Jump to content



Sign up for a free account to remove the pop-up ads

Signing up for an account is fast and free. As a member you can join in the conversation, enter contests and remove the pop-up ads that guests get. Click here to create your free account.

Photo
- - - - -

A few words about...™ Howards End -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
186 replies to this topic

#1 of 187 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Lead Actor



  • 7,680 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted November 08 2009 - 10:14 AM

With Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emma Thompson), Art Direction and Writing, James Ivory's Howards End might well have also scored the Best Picture nod, which went to Unforgiven.

This gorgeous, classically produced tale of Edwardian England, has finally found a home on Blu-ray via Criterion, and the final result is one of perfection.

I'm aware that there is sometimes a chasm between those who enjoy films such as The Dark Knight and Merchant / Ivory productions, but I would highly suggest that those who enjoy quality cinema, with a great story, acting and cinematography, give this one a try. Howards End is, simply put, magnificent filmmaking.

Filled to overflowing with the normal Criterion hors d'oeuvres, Howards End is Very 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 187 OFFLINE   Yumbo

Yumbo

    Screenwriter



  • 2,243 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 13 1999

Posted November 08 2009 - 12:36 PM

 Another fave including the Robbins score. Skipped the delayed DVD.

#3 of 187 OFFLINE   24fpssean

24fpssean

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 225 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 07 2009

Posted December 07 2009 - 11:59 AM

Mr. Harris, this is an appalling blu ray release. I know most online reviews have been through the roof over it but Amazon customers, the people who really know this film, have not been happy. The amount of digital noise (not film "grain" as so many reviewers who have never worked in film believe) is awful. I have seen the film theatrically countless times and was even at the premiere at the Royal in Santa Monica and what I saw was absolutely not this "grainy." The film was shot Super 35mm for blow up to 70 and it looked great. The clips used in the blu ray's menu and blown up to 16x9 look better than the feature itself. And there are horrible pale digital blocks that ripple across the darker scenes in a very structured manner as if there was interference in a signal during transfer. Also, I am absolutely certain this is not a new transfer done specifically for blu ray - I doubt Criterion pulled in Tony Pierce-Roberts to time it, at great expense, when they had just done so for the previous masters used for DVD four years before.

I've got a good playback system and all other BD's look great when viewed, even other Criterion BD's. So why would this one be so hideous? Mr. Mulvaney told all of us complainers that our televisions would have to be recalibrated to make it look good. Interesting, since I am a film editor who grew up on actual film and who has already calibrated his television to look as good and "film-like" (whatever that is in the video world) as possible. This is literally the worst looking blu ray I own.

Anyway, I just had to say my piece. Most people have been happy with this BD. I find it unwatchable. It looks like it was struck from an old master and indeed it probably was. Even the editor of Howards End, a friend that I've worked with, thought so.
 “The cinema is an invention with no future…”     – Louis Lumière

#4 of 187 OFFLINE   PaulDA

PaulDA

    Screenwriter



  • 2,585 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 09 2004
  • Real Name:Paul
  • LocationSt. Hubert, Quebec, Canada

Posted December 08 2009 - 05:06 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris ">


I'm aware that there is sometimes a chasm between those who enjoy films such as The Dark Knight and Merchant / Ivory productions, 
I am a huge fan of each, so no chasm for me (but my wife does think I'm weird, if that means anything in this context ).
					
					<br />
					
				</div>
				
				
								
				
					<div class=
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#5 of 187 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Lead Actor



  • 7,680 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted December 09 2009 - 08:22 AM

From what I understand this is a recent, albeit possibly not "new" transfer.  Also, this is one of those films which because of the way that it was transferred, can be extremely monitor setup sensitive.  How's that for a phrase?

I had no real problem with it on my system, although some may.  The trick here, and you may already be setup correctly, is to avoid any of the hyper-colored or extreme settings, ie. "vivid."  With a properly setup monitor, a slightly elevated grain structure will be noticed, which again is a part of the transfer mechanism.  For systems that are setup in some modified way, the look of the film can, and occasionally will, be compromised.

You obviously know what you're seeing, but as I've had problems in the past with my setup occasionally re-setting itself after a power failure, etc. this may be something to check.

While this may not be the information you're seeking, it is factual.

RAH

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24fpssean View Post

Mr. Harris, this is an appalling blu ray release. I know most online reviews have been through the roof over it but Amazon customers, the people who really know this film, have not been happy. The amount of digital noise (not film "grain" as so many reviewers who have never worked in film believe) is awful. I have seen the film theatrically countless times and was even at the premiere at the Royal in Santa Monica and what I saw was absolutely not this "grainy." The film was shot Super 35mm for blow up to 70 and it looked great. The clips used in the blu ray's menu and blown up to 16x9 look better than the feature itself. And there are horrible pale digital blocks that ripple across the darker scenes in a very structured manner as if there was interference in a signal during transfer. Also, I am absolutely certain this is not a new transfer done specifically for blu ray - I doubt Criterion pulled in Tony Pierce-Roberts to time it, at great expense, when they had just done so for the previous masters used for DVD four years before.

I've got a good playback system and all other BD's look great when viewed, even other Criterion BD's. So why would this one be so hideous? Mr. Mulvaney told all of us complainers that our televisions would have to be recalibrated to make it look good. Interesting, since I am a film editor who grew up on actual film and who has already calibrated his television to look as good and "film-like" (whatever that is in the video world) as possible. This is literally the worst looking blu ray I own.

Anyway, I just had to say my piece. Most people have been happy with this BD. I find it unwatchable. It looks like it was struck from an old master and indeed it probably was. Even the editor of Howards End, a friend that I've worked with, thought so.


"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


#6 of 187 OFFLINE   24fpssean

24fpssean

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 225 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 07 2009

Posted December 09 2009 - 10:11 AM

Thanks, Robert. I don't use the Vivid setting and have taken the time to make my monitor look as good as possible. I don't understand why there would be a screen-like grid in the darker areas and the big pale blocks that occasionally appear are really awful. Why would I have absolutely no problem with any other DVD or BD?

I have my set on low contrast and sharpeness to avoid such problems while viewing BD's. It's a really awful disc and a severe disappointment after the stunning beauty of Criterion's The Seventh Seal and Repulsion.

For the record I took Mr. Mulvaney's advice and drastically knocked everything even farther down and the noise, snow and grid were still there. No DVD or BD release should ever have to force the customer to readjust their televisions. And I've certainly never had to readjust anything for any other Criterion releases.

Again, most people have no problem with it. But I've seen the film countless times projected in both 35mm Scope and 70mm (I was a manager for Laemmle theatres for years before I got into feature editing!) and this is absolutely not what it looked like.
 “The cinema is an invention with no future…”     – Louis Lumière

#7 of 187 OFFLINE   PattyFraser

PattyFraser

    Second Unit



  • 314 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 28 2005

Posted December 09 2009 - 10:21 AM

Sean--I've posted to you on Amazon re: our problems with this disc.  At Jon Mulvaney's direction I took my sharpness down, although I never had the set on vivid.  It still looks just horrible, and as I said on Amazon if you pause it, it looks like someone spilled whiteout on it and tried to rub it off.  No disc, including my Criterion of Benjamin Button has ever looked like this.  Howard's End is just a wreck.  I would think my Sony 52XBR5 and Sony S550 could, with low settings, make this movie look like others are seeing it, but there's a real problem there somewhere.  I am so glad I netflixed it first, because this is a picture quality decision I couldn't be happy with as an owner of the disc.


#8 of 187 OFFLINE   Josh Dial

Josh Dial

    Screenwriter



  • 2,613 posts
  • Join Date: Jan 02 2000

Posted December 09 2009 - 10:49 AM

Possible batch errors on this release?


#9 of 187 OFFLINE   24fpssean

24fpssean

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 225 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 07 2009

Posted December 09 2009 - 11:53 AM

Josh, I thought so, too, but was asked to send my BD of Howards End back to Criterion for evaluation. Mr. Mulvaney responded to my email and said all of the above (did I have my tv set to "vivid," did I turn my sharness down, etc., etc?). He said they could find nothing wrong with the disc and very kindly sent me a new one, which was just as bad if not worse than the other one (the replacement disc now has sound drop outs in specific scenes, I checked the disc with my one eyes, holding it up to the light just to be certain there were no scratches or physical anomalies that would cause this and it's very clean). It isn't a matter of getting my money back, it's simply an unacceptable release. And what is worse, the majority of viewers don't think so.

So be it. There is apparently nothing anyone will do about it. The quality of movie watching at home has finally sunk to a new low, even with a film of the caliber of Howards End.
 “The cinema is an invention with no future…”     – Louis Lumière

#10 of 187 OFFLINE   Jesse Blacklow

Jesse Blacklow

    Screenwriter



  • 2,049 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 14 2002

Posted December 10 2009 - 05:48 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24fpssean 

So be it. There is apparently nothing anyone will do about it. The quality of movie watching at home has finally sunk to a new low, even with a film of the caliber of Howards End.
So, every other Criterion release looks fine, but one doesn't, and the entirety of home video is in the crapper? That statement is illogical on several levels, to say nothing of hypocritical.

"Would I rather be feared or loved? Um...easy, both. I want people to be afraid of how much they love me."
--Michael Scott, The Office

"When I get sad I just stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story."
--Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Mother

#11 of 187 OFFLINE   24fpssean

24fpssean

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 225 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 07 2009

Posted December 10 2009 - 07:02 AM

No. It is not. Blu Ray reviewers (in general) seem to like anything that appears before them. I come from the film editing world and am deeply critical. That is my prerogative. My statement is quite logical as a comment on the fact that no standards have been set for blu ray releases, as no standards were ever set for DVD releases, etc., etc. so the quality of each release is scattered across the board. Not all films are photographed alike, but a set rule of standards would assure the best and truest look when released on home video.

Having more detail and brighter colors does not constitute a great release on blu ray. Maintaining the film's original visual and audible integrity, as far as is possible even with blu ray's limitations, does constitute a great release (i.e. The Wizard of Oz and GWTW from Warners).

My comment is ultimately about the run around we complainers have been getting about this atrocious release of Howards End on blu ray. Again, I come from the professional film/digital world, and to be told my television may be on the wrong setting in order to enjoy the film is really not very helpful. Will the time come when each and every blu ray requires the readjusting of our monitors?
 “The cinema is an invention with no future…”     – Louis Lumière

#12 of 187 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Lead Actor



  • 7,680 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted December 10 2009 - 08:30 AM

Your comments regarding "no standards" are totally, undeniably, and absolutely accurate.  This is something that I've been attempting to get the industry to deal with, to no avail.  The consumer is always at risk in purchasing a Blu-ray (which should be returnable for poor quality) and is the final beneficiary of the "no standards" situation.

Regarding HE, I'm looking into this further.  The subject is not closed.

RAH

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24fpssean View Post

My statement is quite logical as a comment on the fact that no standards have been set for blu ray releases, as no standards were ever set for DVD releases, etc., etc. so the quality of each release is scattered across the board. Not all films are photographed alike, but a set rule of standards would assure the best and truest look when released on home video.

Having more detail and brighter colors does not constitute a great release on blu ray. Maintaining the film's original visual and audible integrity, as far as is possible even with blu ray's limitations, does constitute a great release (i.e. The Wizard of Oz and GWTW from Warners).

My comment is ultimately about the run around we complainers have been getting about this atrocious release of Howards End on blu ray. Again, I come from the professional film/digital world, and to be told my television may be on the wrong setting in order to enjoy the film is really not very helpful. Will the time come when each and every blu ray requires the readjusting of our monitors?


"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


#13 of 187 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

ManW_TheUncool

    Producer



  • 5,874 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 18 2001
  • Real Name:ManW

Posted December 12 2009 - 05:01 PM


Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Shiverdecker View Post

I was really stunned by what I assumed to be a bad pressing and after an e-mail exchange with Mulvaney at Criterion, sent it back for a replacement. I got a similar e-mail: that they tested the disc and there was nothing wrong with it, but that they were sending a replacement instead. He mentioned that the transfer was sensitive on Plasma sets on a "Vivid" setting, but I have a new Sony Bravia LCD. 

When I popped in the replacement disc, it looked exactly the same when the TV was set to "Vivid." Of course, it's only on certain scenes, the entire movie doesn't have this flaw, but darker scenes are especially problematic. When set to 'Normal', the digital noise problem is GREATLY REDUCED but still very noticeable to me. 

This is the first time I've ever been disappointed in Criterion and the worst Blu-ray that I have purchased so far. I find it very odd that it only affects certain tv's and/or picture settings, but since I have never experienced it on any other disc I've purchased, I find it very problematic. 
 
Does that mean you normally watch BDs on your Sony Bravia LCD w/ some sort of "vivid" setting?  If so, that's almost certainly not ideal even for other BDs in general.  In that case, I'd recommend toning down your settings at least for watching BDs.  Make sure you turn off whatever "auto" or "dynamic" (or "vivid") modes/settings and at least use reasonable contrast and brightness settings (and adjust gamma as needed, if the set allows that).  Also, turn off whatever edge enhancement setting and tone down the sharpness setting.

If grain (or digital noise) is still objectionable to you for certain titles after all that, you may want to apply a reasonable level of DNR in your TV settings.

I also have the Howards End BD, but haven't had a chance to view it yet -- and my player just started acting up yesterday, so I can't even give it a quick test spin right now to see for myself.

_Man_

Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#14 of 187 OFFLINE   Xylon

Xylon

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 124 posts
  • Join Date: Aug 01 2008

Posted December 12 2009 - 10:46 PM

Errrr . .  who set their TV at VIVID mode?!?

#15 of 187 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

Stephen_J_H

    Producer



  • 4,106 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 30 2003
  • Real Name:Stephen J. Hill
  • LocationNorth of the 49th

Posted December 13 2009 - 10:48 AM

My thoughts exactly.

"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#16 of 187 OFFLINE   Yumbo

Yumbo

    Screenwriter



  • 2,243 posts
  • Join Date: Sep 13 1999

Posted December 15 2009 - 06:51 AM

 I scanned through the other night, and was blown away by the sound (of the score)!
Wonderful...and brought back memories of why I LOVE the score.

Opening credits was nice. Zoom out was a bit strange.

Skipped through various chapters and picture softened a bit, but not inconsistently.
I compared against A ROOM WITH A VIEW, which was similarly good (sound for that was a bit unusual).

HE is a dark movie at times; the opening walk through the garden at dusk was fine, and held up on my rig.

NO sign of video noise at 185".

My first Criterion BRD.

Picked up most of them during the Amazon sale.

Playtime at last (since missing out on DVD in 2000).


#17 of 187 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

Robert Harris

    Lead Actor



  • 7,680 posts
  • Join Date: Feb 08 1999
  • Real Name:Robert Harris

Posted December 15 2009 - 09:19 AM

After discussing this situation with several people who are very aware, I'm of the opinion that this is one of those handful of odd discs which is extremely monitor dependent.



"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


#18 of 187 OFFLINE   Professor Echo

Professor Echo

    Screenwriter



  • 1,632 posts
  • Join Date: Jul 28 2008
  • Real Name:Glen
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted December 15 2009 - 09:30 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by 24fpssean 

 Blu Ray reviewers (in general) seem to like anything that appears before them.
I am in complete agreement with this.  When I read positive reviews of the travesty that is THE FRENCH CONNECTION BD, which fails on so many levels, I knew that quality standards in reviewing Blu-Ray titles was growing increasingly misguided. 

"Monitor dependent?"  Thanks, I'll make sure to buy a monitor for each and every Blu-Ray DVD I purchase.  



#19 of 187 OFFLINE   24fpssean

24fpssean

    Stunt Coordinator



  • 225 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 07 2009

Posted December 15 2009 - 09:36 AM

Wow. Thank you, Robert. This is clearly my first time running into a disc like this. And unfortunately it had to be Howards End. That's a shame that it has to be so sensitive. The clips from the film in the menu design look fantastic, and the film itself looks wretched. I let it play out completely the other night, just to reassure myself I wasn't utterly mad, and when the film paused in the black after the end titles finished rolling to switch back over to the menu, even the black fell apart - green, red, white spots everywhere.

Well, it'll be too costly for Criterion to fix it, so I'll use my DVD instead. Perhaps when they release it again early 2010 on DVD as spine #488 (same as the BD) I'll pick that up and see if the quality is better than the old DVD. Or maybe not. I think I've seen the film enough for now. :)
 “The cinema is an invention with no future…”     – Louis Lumière

#20 of 187 OFFLINE   Mike Frezon

Mike Frezon

    Studio Mogul



  • 30,513 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 09 2001
  • LocationRensselaer, NY

Posted December 15 2009 - 09:38 AM


Quote:
After discussing this situation with several people who are very aware, I'm of the opinion that this is one of those handful of odd discs which is extremely monitor dependent.


How does "monitor dependent" work? 

I always figured if standards were met at both the source and at the playback system there wouldn't be any problem. 

Does this mean a properly produced disc played back on a properly calibrated display can look bad? 

There's Jessie the yodeling cowgirl. Bullseye, he's Woody's horse. Pete the old prospector. And, Woody, the man himself.Of course, it's time for Woody's RoundUp. He's the very best! He's the rootinest, tootinest cowboy in the wild, wild west!


HTF Rules | HTF Mission Statement | Father of the Bride

Dieting with my Dog & Heart to Heart/Hand in Paw by Peggy Frezon