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A few words about...™ Chinatown-- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#81 of 100 OFFLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted April 09 2012 - 10:15 AM



Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


This really is not about HD transfers.


Chinatown is an important film, with extremely high IP value to the studio.  It also needed to be properly archived, now that 4k technology is available.


The release of an important Blu-ray is a rationale toward proper preservation of assets.  The HD master portion of that program is in the range of 35k or less.  It should be a down-rez of that archival strategy, which is apparently not yet in place.


The need for the HD master should be the linch-pin toward proper preservation.


Let me see if I can crystalize this a bit.


While certain Blu-ray releases of less than A list titles (outside of new product) might be sourced from older transfers, it should be part of the overall release plan for important films to use that Blu-ray release as the jumping off point for proper archival preservation, and restoration, if necessary.


We now have the technology to harvest information from original elements, that should allow us to never again go back to those originals.


Do the work once, get it right, produce a stellar Blu-ray, and move on.


It couldn't be more simple, and it's less expensive in the long run that re-visiting, unless the concept is to have the public double and triple dip.


RAH



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#82 of 100 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted April 09 2012 - 11:01 AM



Originally Posted by Robert Harris 


This really is not about HD transfers.


Chinatown is an important film, with extremely high IP value to the studio.  It also needed to be properly archived, now that 4k technology is available.


The release of an important Blu-ray is a rationale toward proper preservation of assets.  The HD master portion of that program is in the range of 35k or less.  It should be a down-rez of that archival strategy, which is apparently not yet in place.


The need for the HD master should be the linch-pin toward proper preservation.


Let me see if I can crystalize this a bit.


While certain Blu-ray releases of less than A list titles (outside of new product) might be sourced from older transfers, it should be part of the overall release plan for important films to use that Blu-ray release as the jumping off point for proper archival preservation, and restoration, if necessary.


We now have the technology to harvest information from original elements, that should allow us to never again go back to those originals.


Do the work once, get it right, produce a stellar Blu-ray, and move on.


It couldn't be more simple, and it's less expensive in the long run that re-visiting, unless the concept is to have the public double and triple dip.


RAH



I get what you're saying, but there are numerous examples of companies "doing it right" in, say, 2005-2007, and now those sincere - and costly - efforts are inadequate, and they are being pushed by film enthusiasts to spend the $$ again. The Searchers comes to mind - a Blu-ray that is now five years old and is not a favorite of many people "by today's standards". I know you're still favorable towards it, but looking at various forums many are not. I'm not saying they SHOULDN'T do it over again (or again for Chinatown), but I'm saying I understand the economic reasons to not go gung ho every single time. $35k may not seem like a lot, but catalog releases are not the hands-over-fist money makers they used to be. The cost for producing a home video release has gone up and the sales have gone down from 10 years ago. The technology has moved so fast the last 10-15 years that I can see why studios are hesitant. Just looking at it practically.


"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


#83 of 100 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted April 09 2012 - 12:53 PM

I get what you're saying, but there are numerous examples of companies "doing it right" in, say, 2005-2007, and now those sincere - and costly - efforts are inadequate, and they are being pushed by film enthusiasts to spend the $$ again. The Searchers comes to mind - a Blu-ray that is now five years old and is not a favorite of many people "by today's standards". I know you're still favorable towards it, but looking at various forums many are not. I'm not saying they SHOULDN'T do it over again (or again for Chinatown), but I'm saying I understand the economic reasons to not go gung ho every single time. $35k may not seem like a lot, but catalog releases are not the hands-over-fist money makers they used to be. The cost for producing a home video release has gone up and the sales have gone down from 10 years ago. The technology has moved so fast the last 10-15 years that I can see why studios are hesitant. Just looking at it practically.

The Searchers wasn't acceptable by any standards, since it contains color that is absolutely not correct. That IS a title that needs to be redone, this time by someone who will actually use the dye transfer reference print that is housed at Warner Bros. as a guide to what the color SHOULD look like. And I'll be first in line to buy :) For certain titles like Chinatown, which is a Paramount crown jewel, the expense is worth it - because as Mr. Harris points out, once they've done it they've got it at 4K and never need to look back. They can then work that new transfer on the HD channels, ultimately for streaming, and on and on. I understand completely that it's cheaper to get rid of the Ron Smiths of this world and to put out what's on the shelf - who wouldn't understand that? But it's the short-term and a studio should be looking at the long-term for its crown jewels. Paramount and Mr. Smith did right by White Christmas, The Ten Commandments, and Breakfast at Tiffany's, and it's just too bad they didn't continue on that path for a few of their other crown jewels.

#84 of 100 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted April 09 2012 - 02:37 PM



Originally Posted by haineshisway 


For certain titles like Chinatown, which is a Paramount crown jewel, the expense is worth it - because as Mr. Harris points out, once they've done it they've got it at 4K and never need to look back.



Just like studios didn't need to "look back" once they did new SD masters in the late 90s, or 1080i HD masters in the early 00s, or 2k masters in the mid 00s....


Things will always improve. We'll probably be watching 600k transfers on holo-ray downloads on 2000" screens by 2035. Posted Image


"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


#85 of 100 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted April 09 2012 - 03:03 PM



Originally Posted by Brandon Conway 



Just like studios didn't need to "look back" once they did new SD masters in the late 90s, or 1080i HD masters in the early 00s, or 2k masters in the mid 00s....


Things will always improve. We'll probably be watching 600k transfers on holo-ray downloads on 2000" screens by 2035. Posted Image


Negative.  Only with 4k, have we been able to capture the entire content of the OCN.  Everyone involved knew that what came before was

just a vamp.


RAH



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#86 of 100 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted April 10 2012 - 09:54 AM

I don't think studios want to give us the perfect Blue Ray ,this way they can sell us another version in a year or two,Why a Film of this level isn't treated better ,tells you they only care a Little bit,this transfer is very good ,but clearly could be better,My Friend seems to think the Original print was more yellow,I am not sure of this this looks just like the one used for HDNET and the BR I made of that ,is almost the same as this

#87 of 100 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted April 12 2012 - 07:30 AM

I think someone should bring up the fact that the Blue Ray is missing the extras that were on the First dvd,this happens way to often in Blue Ray,extras and still frame sections aren't on Blue Rays

#88 of 100 OFFLINE   Douglas R

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Posted April 12 2012 - 08:37 PM

I think someone should bring up the fact that the Blue Ray is missing the extras that were on the First dvd,this happens way to often in Blue Ray,extras and still frame sections aren't on Blue Rays

It annoys me intensely as well. One would expect to have more extras on the Blu-ray not less. Where is the incentive for people to upgrade from the DVD if studios keep doing this? The lack of the music score track on the new blu-ray of CAMELOT is another annoyance.

#89 of 100 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted April 13 2012 - 01:36 AM



Originally Posted by Douglas R 


It annoys me intensely as well. One would expect to have more extras on the Blu-ray not less. Where is the incentive for people to upgrade from the DVD if studios keep doing this? The lack of the music score track on the new blu-ray of CAMELOT is another annoyance.


While the score may have been deleted, there is a decent documentary on the making of the film.


But the major additional Blu-ray feature here is an entire second disc, which not only gives you 5-6mm of extra packaging, but 3 or 4 musical numbers on CD.  One free with each Blu-ray purchase.  Yes, folks, it's a CD sampler.


Anything to make packaging larger.


RAH



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#90 of 100 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted April 13 2012 - 02:07 AM

It annoys me intensely as well. One would expect to have more extras on the Blu-ray not less. Where is the incentive for people to upgrade from the DVD if studios keep doing this?

High definition video and lossless audio.
 

 


#91 of 100 OFFLINE   Brandon Conway

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Posted April 13 2012 - 07:03 AM

Regarding carrying over bonus content, there can be legit reasons, such as legal / licensing issues.


"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


#92 of 100 OFFLINE   RKR1970

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Posted April 15 2012 - 04:15 AM

As thought, the DCP screened at the TCM festival in Hollywood of Chinatown was from this blu-ray master. On the big screen it was soft and had a plastic feel to the image. The same can be said about the DCP on Funny Face which was a blurry mess. It was not the projection at the Chinese either, because DCP s on Singin' In The Rain, Casablanca, 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Cabaret were amazing and much of the time looked like well produced film prints. The problem is Paramount and it’s mastering restoration department.

#93 of 100 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted April 15 2012 - 04:35 AM

Having seen digital projection at the Chinese I can't imagine anything looking good there. The fact that one of the most beautiful and iconic movie palaces ever no longer has the ability to actually project FILM is shocking and more than a little nauseating.

#94 of 100 OFFLINE   RKR1970

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Posted April 15 2012 - 05:11 AM

The TCM festival brought in Boston Light & Sound to oversee the presentations at the Chinese. Digital and film projectors were rented with a projection staff, but the silver screen was a huge drawback that that couldn’t be removed. Regardless, this has been the best the Chinese has looked in many moons.

#95 of 100 OFFLINE   davidmatychuk

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Posted April 15 2012 - 08:59 AM

After seeing the trailer a few times before the release of "Chinatown" - it looked good - I saw it twice the day it opened, and five or six more times first-run. I've owned it in all the home video formats over the years, and while the most exciting one remains, for me, the initial widescreen laserdisc, this new Blu-Ray is plainly the best to date. Times change, and we've gone "forward into the past" (to quote Firesign Theatre) with home video in many ways (studios licensing titles to independent companies because "no one wants to own a movie", quality of many releases taking a dip because we should just be happy with what we're getting, video releases are mostly available on order and not at retail outlets because "no one's buying videos"). Where it's going, I don't know, but as long as quality remains a passion, I'll stay optimistic about the future of watching movies at home. And I don't think I've purchased my last "Chinatown". Returning to that "Chinatown" widescreen laserdisc, it had a wonderful isolated score track on one of the analog audio tracks. Is there any reason why they've never put this audio bonus on any subsequent release?

#96 of 100 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted April 15 2012 - 08:23 PM

Returning to that "Chinatown" widescreen laserdisc, it had a wonderful isolated score track on one of the analog audio tracks. Is there any reason why they've never put this audio bonus on any subsequent release?

Musicians union agreements, and or licenses with the company that released the sound track probably prevent the isolated score from being put on any recent video releases. Doug
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#97 of 100 OFFLINE   Spencer Draper

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Posted April 16 2012 - 08:25 AM

I love that track, though there is some slight bleedthrough of the dialogue and sound effects, mainly because the score is so hard to find. I still want to pick up the remastered LD edition just for comlpetist's sake.

#98 of 100 OFFLINE   Dave H

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Posted August 05 2013 - 09:54 AM

I watched this last night having bought the steelbook at a great price.

 

The image does have a bit of edge enhancement and some filtering (at least at times).  It does seem to have a bit of that 'older transfer' look to it although not what I would call a bad release by any means.  However, I can see the disappointment in this not being a top notch handled title.  Pretty good, but not great.



#99 of 100 OFFLINE   Jack Theakston

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Posted August 05 2013 - 10:38 AM

By the way, the rejected Philip Lambro score is available on CD from Perseverance Records.  http://www.fortytwot...rejected-score/


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#100 of 100 OFFLINE   bgart13

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Posted August 04 2014 - 07:37 PM

Any news on a proper revisit to CHINATOWN, Robert?





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