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A few words about...™ To Kill a Mockingbird -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#21 of 57 OFFLINE   Adam Lenhardt

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Posted January 27 2012 - 09:34 PM

Adam, thanks for that wonderful anecdote. I just have to nitpick one thing. Based upon your description of the audience, I think the word you want is heterogeneous, not homogeneous. Doug
Thank you for the kind words. The audience was indeed very heterogeneous, which was a big part of what made it the least homogeneous.:)

#22 of 57 OFFLINE   PaulDA

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Posted January 29 2012 - 09:30 AM

Seek out a PDF of a report entitled The Digital Dilemma 2
Thank you.
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#23 of 57 OFFLINE   Adam Gregorich

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Posted January 29 2012 - 10:03 AM

This should get people pointed in the right direction:


 


http://www.oscars.or...mma2/index.html

#24 of 57 OFFLINE   JoeDoakes

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Posted February 08 2012 - 02:34 PM

Where do I begin? I've now had the opportunity to view two of the finest films ever made -- and two personal favorites within a 48 hour period. To Kill a Mockingbird, based upon the novel by Harper Lee, is to my mind, one of the most beautiful and perfect films ever made.  It possesses a timelessness unlike the majority of period dramas. But to point, film, as a medium, is not timeless. And this commentary will go into how it affects a film like To Kill a Mockingbird, why it looks as it does, and with a tip of the hat to James Monaco, how one can best "read" a film, and understand what it is that one is seeing. Like many productions, mostly large format, but many standard 35mm, one can make an absolute generalization as to what will be found in the cans before they're opened. The more beloved, the more popular a film, the worse condition it will be in, especially if it came into being before quality duping stocks.  For black and white, this means, the mid to late 1950s, for color the three decades hence. As a 1962 production, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immensely important and popular production.  For whatever reason, and this does not speak to current management at Universal, the original negative was used to strike far too many prints. It also appears that it may also have been rejuvenated at some point to remove scratches by some overzealous lab technician. None of that matters now, as we have what we have. I recall discussions of problems with the original negative a decade ago, and work has been ongoing to create a working set of picture elements toward preservation and replication for years. Let's go to basics, and I thank Universal for sharing some details. Of the thirteen reels of original negative, six no longer survive.  What does survive is scratched, warped, and with occasional black slugs, where damaged frames have been removed.  A fine grain master produced contemporary with the film is also problematic with some scratched and damaged sections.  A second fine grain, produced in 1969 stands in where other elements are unavailable.  Duplicate negatives of varying quality have been used to fill in other missing footage. More specifics. Dupes of this era do not create a grainier image.  Since the duping stocks are very slow speed emulsions,with virtually no visible grain, what occurs is that with each generation, the edges of grain become a bit more diffuse, and almost velvety looking.  Contrast gain is also not a problem. Let's take something else into consideration. A number of catalog titles have had image harvests in 2k or 4k in the past few years from original negatives, and many of the more "image aware" in the home theater community have locked into what a scanned image from an OCN of the era looks like.  There is grain, albeit generally fine, unless higher speed stocks were used. What this means is that the majority of To Kill a Mockingbird is at least second generation, and some third.  Again, with each passing generation, there is a lessoning of grain, and a slightly softer image. In my humble opinion, and to my eye, what the technicians at Universal have attempted to do is to homogenize the image, so as not to have a shot or sequence from one generation bumping into a different generation, with abrupt changes in grain structure, contrast or resolution.  They've put in their time, thought things through, and have created a quality product. A quick word about grain reduction.  I really don't have a problem with what I'm seeing here, as it seems to consistently represent what a second generation element would look like from the era.  There is certainly noting scrubbed, as I've read in some other threads on other sites. What I'm seeing on Universal's new Blu-ray of the film, is a generally very pleasing image, that is obviously not from an original negative, but controls the character of the film as it transparently jumps back and forth from one generation element to the next. My take on the Blu-ray is that it generally looks beautiful.  A very nice job.  I'm less thrilled, albeit not overly disturbed, by the handling of field enlargements, as rather than grain slowly building, it just isn't there.  It's matched to the surrounding shots.  This is a technical judgement call, but I don't agree with it. Overall, with what the studio had to work with, my eye is telling me that they've done a superlative job of saving the film.  This isn't easy.  There are different approaches, and the fact that I may not agree with a part of what they've done, doesn't mean that they're wrong.  Just a difference of opinion. The bottom line to me seems very simple.   To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the finest films ever made, with some of the best performances you'll see on film. Anywhere, in any film. It has a certain bearing and majesty about it, and once you've seen it, as with the reading of the book, you'll never forget it. Grab a copy and be immersed in it. Very Highly Recommended. RAH
What is a "field enlargement"? Does it relate to the difference between 16mm and 35mm?

#25 of 57 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted February 08 2012 - 02:50 PM

Robert, please correct me if I misstate this:   A field enlargement is a way of turning a wider angle shot into a close-up.   This can be done by either blowing up the image in a static way (as I've seen happen in post production) or by creating what appears to be a zoom-in on one part of the image.   In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, there are several shots where post-production zoom-ins were done on wider angle shots.  The one usually discussed (and shown in the "Restoring the Classics" featurette) is Mayella's most dramatic moment on the witness stand.   As we watch, the shot changes from a wider shot to a close-up of her face.  The picture quality goes down as her face gets bigger and bigger in the frame.     For me, this is the same kind of idea as if I have a small jpeg image and I blow it up.  I can make it bigger, but there's a drop in picture quality.   Hope I didn't just mangle the description...

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Posted February 08 2012 - 03:50 PM

Another example is in "It's a Wonderful Life" when George is at the bar praying.

#27 of 57 OFFLINE   Charles Smith

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Posted February 08 2012 - 04:13 PM

Or how about in Fantasia, in the Pastoral Symphony, when they do it to cut little Sunbeam out of the picture.

#28 of 57 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 08 2012 - 08:31 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin EK /t/318055/a-few-words-about-to-kill-a-mockingbird-in-blu-ray#post_3895491 Robert, please correct me if I misstate this:   A field enlargement is a way of turning a wider angle shot into a close-up.   This can be done by either blowing up the image in a static way (as I've seen happen in post production) or by creating what appears to be a zoom-in on one part of the image.   In the case of To Kill A Mockingbird, there are several shots where post-production zoom-ins were done on wider angle shots.  The one usually discussed (and shown in the "Restoring the Classics" featurette) is Mayella's most dramatic moment on the witness stand.   As we watch, the shot changes from a wider shot to a close-up of her face.  The picture quality goes down as her face gets bigger and bigger in the frame.     For me, this is the same kind of idea as if I have a small jpeg image and I blow it up.  I can make it bigger, but there's a drop in picture quality.   Hope I didn't just mangle the description...
Generally correct.  But not necessarily turning a wide shot into a close-up.  One can move in on any part of the frame.  As I believe I stated earlier in the thread, there should be a mechanism of digitally resolving more of the image as we move in, while concurrently equalizing grain.  This was one of John Lowry's concepts, and as far as I have seen, Lowry Digital, now Reliance, is the only facility that can do this well.   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


#29 of 57 OFFLINE   Jonathan Perregaux

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Posted February 09 2012 - 11:01 AM

The documentary on the Blu-Ray showed what that scene looked like before and after the process, which was interesting to see. The grain became enlarged and overly obvious in the "push-in," appearing as "crawly" as tiny bugs swarming over a piece of toast. After equalizing the grain, the effect was greatly diminished but it looked weird in a different way, probably because I'm so used to what that scene always looked like. I don't know if that's crossing some kind of line or not, since you basically subtracted something from the original look that's been there since release. It would like like digitally recompositing The Birds from the original VFX elements to remove the sometimes dodgy matte lines and printed-in dirt, grain and artifacts. Yeah, it would look awesome but it would somehow diminish the original look of the film presentation. Or am I nuts?
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#30 of 57 OFFLINE   Techman707

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Posted February 09 2012 - 10:50 PM

A quick word about grain reduction.  I really don't have a problem with what I'm seeing here, as it seems to consistently represent what a second generation element would look like from the era.  There is certainly noting scrubbed, as I've read in some other threads on other sites. RAH
Considering that most theatres never got prints as close as "second generation", if this Blu-ray looks that good, I don't think anyone has anything to complain about. I've had a 16mm print of "To Kill A Mockingbird" since about 1964 (I only hope it hasn't gone vinegar). It's a very sharp print with below average grain for a 16mm B&W print. From the description of this Blu-ray, I'm sure it will look better then my 16mm print and probably as good on my digital projector, as a 35mm release print looked in the theatre when it originally came out. I have the first DVD that they released of "Mockingbird"(1998), which was pretty soft and blurry. The second DVD release (2005), an anamorphic 1.85:1 DVD, was only slightly better. However, for some strange reason they felt it necessary to electronically "zoom out" on the titles, leaving black lines on the sides, which disappear and return to full width after the titles. Since the titles were safe and in no danger of being cropped, I can't understand why they've done this. This miserable practice has also been done by Disney on their animated classics, which also would have had safe titles without it. Since I haven't seen this Blu-ray yet, I hope they haven't done the same thing again.

#31 of 57 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted February 10 2012 - 07:21 AM

I don't think that was done here, but I wasn't looking for it.   A similar thing happens on the Bond films - I believe to make sure that all of the credits fit on the screen.  (And thankfully the Bond Blus include textless credit sequences as a bonus)

#32 of 57 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted February 10 2012 - 11:35 AM

It started as a way to prevent titles being clipped by overscan, but today's fixed-pixel displays don't have much overscan so the practice should be abolished.

#33 of 57 ONLINE   nealg

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Posted February 10 2012 - 11:57 AM

Much agreed. The worst offender I have seen is Star Trek III: The Search for Spock on Blu-ray. The frame for the opening titles is shrunk way down. I was baffled when I saw it, especially since none of the credits come anywhere near the edge of the frame. I really hate it. The dvd version was fine.

#34 of 57 OFFLINE   Techman707

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Posted February 10 2012 - 02:09 PM

It started as a way to prevent titles being clipped by overscan, but today's fixed-pixel displays don't have much overscan so the practice should be abolished.
I wouldn't have a problem if they did it because the original title design was outside the SMPTE RP safe area and was in REAL danger of being cropped on a normal consumer TV. While in "rare" instances it could even be necessary to prevent titles on the top or bottom of the screen from being cropped. However, whether with the Disney animations or any of the 007 films, there's been absolutely NO valid reason to do it. I believe they just don't want anyone to have a copy that is ACTUALLY IDENTICAL to what the theatrical release looks like. You can look at any of the Disney films I refer to and see the titles would have been no problem if done normally. Besides, everyone knows that if there WAS a "slight" problem, they could have squeezed the picture slightly, which would be totally unnoticeable to most people and virtually imperceptible to all but the craziest of film buffs.:rolleyes: I believe there's some other EVIL purpose behind it, but, even I can't imagine what it is.:)

#35 of 57 OFFLINE   GMpasqua

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Posted February 12 2012 - 09:46 AM

 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Techman707 /t/318055/a-few-words-about-to-kill-a-mockingbird-in-blu-ray/30#post_3896113 I believe they just don't want anyone to have a copy that is ACTUALLY IDENTICAL to what the theatrical release looks like.  
  Actually there is some truth to that. Studios will not release the master version - basically for that very reason. They always take it down a step (for Copy protection/illegal bootlegs) and, well you know -  you never give the original away   Although I do not believe titles are windowboxed for that reason. Windowboxing is done to please all the screaming Walmart Shoppers who complain their sets cut off the words - basically these people do not know how to calibrate their sets (or that they even have the ability to do it)   Yet the end titles are usually Not window Boxed???   The biggest irony - when the studios do not cut off the picture image the Walmart shoppers also scream! And so Pan and Scan versions are released     As the Hayes Code Believed:   People need to be protected from themselves   Maybe we should have a Hayes Code for Home Video with regulations required for properly presenting films and limiting the amount of advertising when a disc starts up 

#36 of 57 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted February 13 2012 - 02:13 PM

RE: Window boxing titles. The main reason for doing it is because they are legally obligated to put all text in the "title safe" area per agreements with the various Guilds/Societies.

"And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


#37 of 57 OFFLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted February 13 2012 - 02:39 PM

RE: Window boxing titles. The main reason for doing it is because they are legally obligated to put all text in the "title safe" area per agreements with the various Guilds/Societies.
Which begs the question of how TV networks can get away with shrinking end credits of TV shows and movies down to unreadable size during TV airings to make room for more annoying commercials. I've always wondered how the various guilds let them get away with that.

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Posted February 13 2012 - 02:44 PM

I agree with that. I thought that the credits had to be a certain size and must remain on screen for at least two seconds.

#39 of 57 ONLINE   ahollis

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Posted February 13 2012 - 03:55 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by nealg /t/318055/a-few-words-about-to-kill-a-mockingbird-in-blu-ray/30#post_3896073 Much agreed. The worst offender I have seen is Star Trek III: The Search for Spock on Blu-ray. The frame for the opening titles is shrunk way down. I was baffled when I saw it, especially since none of the credits come anywhere near the edge of the frame. I really hate it. The dvd version was fine.
I have the same problem with the Blu-ray version of Grease.     
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Posted February 13 2012 - 04:00 PM

Grease is the worst because when that music starts and it changes to animation, it should be big...and this version just shrinks and lessens the impact.





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