The Day the Earth Stood Still

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Michel_Hafner, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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    I watched the Blu Ray and I have some questions for you, Mr. Harris (and everybody else who has insight). The transfer seems to consist of basically two different kinds of shots. Shots with great clarity and sharpness that seem to have 1080p detail and shots that have more or less DVD resolution and also look often pasty. The latter shots are almost all sfx shots or standard opticals (mostly dissolves). Now it's well known that opticals with their generational loss degrade image quality but the extent it happens here (from 1080p to 480p) looks excessive to me. Why do the opticals look so much worse in this transfer? Is this normal? And is it normal that not only the actual dissolve is suffering but the rest of the shot as well, so the whole shot looks very bad compared to the surrounding shots? Why not replace the rest of the shot with the original? (Tonal) Continuity?
    What are the reasons such dissolves are not redone digitally for the HD keeping the transfer on a consistent image quality level? Cost? Original elements not available?
    I found the big jumps in image quality rather distracting every time a dissolve was done. One could actually easily see in advance when another dissolve was coming. Great quality, cut, bad quality, dissolve, bad quality, cut, great quality...
    Did original prints of that film show the same strong quality variations?
    I also noticed not faint halos on some shots that had no opticals. Sharpening or part of the photography of the time?
     
  2. Brian Borst

    Brian Borst Screenwriter

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    I noticed this as well from the screenshots. I thought it was strange some were pristine and others looked awful.
    Maybe the optical effects were redone for the dvd, and only in 480P? So they didn't bother to do them in HD, or redo them again for the Blu-Ray? Or perhaps they just couldn't make it look any better with the original elements gone. Films like Bridge On The River Kwai suffer from the same faults during the fades and opening and closing credits, basically all the optical work.
     
  3. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Of course the resolution of opticals is going to suffer. I'm not sure they are dropping to something like 480 resolution, but logically they should drop roughly in half, if that is measurable.

    It was also a fairly common practice at the time to have the optical used for the whole shot leading up to a dissolve for instance. That way you wouldn't see a jump in quality in the middle of a shot. In addition there is a fair amount of stock footage in TDTESS and I notice that those shots are particularly soft. Some of the second unit seems to be also, though I'm not sure why.

    I've noticed with many B&W films of late 40s and early 50s, halos particularly around car head lights. I'm not sure if this is a result of a commonly used filter, or a limitation of the lenses used at the time, or some artifact of the film stock and the silver content there of. But I see it often enough to think its not a digital artifact.

    Hopefully Mr. Harris can provide more info on this.

    Doug
     
  4. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

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    Actually I've noticed it to be the opposite when it comes to "classic" movies. They tend to splice in JUST the optical, so you'd have a shot that would be taken from original negative, then there'd be a noticeable "jump" accompanied by a drop in image quality as the dissolve of fade is spliced in, then after they optical effect is over, another "jump" and we're back to O-neg for the rest of the shot at the other end. See the Blu-ray of THE THIRD MAN for many examples of this. It seems to have been only later when they started to use opticals of the ENTIRE shots instead of just the effect itself, which works better IMO although now the entire shots will suffer the generational loss. It's a trade off- either you see disruptive "jumps" and the image quality drops in the middle of a shot just for the optical, or the entire lead in/lead out shots themselves have the quality drop but there's no "jump". I haven't watch my THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL Blu-ray yet, but maybe that was an early case where they actually DID use the entire shots for the opticals, instead of just the effect itself, and perhaps for the Blu-ray they DNRed the opticals and stock footage to match the grain of the O-neg material, which would result in the resolution drop during those sequences? I doubt they are actually done at 480P resolution, but maybe DNR/grain-removal to match the texture of the non-opticals resulted in the drop in detail/resolution.

    Vincent

     
  5. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    This is quite true, it depends on the era in which the film was made. In the 30's and 40's there would be a jump in the middle of the shot as the dissolve would start.

    They seemed to have changed this practice sometime in the late 40's and started using the entire duration of the shot as the optical. I'm not sure exactly when this started but by the mid 50's it seems to be pretty common.

    It seems clear that in the 30's and 40's they were attempting to keep the shot pristine for as long as possible, and were hoping that the added film grain in the optical would be lost in the actual dissolve. Maybe as the grain on the film stock became finer in the 50s they decided that a slightly softer shot was less objectionable than a bump in the middle.

    Doug
     
  6. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    Curious about something I noticed this evening - or *think* I noticed - when I decided to take out Robert Wise's 1951 The Day the Earth Stood Still for its regular 5-year* spin.


    But which release? The 2008 standalone Special Edition Blu-ray, or the 2009 3-Disc Sequel set with the 1951 original on a separate disc? Would it make any difference? I'd always assumed that Fox had simply rubber stamped their earlier SE onto that 3rd disc in the Sequel set. But after tonight, I'm not so sure, and hope there are others here with both versions who will take a few moments to compare them, ideally on a larger display canvas.


    The most obvious difference is that they don't share the same content; the disc in the Sequel set has been stripped of all special features, including Robert Wise and NIcholas Meyer's superb commentary track. Nil. Nada. Nyet. Movie only.


    It didn't stop there though. Unfortunately, I don't have any A & B capability set up at the moment, but it *seemed* as if the picture and sound, but particularly the picture, on the movie-only disc in the Sequel set had slightly better grayscale with deeper blacks (thus more *apparent* detail?). Since both discs are MPEG-4 AVC and have a 50GB footprint, could that mean the version in the Sequel set received a more robust encode? Can anyone confirm whether the file sizes on these discs differ?


    Anyway, I'm off to bed tonight still unsure whether I'm imagining a difference that simply doesn't exist**. Yet each time I spun up the disc from the Sequel set it just looked overall better to me - often subtley so, but enough to catch my attention at various points.


    I can't even find any caps or reviews that compare these 2 Fox Blu-rays.


    "Help?"


    * ...give or take.

    ** ,,,and no imbibation this evening to consider a factor.
     
  7. Lord Dalek

    Lord Dalek Cinematographer

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    I've never been able to get the 2008 disc to play at all, no thanks to Fox's bone headed decision to encode it with a firmware upgrade message that PowerDVD triggers no matter what. Talk about useless!
     
  8. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Steve,


    I seriously doubt there is any difference in the PQ of the two BD releases since the 3-Disc 2009 release was only released four months later than the 2008 BD release.
     
  9. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    I wouldn't have thought so either Robert. And yet, I did perceive a sometimes subtle difference between the two. Overall, the version in the Sequel set was a more pleasurable A/V experience, and I'm merely curious "Why?"


    So I posted that only because I wondered if anyone had the tools to remove personal supposition completely from the discussion here, and confirm that the movie file size in the Sequel set version is identical to the original. If it isn't, and occupies a larger disc footprint, then it might not be the same encode, however unlikely that seems in terms of Fox' release timeline.


    After all, Fox did go out of their way to strip the Sequel set version of ALL special features, including commentaries, and also had to modify the menu. So right there the Sequel set re-release was not identically authored. Why would Fox bother to do that? Simply a question of special feature rights? Perhaps. Or maybe they did it for some other technical reason...


    Beats me. That's why I brought to this forum.
     
  10. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Or your perception of a subtle difference is all in your head. It happens with all of us.
     
  11. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    That's exactly what I'm hoping someone will prove or disprove via more quantifiable means Robert. The smoking gun would be a larger data file for the movie-only version in the Sequel set, or by A & B viewing on a 60" plus display.


    So here's everyone's chance to razz old Rock if the movie on each disc is, in fact, identical. :P
     
  12. Dr Griffin

    Dr Griffin Cinematographer

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    Your player doesn't allow you to see the disc Mbps? Even my 10+ year old Pioneer DVD player can do that. You're right, even though the stats are out there for the stand-alone release (25.979 Mbps average), someone will have to get an overall reading of the '51 disc in the 3 pack, or at least match some scenes. Blu-ray.com mentions that the '51 version in the 3 pk is virtually indentical minus the extras. I'm thinking they would have no reason to change the file, so this opens up some new possibilities, such as weirdness going on in the digital domain because of the lack of extras. :) Maybe it has something to do with the High Country, Steve. :D
     
  13. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Screenwriter
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    "Double D'oh!"
    1. For some stunned reason, it never occurred to engage the player specs to compare bitrates.
    2. Scene for scene they matched.
    Sorry everyone, I'll just skulk away to my room now... :unsure:
     

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