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A few words about...™ Silverado -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted September 20 2009 - 10:39 AM

Put all of the right pieces together toward the production of a new Blu-ray release, and the results can run the gamut from beauty to the beast.  In the end, it comes down to proper supervision by someone who knows what they're doing, and then having those directions followed to the 'nth degree by the post facility chosen for the job.

Fox's Patton began with a beautifully produced new 65mm interpositive and came out the other end of the process as garbage encoded to a perfectly good Blu-ray disc.

The antithesis of that is Columbia's new Blu-ray of Lawrence Kasdan's Silverado, and one would think that the recipe would be simple enough to be followed by others.

In this case, begin with a properly produced interpositive struck from the original negative.  Scan it at the proper resolution.  Add in a dash of color and density supervision by cinematographer John Bailey, and overall product supervision by Columbia's Grover Crisp and company, and the end result.

No.  Not an omelette with blue skies.

A perfectly produced Blu-ray DVD.

I've reached a point at which, as long as I know something is a new transfer, I'm far less trepidacious than I was a year ago with new releases, and especially with Columbia (Sony).  

Silverado is a film that I've been looking forward to since the inception of high definition home video.  It's a film that I really like a great deal and admire.  To say that it's one of the great westerns of the 1980s would be faint praise, as there weren't that many '80s westerns to begin with.  

Seems the breed pretty much died out in the '60s, with the last of the John Wayne, James Stewart incarnations -- of course we had a quick and final return in The Shootist, which I sorely like to see arrive on Blu-ray.  A handful of quality westerns came from Italy, but most were barely viewable.  Seems someone over there had the idea to take anything shot on the western set, add a catchy name to it, and sell it to the unsuspecting American market, who were yearning for the next Eastwood affair.  It may actually have been a film in which Mr. Eastwood played a major role, which may have helped the downfall of the art form via the big budget 1969 Paint Your Wagon.

That year, of course, also heralded one of the most (currently) beloved westerns, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch.

After that the traditional western survived, but not more than a couple of good ones a year made their way to theater screens.  It wasn't until 1985 that we received Pale Rider and Silverado, and that was pretty much it for the '80s.  Enter the '90s, and again quality westerns could be counted on one's fingers -- Dances with Wolves, Far and Away, Unforgiven, Geronimo, Tombstone and Wyatt Earp.  To date in the '00s, we've also had only a handful -- Open Range, Assassination of Jesse James, 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa...

So if one has a desire for a quality western made in the past 30 years or so, examples are extremely limited.  Fortunately, quite a few have made it to DVD, and a good representation to Blu-ray.  

When that western bug hits you, and have that need sit down with that 1860 or single action army, a shot of rock gut whiskey and terrific Blu-ray, Silverado will not only fit the bill perfectly, but bring the full audio (uncompressed Dolby TruHD) and video capability of Blu-ray in your home theater along with it.

Silverado is a superb film, brought to Blu-ray with perfection.

Highly Recommended.

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


#2 of 48 OFFLINE   Who's On First?

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Posted September 20 2009 - 11:39 AM

I snapped this one up and I too enjoyed Silverado on Blu.  Couldn't agree more with you about the history of the western genre in modern American cinema.

When I finally bought a Blu-ray player earlier this year, the very first Blu-ray I purchased was "Lonesome Dove," followed quickly by "The Searchers," "The Cowboys," "Wyatt Earp," "Rio Bravo," and "Broken Trail."  I find that westerns, in general, tend to look very good in 1080P, owing to how well natural outdoor scenery can be rendered in high-definition.
 
Hopefully, we fans of John Wayne will soon be able to add "The Alamo" to our Blu-ray collections. 

And, finally, thank you Mr. Harris for all the great information you provide to the HTF community.

#3 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert George

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Posted September 20 2009 - 01:00 PM

I agree with RAH completely.  I am a fan of both westerns as a genre, and this film specifically.  Not to be presumptuous, but I will share some comments on this disc I posted on another forum a few days ago.  I will also add some hardware related comments on the soundtrack at the end of the post. Grain, or lack of, has become a hot topic on this and other enthusiast forums of late.  Every studio and post house seems to have their own idea of what looks good on video and how film should be prepared for the electronic medium.  With the extremely limited range afforded by the DVD format, digital processing was routinely used to attempt to achieve a satisfactory result on that format.  High definition, and specifically the Blu-ray format, does not require excessive digital processing of film transfers as the increased resolution and color gamut allow for film transfer that can still retain the look of film without the severe artifacting that would have occurred under the severe compression constraints of DVD.  Unfortunately, there remains a certain mindset in the production business that consumers want to see squeaky clean, degrained images in hi-def.  Even more unfortunately, to some extent, that happens to be true.  In light of this, how a transfer like the one on this new BD release of Silverado made it to Blu-ray is clearly a testament to the commitment of someone at Sony Pictures Entertainment to preserving the look of film on video. Yes, there is fairly prominent grain visible throughout this transfer.  Enough that there will be some that will not be particularly pleased with this disc.  However, there is something almost magnetic about the look of this disc.  I will preface by saying I have been a fan of this film since the first moment I saw it the first time.  That was many years and many formats ago (has it already been 24 years?).  Yet, last night I found myself reveling in what was very nearly a brand new experience with this film.  Then it dawned on me.  I was seeing the film Silverado for the first time. What this new transfer reveals is at once subtle and revelatory.  Along with the natural grain structure of the film medium itself, there is texture and subtle shadings of light and color that have simply never been present before.  I cringe at the use of the cliché, "pulling back the veil", but that is exactly how it felt watching this disc on a very large screen (106" diagonal).  I was immediately drawn into the visual sumptuousness of the photography, but also the subtleties of performance that I simply do not recall ever feeling before.  I don't want to sound like I am overselling this transfer, but the combination of a favorite film seen many times before and this striking new transfer truly was "like seeing it again for the first time". Equally awe inspiring is the film soundtrack with its terrific score by Bruce Broughton.  The lossless TrueHD audio format has never been put to better use on any disc I have heard than right here.  Frequency response is exceptional from the slightest jingle of the spurs to the much improved low end of the score.  This soundtrack gets everything right which serves to further the illusion created by John Bailey's beautiful cinematography. There are some supplemental features on the disc, but my time was limited last night, so I am limiting my comments to that which has got me the most excited.  Silverado is as much an homage to the western movie as it is a western movie itself.  Lawrence Kasden obviously spent too many afternoons in dark auditoriums with the likes of John Wayne, Randolph Scott, and Gary Cooper.  Fortunately for us he did, and then learned how to make a rousing adventure film.  Sony gives us a beautiful rendering of the sights and sounds of Silverado.  Enjoy it.  It doesn't get much better. EDIT: Since writing the above, I have updated the audio receiver in my system.  My audio system has gone from a more conventional 7.1 surround configuration (THX Ultra II and PLIIx) to a 7.1 channel configuration utilizing front "height" channels and Dolby PLIIz processing.  In my room, this has added a level of surround envelopment that comes as close to the aural soundstage of a good commercial auditorium as I have ever heard. Silverado was one of the first discs I demo'd once I got the height channel speakers set up yesterday.  The sense of space is astounding and a great soundtrack like the one on the Silverado Blu-ray is elevated beyond what I ever thought possible in the home environment.  This is a great disc, and with the judicious application of the latest consumer technologies, an experience that truly amazes.

#4 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted September 20 2009 - 01:33 PM

Robert, 

Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

As an aside, for those who find themselves "height challenged," visit this page:

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/technology/dolby-pro-logic-iiz-details.html

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 48 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted September 21 2009 - 03:22 AM

RAH, as always thanks for your few words.  ROBERT, good
to hear from you.

First, I would rate SILVERADO as one of my favorite westerns
and I look forward to watching it this week.

Secondly, Sony is a studio I doubt very much that anyone will have
to worry about as far as quality of product is concerned.  I think
all three of us know who is heading up transfer supervision there
and quite frankly, I couldn't trust the job to a better individual.

Sony is well aware of the "do's" and don'ts" in releasing Blu-ray
product that preserves the integrity of the original print.
 

 

Ronald J Epstein
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#6 of 48 OFFLINE   Michael Reuben

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Posted September 21 2009 - 09:42 AM

Sony’s releases have become so consistently excellent that one can almost go on faith.  

COMPLETE list of my disc reviews.       HTF Rules / 200920102011 Film Lists

#7 of 48 OFFLINE   Richard Gallagher

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Posted September 21 2009 - 09:24 PM

The comments about Sony's BD transfers are spot on. When it comes to discussing video quality I could almost repeat the same comments in every review.

Rich Gallagher

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Posted September 21 2009 - 10:11 PM

I thought it was a really fun script, as I've mentioned elsewhere, but it felt it was directed like a comedy. It didn't have what I like most in westerns, which is the epic treatment of details. All those little inserts of people's hands reaching for things, closeups on eyes. I will certainly try it again, but I was just aware that I felt that the epic feel of a western was missing, and its levity was not satisfying, as I found it in Quick and the Dead, Cutthroat Island, Pirates of the Carribean, Die Hard, and many of my favourite action/adventures and westerns. Instead I found that it undercut how interesting the scenes were; and my desire to keep watching it. All of which may be a personal thing, and doesn't take away from RAH's report on the technical qualities of the disc, which sound very satisfying indeed.

#9 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted September 22 2009 - 06:09 AM

Originally Posted by Ben Cheshire /img/forum/go_quote.gif


I thought it was a really fun script, as I've mentioned elsewhere, but it felt it was directed like a comedy. It didn't have what I like most in westerns, which is the epic treatment of details. All those little inserts of people's hands reaching for things, closeups on eyes. I will certainly try it again, but I was just aware that I felt that the epic feel of a western was missing
 
Many of what you refer to as "those little inserts" came into play in the '60s and early '70s with the imports.  Take a look at the opening scene in Once Upon a Time in the West, and you'll see it in all it Techniscope glory.  One of the interesting things about the process was its huge depth of field, which provided the filmmakers with wonderful visual opportunities.  In many ways Silverado harkens back to the '40s and '50s, but with a decidedly '80s editorial texture to it.

"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


#10 of 48 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted September 22 2009 - 06:34 PM

'Silverado', in spite of its limited appeal genre today, is probably one of the most perfect films I have ever had the opportunity to watch.  It is a pinnacle in ensemble casting, and what comes off on screen gives me the impression that these people had fun making this movie.  I'm glad to know that this disc has the RAH Seal of Approval. It will be mine.
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#11 of 48 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted September 22 2009 - 08:44 PM

At the time of its release, Silverado was often compared to Raiders of the Lost Ark. If Raiders was the modern update of the Adventure movie, then Silverado did the same thing for the Western. If you compare the opening of Silverado, with the bar shoot out in Raiders, I think you'll see a similar set of shots and editing style.  Its no coincidence that Lawrence Kasdan wrote Raiders.

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#12 of 48 OFFLINE   DavidJ

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Posted September 22 2009 - 09:16 PM

Silverado was one of the stand-out big-screen moviegoing experiences from my childhood and has led to my love and appreciation of many westerns.  I already own it in two other incarnations and I will soon add it in a third.  I've been looking forward to this release with the hope that it would be handled well and I'm glad to read that has been.

The opening scene on a large screen is something to behold.  It won't be quite the same on my home theater setup, but it will be the best I've seen it in some time.



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Posted September 23 2009 - 05:03 AM

Really nice to hear others have enjoyed the movie; hope no-one was bothered by my first impression of it. I've only seen it once and could easily love it next time.

#14 of 48 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted September 23 2009 - 02:20 PM



Originally Posted by Ben Cheshire /forum/thread/293152/a-few-words-about-silverado-in-blu-ray#post_3609266

Really nice to hear others have enjoyed the movie; hope no-one was bothered by my first impression of it. I've only seen it once and could easily love it next time.

Didn't bother me.

 

You may have just had different expectations of the movie. If you watch the trailers, its is advertised as a fun adventure. Some of the tag lines on the trailer were "Get ready for the ride of your life." And “Ride with them to the adventure of your life!”

Doug

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Posted September 23 2009 - 03:50 PM

I'll check it out again; I like a lot of things Kasdan has done, and Raiders is definitely one of my favourite movies of all time. Can't wait for it to hit Blu Ray. Indiana Collection and Star Wars collections may be the only "collections" I'm tempted by. All this "Rocky Collection" and "Alien Quadrilogy" nonsense... I only like Rocky and Alien... And maybe Aliens too.

#16 of 48 OFFLINE   BillyFeldman

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Posted October 03 2009 - 07:48 AM

 Surprised there hasn't been any comments on the disc itself.  It is terrific in every way.  And for anyone who doubts how you should never take screencaps as gospel only need look at the caps the dvdbeaver.com - they look absolutely nothing like the Blu-Ray actually looks, either in sharpness or color rendering.  He goes on about a greenish hue - there is no greenish hue - it's really a great-looking disc and although I wasn't that fond of the film when it came out, it has aged very well and I liked it much better this time around.

#17 of 48 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted October 03 2009 - 07:56 AM

Screen caps are occasionally good for something, if well captured and compressed.

I'm never quite certain what that is in many cases.

RAH

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#18 of 48 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted October 03 2009 - 10:15 AM

Stills from the disc are the only objective means we have to communicate on the web what a Blu Ray really looks like. Apart from streaming the film at BD bit rate which is illegal and impractical.
So there is nothing wrong with stills themselves as a means to an end. There can be a lot wrong with specific stills. Naturally only trust stills which are created correctly which means
- direct digital 1:1 with correct high quality decoding including the correct color matrix
- stored losslessly (no jpegs etc.)
- no resizing or any additional filtering or processing
If this is guaranteed then stills are very useful to judge
- general appearance (soft, sharp, focused, defocused, grainy/noisy, clean, flat, contrasty...)
- color grading, shadow and highlight detail
- lens and film artifacts
- digital sharpening artifacts
- to some extent DNR artifacts
- aliasing
- compression artifacts
when looked at on correctly calibrated monitors and again with 1:1 pixel mapping (no rescaling).
Aspects that require motion to be visible can not be seen (for example flickering issues, some DNR
issues, some compression issues). Stills are only a random sample of the whole disc. They can not replace watching the whole disc for an overall impression of what it looks like. But neither are they wrong or irrelevant because they are stills.



#19 of 48 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted October 03 2009 - 10:40 AM

Originally Posted by Michel_Hafner /img/forum/go_quote.gif

Stills from the disc are the only objective means we have to communicate on the web what a Blu Ray really looks like. Apart from streaming the film at BD bit rate which is illegal and impractical.
So there is nothing wrong with stills themselves as a means to an end. There can be a lot wrong with specific stills. Naturally only trust stills which are created correctly which means
- direct digital 1:1 with correct high quality decoding including the correct color matrix
- stored losslessly (no jpegs etc.)
- no resizing or any additional filtering or processing
If this is guaranteed then stills are very useful to judge
- general appearance (soft, sharp, focused, defocused, grainy/noisy, clean, flat, contrasty...)
- color grading, shadow and highlight detail
- lens and film artifacts
- digital sharpening artifacts
- to some extent DNR artifacts
- aliasing
- compression artifacts
when looked at on correctly calibrated monitors and again with 1:1 pixel mapping (no rescaling).
Aspects that require motion to be visible can not be seen (for example flickering issues, some DNR
issues, some compression issues). Stills are only a random sample of the whole disc. They can not replace watching the whole disc for an overall impression of what it looks like. But neither are they wrong or irrelevant because they are stills.
 
Naturally only trust stills which are created correctly which means
- direct digital 1:1 with correct high quality decoding including the correct color matrix
- stored losslessly (no jpegs etc.)
- no resizing or any additional filtering or processing
If this is guaranteed 

A rather big "IF" in many cases--not in terms of effectives if done correctly, but in terms of ensuring stills are made with such attention and care.


when looked at on correctly calibrated monitors and again with 1:1 pixel mapping (no rescaling).

How many people who make, at times, rather forceful claims of shortcomings with the transfer (as opposed to blaming the source material) are viewing through such a carefully set up system?

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I often find (across the internet, if not so much here at HTF) some rather hyperbolic claims of shoddiness, only to find that A) they are not so bad in my set up (which is only important to me and highly subjective, as I'm no expert) and B) the opinions of those few people who appear to have correctly calibrated gear and a sufficiently knowledgeable background that I've come to trust (including, but not limited to, RAH here at HTF) often diverge strongly from the excessively critical.

I agree that stills are useful in the manner you suggest.  However, I do think that far too many negative opinions are formed by people who lack the appropriate setup and experience to objectively evaluate them.  Just being a member of an A/V discussion board does not make one "an expert"--and I include myself in that statement.

You are correct that stills are not wrong or irrelevant because they are stills.  But you have also, quite effectively, defined a rather narrow set of circumstances whereby they can be correct and relevant and I think it bears noting that a rather small percentage of even those of us who are enthusiastic enough to join multiple A/V boards like HTF are equipped to meet those standards.  It is not surprising, therefore, that there is scepticism regarding stills, barring those presented by a few reliable sources.
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#20 of 48 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted October 03 2009 - 12:07 PM

Originally Posted by PaulDA /img/forum/go_quote.gif

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I often find (across the internet, if not so much here at HTF) some rather hyperbolic claims of shoddiness, only to find that A) they are not so bad in my set up (which is only important to me and highly subjective, as I'm no expert) and B) the opinions of those few people who appear to have correctly calibrated gear and a sufficiently knowledgeable background that I've come to trust (including, but not limited to, RAH here at HTF) often diverge strongly from the excessively critical.

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