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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Casablanca (70th Anniversary) -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Mar 9, 2012.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Agreed. Generally, the differences will only be heard on very high end systems, and then only by those who know what to listen for. Even the most basic mag masters, which would have been the source of a Dolby SVA track from the late 1970s and early '80s can give superb listening results on a home theater system, filling out the 5.1 function quite nicely.

    RAH
     
  2. benbess

    benbess Well-Known Member

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    Yes, it's interesting to think that in many cases on blu-ray we are seeing older movies more clearly than they were seen in the theaters back in the 20s-80s.
    But, if you went to the highest price theater in New York City to see the premiere of To Catch of Thief back in 1955, isn't there a chance it would be a VistaVision print sourced from the VistaVision negative? In other words, for that particular film might we be seeing something on blu-ray that's close to what audiences saw at a high priced NY theater in 1955?
    But your basic point is true and something of a conundrum. I hate to say it, but at times with blu-ray are we seeing "too much"? My guess is that if studios back in the day could have provided audiences kind of clarity we're enjoying--well then they probably would have done it. Just like they would have been happy to erase the wire on the Cowardly Lions tail if they could have....
    Sometimes the clarity of blu-ray reveals details of special effects. But I'm not sure how much of that is all new. Watching When Worlds Collide or The Ten Commandments on broadcast TV in the 70s, I recall sometimes seeing the seams of the special effects--and yet they still worked their magic.
    Your point, however, is an interesting one.
    To me, it shows what a golden age we are now in for some select older films that are restored and come out on blu-ray. Maybe on blu-ray we are sometimes seeing films that look about as good as what the studio execs of the day saw at the studio theater before the release of a film.
     
  3. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    This logic frustrates me no end.

    I'm not sure why it is considered that high-def video resolution is designed to (hopefully) present the original film as accurately (faithfully) as possible as when originally shown in the theaters.

    But to then say that high-rez audio somehow works against the idea of presenting the audio of a film as accurately as possible or as close to its original as possible seems contradictory to me.

    If the argument is that uncompressed audio reveals deficiencies in older soundtracks, then the same could be said that certain older films shouldn't get Blu-ray releases because of the condition of the elements available from which to make the HD transfer.

    And for claims that side-by-side tests of compressed and uncompressed audio tracks would reveal that people actually hear no difference it could also be claimed that the same argument might then be applied to side-by-side tests of SD video vs. HD. It would depend greatly upon the equipment used in the tests as well as the hearing/sight acumen of those taking part in the experiment (and I might even add the "importance" that the listener attaches to the aural presentation of the film. I think some viewers are so overwhelmed with the video part of film that audio is considered a lesser step-child in the presentation.).

    I sometimes believe that some of the people on this forum have a prejudice against the advantages of higher-end audio on the HD releases of older films.

    Uncompressed audio should be a standard used on every Blu-ray release. Anything less is shortchanging the home audience. The most important part of the audio handling should be the mastering of the signal made during the transfer of the film in preparation of the home video release. Much as the video portion of the film can be restored and tweaked (and taken from different sources) to shine in its high-def home presentation, the same can be true of the audio side. The fact that the audio track is uncompressed should only serve to mean that the best possible means of presenting the best available audio track is being used for the home audience.

    Personally, I'd rather hear a faithful reproduction of a not-so-good available audio track than know that I'm being given a lesser presentation because someone else made a determination that it's either not worth the effort or that it's better for me to hear a lesser track because the original elements don't hold up so well.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Speaking for myself, my visual skills far outshine by listening ability when it comes to home theater presentations especially in regard to dialogue driven films. In short, I can generally tell a difference between SD versus HD video presentations, but not so easily when it comes to lossy versus lossless audio.
     
  5. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    And that is likely the rule rather than the exception, Robert. And I totally get that.

    But I still don't see why we would want any less than the best-possible delivery method for the audio track of a film.

    I don't think I'd say that the audio is more important for me than the video...but I'd say it's a lot closer (audio vs. video) in terms of equality for me than it seems to be for a lot of people. I did a lot of audio recording (reel-to-reel) when I was a kid. I've worked in radio, too. But I also used to use our family 8mm camera quite a lot and work in television. So I've paid close attention to both sides of the coin.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I just don't buy your argument that certain people have a bias against having the best audio presentation to replicate the movie theater experience. I think it's a matter of diminishing returns more than anything else. I defer to RAH, who had a lot more experience in restoring audio tracks than any of us to explain his comments more fully.
     
  7. Mark-P

    Mark-P Well-Known Member

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    Mike,
    This is the can or worms that was hashed out when The African Queen was released without an uncompressed soundtrack. Fortunately the studios have listened to the demands of consumers and now just about every new catalog release does have uncompressed sound. I don't see why we need to bicker about sound in this thread because Warner has done the right thing with this new release.
     
  8. Worth

    Worth Well-Known Member

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    It's impossible to have a release print taken directly from the original camera negative - at least, it was until the arrival of 4K digital post production. At minimum, an interpositive had to be created from the edited negative, then an internegative - or series of internegatives - were created from that interpositive. Release prints were then struck from the interneg. And any opticals in the film - fades, dissolves, process shots etc., would have been a further generation removed from the negative.
    So what you eventually saw in the theatre was at the very least three generations removed from the camera negative.
     
  9. benbess

    benbess Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the explanation.
    I've learned this before but somehow had forgotten.
    I assume this means that we are probably seeing in our new blu-rays of To Catch a Thief maybe a little more detail than they saw in the theaters back in 1955? Or, because a true VistaVision print (of which there were very few, I know) is inherently much higher rez than a blu-ray are they maybe about the same? Any guesses?
     
  10. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    It's not my intent to hijack the thread or turn it into something it's not.

    I'm just trying to understand a point of view which I don't currently understand--and has now been voiced here a couple of times. And I'm more than aware that the shortcoming is more than likely on my end.
     
  11. Guest

    In theory, the only thing stopping a direct release print from the negative would have been the VistaVision 8-perf horizontal OCN. It could not be contact printed to 4-perf release print stock, obviously.
    In terms of VistaVision prints, the release prints would have been printed from Technicolor matrices since all VistaVision color films were printed by Technicolor. I don't know if the matrices were printed directly from the edited camera negative, or there was an intermediate step. Robert or Bob Furmanek would probably know this. By the late 1950s, the matrices were prepared from A/B rolled negative as well, giving fades and dissolves the same generation as the primary footage.
    Also, as Robert Harris has pointed out, many Eastman camera negatives from the 1960s have been worn out exactly from printing release prints.
     
  12. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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  13. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No. Camera negatives were generally conformed in one of three ways, and each allowed the creation of a print directly from the camera original, whether in the original format, or in any other. There is no difference between a print and a fine grain master or interpositive. These are positives, and all printer functions are encoded from the camera original.

    All 65mm origination productions up until the 1980s were struck from the original camera negatives, which is why they are worn out.

    Universal had problems with To Kill a Mockingbird not because the studio didn't take care of the negative, but because it was used to strike too many prints.

    The entire original release of Rear Window was struck from the original camera negative. Ditto Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, Cleopatra, etc.

    As of 1990 or thereabouts, dupes were so good, that it would be very difficult to tell the difference between a print derived from a camera original or a dupe.

    RAH
     
  15. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    An original VVLA print was much more highly resolved than Blu-ray, but Blu-ray is not a format designed to be projected on 60 foot screens.

    RAWH
     
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Warner has done the right thing, but no one will be aware of it, as the difference cannot be heard. I fear we're about to head toward the old "If a tree falls in a forest..." question.

    RAH
     
  17. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    I grow tired of the whole lossless vs. lossy argument. We get it; lossless compression gives us the whole track, warts and all, whereas lossy takes some away. But to compare image to sound is apples and oranges. Read the following carefully before commenting: there is no such thing as a lossless video codec for consumer media. Read it again. We aren't up in arms about this, because we know that film is an illusion, and part of maintaining that illusion requires that some material be removed. Given that audio is just as much of an illusion when it comes to film, why do we get upset when someone tells us that nothing is to be gained by a lossless encoding> Think about it.
     
  18. Adam_S

    Adam_S Well-Known Member

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    Fair warning that this is a Fathom event. Meaning Casablanca will be shown in 1080i via the cheap off the shelf advertisement projector used to show commercials or slides before films, not the good digital projector used for new release features. This is not from a DCP, at 1080i, this screening isn't even as good as the current bluray.



     
  19. Guest

    So, I could see the lion's wire on a vhs copy back in the 1980s and that vhs was clearer than a 1939 Technicolor dye transfer print? I could see details on the vhs that audiences couldn't see on the film print?
     
  20. benbess

    benbess Well-Known Member

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    I also could see the wire in my vhs copy.....
    And when I saw it in the 1989 theatrical re-release, I could see it there too. Although maybe the 1989 theatrical re-release wasn't a true Technicolor print?
     

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