Winds of Thunder. Remastered!

Posted on January 6, 2014

FUTTOCK

(naut.) one of the middle timbers of the frame of a ship. XIII. ME. (pl.) votekes, futtokes …” – Oxford English Dictionary

The weather in Ireland has been bloody dreadful the past few weeks. Every morning I awake in darkness. The orange tangy glow of the really annoying streetlight just outside our bedroom window filters through, stinging my eyes like chopping a particularly ferocious looking chilli pepper and then automatically (and stupidly) rubbing your eye. Rain lashes against the window almost daring you to venture outside if you’re brave enough.

“Dogger 6, German Bite. Humber. Easterly 4 knots. Gale force 8 clearing north to visibility 5 knots veering landscape gardener Woman’s Weekly. Fortnightly. 4 schillings and ninepence.” – A typical BBC Radio 4 Shipping Forecast

Anyway, all this bad weather got me to thinking about a video game with one of the greatest soundtracks ever recorded. The mighty, legendary, exospherically incredible Winds of Thunder (or Lords of Thunder across the ocean). Not to be confused with diabolical self-congratulatory race movie Days of Thunder or the equally poor game that trundled alongside it. Talking of self-congratulatory, the question begs if there was ever a Simply Red: The Game released back in the day. Imagine that, a Commodore 64 full price game! You take on the role of Mick Hucknall in a quest to save your kidnapped bandmates that nobody knows the names of from a derranged fan that lives in a 3 bedroom semi in Bury St Edmunds.

I’ve strayed somewhat. Sorry.

So for some reason, I got to thinking about Winds of Thunder and it’s magnificent soundtrack. It dawned on me that the redbook audio could be ripped and played back from the disc. So with the soundtrack stored as a nice clean set of wave files, snipped and tucked away by the ever obedient EAC, I proceeded to play back the wave files and was immediately struck with how flat and narrow the audio actually sounds on modern equipment. I ran a couple of tracks through a spectrogram and a couple of other analysing tools to see if anything could be done. When looking at these original discs you need to remember the mastering process involved was poles apart from the mastering processes commonplace today, mainly because of the equipment available at the time.

shipping-forecast

Some ships. In Hastings. © Phillip Reeves / NPR (Used without permission)

Eventually I opened the original wave files up in Cubase and began a short and sweet remastering process using Ozone. It’s a very useful little tool which I like to use to master my own work. However you need to try and use a mix of the factory presets and your own hearing to strike some sort of amazing balance that studio engineers are paid massive salaries to achieve on a daily basis. It’s not easy but hopefully you will see some differences between the original wave file and my attempt at a remaster with the two audio clips below.

Let me know what you think. Can you hear a difference? Which do you prefer?

By the way, during the course of writing this blog, I discovered the word Futtock. I thought it was some sort of odd swear word fused from two words. It turns out a Futtock is actually part of a wooden hull on a boat. There, you learned something new today and so did I.

The Original

The Remaster