A Few Words About A few words about...™ Funny Face -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I locked and hid the current commentary on Stanley Donen’s Funny Face, as I didn’t wish members to waste their time commenting.  No other reason.

    My initial comments will remain, although I’ve now had the chance to view properly, via the courtesy of Joe Kane – on two different systems.

    For the record, I asked HTF’s Kevin Koster to join me, and our comments were in sync.

    First we screened select sequences on a Samsung 84” 4k panel.  An extremely impressive piece of hardware.

    Following that we moved to Mr. Kane’s DLP projector, which he designed, viewing on approximately a 7 ½ foot screen.

    Here’s what I saw apart from my 42” LG.

    Funny Face has been de-grained, and scrubbed of all high frequency detail.  While on a 42” panel it can look quite nice, when properly viewed on either a large flat panel, or in projection, the image fails from any perspective.

    It appears that once de-grained, the image (shades of Patton 1) was sharpened to give it (as Mr. Willis would say) balls.

    That also failed, as there are noticeable rings around virtually everything.

    Bottom line as viewed on higher end home theater hardware.

    While color is fine, as are densities, the overall look of the Blu-ray is a failure.

    Image – 1

    Audio – 5

    Not Recommended.

    My original unedited comments are below. As far as my 42” LG, I’m locked out of all major controls, which makes viewing older films sometimes problematic. 

    I did however, get the chance to examine a number of other discs courtesy of Mr. Kane, and t hose comments will arrive over the next days, as I can find time.

    As a test, we also screened Paramount / WB's Gunfight at the OK Corral, which looked superb.

    RAH

    As I'm currently unable to project Blu-rays on a continuing basis, ratings may be subject to change in the future, although the general tenor of my notes should hold true.

    Two of the most interesting and in their final states, high quality, taking concepts were based upon the Lazy 8 camera, with and without an anamorphic attachment.  VistaVision (VVLA), with a moveable aspect ratio anywhere from 1.66 to 2:1 was a spherical format, losing real estate both top and bottom.

    Technirama (TLA) was the same concept, albeit using the entire frame for exposure and a 50% anamorphosis.  Both yielded superior imagery.

    To my mind, Stanley Donen's Funny Face (1957), has always been one of the most beautiful, as well as entertaining.

    If I'm remembering correctly, the new Blu-ray of Funny Face as released by WB via Paramount, was based upon a scan of an 8-perf IP.  The resultant Blu-ray, as viewed on my huge 42" LG LCD is crisp and clean.  Colors appear proper, mimicking original dye transfer prints within reason.

    As I currently have no real means of ascertaining true audio quality from older tracks or some newer, especially 7.1 mixes, I'll not note audio, except to mention that it seems to be high end for the era.

    While I seldom venture into extras, I did peek at the VistaVision featurette, and it seems to be well done.

    Great film, especially for $17.  Decades ago, I seem to recall paying $450 for a 16mm print with an emulation scratch in the middle of reel two, and the sides cropped.

     
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  2. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    Glad to hear this report. Apparently it's the same Blu-ray as some of us got from overseas - many of us wrote just as you did, while an equal number of folks berated it for DNR. I see far too much detail in this transfer for that to be the case. Love the color of it, and of course the scenes with huge diffusion filters look as they always did.
     
  3. Keith Cobby

    Keith Cobby Screenwriter

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    I have the European release but will have to also buy this US edition for the VistaVision feature.
     
  4. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    I have seen the Euro disc and I happen to think that it looks rather mediocre when projected. I cannot say I am that happy with some of the recent Paramount releases via Warner and for Funny Face I had hoped that the US version would be more on the level of White Christmas and The Ten Commandments or at least as good as Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. I would however like to watch that VistaVision featurette. Is it also available on other Paramount titles?
     
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  5. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    Robert Harris?

    No projector?

    Viewing on a 42" LCD?

    I feel a bit like I'm not exactly sure what to say...apart from to ask if and when you're getting your projector back.

    Very good point about the 16mm print and the price.

    Steve W
     
  6. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    I have to respectfully disagree with Mr. Harris' assessment of the VistaVision feature. I found it as dull as dishwater and a little revisionist. I found the Kay Thompson featurette to be a lot more fun (albeit way too brief.)

    This transfer itself? LOVE it!
     
  7. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    Puts things in perspective, doesn't it? I looked into collecting 16mm prints some time ago but when I found out that the majority of them do not even have the correct aspect ratio let alone multichannel sound I quickly scrapped that idea.And while I may not be a fan of how this particular Blu-ray looks I have to say that in general we are so priviliged these days and yet everybody takes Blu-ray for granted now.
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The Vista featurette is well done for those who might be wondering what VVLA is, or was. It's a very special process. When I first began working with the folks at Williamsburg c. 1995, I learned that their original vista 6-track projectors were now in Marin, as locally, they had switched to 70mm dupes. Fortunately, a few original 8-perf mag prints were still extant, as we needed to harvest audio.Very different processes. And projecting Vista. Never liked it. With film moving through the gate at 180 fpm, I always had the feeling that a wrap or other problem, especially with estar stock, could potentially shift the earth off axis.RAH
     
  9. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Screenwriter

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    I'm (admittedly) not its target audience I guess. I was hoping for a little more substance but, you're right, it works fine as an introductory course to the process if you have no idea what it was.
     
  10. JoshZ

    JoshZ Second Unit

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    I streamed Funny Face in 1080p from VUDU a while back and found it disappointing. It was clearly an old transfer with a lot of DNR and edge enhancement problems. Reviews I read of the European Blu-ray sounded much the same. I was really hoping that the new domestic disc would be sourced from a new scan.
     
  11. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I don't know what you guys are looking at, because I've projected the European release of this film on my ten foot screen and it looks spectacular. Some of the best color and contrast levels I've ever seen in a blu-ray transfer.
     
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  12. EddieLarkin

    EddieLarkin Supporting Actor

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  13. Keith Cobby

    Keith Cobby Screenwriter

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    I think the European disc is good but it's not as good as the very best VistaVision transfers ( White Christmas, To Catch a Thief, and Olive's Geisha Boy).
     
  14. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

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    If you haven't seen it, and you won't comment on it, why are you commenting on it? :) It's always best to see something, no? The comparison? I don't even know what I'm looking at on that sorry site, sorry. I have the 2007 DVD and the Blu-ray is much more detailed and beautiful. Even if it WAS that same master (I'm not convinced it is) 2007 is hardly a lifetime ago. Again, I'm not convinced it is but IF it is, then all the recent Paramount Blu-rays would be from transfers done back then.
     
  15. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I think some people, no names mentioned, seem happy to accept screencaps when it shows their point of view but disregard them when it shows something horrible, a screencap is a frame from the disc, it's a valid way to show those who might be on the fence about buying something what they will see on a disc, especially when it comes to DNR and edge enhancement, other things less so.

    I remember you saying the UK release of Zulu was great, just perfect, others including myself weren't so keen on it, apparently a contrast boosted release which destroys some shadow detail is perfect, apparently boosted colours and some DNR are perfect, well excuse me for not taking your word about this release as the gospel, i trust Oliver as he has excellent equipment and a keen eye for all this, oh hang on, let me go check out my 16mm Technicolor dye print, it might give me some clues on all this.....................not.

    Paramount are like Universal, they aren't spending money on catalog, some titles but mostly they are not spending the money so it wouldn't surprise me if this was an older transfer and Paramount are like Universal in that they often use DNR and some edge enhancement to sharpen things up, now for all i know this is a new transfer, maybe it's not the European release, if it is the European release then the caps clearly show something lacking, it doesn't look anywhere near as good as the best VistaVision titles and i own several of them, maybe you have an explanation for that, i also see edge enhancement in the caps, it's not a camera issue it's edge enhancement, very obvious to spot and a sign that digital tinkering took place.

    Now please disregard my comments if the European release is not the same as this USA release.

    I would also add flaws like edge enhancement are hard to spot on 42 inch sets, i hope Mr Harris re-visits things when his projection system is up and running again.

    Maybe i should not be commenting on this, maybe i am not allowed because i haven't seen the film, well i'm commenting on those screencaps, i have plenty of experience of taking them for my own site and can spot edge enhancement a mile off.

    Shoot me for being highly skeptical about this release and the usual people making the usual "it's great" comments.
     
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  16. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Executive Producer
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    I haven't seen Funny Face on Blu yet, but I did watch El Dorado last night (admittedly, not VistaVision), and I thought this Paramount Blu looked wonderful.
     
  17. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Wow, I come back to this thread to witness a complete about-face and now this disc is a fail. Patton bad, really?
     
  18. rsmithjr

    rsmithjr Screenwriter

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    I found the vistaVision short to be not well made and also of questionable accuracy and completeness.

    1. They suggested that the experience of shooting Gunfight at the OK Corral in VV affected the filming of To Catch a Thief concerning depth of field. But OK Corral was released in 1957 whereas Thief was released in 1955. Doesn't seem to make sense.
    2. They suggest that, since most VV showings used vertical reduction prints rather than VV horizontal, the use of VV was not that helpful. Totally wrong: VV reduction prints were the finest 35mm prints in the opinion of a great many people. The process was well worth it then and should have continued.
    3. The sound was not discussed. A significant failing of VV was not including true stereo in its spec but instead using Perspecta coding.
    4. Many of the best VV titles were not shown due to, presumably, ownership rights. This includes Vertigo, The Searchers, and North by Northwest. VV added hugely to the reputations of the films shot in it.

    Not a well-researched or thoughtful piece.
     
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  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No. Not nearly Patton bad. Good enough to look very good on small to moderate sized panels. Fails on larger panels and in projection. Would look superb on a Samsung Note, or whatever their larger phone is.Horrific on a 4k panel.RAH
     
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  20. OliverK

    OliverK Cinematographer

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    Robert,it is great that you had a chance to visit Joe Kane. I had the opportunity to talk to him a bit at the IFA on several occasions and he really knows his stuff.I was told that back in the days of HD-DVD he tried to convince Universal to stop with the DNR and EE on their catalog titles. I think the old saying is that you can only lead a horse to water...Now let's hope that Paramount will revisit Funny Face at some point together with El Dorado and a few others.
     
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