A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Sting -- in HD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 14, 2007.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

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    I have been silent over the past several weeks, as time has been short, and a move to an LA hotel to begin a project, has left me without the ability to properly screen and digest new releases. Setting up has not been easy. Aid has come in the form of advice from several people in the industry that I both trust and admire, and all have pointed me toward a single piece of equipment to properly do the job.

    Since I regularly screen via 2k projection, I wanted to stay in that format but found LCD rear screen units, as good as they have become, to be inadequate at reproducing blacks.

    Via the advice of friends, and a great deal of cooperation from Pioneer Electronics, which has been my vendor of choice since the early laserdisc days, I can now fully appreciate the images captured on the tiny CD-like discs. The stunning image as set before me on the Elite Pro FHD-1 has no equal in the industry. Every facet of the HD image (and shortly that will include BD) is there to see, precisely as intended by the filmmakers.

    Grain structure, shadow detail, black levels are all reproduced to absolute perfection. Every emulsion of cinematographic stock has a particular and unique grain structure, and each film is measured by the stock on which it has been shot, and in the manner with the photographic emulsion has been exposed.

    Some of the great films of our time have been photographed on an Eastman color negative stock known as 5254. It supplanted 5251 in 1968, which was rated at EI 50. The new stock had twice the speed at 100.

    The second itineration of 5247 (Kodak seems to like to confuse us by re-using their emulsion codes) arrived in 1974, with a finer grain structure than 54, but the stable 54 was not removed from production until 1977. During that decade, some of the most important and enduring productions were captured on that delicate stock. Whether exposed in daylight or under bright studio illumination, or "pushed" in low light situations, the 5254 stock, with it's painterly grain structure, never fails to enrapture.

    One of the films shot on 5254, The Sting, was the Best Picture of 1973, an extraordinary piece of entertainment directed by George Roy Hill, photographed by the great Robert Surtees, with a cast that could neither be beat nor replicated. First released theatrically 33 years ago, Universal has delivered a disc that captures the dye transfer look as seen in theatres.

    I make note of the film stock and grain structure, because Universal, in this HD incarnation of their earlier SD Special Edition, has not only replicated it for home video instead of reducing it, as we've seen in other films from other distributors, but has in doing so, created one of the great HD DVDs of one of the great films of any era.

    Viewing this marvelous disc, one will note the occasional bit of minus density, those tiny clear spots, known as "sparkle," which might have been removed, but in this case add a tiny reminder that we are indeed viewing film as represented on video, and not video programming.

    And that's a good thing.

    Thanks must go out to Universal for releasing one of the great films of all time on HD. This is a perfect film on a perfect format.

    If more films from the era can arrive in the condition of The Sting, the home video world will be a far better place.

    The Sting comes Extremely Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Great review Mr. Harris! This one's on my to own list. [​IMG]
     
  3. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    Robert,
    Thanks for the review on the Pro FHD-1. I never thought I'd hear this about a plasma:



    from someone who knows what they are talking about.
    I'll be keeping this in mind for my next monitor purchase.

    Thanks,
    Reagan
     
  4. James D S

    James D S Screenwriter

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    Well, I guess that's another one I need to go buy.

    Great review, and I especially liked the history and context you added.
     
  5. Dave>h

    Dave>h Second Unit

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    Richard,

    Thanks for the glowing review! I look forward to sitting down with this on a night when I can dedicate myself to becoming fully engrossed with the Sting, one of my all time favorite films.

    Wonder if you have any thoughts on how it compares to the excellent SD version we saw last year?

    Thanks,

    Dave
     
  6. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Thanks once more for sharing this Robert!

    Just got the HD DVD myself. Watched a few scenes immediately: no doubt, this is going to be my big event of the weekend. [​IMG]

    What a great medium this is!


    Cees
     
  7. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I finally got the chance to watch this on my new HD display about 2-3 weeks ago, and I wholeheartedly concur. This is a prime example of a transfer that "looks like film."

    I was actually flashing back to my days as a projectionist and what I was able to witness at that time. This transfer is a much tighter grain structure than most of what I ran, but I never felt while watching this that I was watching anything but film, which is more than I can say about some of the 120Hz displays I've seen.
     
  8. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Screenwriter

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    I will never call "negative density" or "minus density" a "good thing."
     

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