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Technicolor films on DVD
42 replies to this topic
Posted January 04 2006 - 06:31 AM
Hi a few questions: 1. which is in your opinion the best looking transfer of a technicolor feature (real 3-strip) that is currently out on DVD? 2. How many films out there are there that are transferred from a real IB dye transfer print (regardles of the source format, eastmancolor or 3-strip)? Can you think of any? 3. Can you think of any horror or sci fi films shot in real 3-strip technicolor? thanks
Posted January 04 2006 - 07:43 AM
Personally, I think that Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz look the best in their Ultra-Resolution versions. These would be followed closely by Meet Me in St. Louis and The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Posted January 04 2006 - 08:09 AM
I'm pretty sure THE RED PONY was transfered from a dye transfer print, and I know that the Image Release of a STAR IS BORN (1937) was transfered from David Selznick's own dye transfer nitrate print. The problem is, as Robert Harris as stated elsewhere, that original dye transfer prints do not make the best dvd transfers.
Posted January 04 2006 - 10:17 AM
After watching the well crafted doc on this DVD, I want ALL the tech movies on disc. Maybe HD even!!!
Movies are: "The Greatest Artform".
HD should be for EVERYONE!
HD should be for EVERYONE!
Posted January 04 2006 - 10:26 AM
Pretty much any of Warner's Ultra-Resolution DVD's look very correct. One thing I notice about the 1930's/1940's Technicolor films is that they have this golden/amber tint. The dye-transfer print of The Wizard of Oz I saw had perfect black levels, very fine grain, and a wonderful gold tinge to the image. Too often, I think studios will try to "correct" the color. For example, the Carlton R2 DVD of The Red Shoes often has pale skin tones... as if they used automatic white balancing. The Criterion version keeps the amber tone to the image
Posted January 04 2006 - 10:54 AM
Well you always have to color correct a transfer, because what you get out of a negative, specially out of 3 different negatives combined like in case of technicolor films is a long way from what a direct Eastman print or a dye transfer print would look like. That's why it is important to have IB prints of technicolor films for reference in transfers. The golden color balance and blacks could only be properly featured on DVD's if the timer had a good dye transfer print to look at. It also helps to have dye transfer prints of Eastmancolor films, because transfering color negatives is just as unpredictable and relative.
Posted January 04 2006 - 11:00 AM
Since technicolor movies are not so high in resolution as modern movies or large format movies of 50's and 60's, a good HD transfer in 1920x1080 would pretty much give the similar kind of resolution as original dye transfer prints had. Not that it would be good for archiving, since you have to use double or more resolution for proper sampling, but it would be good enough for presentation. It's just that compression separates any home video format from any serious professional video.
Posted January 04 2006 - 12:01 PM
I'm not talking about the normal color correction process (this has to be done on any movie). I'm talking about correcting the color just to look "right" without keeping the dye-transfer look. I mean that Technicolor films are often adjusted to look too "perfect" as if they want everything to look normal. The best examples of Techicolor I've seen have this gold/amber tint. Studios often want to "correct" that as if it's not the right color. If you see the old Wizard of Oz DVD, you'll notice how flat and pale the image is in comparison to the new one. On the new one, there's actually some depth to the color. In Photoshop, you can hit an "auto color" button that seems to correct color in an image... but it doesn't mean it's the right color.
Posted January 04 2006 - 12:38 PM
Yea, I agree with you. Old films should be made to look as old films looked back then, and not try and make them look more modern. If some old film had pink skintones or yellow shadows or whatever, then that's the way it should be on all future transfers. Speaking of Wizard of oz. I liked the old version. It is lower in contrast and a bit bluer. I've never seen a print of that film, but from what I hear the new transfer is much closer to it. But I still like the old one somehow, probably because I like films timed a bit on the blue/cyan side. I felt that the bluer timing on the old transfer made reds stand up better (because they are in contrast with the general image which is bluer). And I feel the yellow brick road is a bit too saturated in the new version. But that's just me. BY the way, I've just been watching "Gentlemen prefer blondes", on region 2 version. Transfered from a new color interpositive. Looks nice, but now I see how good the new "ultra resolution" technicolor transfers are. They look a lot smoother. The contrast buildup from the interpositive copying just kills the smooth creamy technicolor tones that are preserved when scanning from the original negative. What I hate most about most technicolor films are all the transitions between scenes, which are obvious dupes, and look so different from regular shots. To make things worse, films like Singing in the rain used long uncut shots, which sometimes made entire sequences go through optical copying because they are one long shot sadwiched between two optical transitions. That ruins entire scenes.
Posted January 04 2006 - 12:59 PM
So what about those horrors. Any technicolor horrors? Not just on DVD, but were there any 3-strip technicolor horrors ever shot?
Posted January 04 2006 - 03:07 PM
Borderline horror, but the 1943 remake of The Phantom of the Opera was shot in 3-strip. Don't overlook 2-strip, though. WB's 1933 2-strip Tech film, Mystery of the Wax Museum, is a terrific color film.
Posted January 04 2006 - 03:48 PM
True, but the color on the dvd is terrible. The VHS image, while darker and less sharp than the dvd, has a truer representation of the two color process. The dvd is falsely color corrected and blown out so that the greens have turned blue and much of the separation in the color detail is lost in a sea of pink. More detail is actually available on the vhs edition (which doesn't really make sense but there you have it.) Remember that two-strip Technicolor is a misnomer as it was a single strip process. Both negative images were recorded onto the same strip of film, one over the other.
Posted January 04 2006 - 06:09 PM
You will find that many pre-Eastmancolor features display lower color saturation, which was deliberate. The black mask layer did not help the situation, either. Patrick already mentioned THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1943), but he missed Universal's follow-up film, THE CLIMAX (1944) with Boris Karloff, which is actually a very entertaining (if not misleading) film. The original PHANTOM OF THE OPERA with Lon Chaney had several scenes in Technicolor... Only the Bal Masque sequence survives. MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM is quite good, and equally as well made is its precursor film, DOCTOR X! Not Technicolor, but SCARED TO DEATH is also an early color horror film in the effective Cinecolor system. True, but the term "two strip" is an academic term which refers to the double-cement process of Technicolor that was popular before the dye-transfer system was bought. In it, literally two strips of film (one toned red and one toned green) were cemented together.
Posted January 04 2006 - 11:53 PM
WAX MUSEUM was released approximately six years after the introduction of dye transfer prints and there was no cemented matrix printing involved. Two-Strip Technicolor may be an "academic term," but it still isn't an accurate one.
Posted January 05 2006 - 12:19 AM
Properly produced, there should be no discernable contrast build-up via a modern interpositive. RAH
"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
Posted January 05 2006 - 02:07 AM
I know, but the accent is on "should". Bur regardles of contrast, there is always loss of sharpness in any kind of copying, perhapse not visible on DVD or even HD, but an IP never has the same resolution as the negative even if the intermediate stock is multiple times higher in resolution than the original.
Posted January 05 2006 - 07:44 AM
But every Technicolor IB print from a three strip negative had "optical" printed matrix stock since every negative had to be corrected for the camera prism and the fact one record had to be fliped since it was shot emulsion to emulsion. Also Techicolor did full scene dupes so any reel that had a fade or dissolve had dupe black and white footage from cut to cut which was again two printing processes away from the camera negative. A modern IP with modern lenses is probably a better representation of the 3 strip negative than the original IB print was. Remember Fox had to dump all the first run of IB Prints of "The Robe" since they weren't sharp enough for Cinemascope. Also IB prints often display walking or blur due to alignment problems of the three matricies in printing. One of the guys that had worked in the research department at Technicolor once told me that the hardest thing to reproduce in Technicolor was a black and white checkerboard which was a test target they used to check new belts, lenses, and printers. Over the run of IB printing, Technicolor employed many different dye formulas so using an IB print as an original will require extensive tweaking in telecine and you're still left fighting the contrast. John
Posted January 05 2006 - 08:19 AM
I didn't say anything about original prints. I know about all the problems they were facing. I'm just saying that a digitally merged scan of 3 B/W strips is better than a telecine from an optically merged IP. Even if you do have a perfect IP to work with, a modern telecine machine like spirit datacine scans only black and white at full HD resolution (converting it to 2K with software), while chroma resolution is only 960 pixels wide. The color image is made through interpolating chroma value and combining them with BW full detail image. Which means a color scan does not have the "true" resolution of 1920 pixels. Of course this kind of interpolation works much better than with Bayer patter on digital cameras, but still is not a clean 1920 pixel color image. Which means, that when WB is using ultra resolution on the spirit, they are scanning black and white negatives at REAL 1920 pixels, and when they combine them they get a real 1920 wide color image without any interpolation or trickery. In other words, such a transfer is the most efficient use of this kind of telecine machine. It equals trilinear scanning in the amount of gathered image information.
Posted January 05 2006 - 10:01 AM
Back to horror, wasn't Suspiria filmed in Technicolor?
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