A Few Words About A few words about...™ U-571 -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 17, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Roger Ebert usually says it best, and when his words are available and I can't say it better...

    "This is a movie for action-oriented kids. "Das Boot" and "The Hunt for Red October" were about military professionals whose personalities were crucial to the plot. The story of "U-571" is the flimsiest excuse for a fabricated action payoff. Submarine service veterans in the audience are going to be laughing their heads off."

    But what does it look and sound like?

    It appears that Universal decided to take their time with Blu-ray, and rather than jumping into uncharted technical waters after dropping HD, re-grouped and figured out how to release the best product possible.

    While I truly hope this is correct, the release of U-571 adds credence to that mindset, as this Blu-ray, part of their second series of releases, is right up there with the best of them when it comes to transfer. Audio, available via the DTS-HD Master format is also spot on.

    As Mr. Ebert noted, this is not a serious submarine drama. It also has very little to do with the real history of WWII, but those who appreciate a good action film might just like U-571.

    Technically Recommended, which is the important message here, as it gives Universal a solid string of BD releases, all of superior quality.

    Edit: 8/25/08 -- one of the learned review staff of HTF, who has studiously followed the various home video incarnations of 571 from D-Theater onward has brought it to our collective attentions that grain has been reduced. This is acknowledged, but the overall qualty of the release goes undiminished.

    There are certain situations which should call for stricter adherence to the original grain concept for Blu-ray. Academy Award winning films and nominees... films for which the cinematographic effort should be reproduced as closely to film as possible.

    It would be nice that if after things calm from the DNR / grain reduction discussions, that we have that for all titles.

    RAH
     
  2. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    I'll be adding this to the collection for certain, enjoyed it more then even those listed in your thread Robert.
     
  3. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    Technically Recommended [​IMG]

    I like that phrase and it fits lots of discs that I've seen recently. I do enjoy U-571 as a lark and I'm glad to know that it is a strong disc as I might pick it up some day.
     
  4. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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    For those of us that like movies where lots of sh*t blows up ;-), this one has been a reference title since the DVD came out. It was one of my 1st HD-DVD titles as well.

    I can't see any reason to triple dip to BR, but it is a very enjoyable flick in my household, and a real work out for a sub.

    Brian
     
  5. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    As an historian whose research area is historical feature films, I confess to "checking this out" when it came out on DVD but I can't bring myself to watch it again. I understand its appeal for various reasons, but it doesn't cut it for me.

    I do concur that the SD soundtrack was great when I watched it, so I can only imagine the BD sound is even better. Good for those who like demo material, I guess.
     
  6. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    This is a ode to the god of Bass. Nothing more or less =)

    My full review will be out today!
     
  7. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Okay, I'll fess up. I like this film. I'll be buying based on RAH's "technical recommendation". [just shy of a backhanded compliment by RAH [​IMG]]
     
  8. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    Some controversy over this release at the AVS forum:

    U-571 comparison *PIX* - AVS Forum

    I have to say, whether one agrees with the AVS findings or not, the attack by Kram Sacul towards Robert Harris in post #56 of that thread was uncalled for, especially given Mr. Harris's own passionate commentaries against excessive DNR, plus the fact that he has literally saved so many classic films from extinction.

    Vincent
     
  9. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I've stopped going to AVS but I've just had my final word there till they get their shit together.
     
  10. DavidJ

    DavidJ Producer
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    There are only certain areas or threads that I'll bother with over there and then it is more lurking than active posting. If we had a more active equipment sections here, I might stop going there completely (which is too bad). Many corners of the internet have become quite uncivil.

    As for the controversy, it needs to be pointed out that screen caps are not the best way to judge moving pictures. I don't have the discs to compare to each other and even though I am against excessive DNR, I don't think it is worth my time to investigate. This is one that I'm content to let others fight over if they must. I'm going to keep watching movies. [​IMG]
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I say it all the time. No one listens.

    M.
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I re-visited 571 late last night.

    This appears to be one of those cases for which light reduction has been applied, but does not appear to do any harm.

    What we need to realize in a general sense is that there is now, or certainly has been, an effort at the studio and / or post level to provide Blu-ray aficionados (an inherently clean people) with clean images to suit their taste.

    While grain has been reduced, the image still looks filmic. Not plastic. Not video.

    And right now, especially in a time of what may be DNR turmoil on a tech level, I'm happy with a slightly de-grained image that yields an undistorted final result.

    On that level, I do not find 571 problematic. The tech points are the least of its problems.

    Unnecessary DNR and grain reduction will hopefully disappear, but attacking releases already in the pipeline isn't going to be helpful, especially on the level of 571.

    If the changes made to the image are apparent only to those who know the film in question inside out, and those changes haven not infected the image, turning it to either video or plastic, we need to provide a bit of breathing room for the disc purveyors, and allow them to get their wares out into the marketplace without continual confrontations, while they find their way toward determining what it is that the consumer really desires.

    Posting comparative frame grabs in the current atmosphere isn't going to be helpful.

    RAH
     
  13. Loregnum

    Loregnum Stunt Coordinator

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    It may not be a huge issue but it still shouldn't be there since it wasn't on the hd dvd. It's like why do something extra to only make the result worse even if it is ever so slight?

    Clearly the resulting PQ isn't horrible but at the same time it IS inferior to the hd dvd and again, doesn't need to be. If I didn't have the hd dvd version or a hd dvd player then I'd be fine with the blu-ray version but at the same time, I'd be slightly ticked knowing it SHOULD look better since the release 2 years ago does.

    I fail to see why some can't accept that and why they continue to take shots at screenshots that show this stuff. Yeah maybe it isn't as obvious when the film is in motion but so what? The fact remains it IS there and negatively affects the PQ even if it is minor. It isn't like the stills are magic and add DNR or other issues to the film.

    Me thinks this (the excessive dnr issue) is going to be one of those things where people just shrug and say "oh well" rather than try and get studios to quit doing it. I guess though that is the mentality of humans these days since it can be seen everywhere.
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    As I noted, decisions made for this release could easily go back six months or more. Had I my druthers, the original grain would be represented. My point, however, is that this isn't a problematic release. It most likely represents the corporate mindset c. January 2008 or earlier.

    The Blu-ray community is going to have to give the DNR / grain reduction situation into 2009 to be ironed out.

    In the meantime, while I believe that "plasticized" or mummified releases should be brought to the attention of the purchasing public, those with a bit of massaging of the image are best given a pass.
     
  15. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    There is a big difference between saying that screen caps aren't the best way to judge moving pictures and shrugging one's shoulders. Me thinks that the inability to recognize such distinctions is the real problem these days.

    M.
     
  16. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    It bothers me when a perceived problem present in a film image would be less in the eye of the beholder than between his/her ears. The sheer knowledge of something you can't see (or only hardly) totally ruining your pleasure.


    Cees
     
  17. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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    Direct digital 1:1 screen shots are an excellent device for diagnosing SOME image quality aspects. They can't replace actually watching the film but are the best means to communicate specific attributes of images lacking the possibility to watch the film together in the same room with the same equipment (as is practically always the case when discussing transfers on the net). What else do you want to use if not properly done screen shots?
    Watching the film itself requires that one can either rent or lend it or commit to a purchase. The former is not always possible, the latter hardly attractive should the quality not be as desired. So I'm very grateful for the people that offer these stills to give me a first idea of what the transfer's properties are.
    Concerning U-571 I decided to buy the HD-DVD that has no DNR applied and skip the Blu Ray. I find the difference in the stills relevant enough to make that decision.
    Even better would be a transfer without the sharpening, but that's not in the cards for now.
     
  18. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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    It should also be pointed out that it could be argued the screenshots violate copyrights, to post actual movie clips would certainly do that.

    Additionally the bandwidth required to host video clips (clips, not the whole movie) would exceed reasonable terms, not to mention re-encoding them to smaller or more stream friendly results would invalidate the process to begin with (compressing an already compressed image).

    That's why users are posting still shots and following up with detailed discussion. Video clips would certainly be more appropriate to discussion, but no one is going to risk legal action by doing so, and others have no desire to set up the equipment and buy three copies of the film on different formats for comparison purposes. Some do, most won't.

    I like the screen grabs as it is something (backed up by discussion) to go by. Without screen grabs, it's all conjecture and opens up the poster(s) to "he said, she said" with no discernable results.
     
  19. Ron Reda

    Ron Reda Cinematographer

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    If it's OK for RAH, it's OK for me! I confess, this movie is a guilty pleasure...I enjoy the campiness of and it has always looked/sounded great to these eyes/ears. With that, I say BRING ON THE DEPTH CHARGES!!! I can't wait to check this out in DTS MA-HD. [​IMG]
     
  20. Xylon

    Xylon Stunt Coordinator

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    What do you mean?
     

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