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Robert Harris on The Bits - 2/26/03 column - OFFICIAL THREAD


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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   Bill Hunt

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Posted February 26 2003 - 09:27 AM

Robert Harris' latest column is now available at The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert discusses the DVD work of Acorn Media, as well as a couple of noteworthy new titles on disc from Paramount.

Acorns and Duellists

As always, click on the link to read Robert's comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss, give feedback, ask questions of Robert and sound off as you will. Enjoy!
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#2 of 28 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted February 26 2003 - 10:32 AM

thanks again Robert for such an incredibly well detailed background history of Acorn Media. I was not planning to buy more dvds after the last three weeks as my collection grew fast and thick without seeing any of the 10 dvds that had come through the post.

Two of my favorite Alec Guinness tv series where he is Smiley are at last on dvd.

I guess i should stop reading your articles, ofcourse I am only joking

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#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Piers C

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Posted February 26 2003 - 11:14 AM

Enjoyed reading the background on Acorn, thanks for the piece Robert.

I don't actually have "Brideshead Revisted" but seem to recall that a few have commented on the third DVD in the package. My understanding was that the last disc had the longest portion of the program and appeared to suffer from compression & motion artifacts.

Can you shed any light on this potential issue?

-regards

#4 of 28 OFFLINE   Bill McCamy

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Posted February 26 2003 - 03:00 PM

Several retailers list Acorn Media's 8-episode Forsyte Saga as a full frame release. Is it really anamorphic widescreen?

On a related note, a BBC produced 7 disc set with all 26 episodes of the 1968 Forsyte Saga was released this week.

#5 of 28 OFFLINE   richardWI

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Posted February 27 2003 - 03:39 AM

In his column "Lawrence of Arabia" didn't get a star. So he doesn't consider it a worthy DVD?

#6 of 28 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted February 27 2003 - 08:55 AM

Richard,

No, he doesn't. He thinks the colors on the DVD are all wrong. He didn't have any say in the production of that DVD.

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#7 of 28 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 27 2003 - 05:21 PM

Acorn's new production of The Forsyte Saga is 16:9 anamorphic.

The third disc of Brideshead does have more material than the other two, but there is nothing that I would consider problematic with it.

The new release of the black and white BBC version of the original Forsyte Saga has a warning caption on the packaging regarding imperfections in the original elements. While I would not allow this to prevent the purchase of this set, perfection should not be assumed.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#8 of 28 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted February 27 2003 - 11:45 PM

I have never seen Lady Jane, but I greatly admire the work of Doug Slocombe. Dead Of Night - awesome. The Blue Max is out soon from Fox. Never seen it iin its original CinemaScope ratio. The ending is great - one of the all-time bummer endings. Posted Image

And it has James Mason in it: You have to buy it! Posted Image


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#9 of 28 OFFLINE   Scott Shanks

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Posted February 28 2003 - 01:15 AM

Quote:
In his column "Lawrence of Arabia" didn't get a star. So he doesn't consider it a worthy DVD?


I knew he was not happy about the LOA transfer. He also didn't give Citizen Kane an asterisk. Why does he not think that disc a worthy DVD?
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#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Duncan Harvey

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Posted February 28 2003 - 09:27 AM

With regards to the original elements of The Forsyte Saga - this was shot on 625 line black and white VT with (i think) 16mm film for location inserts. IIRC it was remastered last year at the BBC and hopefully the version on these DVDs is a modern NTSC conversion from the remasters.

The Forsyte Saga was a true landmark series as it was one of the first major series to be broadcast on BBC2 - in 1966/67 IIRC. We are very lucky that it survives on its original 2 inch Quads and not as a telerecording.

A superb technique has been developed in the UK however to breathe new life into telerecordings. Called VIDFIRE - this seeks to recreate the 50 field look that telerecording removes, and has successfully been applied to two recent "Doctor Who" DVDs - "The Aztecs" and "The Seeds of Death". The effect is truly remarkable and gives an excellent recreation of what these programmes would have looked like on their original transmission. Anyone who is interested in this should check out the fascinating website "www.restoration-team.co.uk" This site is a resource for the superb and dedicated work carried out by restorers on the long running BBC SF show "Doctor Who"

With regard to another Acorn release - "The Pallisers" this is based on Anthony Trollopes political novels and is similar in ambition to the Forsyte Saga - packed full of marvellous British actors, it is a true example of BBC values. This isnt available in R2 unfortunately but the PAL to NTSC conversion is pretty good. Its a shame that those of us in the UK who love this series have to make do with a standards conversion. Ditto for the sublime "Six Wives of Henry VIII" which languishes on three DVD5s and screams for a quality release akin to the splendid Elizabeth R set.

BTW - a fantastic boxed set of I Claudius came out last year in the UK complete with cast interviews and an excellent all new documentary.

#11 of 28 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted February 28 2003 - 11:10 AM

Thanks very much for the article Robert. I, like you had become accustomed (resigned) to the PAL/NTSC speedup. Very nice to know that ‘Brideshead’ does not have that problem.
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#12 of 28 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted February 28 2003 - 12:04 PM

Another great article. I'm actually citing one of the RAH articles on my term paper on silent cinema.

Mr. Harris, what are your opinions on the Kino-Transit Film DVD of Metropolis that was recently released?

#13 of 28 OFFLINE   Kevin Matthews

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Posted March 04 2003 - 08:29 PM

BTW Mr. Harris, Ridley Scott's The Duelists was released in 1977 not 1988 as your article states. Just the anal-retentive in me.....that didn't sound right.Posted Image
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#14 of 28 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted March 05 2003 - 12:17 AM

One of those darned tpyoes that are going around.

Probably from a bug over at the Bits.

And yet better than 1866, which would have placed the film in the extremely early Technicolor era and have made it Scott's first offering.

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#15 of 28 OFFLINE   Dan Rudolph

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Posted March 05 2003 - 06:11 AM

Quote:
And yet better than 1866, which would have placed the film in the extremely early Technicolor era and have made it Scott's first offering.

Indeed. If it had been released in 1866, it would have been quite remarkable.
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#16 of 28 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted March 06 2003 - 04:58 PM

The fact that Mr. Harris, whose opinions I enjoy and who I respect, does not give LOA and CK a *...I have to assume that's intentional in the context of this article. I truly can't believe he would consider these unworthy of purchasing, even if not perfect, especially in comparison to the TV series that were *'ed.

#17 of 28 OFFLINE   Jason Adams

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Posted March 09 2003 - 07:09 AM

I believe he doesn't approve of CK is because the transfer has been scrubbed clean of film grain.

#18 of 28 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted March 09 2003 - 07:12 AM

Quote:
I believe he doesn't approve of CK is because the transfer has been scrubbed clean of film grain.


He mentioned in another thread that it was too bright.

For LOA, the color timing is odd. It's missing a violet color in the night sky during one shot, and is too dark in other night shots. There is also a little too much ringing in a few scenes.

#19 of 28 OFFLINE   Rain

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Posted March 09 2003 - 12:41 PM

Quote:
I truly can't believe he would consider these unworthy of purchasing, even if not perfect, especially in comparison to the TV series that were *'ed.
Robert has this crazy notion that film is film and should be represented as such and resemble such as closely as possible on DVD.

Nutty, huh? Posted Image

Seriously, the * , as I understand it is intended to denote DVDs that are reasonably accurate in representing the look of the original films that they contain.

While I am not overly familiar with the various problems on the Lawrence of Arabia DVD, one look at the Citizen Kane DVD makes it obvious that it looks very little like the film should.

Grain of course is one of the issues.

As posted by Robert Harris in another thread:

Quote:
Grain is our friend and is the element which makes up picture.

Without grain structure we no longer have a filmlike image, but rather a video image.

"Imagine all the people, living life in peace..." - Imagine by John Lennon

#20 of 28 OFFLINE   CraigF

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Posted March 10 2003 - 12:27 PM

I am well aware of Mr. Harris' opinions on those films, but I just happen to disagree with certain aspects, not the color issue with LOA which I take his word for (though even I can tell it's not the same as the film). I am not a film connoisseur at any level, I just want a good image. I do not take with inherent aspects/artifacts of a technology "improving" the experience, though I appreciate the skill of filmakers who worked with it to do the best they could. I have even less use for modern fimakers purposely making films "grainy", as though there is some inherent value in faking what was a technically inferior medium using modern techniques. Yes, I know some people like retro, but not me. The good old days are now. Film is not a digital media, no reason they should look the same, and anybody who thinks they're getting a film experience from their digital projectors is just kidding themselves. Why the hell should it look like a film...it isn't. It is a representation of a film. OK, OK, I'm sure not a purist, but I don't like grain, to me it is like seeing individual pixels on a display, it is an artifact, and IMO get rid of it. BTW, I buy plenty of movies from the 20's, I accept the video image because I understand that was the best they could do. I'm just happy to have them as good as they are, and neither take much with people's minor quibbling about what IMO are trivialities, when they should be happy just to be able to view the films in reasonably well restored formats in their own homes. I do realise though that whatever is done to a film, everybody won't be satisfied.


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