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A few words about...™ The Red Shoes -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 02 2010 - 02:30 PM

There is little that has not been already written about The Archers' production of The Red Shoes.


It remains one of my favorite films, and has been for decades.


I've owned a beautiful 35mm dye transfer print, as well as several 16s, one an early original from Technicolor London.  As photographed by the late Jack Cardiff, it is one of the masterpieces of the Technicolor art.


Criterion's new Blu-ray of The Red Shoes looks to be a virtual clone of that early dye transfer print.


Only far shaper, more highly resolved, and with an image harvested from the camera originals, yields shadings that were never totally visible.


If one were ask how many "perfect" films exist in our cinema heritage, I would not be able to come up with a number.  Less than one hundred?  Certainly.  Less than fifty?  Probably.


Regardless of precisely where it might fit in the pantheon of perfect cinema, The Red Shoes has its place, as one of the wonders of the world of cinema.


As a Blu-ray, The Red Shoes would have been severely lacking, as it has been in the past, had several organizations not stepped up to the plate, had UCLA's Robert Gitt not stepped in to take the project's reins, and had Warner Bros.' MPI Digital facility not given the work their kid glove treatment, pulling out every bit of available digital magic to remove mold, scratches, dirt, flicker, processing and coating problems, and as a final service, to put the entire film through their latest registration process.


This is what film restoration is all about when digital tools are used properly.


The final result is a perfect piece of cinema, matched to a perfect film restoration, yielding a perfect Blu-ray presentation.


Criterion's Blu-ray of Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes is Extremely Highly Recommended.


And for those who may shy away because they perceive it as a "dance" film.


"You ain't seen nothin' yet!"


Cinema doesn't get any better.


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 65 OFFLINE   JohnMor

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Posted July 02 2010 - 02:51 PM

Love this film and can't wait for the Blu. This, and Black Narcissus.



#3 of 65 OFFLINE   BethHarrison

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Posted July 02 2010 - 10:03 PM

Mr Harris, does the Criterion packaging say if the Blu-ray was created by down-conversion of the 4K digital master, or did they output the digital restoration to film, and then scan the restoration film element?


I always thought these Technicolor digital restorations just mean recombining the films digitally to create a new digitally registered version. But some have said they must be output back to film, then scanned again in order to look right. I thought that scanning them out to film is only used for making new 35mm prints, because the Technicolor look can be better recreated digitally rather than on modern stocks that don't look quite right?



#4 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 03 2010 - 12:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BethHarrison 

Mr Harris, does the Criterion packaging say if the Blu-ray was created by down-conversion of the 4K digital master, or did they output the digital restoration to film, and then scan the restoration film element?


I always thought these Technicolor digital restorations just mean recombining the films digitally to create a new digitally registered version. But some have said they must be output back to film, then scanned again in order to look right. I thought that scanning them out to film is only used for making new 35mm prints, because the Technicolor look can be better recreated digitally rather than on modern stocks that don't look quite right?


Two totally different by-products of the digital restoration via DI.


A 35mm negative(s) is recorded out from the 4k data files.


An HD master is down-rezzed from those same files, with adjustments to the image to an HD LUT.


Scanning the film would defeat the purpose, as the necessary data files are already held on servers.


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 65 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted July 03 2010 - 05:00 AM

Wonderful - albeit expected - news.


Agreed:  this is not a "dance" film.  It is a swan dive into the turbulent pool of creative obsession, which leaves friendships and romantic relationships tipping over in the wake.


Awesome film. Can't wait!



#6 of 65 OFFLINE   Dick

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Posted July 03 2010 - 07:20 AM

I bought the R-2 Blu's of this and BLACK NARCISSUS on the ITV UK label about a month before Criterion announced their own editions. I'd be upset about that, except that both look as glorious as Mr. Harris describes here. No need to re-buy, I guess.



#7 of 65 OFFLINE   John Hodson

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Posted July 03 2010 - 08:39 AM

I have the ITV DVD of The Red Shoes; it's wonderful, and seems to improve with each viewing.


So many films, so little time...
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#8 of 65 OFFLINE   marsnkc

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Posted July 03 2010 - 10:09 AM

I'm very happy for you, Robert, as I am for those unbelievably lucky fans of Blade Runner with the digital feast that WB served up for them. I just pray that I'm as lucky with Lawrence (as I'm sure its restorer does, too...), though I can't imagine any movie ever again getting the massive, 'something for everyone', treatment that BR did. Still, I'll be in seventh heaven if I get a transfer to equal Shoes and BR, even if it's a single disc without a single extra (especially if any extras take up space at the expense of a higher bit rate for the movie!).

Looking forward to The Red Shoes.

 


#9 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 03 2010 - 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by marsnkc 

I just pray that I'm as lucky with Lawrence (as I'm sure its restorer does, too...), though I can't imagine any movie ever again getting the massive, 'something for everyone', treatment that BR did. Still, I'll be in seventh heaven if I get a transfer to equal Shoes and BR, even if it's a single disc without a single extra (especially if any extras take up space at the expense of a higher bit rate for the movie!).

Looking forward to The Red Shoes.

 
I wouldn't lose any sleep over Lawrence.


"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 65 ONLINE   Robin9

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Posted July 03 2010 - 08:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 

Quote:

I wouldn't lose any sleep over Lawrence.

Just love your confidence! You obviously know something!



#11 of 65 OFFLINE   Brianruns10

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Posted July 04 2010 - 05:00 AM

I dream of an 8K transfer of "Lawrence," as they did with Baraka.  How amazing would that be?


But to bring it back to The Red Shoes, July 20th simply can't come soon enough.  I treasure that film, and the fact that Cardiff did not win, nor was even nominated for an Oscar, for his cinematography on that picture, is one of the great oversights by the Academy, right up there with denying Best Picture for Citizen Kane.


i was fortunate enough to correspond with Cardiff in the last years of his life, and got to tell him how much I treasured his work.  While it wish he had lived long enough to see The Red Shoes restoration, I'm glad he was able to see how much younger generations enjoyed his work.


Thanks Richard for your great review, and I hope things are going well with your latest restoration efforts!


Brian R.


PS: Still working on "Ryan's Daughter" for Ebertfest '11!



#12 of 65 OFFLINE   Michel_Hafner

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Posted July 04 2010 - 06:28 AM





Originally Posted by Dick 

I bought the R-2 Blu's of this and BLACK NARCISSUS on the ITV UK label about a month before Criterion announced their own editions. I'd be upset about that, except that both look as glorious as Mr. Harris describes here. No need to re-buy, I guess.


Depends how well you can see and appreciate the benefits of a considerably higher bit rate. The Criterion disc resolves the grain visibly better with additional high frequency detail. So it's closer to the digital master. Less compression artifacts.



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Posted July 04 2010 - 10:00 PM

I pre-ordered The Red Shoes tonight based on Mr. Harris's enthusiasm.



#14 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 05 2010 - 01:06 AM



Originally Posted by Brianruns10 

I dream of an 8K transfer of "Lawrence," as they did with Baraka.  How amazing would that be?


No need to dream.  All major 65mm scans are performed in 8k.


"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


#15 of 65 OFFLINE   Andy_G

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Posted July 05 2010 - 02:25 AM

On that subject, what do you make of this report from Arri (PDF) suggesting that there is some additional value to scanning 35mm at 10k (!)?


It a bit above my pay grade technically speaking, but the images on p 17 (figure 20) seem to speak for themselves.



#16 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 05 2010 - 03:39 AM

I would presume that when dealing with a modern fine grain negative stock, that 6k or more would be helpful before being down-rezzed.


When dealing with older films, 6k is overkill, but if immediately brought down to 4 would be fine.  If not a necessity, one would not want to be dealing with moving 6k data. Keep in mind that the majority of DIs have been 2, and not 4.


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 65 OFFLINE   Andy_G

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Posted July 05 2010 - 03:53 AM

The way I read it is that 2k and 4k are often seen as "good enough," but aren't guaranteed to resolve everything on the negative.

Out of curiosity, just how much better are modern stocks at resolving fine detail than those from the 40s, 50s, and 60s? Is it even possible to conduct a test that would say? Can Super-35 today match VistaVision from the 50s?



#18 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 05 2010 - 05:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy_G 

The way I read it is that 2k and 4k are often seen as "good enough," but aren't guaranteed to resolve everything on the negative.

Out of curiosity, just how much better are modern stocks at resolving fine detail than those from the 40s, 50s, and 60s? Is it even possible to conduct a test that would say? Can Super-35 today match VistaVision from the 50s?


Good question re: VVLA, and I don't have an answer.  I would presume that a modern low speed negative would have resolving power equal or better than Vista, which would all have been shot on either Eastman 5248 or 5250.


For some early films, especially working from dupes, a 4k scan, down-rezzed to 2k will work quite nicely.


Anything from the '40s or beyond, really needs 4k when accessing original negatives.


Modern stock can take advantage of higher resolution scans, but generally finishing in 4k is still practical.


I'm quite certain that films such as Flags of Our Fathers were scanned and recorded to film as 2k data.


The Godfather was fully 4k at through the process, and nothing was lost, grain for grain.


At a certain point it all becomes numbers, as human vision also has limitations.


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


#19 of 65 OFFLINE   marsnkc

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Posted July 05 2010 - 07:13 PM

I just read Matt's review of Red Shoes. I have a question that, since it's not a thread, I have to ask here.


He refers to the aspect ratio as 1.33:1. I keep seeing this number being referred to as the 'Academy' ratio. Isn't the old Academy ratio actually 1.37:1 while 1.33:1 was the old TV ratio (prior to 16:9) established for overscan purposes? If so, are these older Academy ratio movies now transferred to video in their full 1.37:1 number (or were they always), and is that what we're getting on our current sets? In short, when I get The Red Shoes, will I be seeing it in 1.37:1?



#20 of 65 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 05 2010 - 10:34 PM

I would presume 1.37, but one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two.


"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