3D Blu-ray Review THE HTF 3D ADDICT: The Polar Express 3D

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    What can I say?  I love 3D!  From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content.  I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite.  That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT.  I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky.  However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation.  These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves.  I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum.  My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released.   As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.

     

     

     

     


    The Polar Express 3D

     

     

    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Product Release: November 16, 2010

    Ratio: 2.4:1

    Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

    Running Time: 100 Minutes

    Rating: G

     

    3dsmall.jpg

    ON A SCALE 0-5

    Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 3

    3D Separation: 5

    3D In Yo' Face Factor: 1

     

     

    Oh, if only for ghosting.....


    It pains me to sit here knowing what I am about to write.

    Warner Bros. was extremely gracious to send me a handful

    of screeners to review knowing that I would be promoting

    the good word of 3D on this forum.  However, when there

    seems to be a problem with their initial batch of Blu-ray

    releases I can't morally sit here and praise them to the 

    membership.


    Their Imax release of Under The Sea looks terrific.  

    However, their Imax release of Space Station 3D is

    lacking 3D in the first 3 minutes.  Now, The Polar Express

    is exhibiting its own set of problems.   I sort of wonder

    if anyone is doing some quality control here.


    I'll get into all this in a moment....


    I had to chuckle when I decided I was going to review

    this title.  It took me back a few years to our last Home

    Theater Forum meet.  The studio sent us an advance copy

    of their initial 3D DVD release of The Polar Express and we 

    were showing it off in our demo room at the hotel.  Here

    we were, a ragtag group of enthusiasts with cardboard

    glasses on our faces admiring the cheesy 3D. 


    Boy, we have come a long way in a few short years.

     

    Potentially, The Polar Express could have been a

    flagship animated feature release for the studio on

    the 3D format.  Originally filmed for Imax with 

    motion capture technology,  The Polar Express 

    translates beautifully to Blu-ray.  This was my 

    very first time watching the movie ever and I 

    was completely mesmerized by the film's charming 

    story and utterly stunning, realistic animation.  


    Transfer quality is as good as it gets.  I love

    the film's warm, natural color palette consisting 

    primarily of blue and gold. Everything looks 

    perfect here.


    The quality of the 3D separation is quite good

    and very effective.  I have three favorite scenes

    where I found the 3D effect to be most effective.  

    The first involves a floating train ticket.  Then

    there's an exciting train descent into Glacier Gulch.  

    Finally, the entire Christmas Town square sequence

    looks outstanding with all its brightly lit colors and

    3D dimensionality.


    There really aren't any "In Yo' Face" 3D moments.

    Most of the material stays within the confines of

    the screen with the exception of some minor screen

    protruding from the fender of the train or the cap

    of the train's hobo.  


    So here we have this immaculate, gorgeous holiday

    eye-fest that would have looked perfect on 3D if not

    for the fact that it is marred with ghosting problems.


    It doesn't take long to notice the problem.  The first

    scene where the young boy is lying in bed you see

    double imaging within his face.  When this same boy

    steps onto the Polar Express, takes his seat and meets

    the black girl, you can see double imaging going on 

    within her facial features.  Some behind-the-head shots

    reveal ghosting in the ears and along the hairline.  

    Watch the scene where the kids are being pulled up

    inside Santa's sack and see how the ropes are

    double-imaged.   In fact, there are moments that 

    I actually experienced eye strain from the amount

    of ghosting and occasional blurriness.


    The DTS-HD audio lovingly conveys Alan Silvestri's

    score which is mostly prominent in the front channels.

    This is a very bass-heavy audio track.  The oncoming

    sound of The Polar Express literally shook my floor. 


    Like all of Warner's new 3D releases, The Polar

    Express arrives in beautiful lenticular packaging.



    CONCLUSION


    Ultimately, I am disappointed.  This is such a beautiful

    film and as much as the 3D enhanced my initial experience

    with it, the ghosting issues became a big distraction.  

     

    I am sitting here hoping that someone can prove me

    wrong on all the ghosting problems I see with this title.

    The last thing I want to do is slam the studio for a title

    like this.  However, up until now I have been seeing some

    great 3D content with none of these problems.  I even

    switched out my glasses for another pair just in case it

    was a hardware issue.


    If other reviews appear that show my equipment is at

    fault I will certainly amend this review.  



    Equipment

     

    LG 60PX950 THX Certified 3D display

    LG BX580 3D Blu-ray Player

    Denon 3808CI Receiver

    Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear speakers

    SV Sound Subwoofer

     
     
  2. peterjanni

    peterjanni Extra

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    Not a problem with your equipment. I noticed the ghosting as well and found it distracting. Worst in this respect of the 3d titles I own. Its not unbearable but it mars the overall experience, which is unfortunate as the film has some very good 3d sequences, the floating train ticket being my favorite.

    FWIW, my display is a panny 50vt25 and I'm using their newer glasses to view 3d material.
     
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Peter,

    That's good and bad news.

    Good news that my equipment isn't the culprit.

    Bad for Warner. This is a superb film that could
    have been 100% perfect if not for the ghosting.
     
  4. mcrabtree2

    mcrabtree2 Auditioning

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    I have the Polar Express 3D and it looks great on my Panasonic. I noticed if I turn up the Panel Brightness I get the ghosting you mention... You may need to play with your settings...Try it out.
    M
     
  5. mcrabtree2

    mcrabtree2 Auditioning

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    try checking your panel brightness setting.. put it on the mid range...and try it again.
     
  6. Paul Hillenbrand

    Paul Hillenbrand Screenwriter

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    Ronald Epstein wrote:
    Hi Ron,
    From my experiences with the latest discrete-3D technology (direct eyesight discrete-3D) I want to say absolutely, the "ghosting problem" is a hardware issue. It doesn't matter what type of matrix 3-D technology you're looking at, from professional RealD-3D in theaters to active and passive consumer displays, along with the glasses that decode the 3D images, the potential for ghosting will always be there due to two pictures being displayed in one image on the screen. The degree of ghosting will also depend on if the images are being displayed at the same time or alternately, which will have the potential for time syncing flaws.
    From my experience and IMO, "The Polar Express" Blu-ray 3D has a near flawless 3D encode that can be viewed now and in the future with technology that doesn't produce the phenomena in the first place.
    This is not completely on the subject, but I would like to add that I respect your ferocious appetite for 3D wow moments and I share the enthusiasm. Using your own words from the "Journey to the Center of the Earth" thread about a perfect 3D action film: "essence of being on a theme park ride, placed in the middle of the action, with all this neat stuff being thrown towards you. For me, it's exactly what 3D is all about.":cool:
    Regards,
    Paul
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Guys,

    Thanks for coming into the thread and offering advice.

    I haven't looked at Polar Express since I originally viewed it, but I can tell
    you that my LG display has a THX mode which I would have hoped would
    properly adjust picture settings to offset any potential ghosting.

    Based on reviews as of late, I don't find ghosting to be a huge problem.
    Some titles mores than others. Many times I get a title that is perfectly
    ghost-free. So, it really becomes hard to pinpoint down where the problem
    lies -- but I do agree with Paul that the degree of ghosting will vary from
    display to display and that it is a hardware issue, foremost.

    Just look at this thread. There are people who saw the problems I did
    with Polar Express, and those who had no issues at all.

    I do wonder, however, if there is such a thing as bad or subpar 3D
    encoding at the studio end that would aggravate conditions on home
    displays. Of course, some displays would be aggravated more than
    others.
     
  8. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    My wife and I have just finished watching this movie on our Samsung 55" ES7100 (I think that's the model) using an Oppo BD 93. This movie is drenched in 3D. I'll have to give some thought to this, but it would have to be in my top 5 favorite 3D movies.

    I bought this blu-ray over a year ago. We didn't watch it last year for xmas, not sure why. I am assuming this is the same 3D transfer the Ron watched. If that is true, then the ghosting was a product of the equipment. The years have passed and the gear has improved. I don't doubt Ron saw ghosting, but there was zip ghosting tonight on my gear.

    I remember watching this on an iMax when it was first released and did enjoy it then. I do remember being struck by the "uncanny valley" it fell into. PE tries to create with near photo realism human characters and I kept thinking during that first viewing, that it was odd. But I was still enjoying the movie.

    For this viewing I was expecting the same. As the movie starts it concentrates on Billy and he didn't seem odd to me, he was alive and not an animatronic. Then we are introduced to the Hero Girl (as they are labeled on IMDB and in the closed captions). She is not animated as well. Of all the characters, none is better brought to life than the Hero Boy, Billy. Overall, the "uncanny valley" wasn't as deep as I remembered. I think I enjoyed this viewing as much, maybe more, than the iMax viewing.

    Perhaps the smaller screen helped that out.

    The PE is full of dimension, that is apparent almost immediately. It was very clear this movie was designed to be 3D and 3D greatly enhances the viewing experience. There are no signature in-your-face moments but they are there. Some of them are almost throw-aways, these moments almost seem to have happened by a happy accident while they were on location filming the movie.

    PE is a highly entertaining movie. For those of you who have upgraded your 3D viewing experience, I recommend you give it another look. The ghosting is not inherent to the transfer.
     
  9. Phil Harrison

    Phil Harrison Auditioning

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    Have to agree with Johnny on this one.

    Zero ghosting or crosstalk on my 47" Passive LG. I love pop out 3D but was floored with the sense of depth in this one. Especially the way the spaces are used in the back, middle and foregrounds. A great example would be when you view the depth and length of the train on an outside shot but have snowflakes falling in the foreground. Just a well thought out use of 3D throughout and a magical film once you get used to the uncanny valley! Can't believe this didn't make the sites top thirty!
     
  10. Panman40

    Panman40 Supporting Actor

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    This is one of my favourites at Christmas time, I found the 3D to be excellent on my previous Samsung D6900 plasma with no noticeable Xtalk. I'm not sure how its going to look on my current set though (Sony W905) as it does suffer ghosting / Xtalk with 3D that has wide separation.
     
  11. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    Zero ghosting on my DLP projector, this one is a Xmas favourite for me, it has nice depth and some good pop out scenes, a good sound mix too, now if only Paramount would release Beowulf in 3D, fat chance i know since they won't even put Friday The 13th out, i think Warner might own Beowulf in some territories, maybe a small chance of a future release.
     
  12. RJ992

    RJ992 Second Unit

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    BEOWULF is in 3D on Netflix...but of course, the majority of us can't access it. (And even more don't know NF offers 3D at all!)
     
  13. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I know but i want the unrated cut in 3D.
     
  14. RolandL

    RolandL Producer

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    Netflix has not added a new 3D title in months. They have close to 40 titles but, Beowulf is not included in that 3D group. You have to enter 'Beowulf' in a search to get the 3D version. I don't know if they have other 3D titles not listed in the 3D group.
     

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