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DVD Reviews

HTF DVD REVIEW: The Dark Knight: Two-Disc Special Edition



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#21 of 65 OFFLINE   Ben J Loews

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Posted November 30 2008 - 11:18 AM

Kinda reminds me of the Superman WB DVD's they brought out in 2006.

The transfers for Superman 1-3 were rather good, (I dont own 4 so can't vouch for that one) however the transfer on the Donner Cut was terrible.

Really low bitrate transfer, and on a big screen looked awful. A real shame.

#22 of 65 OFFLINE   Matthew Clayton

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Posted November 30 2008 - 12:32 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ben J Loews
Kinda reminds me of the Superman WB DVD's they brought out in 2006.

The transfers for Superman 1-3 were rather good, (I dont own 4 so can't vouch for that one) however the transfer on the Donner Cut was terrible.


You forgot Superman Returns. The PQ on that DVD also left a lot to be desired... the picture was too soft and only the brighter-lit scenes looked good.

It's a shame that Warners has dropped the ball on the PQ for The Dark Knight in a similar way. Perhaps if they get enough complaints about the DVD quality, they'll issue out a better version (a la Sony with The Fifth Element).

But how the IMAX scenes on the second disc look? Did they look better than the first disc, or was the PQ the same?

#23 of 65 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted November 30 2008 - 02:11 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Clayton
...But how the IMAX scenes on the second disc look? Did they look better than the first disc, or was the PQ the same?
They have some of the same issues and a few new ones. There seemed to be some noise in the dark areas of the image -- and there were a lot of dark areas of the image. I did not check the bitrate, but I bet they were encoded at a lower rate than the feature. That being said, it was kind of cool to see the full image for those sequences.

Regards,
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#24 of 65 OFFLINE   Tim-H.

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Posted November 30 2008 - 03:49 PM

Thanks for the review, Ken. I came across the 2-disc dvd early, and was also surprised how much noise there was. I'm also disappointed by the brevity of 'Gotham Uncovered' compared to the Blu-ray.

I'm not going Blu anytime soon, and though I'm not entirely in the 'Conspiracy' camp, I am...dubious. And let down.
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#25 of 65 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted November 30 2008 - 10:32 PM

Listen, I know the first reaction is to point fingers at the studio.
I am not here to defend them as I have not seen the DVD or Blu-ray.

Let me just interject that I know for fact that this transfer was
solely in the hands of Christopher Nolan. We attempted to get our
hands on an early copy for a group showing in LA back in October
and was told that Nolan was working overtime on perfecting the
transfer.

I don't know if the problem lies with the way Nolan supervised the
transfer or the manner in which it was encoded. I just wanted to
be certain that if there is indeed a problem here that there is no
rush to judgement in blaming the studio.

 

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#26 of 65 OFFLINE   Aragorn the Elfstone

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Posted December 01 2008 - 01:40 AM

I find it hard to believe that Nolan would sign off on this. So perhaps it is simply an encoding issue, and Warner is oblivious to it. But surely, someone has to be monitoring the negative feedback their new releases are getting?

#27 of 65 OFFLINE   Matthew Clayton

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Posted December 02 2008 - 12:01 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein

Let me just interject that I know for fact that this transfer was
solely in the hands of Christopher Nolan. We attempted to get our
hands on an early copy for a group showing in LA back in October
and was told that Nolan was working overtime on perfecting the
transfer.

I don't know if the problem lies with the way Nolan supervised the
transfer or the manner in which it was encoded. I just wanted to
be certain that if there is indeed a problem here that there is no
rush to judgement in blaming the studio.

I think Nolan just supervised the Blu-ray transfer, from the looks of it. Unless an interview with Nolan says otherwise that he did supervise both transfers of TDK for DVD and Blu, I think the studio is to blame for not investing more time to make the DVD transfer for TDK as good as BB's was.

#28 of 65 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted December 02 2008 - 06:49 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew Clayton
I think Nolan just supervised the Blu-ray transfer, from the looks of it. Unless an interview with Nolan says otherwise that he did supervise both transfers of TDK for DVD and Blu, I think the studio is to blame for not investing more time to make the DVD transfer for TDK as good as BB's was.

I think you're actually talking about two different things here - the transfer of the film itself to a video source, which Christopher Nolan did supervise, and then the encoding of that video to DVD and Blu-ray, which he probably did not. When you read that a director or cinematographer supervised a transfer, what that usually means is that they were there while the video master was created from the film elements. This means they're on hand to make sure that things like color timing and framing are accurate and represent what their intentions were. And I'm sure that the master looks exactly how Christopher Nolan wants it to.

But I doubt that Nolan was involved with actually supervising the encoding of that master into DVD or Blu-ray format. And the problem with some recent WB titles on DVD, be it Superman Returns or The Departed or Harry Potter 5 or any of their other less-than-stellar DVD presentations, isn't the transfer. The transfer is fine. (Remember, when we say "transfer" or "telecine", we're talking about the process of creating a new master in the digital realm from a film-based source.) The problem here is the encoding of that transfer into MPEG2 for DVD. Whoever is doing the encoding is creating the problem, because the actual video master used to create that encoding is fine. (Proof of that being that the Blu-ray/HD-DVD-where applicable-versions are looking fine.) I don't think that Warner is intentionally making poor-quality DVDs to try to sell more Blu-ray discs. However, I do believe it's possible that they're optimizing the DVDs to look more pleasing on lower-end equipment because a) while EE and the like looks terrible on high-end equipment, on lower-end stuff, it creates an illusion of sharpness that casual viewers seem to expect/enjoy, and b) Warner might believe that the people who would be negatively affected by that would already be using Blu-ray on high-end equipment. I have no inside information on this situation, but I don't think that Warner is intentionally making bad DVDs as part of a big conspiracy theory, although I do notice that not all of their new releases are looking as good as they should.

#29 of 65 OFFLINE   Jonny P

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Posted December 02 2008 - 03:46 PM

Whatever the reason, it is annoying.

I purchased my first hi-def LCD TV in March '07. I have really enjoyed it, and on a 37" LCD, the picture quality of many DVDs (including "Batman Begins") is very, very good. Not as sharp as HD content, but awfully close in certain instances (especially for a TV that size).

I haven't yet purchased a Blu-Ray player. Mainly because of the price for the software itself. I understand that the price of Blu-Ray movies (and TV shows) will eventually achieve "parity" with standard DVDs, but that point isn't quite here.

So few companies are currently making Blu-Ray players, and the prices are still quite high. I just don't understand why they are "dialing down" the quality of SD-DVDs.

Do they really believe that the people "still" watching SD-DVDs are watching them on a 19" GoldStar?

Most people I know who own hi-def sets HAVE NOT made the switch to Blu-Ray. There isn't much "general" consumer awareness of the format at this point in time.

Recent WB releases have been plagued with a considerable amount of digital noise -- a seemingly "lo-res" look. They remind me of some poor earlier DVD releases from the late 90s or so. And...they have "jaggies" when played with "progressive scan" on (so I generally turn it off on WB DVDs).

Is there an "economic" reason for doing this (other than the notion of pushing picture-conscious consumers to Blu-Ray)? Is it cheaper to produce poor quality DVDs?

Maybe they are worried that consumers won't "notice" that much of a difference between top-quality SD and Blu-Ray.

On many HD sets (42" and lower) it is quite possible that the difference wouldn't be terribly noticeable between "good" DVD and Blu-Ray (again, I don't own Blu-Ray, so I can't make a true comparison).

I have all but stopped purchasing WB SD-DVD titles. Sadly, that means I will have to wait on wonderful films like "The Dark Knight" until the point when I purchase a Blu-Ray player.

The quality is pretty weak for recent WB releases...it is a shame...

#30 of 65 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted December 02 2008 - 09:37 PM

For the record, while I have been disappointed with many of the unnecessarily noisy SD DVD transfers for Warner theatrical new releases, I have not noticed the same pattern of problems with theatrical catalog, TV, or animation releases.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#31 of 65 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted December 03 2008 - 01:49 AM

Quote:
Do they really believe that the people "still" watching SD-DVDs are watching them on a 19" GoldStar?

This is why I do not buy the "they are encoding the films that way for folks with poor TVs" argument. If that many people are still watching Standard def TVs, then Blu-ray has no chance. I am not normally inclined to conspiracies, but I cannot help but think the other reason is behind it: WB wants to make the gap between SD and Blu-ray look greater than it is. The only other alternative is that incompetent oafs are behind the encoding of the recent discs.

#32 of 65 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted December 03 2008 - 02:14 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
For the record, while I have been disappointed with many of the unnecessarily noisy SD DVD transfers for Warner theatrical new releases, I have not noticed the same pattern of problems with theatrical catalog, TV, or animation releases.

Nor have I. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but didn't someone ask Warner about this at one of their HTF chats? I believe it was the Warner catalog division (Feltenstein, etc.), and they said that the new theatrical releases were handled by a different department entirely. That could certainly explain why SD releases of classic films are looking spectacular while new films, not so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by David_B_K
This is why I do not buy the "they are encoding the films that way for folks with poor TVs" argument. If that many people are still watching Standard def TVs, then Blu-ray has no chance. I am not normally inclined to conspiracies, but I cannot help but think the other reason is behind it: WB wants to make the gap between SD and Blu-ray look greater than it is. The only other alternative is that incompetent oafs are behind the encoding of the recent discs.

I didn't mean to suggest that I buy that argument either, but it's the best I can think of. I'm just not convinced that they're doing it to make the gap between SD and Blu-ray look greater than it is, if only because I recall their new releases starting to get a little iffy before HD was really a factor in home video releases. But the "incompetent oafs theory" isn't very reassuring either. If new releases and catalog releases are indeed handled and encoded by different departments within WB, that may be the case though. It's happened enough that it seems unlikely that it's a mere accident, and it happens somewhat consistently with new releases but not all with old releases.

Regardless of the reasoning, it's not good. I wish HTF still had the relationships and chats with studios that used to be more common here, so that we could alert them in a polite, respectful manner that some of their new releases aren't up to snuff, and that the cause might be isolated to a certain department, and that we know they're fully capable of doing better work as they demonstrate consistently with their catalog releases.

#33 of 65 OFFLINE   Jonny P

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Posted December 03 2008 - 03:31 AM

I agree that TV and catalog releases have looked better than new releases of new theatrical fare.

(Although, I don't own that many WB TV shows...)

My previous theory as to why the SD-DVD releases looked so poor stems from WB's production of HD-DVD and Blu-Ray the past couple of years.

HD-DVD was a two-sided disc that featured an SD version on one side, and an HD version on the other.

My theory on poor PQ was that they "over-compressed" the SD version to fit on one side of the HD-DVD -- and by default used the same version for the regular SD-release.

(Get what I mean?)

I realize they are no longer producing HD-DVD, but one wonders if that had an effect on their standards and practices.

#34 of 65 OFFLINE   David_B_K

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Posted December 03 2008 - 03:59 AM

Posted by Jonny_P:
Quote:
HD-DVD was a two-sided disc that featured an SD version on one side, and an HD version on the other.

My theory on poor PQ was that they "over-compressed" the SD version to fit on one side of the HD-DVD -- and by default used the same version for the regular SD-release.

That is an interesting theory, but I think Warner is far enough removed form HD DVD practices that it seems unlikely.

BTW, most HD DVD discs were not the 2-sided hybrids. I only have a few which are 2-sided, (and many people had playback issues with hybrid discs.) I will have to look at one to see if it is indeed a single layer for the SD disc. I think the SD layer on hybrids my be dual layer.

#35 of 65 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted December 03 2008 - 04:32 AM

The "flipper" SD DVDs could, and frequently did, have dual-layered SD DVD sides, so there was no unique considerations required as far as the size of the SD encode.

In any case, "The Dark Knight" is encoded at a relatively high average bitrate, which, as I indicated in my review, makes the presence of so much digital video noise all the more perplexing.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#36 of 65 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted December 04 2008 - 02:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken_McAlinden
In any case, "The Dark Knight" is encoded at a relatively high average bitrate, which, as I indicated in my review, makes the presence of so much digital video noise all the more perplexing.

I'm wondering if it's just that someone that's in charge of the encoding for SD-DVDs just thinks that digital-noise-ridden, overly-treated, EE-riddled video actually looks good... I know that sounds crazy, but... it still seems just a little too far-fetched for me to believe that they're making crappy DVDs on purpose to make the Blu-rays seem better. I know that's possible, I just don't want to be that cynical and would prefer to give WB the benefit of the doubt here. If this was a recent trend, I'd be more inclined to believe that, but since this dates back to at least 2006 when HD-DVD/Blu-ray were in their infancy (the "Superman Returns" DVD was the first I recall buying from WB where I was really not at all impressed, and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "The Departed" soon followed), it seems like it's something else.

Besides, we've probably all had that experience of having a boss who knew less about their industry than we did, who was just flat-out wrong more often than not, but somehow kept their job and was seen to be a valuable member of the team. Movie studios can't be entirely exempt from having that kind of employee, too. Maybe someone in charge there actually thinks this is a better look.

Perplexing is the right word, indeed.

#37 of 65 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted December 04 2008 - 03:40 AM

I do remember the SD DVD of Batman Begins looking very, very good - so this is all the more curious.

#38 of 65 OFFLINE   Joseph Bolus

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Posted December 04 2008 - 05:19 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave H
I do remember the SD DVD of Batman Begins looking very, very good - so this is all the more curious.


That's true ... I viewed the Batman Begins SD-DVD transfer over the weekend (upscaled on a Tosh XDE-500) and could not get over how good it looked on my native 720p front projection system. Speed Racer -- which I just rented -- also looked as good as an SD-DVD could look. I suppose in the case of Speed Racer, though, that may have been a digital-to-digital transfer.

But I agree that those two SD-DVDs certainly seem to prove that Warner can still deliver a decent DVD transfer on occasion ... So where was the QC on their highest-profile release of the year??

I *loved* this movie ... but this will now be a rental for me. Like everybody else, I smell a "UE" coming down the pike in 3-6 months ...
Joseph
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#39 of 65 OFFLINE   Jim Peavy

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Posted December 04 2008 - 04:05 PM

Criminal that the biggest film of the decade could get anything less than a frist rate transfer. Like others, I'll not be going Blu for a while, so this will be a rental only.

What a shame!
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#40 of 65 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted December 04 2008 - 04:46 PM

I've noticed a little trend here of being asked not to rush to judgment on blaming this particular studio - but since they put out the DVD who else should people blame? I have noticed this alarming trend of new films not looking great on standard DVD and then hearing that on Blu-Ray it's a different story. If that means I'm a conspiracy theorist, so be it, because I do think it's being done on purpose. A great-looking standard DVD is great looking no matter what the Blu-Ray is, and I have many great-looking DVDs. But Warners especially has been doing this, but they are not alone.


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