psycho1

Ever watched a DVD copy of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho in your home theater and wondered how it would feel like if you could be surrounded by those immortal, screeching violins while Janet Leigh’s scream blared through your glorious center channel? Now, your dreams can come true.

To coincide with the 50th anniversary of the film, Universal Studios is releasing will be releasing a high-def Blu-Ray of Psycho, which will feature a 5.1 surround sound mix for the first time ever. Hit the jump for details on the disc.

From Universal’s press release, we learn that the announcement coincides with the film’s selection as a Cannes Classic this year. At this point, it’s unclear to me if the 5.1 mix will be anything more than a marketing gimmick, since in my (limited) experience, classic films that have been remastered and mixed for 5.1 (e.g. The Kubrick Collection) generally haven’t taken full advantage of the aural space. But who can blame them? The movies were made decades ago, far before the concept and technology was popular. Psycho’s original sound track is in mono, and will still be available on the disc for the purists.

In the press release, Universal does its damndest to convince you that a crapload of work went into the new DTS HD 5.1 digital mix.

Universal Studios BluWave Audio (Universal’s in-house post production sound facility) started the re-mastering process with the film’s previously preserved and restored soundtrack to create a new 5.1 mix. BluWave then contracted Audionamix, a Paris-based audio technology company, to split the original mono music source into quasi-orchestral tracks. Audionamix, a leader in soundtrack separation, then applied their breakthrough proprietary technology enabling BluWave to create a discrete 5.1 split music mix. BluWave’s creative talent gathered the original sound effects from the Studios’ extensive effects library and, using these source materials, created a 5.1 up-mix to bring Psycho’s soundtrack up to the expectations of contemporary audiences while maintaining the original integrity of the filmmaker’s vision.

I’m actually more interested in whether or not the images will look any better. Have you seen the Kino International’s re-release of Metropolis? Truly it demonstrates the full extent of what can be done with a remaster of a classic film.

In addition, the disc will sport the following special features:

  • Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology.
  • The Making of Psycho:  A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock’s most shocking film.
  • In the Master’s ShadowHitchcock’s Legacy: Some of Hollywood‘s top filmmakers discuss Hitchcock’s influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Audio Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho“)
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film.
  • The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous “shower scene.”
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design.
  • Production Notes: Read an essay on the making of the film.
  • The Psycho Archives: See the gallery of on-set photo stills from the film’s production.
  • Posters And Psycho Ads: See a gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign.
  • Lobby Cards: View a gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film’s theatrical campaign.
  • Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: View rare photos showing the cast and crew at work.
  • Theatrical Trailer: Watch the original promotional trailer from the film’s theatrical campaign.
  • Re-Release Trailers: Watch the promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film.

It’s worth noting that many of these special features, including “The Making of Psycho” and “In The Master’s Shadow” can already be found in the Psycho: Special Edition disc that’s currently available right now on DVD. That disc currently sports a stereo mix that’s apparently not too shabby. The Psycho Blu-Ray will hit stores on October 19, 2010.

Discuss: What has been your experience with classic films, remixed to have 5.1 surround tracks?

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