Laurie Anderson Home Of The Brave DVD
This article documents my method in creating my own DVD of Home Of The Brave using technologies available in the year 2005.
Fans of Laurie Anderson in search of a DVD of Home Of The Brave are probably out of luck. The film, only available on VHS and laserdisc, has long been out of print. As far as I know, all VHS copies were full screen (4:3). The laserdisc had the advantage of being in widescreen format (4:3 letterboxed). You have to remember that in the year 1995, there were no wide screens in homes, so everything was formatted to fit a 4:3 screen.
The entire film, presented in widescreen (4:3 letterboxed), can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mua8Pr6uRso.
My first goal was to get a laserdisc copy of this movie. I already had the VHS, but I wanted a higher quality print. Plus, I wanted the uncropped widescreen video. I jumped on eBay and found a laserdisc quite easily. Next, the challenge was to find a player. Fortunately, the Department of Linguistics at UC San Diego had a large library of laserdiscs and a few players available, so they generously loaned me a player for the duration it took me to transfer this to a digital format.
I already had built a recording studio in the Center for Research in Language at UC San Diego equipped with audio and video editing tools. At the time, Firewire 400 was the standard digital interface for video. But guess what? Laserdisc technology was analog, so I was only able to use composite video out from the laserdisc player! For this, I already had a Dazzle Hollywood DV Bridge for transferring video from VHS.
Now I was finally able to open Adobe Premiere and capture the video from the laserdisc. The disc was two-sided, so I started the recording and moved on to another task while this was capturing. Then I came back, saved that video, flipped the disc, and continued on to capturing side B.
The next step was to transcode the saved AVI video to DVD (MPEG) video. In this step, I cropped the top and bottom black bands from the letterboxed video and scaled up the video to fit to an anamorphic DVD widescreen format. Of course, this lowered the quality of the video somewhat, but it was far more desirable to fit an entire widescreen rather than having a smaller windowboxed image.
The next step was to create some menus for Adobe Encore DVD. To get the fonts that Laurie used in the slides during her show (Chicago, Monaco, Geneva), I fired up an old Macintosh running System 7. I wanted the old-school blocky bitmapped fonts, so I had to make some system tweaks to disable TrueType fonts. Once I figured out the tricks in using layers in Adobe Photoshop to highlight selections on the DVD menus, I was able to create the following DVD menus using scans from the Laserdisc cover art and frame captures from the video.
Finally, I loaded everything into Adobe Encore DVD and soon had a fully navigational DVD of Home Of The Brave.
The timing could not have been more perfect (stated sarcastically). It was at about this time that DVD video was on its way out in favor of streaming video, which was just starting to make its appearance.
I keep looking for any signs of an official DVD or Blu-ray appearance, but I think we are at the point that even those technologies are so antiquated that the only viable option would be for it to be available on Laurie Anderson's own web site. I keep checking, and I note any updates as I find them.
According to Laurie Anderson's Official Website, a DVD film/video box set collection, including "Home of the Brave" is planned to be released.
There is no longer a reference to a DVD film/video box set collection, including "Home of the Brave" on Laurie Anderson's Official Website.