My first fan composite DVD

DVD releases of Euro-Cult cinema DVDs, especially gialli and poliziotteschi, are in steady decline. Whilst some still surface on DVD in their native Italy the majority of these do not have any English subtitles or audio tracks. Over the past few months I have been seeking out gialli and poliziotteschi that have not yet surfaced on commercial DVD for both personal curiosity and as part of my ongoing doctoral research into Euro-Cult cinema fan culture. Thanks to some friendly, outgoing people my ‘wants’ list is slowly going down in number and I am managing to locate obscure titles with ease.

I have also come into ownership of several fan composite DVDs. The work that some fans put into these is phenomenal and most of the ones I have seen so far compete with, if not supersede, those release by commercial DVD companies. Having done some DVD authoring in past and possessing a good understanding of video editing software I decided to have a go at producing my first fan composite DVD. My choice of title was the Duccio Tessari giallo The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971), a quality entry in the giallo canon. Even though I own the Spanish Magna films DVD I was aware that there was a superior Italian DVD available that was both uncut and anamorphically enhanced. Sadly this Italian DVD does not have any English options. I was recently sent a very nice fan subbed version of this release and since I did not have any other films to produce a fan composite of, I decided to add the English track from the Spanish DVD and add it to the fan subbed version.

Whilst the actual authoring of the disc is very simple thanks to DVD Lab the editing of the audio is a time consuming process that requires patience and the kind of devotion that only a fan could possess. As the English audio track was taken from a version missing footage this obviously meant that there were pieces of audio also missing. Thankfully these missing segments were filled in by the Italian audio track. The most difficult task of all is synchronising the audio with the video. What makes it even more challenging is that the original film has some actors speaking both Italian and English so matching up the audio with mouth movements can be a frustrating task. It took about ten hours (a weekend) to produce the composite audio track in Adobe Premiere.

I then found that some scenes were missing audio so I had to incorporate subtitles for when the audio track reverted back to Italian. Thankfully I already had subtitles that were ripped from the fan subbed DVD so all I had to do was create another file containing only the lines that were needed. Building subtitles actually looks quite simple thanks to programs such as Subtitle Workshop and SubRip.

As mentioned earlier authoring the DVD was very simple. I made some very basic menus, who needs ridiculously over-animated menus anyway, and burnt the DVD in less than an hour. The final product might not be as good as some of the other fan composites I have seen, but for a first attempt it does the job nicely. It would have been nice to completely remaster the audio and smooth over some of the edits even more, but I have heard much worse in some grey market DVD releases. I have another three composites planned over the coming month providing that I have enough time available once marking commitments come into play.

Below are some screenshots (menus and scenes missing from the Spanish Manga DVD release) taken from my first fan composite DVD of The Bloodstained Butterfly:

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