Poor quality Blu Ray transfer of "Thunderball"

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ziggy, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. Ziggy

    Ziggy Auditioning

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    I have recently purchased the Blu Ray Discs of the first four James Bond movies – Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball – released by Fox/MGM and advertised as being restored and cleaned up by Lowry Digital. While the video quality of the first three movies is breathtaking, I have irrefutable proof that the Thunderball Blu Ray transfer was not done from the restored Lowry master but from an earlier digital master.

     

    While some movie reviewers have picked up on the poorer video quality of Thunderball as compared to the other three Blu Rays, they all blame the Lowry restoration process, saying that the original print was damaged too badly for Lowry to fix. Now I know this to be untrue as the Ultimate Edition DVD restored by Lowry is spotless and gorgeous.

     

    The following are some of the defects on the Blu Ray Disc which are all but absent from the Ultimate Edition DVD:

     

    There are thin vertical lines throughout most of the film but particularly noticeable against the blue (or grey) backdrop of sky and sea. These vertical streaks are absent from the Lowry restored Ultimate Edition DVD. There are large specs of dirt and blemishes in various scenes, notably during the scene when Bond and the girl’s boat come out of the water after they first meet. Again these blemishes are absent from the Lowry restored Ultimate Edition DVD. There are also gate hairs visible in several scenes which have been cleaned up in The Lowry restorations.

     

    The colour grading on the blu ray – so nicely evened out in the Lowry restoration – are inconsistent. At the beginning of the film the fleshtones appear natural, but after that – especially during the Bahamas sequences – they veer towards red/orange. On the Ultimate Edition DVD Bond and the girl appear tanned and not red. During screen wipes and dissolves the black levels are uneven, starting from grey before turning to black. Once again these flaws were all corrected by the Lowry restoration team and are not visible on the Ultimate Edition DVD. After the main titles sequence (2.20:1 ratio) the aspect ratio is not changed for 30 seconds whereas in the Ultimate Edition DVD the aspect ratio enlarges immediately after the titles sequence.

     

    It is really sad that Thunderball, which contains some of the most exotic scenery and spectacular cinematography in the James Bond series, should be so marred.

     

    The audio soundtrack is also not the same as that on the Ultimate Edition DVD which had a wider surround soundstage and was souped up with newly recorded enhancements: footsteps, background noise, etc. This is most noticeable with the “silent trap door” at Palmyra which is heard opening and closing on the Ultimate Edition DVD but is once again silent on the Blu Ray.

     

    The main point is that the Ultimate Edition DVD of Thunderball cleaned by Lowry is a great transfer and there’s no reason the Thunderball Blu Ray Disc should have defects that the DVD doesn’t.

     

    I can provide screenshots in order to prove my contention, but before embarking on that tedious task, I would just like some opinions as to whether Fox/MGM can rectify this matter or would I just be wasting my time? If Fox/MGM used the wrong master by mistake can it be re-pressed using the correct master? Or was the Lowry master intentionally overlooked? If so why?
     
  2. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I would personally be interested in seeing your screenshots.
     
  3. MattFini

    MattFini Supporting Actor

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    While I've only watched my Thunderball BD once, I did compare it against the UE DVD.

     

    To my eyes, the BD blew it out of the water. Not sure I can relate to the 'poor quality' of this release.
     
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  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    Given the importance of the questions you're asking, providing proof should not be considered "tedious" but essential. People routinely provide screenshots for much lesser points.
     
     
  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy Auditioning

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    Will do so as soon as I can. But do you think it will lead to action on Fox's part?
     
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    I never try to predict what studios will do.
     
  7. Richard Gallagher

    Reviewer

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    I try to, but I rarely get it right.
     
  8. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  9. Jim_E

    Jim_E Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't seen the UE DVD, and overall I do think that the Blu-Ray looked great, but I must admit I was bothered by those vertical scratches on Thunderball. It does seem that additional work was done to the Bond films after the UE releases, often to correct mistakes - I think the colour timing in Thunderball was one of them - specifically the bloody pool after the henchman has been thrown to the sharks as I recall. I saw a digital projection of OHMSS that was timed differently to the UE DVD (restoring what I understand to be the correct colours to the pre-title beach scene).

     

    I'd be interested in seeing the screenshots of the UE where scratches and blemishes that are on the Blu-Ray aren't present. There are multiple HD masters of the Bonds (Sky here in the UK showed an HD Bond season a while back - all Lowry versions with the exception of Goldfinger which was riddled with dirt) so perhaps something odd did happen here.
     
  10. Guest

    The windowboxing continuing for so long was a bit of a bother, but other than that, I enjoyed the blu.
     
  11. Worth

    Worth Screenwriter

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    I guess I'm in the minority on this one, but I actually prefer the look of Thunderball on blu than the previous three Bonds. It looks more like film than the others, which I feel have been overly scrubbed by Lowry.
     
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  12. Zack Gibbs

    Zack Gibbs Screenwriter

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    Lowry worked on films, not DVDs. You shouldn't watch the Ultimate Edition and think it was some final say from a group of experts. Lowry is just one step in what you see on any title they've worked on. I can see some of the color timing issues mentioned in the beach scenes, and they look wrong on the UE. Balanced to some ideal fleshtone sample and not to the actual photography.

     

    Dirt and defects are easier to remove when the end resolution is as low as DVD, so extra cleanup is often done there where they can't on Bluray.

     

    Soundtracks with newly added effects are hardly representative of the original film at all, this is becoming far too common. If the Bluray features the original sound, good for it.

     

    Is Thunderball on Bluray perfect? Probably not, but it's clearly not a travesty. Most catalog titles released will probably reach some 85-90% of their audio/visual potential-- anyone would be better off to appreciate that 85-90% instead of sulking over the other 10-15%.
     
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  13. Ziggy

    Ziggy Auditioning

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    Herewith my screenshot comparisons of the "Thunderball" Blu Ray vs Ultimate Edition DVD. Unfortunately my blu ray player would not allow me to capture stills directly to my computer, so I literally had to take screenshots off my HD display using my digital camera. Even so, the flaws on the blu ray are clearly visible. If needed, I will post more high quality screenshots once I have upgraded my blu ray playing software.

     

    I agree with most of you that the blu ray is superior to the dvd in many respects, but the main point is it that it could STILL HAVE BEEN BETTER had MGM/Fox used the Lowry restored master. Anyway, judge for yourselves.

     

    The Blu Ray image is on top, followed by the UE DVD image.

     

    Scene 1 Blu Ray: Notice the vertical streaks center and left of the shot.

     



     

    Scene 1 DVD: Vertical streaks cleaned up by Lowry.

     



     

    Scene 2 Blu Ray: Notice the dirt on the right of the shot.

     



     

    Scene 2 DVD: Dirt removed by Lowry.

     



     

    Scene 3 Blu Ray: Notice the blemishes to the left of Fiona's head competing with the helicopter for attention. Also blemishes in the top right hand corner of the picture.

     



     

    Scene 3 DVD: All blemishes cleaned up by Lowry. The helicopter is the only visible spot. Also notice the difference in color timing.

     



     

     

    Scene 4 Blu Ray: Notice the vertical line between the 3rd and 4th parachutists.

     



     

    Scene 4 DVD: Vertical line removed by Lowry. Colour more natural.

     



     

     

    These are just a few of the problems with the "Thunderball" Blu Ray. There are also a myriad of gate hairs which the digital camera could not pick up clearly.

     

    Hope it helps.
     
  14. Reagan

    Reagan Supporting Actor

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    Well, Ziggy, I must admit you've got something there. There are errors on the Blu-rays that weren't on the UE DVDs and shouldn't be there. As to how this occured, my guess is that the real answer is a great deal more complicated that you've surmised.

     

    -R
     
  15. JoeBond

    JoeBond Stunt Coordinator

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    I think it is more complicated. Some of the errors aren't errors IMO like say the Scene 2 screen shot where there is dirt in the top right corner, it looks to me not to be dirt due to aging but due to dirt being on the camera during shooting. It seems to me Lowry may have not removed it from the Blu-ray for that reason. It could of been removed in the DVD transfer due to the use of more DNR on the DVD transfer compared to the Blu-ray. This is just pure guess work on my part but at the end of the day I don't really care at all since these vertical scratches don't bother me and I just see them as what they are which is source flaws that makes it feel like film.
     
     
  16. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    There are some minor flaws but I, personally, can live with them because the increased picture detail on the BD is worth the trade off.
     
  17. Andy_G

    Andy_G Stunt Coordinator

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    Considering that there was obviously work done on the blu too, it's this likely evidence that the DVD had secondary processing?
     
  18. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I have no idea how these screen captures were acquired, but based on what is presented to us, it looks like two completely separate transfers. Even the framing is different - the DVD has more picture information on the bottom of the frame.

     

    Edit: There is something fishy about this whole thread. DVDBeaver has screencaps comparing the Ultimate edition DVD and the Blu-ray and except for a slight color shift, everything is identical between the two:

    http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDReviews25/thunderball.htm

     
     
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  19. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

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    What is also interesting is that neither scene 2 or scene 3 have identical frames from the DVD and the BD. The difference in frames is most noticeable on scene 2. I'm not sure a valid comparison can be done when the frames differ.
     
  20. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    Ziggy said how he took them--using a digital camera pointed at his screen (he said he did this because he can't get Blu-ray captures using his computer, but the DVD screenshots look like photos of the screen, too). This obviously limits the utility of the screenshots, but the purpose was to point out specific defects in the video, and they are indeed perfectly clear in his photos.
     

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