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A few words about... The Wizard of Oz


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#1 of 125 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted October 06 2005 - 12:57 PM

To my mind, the new release of The Wizard of Oz on DVD, is much like the latest new Ferrari.

The last one was SO good, its difficult to make major strides forward.

Let's recall the history of this film on Warner video in the post VHS era.

The original laser disc was followed by the George Feltenstein produced boxed set, with its myriads of extra soundtracks and miscellaneous materials. The transfer was beautiful for the era, but from older elements.

That boxed set weighed in at what seemed to be about thrity pounds, and had a street price of somewhere around $100.

Then the DVD release, with beautiful color, and the gamut of original track material from the boxed set, all in a tiny little DVD box.

Now we have the newest incarnation, and presumably the final non-high definition release of the film.

The studio has returned to the original elements and given them a new digital transfer using their Ultra Resolution process.

As far as I can tell, everything from the previous versions is included, along with the added attractions of both new and old documentaries, as well as re-created deleted scenes, and everything else that Mr. Feltenstein and his Ozites could find in the studio vaults.

For lovers of the film, this is nirvana.

But the interesting thing is that we seem to be hitting that wall that you hear about in The Right Stuff.

With current video technology, there is no way that we can see the full quality of what the studio has created in the master for this new release.

Like that Ferrari, what we're seeing here is something beautiful and of the highest quality, but still an incremental increase, held back by the limitations of the video system via which it is played back.

Sure to be one of the great gift packages of the 2005 Holiday Season, and recommended.

"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


#2 of 125 OFFLINE   Jeff_HR

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Posted October 06 2005 - 02:09 PM

Quote:
For lovers of the film, this is nirvana
Thanks for the recommendation RAH, but this already was an automatic purchase even though I've owned it in just about every video medium. I'm really looking forward to it. Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
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#3 of 125 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted October 06 2005 - 02:29 PM

I am curious, how do you folks think 1:33 films should be handled on upcoming HD-DVD/Blu-ray discs? They will for the most part be viewed on 16:9 screens but if they are pillar boxed will we not see much of an increase in definition since it will be relegated to the center of the screen with a good amount of information left black....how do you people think the studios should format OAR 1:33 films in HD, pillar-box or 4:3 fullframe? In either case won't we be missing some definition on most HD sets with auto pillarboxing?

I'm sorry is this is a stupid or difficult to answer question but I have been wondering about it lately the more I see RAH say that until HD we won't truly be able to appreciate a good transfer on home video.
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#4 of 125 OFFLINE   DustinPizarro

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Posted October 06 2005 - 02:53 PM

Even if there was an HD version coming out, I would think it would take years before it hits the video stores. I would rather enjoy this classic now then wait. After seeing the great work Warner did for Gone With The Wind plus Mr. Harris's recommendation, the decision to buy this film is clear.

#5 of 125 OFFLINE   Jonny_L

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Posted October 06 2005 - 02:57 PM

I'm soooooo looking forward to it. Posted Image
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#6 of 125 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted October 06 2005 - 03:03 PM

i have always wondered why anamorphic enhancement* was relegated to only widescreen dvds.

*AE dvd's sometimes have black bars on top and bottom because there is no information there and the bars are generated.

so why can't academy or 1:33.1 movies be *AE and have the bars on the side.
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#7 of 125 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted October 06 2005 - 03:14 PM

Mr. Harris,
About the colors on this new release....are they deep and rich, or lighter and more pastel? And the switch from sepia tone to Technicolor, is it a seemless (stencil printed) switch, like the last release was? And is the framing okay? Sorry, but this is my all-time fav (huge understatement).

#8 of 125 OFFLINE   Damin J Toell

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Posted October 06 2005 - 03:26 PM

Quote:
i have always wondered why anamorphic enhancement* was relegated to only widescreen dvds.

*AE dvd's sometimes have black bars on top and bottom because there is no information there and the bars are generated.

so why can't academy or 1:33.1 movies be *AE and have the bars on the side.


Because that would be a waste of pixels. Standard Def DVDs in this part of the world have an image made up of 720x480 pixels. "Anamorphic enhancement" is simply a way of encoding the pixels for maximum active usage when played back on a 16x9 set. That is, an anamorphic transfer will use all 720x480 pixels actively on 16x9 screeen in a 1.78:1 frame. For transfers wider than 1.78:1, anamorphic enhancement still improves playback on 16x9 sets, but black bars are necessary to accomodate the image. For transfer narrower than 1.78:1, black bars on the side of anamorphic transfers can still result in better usage of active pixels.

As an image's width narrows, however, anamorphic enhancement stops increasing the number of active pixels as compared to a non-anamorphic in that ratio. Eventually, an image can become so narrow that the black bars on the sides become a waste of pixels that can better utilized in a non-anamorphic transfer. This barrier occurs somewhere around a 1.5:1 aspect ratio.

A standard 1.33:1 transfer, done non-anamorphically, will actively use every single pixel available within DVD's 720x480 space. There is no a single pixel anywhere that can be squeezed out. Making the transfer anamorphic will simply add black bars to the side, reducing the active resolution of the image. The image is no longer "enhanced." The image quality is decreased for everyone, no matter what kind of TV set you own, 4x3 or 16x9.

A non-anamorphic 1.33:1 transfer is the best and only acceptable way to present such a film on Standard Def DVD.

And a 1.33:1 transfer done in HD must have black bars on the sides, as the HD format requires 16x9 playback. And such a transfer, even with the black bars, will be of higher resolution than a Standard Def 4x3 transfer. A 1.33:1 HD transfer with black bars on the sides will have an active resolution of 1440x1080 (as opposed to the full available 1.78:1 resolution of 1920x1080). 1440x1080 will be a very noticeable improvement from 720x480.

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#9 of 125 OFFLINE   Kain_C

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Posted October 06 2005 - 03:35 PM

It's going to be an expensive end of the year.

#10 of 125 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted October 06 2005 - 04:08 PM

Quote:
A 1.33:1 HD transfer with black bars on the sides will have an active resolution of 1440x1080

That answers my question, although I was also concerned about the use of grey bars as a standard in HD as grey is apparently more neutral and is supposed to prevent burn-in more effectively than black, centered at times with a very bright image. How is 1.33 material handled on the current HD tape format (as this might be a sign of things to come), black or grey?
-Kevin M.

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#11 of 125 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted October 06 2005 - 04:09 PM

Quote:
how do you folks think 1:33 films should be handled on upcoming HD-DVD/Blu-ray discs?


No one should touch the original aspect ratio. Just because the film is 1.37:1, it doesn't mean that it won't benefit from HD. Both horizonal and vertical resolution is increased beyond our current television system (as well as colour reproduction, etc.).

If studios start reformatting 1.37:1 films to fit fully in a 16:9 frame, I think we will have to start another OAR campaign.

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#12 of 125 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted October 06 2005 - 04:14 PM

I wasn't suggesting that, as I thought my post clearly stated, I was just wondering if they would pillar-box the info in 16:9 or produce it 4:3 and let the TV itself handle the pillar boxing.

Is this even possible in the oncoming HD formats or is pillar-box the only way it can be done in the future HD formats? I would think people with projectors would complain if it was.
-Kevin M.

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- Roger Ebert
 

#13 of 125 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted October 07 2005 - 12:57 AM

Colors look much as they did in the previous release, which seemed perfect. Dependent upon the quality of one's viewing environment, one will note varying increases in detail. A very difficult thing to accomplish, as the previous release was so well done.

I'm not certain how to answer the query re: a stenciled shot. To the best of my knowledge, the transition shot, ie. the opening of the door was photographed in three-strip, with production design limiting the pallette to sepia on the interior.

One sees the Dorothy character (a double), also dressed in sepia, open the door for the Technicolor reveal, and then back out of frame. She is then replaced by yet another Dorothy, this time Ms. Garland in fully colored garb.

There were shots combining three-strip printing with black and white, as seen in The Women, via which the two processes were combined with one printed atop the other. The laser disc of Women was missing the black and white master for the shot, as the negative was missing. It was finally located and added to the DVD release. This was not the case in Wizard.

RAH

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#14 of 125 OFFLINE   ScottR

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Posted October 07 2005 - 06:26 AM

I believe that the inside of the door was photographed in Technicolor, but the original release prints took it one step further. The frames were hand tinted to effect a more seemless switch. This process was replicated on the last dvd release.
Does the framing look okay, especially during the opening credits?

#15 of 125 OFFLINE   Mark Oates

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Posted October 07 2005 - 07:08 AM

Quote:
I was just wondering if they would pillar-box the info in 16:9 or produce it 4:3 and let the TV itself handle the pillar boxing.


AFAIK, HD has a native aspect ratio of 16:9. If I've followed what I've been told correctly, that means there isn't any anamorphic effect involved in HD. The picture is encoded that shape rather than being stretched out from a standard 4:3 frame to fill the wider screen. Video sources made in HD (such as the masters for the new Space:1999 transfer here in the UK) will have that aspect ratio. The 4:3 image will be centred and pillarboxed. An HD 4:3 image will still have a 1440x1080 resolution within the 1920x1080 frame. That's an enormous increase over SD.

As regards The Wizard Of Oz, I'm champing on the bit over this one - I'm after the three disc version which has turned out in the UK at least to be an HMV store exclusive. And the discovery of that took some friendly enquiries on the part of yours truly with Warner's UK PR company to uncover (as they had neglected to tell anybody).
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#16 of 125 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted October 07 2005 - 07:37 AM

I assumed that HD would have both AR's of 4:3 & 16:9 for the sake of redundancy & compatability for the older 4:3 HDTV models but clearly that isn't the case. There you go, thanks.
-Kevin M.

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#17 of 125 OFFLINE   Ed St. Clair

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Posted October 07 2005 - 07:40 AM

Thank you, Damin.
One question I've had since being a member was clearly defined (anamorphic transfer for full frame) & one question I've had for the last six months was technically clear (benefits for full frame in HD).
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#18 of 125 OFFLINE   Cees Alons

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Posted October 07 2005 - 07:45 AM

I don't know about the actual specs as they are at the moment, but technically, they could record a 4x3 image as 1920x1080, of course (which would be anamorphic), and have the projector/monitor/TV-set shrink (resize) it to 4x3.

In fact, one of my wishes for HD is a "ratio byte". The 1920x1080 image would always be filled totally, independent of the real ratio of the film, and the ratio byte would define the resizing necessary for proper display (up to 2.80:1 for Ben-Hur Posted Image ).

(My other wish is a "frame duration byte": it would define the duration of the frames of the recording in, say, milliseconds. Thus we would get rid of the NTSC 3:2 pull-down and the PAL-speedup.) Even old 16 fps films would play perfectly. Posted Image


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#19 of 125 OFFLINE   Kevin M

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Posted October 07 2005 - 07:51 AM

That would really only benefit people with projectors and the old 4:3 models of HDTV's though, it would be a waste of time I guess.

I'm sorry for the OT stuff, it's just that every time I saw Mr. Harris say that only HD will show the true benefits of HD Transfers I had wanted to ask about how 1.33 films would be handled in any future 16:9 HD format...now I know, so..Wizard Of Oz...Posted Image
-Kevin M.

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- Roger Ebert
 

#20 of 125 OFFLINE   PaulP

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Posted October 07 2005 - 08:37 AM

If I may edit RAH:

Quote:
For lovers of film, this is nirvana.



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