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Does the Vertigo DVD represent the restoration accurately?


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#1 of 33 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 11 2008 - 09:17 PM

Hello, every time I am watching Vertigo on DVD, I am always wondering if the mastering of the DVD accurately represents what had been achieved during the restoration of this masterpiece. There are 2 parts which make me suspicious: 1. The 1996 Universal logo looks horrible. Unsharp & heavily filtered. 2. The "Restoration Credits" at the end of the movie are exactly as lacking in sharpness as most of the rest of the movie. Please don't get me wrong, I don't want to criticize the meticulous efforts which had been made to present this movie in its original glory. However, I always had the feeling that the DVD was made with much less care, that Vertigo could look much better if mastered correctly. An interesting sidenote, perhaps Robert could comment on this, would today's digital technology provide any improvements over photochemical restorations like the one applied to Vertigo? Thank you!

#2 of 33 OFFLINE   Richard--W

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Posted June 11 2008 - 09:40 PM

Which edition do you watch, specifically?

#3 of 33 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 12 2008 - 12:59 AM

The first issue from 2000, but aren't all subsequent releases essentially the same? I know that the second issue was wrongly color corrected in the title sequence, but is it sharper? The transfer is anamorphic.

#4 of 33 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 12 2008 - 01:13 AM

Vertigo was a film that desperately needed digital help, but the technology was not yet in place. With a faded original negative, and heavily shrunken separation masters, it was impossible to get the film where it needed to be. Today, going 100% digital, we could make it look precisely as it did in 1958. 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


#5 of 33 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted June 12 2008 - 02:02 AM

The first issue on DVD was not anamorphic, so this version must be later. In fact, the first anamorphic issue was in the Masterpiece Collection set which, to my knowledge, has never been offered for sale separately (except by third party vendors).

#6 of 33 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted June 12 2008 - 03:16 AM

Just in time for Blu-ray too, wink wink nudge nudge.

#7 of 33 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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Posted June 12 2008 - 03:18 AM

Vertigo was repressed in 1999 with crappier cover art so I assume he's referring to that.

#8 of 33 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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Posted June 12 2008 - 03:59 AM

I thought that was still nonanamorphic, though. Has VERTIGO ever been released in R1 in anamorphic format?

#9 of 33 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:01 AM

Yes. The box-set release is anamorphic.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#10 of 33 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:02 AM


One can only hope that there will be an opportunity for that someday Posted Image

Do you think it would be more of a thrill or even relief for you personally to go back today with different tools to get it precisely right, or would it be just too much deja vu? I could understand either!

#11 of 33 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:12 AM

Mr. Harris - what about Rear Window? Was that done recent enough to not need a revisit?

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#12 of 33 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:19 AM

Thank you for your answer, Mr. Harris! So it would indeed be possible to make Vertigo look even better using today's technology. I assume one would have to go back to the original elements once again to make that possible, right? As I understand it, Vertigo was shot on a very unstable type of film which fades rather quickly, and 12 years have passed since the last restoration, which brings me to my next question: are the original elements still in danger, or are they being preserved so that they will last long enough for maybe another restoration attempt? Not having seen the 1996 restoration in theaters, I wonder how it would look on HD formats. I think the work and the technical aspects of film restoration is one of the most fascinating subjects, and I just wanted to express my sincere admiration for the work you guys do to preserve an integral part of our cultural heritage.

#13 of 33 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:26 AM

I can only say that my DVD is from 2000 (I bought it in 2003), anamorphic, and features the correct colors in the opening titles (greyish face). What I understood until now, there were just 2 releases: anamorphic and non-anamorphic. Or ist there maybe a 3rd release inbetween those 2? Could the answer be that my DVD is Region 2, PAL? Because until now, I just thought that there was only 1 worldwide anamorphic release, and that future releases just had another mastering error consisting of the wrong colors in the main titles?

#14 of 33 OFFLINE   WilliamMcK

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:40 AM

I'd have to double check, but I believe Vertigo WAS released as a stand alone anamorphic disc in R2 (prior to the Masterpiece Collection box set), but NOT in R1.

#15 of 33 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:47 AM

Surely Chivas Regal have some spare cash spare for a 4K restoration. :-P I hope it does get a 4K restoration before they consider releasing it on Blu-ray.

#16 of 33 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 12 2008 - 06:45 AM

As Universal takes extraordinarily good care of elements in their trust, there would be very little change in OCN, but continued shrinkage in the masters. 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


#17 of 33 OFFLINE   Oliver_A

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Posted June 12 2008 - 07:46 AM

You mean the seperation masters? When I understand correctly, those masters are basically needed in every scene which is dark, because these are the parts where the OCN is faded most due to underexposure, right? I mean, would it be possible to use digital image processing to align the seperation masters correctly, to correct the shrinkage by scaling the layers? Or are there still other, damaging factors involved? So, I understand time is still a factor in producing the best possible restoration of Vertigo. Thanks again for your answer!

#18 of 33 OFFLINE   Patrick McCart

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Posted June 12 2008 - 10:53 AM

Yeah, does Rear Window need more work? The Masterpiece box remaster looks fantastic... they let the heavier film grain stay and it's mostly free of dirt and scratches. The stand-alone DVD has filtering and less dirt/scratch removal. If you compare the main titles, there's a thin "rain" of artifacts due to it being an optical. Remaster is virtually spotless for that shot. But I wonder if it would be good to do a 4K digital intermediate that fixes everything that wasn't cost-effective in 1998.

#19 of 33 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted June 12 2008 - 02:13 PM

Rear Window could be improved in one unit and another couple of short sections, but overall, the film is fine.

"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


#20 of 33 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted June 13 2008 - 07:07 PM

Mr. Harris do you know if they store those kinds of elements off site? I know many films today are stored in old salt mines. Or would Universal be storing these films in some proximity to the recent fire? From the news helicopter you could see a truck filled with film cans being removed from the burning storage building. It made me rather concerned about what may have been lost in that fire. Doug
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