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A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Interpreter -- in HD-DVD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Oct 17, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    On several occasions, I've equated home video software as being akin to a paperback version of hardcover book, or worse, a photocopied replication of a beautifully hand-crafted illuminated manuscript. Not terribly up-lifting.

    In a general sense, home video still fits very neatly into this concept.

    It has only been with the inception of High Definition DVD, as well as the niche the shot-lived HD-VHS format, that a true representation of quality motion picture image and, to a lesser extent, audio were possible -- but certainly not guaranteed.

    Universal's new HD-DVD release of Sydney Pollack's political thriller, The Interpreter, like a handful of other HD releases to hit stores shelves thus far from Universal, Paramount and Warner, is precisely what has been in the pre-HD era, an impossibility.

    The Interpreter is neither a bland photocopy nor something cheapened in its reduction in size.

    Like Batman Begins, and Phantom of the Opera, Van Helsing, Unforgiven, Sleepy Hollow and Ray, The Searchers, "good night, and good luck" and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Interpreter is finally not something that is less in any way than its original.

    It is simply a miniaturized, jewel-like version of the fifty or sixty pound stack of 35mm reels that must be run through heavy equipment to find its way to a motion picture screen.

    Will this HD-DVD transliteration of The Interpreter look nearly as good as the real version if projected on a theatre screen.

    Certainly not.

    But on a home theater screen of a diagonal measurement even in excess of 100 inches, it looks not only superb, but just as good as what we viewed in a theatre.

    Only smaller.

    We now have over 80 HD-DVDs in release, plus an additional 60+ BD discs. By the end of October we'll hit almost 100 in HD-DVD, with yet another 17 BD thus far planned just in October.

    Although back in the late spring there were murmurs of scant releases before the end of the year , with opinions voicing a warning that 100 titles would never be hit, we're going to be far past that point.

    With quality classics, as well an new releases in both HD and BD, which seem by all accounts will be of equal quality once the bugs are out of the BD system, the High Definition DVD world will be moving much more quickly than many imagined.

    For those still sitting on the sidelines, the time has come to take a good look at the films being offered. Prices will certainly be coming down in 2007 as players are produced in higher numbers, and as the software is ramped up for higher production.

    But the outstanding quality of these discs is now proven.

    Mr. Pollack's The Interpreter is simply one more example of how absolutely superb 35mm film can look in HD.

    I personally enjoyed Mr. Pollack's work, as I always do. It harkened back to his work on Three Days of the Condor. While reviews were not stellar, they were good, and this is one extremely intelligent motion picture.

    What can be taken away from this particular "few words" are two points.

    I enjoyed The Interpreter and give it a Recommended as a film, and an Extremely Recommended as HD software. Universal has done a superb job.

    But for HD-DVD in general, inclusive of properly produced BD...

    Absolutely Incredible.

    RAH
     
  2. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    Robert

    It's always excellent to hear some positive news for the day regarding HD. It's especially good that many titles are being released with such care to presentation.

    Mike
     
  3. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Michael,

    As the Fox reviewer on HTF, It's going to be very interesting to see your reactions to Fox's initial offering of BD discs.

    Fox has the capability of creating wonderful software, although on occasion
    the opportunity seems to slip away from them.

    Hopefully with BD, they too will begin a run of extremely high quality product.

    RAH
     
  4. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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    Why not? (Leaving digital projector issues aside). Would you say the same for the D5 HD master it came from? And are you comparing to a standard release print or a print from the original negative? What if all prints are from 2K DI (as is almost the norm these days including this film)?
    It's true the DI and the HD-DVD differ concerning bith depth (8 versus >= 10), color subsampling (none on DI, HD-DVD 4:2:0), color gamut (cinema standard versus HD standard) and compression (often none versus ~100:1 and more). Which of these contribute the most?
    Did you notice any differences to VC-1 titles (this one is AVC aka MPEG4, another codec) concerning grain and sharpness?
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The Interpreter was scanned at 4k by eFilm in Hollywood, with a final record at 2k to 35/4 negative.

    While it would be an interesting test to view a quality print struck from the DI neg on a large split screen, with the other half of the real estate used by a projected 1k image from either the HD-DVD or the D-5 master, I doubt very much that we'd find them to be equal.

    With four times the overall resolution, and even viewed from a second generation film element, I believe that either the print or, if we were to work more purely, the 2k files, would win out.

    The challenge gets much more interesting however, when one compares a true 35mm print to an HD-DVD. Consider Batman Begins, which is full film resolution, in a 4k scan to the current HD-DVD.

    RAH
     
  6. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I can't speak for quality film prints, living in the third world limits my exposure to "the good stuff", but in the years I've been going to theaters regularly, I've only seen four prints that made me consciously think "yeah, this smokes any HD I've ever seen":

    - Opening day of The Phantom Menace. When digital video looks like THAT, we'll talk about transitioning to it.

    - Opening day of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Clearest, sharpest piece of film I saw until...

    - Opening day of The Chronicles of Narnia. Razor-sharp, virtually grainless, infinitely detailed. A gorgeous print that I don't think the eventual BD version will be able to touch.

    - Opening day of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. Piss-poor contrast from the projector, which means the eventual BD version will "feel" better to the eyes, but picture definition was incredible.

    Everything else? I honestly think I would prefer their HD-on-disc counterparts.
     
  7. Michel_Hafner

    Michel_Hafner Supporting Actor

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    Any high quality print from a high quality 35mm camera negative must look better than the HD-DVD except maybe for stability/weave. The HD-DVD specs are too limited technically to put up a challenge here. With 10 bit super HD-DVD at 4K the tables should turn.
    Batman at 4K was on IMAX. Have not seen it. The 35mm prints from IN with no DI looked great. Far better than the usual prints from 2K DIs I see.
     

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