Notes on the Audio Restoration of Exodus – Part 2: Recovery and Reclamation

Notes on the Audio Restoration of Exodus – Part 2: Recovery and Reclamation

Posted by Mike Matessino on Mar 9th 2016

Once it was determined that dropping the two “extra" front channels (sometimes referred to as “baby boom”) resulted in the original 4-channel mix for the movie, work began to restore it and make it presentable. Clicks, pops, crackles, dropouts, distortion and mag bursts (sudden volume jumps) were removed by the hundreds while the track was conformed to MGM's hi-def master of Exodus (1960). It was even found that pieces of dialogue were missing and these were inserted from the mono comp track, while the stereo music & effects track (also presented separately on the Blu-Ray) was also utilized to replace or repair damaged sections here and there.

Some of the reels exhibited significant degradation, which necessitated careful rebalancing of the tracks. The surround track was also particularly noisy and filled with crackle and drop outs, so it was worked with separately and “dialed out” to a nearly silent level when no information was present on it. The end result was a presentable version of the original 4-track audio heard for the 35mm presentation of the the film and from which the 6-track 70mm mix had been created. The 4.0 mix on Twilight Time’s Blu-ray, therefore, offers the restored track with the surround information that is present on the original element. For the 5.1 mix, some additional stereo surround enhancements were added along with some very conservative LFE effects. This, then, is a slightly more modernized mix, while the 4.0 track may be considered the “historic” mix.

It should be noted that when these original mixes were created, no one thought that they would ever be presented anywhere other than in a theater capable of playing discrete channel audio. Therefore, stereo and mono compatibility was not anything to be considered. While the restored tracks were checked (and sometimes adjusted) for compatibility issues, it is still recommended that the 2.0 stereo audio be selected if the movie is not being played back in discrete 4.0 or 5.1 surround sound.

Huge thanks must additionally go to engineer Reid Caulfield, who helped bring the restoration across the finish line at Ambient Media, Twilight Time’s authoring facility. And very special thanks to Jeff Jewett, the head of client relations at Ambient.

While Exodus may never be considered one of the best sounding movies ever made, especially by modern standards, it was truly a revelation to hear the discrete channel audio for the first time in decades and to know that this effort might just help bring this movie and its still-current message to a new generation of viewers. Order TT's Blu-ray, available March 15, here: