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Walt Disney's TRUE LIFE ADVENTURES -- Thoughts on the Restoration?


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#1 of 10 Jambalaya Gumbo

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Posted December 08 2006 - 04:20 AM

I've been reading several reviews praising the digitial overhaul of these classsic Oscar-winning films. Being an idiot when it comes to such things, I thought I should seek out the experts on the HTF and ask them (including the great Robert Harris) what they thought of the work done to bring the difficult TLA films into the 21st century. Given the wild differential in film quality shot-to-shot of the TL films, I can't think of a more difficult mastering project than the TLA films. I'd love to hear the thoughts of the resident HTF experts.

Penny for your thughts...and thanks in advance for your expertise.

#2 of 10 TedD

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Posted December 09 2006 - 07:59 AM

I have watched most of this set, and I believe that the restoration efforts were very sucessful. Color is excellent, the mono audio is faithfully reproduced from the original optical tracks.

However, this doesn't change the fact that even the original release prints were blowups from 16mm camera negatives, shot in the field, without the benefits of the modern reflex cameras. Focus and framing were by guess or by golly on many of the earlier titles. Don't expect pristine razor sharp images, because, for the most part, they weren't on the negatives, they weren't on the 35mm release prints and they aren't on this set either. There is an excellent set of documentaries, one of which shows the adaptation of a camera to use a reflex viewfinder system.

That said, this set is well worth buying, both for it's historical significance, and because it includes a substantial number of Academy award winning features and short subjects.

I was viewing on a 5' x7' screen from a viewing distance of 12' using an HTPC feeding 1080I to a Sony Qualia 004 projector, and in my opinion, this set recreates the image one would have seen sitting in a theater at the time of original release with outstanding accuracy.

By the way, the tight framing on the titles from many of these films is also present on the 35mm prints.

Ted

#3 of 10 Matt Hough

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Posted December 09 2006 - 10:47 AM

Roy Disney's interview over at DVD Talk seemed to indicate that there were major improvements in the way the films looked from previous releases. The videotape of THE VANISHING PRAIRIE that I have is almost out of focus it's so bad, so anything done on that one to improve the image will be appreciated.

#4 of 10 JimTravis

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Posted December 14 2006 - 02:13 AM

The IP used for Water Birds on The Rescuers DVD is horrible. Can't wait to do an A/B comparison.

I held the sets last night. I must say the packaging kicks some serious tail. The "film can" thing is a nostalgic joy for me.

#5 of 10 bob kaplan

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Posted December 14 2006 - 06:18 AM

Just started to watch these releases. i forgot how enjoyable these were...."are"!

#6 of 10 DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 14 2006 - 09:10 AM

If Ron doesn't mind me mentioning (since I don't see an HTF review of them here), check out my review at dvdfile.com I found the image *very* impressive. Only complaint was slight softness (I've seen real 16mm look a little sharper) and the very least bit of EE in a few scenes but it was never a problem. No DNR artifacts in backgrounds which is what impressed me most...given how EXTENSIVELY these images were cleaned!

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#7 of 10 Matt Hough

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Posted December 14 2006 - 09:18 AM

I started with Volume 2 since it contained my two favorite features - THE LIVING DESERT and THE VANISHING PRAIRIE.

I was simply astonished how beautiful THE LIVING DESERT was! Couldn't be better. THE VANISHING PRAIRIE still has focus issues I'm convinced was in the original photography. The color is still miles ahead of any previous video version I've seen.

SEAL ISLAND, which I hadn't seen in decades, was sensationally entertaining and also looked incredible for a film over 50 years old.

#8 of 10 Russell G

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Posted December 14 2006 - 10:26 AM

I've been loving these! I've watched volume 4, just great. This series might be my favorite release this year.

Quote:
and the very least bit of EE in a few scenes
I've noticed this too, but manly on high contrast "sun behind the central figure" type shots. Very minor, and hardly worth mentioning.

#9 of 10 Mark-P

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Posted December 14 2006 - 11:08 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaViD Boulet
Only complaint was slight softness (I've seen real 16mm look a little sharper)

DaVid, after reading your review, I wasn't sure that you realized the photography originated on 16mm film, but I'm glad to see you are aware of that. Since the footage was blown up to 35mm for theatrical release and the blowups could possibly be the source used by the restoration team (just speculating) maybe the softness is inherent to the 50 year old optical enlargement process???
You say you have seen 16mm look sharper, can you cite an example? I'm curious because most vintage 16mm films on DVD I've seen look pretty bad. Even "Liza with a Z" looked pretty soft when projected large.

#10 of 10 DaViD Boulet

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Posted December 14 2006 - 05:51 PM

Hey Mark,

when I say I've seen 16mm look sharper, I mean actual projected 16mm.

There are lots of free film-exhibitions in the DC area that feature 16mm projection. I've generally been amazed at how "high resolution" 16mm looks compared to typical DVD video. The naturalness and grace of good 16mm beats the "digital" look of MPEG2 DVD hands down 9 times out of 10.

So I'm not really commenting on other 16mm to SD transfers on DVD... but comparing to projected 16mm directly.
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