A Few Words About A few words about...™ An American in Paris -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    For those new to Technicolor, let's get some of the process's anomalies out of the way to aid in better understanding what's on screen.

    An American in Paris (AAiP) was photographed in the Technicolor three-strip process, which pre-dated Eastman Color negative stock by two decades. The process was able to achieve a highly controlled image in either natural or manipulated color via printing from its three black and white negative images to matrices to a clear receiver stock.

    Because there were three separate rolls of film, registration could be a problem -- it was never perfect -- which became more difficult after the original elements would shrink differentially over the decades.

    To make things even more difficult two of the records were photographed in bi-pack, meaning that the image made its way through the first before hitting and exposing the emulsion of the second (the cyan negative, controlling red), which was flopped, and never achieved perfect focus.

    All of this had little impact on original prints, which because of the early optics used to create the matrices, the dyes, mordant and blanks in use during the era, were not sharp. There was an "apparent" sharpness via contrast, but not anything close to the resolution of the image exposed to the original negatives. This became even less of a problem when one adds projector weave, optics and focus into the mix.

    What this means is that in 1951, when AAiP was released, the problems were there but the viewer couldn't see them.

    I'm mentioning this because Warner's new Blu-ray release of the M-G-M Academy Award winning Best Picture is sharper than anyone has ever seen it, which means that for those with a tendency to check out the image a foot from the screen, that there will be occasional fringing of red, having nothing to do with registration, which is handled beautifully via Warner's proprietary Ultra-resolution process.

    The bottom line is that those lucky enough to have large screens and 1080p systems, will see AAiP in a way that audiences in 1951 could not have imagined. And you're in for a treat.

    Considered one of the finest musicals from the Dream Factory, Gene Kelly, Leslie Caron and compatriots, directed by Vincente Minnelli has been brought to Blu-ray with perfection.

    While I still don't understand why it was delayed domestically, with only a standard definition release, I'm pleased that it finally arrived.

    An American in Paris on Blu-ray is a remarkable film, brought to Blu with perfection.

    Very Highly Recommended!

    RAH
     
  2. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Bob, over at Haineshisway.com, Bruce Kimmel constantly complains about Warners transfers of classics without any blue in them. True, American has never been as razor sharp as here (I bought the SD several months ago), But all of the blue seems to be gone from the trasnfer, same with the redone Gigi.

    Any omment here, Mr. Harris ?
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Have NEVER seen this film. Never had considered it the type of fare I
    would want to see considering the fact that it's ballet on film (or at
    least that is how I always perceived it to be).

    That was then and this is now.

    Those who attended the HTF MEET last October at Warner Brothers
    studios had the opportunity to see a side-by-side showing of the
    original WB DVD release against the new Blu-ray transfer. The
    transition from one to the other was nothing short of STUNNING.
    I think every one of us who was in that audience that afternoon
    were blown away by what we saw. This is one of those rare moments
    when you just shake your head in amazement at what can be done
    to respectfully improve upon the original elements in such a manner
    that this film now looks like technicolor "eye candy."

    Suffice to say the moment the Blu-ray was announced, I placed
    my preorder (along with Gigi). I look greatly forward to watching
    this for the first time on Blu-ray.
     
  4. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't understand what could have happened at MGM at the time of filming AAiP where, of all the musicals that were recorded prior and subsequently, this particular work was not deemed to need multi-track recordings. The ballet alone is a shame that that remarkable orchestra can not be heard in its full glory (let alone all the other classic performances of this gem).
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Whatever blue was in the original negatives appears to have been harvested in this scan. I don't know what the SD looks like. Please keep in mind that Technicolor dye transfer re-prints, as opposed to the original nitrates had a rather different look, with heightened color and contrast. Much like comparing silver frame prints of The Ten Commandments from 1956 to those from the late '60s and early '70s. A totally different animal.

    Gigi is another story, as the OCN is faded 5248, and additionally problem masters. In order to achieve decent facial tones, yellow must be added, which can do heavy damage to anything blue.

    To my eye AAiP looks fine, however.

    RAH
     
  6. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    After reading the informative comments from Mr. Harris and your impressions from the HTF MEET, I can't wait to see this film on Blu-ray. It will be my first viewing too.
     
  7. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    For those who don't know, only the last eighteen minutes of AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is a ballet (and one of the greatest ever produced on film).

    The rest is a standard musical in the MGM sense of the word: joyous, bubbly, and artfully produced, directed, and performed but definitely not a ballet film.
     
  8. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Ed, The gm musicals that have survived in strange early optical stereo are those films that were recorded on several optical tracks. By the time of AMERICAN, mgm was recording on three channel mag stereo, but those were decomposing and transferred to mono reel to reel only.

    The American Rhino records CD is all mono, but rhino found stereo for a later Gershwin compilation, that included Ill Build a Starway to Paradies in stereo.

    Bovbv Harris, I have seen American in Paris many times from original prints, NOT eastman prints, and the blue is pretty much gone from this new transfer,
    sharp as it is.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    These are Technicolor b&w negatives. A color cannot disappear unless purposefully removed.
     
  10. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Screenwriter

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    Bob, you are quite right, but many Warners transfers are missing blue over and over. Why?
     
  11. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    ...if I remember it correctly, there was great concern that the ballet would make the film "unbalanced" in that the dialogue ceases aprox. 20 minutes before the film's conclusion. It might have been perceived as "taking a chance" but, I believe, all the artists involved knew exactly what they were doing (what a remarkable studio!).
     
  12. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The first time I saw this film it was showing late on the local PBS station. I was 18 or 19 at the time and that final dance sequence blew me away on so many levels. It is definitely one of my favorite movie "scenes" of all time. I think it could only be improved if Cyd Charisse had gotten the female role instead Leslie Caron.
     
  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The L.A. River runs right past the back of the lot, and much like Thames water helping the longevity of London processed Eastman negative at Technicolor, it might possibly sap the blue which is needed to give the mighty and majestic L.A. River its bright turquoise sheen.

    Can you give me an absolute -- a shot that you feel is missing blue by time code?
     
  14. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    Of course, it would have been a completely different movie, but the ballet with Cyd Charisse would have been mind blowing! She was a great partner with Kelly as well as Astaire, "The Band Wagon" being a film very special to me; (I still cannot get over her passing...I thought she was the next wonder of the world!). (My wife always said that any clothes I bought her over the years were either those for Jane Powell or Cyd Charisse.)
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Cyd Charisse was my favorite female dancer from those great musicals even over Ginger Rogers. IMO, she should have been a greater star and done more acting outside of those musicals.





    Crawdaddy
     
  16. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    ...sorry, double post...(even though it appears ahead of the intended post!)...
     
  17. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes. There was never anyone quite like her!
     
  18. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    It also didn't hurt that as a 5' 8" dancer, at least 5' were legs.
     
  19. Edward Weinman

    Edward Weinman Stunt Coordinator

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    ...not to take away from the AMiP discussion, but, what 5'!, what 8"...by any standards, she was perfect! ...(just a subjectively objective opinion).
     
  20. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Can't wait. Life won't be complete until I have every major (and a few minor) musical in 1080p.

    [​IMG]
     

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