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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Animal House -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jul 26, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Animal House is one of those films that has the quintessential John Landis / Universal look. Like The Blues Brothers, it appears to have been shot partially on the fly, with some thin night scenes, which create a grainy appearance, along with a loss of shadow detail.


    And that's precisely what the Blu-ray looks like. I've had to wait until the latest Universal titles hit the street, and have read some negative remarks on-line, but I'm just not seeing any real problems with Animal House (or The Blues Brothers for that matter). They are what they are.


    Animal House is a hysterically funny film. I recall people literally falling out of their seats at a local theater. And it holds up beautifully.


    There are a certain group of films that have made it to every (or virtually every) home video format. My initial copy of Animal House was on CAV laserdisc. The problem with the early laser releases, was that you had to purchase up to half a dozen copies, and then mix and match discs, to find an entire set that would play properly. The norm was to find one good side, only to end up with the opposite side being problematic. A film like Animal House would have been on four or five sides.


    The film also made it to the short-lived RCA CED format, VHS, presumably Beta, CLV laserdisc, DVD...


    and now finally Blu-ray.


    As I noted above, I'm seeing no real problems here. Sit back, relax and enjoy.


    Recommended.


    RAH
     
  2. Bob-ATL

    Bob-ATL Well-Known Member

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    Hi Robert, Can you confirm whether or not the Blu-ray exhibits these two issues that were introduced on the Double Secret Probation DVD. Just before Niedermayer is hit in the helmet with a golf ball while on the horse, the line is "Now drop and give me twenty!" The word "Now" is clipped to the point where you barely hear the "w" sound. I'm assuming this error was introduced when the 5.1 mix was created, as the line is intact on the mono mix. The second is when it cuts from the exterior of the Dexter Lake Club to the interior and Otis Day says "It's so good to be back here at the Dexter Lake Club". There is a frame jump. These two issues were not present on the Animal House Collector's Edition that preceded the Double Secret Probation Edition. It really annoys me when errors that did not exist in the original film are introduced to home video editions. I'd value your confirmation of this and your opinion. Thanks, Bob-ATL
     
  3. gomezfan69

    gomezfan69 Well-Known Member

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    Yes both of these issues are present. You don't see the frame jump on the "Collector's Edition" because the second that precedes it was removed altogether.
     
  4. Bob-ATL

    Bob-ATL Well-Known Member

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    Then it probably should have been left as it was on the Collector's Edition. The extra second is inconsequential and it introduces the frame jump. Why would anyone want that in the film?
     
  5. Jeeva

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    Thank you for clearing this up, mr. Harris... I watched it last night and didn't see that much wrong with it, picture wise... (Not that I am an expert or anything, but I have seen my share of bad discs). To my eyes 'Animal House' looks similar to the other John Landis releases on Blu-ray. 'Trading Places', 'Coming To America' and 'An American Werewolf in London' all share this 'look'... Only 'Spies Like Us' doesn't look as good as these titles, unfortunately. Randy
     
  6. bgart13

    bgart13 Well-Known Member

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    John Landis on the ANIMAL HOUSE (and BLUES BROTHERS) blu-ray: http://trailersfromhell.com/blog/2011/07/26/animal-house-and-the-blues-brothers-on-blu-ray/ When the technical guys proudly showed me the new BluRay master of Animal House, they had cleaned and polished and brightened it so much it looked like a Doris Day movie! I made them put the grain and darken all of the shots they had “restored” incorrectly. It now looks great, but the technician kept writing “Image Degraded per Director” in his shot log!
     
  7. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Well-Known Member

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    There is some obvious edge enhancement going on, much like American Graffiti, but the overall appearance of Animal House isn't too bad at all.
     
  8. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Well-Known Member
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    I'm happy to adjust the score on my review. Mr. Harris has far more experience with this material than I do, and I respect his judgment.
     
  9. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    Kevin, I think your review is fine and doesn't require adjusting, but certainly that's your call. We all see things in our own ways. The beauty of a forum like HTF is that I can read your review, read RAH's "A Few Words About...", read other forum members' opinions and use all the info to make up my own mind. And maybe learn a few things along the way.
     
  10. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Well-Known Member

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    In my eyes it's a typical Universal transfer. Edge enhanced, low res blobby grain. Just like American Graffiti. Just like Fast Times At Ridgement High. YMMV of course but IMO not up to the standard of what bluray can offer.
     
  11. Cinescott

    Cinescott Well-Known Member

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    I saw Animal House theatrically two years ago and remember thinking it had a very rough look to it. John Landis was in attendance and did a Q&A afterwards which was a lot of fun. If the Blu-ray has the rough look I recall, I'll be very pleased with it. This was an uber-low-budget production that turned into a huge hit, so there's never going to be any reference material here.
     
  12. GMpasqua

    GMpasqua Well-Known Member

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    This was a very low budget film and I believe it was shot in under 60 days. No one was overly concerned with night lighting esp with a new director and a cast of unknowns.


    When it first opened it had a lot of film grain, but the blacks were deep and the color was vibrant, but I would not expect this to look like an expensive David Lean film shot on 65MM.


    Edge enchancement I could do without (at least MGM is staying away from that). This was a 70's production and very few films from the mid 70's look spectular on blu-ray. There is of course "Barry Lyndon" which looks great - but again this was shot in soft focus. Compared to "All the Presidents Men" "Animial House" should look a bit better, but even "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" aren't demstration material. "Star Wars" on the other hand should look better - we shall see.
     
  13. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    I agree. re-read this quote from Landis again
    He is saying the the movie was digital manipulated coming and going. When they showed it to him, the techs had , in Uni's typical fashion, scrubbed it and made it shiny. When he had it corrected, the comment in the log was not - "new transfer made" or "returned to original master quality", it was 'we degraged what was here (an already heavily manipulated source) as per his instructions.' The intent may have been to make the film look more natural- which Robert seems to feel they have done- but from these comments, it has clearly been compromised several times over.
     
  14. GMpasqua

    GMpasqua Well-Known Member

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    If the director wanted the image to be what it was "before the clean up"...wouldn't Universal just use the older image and work with that?


    Why would they take the new transfer and degrade it, when they already have an "un - upgraded" transfer? Seems like it would cost more to de-grade the cleaned up version then go back and use what was already available
     
  15. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    You would think that would be the case- but the quote from Landis doesn't seem to imply that. He didn't say he requested they start all over from scratch, or that that was what they did. He told them to add things to the image to bring it back to what he felt was a more natural patina. What he is describing, and the tech is logging, sounds like an additive process to me, not a subtractive one- though that's not the way I, and it appears a lot of other people originally took it when this quote originally showed up a few years back (IIRC, back in the HD DVD days). The natural assumption was -Landis didn't want this looking new and shiny so he had them fix it in the 'right' way. Actually, now that I remember, the original quote (or story) that I heard made it sound like the film got a re-master for HD DVD and came out looking too good all on it's own. There wasn't mention that he was in the bay with someone at the controls who had already put work into cleaning it up- it was just naturally too pretty. But this would seem to contradict what Robert has said about the films likely original appearance given the budget and shooting circumstances. It therefore makes more sense that the film yielded a decent looking master that was further spiffed up, and then degraded a few notches. And this would be entirely consistent with so many people seeing what to their eyes is excessive digital manipulation, and to other eyes what looks to be a film with image traits consistent with its origin.
     
  16. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    Hmm so they made the master and he wasn't happy, did they put artifical grain in or go back and redo the whole thing which would have surely been expensive, that makes me suspicious especially since people are saying they see edge enhancement which is usually there because degraining removes detail so they think oh lets sharpen it up.


    I mean if they added things back in ( grain ) then surely its artifical and thus we are being fooled here.


    Opinions anyone. ?
     
  17. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    As someone who loves the look of film i consider Close Encounters to be reference material, no excessive digital tinkering, they just gave us the look as filmed. I wish some of these studio's would stop pandering to the people who want all films to look shiny and new and let me mention a word i am coming to hate when i read blu ray transfer reviews, that word is clean.
     
  18. Cinescott

    Cinescott Well-Known Member

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    I doubt that Animal House looked shiny and new the day it was released. The term "reference material" in my mind simply means as compared to a comparably-budgeted film today. That's all. It's not a knock on the movie or the filmmakers. Animal House was made for very little a relatively long time ago. I personally love the movie and feel that any transfer that approaches a very good representation of the source is good with me. I don't need a showy audio mix or a 3D appearance.

    Sometimes, a gritty appearance actually helps the mood of a film and I find this movie to be in that vein. Had it been shot in 70MM with the best lighting setups imaginable, it wouldn't be quite the same.
     
  19. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Well-Known Member

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    Yes, CE3K may not be demo material for certain electronics store floor demos, but it's certainly demo material for me.


    I picked up Animal House yesterday and chapter skipped thru it just to get the lay of the land after reading all the buzz. Aside from a few night scenes (the Belushi peeping tom shots), some dupey opticals, and one shot where I believe Pinto is making a call from a pay phone and some weirdness is going on in the sky behind him, I thought it looked fine. It did not look like a new transfer/scan - where I think some or most of the funkyness may have been introduced - but it did not appear coated with video post mastering tools. I also did not interpret the whole Landis-Image-Degraded anecdote as revealing of an additive degradation process in post.


    I plan to watch the film in its entirety this weekend - along with Blues Brothers - and see if anything else pops up. But mostly, I just want to enjoy them as films I grew up with.


    One quick thought about the length of shooting schedules, the "age" of film and how it translates (or doesn't translate) to image quality. John Carpenter's Halloween was shot in 21 days on a miniscule budget and looks absolutely gorgeous, in a certain aesthetic sense. I'm not sure if there's a correlation.
     
  20. Cinescott

    Cinescott Well-Known Member

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    There are always exceptions to the rule, but all things being equal, more money generally yields a better quality result with regard to presentation alone. I doubt there are many filmmakers who would deny that.

    It's my belief that over time many people are going to view movies that were done on film as a weakness. I don't feel this way, but I fear many will. It's kind of analogous to the switch from B&W to Color. Really good B&W films are respected and admired, yet there is still the culture of many bought up in the age of color that avoids them. Color was just being introduced to television when I was very young, so B&W holds a nostalgia factor for me.

    With digital technology, there's going to be a tidal wave of very sanitized looking images. No defects. Nothing. With the next generation being largely bought up on this "perfection," there may be an inclination to view film itself as "old."


    For example, CE3K is approximately 34 years old. Looking back from 1977, a comparable quality comparison then would have been a title from 1943! A completely different era technologically and thematically. I love film; I love the look of it and the artistic feel it gives moving images at 24 fps. While I have no issue with grain or so many of the other features of film, many do. It's my belief that over the next 20-30 years, audiences are simply going to expect perfection in moving images. Film will be an interesting relic from the past. Admired, but considered old.
     

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