Music, Video & Audio Production: What Is Digital Remastering?
Digitally Remastered by...
What is Remastering?
On several modern-day media releases such as CD's and DVD's you will have probably noticed the phrase 'digitally remastered'. Digital remastering is the process of taking the so-called 'master' copy of an old release such as a movie or music album and performing digital sound or visual enhancement processes in order to update it's quality and to refine clarity, thus making it better quality that it was when it was originally released... or an engineer may choose to use the original recording in order to produce a brand new master.
This process could be considered to be somewhat of a digital make-over. Digital Remastering have become buzz-words in the music and movie industry as it provides a cost-effective way to re-release older material at a higher quality and therefore maximizes the sales potential of that material. A perfect recent example of this is The Beatles box set - all of their songs digitally remastered.
What is Mastering?
Before movies and music albums are released to the public they are mastered to make them look and sound good when played on a wide range of systems and minor errors are also removed during the process. Once a 'master' has been produced this then becomes the source that all future copies are taken from to be sold to consumers.
The Digital Process
The digital process of remastering material requires technical precision, fine-tuning and advanced tweaking and requires an eye or an ear for detail way beyond the perception of the average person. It takes years of practise, experience and refinement of both perception and technique in order to become a remastering engineer. Practise makes perfect.
We are now in the age of HD, BluRay and 3D television which provides an opportunity not only for movie and music companies to digitally remaster their old productions but also for software companies to re-release old games. Medal of Honor Frontline, originally released on PS2, was included with the standard PS3 game Medal of Honor, but has been digitally remastered and upscaled into HD.
Audio remastering is particularly good for re-releasing music that was originally released on LP/Vinyl as there tends to be a lot of background hiss and lots of clicks and pops. Indeed, the remastering process consists of performing mechanical digital processes such as click & pop removal, hiss reduction, subharmonic removal, microphone rumble reduction, width mastering and width expansion. Production effects such as chorus, delay and even vocoder (autotune) can also be applied.
All video and music products are mastered before their official release. The mastering phase takes place once the product, if it is a music single or album, has been recorded and mixed and is ready to be prepared for consumption.