The New Rankin-Bass Hobbit DVD Is a Fraud

Famously, when the DVD version of the 1977 Rankin-Bass Hobbit was released, the soundtrack was missing lots of sound effects that had been included in both the original broadcast version and the VHS release. You can probably still find a correct version (with video from the DVD and audio from the VHS) downloadable online under the title “Hi-Fi Hobbit.” The sounds make a surprisingly large amount of difference to the ambience of the film; it’s especially noticeable in the Erebor flashback.

When a “remastered deluxe” edition of the DVD was announced this year, I naturally assumed that the soundtrack screw-up that fans have been complaining about for years would be fixed. I mean, isn’t that what “remastered deluxe edition” suggests?

Guess what? Not so much. The new edition has not restored the missing sounds. Remastering, my ass. They’ve just given us the same old crappy screwed-up soundtrack as on the previous DVD release. Just with uglier cover art.


3 Responses to The New Rankin-Bass Hobbit DVD Is a Fraud

  1. Gabriel August 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Very strange… does that mean the pirated version I watched before was the VHS or the dvd? How to identify the difference?

    • Brandon August 25, 2014 at 7:59 am #

      The release group or encoder should have specified that in the file name. If they didn’t, it’s either been renamed or an inexperienced person unfamiliar with the basic rules is behind it, which in the latter case means it was probably not encoded properly. It should be called “DVDRip” or “VHSRip” or whatever.

  2. Robert July 7, 2020 at 8:17 pm #

    What I did was obtain the 1991 release of The hobbit on VHS. This version has all the correct sound effects but the quality of the video is not as good.

    Later releases on VHS possibly have the same sound issue.

    I had to rip the DVD version, then play that back and record it using OBS Studio.

    I had to load the OBS MP4 file in to goldwave and pull the audio out to a wav file as Sony did not see the audio.

    I replaced the DVD audio with the one I pulled using goldwave so I could have reference, and I had to align that audio to the DVD which was mostly easy.

    I could not use the DVD ripped files as there is some weirdness from the VOB files that playing the DVD does not have.

    I then loaded both videos in to Sony Vegas.

    turned off the audio from the DVD and the Video from the VHS.

    I split the VHS video at the silence in the fade in and out for the commercial breaks and realigned the VHS audio to the DVD video at each break.

    the first part of the movie before the commercial break was particularly messed up, there appears to have been an edit in either the DVD or the VHS version.

    Once I was satisfied with the alignment I re-encoded everything as a 720×480 mpeg2.

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