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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Kudos to the Disney organization.

    They could have attempted to hide the fact that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a wonderful, historically significant, still moving, and slightly old-fashioned experiment in taking the animated film past the 8 minute mark, and into the feature film category.

    They didn't.

    As with a number of their feature animated Classics (and in this case the capital C is warranted), The folks at Disney have given Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the grand treatment. This isn't sending the original negative to a spa for the afternoon. This is the big time.

    What has exited the other side is something that we have never seen before. But neither had Mr. Disney and those that created the film. Technicolor in 1937 was notoriously soft and lacking in definition and detail. And I would presume because of that, that there is little in Snow White. Facial details are nil. Outlines rule. The famous Disney "everything in the frame is moving at the same time" isn't there. While the central focus of the frame has movement (2 frames per move, ie 12 different frames per second) the backgrounds and those elements at the sides, stay frozen for all time.

    The multi-plane camera, which was totally new, is used to beautiful effect.

    But taking this 75 year old film, and running it through modern devices at 4k resolution, and then having Lowry Digital work their magic upon it removing grain, has yielded an image that while beautiful, has opened every flaw to the naked eye.

    I would wager than one person out of 10,000 will view this gorgeous Blu-ray -- and it is gorgeous -- and not be enthralled by the art of early animation. Allow me to make a point here for the uninitiated.

    This is Early Disney animation.

    While unbelievably rich and detailed for its time, this is not your father's Disney animated feature. This is your grandfather's animated feature. The extraordinary details found in the likes of Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp -- not to go near or even mention those films about the pretty girl and the hairy animal or that undersea film -- are nowhere to be found.

    There is no getting around that this film is an extremely historically important. This is a document that has been passed down, and has been beautifully preserved and restored. But in 2009, it also may have a bit of an archaic look to the modern audience. You're not going to find this in Disney production even just a few years hence, and this speaks volumes as to the technological achievements going on at the studio during those years.

    I'm not suggesting for a moment that anyone should pass on purchasing this film.

    It is essential to any serious collection.

    But, Please...

    please...

    look upon it for what it is.

    A grand experiment at taking the animated film to the next level.

    That worked!

    And the Blu-ray is gorgeous.

    To interesting specifics:

    Those with "eagle eyes" will note that certain frames, now exposed for all to see, go out of focus.

    This is not an error of the crack Disney team led by archivist Theo Gluck.

    What we're seeing for the very first time via these extremely high resolution scans, are either damaged or mis-placed cells within the multi-plane camera, that for a single frame are out of focus, or otherwise affected. I've never noted this before, and it shows up the care with which the original elements were scanned and processed.

    You're seeing everything.

    I personally find this extremely interesting, as neither Mr. Disney (as I noted above) nor anyone during the production would have seen these points because of the overall lack of resolution in the Technicolor process. References were made by the restoration team, digested, and occasional fixes made, where possible, and with absolute and proper reverence.

    While I'm a bit torn between the exposure of the early animation techniques by the high resolution scanning and grain removal without loss of resolution, plus the brilliant color, the end result on Blu-ray is a film that will thrill (or frighten) the young, exhilarate those in between and cause those with an eye toward the consummate history of Disney and animation to take a cool, crisp and knowing look at one of the greatest achievements in animation history.

    This is not Snow White without clothes. This is a Snow White that allows everything to be seen by the modern audience, with no apologies spoken or necessary. A 75 year old classic meets modern technology, and the Disney organization has given the audience far more than their money's worth.

    I should make one point here as to packaging, as there may be confusion. For whatever reason, Disney has returned to standard size and color SD DVD packaging for this Blu-ray. I had to look twice to figure out what it was, and then proceeded to load the SD disc in error.

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is Highly Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Well-Known Member

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    I was originally on the fence concerning getting this title as I already have the previous DVD. After reading your praise of the transfer, you have pretty much shoved me off that fence....I've definitely got to get this one now! Thank you sir for pushing me in the right direction.
     
  3. RobertR

    RobertR Well-Known Member

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    It was an easy decision for me, since I sold the DVD for more than I'm paying for the BR. :)
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    I've already got my copy on order. Thanks for the review, RAH!
     
  5. Craig_Ehr

    Craig_Ehr Well-Known Member

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    I understand part of Disney's marketing scheme on this title is to release two separate skus with identical content but different packaging: the Blu-ray sku gets BD packaging and a "bonus" DVD copy of the film, while the DVD sku gets a "bonus" BD version of the film too for that future hardware upgrade - it sounds to me like you have received the latter version. To my mind, it shows the company's commitment to the new format if nothing else.

    also, re: out of focus cel setups....I believe I noticed the same thing on 'Sleeping Beauty' in certain sections of that film; just an artifact of the animation process of the time which was hardly noticeable at a lower resolution.
     
  6. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Premium
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    Thanks for the review RAH. Your reviews nearly ALWAYS remind me of why I want to be at this forum over others on the net.
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    I've always liked how Snow White's animation feels like an offshoot of the style seen in the Silly Symphonies from 1932-1935.. not the more kinetic stuff you'd see in the Mickey Mouse, Donald, and Goofy cartoons of the 1930s. Even more impressive is that just three years later, Disney would produce Pinocchio and Fantasia - two films that still have animation rivaling what comes out of studios today. It does have this wonderful serenity that wouldn't really appear in a Disney film again. There are no supporting characters other than the Huntsman. The Queen's castle is nearly empty. None of the animals talk and are somewhat realistic.

    As lovely the '01 DVD looked, all of the kinks of the Lowry Process hadn't been worked out yet. In shots with a lot of movement, textures on walls and floors seem to become blobby. This is also visible on Citizen Kane and North by Northwest. However, it has been completely absent on the newer 4K remasters such as Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and Pinocchio. I'm excited to see this BluRay.

    RAH: What is your opinion on the soundtrack? The 5.1 track on the '01 DVD is surprisingly good from what I recall.
     
  8. Mike Frezon

    Mike Frezon Moderator
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    It's a great question, Patrick.

    I thought the audio on the trailer for the film (as seen on other recent Blu-ray discs) had terrific surrounding audio. There was still an audible hiss underneath the audio when it was used...and it was used sparingly...but what was used sounded like it had fairly good fidelity to me.
     
  9. Adam_S

    Adam_S Well-Known Member

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    a general question for the thread, but is that blobbiness (which many of us noted) a digital floor? I heard this term used in reference to film scans, particularly animation, but haven't really run across it other than the one time.
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Audio sounded fine to me. I've never heard the originals played, but the new Blu-ray doesn't have a totally scrubbed feel to it, just nicely cleansed of audio detritus.
     
  11. Osato

    Osato Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear that Disney is pulling out all of the stops on their older films for blu ray.


    Preorded my copy when I heard about the Amazon code (snowhite) that allows you to get it for $15. I plan on picking up the other classic Disney titles (Sleeping Beauty, Pinnochio and my favorite Dumbo) in the future as well.
     
  12. Reagan

    Reagan Well-Known Member

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    Wait a sec, Snow White was animated at only 12 frames per second? Really?
     
  13. Paul Penna

    Paul Penna Well-Known Member

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    "Full" animation, like the Disney features, is mostly animated "in twos," that is, 12 drawing per second, each photographed twice. Animating "in ones," or 24 drawings per second, is generally reserved for rapid movement, as it appears less choppy or strobe-like. "Snow White" follows this pattern, a mix of ones and twos.
     
  14. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Well-Known Member

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    Originally Posted by Mark Walker regardless of what I end up deciding about a purchase (or not).

    _Man_
     
  15. Reagan

    Reagan Well-Known Member

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    Well that explains it, because I just couldn't see how the fluid movement of the dance scenes could happen at 12 frames per second.
    Thanks.

    -R
     
  16. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    I recall Fantasia and Pinocchio being largely on ones, but dumbo is mostly twos. Max Fleischer's cartoons were usually all on ones in the 1930s, but a lot of it utilized loops and repeated cels (hence, the trademark "bouncy" look of stationary characters).
     
  17. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Premium
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    Thanks for the code. I just put my preorder in.



    That is definitely the case. I think this is a great idea. I've always loved that Disney included the DVD along with the Blu-Ray disc in their platinum collections. This takes it one step further.

    Blu-Ray Package (note Blu-Ray + DVD):
    [​IMG]
    DVD Package (note DVD + Blu-Ray):
    [​IMG]
     
  18. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Well-Known Member

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    Fifteen bucks???? Sold. Pre-ordered mine just now. I was planning to buy it anyway, just not right away (I still don't have Pinocchio yet!). But who can resist that price?
     
  19. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Well-Known Member
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    And the review copy sent to me by Disney was the bottom one: the DVD + Blu-ray set. I found that a bit of a surprise. It's the same content in both: a DVD and two Blu-ray discs, but the packaging, as you can see, has somewhat different art. The DVD is on the first page of the set and the two Blu-rays are housed after you flip the page inside.
     
  20. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

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    As I posted earlier in the Bargains forum, Giant Eagle will have it for $9.99 after the manufacturer's $10 coupon. The ad shows the DVD packaging SKU. Not sure if they'll have both of them.
     

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