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Spielberg's new mantra for Blu-ray?


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#1 of 55 Paul Hillenbrand

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Posted June 05 2011 - 02:23 AM

Steven Spielberg has now been quoted to say:


"(In the future) there's going to be no more digital enhancements or digital additions to anything based on any film I direct. I'm not going to do any corrections digitally to even wires that show... If 1941 comes on Blu-ray I'm not going to go back and take the wires out because the Blu-ray will bring the wires out that are guiding the airplane down Hollywood Blvd. At this point right now I think letting movies exist in the era, with all the flaws and all of the flourishes, is a wonderful way to mark time and mark history."

Source


What I don't understand is that film has more resolution than Blu-ray and how it is displayed in the first place, so what was in the film was already brought out in all it's potential glory on the large theater screen.  Weren't we used to seeing these obvious flaws at the time and subconsciously blocking them out, allowing  the psyche to imagine the fantasy stimulation to be the feeling of reality?  Why change the historical creation in the first place? People can still imagine.


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#2 of 55 Towergrove

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Posted June 05 2011 - 02:40 AM

Good article Paul.  I always wonder why we notice things in films now when we didn't in the theater.  I guess our eyes have become trained to see these things over the years or maybe like you said subconsciously we have blocked them out.

Im glad he plans to leave his film in the form they were presented to us in the theater at the time they we first saw them.


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#3 of 55 Cinescott

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Posted June 05 2011 - 03:38 AM

I'm certainly not an expert, but I often think theatrical prints are sometimes multiple-generations removed from negatives, so through a process of steadily-reduced resolution, some of the flaws we see on Blu-ray may not have been noticeable in a theater. Add to the mix the inevitable scratches and wear that happen with film and there would be a thousand other flaws vying for our attention in addition to a couple of wires.


That being said, I don't really have a horse in this race either way. I believe in preserving original presentations, but do make an exception for any correction that really doesn't interfere with the structure of the image. In other words, hiding wires with a computer isn't a big deal to me. It's still the same movie IMO. Also, Blu-ray often requires a bit of electronic tinkering to make the image palatable. Scratches and dirt are electronically scrubbed from film all the time. I don't see a lot of people complaining about that. The scratches were there at the source, so by the same argument isn't it wrong to remove them? Maybe they're a product of age and wear as opposed to technical limitations, but it's a pretty fine line. Since many wires may not indeed have been visible during a theatrical showing, why would it be wrong to stay in the same spirit of that showing? The resolution on our HDTVs is still only a fraction of that on film. It's a mistake to think that by not performing any changes to film whatsoever via a computer that we're honoring the spirit of film, because at the end of the day film and video are two different mediums. Blu-ray can come a lot closer to film via video than ever before, but we all need to keep in mind that many of these titles were designed to be projected on enormous screens via a bright bulb shining light through a piece of celluloid. If directors want wires removed, OK. If, ala Spielberg nothing will be removed (a change of tune on his part), then that's OK as well.


I would wager that there are changes made to titles each of us considers "reference" that we're not even aware of.

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#4 of 55 Worth

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Posted June 05 2011 - 04:05 AM



Originally Posted by Paul Hillenbrand 

What I don't understand is that film has more resolution than Blu-ray and how it is displayed in the first place, so what was in the film was already brought out in all it's potential glory on the large theater screen.


That's a common misconception. The original 35mm camera negative has more detail than blu-ray, but typical release prints - what you actually see in the theatre - have about the equivalent of 720p video. Added to that, you can have imperfect focus, projector gate weave, dust and scratches etc.


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#5 of 55 Paul Hillenbrand

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Posted June 05 2011 - 04:20 AM



Originally Posted by Worth 




That's a common misconception. The original 35mm camera negative has more detail than blu-ray, but typical release prints - what you actually see in the theatre - have about the equivalent of 720p video.

That would explain a lot.




Originally Posted by Cinescott 

........Since many wires may not indeed have been visible during a theatrical showing, why would it be wrong to stay in the same spirit of that showing?........


I would wager that there are changes made to titles each of us considers "reference" that we're not even aware of.

No one but the people who are privy to actual comparisons would be able to make the determination and IMO, rightfully so.


The question I now have is WHY such a change in Spielberg's attitude?   Frustration from fans & critic's comments?

His thinking that the only way to teach the public consumer is to actually author the actual problem image with no enhancements?


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#6 of 55 AaronMan

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Posted June 05 2011 - 04:49 AM

So hopefully when E.T. is released on Blu-Ray, we'll get the original version, and not the cops-with-walkie-talkies edition?



#7 of 55 ahollis

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Posted June 05 2011 - 04:56 AM

Seems like he and George Lucas need to step outside for a discussion on this.

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#8 of 55 Ethan Riley

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Posted June 05 2011 - 05:19 AM



Originally Posted by Worth 


That's a common misconception. The original 35mm camera negative has more detail than blu-ray, but typical release prints - what you actually see in the theatre - have about the equivalent of 720p video. Added to that, you can have imperfect focus, projector gate weave, dust and scratches etc.



I'm with Nick on this one. For example, in 1941 I honestly never even noticed the wires on the airplane. In Jurassic Park, I never noticed the rope pulling the tree when the dinosaur is eating the leaves. I certainly can see these flaws on the current dvds of these. Blu-ray will make those wires and ropes more noticeable. And yeah--especially back in the day, moviegoers would have to put up with bored projectionists ordering pizza while the film goes into imperfect focus. And prints certainly got beaten up after playing for just a few days.


In all, blu-ray offers far, far more flaws than were ever noticeable in theaters. I wonder if it's also because the screen is so much smaller at home that our eyes can take in the whole picture easier and we notice everything. If Spielberg wanted to remove those wires and ropes, I wouldn't fault him, but it doesn't really hurt those movies either way.


 

 


#9 of 55 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 05 2011 - 06:28 AM



Originally Posted by Cinescott 

I'm certainly not an expert, but I often think theatrical prints are sometimes multiple-generations removed from negatives, so through a process of steadily-reduced resolution, some of the flaws we see on Blu-ray may not have been noticeable in a theater.


That's exactly it.  Often, how scenes with wires were planned out and shot were done so with this in mind.  Nowadays, a filmmaker using wires on a new film will remove them digitally in post.  Back then, having them disappear in the printing stage was their best tool to do so, and something that was kept in mind very consciously when doing a wire scene.  Additionally, besides generational loss, different intermediate and release print stocks had different grain structures, and choices were made about which ones to use as part of the process of covering up the wire work and all sorts of other effects.


There are definitely instances where we see a wire on a Blu-ray that had never been visible in any theatrical print beforehand.  Even new prints made today from old films, using today's finer-grained stocks, can reveal some of these imperfections.  The example that comes to my mind is something from "2001: A Space Odyssey" - the scene where Floyd is flying to the space station, and we see his pen floating down the aisle before the stewardess grabs it and picks it up and puts it back in his pocket.  On both the Blu-ray and the 70mm prints that were newly made for the year-2001 re-release, you can just see that the pen as she grabs it is stuck on a rotating piece of clear plastic or glass.  In earlier prints, that had never been visible before.  Does it ruin the movie?  Of course not.  Was it an effect that had been hidden by the way films were brought to release in 1968?  Absolutely.  Was Kubrick aware that while the effect might have been visible on the negative, that it would be invisible by the release print?  Undoubtedly.  Now, for the new 70mm prints that were made - they looked so gorgeous, I wouldn't have wanted them to scan the negative and digitally tweak that one little moment and print out to 70mm and splice that in there.  But, when doing the Blu-ray, where the whole film is scanned as part of the process, it's an interesting dilemma to face as to what to do about it.  On one hand, leaving it alone is a valid choice - the film is the film, and let it be.  On the other hand, if today's newer technology is essentially "undoing" some of the effects work achieved by the filmmakers using older technology in their time, is that something that we want?  I would say a compelling case could be made that by presenting a digital image that contains more information than the filmmakers ever intended, that erased the careful work that was done via the release methods of the time to make the effects seamless, is a different kind of revision.  If, in the pursuit of making a great HD copy, some of the original effects are altered by taking away the layers of grain and generation loss that the filmmaker intentionally used to hide their tracks, that in my opinion is making a change to how the film is being presented.  They used generation loss and release stocks to achieve wire removal - today, we use digital tools - but the intention and result is the same: the wires aren't visible.  Afterall, there are plenty of things on a negative that aren't meant to seen by an audience.


In a perfect world, my take on this would be simple: if the wires (or other effects) were not visible in the original release prints (even if they're on the actual negative), I think it's acceptable to remove them from the Blu-ray.  That's not, in my opinion, altering the film - that's retaining the original look of it.  If, on the other hand, the wires have always been visible in the film, back to when it was in theaters, then I think they should be left alone for the Blu-ray.  It's a really fine line to walk.





Quote:
Originally Posted by AaronMan 

So hopefully when E.T. is released on Blu-Ray, we'll get the original version, and not the cops-with-walkie-talkies edition?


I would guess we'd get both versions on one disc.  Spielberg was pretty insistent that the original release, which was done shortly after the "special edition," also include the original version at no extra cost.  I don't think he'd suppress the newer version any more than I think he'd suppress the older one - I'm guessing "Close Encounters"-style release for this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ahollis 

Seems like he and George Lucas need to step outside for a discussion on this.


Now that could be the Pay-Per-View special of the century!  (I can very easily imagine a show like Robot Chicken doing a skit with that.)  Posted Image  That quote from Spielberg came from an AICN interview, and the interviewer did ask about Lucas and his revisions, and Spielberg laughed and essentially said "No one can make George do anything he doesn't want to" and that he "respected" Lucas' choices.  Besides the whole frustration element in not getting certain Lucas films the way they first premiered, the absurdity of the whole thing really does make me laugh sometimes - all he'd have to do is put out the originals side-by-side (or even buried on the last disc of the set), and then there would be zero controversy about any and all changes, past or present, that he wanted to make.  As it stands now, I hope for as few changes as possible with the upcoming Star Wars BDs because I know we're not getting the originals, so I want the versions on there to be as close as possible.  If I had access to high quality versions of the originals, I'd be the first to say, "Go ahead George, use every bit of technology at your disposal and let's see what you come up with" - I would be interested to see that, just not at the expense of losing the original version.



#10 of 55 Douglas Monce

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Posted June 05 2011 - 06:33 AM

Its not just a matter of resolution. I too have read the study that the average release print shown in the average theater has no more resolution than 720p, and that sounds about correct to me. However there is something else that resolution doesn't take into account. Video, even HD video, has a considerably lower dynamic range from brightest to darkest parts of the image than film does. This means that the garbage mattes in Star Wars for example, vanish into the black of the space background on film, but black is so close to visible, on video, that they stick out like a sore thumb. The same is true of many things that were likely not visible in the theater, but suddenly show up on video, particularly in HD, like the wires holding up the Lion's tale in Wizard of Oz. With the contrast of the original Technicolor IB prints, the wires likely blended into the backgrounds 90% of the time. Doug
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#11 of 55 Mark-P

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Posted June 05 2011 - 09:30 AM

So... does this mean the Blu-ray for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" will have the reflection in the glass put back in for the scene with the Cobra? Wonder how old George will feel about that! Posted Image



#12 of 55 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 05 2011 - 10:20 AM



Originally Posted by Mark-P 

So... does this mean the Blu-ray for "Raiders of the Lost Ark" will have the reflection in the glass put back in for the scene with the Cobra? Wonder how old George will feel about that! Posted Image



We'll probably never hear about it officially, but I bet the two of them will have an interesting discussion about that.  In the end, I think Spielberg probably gets his way if the two of them having conflicting views -- otherwise the title card on that movie would have been changed by Lucas to "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark" years ago...



#13 of 55 Jeff Ulmer

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Posted June 05 2011 - 12:14 PM

I have no problem with alterations that respect the original intent - ie. removing wires/matte lines that were never intended to be seen, or if they were visible in release prints, were only there because there was no way at the time to remove them. No one wants a print that is riddled with scratches or other debris, but grain structure is a part of film and should be left.


I do have issues with digitally updating effects, especially if they are obvious.


George should hire Steven to oversee his releases....



#14 of 55 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 05 2011 - 02:53 PM



Originally Posted by Jeff Ulmer 

George should hire Steven to oversee his releases....


In this (not-so-humble) poster's opinion, George and Steven should get together with Harrison and do another Indy film.  Because good or bad, it's still more fun than 99.9% of the other things out there, and I liked the last one.



#15 of 55 Worth

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Posted June 06 2011 - 01:07 AM



Originally Posted by Josh Steinberg 


In this (not-so-humble) poster's opinion, George and Steven should get together with Harrison and do another Indy film.



As long as Lucas is confined to producing and has zero say in the story and script.


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#16 of 55 Jeff Adkins

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Posted June 06 2011 - 04:25 AM



Originally Posted by AaronMan 

So hopefully when E.T. is released on Blu-Ray, we'll get the original version, and not the cops-with-walkie-talkies edition?



Judging by this quote in the new interview, I'd say that's a certainty.




When people ask me which E.T. they should look at, I always tell them to look at the original 1982 E.T. If you notice, when we did put out E.T. we put out two E.T.s. We put out the digitally enhanced version with the additional scenes and for no extra money, in the same package, we put out the original ‘82 version. I always tell people to go back to the ’82 version.



The entire interview has been posted now.


http://www.aintitcool.com/node/49921



#17 of 55 Douglas Monce

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Posted June 06 2011 - 03:51 PM



In this (not-so-humble) poster's opinion, George and Steven should get together with Harrison and do another Indy film.  Because good or bad, it's still more fun than 99.9% of the other things out there, and I liked the last one.

Agreed. I really enjoyed the last Indy film and I'm ready for some more! Doug
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#18 of 55 Josh Steinberg

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Posted June 06 2011 - 06:04 PM



Originally Posted by Douglas Monce 

Agreed. I really enjoyed the last Indy film and I'm ready for some more!
 


We may be the only two people on this forum willing to admit to that! Posted Image


The scene with Indy and Marion sinking in "quicksand" as Indy gives a lecture about what kind of sand it actually is, all the way through him having to grab onto a "rope" to get out of there, that was just pure fun.  After all those years, it was great to see the chemistry still there.



#19 of 55 Bob McLaughlin

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Posted June 07 2011 - 02:05 AM

Glad Spielberg is saying this.  I suspect the backlash he got for the digital removal of federal agents; rifles in "E.T." might have made him more aware that fans of his movies really do care about the movie itself and don't just treat it as product.


Now if Steve could just talk George into releasing the original untouched Star Wars movies on Blu Ray...that'll never happen, though.


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#20 of 55 Douglas Monce

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Posted June 07 2011 - 02:41 PM



We may be the only two people on this forum willing to admit to that! http://www.hometheaterforum.com/img/vbsmilies/htf/biggrin.gif">

 

The scene with Indy and Marion sinking in "quicksand

I think the expectations for that film were WAY too high for many people. Folks just had ideas of what it SHOULD be rather than just enjoying what it was. For me it was like visiting with an old friend for 2 hours. But obviously many people agree with both of us. A film that people don't like doesn't make $800 million on its own. Doug
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