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A few words about...™ Walt Disney's Alice in Wonderland -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#21 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 06:28 AM

One other small thing... As I'm sure you're aware, one of the great tragedies of the recent Universal fire is that their library of distribution prints was decimated. This is a serious problem because the studios are not motivated to go to the expense of striking film prints for the dwindling market for distribution on 35mm. If you go to the main screening room at the Frank Wells building on the Disney lot to see Bambi or Fantasia, they won't be screening 35. They'll be projecting the high resolution masters generated in the preparation of the home video releases. I went to a special VIP screening of El Grupo and Saludos Amigos at the Cinemateque at the Egyptian last year, and Both films were projected off of bluray disks. The transfer of Saludos Amigos was not a straight transfer off of the original elements. It was a recreation version that hasn't been released yet. Digital projection is swiftly replacing the film standard that has been in place for a century. Soon, there may not be any way at all to see these films in their unaltered state. Eventually, the current versions will be the original source for these films.

#22 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 06:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Harris 

Quote:


Which is precisely what I was attempting to report.  And for that reason, pulling an incorrect cell as reference, could create problems.

See the paragraph that follows. Disney has the main color model books in the ARL in Glendale. Those books contain samples of every color palette for every character in the picture without any variation for cel density. They have ample color reference on the psot-nitrate features. The reason they don't use it has nothing to do with cel density corrections. They don't use it because they don't intend to follow the original colors. They're goosing everything up to nice bright colors to please the executives and marketing people. Also, in restoring cels, I've run into many examples of cel density corrections. It almost always involves very light colors, particularly eye whites. The darker and more vibrant colors aren't affected by cel density the way whites and very pale blues and violets are. They were usually not adjusted for density shifts. For instance, on Alice cel density corrections would involve primarily her eye whites and the white of her petticoats. It would not affect the blue of her dress or flesh color. Her hair had four or five different colors which were used for lighting effects. But the overall hue was cool on all the hair, not yellow orange like in the screen grabs. The reason Alice's hair leaned towards the green side was because many of the backgrounds in Alice were painted with cool colors. Seen over blue green or blue violet, the hair appears to be warmer, just under a specific lighting condition. The color modellists at Disney would work warm against cool, brilliant against grayed and dark against light to create contrasts, but the overall desired effect was to make the character mesh into the background and appear to be seen under the same light. The recoloring shifts individual colors independent of the colors around them, which results in the loss of the carefully balanced original color harmony.

#23 of 139 FoxyMulder

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Posted January 28 2011 - 06:49 AM



Originally Posted by bigshot 

See the paragraph that follows. Disney has the main color model books in the ARL in Glendale. Those books contain samples of every color palette for every character in the picture without any variation for cel density. They have ample color reference on the psot-nitrate features. The reason they don't use it has nothing to do with cel density corrections. They don't use it because they don't intend to follow the original colors. They're goosing everything up to nice bright colors to please the executives and marketing people.Also, in restoring cels, I've run into many examples of cel density corrections. It almost always involves very light colors, particularly eye whites. The darker and more vibrant colors aren't affected by cel density the way whites and very pale blues and violets are. They were usually not adjusted for density shifts.


Beauty and the Beast seemed to suffer from this problem too, the dungeon scenes revealed too much of the beast to Belle as in earlier editions it was darker tones.


It does seem Disney is re-inventing their back catalogue, i buy them but i wish they would give us the original look.


     :Fun Movie Quotes:

"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

"Maybe it's a sheep dog... let's keep going" 

"Please doctor, I've got to ask this. It sounds like, well, just as though you're describing some form of super carrot"

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#24 of 139 Carlo Medina

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Posted January 28 2011 - 07:06 AM

Without picking a side, I will say this type of thread and discussion is exactly the reason I'm proud to be a member at HTF. Two respected members of the industry educating us as to the issues in this complicated situation. Thanks to both RAH and Stephen Worth for the extremely interesting reading! Posted Image



#25 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 07:18 AM

Thanks, Carlo. I'm a fan too. Cartoons matter.

#26 of 139 Charles Smith

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Posted January 28 2011 - 07:19 AM

Yes, thanks to you both, and to all concerned.  This is why I'm here.



#27 of 139 Robert Harris

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Posted January 28 2011 - 07:53 AM

Mr. Worth and I would both prefer the original look for these films.  Unfortunately, it comes down to the old "art vs. commerce" situation.  While the new Blu-rays of the Disney classics all begin with high resolution scans derived from the original negatives, and great care is taken in that scanning, it is the re-imagining of the films that we would both prefer to see avoided.  The idea of two versions of the film is a good one, with one allowing a bit of grain (the originals are very grainy) as well as the tones and hues per the original filmmakers, and a second that would make modern kids smile and take them away from their Blackberrys for 75 minutes.


Do I see this occurring?


Doubtful.


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


#28 of 139 Phoebus

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Posted January 28 2011 - 08:22 AM

All this makes for fascinating reading.

I'm amazed at how purple the non-wonderland skies appear in the DVDBEAVER screen grabs of the bluray.  Something seems awry here, beyond the fashionable colours of todays' youth.  I know many movie clouds have that technicolor pink hue to them, but not like this.


Not available in uk for a couple of months so I'm not in a position to double check this with my own bluray.



#29 of 139 Edwin-S

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Posted January 28 2011 - 08:53 AM

The more I look at those grabs the worse the BD starts to look. The purple sky and the pumped colours on Alice that make her look like she is standing in direct sunlight, when it is clear that she standing in shadow, are just examples of how they have wrecked the colour work in this film. It's bad. The idea that the original colour work should be turfed in order to supposedly attract addicted crackberry brats is just brutal. It's even worse that anyone would think it is acceptable.

"You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

#30 of 139 Scott Calvert

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Posted January 28 2011 - 09:08 AM



Originally Posted by Edwin-S 

The more I look at those grabs the worse the BD starts to look. The purple sky and the pumped colours on Alice that make her look like she is standing in direct sunlight, when it is clear that she standing in shadow, are just examples of how they have wrecked the colour work in this film. It's bad. The idea that the original colour work should be turfed in order to supposedly attract addicted crackberry brats is just brutal. It's even worse that anyone would think it is acceptable.



Indeed. Over the years we are getting better and better technology, from digital restoration tools to consumer media and display devices and everyone is so in awe of just how cool these toys are that the original ethic is totally lost. Sometimes I think forum members should be forced to re-read the mission statement every month and click "I agree" to retain their membership ;). I can accept that most people in the real world couldn't possibly care less but that is why I come here....it's sad to see the "oh well it doesn't really matter" attitude from some folks.





#31 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 09:49 AM

I've worked in animation for over 25 years, and the attitude of "it's only a cartoon" has been a part of it since the beginning. There was a flicker of hope in the 80s when The Illusion of Life was published and the animated features were being released to VHS and laserdisc in better transfers than had ever been seen before; but now it has slid back to the dark ages for animation fans again. Animation is the second greatest American contribution to the creative culture of the 20th century, right after jazz. It is studied seriously by scholars and is represented in the collections of major art museums. We know more about the great artists who created these films now than people did when the films were being made. There's no excuse for our cultural treasures to be treated this way. It is the responsibility of critics, historians, archivists, restorers and just plain old film fans to speak out against the poor treatment the Disney films are receiving at the hands of the current rights holders. These people didn't make these films and they don't have the moral right to rework and rethink the creative decisions made by the original creators. Thank goodness for great film critics like Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert and my friend, Jerry Beck. Unfortunately, for every one of them, there's a hundred critics that simply paraphrase press releases and follow the commercial party line. We aren't going to get good transfers of these great films by smiling and giving this crap two thumbs up and keeping our mouths shut. That much is obvious. People who truly love classic animation and respect the people who made it should speak out every chance they get and demand a quality job of restoration. If the studios won't give it to us when we ask nicely, we should point out the glaring flaws and shame them into being good stewards of the films in their libraries.

#32 of 139 FanboyZ

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Posted January 28 2011 - 09:59 AM



Originally Posted by bigshot 

I've worked in animation for over 25 years, and the attitude of "it's only a cartoon" has been a part of it since the beginning.

There was a flicker of hope in the 80s when The Illusion of Life was published and the animated features were being released to VHS and laserdisc in better transfers than had ever been seen before; but now it has slid back to the dark ages for animation fans again.

Animation is the second greatest American contribution to the creative culture of the 20th century, right after jazz. It is studied seriously by scholars and is represented in the collections of major art museums. We know more about the great artists who created these films now than people did when the films were being made. There's no excuse for our cultural treasures to be treated this way.

It is the responsibility of critics, historians, archivists, restorers and just plain old film fans to speak out against the poor treatment the Disney films are receiving at the hands of the current rights holders. These people didn't make these films and they don't have the moral right to rework and rethink the creative decisions made by the original creators.

Thank goodness for great film critics like Leonard Maltin, Roger Ebert and my friend, Jerry Beck. Unfortunately, for every one of them, there's a hundred critics that simply paraphrase press releases and follow the commercial party line.

We aren't going to get good transfers of these great films by smiling and giving this crap two thumbs up and keeping our mouths shut. That much is obvious. People who truly love classic animation and respect the people who made it should speak out every chance they get and demand a quality job of restoration. If the studios won't give it to us when we ask nicely, we should point out the glaring flaws and shame them into being good stewards of the films in their libraries.


Word to that.
What Disney does is just as bad as what was done Predator, Patton, or Evil Dead 2.

Alice in Wonderlans, Bambi, and every other "cartoon" is a film just like the above and should not be essentially RE-made for a new format. New Colors/ images and Sound is a new movie.


#33 of 139 Paul Penna

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Posted January 28 2011 - 10:18 AM

I can't be the only one who finds that screen caps, including DVD Beaver's, often don't match what I see from the disc thru my display very well. They're valuable for some things, like showing one version to be crisper than another that's a blurry mess, but when we get into the subtleties of color variations, contrast and so on, there are just too many variables involved in the process to draw any definite conclusions.



#34 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 10:24 AM

The difference in the color of Alice's hair isn't particularly subtle.

#35 of 139 cafink

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Posted January 28 2011 - 10:31 AM


Originally Posted by Robert Harris 

For those who have a desire to see the film in a state which approximates its look in 1951, prints are occasionally screened at

archives.


"Occasional screenings" are in no way a substitute for a DVD or Blu-ray release, which anyone can watch, anywhere and anytime he pleases.  Lots of other studios are perfectly willing to release DVDs and Blu-rays that reasonably approximate the original release of the films they contain...why give Disney a pass on the issue?  Just because the original elements are preserved in their vaults?  As a consumer, I care not one whit about that.  If they don't release it on DVD or Blu-ray for me to purchase, it does me absolutely no good whatsoever.


 

 


#36 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 10:32 AM

I'm going to go out on a limb here. I'll bet five dollars that the image of the White Rabbit on the home page is not a frame grab from the bluray. It is quite a way off from the proper color balance, but all of the colors are off in the same direction so the relationships between the colors remain. The Disney blurays I've seen are all over the place and the relative relationships of groups of colors are always muddled. To the previous point, why is a film look and accurate color presentation important to Night of the Hunter or American in Paris, but it isn't here?

#37 of 139 FanboyZ

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Posted January 28 2011 - 10:41 AM

Because Robert A. Harris says it's not.



#38 of 139 bigshot

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Posted January 28 2011 - 01:05 PM

I can understand if you have friends who work very hard on a project that turns out poorly. I've worked on some lousy cartoons myself. Its fair to stick up for the people doing the work. Theyre just trying to do their best at what they're told to do. The people responsible are the executives who call the shots. I bet if they gave the crew working on restoring these films the autonomy to do things the way they saw fit, the results would be a lot better.

#39 of 139 snoopy28574

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Posted January 28 2011 - 01:56 PM

This is great news. What I don't understand is why all studios do not go back to the earliest possible elements for their blue rays. Now I understand expense is a factor, but for the great ones, nothing less should be tolerated.

Originally Posted by Robert Harris 

If one takes a look at the number of full length animated feature films created under the Walt Disney banner during the first 40 years beginning with Snow White in 1937, the number comes down (unless I'm missing something) to 13 films.


Since the advent of Blu-ray we've been gifted four.  The 1951 Alice in Wonderland will make five, and very shortly in March and April numbers 6 and 7, Bambi and Dumbo, will follow.


All of these Blu-rays have been struck from meticulously crafted HD masters, which in turn were derived by going back not to intermediate film elements, but the original negatives.  To be clear, these are not restorations, although the resultant images are crisp, clean, clear and perfect to the nth degree.  What they are, are new editions, in some ways a new interpretation, based upon the original elements, but purposely created for a new audience, with gorgeous colors and perfectly stable images.  It's important to get that out of the way when discussing these releases, because if not noted, some might be put off by any lack of originality, inclusive of the removal of all grain.  This has come up in discussion each and every time one of these Blu-rays hits the streets.  Like the others there will be someone who notes that they saw the film in 1951, and the blues had a bit more yellow to them, or color, overall, wasn't as dense.

So here it is, loud and clear.  This is neither a 1951 dye transfer print, nor has it been created  to perfectly replicate that original look.  As one of the original animators said when being interviewed after the release of one of the classics on DVD a decade or so ago, and I'm paraphrasing... "They're nice colors.  They're not our colors, but they're nice colors."


The case also needs to be made, that the removal of grain for these new editions is not necessarily a bad thing (although I personally have a few niggling problems with Snow White in stationary scenes).  The resultant images are far more highly resolved and colorful than have ever been seen before.


So before anyone adds to the thread that the films may not perfectly match what was released 50, 60 or 70 years ago, the point is that it doesn't matter.  The films, each and every one, has been properly preserved, and should there be a need to replicate the original looks, the ability is on the menu.


So what do we have in this 60 year old animated classic as far as visuals?


Absolute perfection.  Brilliant colors where called for, beautifully shaded where not.


The audio 'aint bad either, in either 5.1 or the original monaural mix.


This is not your father's Alice in Wonderland, but what it is, is breathtakingly gorgeous, and another welcome addition to the Disney library.

I'm waiting patiently for numbers 8 though 13.


Highly Recommended.


RAH





#40 of 139 Jeffrey Nelson

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Posted January 28 2011 - 02:02 PM



Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


Bottom line.  There is no absolute reference.  There are approximates, guidelines, researched attributes, and dedicated

thoughtful guesses, but there is no reference.



Apparently this is not true; at least, certainly not in the case of the title in question.


You say that you'd prefer artistically accurate transfers of these classics, but that you doubt it will ever happen.  You may well be right.  But unfortunately, a respected archivist/restorationist like yourself giving not only a free pass to the studio's wrongheaded attempts at artistic revisionism, but also a thumbs-up, five-star, can't-wait-to-buy-more-of-these review, while making excuses for their conduct that don't hold water upon closer examination, can't do much to help move things in the right direction, because it will only validate what they are doing.  I still can't believe you wrote what you did in the bit I quoted in my first response to your post.  If more film restorationists start taking this attitude to studio nonsense like this, we may as well all give up hope for any accurate transfers in the future.