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DVD's Remastered, Ultra Resolution, From Original Source Elements...

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Tim Glover, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Well-Known Member

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    With so many dvd review threads getting alot of posts about these great classic films getting new dvd releases I thought it needed it's own thread. If not, the mods can close this.

    I'm a fairly positive, glass is half full guy and do try to see the best in situations but I can't help but feel concerned about some of these newer dvds that have been remastered.

    I find it strange that some really big re-releases with all the promotional ultra resolution....remastered from original source elements blah blah blah...that many of these newer dvds are quite controversial here on the HTF. Granted, we are a bit picky group seeming to know what we want and demand first rate presentations. Many of us are rather informed...and some here like me just think we are. That said, why are these new dvds like Ben Hur, Oz, the new Sound of Music etc...looking at least initially as inferior.

    Question: Were the original releases all wrong and what we get now is more correct? Your eyes do get used to whatever is front of them for sure and perhaps we just get used to a good looking image when in reality it is "wrong".

    If the older releases were wrong then by giving us them they actually hurt the newer, correct versions. Who does know what is accurate?

    So many titles this year and late last year had me so excited. I love these classic films. I grew up on these and to find some of these not much improved or even inferior is really disconcerting.

    Sorry for the rant. I'm a bit frustrated I admit. I've been reading and re-reading the Oz thread all day and can't seem to find my peace. I was ok with it all earlier but I'm trying to remain positive but after seeing the Sound Of Music shots I wanted to scream. I have bought all these new versions and will continue to do so. I want the studios to know there is an audience for these classic films. Just do them right dangit.

    Someone ease my pain. :b
     
  2. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    I think you have misunderstood the term Ultra-Resolution, at least how it is used at Warners. It refers only to the digital scanning and compositing of three-strip Technicolor movies, and there have only been a few of these done:

    Singin' in the Rain
    The Adventures of Robin Hood
    Meet Me In St. Louis
    Easter Parade
    The Bandwagon
    Gone with the Wind
    The Wizard of Oz (the first one done at 4K)

    The other movies you mentioned, Ben-Hur and The Sound of Music, are widescreen projects -- the Ultra-Resolution process isn't applicable (at least under that name).

    Personally, I think all these recent movies are improved on their newest disks, but as I said in another thread, we are at a saturation point with these movies, and the "improvements" better be substantial for me to buy them again.
     
  3. Mark B

    Mark B Well-Known Member

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    I was just re-reading the GONE WITH THE WIND (UR 4 disc) release posts, and the same thing happened there when the first screen cap comps were posted. Once everyone had the discs in hand they changed their tunes.
     
  4. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Well-Known Member

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    I know alot of what I said is probably a knee jerk response. I'm sure I used the wrong terms I was just trying to make a point in that the newer editions use these to market a superior product. Often, they are superior.

    Guess there are only a few who really know what the accurate look is for these older films. Robert Harris is probably one of them. A film like the Wizard of Oz made long ago might be hard to know.
     
  5. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    Some of this comes from experience. When the Kiss Me Kate disk arrived, I noted immediately that there was something wrong with it (used only the "left" eye and cropped that down) but I praised the disk anyway.

    But others were not so praising, and it turned out, something really was wrong with the disk. But had no one said anything, it wouldn't have been fixed.

    The replacement disk was far superior, and included a new extra!

    The voices at HTF in unison, were heard by Warners.

    Hence, we're all prepared now to look critically at these disks, particularly when they're brand new.
     
  6. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Mr. Glover...

    No matter how passionate the intent, and up to date the technical wizardry, on occasion something will go wrong.

    Sometimes this can be attributed to simple studio stupidity. This isn't something new.

    Once in a while, a detail might slip through the cracks even to those most impassioned.

    But generally, the newer DVD releases are based upon creepingly newer technology.

    There was a point a number of years ago, when a studio could emblazon their
    DVD or laser jacket with the words "Brilliantly and Newly Restored."

    There was more masturbatory restoration going on in the mid to late 1990s than I care to know about.

    Today, with higher resolution scanning mechanisms, and the wonders of the likes of the Lowry team, one can take the very same element that was scanned five years ago, and come up today with a transfer which looks very, very different.

    So is it all marketing and merchandising?

    Well...

    Yes.

    and No.

    All of the studios have made major strides in the past five years or so toward making the home video experience something very special.

    Each and every one of the studios has had major DVDs with something very special to offer, all based upon newly procured technology.

    Well, almost. We still are owed quality by the likes of Republic, or whomever they are this week, with their horrific High Noon, The Quiet Man and The Last Emperor, who truly seem to want to offer garbage based DVDs of public domain quality. After all, wasn't The Quiet Man nicely packaged?

    But, in a general sense, these new releases, even to pickiest audience, have something new to offer.

    The balance here, is whether to purchase the newest and best, or wait for high definition to arrive, and begin again from a totally different perspective.

    To that regard, I've already begun to stop purchasing in certain arenas, ie. some of the HBO productions, which will most assuradly arrive early on HiDef.

    I don't know if I've properly answered your query, but I believe it will come down to those who are early adopters of high definition and those who, for whatever reason, hold off partaking or simply do not for either economic reasons or lack of interest.

    For this group, the newer cleaner, more accurate releases, now based upon high definition masters will fit the bill.

    And certainly Ben-Hur and Oz fit neatly into this perspective.

    RAH
     
  7. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    And actually, there might not be one right way to do them, colorwise, and audiowise.

    Somebody on the Oz disk said that we're so used to 5.1 mixes now, that mono might sound odd and wrong. Hence, a rationalization for making a real change to the movie.

    And the original color of Gone with the Wind is literally gone with the wind. Even Robert Harris has said -- no one would like it if the movie were returned to that palette.

    There probably is no one "right" choice. There are many different ways to go, cooler or warmer hues, narrower or wider soundscapes.

    One thing I've learned in all my years using Photoshop -- there are a LOT of options.
     
  8. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to put words in your mouth RAH. Better to come from you, I recognize.
     
  9. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Mr. Harris. I hope my tone wasn't too negative in the original post. Thanks for reminding me that most of the studios are indeed trying to release the best product they can. Even now I am thinking about the latest issue of The Sting. Looks marvelous. Long time getting there but well worth it.

    The Ben-Hur 4 disc is an overall improvement. I noticed that in some scenes I prefer the look of the older dvd but by and large the new one looks better.

    Looking forward to owning Oz next week.

    I remember the studio that blasted the Brilliant restored stuff on all their stuff. [​IMG]

    Thanks again for responding. [​IMG]
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    DeeF,

    You're quite correct in your comments.
     
  11. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Well-Known Member

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    I find the irony in this controversy as well: Three top titles, all DVD re-releases, and everyone of them "controversial" in some way regarding image presentation...in some cases with the "older" transfer/DVD doing something "better"...at least so it would seem to the casual viewer at first glance (Ben Hur, Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music).

    Of course...real-world extended viewing of the material often tells a different story than the screen-captures would first lead you to believe...but there is still somethig to be said for the "hugh?" factor when looking at these image scans comparing the old and new discs.


    copied from the SOM thread:

    What's particularly surprising with the new SOM DVD is the contrast balance change. Robert Wise supposedly signed off on the last transfer and helped guide the process from what I had heard...so that would have led me to believe that the last transfer would have gotten these issues right. The EE that was added to the DVD wasn't something in the original HD transfer...so that wasn't a "Wise Approved" anomoly. Was this new DVD sourced from a whole new film-tape transfer? It's kind of scary to think that so much expertise with such a great title transfered just a couple of years ago would require such a total re-do if that's the case (with OZ it's another issue...that's dealing with registratoin and Ben Hur dealt with a new 65mm properly-framed print).

    I really wish I had the film prints in my living room so I could do some *real* A/B comparisons and get to the bottom of all of this!
     
  13. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    I think one factor is this...

    A film made in 1939 is photographed with the presumption that it'll be printed using 1939 technology.

    In 2005, if we take the 1939 negative(s) and reprint it as if it's a 2005 film with 2005 technology, we're suddenly revealing all kinds of stuff that would have been invisible in the original prints.

    This is why I enjoy the work that the better film restorers do. RAH's work on Vertigo and Rear Window did not result in films looking like they were shot in the last decade, but rather films from 1954 and 1958 that look like they were never touched until the last decade. Same thing for Paul Rutan/4-Media's restorations of A Hard Day's Night and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly... UCLA's (Bob Gitt) restorations of the Harold Lloyd films... Grover Crisp/Sony's restoration of Dr. Strangelove... etc.


    Just as a side-note, consider this. In the CD version Beatles song, "A Day in the Life" (on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) you can hear the faint countdown by Mal Evans during the orchestral buildups. In the records made in 1966, it would likely be inaudible. With any new technology, we can get a lot more out of vintage media, but sometimes too much.
     
  14. DeeF

    DeeF Well-Known Member

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    Some movies not mentioned in this thread were very controversial in their newest releases: the Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection DVDs. With one exception, these were all improved over their previous versions, but many don't seem to be satisfied...

    Also, Black Narcissus has a new version which has been criticized.
     
  15. greg_t

    greg_t Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I have an original british 1967 1st pressing LP and Mal can be heard doing the count in quite clearly.
     
  16. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Well-Known Member

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    There never really is too much though. I much rather have a version of a movie where things like makeup and other microsopic flaws show up then a blurred over version.
     
  17. Porter Faulkner

    Porter Faulkner Well-Known Member

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    Its a very difficult decision to make though. Most of these details that show up with newer technologies were never meant to be seen. Especially in the area of wigs and make-up. These were highly tested areas and their technicians knew just exactly what they could and could not get away with on the screen.

    By using new technology to reveal certain other positive issues, like improved registration and color fidelity, you bring into play items that can become very annoying and ultimately look clumsy, or worse, unprofessional. In costume, certain colors were used or avoided because they looked bad in Technicolor, often now looking like strange choices. Heavy wig lace, glue, fake facial hair, thick make-up and less than perfect hair can become very distracting or comical and that has a detrimental effect to the modern eye/modern taste or credibility of the final product.

    You have to bear in mind that these things would never have be seen using the old printing processes or when projected onto a big screen.
     
  18. Adam_S

    Adam_S Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to point out that while Artisan had video rights to the republic library they were denied access to the first rate materials by the film rights holders and were forced to make do with the best 'second-hand' (if you will) material they could get.

    On the other hand I looked at the wizard of Oz thread just after coming back from the photo lab where I was color correcting a still of mine. If it were a still I was correcting, I'd say that the original DVD looked a few points too blue, the new DVD looks a few points too yellow. I'd like somewhere in between please. [​IMG]
     
  19. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Well-Known Member

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    Good comments guys. [​IMG]
     
  20. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    There really is too much sometimes. The LDI version of Citizen Kane is great, but the cleaning up revealed a little too much in spots. You can see the matte on Kane's bed at the end of the prologue. You can see the optical wipes in certain scenes. You can see Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten in the projection room. You can see the mistake on the first newsreel intertitle.

    None of these were intended to be seen because a 1941 nitrate print would hide all of it. This is like asking a magician to substitute invisible wire for ropes so you can see the tricks better.
     

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