Grand Prix - Short Review

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Brent Avery, Jun 30, 2006.

  1. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    After watching this great racing film - excepting some of the melodrama between races - I came away throughly impressed with the look of this long awaited Frankenheimer directed production on dvd. In a word it is very nicely rendered and is a real treat on a large screen. Those of you who have a front projector in your home theater will not be dissappointed as Warners have given us one nice transfer that looks as good as any film of its age can. Colors, black level, detail and lack of dirt, scratches etc. - they did a wonderful job.

    The 5.1 audio mix pretty well anchors speech in the center channel and the rest of the audio - music etc. is spread evenly across the L & R fronts. The rears manage to add some ambience but nothing aggresive. All in all quite good although there were times when the dialogue was lower than the racing sequences which had me raising and lowering the volume to some degree.

    I have not looked at the special features yet but they look very interesting. The film is split over the two discs and has the intro, intermission and enter acte included - the Cinerama process is mentioned in the opening credits. Just glad to see it in the OAR of 2:35!
     
  2. Antonio S

    Antonio S Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Brent.
    This movie is on my short list. I'm happy that Warner did the transfer right.
    "the dialogue was lower than the racing sequences which had me raising and lowering the volume to some degree."
    I don't understand why they can make the effort to get a good transfer, and then fall short with the sound transfer. I've more than one example where I have to sit with the remote in my hand, to lower score/increase dialog. Really spoils the experience.
     
  3. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    For those that don't enjoy the extended dynamic range of certain film sound tracks, most, if not all players, have a "night" setting. Please use it, rather than complaining about it, as that could have the effect of causing studios to use limiters to reduce the dynamic range of their audio tracks. Alternately, try raising the level of (only) the center channel. A human voice can never be as loud as a formula one racing engine, and audio mixers try very hard to preserve the natural relationships as much as possible.

    Some of us very much enjoy the wide dynamic range and have systems and environments that allow us to take advantage of it. I know I would be very dissappointed if the DVD didn't carry the same wide dynamic range as was heard in the Cinerama exibitions of this film.

    It smacks of the entire OAR debate. Modify the image to satisfy some, and ruin it for the rest of us.

    Ted
     
  4. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I concur with TedD. The dynamic range of the original audio mix should be preserved as closely as possible. If someone is annoyed by the dynamics then use that night mode button which will compress the sound so it is all about the same loudness.
     
  5. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    Quote: "Just glad to see it in the OAR of 2:35!"

    If the Cinerama credit is present during the opening credits, then it had to be taken from a 65mm/70mm element, which would make the 2.35 AR incorrect. It should be 2.21.
     
  6. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    No, not true.... It is the mag stripes on a release print that reduce spherical 70mm to a projection AR of 2.20:1. Without the stripes in place, the actual image AR on the film is very close to 2.35:1. Check the DVD of "My Fair Lady", which RAH assures us came from 70mm elements and is 2.35:1, if you doubt me.

    IP's and IN's would not be striped, so something close to 2.35 is very possible.

    A couple of other points, not directly related to the discussion, but still interesting:
    A common issue with single strip Cinerama was having to allow for the increased throw at the center of the screen, compared with the edges. It could be an extra 15' to 20' with the deep curved screen. This required the aperture plates to be filed with a significant amount of keystone on the top and bottom. I'll guarantee that no one ever saw the full height of a 70mm spherical frame in any Cinerama theater. Using 70mm also required a considerable reduction in screen width for the original 3 strip Cinerama installs. The Cinerama theater in Honolulu lost a good 10' off of each side of the screen when it was converted to single strip Cinerama.

    Ted
     
  7. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    I'll stand by my statement that the correct OAR is 2.21. This is the established SMPTE standard for shooting AND projecting 65mm/70mm Super Panavision and doesn't change regardless of whether mag tracks are available or not. (The SMPTE framing guide clearly demonstrates this falls within where the mag tracks would cover). Showing the amount of footage under the mag tracks wouldn't work, since most of that features curved edges that need to be masked anyway. Also, additional top and bottom material need to be masked to block off lens refractions and negative splices.

    It would be very strange that Warner would use this logic regarding this title. They assuredly used the correct transfer ratio of 2.21 for both RYAN'S DAUGHTER and ICE STATION ZEBRA.
     
  8. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    Stand where you want. [​IMG] I don't have an problem if the extra negative area was utilized.

    I am looking at several pieces of 70mm film from several different features right now and the image extends all the way to the edge of the sprocket holes. Yes , it's covered by the innermost mag tracks, but the image is there. If RAH felt the area was usable for "My Fair Lady", I don't see why others may not feel the same way..... MFL was Warners as well.... Mastered to SMPTE standards? No. More usable image, Yes. Camera film stock is 65mm, but the width between the insides of the sprocket holes is identical to that on 70mm film stock. The extra 5 mm for 70mm projection stock are outside the sprocket holes.

    The image doesn't magically acquire curved edges under the mag stripes, either. Any barrel distortion (caused by the camera lens) present under the tracks would be present in the area just inside the tracks as well.

    Ted
     
  9. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, I meant to say curved corners, not edges. I don't know about the DVD MY FAIR LADY transfer, but I believe on Laserdisc it was transferred from a special 35mm print that retained the 2.21 image (instead of the normal 2.35 crop used for normal reduction prints). At least that's what the notes that came with the box set that I had said. I had been under the impression that the DVD came from the same source, but I will readily admit that I could be wrong in this regard.

    As far as the image going all the way to the sprocket holes, this is correct. However, since this is outside the SMPTE standard for image that the audience is meant to see. Of course, theatres are all over the map in how much they crop off an image. But these things can be tightly controlled for home video, and I just happen to believe they should be (although plenty of good people will disagree with me. Even David Lean famously suggested where the edges could be successfully cropped based on one scene where two characters stand on opposite sides of the screen.

    Here's a SMPTE film overlay from Widescreen Museum:

    http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/lbx.htm

    I'm still questioning, however (knowing WB standards) if GRAND PRIX might have been actually transferred at 2.21 rather than 2.35.
     
  10. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    I confess, I'm no expert in these matters but whatever aspect ratio is the correct one it fills my 2:35 screen perfectly - but that does not mean its right of course. As for the sound, if one likes it at a "realistic" level just keep the dialogue at the point where it is easy follow and the racing scenes will be great - I admit to watching it late at night so the volume was on the low side. The extras were very nicely done with alot of great info. Racing fans will really appreciate the interviews with those involved - Stirling Moss, Dan Gurney, Bob Bondurant to name a few.
     
  11. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    It seems that they transfer a greater area than the proper 70mm projection aperture because they assume that most TVs will crop the image a bit on the sides.

    It is better for that extra width to be cropped leaving the image framed close to the theatrical standard, rather than the DVD transfer being made precisely of the 70mm projection standard and thus cropped on the sides to something less than the standard when viewed on most displays.
     
  12. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    But I am not talking about the LD. I am talking about the DVD of RAH's stellar restoration of MFL, which was originated on 70mm Super Panavision and does in fact contain the full negative area including the edges not normally seen in 70mm projection. It really makes more sense to do this when restoring a SP film, since most current theatrical exibition would be from a 35mm print at 2.40:1, anyhow.

    Ted
     
  13. Paul Linfesty

    Paul Linfesty Stunt Coordinator

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    quote: "in fact contain the full negative area"

    If it did this then you would be seeing the negative splices and lens refractions. Very distracting. Fortunatly my DVD copy of MFL was transferred correctly at 2.2. (Interestingly, Amazon.com gives a 2.2 ratio to Grand Prix as well).
     
  14. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    OK, the full negative area in the horizontal dimension, which is what we have been talking about in the topic. Obviously, increasing the height will reduce the AR and, if taken to extremes, result in showing negative splices. That is not what I am describing here.

    BTW, my 2 disc edition of MFL measures out to 2.37:1 on my PC. Trying to measure AR's on anything but a PC will potentially yield incorrect results due to overscan.

    Anyhow, I think we have wasted enough forum bandwidth on this subject.

    Ted
     
  15. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    I saw this last night at a friend's house (a critic who gets early discs). Sensational quality, and a dynamite film. An amazing achievement. Great extras.

    On my friends huge home theater screen, it certainly looked like 2.2 to me, although I certainly didn't go an measure with a ruler [​IMG]

    Another terrific disc from the Warner folk.
     
  16. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I'm looking forward to buying this DVD. Too bad Frankenheimer never got around to doing a commentary for this film.
     
  17. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    Frankenheimer is remembered retrospectively in the first feature " The Making Of Grand Prix " with a combination of period intreviews during filming of Grand Prix and excerpts from a 1998 interview on the Speed Channel. Others - such as James Garner, Eve Saint Marie - cast and crew involved give some insight about working with him.
     
  18. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I've got the Australian (PAL) 40th Anniversry Edition which comes to about 2.44:1.
     
  19. Eric_R.

    Eric_R. Stunt Coordinator

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    I can't wait to get this on DVD next week.
     
  20. TedD

    TedD Supporting Actor

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    This truly is a spectacular transfer. Looks like it was done on a 4K scanner. Some scratches here and there on the source elements, but it just makes it seem more like I am in a movie theater watching this.

    At last, along with Ryans Daughter, we are starting to see some transfers that do justice to 70mm elements.

    Highly reccomended!!!

    Ted
     

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