:04 1999

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