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Questions about Hitch's Rear Window and NxNW


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#1 of 5 Greg_Y

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Posted August 14 2001 - 12:25 PM

NxNW = North by Northwest

Two questions here:
1. The aspect ratio listed on the back of the Rear Window DVD is 1.66:1. WidescreenReview.com (a pretty good source for the actual aspect ratio used on the DVD, in my opinion) also says 1.66:1. North by Northwest is listed as 1.78:1 at WidescreenReview.com and on IMDB's DVD Details page for the movie.
Now, I thought that I originally read, a few months back, that both of these films were presented "windowboxed" on DVD. However, neither DVD seems to have any extra space on the sides of my widescreen set, which I think I would see on a windowboxed image. This makes sense for NxNW since 1.78:1 would perfectly fill a 16:9 set. But how come I didn't see any windowboxing on Rear Window? Is this due to overscan? And if I'm losing the vertical bars due to overscan on Rear Window, how much of the actual picture am I losing on NxNW?

2. How the heck can NxNW look so good and Rear Window look so (I hesitate to say bad, because it's not bad), um, dated? Same cinematographer and director. Yes, 5 years in age and 1 studio of difference, but NxNW looks beautiful while Rear Window appeared a bit soft, muted and in some scenes, smeared. I found myself leaning forward to try to get a better look at the stunning Grace Kelly. Robert Harris said that the restoration team chose color over sharpness, but I'm wondering how the actual elements got so bad in the first place. Was NxNW preserved well and Rear Window left in a gutter?

By the way, I truly enjoyed both of these films and their presentation on DVD. Posted Image Posted Image

[Edited last by Greg Yurkovic on August 14, 2001 at 07:26 PM]

#2 of 5 Steve Pendleton

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Posted August 14 2001 - 01:38 PM

Regarding the difference in quality:

1. NxNW was shot in VistaVision, which offered quality comparable to 70mm. VistaVision was still in the future when RW was shot. NxNW always looked better.

2. RW suffered from several kinds of bad treatment. We're lucky it looks as good as it does. The history and condition of the NxNW elements has gotten less publicity. Chances are, they'd benefit from restoration--but chances are, they're not nearly as beaten up as RW.

3. NxNW benefited from a state-of-the-art digital cleanup. RW has also had some digital restoration, but not the same systematic cleanup.

--SRP

#3 of 5 Craig Beam

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Posted August 14 2001 - 01:43 PM

I think a key reason for the difference in the two is that NxNW was digitally restored expressly for the DVD release, while REAR WINDOW represents a true FILM restoration, a completely different animal. These two DVDs are probably the best examples of each approach.... and together create the most striking example of how truly different the results can be.

Not knocking REAR WINDOW, of course... but it doesn't take my breath away the way NxNW does!

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#4 of 5 Patrick McCart

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Posted August 14 2001 - 01:45 PM

The side voids (or the crude black bars as some call them) are very thin and probably would easily go unnoticed.

I'm waiting to get the Hitchcock box sets (I mainly want The Birds, Rope, Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho, and The Trouble With Harry).

North By Northwest is indeed an excellent DVD, but WB really should properly restore the film so it can be cherished 50 or even 200 years from now.

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#5 of 5 Ken_McAlinden

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Posted August 15 2001 - 01:37 AM

Rear Window is a spot-on 1.66:1 windowboxed transfer. Many films on DVD, such as the Disney 1.66:1 films, are slightly wider, but this one was precise. The black bars are less than 3.4% of the width on either side, so they will likely be covered by overscan on most sets. Universal did not do much in the digital realm to clean up the remaining source flaws from the restoration element used for the video transfer, but they more than did their share by ponying up for the film restoration in the first place.

Regards,

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Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA