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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: The English Patient (2-disc Special Edition)



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#1 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 23 2004 - 04:15 PM

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THE ENGLISH PATIENT
SpecialEdition
Studio:MIRAMAX
Year:1996
RunTime:162 minutes
Aspect Ratio:16x9 encoded 1.85:1 OAR
Audio:DD 5.1 English, DTS 5.1 English
Subtitles:English (captions for the hearing impaired), French
SpecialFeatures:Two feature commentaries (director/screen-play writer, producer, and novel author), Interviews with cast and crew and artistic design team, deleted scenes CBC Making-of documentary, Film reviews, and more more more.
ReleaseDate:June 29, 2004





The Feature...



I consider The English Patient to be a member of the elite group of "perfect" films that could not be improved upon by any modification. It is beautiful, powerful, and masterfully assembled, and a true work of art. I’ve never read the novel, and perhaps those of you who have may feel differently, but from having watched this film as its own independent accomplishment, I can’t imagine changing a thing to make it better. The English Patient is a complex film that layers and intertwines complex storylines to the degree that you could watch it several times in succession and each time watch a different film if you so chose. Who is the protagonist? Who are the main characters? Which plot is the real story around which the others revolve? The lack of objective answers to these questions isn’t a sign of any weakness of the film; it’s a testament to its depth and integrity as a comprehensive work of art.

Having said all that, I’ll tell you that I don’t really like this movie. What? The reason I’m not a fan of the film has nothing to do with disavowing its rightful place among the classics. I don’t like this film because it is painful to experience (again, one of the reasons why it’s so good) and I just don’t really get into the idea of romances based on adulterous relationships. Hello, the woman was married to Colin Firth…and she left him?!? Call me old fashioned…but this boy believes in the sanctity of marriage (including those performed in Massachusetts)… and I just can’t feel good about a romance story that hinges on discarding that commitment for no good reason. This is getting too personal. Where’s my therapist?

Cinemagraphically The English Patient is a masterpiece. The director carefully avoids throwing images on the screen that would drown the serious nature of the film in post-card clichés. Rather, the beauty of the imagery is often about what you don’t see…but feel that you could were the camera to move slightly. Like a good chef, Director Anthony Minghella serves you courses brimming with flavor but the portions never quite make you full, preserving your appetite for the next course and the next. Minghella also unites image with sound in a way so natural and cohesive, one isn’t quite sure if the images were composed for the score or the score for the images. The opening titles and following sequence perfectly capture all of these rich and rare qualities, and is one of the most profoundly beautiful opening sequences of any film of any genre.

Acting is superlative. Each member of the cast seems born to play their role and the performances feel natural and effortless. The actors also work well together as a group and the relationships they represent are believable. Minghella delivers an excellent screenplay worthy of their tallent. And this film would not be The English Patient without the fabric of Gabriel Yared’s score binding all the pieces together.



Picture...



CRAP.

That's how I feel about what MIRAMAX has done with the image on this disc. They’ve taken what was no doubt a beautiful print and HD transfer, and they filtered most of the HF detail out of the image and added copious amounts of ringing to try to sharpen it back up.

I’m aware that The English Patient is an inherently soft-focus style film. But what I’m seeing on the screen doesn’t look like a soft-focus film. It looks like filtered video. And the ringing. Ahhh! Some scenes seem to escape more or less unharmed because they lack any hard edges for the EE to really grab a hold of. But find a scene with a contour of a mountain skyline or silhouette of an actor’s profile and there is ringing galore. It really destroys the beauty of the image on the large screen and there is no way I could describe the image as remotely “film like” unless I back up beyond 2 screen widths or more. Ringing seems to affect vertical lines (horizontal frequency boost) most egregiously.

How bad is it? Well, it’s on the level of Kill Bill, Sound of Music, Pirates, or Open Range bad. Not the absolute WORST EE in the world, but definitely pushing for recognition. And all that real film detail lost to HF filtering. Honestly, there are lots of titles on my shelf with the same video problems that I don't get all upset about...but folks this is June of 2004 and this is a top-A title that we've waited YEARS to get properly transferd to 16x9 DVD! This isn’t “just another” movie; This is The English Patient “Special Edition”. It deserved better. MIRAMAX dropped the ball.

On the bright side, compression seems to be well handled overall. And with the soft-focus imagery, dark grays and misty scenery, compression was a challenge. I saw this film projected theatrically several times and the subdued color-palette is faithful to the source. Film grain is present which is refreshing and the effect is very faithful to my memory of the 35 mm print. Contrast on this new DVD seems improved over the previous non-anamorphic DVD edition and detail, despite being so filtered, is moderately (but not significantly) improved as well (you can see a little more film-grain which is a sign that more natural detail is coming through). On my 100” screen projected via my BenQ 8700+ DLP projector (fed a scaled 1280 x 720 image via DVI from my momitsu v880 DVD player), I’d say that the new DVD looks somewhat better than the previous DVD in terms of contrast, a little better in terms of detail, and a lot worse in terms of EE. If I had to choose which one to watch, it would be this new edition, but I’d move the couch several feet farther back into the room before the guests arrived to try to mitigate the distractibility of the ringing and improve the perception of detail.

Curiously, the image is matted on all four sides with very mild letter/window boxing. Perhaps this was to preserve the entire film-frame in the transfer to video without incurring any cropping. The overscan on the vast majority of displays will hide these very minor masking bars but running DVI to the front projector (calibrated for minimal overscan) they can be seen. Neither good nor bad, just letting you know in case you’re interested or wonder why you’re noticing small black bars on the left/right of your display.

So putting it all together? Is it nice to finally have the English Patient in 16x9 WS on DVD? Well…it might have been, and I’m certain that for those viewing on smaller screens where the resolving power is less acute and/or the viewing angle is narrower, this new DVD transfer will probably look quite nice (as I said earlier, when I move father than 2 screen widths away it looks good on my system too). But good enough for 27” TVs isn’t good enough in 2004, and Disney/MIRAMAX needs to figure out who/what is screwing up this DVD mastering and fix it. An image mastered to look good on a 100" screen will bring no complaints from those with 27" monitors, so the solution to master in high-resolution/fidelity should be obvious. Other studios are getting it right…why can’t they? Titles like the English Patient deserve much better, and DVD has the capacity to deliver if the studios will take advantage of it.

I want to clarify so there is no mistake: my negative impressions about the PQ of this disc are based on a 1.5-1.75 screen-width viewing distance (approx 30 degree viewing angle) from a front-projected image on a @7 foot wide screen, which is the way I believe that film-based DVD software should be judged. Those seated 2 screen widths away or more from their displays will probably find the image more than acceptable.

Picture: 3/ 5
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image




Sound...




Perfection.

If ever there was a “non-action” soundtrack to demonstrate the virtues of 5.1 DD/DTS surround, this is it. Guys who have been waiting for the right movie to “turn on” their girlfriend or wife to the joys of surround sound and hi-end audio gear, this is your chance.

The only problem with the audio is figuring out where to being praising it. Let’s start with frequency response. I hope you’ve carefully tuned in that subwoofer because the English Patient will put it to the test. Highs are crisp and extended without every sounding grating, bright, or harsh. Explosions from bomb shells, wind-sweeping sand-storms, a rich orchestral score, all make appropriate use of the dynamic range and frequency response available.

The 5.1 surround mix is immersive. The surrounds blend seamlessly with the front mains and encompass the listener in a cohesive and seamless 360 degree soundfield. The DD presentation is excellent, and the DTS takes it just a notch further and makes the speakers disappear. There is absolutely nothing gimmicky about the surround use on this disc. The 5.1 never draws attention to itself in any self-serving way; it always compliments and supports the on-screen action and serves to bring the experience to a visceral level. You may have to play that sandstorm sequence over again just to experience the adrenaline rush a second time.

This DVD presentation contains both a DTS and DD 5.1 mix (not sure about the 6.1 issue, I don’t have a center surround channel). In comparison to the 5.1 on the previous DVD, both soundtracks are an improvement. The 5.1 DD on this new edition has a sense of dimension and naturalness lacking on the (otherwise excellent) 5.1 DD mix on the older DVD. Whether this is due to a new mix or merely due to better Dolby Digital compression these several years later I do not know.

To my ears on my system (upgraded B&K AVR 212 processor/receiver and Onix Rocket loudspeakers) the DTS and DD presentations are very similar to each other, and the DTS only distinguishes itself in subtle, but still meaningful ways. On my system both presentations are very similar in playback level, but the DTS mix just adds a slightly greater sense of dimensionality to the music with a greater sense of front/back soundstage depth and instrumental separation. Voices sound slightly “rounder” on the DTS presentation and massed strings in the score sound more refined and resolved. As for me and my house…we will listen to DTS… Posted Image

Thanks to the folks who did such an outstanding job mixing the audio for this film and for those who so faithfully preserved it for this DVD. Take a trip over to the video-mastering department and help them out…they need it!



Sound: 5/ 5
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image




Special Features...


There are more extras on this 2-disc set than I can count. At the moment I’ve only been able to sample the special features (two commentary tracks) on disc one, but will list the features of disc 2 as are included in my promo material and I’ll try to get that 2nd disc watched and fully reviewed shortly!!


Disc 1:

    [*][b]Feature Commentary with Director Anthony Minghella: This is the stuff that good commentaries are made of. Minghella peels back his thoughts and intentions behind this film layer by layer as you listen to his screen-specific commentary. The range of material is varied: from pragmatic discussions about deadlines, set difficulties or breaking his ankle, to introspective and intangible musings about artistic intentions and symbolic representation. Minghella’s commentary has it all. I found the commentary so interesting (rare for me) I had to force myself to stop the disc to leave so I wouldn’t be late for an evening dinner engagement. Chronologically, I believe this to be the more newly recorded of the two commentaries (which in large part share redundant information, but movie fans will surely want to listen to them both).
    [*][b]Feature Commentary with Director Anthony Minghella, Producer Saul Zaentz, and novel Author Michael Ondaatje: I believe (but an not certain) that this commentary was recorded contemporary with the film’s release. This commentary is as engaging as the other, but I was disappointed to discover such little participation from Producer Zaentz and novel author Ondaatje. While not dogmatic, Minghella seems to dominate the discussion (mostly due to the passivity of the other two participants) and I found myself a bit perturbed at times when Minghella seemed to take liberty and speak for the other two guests when they were right there capable of speaking for themselves. If you consider this a second Minghella commentary with occasional trace-contributions by the film’s producer and book’s author, you won’t be misled and will find it more than digestible.
    [/list] [b]Disc 2: (for now a simple list, I’ll add my own editorial review to these features soon)

      [*]About Michael Ondaatje
        [*]His Writing Roots[*]The Booker Prize and Canadian following[*]The Challenge of Turning the novel into a film[*]About writing the novel[*]Reading from the novel[/list][*]From the novel to screenplay-interviews with cast and crew[*]The formidable Saul Zaentz[*]A historical look at the real Count Almasy[*]Filmmaker Conversations
          [*]A conversation with screenwriter and director Anthony Minghella[*]A conversation with producer Saul Zaentz[*]A conversation with the writer of the novel – Michael Ondaatje[*]A conversation with film editor Walter Murch[/list][*]The work of Stuart Craig – production designer[*]The Eyes of Phil Bray – still photographer[*]”Master Class with Anthony Minghella” and discussion of deleted scenes[*]CBC Documentary – the Making of the English Patient[*]Film reviews.[/list]
          [b]Coming Together...



          The English Patient is a true masterpiece of film-making. If you appreciate powerful dramas and films that make the most of the “art” of film, the English Patient should be on your list. MIRAMAX has finally overturned the travesty of the past bare-bones DVD edition with a new 16x9 transfer, reference 5.1 DD/DTS audio, and enough special features to keep you occupied for days. My only criticism is the application of too much HF filtering and ringing to the image, which will mar the experience for large-screen viewers but probably won’t distract those with smaller displays. If you love this film, of course you’ll have to buy this DVD and enjoy the wealth of content it provides. If you haven’t seen this film but have been wondering what all the fuss us about, your opportunity to discover the English Patient is now.








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#2 of 115 OFFLINE   Dome Vongvises

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Posted June 23 2004 - 04:24 PM

This looks like a purchase although that sounds bad on the video. Thanks for the review.

#3 of 115 OFFLINE   Robert_eb

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:02 AM

CRAP.

That pretty much describes what MIRAMAX has done with the image on this disc. They’ve taken what was no doubt a beautiful print and HD transfer, and they filtered most of the HF detail out of the image and added copious amounts of ringing to try to sharpen it back up.


That is really disappointing. Now I'm on the fence as I was planning on purchasing this.

David, I think you may have the release date wrong. I think this was being released on 6-29-04

#4 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:09 AM

Yeah...how did I make that mistake! I'll fix asap...
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#5 of 115 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:10 AM

Very interesting review. Bill Hunt at Digital Bits had a bit of a different take on the video quality...

I'm a big fan of the film, and I'm looking forward to what it will look like on my FP and 92 inch screen. I hope it's better than crap!

Cheers,

#6 of 115 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:15 AM

I enjoyed this movie when I saw it in the theater and I have the VHS version, but over time it has not maintained my interest. Not sure why. Thanks for the review.
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#7 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:22 AM

I'll take a while guess and suggest that Bill is probably watching the image from at least 2 screen widths away...which is normal for most TV viewers...even those with large-screen hi-def rear projection sets (Those of you with large-screen hi-def sets, measure how wide your TV is and then measure how far away your seating distance is. Is it at least two times as far away as your set is wide?). If that's the case, then his comments about the generally good picture quality make sense (the image looked good to me when I got far enough away from the screen).

However, most front-projection systems are designed to be properly viewed from about 1.75 to as little as 1.5 screen widths away. This helps give the (THX recommended) sense of immersion as your viewing angle widens closer to that magic 30-degree number. A well recorded DVD can look excellent at 1.75:1 screen widths away, and can look good at 1.5 screen widths away. However, from these distances the EE on this disc was all to obvious/distracting in my system. And I have properly calibrated my projector to add absolutely no artificial sharpening nor is the DVD player contributing any false contouring of its own.

I'll be curious once more folks get this disc in hand, and would especially love to hear from others who view from a 1.5-1.75 viewing distance. I'm certain that those viewing from greater than 2 screen widths away will find the image to be satisfying (I hope that my review makes that clear).

-dave Posted Image

p.s. Felix, please repost that link to Bill Hunt's review. IMO, this is an open forum for discussion and I applaud any effort to open the table to multiple points of view (and I'm sure other HTF members would appreciate it too). Thanks!
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#8 of 115 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:28 AM

I side with Elaine, regarding this movie.

#9 of 115 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:31 AM

Quote:
However, most front-projection systems are designed to be properly viewed from about 1.75 to as little as 1.5 screen widths away. This helps give the (THX recommended) sense of immersion as your viewing angle widens closer to that magic 30-degree number. A well recorded DVD can look excellent at 1.75:1 screen widths away, and can look good at 1.5 screen widths away. However, from these distances the EE on this disc was all to obvious/distracting in my system. And I have properly calibrated my projector to add absolutely no artificial sharpening nor is the DVD player contributing any false contouring of its own.


This is similar to my set-up, so I'm just hoping for the best! I thought Open Range looked exceptional, and did not notice excessive ringing on that transfer, so I'm crossing fingers.

I do agree with you on Kill Bill Vol. 1 and the low pass filtering (which does seem to sneek its way into many Miramax DVDs).

My definition of crap - or rather, quite frankly, SHIT - as far as EE is concerned is Die Hard With A Vengeance.

Cheers,

#10 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:34 AM

Felix,

If you noticed the low-pass filtering on Kill Bill, just *wait* till you see cold mountain (have to post that review shortly). It looks like VHS. The image is so lacking in picture detail at first I thought something was wrong with my system! I just can't imagine how this is happening with these big-budget A-list titles? Chicago looked pretty decent (aside from some *very* mild ringing which didn't bother me). What gives???

Oh, at first I had used the "SHIT" word for my E.P. review...but then I replaced it with "CRAP" because I really wanted to save the S-word for my Cold Mountain PQ review. Posted Image

Hopefully the ringing on English Patient won't bother you. Do post your comments back here when you get it and let us know more about your system.
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#11 of 115 OFFLINE   MikeEckman

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:36 AM

I'm all for seeing a new movie and I like complex stories, but all the mixed opinions on this movie makes me nervous to purchase it blind. Why is it that thedigitalbits raved about the transfer and David called it crap? I dunno, maybe I'll rent this.
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#12 of 115 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:39 AM

Quote:
If you noticed the low-pass filtering on Kill Bill, just *wait* till you see cold mountain (have to post that review shortly). It looks like VHS. The image is so lacking in picture detail at first I thought something was wrong with my system! I just can't imagine how this is happening with these big-budget A-list titles? Chicago looked pretty decent (aside from some *very* mild ringing which didn't bother me). What gives???

Hopefully the ringing on English Patient won't bother you. Do post your comments back here when you get it and let us know more about your system.


Wow, that stinks re Cold Mountain. I will post my thoughts on English Patient when I get it.

You want to get bowled over? An older title with *tremendous* detail is The Sweet Hereafter. Go rent (or better yet, buy) it when you get a chance. That's the way to do it - and there's a bunch of other stuff on the disc, too.

Sorry to get OT - now back to our scheduled programming, English Patient...

Cheers,

#13 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:40 AM

Mike,

Differences in subjective Picture Quality impressions have to do with:

* Equipment
* Calibration
* Viewing Distance Relative to Screen size (viewing angle)
* Personal Perception (some people are bothered by things that others are not)

This is why I go to great pains to describe my system and exactly what I see and how it appears so others can get an idea how things might translate to them in their own environments.
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#14 of 115 OFFLINE   Rich Malloy

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Posted June 24 2004 - 03:42 AM

Quote:
I side with Elaine, regarding this movie.
Then the both of you should be pleased to hear of the upcoming Criterion edition of "Sack Lunch".
Quote:
Having said all that, I’ll tell you that I don’t really like this movie. What? The reason I’m not a fan of the film has nothing to do with disavowing its rightful place among the classics. I don’t like this film because it is painful to experience (again, one of the reasons why it’s so good) and I just don’t really get into the idea of romances based on adulterous relationships.
And then there's that little bit about helping the Nazis out, but what's a little crypto-national socialism when there's bathtub nookie to be had?

Oh, to be funny just once...
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#15 of 115 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted June 24 2004 - 04:50 AM

Maybe this is why I hardly ever perceive EE on the discs I watch. I'm watching on an ISF calibrated 57" 16:9 set. Now, when one says screen length, I assume that means the horizontal width and not the diagonal size. In the case of a 57" 16:9 set, the screen length is about 50", or 4' 2".

I measured from where my eyes are when I'm on my couch to the screen, and it was about 9', so that would be more than double. I thought Open Range and Kill Bill both looked great. Is TSOM The Sound of Music? If so I haven't seen that on my set.

As far as some other renowned EE offenders, I thought Phantom Menace looked pretty good. I will admit that I finally noticed EE in a significant way while watching Gangs Of New York. I can imagine how annoying this must be to those who are able to see the EE without looking for it. I guess I'm thankful that I haven't developed that keen of an eye yet.

I've never seen The English Patient and I was planning on buying it blind. I think I still will-hopefully the film will suck me in enough that I won't notice the transfer flaws.
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#16 of 115 OFFLINE   DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 24 2004 - 05:02 AM

Andrew,

That's exactly right. When I talk about "screen width" I'm talking left-to-right (not diagonal) regarding a 16x9 aspect ratio screen.

So yes, you sit a little over 2 screen-widths away from your set. At that distance, you're in the 'sweet spot' for DVDs that have minor ringing applied...they should look sharp without any obvious signs of contouring to distract you. When I walk to the back of my HT room (a little over 2 screen widths away from my 7-foot wide 16x9 image), artifacts like EE disappear--and I'm seeing the same "size ratio" that you're seeing. Of course, had those same titles been mastered PROPERLY without any unnecessary filtering and ringing, they would have looked equally good from the >2 s-w distance and they would ALSO look good for viewers who sit 1.75-1.5 screen widths away.

I know that sounds really close to many of you, especially if you move up closer to your display to try to replicate the same viewing angle with a normal/mid/large-sized television to see what I'm talking about. But don't be fooled, that viewing angle still is not as close as one might view in a theater...so don't be mislead into thinking that 1.5 screen-widths viewing distance is unrealistically "close" because regarding film-material it's actually father than the 35 mm film frame would have required. Many folks watch DVDs at home with a viewing angle more narrow than they would experience in the back-row of a theatrical movie-house...something that was necessary with lower-resolution sources like VHS and laserdisc but finally can be abandoned with well mastered DVD material.

Next time you watch a 2.35:1 film (or even 1.85) in the theater, think to yourself how close you'd have to sit to your display at home to get the same "sized" image in your field of vision. That's a very illuminating concept to entertain, and it gives you a whole new appreciation for the resolution of projected film material. To give you a quick idea, it would be like putting you head about a foot away from your computer monitor. That's the type of viewing angle that we take for granted in the theater...and it was the way our movies were designed to be experienced.

Interestingly, it seems that people just don't sit closer than about 8 or 9 feet no matter what size their display. When I was watching on my direct-view 34" 16x9 monitor I would sometimes try to sit 1.75 screen-widths away to really critique the image quality for reviewing but I couldn't force myself to sit there to actually watch the film...it felt wrong and at that distance the display's own artifacts like shadowmask became evident (very view displays are designed with such large viewing angles in mind).

If you've got a high-resolution rear projection set with a @4 foot wide screen that produces a clean image when viewed up close, in order to maximize viewing angle, in theory you could sit 6 feet away from your set which would be about the same as me sitting 12 feet away from my screen. But sitting less than 8 feet away from a display just feels too "crowded" to most people's sense of space, so it usually works out that those with viewing angles approaching 30 degrees tend to be front-projection folks with much larger screens. (essentially, keeping the same "comfortable" distance from the display but just making it larger to compensate).

Such large-scale display/projection systems are becoming more and more affordable. My DLP PJ runs about $4200 on the internet...a price that many folks are paying right now for rear-projection *TVs*. There are many good-performing HD projectors that come in closer to $2K. That's obtainable by many enthusiasts right now, it's just that front projection isn't "on their radar". I hope that forums like HTF help raise awareness about these issues. There was a time when none of us knew about progressive-scan, 16x9, or even DVD for that matter. Technology is bringing films into our homes in a manner that more and more closely replicates the experience the director intended. When a studio drops the ball and prevents this from taking place because of needless mastering shortcomings, it's my job to say something about it!

Getting off the soapbox now... Posted Image

-dave
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#17 of 115 OFFLINE   Reagan

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Posted June 24 2004 - 05:51 AM

David,

Great review and great rants (as always). As for titles with copious EE, what's TSOM?

Edit: Nevermind. Just figured it out.

What galls me is that after all these years, top line studios are still putting out DVDs that are over filtered, over compressed, and edge enhanced (Pulp Fiction and Unbreakable annoy me the most given that they represent 2 of my top 25 movies).

I won't be buying this one.

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#18 of 115 OFFLINE   PhilipG

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Posted June 24 2004 - 05:59 AM

Quote:
Interestingly, it seems that people just don't sit closer than about 8 or 9 feet no matter what size their display.

I sit about 3.5 feet away from my 32" set (which is about 2 foot across). But then again, my room is small. Posted Image


#19 of 115 OFFLINE   Andrew Bunk

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Posted June 24 2004 - 06:14 AM

Well, back in the VHS dark ages, I used to pull my 19" TV up to about 2 feet away from my couch to watch the Star Wars SE's in widescreen...
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#20 of 115 OFFLINE   Elias A.

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Posted June 24 2004 - 06:40 AM

Excellent review, David. I'm very discouraged about your impressions of the video quality, though. Excessive filtering and EE seem to be standard operating procedure over at Miramax these days. I thought Gangs of New York, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Kill Bill all looked extremely soft and suffered from terrible ringing.

By the way, for reference purposes, I'm watching movies on an 83 inch (diagonal) front projection screen via component inputs, sitting about 1.5 screen widths from the screen. I never used to notice things like EE on my old Mitsubishi 46" 16X9 set, but now that I have a front projector I see it all the time, and it's very distracting. In fact, I would say that EE is probably THE major video flaw that still plagues modern DVD's. It's especially frustrating when you realize that most of the time, EE is intentionally added in order to make the picture look "better".

How is it that Disney can produce reference quality discs like Toy Story 2 and Finding Nemo, and then generate crap like Kill Bill? Are the transfers done in separate facilities using different crews? That's the only explanation I can think of. It's especially disappointing on The English Patient, since I've been looking forward to a proper special edition for years. Now I'm not sure whether to get this version or hold off until a better one is released, which may not be until the advent of HD-DVD. Even then, there's no guarantee that the studio will fix the EE issue. When will they learn that EE isn't necessary on anamorphic DVD's?Posted Image

Disney seems to think that they don't have to try very hard to properly master their DVD's, since most people will never notice. Needless to say, this kind of "lowest common denominator" thinking is doing an extreme disservice to everyone since people will eventually upgrade their equipment and realize just how poor the image quality really is. Maybe that's their ultimate plan: issue poorly mastered DVD's now, then later issue "fixed" versions to force people to rebuy the same titles. OK, I'm probably just being paranoid, but it wouldn't surprise me.Posted Image


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