"Rio Bravo" and "The Cowboys" in HD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Johannes S, May 29, 2007.

  1. Johannes S

    Johannes S Stunt Coordinator

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    My cineastic heart is feeling very sad. Is anybody here to comfort me, please? [​IMG]

    I received both John Wayne films on HD DVD today and could not wait to immediately watch and spot check them.

    What I saw was a very nice picture with good resolution. A definite improvement to the SD version I watched last week. So far the good news.

    No, what makes me sad about the transfers?

    IT IS THE AWFUL AND DISGUSTING GRAIN FILTERING!

    Gone are the days of early HD releases like "Apollo 13" or "Backdraft" or even more recent releases like "The Searchers" with lots of wonderful, natural film grain.

    I recognize a highest quality 2 or even 4K scan as the basis for these new HD transfers. But where is the natural film grain? In case of "Rio Bravo" there are moments with wonderful natural grain, particularly in bright scenes, but all the blacks, most shades of gray and brown are sometimes filtered to grainlessness. ( = filtered to death)

    In my personal opinion, they ruined the enjoyment of one of the best westerns, by ruining their own high quality film scan by means of digital degraining. "The Cowboys" is degrained even more, sometimes they stole us the grain completely here.

    I am feeling sad, but I acknowledge there are many consumers who like these "sterilized" grain reduced transfers. I hate them! I am afraid to read reviews soon by so called "experts", applauding how "artifact free" and "noise free" the picture is. They probably do not know to differentiate between (wonderful) grain and (ugly) noise...

    Examples: Check "Rio Bravo" at the following scenes: 36min 50s until approx. 40min: The dark scenes are totally degrained. Check time code 45/30: The blacks are again grainless, eliminating all shadow detail and "3D-feeling".

    STOP IT, WARNER, PLEASE!

    Let me note, I also spot checked the new Paramount HD releases of "Coming to America" and "Trading Places": Again, a filtered mess!

    One of the few moments to see some natural film grain of "Trading Places" is the very first second of the movie, beginning with the Paramount logo. You notice that with a lag of less than a second the digital degrainer starts its dire work. This is the second where you see how the film grain is supposed to look, before the degrainer destroys the transfer. It remains a sharp, but lifeless degrained picture...
     
  2. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    I just got Rio Bravo tonight. This is my favorite western of all time and I have to say I think it looks fantastic. I'm not seeing anything that looks like grain filtering. The level of grain I'm seeing seems to be about right for matted 35mm film of this age.

    Doug
     
  3. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    I will be interested in hearing some comparisons on this title (Trading Places as the Blu-Ray is encoded AVC and I would assume that the HD-DVD is VC-1. All of my VC-1 discs except for The Searchers and Planet Earth have this filtered look to them. I'm curious to know if this filtering is being done to the actual master or the VC-1 encode.
     
  4. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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    Jeff actually brings up a good point, when responding in this thread it would be helpful to specify whether you are referring to the Blu-ray or HD DVD release. That way we'll know if we're talking 'apples to apples' or not.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Also, people are reporting that the 05-22-07 SD DVD release of Rio Bravo appears darker and more brownish than the prior SD DVD release. Does the same apply to either the BRD or HD DVD?




    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    Oh man, I was looking forward to Rio Bravo...oh well, need to get it anyway.
     
  7. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Also, it might look fine to your eyes.
     
  9. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Anyone interested in these films should take a single opinion as just that (no offense meant to Johannes), a single opinion. I've had a chance to look at all four of the films mentioned on HD DVD. I disagree that these appear "filtered" to remove grain. What I do see is the natural grain structure of the film element preserved without the distracting artifacting associated with low bit rate MPEG-2 we have been used to on DVD.

    In the case of Rio Bravo, this film has never looked this good that I have seen. Colors are solid and vibrant and density is wonderfiul. This image holds up extremely well projected in 1080p at 106". Extremely film-like. I'm very much looking forward to having enough time to sit down and savor this great western classic in its entirety.

    The Cowboys does appear a bit "cleaner", but that is to be expected from a more modern production. Film grain is still present, albeit rather more fine than in the Rio Bravo elements. The trtansfer is still quite sharp and detailed with solid, natural color balance.

    The two Paramount films are rather different in appearance despite being more contemporary. Trading Places is very smooth and clean, though I don't feel this looks "filtered". Just a nice clean film element. I see no telltales of excessive DNR or other video processing. Coming To America is the least improved of the bunch with only a fairly minor improvement over the DVD edition. I bit sharper and more detailed with more solid colors, but still a rather dull, dated look overall. I'm sure the more important attraction for most fans of this movie is the 16:9 transfer as the old DVD was not enhanced for widescreen.

    My two Pesos.
     
  10. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    And these 46 year old eyes don't pick out as many inconsistancies as they used to...but, the older you get, the bigger the screen, and at 116" Rio Bravo should look quite nice.
     
  11. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    Add my two Pesos!

    I haven't seen the Paramounts, but I do have both the Waynes (HD-DVD) and they look spectacular....quite film-like, and gorgeous. I know both RIO BRAVO and THE COWBOYS quite well, and think that these new HD releases are both stellar.
     
  12. Paul Arnette

    Paul Arnette Cinematographer

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    I'm not familiar with either film, so I gues what I'm trying to find out is 1) Do the BD and HD DVD releases reflect the same color scheme as the new SD Rio Bravo disc, and 2) For those familiar with the film, which color scheme is more accurate?
     
  13. Johannes S

    Johannes S Stunt Coordinator

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    ad 1) Yes, the HD version has exactly the same color scheme as the SD versions.

    ad 2) In my opinion the color looks more natural on the previous version of "Rio Bravo". Check this thread on the DVD Forums:

    http://www.thedvdforums.com/forums/s...&postcount=227

    Regarding some responses to my comments on the grain issue, I never said the image looks bad. It looks great in some scenes. But after watching it again on my new 50" 1080p full HD plasma screen yesterday evening, I am positive that excessive grain reduction has been applied, with some scenes -mostly dark scenes- totally filtered with no remaining grain at all.
     
  14. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    I cannot wait to get these releases, and it is good to hear that they did a good job on the releases. They will make fine additions to my library, and will be sitting right to the stellar release of 'The Searchers'.
     
  15. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    The new Rio Bravo HD DVD has slightly better color saturation and the blacks are more solid than the original DVD release. I'm not sure that its really more brown as just a little more saturation in the color. The whole film its self (including the original DVD release) has a very brown or sepia cast to it. I'm also seeing quite a lot of blue highlights that I never noticed before. As though they were using blue gels on the back lights.

    I haven't seen the new SD release but from looking at the stills that were linked too in this thread it looks about the same.

    Doug
     
  16. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Again I have to completely disagree with you on this point. I'm seeing a very natural looking film grain for a film of this age. Even in the dark scenes. I don't see anything that looks like any kind of noise reduction has been applied to the image.

    Doug
     
  17. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    The Cowboys is not only newer but is a Panavision film meaning that the whole academy aperture is being used. Rio Bravo is matted to 1.85:1 so the grain is naturally going to be more pronounced on that film.

    Doug
     
  18. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    After viewing the BRD, my impressions of this transfer is the same as yours. I was a little too young when this film was released theatrically so I can't remembered whether the color of the film is correct or not, but overall this is definitely an improvement over the previous dvd release. The lack of grain criticism, I can't go along with because there is definitely grain present throughout the film. Anyhow, going back to the accuracy of the color, I leave it to the so-called experts who were old enough to remember how the film looked in the theater to criticized Warner because I just don't know for sure, but something is going on because we had more than a few of Warner's classic home video releases criticized for the same concern about them having too much brown. Also, the audio commentary by Schickel is not very good and he makes a lot of errors with certain facts.

    This weekend, I'll watch "The Cowboys" BRD.





    Crawdaddy
     
  19. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    I'm also too young to have seen this in the theater so I can't speak to the color of the original release prints. I'm not sure even if I were old enough that I could remember with that kind of accuracy. However I can say that all the previous versions of this film even going back to the VHS release had a similar look being slightly brownish in tone, if not this level of color fidelity. I also don't know if the older transfers were from a Technicolor print or from the original negitive. Also I don't know if this transfer is from the original negitive either.

    Having said all that the color doesn't bother me. I think it gives the whole film a kind of dusty look that seems appropriate for the film.

    Just curious what other Warner classics seem to have this same brownish look? I wonder if any of this has to do with the fading color layer of Eastman negatives of this age?

    Doug

    Edit: I wonder if in 50 years people will be looking at films from the early 2000s (after the Matrix) and wondering if they are all supposed to look that green?
     
  20. Bradley-E

    Bradley-E Screenwriter

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    I have both and have put them on to look at but will watch both fully this weekend. They looked fine to me from what I saw.
     

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