‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on CD-ROM

Way back in January 1994, I ordered my first “serious” desktop computer. It was MS-DOS 5 with Windows 3.1, on a 40 MHz AMD processor with 4 MB of memory, a 160 MB drive, generic Tseng ET4000 video card, and a 14″ SVGA CRT. I installed a Soundblaster 16 card with a proprietary SCSI interface for a Panasonic CD-ROM drive that used caddies.

One of the first CD-ROM’s I had (which, come to think of it, might have been a gift from Denro), was “The Beatles in A Hard Day’s Night, the complete uncut movie”. It was put out by the Voyager Company, known for its high quality Criterion label of LaserDisc videos. My LD copies of “A Hard Day’s Night” and “HELP!” are both from Criterion.

I was thrilled with this new technology! I could actually watch the movie on my computer, albeit in extremely compromised quality, with the script automatically following along. Here are some sample screens.

A Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROMA Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROM

A Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROMA Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROM

A Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROMA Hard Day\'s Night CD-ROM

Enlarged, the screen caps show the actual video image size. I’ve scaled up one of the MOV files from the CD to 320×240. It runs at a measly 16 fps, but this was hot stuff in 1993, with online streaming video still a long way off. Note that even here, in this limited presentation, “I Should Have Known Better” sounds better than on the Miramax DVD!

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Blog of Douglas E. Pratt

8 thoughts on “‘A Hard Day’s Night’ on CD-ROM”

  1. Colin — Only 12 fps?? I never thought it was that low, which makes your work all the more impressive. The disc won’t install on 64-bit Windows 7, but that’s not a problem, having four 32-bit XP systems in the house.

  2. Like Mikki, I was in search of AHDN images for something, and found this nice page. My name is somewhere near Mikki’s in the credits, as the programmer of the title.

    I also did the digitizing of the video, from the laserdisc version. Capturing video wasn’t quite real time in those days! Also, the laserdisc would have been the original 24 fps movie on a 29.97 fps NTSC disc, and to extract the frames without getting a blend of consecutive frames meant transferring at 12 fps. So, it’s not even the 16 fps you thought it was! But at least the motion is consistent.

    The audio was 8 bit, this pre-dated the time when QuickTime had a 16 bit audio compressor. When I made the “This Is Spinal Tap” CD-ROM I did use 16 bit audio.

    And yes, it would be difficult to get the disc to work on current Mac systems. I keep wanting to get around to converting the application to LiveCode. Maybe one of these days…

  3. With respect to the question of whether the “A Hard Day’s Night” CD-ROM still plays on Apple Macintosh computers, the answer is no, unless some extraordinary tweaking is done to emulate the old, discontinued Mac OS 9. The Voyager CD-ROMs were generally created using an application called HyperCard, which was developed for what became known as the “Classic” environment, built around the PowerPC microprocessor family.

    When Apple moved to the Intel microprocessor family, and introduced Mac OS X, there was a limited time support for the Classic environment, but that ended with the release of Mac OC 10.4 (“Tiger”). The only way to run Hypercard-based CD-ROMs, like “A Hard Day’s Night” is to run it on an old, discontinued Mac that is either configured to run System 9 or one that runs System X up through 10.4.

  4. Hi, Mikki — Yes, I see your name in the credits. The CD-ROM remains a unique and excellent way of enjoying and appreciating “A Hard Day’s Night,” so thank you for producing it!

    The screen caps are full 640×480, in GIF (8-bit lossless), so they look exactly as they appear when playing the disc. I wonder if the original Apple version still plays on Macs? The Windows version works fine on XP.

  5. Hi Doug–I’m Mikki Halpin, the producer of “A Hard Day’s Night,” the CD-ROM. I was just looking for an image of it to put on my web page and found your review–it’s so nice! Thanks, take care–Mikki

  6. I had that CD Rom too. Bought it along with Encarta and Cinemania.

    Ah, the days before internet! i DONTMISS THEM.

    Nice site, btw.

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