My Superbit and SB Deluxe 'appeciation' thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bjoern Roy, Mar 9, 2002.

  1. Bjoern Roy

    Bjoern Roy Second Unit

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    I disagree to a large extent with Peter's take on the superbit titles on DVDFile. Dan Ramer and I will try to get a counter article posted.
    Note that this is from a videophile's perspective. I know that on most peoples setups, basically every DVD released today looks 'great'. On a setup like mine, thats sadly not the case.
    My take on the superbits:
    The technical side is well covered in my Fifth Element and Desperado reviews. I invite everyone to check them out on my site (link in signature).
    But the marketing side is JUST AS GREAT. Why?
    The ONE thing noone ever mentions, and that i think is THE most important part about the superbit titles: CONSISTENCY! Yes, other Studios also made a few reference titles. BUT, as we all know, its always HIT AND MISS with them! The Superbit label on a DVD is what THX should have been, but ISN'T
    Every single superbit title that i have checked out was reference quality +/- 5 percent. For us videophiles the superbit label is a complete breakthrough. Noone is as picky as i am, but I can buy superbit titles without reading a review beforehand. As i said, thats what THX should have been all along.
    Studio consistency overview:
    Columbia: Superbit consistenly 'reference'; all others consistently 'good'; never a turd
    Fox: X-Men 'reference', Moulin Rouge 'great'; TPM 'bad', DH3 'horrible'.
    Paramount: Braveheart 'reference'; Forrest Gump 'good-mediocre'; Tomb Raider 'flat'.
    New Line: Blade, Seven 'reference'; Rush Hour 2 'mediocre'.
    Warner: The Pledge 'ultimate reference'; all others recently consistently 'great'.
    Universal: Erin Brokovich, Pitch Black, U-571, Fast and the Furious 'reference'; American Pie 2 'good' (too dark, muddy); Jurassic Park 1+2 'mediocre'.
    MGM: Hannibal 'great'; all latest dual WS/PS releases 'mediocre';
    The studio that puts out the best transfers 'on average' is probably Warner. Fox also has lots of good ones and only a few Turds.
    But Columbia is the ONLY studio where i now know EXACTLY what i get when i buy a title.
    Their non-SB titles ALL look alike:
    - a bit soft, because horizontal filtered
    - a fair bit ringing/EE
    - perfect black level, shadow delineation
    - perfect color hues and saturation
    Non of the non-SB titles are close to reference, but at least they are never bad.
    And their new SB titles ALSO all look alike:
    - very high detail, non-filtered
    - a bit of aliasing because of teh above, a non-issue IMO because its a sign of ultra high detail
    - still a bit EE, but much higher in frequency, really thin edge halos, so not that big a deal as well
    - other aspects delineation and colors as good as non-SB
    And now they even did what made the concept complete perfect. Superbit Delux, perfect movie presentation on disc 1, extras on disc 2. Yes, others are doing this for quite some time. But as i said, no other studio has a label that guarantees a great presentation. I mean Forrest Gump is also a 2-disc set. Yet, their Braveheart single DVD looks a LOT better.
    There we go. End of rant [​IMG]
    Regards
    Bjoern
     
  2. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Bjoern,

    I happen to agree with you on the Superbit Titles. I think they look fantastic and anyone that says that it is just a marketing scheme is not looking carefully enough or does not have the equipment to tell the difference.

    I do have one small problem with the superbit titles and that is the lack of extras. If as we are told an SB title uses all the space then why not just put in a second DVD with extras like so many SEs do now adays.

    BUT

    Given a Choice with a Superbit with no extras and a non super bit with lots of them I will go for the SB everytime because I prefer the movie in the highest quality form then extras anyday of the week.

    Max
     
  3. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    Is there still little argument that one needs a good display set up to apreciate the difference? Me with my humble 32" widescreen, I've yet to buy a single superbit title. I continue to save plans to purchase for my [dreaming]projector days[/dreaming]... [​IMG]
    Dan
    PS: Max, don' forget Sony now apparently have plans to Superbit Deluxe titles putting the extras on a 2nd disc. What this means for commentaries, I have no idea.
     
  4. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I can clearly see the difference on my 47" Panny HD ready set (RP91 player).

    I agree with the statement that if there's a SB banner, so far that has equaled excellent audio and video quality, something that THX used to mean but no longer does.
     
  5. Steve_AA

    Steve_AA Agent

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    My video system: Tosh 50HX81 16:9 HDTV + old Sony S360 interlaced DVD player, Silver Serpent component cables.

    The only SB title I have is 5th Element and it looks great, but I never had the non-SB version. Would I expect to see much difference on my system between these two versions? Or are we talking Front Projector/100" screen systems? Maybe 5th Element isn't the best example. I understand 5th Element probably benefited the LEAST from the SB treatment since the 1st version was also well done.

    Would a progressive DVD player be a significant benefit?

    Maybe I should just bite the bullet and buy the other version and make my own comparison. Just looking for any input with anyone who has a similar system to mine. I'm willing to pay more for obvious improvement with SB titles.
     
  6. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Steve,

    I have a 73" RPTV and can clearly see the improvments.

    I have heard those with 65"s and 55"s say the same thing, so I don't think you need a projector to see the improvements.

    I do think that a widescreen helps as then you are not looking at problems with anamorphic downconversion.

    I think a good Pro Scan player would likely hep too.

    My guess is you would see an improvement on your 55" Tosh even with a non PS player.

    Max
     
  7. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer
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    I own three SB titles -- The Fifth Element, Bram Stroker's Dracula and Air Force One. The first two of these titles were upgrades from the standard release, while AFO was a new title. On the two replacements, I noticed a greater level of detail and clarity to the picture over the original releases. The improvement was subtle, but noticable. For me, picture and sound quality are much more important than supplemental material, so I like the Superbit idea.

    FYI, my video setup includes an ISF-calibrated Toshiba 56H80 TV with a Panasonic RP-91 player, connected with a Bettercables component video cable.
     
  8. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    Bjoern,

    I generally agree with your post. However, do you really consider Phantom Menace a "bad" release??!! Sure there's ringing in it and a little grain here and there, but is it so extreme that you consider it a "bad" release? I realize we all have different equipment, etc. (I own a 61" 4X3 Sony that is ISF'd.) but still. I thought it looked very good, overall (maybe B+).
     
  9. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    I would consider TPM a "bad" release because of the stature of the film and its recentness.

    If this were a restored 40 year old transfer that they used EE (or whatever caused the ringing) to "sharpen" it up and hide imperfections, that would be one thing. But for a Lucasfilm Megaproduction that is scarcely three years old and lived in the digital domain for most of its life? They HAD to have done better than this.

    It's kind of like getting a B grade from a student that should be scoring straight A's. Sure a B isn't the end of the world, but they could have, and should have done better.
     
  10. Larry P

    Larry P Stunt Coordinator

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    Has a Superbit Deluxe title been announced yet?
     
  11. James D

    James D Second Unit

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    Larry- 'The Patriot' will be a Superbit Deluxe title and will street May 28th for a list price of $28.95.
     
  12. Hakan Powers

    Hakan Powers Stunt Coordinator

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    As will Hollow Man SB Deluxe, according to dvdfile.com today.
     
  13. Sutjahjo Ngaserin

    Sutjahjo Ngaserin Stunt Coordinator

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    Bjoern, Right On!

    Yes, I prefer Superbit over normal issue.

    More power to Superbit Deluxe!
     
  14. Sam Hatch

    Sam Hatch Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, rock on!
    Everytime I see a thread on Superbits, the general assumption is that you need a 90 inch FPTV to notice a difference in picture quality.
    I've got a 43" Sony non-HD RPTV and quite frankly, The Fifth Element left me stunned. The old disc was one that I constantly used for demo material, so granted -- my eyes were very used to seeing the same things. But once I popped in the Superbit disc, the details just killed me.
    I instantly started noticing that my eyes were being drawn to things I had never even noticed before. The backgrounds had much more depth, and the city scenes were simply staggering. It wasn't as drastic as when I first moved from LD to DVD, but it wasn't that far off either.
    I also have Desperado and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon . I had previously owned the former on LD, so I was obviously blown away. Likewise with the latter, which I had previously owned on region 3 DVD.
    Perhaps I'm crazy, but these discs look damned fantastic. Better than Moulin Rouge IMHO, one disc which is constantly referenced as being of 'Superbit quality' but without the hooplah.
    Bram Stoker's Dracula and Gattaca are next up for me. I must also thank Columbia for putting out some of my favorite films during the first few Superbit waves.
     
  15. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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    Hi,

    [QUOTE}

    very single superbit title that i have checked out was reference quality +/- 5 percent. For us

    videophiles the superbit label is a complete breakthrough. Noone is as picky as i am, but I can buy

    superbit titles without reading a review beforehand. As i said, thats what THX should have been all along.

    [/quote]

    Have you seen "Gattaca"?

    I have seen two superbits in detail so far. Dracula and

    Gattaca. Dracula is pretty much reference quality. Gattaca

    is not, as far as I'm concerned. The original DVD was

    already below average for Columbia and the new superbit

    does not fix the problems. It's a bit sharper and better

    compressed. But basically the transfer was made from a

    grainy master and should be redone. There is distracting

    grain in some shots, there are overenhanced edges at times

    and ringing and there are also noise reduction artifacts

    because they tried to remove some grain digitally. Overall

    still a good looking DVD, but neither reference nor

    excellent.

    Michel Hafner
     
  16. Bjoern Roy

    Bjoern Roy Second Unit

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    Michel,

    hmmmm.

    Gattaca is one of my favorite movies. I have seen it close to 10 times in the theater. Due to the stylistic and 'available light' cinematography, the movie has a LOT of grain. Given the fact that the transfer is exceptionally detailed, it becomes obvious that the correct representation of the grain is a task of mammoth proportions with the limited bitrate that plagues DVDs. This is no easy task like The Fifth Element.

    They could have chosen the route of DNR'ing the hell out of the transfer, that would have killed the grain. I am happy they didn't. The choice of filtering seems appropriate to me, given the task.

    I have seen better displayal of film grain on several titles. But non of them had the same level of detail at the same time. Hm, maybe you have one in mind?

    I think the EE only pops out more on Gattaca because of the many dark object before bright background scenes in the movie. The characteristic is the same as on all SBs i tested. Same frequency, same amplitude. Obviously it might not be as bothersome in Dracula, as dark a transfer as that is.

    The huge amount of grain, yet high amount of unfiltered detail makes one area really deficient on this title: bitrate. We would need a Ultrabit transfer of this title to handle the grain and detail properly. It could easily use 15MBit or more. The one flaw i see in this transfer (apart from the high freq. EE) is the mosquito noise in many scenes. A sign of bitrate starvation.

    Anyway, calling Gattaca 'reference' is a mood point. Its much more difficult to compress and as a result, i have more respect for the achievement in Gattaca, then for the one in Fifth Element. Only in that light, yes, i would call it 'excellent'.

    Regards

    Bjoen
     
  17. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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  18. Bjoern Roy

    Bjoern Roy Second Unit

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    Will check out those scenes you mentioned.
     
  19. Andy Kim

    Andy Kim Second Unit

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    Another vote for Superbit here!

    I have Crouching Tiger and I picked up Gattaca recently.

    I hope they start releasing better titles in the future though.
     
  20. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

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    My only problem with Superbit DVDs is that all of the titles are awful. I would love to see a Black Hawk Down Superbit.
     

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