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

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#181 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 24 2013 - 08:34 AM

Very few actresses manage to have lifelong careers; there's a saying in the English theatre that "there's nothing between Juliet and her nurse" - meaning women get to play a pretty girl or an old lady, and that's it.  In other words, there are no parts for middle-aged women.  There are exceptions of course, but that's the rule.

 

Of course, in those days 30-35 was basically the cutoff point for actresses and even today, actresses' careers are usually much shorter-lived then their male counterparts.

 

I wasn't referring to Kim Novak's career longevity so much as as legitimacy. If you go back through the old 50s-60s newspapers, there's quite frankly very little good publicity about her. It's all scandals and jokes about her acting, and she was well aware of it. Here's an article from 1959, it's clear that despite doing Vertigo, she considered her reputation had hit rock bottom. In hindsight, she really deserved better.

 

Actually, I see she just landed at Cannes, so better late than never I suppose. Is today Vertigo day or something? Can't wait for tonight!



#182 of 371 John Gilmore

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Posted May 24 2013 - 09:00 PM

Half your luck!  I'm starting to think that I am going to have to come to the States the next time an IB print is screened to get my own Vertigo questions answered once and for all.

 

In the meantime it's probably asking too much of you to try and answer them for me.  But I'll ask anyway: did the fades seem slower and longer than they do on DVD?  In particular, did the final fade out seem like the slow and stately fading out of a dream, or was it (as it is on the various DVDs) so fast (to quote a recent scholarly article - published in the latest issue of Bright Lights Film Journal online) as to be practically a cut to black rather than a fade?

 

And (while I'm asking - not that I expect you to be able to answer) when Midge said "stupid" for the third time, was she a disembodied voice by then ... or merely fading out as she said it?

 

Ah, well, there's no harm in asking.

 

To be honest, Mr. Hayes, I had no idea that there was any controversy about the fades until I read your post here. Plus, I was very engrossed in the film, and trying to match the color to the way I remembered the color in the restoration. So, no, I don't recall anything about the fades. Sorry.

 

Dye transfer prints were never as sharp as direct positives. They gave their perception of sharpness via higher contrast. If they had 14 foot lamberts on screen it should have looked beautiful.

RAH

 

Thank you, Mr. Harris. Unfortunately, I have no idea what kind of light source was used. 


John

#183 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 24 2013 - 10:09 PM

I'm on my way home after the screening. I've felt many emotions watching Vertigo, but I've never been aghast, disbelieving, seething with anger and irrational rage...until now. RAH, if you consider the Bluray a fail, I cannot even begin to concieve the explicatives you would've yelled at this screening. The projectionist ruined everything.

I have to get home to make some examples of the Egyptian Theaters total technical incompetence.

Peter, you'll be happy to know all the fades were there, I did see Midge step back, the third "stupid", and the final long fade. Only one fade seemed off, I'll elaborate later.

#184 of 371 Peter Hayes

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Posted May 25 2013 - 12:24 AM

Sorry to hear the screening was a let-down for you, Aston.

 

But your report on the fades leaves me feeling vindicated and I couldn't be happier. 

 

It would seem that Mr Harris should be angry at what the home-video releases have done to his restoration work.

 

I look forward to your full report.

 

And thanks to John Gilmore above for his post. 



#185 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 25 2013 - 03:47 AM

Ugh, where to begin...literally everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

 

RAH, if I sound rude, know that I have the utmost respect for your work. The simple fact is, Vertigo has always been very special to me, and the Egyptian Theatre succeeded in making the experience a complete mockery...this is the first time I've HATED  watching Vertigo.

 

First of all, let's get the soundtrack out of the way: I went in resigned to the fact that I'd be subjected to the old Foley mix. However, I haven't heard the Foley mix in nearly a decade (I always used the mono track on the DVD), and my god is it terrible...I shouldn't have worried about the footsteps, but the doors. The dialogue may have sounded thin and distant, but every single door seemed to slam in my ear. When Midge walked of the Doctor's office, the whole theater laughed, the door had made such a loud thunk it seemed like he'd thrown her out. I would love to say I was able to look past it, but it did hurt the immersion considerably.

 

However, let's forgive all that, because the problem has been rectified on the Bluray. I was prepared to compromise the aural experience for "imagery that you'll never forget". I did get that, but in a way I totally wish I could forget.

 

From the very beginning, things started looking wrong. The image was projected at an angle where you could see the right edge of the screen and the credits were nowhere near horizontal. This mockup is the closest I can get, but it looked worse in motion.

 

k5oUoHB.gif

 

Very noticeable scratches showed up from the first frame...at first I didn't mind, after all no one cares about the old Universal logo, but extremely distracting defects and even a torn frame would show up throughout the film. This 70mm print has been damaged. Remember the purposefully degraded newsreel in Citizen Kane? In many places, this looked worse.

 

One thing: the credits background did not turn red for Muir Matheson's credit as it does on the Bluray.

 

The rooftop chase on the Bluray has been rightly criticized for being so dim. However, looking at the 70mm screening, I was surprised that it was no better, but actually worse! There was a very noticeable vignette that continued through the whole film, the top-right side in particular was always noticeably darkened. There was very little contrast, which continued through the whole film.

 

SW5HpM7.gif

 

At no time did black levels approach anything you could remotely call "black". It was like watching Vertigo on a huge, extremely high resolution, but cheaply made LCD screen. This was terrible to behold in a completely darkened theater. This combination of greyish blacks, low contrast, and dimness meant the whole film seemed washed out and any dark scene was nearly unwatchable. The forest scene in particular was horrible.

 

hEhuO51.gif

 

I had thoughts I've never had while watching Vertigo; halfway through the film, I thought how fortunate Scottie and Madeleine were White and not Black people, because we otherwise wouldn't have seen anything of their faces other than the whites of their eyes. I can't believe my mind went there, but it's the honest truth.

 

At least 2 of the reel changes were extremely shoddy: after Madeleine breaks away from Scottie in the stable, there's a shot of Scottie looking after her and another shot of him walking to the door frame and pausing. Instead, the projectionist cut straight from the break to the outdoor shot of Scottie rushing to catch Madeleine, with an extremely jarring break in the music. The scene where Scottie follows Judy to her hotel also seemed to lose a few quick shots, though to be brutally honest, by this time I'd already given up hope of enjoying the film and was waiting for the torture to stop.

 

And as if to add insult to injury, the runtime of the film was definitely sped up. I initially thought the movement of the characters and camera, which reminded me of the motion smoother "soap opera" effect option TVs have nowadays, was due to the 70mm resolution. However, having seen Vertigo countless times and being accustomed to the "rhythm", shots and dialogue seemed to be coming at me faster than usual. This was extremely apparent during the 2 monologues, the Coroner's and Judy's letter scene. Also, the older woman whom Scottie sees with the Jaguar, who in any case already talked quickly, seemed to be spitting out her lines without any pause in between. In hindsight, I should've had a stopwatch, but the film ended at 9:53PM. I'm not sure when it started, but my last text message, composed while the emcee was blathering about upcoming B-movies and a joke about a Judy Barton driver's license in the lost and found, was sent at 7:48PM. There is no way this screening matched the official 128 min runtime.

 

The effect of this was to rob the film of its mystical quality and make it almost downright comedic. For the first time, I felt the love story was rushed, and Stewart's acting at this tempo seemed devoid of subtlety. By the final third, he gave me the impression that he wanted Judy's transformation done ASAP, like homework that has to be turned in a day early. People were laughing at lines that should've carried heavy meaning...I can't blame them, I felt the urges too!

 

I spent the whole film cringing and wondering what the final tower scene would look like. The Bluray looks heavenly compared to the monstrosity projected on the screen. There's really nothing I can say except provide these examples of the greyish mud the audience was left to decipher:

 

qK90PlA.gif

eq3eULQ.gif

rHWcfqr.gif

0FoZWiZ.gif

kea3ahw.gif

WeXG7Wi.gif

 

 

I wish I were exaggerating, but the reality is my photoshop skills aren't good enough to show how bad it actually was. If this was my first viewing of Vertigo, I would've gone out with the impression that the film was an overhyped piece of garbage. Every aspect of it that provides such emotional power was butchered. I still have a lot of rage, but I have to sleep...I'm feeling like Sgt. Hartmann from FML: That projectionist must not be allowed to contaminate the Earth!!!



#186 of 371 PaulDA

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Posted May 25 2013 - 08:44 AM

Wow. I saw this at a local cinema back in January and it did not look anything like the dim mess you've posted here. It was a digital projection, not 70MM film, so it had its own issues (it might even have been the Blu-ray--some places have been using Blu-rays to screen classic films according to what I've read in a few places). Despite the issues I saw, it never looked as poor as what you describe, nor did it prevent me from thoroughly enjoying the film (incredibly, despite having seen nearly 40 Hitchcock films, I had not seen Vertigo before then--was about to watch my recently purchased Blu-ray when my buddy invited me to go see it on "the big screen").


Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes time, and it annoys the pig.

#187 of 371 Robert Harris

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Posted May 25 2013 - 10:09 AM

Ugh, where to begin...literally everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

 

RAH, if I sound rude, know that I have the utmost respect for your work. The simple fact is, Vertigo has always been very special to me, and the Egyptian Theatre succeeded in making the experience a complete mockery...this is the first time I've HATED  watching Vertigo.

 

First of all, let's get the soundtrack out of the way: I went in resigned to the fact that I'd be subjected to the old Foley mix. However, I haven't heard the Foley mix in nearly a decade (I always used the mono track on the DVD), and my god is it terrible...I shouldn't have worried about the footsteps, but the doors. The dialogue may have sounded thin and distant, but every single door seemed to slam in my ear. When Midge walked of the Doctor's office, the whole theater laughed, the door had made such a loud thunk it seemed like he'd thrown her out. I would love to say I was able to look past it, but it did hurt the immersion considerably.

 

However, let's forgive all that, because the problem has been rectified on the Bluray. I was prepared to compromise the aural experience for "imagery that you'll never forget". I did get that, but in a way I totally wish I could forget.

 

From the very beginning, things started looking wrong. The image was projected at an angle where you could see the right edge of the screen and the credits were nowhere near horizontal. This mockup is the closest I can get, but it looked worse in motion.

 

k5oUoHB.gif

 

Very noticeable scratches showed up from the first frame...at first I didn't mind, after all no one cares about the old Universal logo, but extremely distracting defects and even a torn frame would show up throughout the film. This 70mm print has been damaged. Remember the purposefully degraded newsreel in Citizen Kane? In many places, this looked worse.

 

One thing: the credits background did not turn red for Muir Matheson's credit as it does on the Bluray.

 

The rooftop chase on the Bluray has been rightly criticized for being so dim. However, looking at the 70mm screening, I was surprised that it was no better, but actually worse! There was a very noticeable vignette that continued through the whole film, the top-right side in particular was always noticeably darkened. There was very little contrast, which continued through the whole film.

 

SW5HpM7.gif

 

At no time did black levels approach anything you could remotely call "black". It was like watching Vertigo on a huge, extremely high resolution, but cheaply made LCD screen. This was terrible to behold in a completely darkened theater. This combination of greyish blacks, low contrast, and dimness meant the whole film seemed washed out and any dark scene was nearly unwatchable. The forest scene in particular was horrible.

 

hEhuO51.gif

 

I had thoughts I've never had while watching Vertigo; halfway through the film, I thought how fortunate Scottie and Madeleine were White and not Black people, because we otherwise wouldn't have seen anything of their faces other than the whites of their eyes. I can't believe my mind went there, but it's the honest truth.

 

At least 2 of the reel changes were extremely shoddy: after Madeleine breaks away from Scottie in the stable, there's a shot of Scottie looking after her and another shot of him walking to the door frame and pausing. Instead, the projectionist cut straight from the break to the outdoor shot of Scottie rushing to catch Madeleine, with an extremely jarring break in the music. The scene where Scottie follows Judy to her hotel also seemed to lose a few quick shots, though to be brutally honest, by this time I'd already given up hope of enjoying the film and was waiting for the torture to stop.

 

And as if to add insult to injury, the runtime of the film was definitely sped up. I initially thought the movement of the characters and camera, which reminded me of the motion smoother "soap opera" effect option TVs have nowadays, was due to the 70mm resolution. However, having seen Vertigo countless times and being accustomed to the "rhythm", shots and dialogue seemed to be coming at me faster than usual. This was extremely apparent during the 2 monologues, the Coroner's and Judy's letter scene. Also, the older woman whom Scottie sees with the Jaguar, who in any case already talked quickly, seemed to be spitting out her lines without any pause in between. In hindsight, I should've had a stopwatch, but the film ended at 9:53PM. I'm not sure when it started, but my last text message, composed while the emcee was blathering about upcoming B-movies and a joke about a Judy Barton driver's license in the lost and found, was sent at 7:48PM. There is no way this screening matched the official 128 min runtime.

 

The effect of this was to rob the film of its mystical quality and make it almost downright comedic. For the first time, I felt the love story was rushed, and Stewart's acting at this tempo seemed devoid of subtlety. By the final third, he gave me the impression that he wanted Judy's transformation done ASAP, like homework that has to be turned in a day early. People were laughing at lines that should've carried heavy meaning...I can't blame them, I felt the urges too!

 

I spent the whole film cringing and wondering what the final tower scene would look like. The Bluray looks heavenly compared to the monstrosity projected on the screen. There's really nothing I can say except provide these examples of the greyish mud the audience was left to decipher:

 

qK90PlA.gif

eq3eULQ.gif

rHWcfqr.gif

0FoZWiZ.gif

kea3ahw.gif

WeXG7Wi.gif

 

 

I wish I were exaggerating, but the reality is my photoshop skills aren't good enough to show how bad it actually was. If this was my first viewing of Vertigo, I would've gone out with the impression that the film was an overhyped piece of garbage. Every aspect of it that provides such emotional power was butchered. I still have a lot of rage, but I have to sleep...I'm feeling like Sgt. Hartmann from FML: That projectionist must not be allowed to contaminate the Earth!!!

Passing your notes along to the lead tech from the Egyptian, who was not present.

 

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


#188 of 371 Reed Grele

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Posted May 25 2013 - 02:03 PM

As bad as your experience was, I have experienced MUCH worse! Three immediately come to mind:.

 

1. Back in the late 1980's when Star Trek V was still in theaters. I was in NYC (Times Square) with my aunt. We just wanted to get out of the heat for a while, so I suggested we take in a movie. I believe it was the old Criterion, which had been chopped up into smaller "theaters" (seats facing at incorrect angles to the screen). Anyway, The film started, and you would not believe the amount of print damage! It looked literally like someone had taken the film and run it over sandpaper from end to end. There were thick black lines (and I do mean THICK), running randomly from top to bottom, obscuring half the image. This occurred throughout the entire film! The only reason I didn't walk out was that my aunt was not complaining (she was just happy to get out of the summer heat).

 

2. Also late 1980's. I was at a multiplex theater in PA with a friend of mine. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover was playing. This was a 2.35x1 ratio film. And the projectionist ran it in the correct ratio.... Only problem was that only 2/3 of it was on the 1.85x1 screen, the rest of the image was wrapped around the wall to the left of the screen!! My friend had paid for both of us. It was after a long, hard days work, so I didn't say anything. I don't remember anyone walking out, or complaining.

 

3. This is the that one bothered me the most! BATMAN (1989). The lines were incredible! It was the most hyped movie of the season. The theater was sold out for all showings that evening. The film starts, but immediately I notice that something is wrong. There was a constant flickering problem, and the image on the screen was very dim (not unlike what you showed above with Vertigo, but with constant flickering added to the mix.) After about 10 minutes of this, people in the audience are starting to scream! I remember one poor fellow blurting out "I waited 20 years for this!"

 

Again, nothing was done to remedy the situation. The problem persisted throughout the entire film. And very few walked out.

 

Just three of the many horror stories of improper film presentations that I've experienced in my many years as a theatergoer. And why I would rather stay at home these days and watch a Blu-ray or DVD on my 120" screen, where at least I have some control over the quality of the presentation.


Edited by Reed Grele, May 25 2013 - 03:17 PM.


#189 of 371 Robert Harris

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Posted May 25 2013 - 05:54 PM

Ugh, where to begin...literally everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

RAH, if I sound rude, know that I have the utmost respect for your work. The simple fact is, Vertigo has always been very special to me, and the Egyptian Theatre succeeded in making the experience a complete mockery...this is the first time I've HATED watching Vertigo.

First of all, let's get the soundtrack out of the way: I went in resigned to the fact that I'd be subjected to the old Foley mix. However, I haven't heard the Foley mix in nearly a decade (I always used the mono track on the DVD), and my god is it terrible...I shouldn't have worried about the footsteps, but the doors. The dialogue may have sounded thin and distant, but every single door seemed to slam in my ear. When Midge walked of the Doctor's office, the whole theater laughed, the door had made such a loud thunk it seemed like he'd thrown her out. I would love to say I was able to look past it, but it did hurt the immersion considerably.

However, let's forgive all that, because the problem has been rectified on the Bluray. I was prepared to compromise the aural experience for "imagery that you'll never forget". I did get that, but in a way I totally wish I could forget.

From the very beginning, things started looking wrong. The image was projected at an angle where you could see the right edge of the screen and the credits were nowhere near horizontal. This mockup is the closest I can get, but it looked worse in motion.

k5oUoHB.gif

Very noticeable scratches showed up from the first frame...at first I didn't mind, after all no one cares about the old Universal logo, but extremely distracting defects and even a torn frame would show up throughout the film. This 70mm print has been damaged. Remember the purposefully degraded newsreel in Citizen Kane? In many places, this looked worse.

One thing: the credits background did not turn red for Muir Matheson's credit as it does on the Bluray.

The rooftop chase on the Bluray has been rightly criticized for being so dim. However, looking at the 70mm screening, I was surprised that it was no better, but actually worse! There was a very noticeable vignette that continued through the whole film, the top-right side in particular was always noticeably darkened. There was very little contrast, which continued through the whole film.

SW5HpM7.gif

At no time did black levels approach anything you could remotely call "black". It was like watching Vertigo on a huge, extremely high resolution, but cheaply made LCD screen. This was terrible to behold in a completely darkened theater. This combination of greyish blacks, low contrast, and dimness meant the whole film seemed washed out and any dark scene was nearly unwatchable. The forest scene in particular was horrible.

hEhuO51.gif

I had thoughts I've never had while watching Vertigo; halfway through the film, I thought how fortunate Scottie and Madeleine were White and not Black people, because we otherwise wouldn't have seen anything of their faces other than the whites of their eyes. I can't believe my mind went there, but it's the honest truth.

At least 2 of the reel changes were extremely shoddy: after Madeleine breaks away from Scottie in the stable, there's a shot of Scottie looking after her and another shot of him walking to the door frame and pausing. Instead, the projectionist cut straight from the break to the outdoor shot of Scottie rushing to catch Madeleine, with an extremely jarring break in the music. The scene where Scottie follows Judy to her hotel also seemed to lose a few quick shots, though to be brutally honest, by this time I'd already given up hope of enjoying the film and was waiting for the torture to stop.

And as if to add insult to injury, the runtime of the film was definitely sped up. I initially thought the movement of the characters and camera, which reminded me of the motion smoother "soap opera" effect option TVs have nowadays, was due to the 70mm resolution. However, having seen Vertigo countless times and being accustomed to the "rhythm", shots and dialogue seemed to be coming at me faster than usual. This was extremely apparent during the 2 monologues, the Coroner's and Judy's letter scene. Also, the older woman whom Scottie sees with the Jaguar, who in any case already talked quickly, seemed to be spitting out her lines without any pause in between. In hindsight, I should've had a stopwatch, but the film ended at 9:53PM. I'm not sure when it started, but my last text message, composed while the emcee was blathering about upcoming B-movies and a joke about a Judy Barton driver's license in the lost and found, was sent at 7:48PM. There is no way this screening matched the official 128 min runtime.

The effect of this was to rob the film of its mystical quality and make it almost downright comedic. For the first time, I felt the love story was rushed, and Stewart's acting at this tempo seemed devoid of subtlety. By the final third, he gave me the impression that he wanted Judy's transformation done ASAP, like homework that has to be turned in a day early. People were laughing at lines that should've carried heavy meaning...I can't blame them, I felt the urges too!

I spent the whole film cringing and wondering what the final tower scene would look like. The Bluray looks heavenly compared to the monstrosity projected on the screen. There's really nothing I can say except provide these examples of the greyish mud the audience was left to decipher:

qK90PlA.gif
eq3eULQ.gif
rHWcfqr.gif
0FoZWiZ.gif
kea3ahw.gif
WeXG7Wi.gif


I wish I were exaggerating, but the reality is my photoshop skills aren't good enough to show how bad it actually was. If this was my first viewing of Vertigo, I would've gone out with the impression that the film was an overhyped piece of garbage. Every aspect of it that provides such emotional power was butchered. I still have a lot of rage, but I have to sleep...I'm feeling like Sgt. Hartmann from FML: That projectionist must not be allowed to contaminate the Earth!!!

I have in idea what condition the print was in, but I've received initial feedback from the theatre.

First, the projection engineer on duty is a friend, and someone that I trust implicitly. The speed settings have been checked. In order to take the machines out of 24fps, certain overrides must come into play.

The projectors were running at sync 24 fps.

I know the theatre well, and have used it for test screenings and dailies.

Were you sitting at an odd location? Trying to figure out what you might have been seeing. They always run appropriate illumination. Potential print problems aside, this is confusing, and sounds strange.

Full information.

The print was run at between 15 and 16 foot lamberts. Perfect.

A bit of keystonimg in the far upper left corner of the screen, which is unavoidable running 1.85 in 70mm.

No print problems other than normal wear, and the opening fade in of the Universal logo missing. Changeovers dead on.

Only problem for the show was that for some unexplained reason, the entire bank of left surrounds went mute. The problem could not be duplicated in later testing.

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


#190 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 25 2013 - 09:54 PM

I have in idea what condition the print was in, but I've received initial feedback from the theatre.

First, the projection engineer on duty is a friend, and someone that I trust implicitly. The speed settings have been checked. In order to take the machines out of 24fps, certain overrides must come into play.

The projectors were running at sync 24 fps.

I know the theatre well, and have used it for test screenings and dailies.

Were you sitting at an odd location? Trying to figure out what you might have been seeing. They always run appropriate illumination. Potential print problems aside, this is confusing, and sounds strange.

Full information.

The print was run at between 15 and 16 foot lamberts. Perfect.

A bit of keystonimg in the far upper left corner of the screen, which is unavoidable running 1.85 in 70mm.

No print problems other than normal wear, and the opening fade in of the Universal logo missing. Changeovers dead on.

Only problem for the show was that for some unexplained reason, the entire bank of left surrounds went mute. The problem could not be duplicated in later testing.

RAH

 

I was sitting about 3 seats left-of-center about 4 rows from the back. I was not the only one to notice the tilt:

 

1xaaiz9.png

 

I'm at a complete technical disadvantage here, but if what I saw last night was really Hitchcock's vision, Vertigo has no place on any Best-of list. Today I experimented with applying motion smoothing to the Bluray...the effect was uncannily like what I saw in the theater, "lively" yet blurred motion. Unless I'm mistaken, motion smoothing generates additional frames, which makes it pretty clear to me that what I saw last night was not 24p. As an example, the speed of Madeleine's body falling down through the window was noticeably faster in the theater than on the Bluray, which I have to assume has an accurate runtime.

 

As I've shown above, the entire right edge of the screen was neglected. This is the first time I've heard of the term keystoning, but I definitely detected the strange perspective during viewing...for example this shot stood out, because even though the camera is eye-level with Stewart, the perspective made it seem though we were looking up at him. The exaggerated difference in size between Stewart's and Bel Gedde's heads was very apparent on the big screen:

 

Y9w21o2.gif

 

Illumination can't have been correct. I'm not exaggerating with those screenshots, I really couldn't make out anything in the forest scene or the final tower ascent. This is an approximation of what the Union Square shot looked like, Scottie could only be barely made out:

 

ammU9Ok.gif

 

I had someone else with me who has also seen the film multiple times, they also couldn't believe how washed out the picture was. My plasma at home has to contend with reflections and errant light, but the theater was totally dark except for Exit signs, so when I say the picture was dim, it was really, really dim. The scene in the rear entrance to the Podesta flowershop was unintelligible. The high black levels totally obscured any detail in non-illuminated parts of the frame.

 

There were various scenes with very noticeable defects...during the scene with Elster talking about Madeleine's ancestors, dirt spots started flashing. There was definitely a torn frame in the 2nd half of the film, and during the final tower accent, digital looking green artifacts persisted in the middle of the frame. Flaking of the emulsion, perhaps?

 

One scene that did surprise me was the flashback in the tower, the lower contrast and illumination actually served to disguise the image problems and make it appear better.

 

Changeovers were definitely not perfect, even a blind person would've heard Herrmann's score jump. Remember, during the chase on the lawn at San Juan Batista, there's no dialogue or sound effects, just Herrmann's score blasting away. I was not looking for the changeovers, I don't know how Vertigo is cut across the reels. I mentioned the 2 reel changes because I noticed them...how would I have noticed them if they were perfect?

 

I can't say I noticed the sound problems, I was trying my best not to notice in fact. The doors did seem to bang in my right ear, but the doors really were on the right side of the frame. In fact, I don't think the surround sound was broken, Herrmann's score was the only part of the mix I enjoyed, and I stayed during the Restoration credits to hear the truncated Prelude play out; the sound definitely did not seem to be coming from one side.

 

Wouldn't the unexplained, unreproducible nature of the problem seem to mean something though? I'm not suggesting that this is Standard Operating Procedure for the Egyptian, I know the Academy frequently uses the venue. But something went horribly wrong in the showing last night.

 

I was expecting to be entranced by imagery and color, and come away with new appreciation for the film. Instead I spent the time scrutinizing flesh tones and now getting a crash course in film presentation while having to assert that my favorite film was a total mess on the big screen. Why was I scrutinizing flesh tones? Because for the most part, the actor's faces were the only points of illumination amid the murky frame.

 

I can't give any opinion on the color of the Restoration because it was completely skewed by the high black level and low contrast. There's only 1 color assertion I can make: on the Bluray, Judy's thumbnail as she touches the grey suit is a sickly shade of yellow, which doesn't match the shot where she's holding the picture frames, I noticed the same difference in the 70mm film.

 

5OeECew.png

 

I really was expecting to embrace the 70mm film and see the Bluray as a compromised effort...instead the complete opposite has happened.

 

Peter, the one fade that seemed strange to me was the fade-in to the pan of San Francisco. After Midge's fade out, the screen went black (or at least as "black" as it ever got), but then the whole frame turned a shade of darkest blue and San Francisco faded in. It wasn't jarring, but it did stand out amid the other fades.

 

Also, after the fade out of Judy's apartment, the car on the road to San Juan Batista seemed to skip a few frames and jump ahead on the road. I think this was visible on the DVD as well, but it's perfect on the Bluray.



#191 of 371 Peter Hayes

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Posted May 25 2013 - 09:58 PM

Peter, you'll be happy to know all the fades were there, I did see Midge step back, the third "stupid", and the final long fade. Only one fade seemed off, I'll elaborate later.

 

 

For the record, which fade seemed off?

 

EDIT: thanks, Aston, we crossed in the mail, so to speak: you answered my question while I was still asking it.


Edited by Peter Hayes, May 25 2013 - 10:04 PM.


#192 of 371 haineshisway

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Posted May 25 2013 - 11:46 PM

Aston made a specific charge about the sound being sped up - that puts everything else in question, I'm afraid - as Mr. Harris notes, it is VERY difficult for that problem to happen - VERY difficult and I really doubt it happened at your screening.  Perhaps you were so upset about the other issues you perceived that it just seemed that way, but even the way you describe it seems off, frankly.



#193 of 371 Robert Harris

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Posted May 26 2013 - 04:34 AM

Black levels on the 70 prints were never full black, as because of the faded nature of the elements, it was impossible to reach that point. The print is now 17 years old, has seen quite of bit of use, and may no longer have perfect dyes. It is what it is.

With the amount of light being pushed through a larger (70mm) aperture, blacks might also suffer a bit.

The fades you note are problematic, but are also now correctable, if the elements were dealt with digitally in a proper fashion. The shot of Ms Bel Geddes walking down the corridor, is an original dupe, quite faded, and with the printer function burned in. The fade in was original, but could have been a valve problem during the print exposure. Hard to tell without seeing.

As to the overall look of the print in motion, you're comparing apples to oranges. There are no shutters spinning in digital projection. Nothing is coming between the image and your eyes to create the illusion of movement. Keep in mind that "movies" don't move. It's all an illusion accomplished via the shutter, a pin and the Latham loop.

Digital, which is what most everyone now sees, is quite different in many ways. It may be difficult to go back to 19th century technologies.

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


#194 of 371 Persianimmortal

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Posted May 26 2013 - 06:02 AM

Today I experimented with applying motion smoothing to the Bluray...the effect was uncannily like what I saw in the theater, "lively" yet blurred motion. Unless I'm mistaken, motion smoothing generates additional frames, which makes it pretty clear to me that what I saw last night was not 24p. As an example, the speed of Madeleine's body falling down through the window was noticeably faster in the theater than on the Bluray, which I have to assume has an accurate runtime.


Motion interpolation on a digital display creates artificial intermediate frames that increase the frame rate. This actually reduces motion blurring and gives a much smoother appearance. What you may be confusing this with is a higher refresh rate on the projector, which can result in the perception of a "lively" yet motion blurred image. I have no idea how many times a modern projection system activates the shutter, but if it's three times per frame (72Hz) then perhaps your eyes may not be used to it.

#195 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 26 2013 - 08:37 AM

I will be the first to admit I am not a frequent theater patron; the last film I saw was an "IMAX" presentation of Skyfall. I have never seen a digital projection yet...not against the technology at all, just haven't had the time or motivation. However, I can't remember ever having such a varied experience between the theater and home for any film.

I did not go in expecting perfection, that was already impossible given the sound mix. I was also not expecting a perfect picture; having seen the VHS and DVD, I suspected there would be problems that have been subsequently fixed on the Bluray. For example, I haven't said anything about color problems that could not have been the projectionist's fault. In the brief shot of the McKittrick Hotel's clerk looking up at Scottie's entrance, her face is very orange-tan but looks fine in the next shot. There's no point to nitpick such color inconsistencies, I know the rediculous dilemmas you were faced with during the Restoration, and the Bluray seems to have fixed most of them anyway. The simple fact that you have continually pushed for a complete digital restoration made it clear to me that you had gone as far in the analogue as possible, and was still not satisfied.

I feel like I'm having to bend over backwards to assert problems in a film I wanted to love in the first place. If the runtime is a bone of contention, I will happily let it lie, but in the other concerns I refuse to believe I have gone through life with miscalibrated eyes.

The changeovers were not perfect, and to assert that they were would mean that there are shots and music on the Bluray that were not part of the original film.

The forest scene was an incomprehensible malaise of grey. I would not have known there were giant redwoods in shot without prior knowledge. I feel extremely sorry for those that were seeing the film for the first time, as it was I struggled trying to fill in the picture with my memory, like a coloring book.

The final drive to San Juan Batista looked atrocious, there was very little color discernible beneath the faded greys.

The final tower assent was mostly the lighter shades of the actor's discombobulated grey faces floating amid darker shades of grey; in many shots, the walls of the tower were not clearly visible! It was as though they were walking through some undefined dimension of spacetime.

These are merely the most egregious examples. I don't know how well the rooftop chase was restored in 1996, but it did not look better than the Bluray. Detail that I could see existed on the actor's faces and sets was lost anytime we went into a darkened scene. For instance, during the pan upwards in the McKittrick Hotel after Scottie enters, only the wooden stair railing could be focused on, everything else was obscured by a grey haze. I remember you stating that in the shot of Scottie walking up to Madeleine's headstone there were problems with getting the sky to register, but my impression was the complete opposite; the sky seemed acceptable, but the name on the headstone was barely readable. I could go on and on, but I suspect you get the idea by now.

Just to show I'm not a hard hearted man, that its not all just black levels and constrast for me, I did have some positive observations. The rear projection shots, some of which are a bit problematic on the Bluray, worked surprisingly well on the big screen. The falling body effects shots also worked well. The flashback, as I stated above, looked nowhere near as bad as I was expecting, and reassured me that with a bit of digital finagling, it could be fixed for good. Herrmann's music, when unencumbered by sound effects, sounded excellent, by far my favorite aspect of the whole presentation. I was not expecting the higher scrutiny of 70mm resolution to make Kim Novak seem even more beautiful; since her face is the lightest part of many shots, that's what I mainly had to focus on, and let's be honest, there are worse ways to spend 2 hours.

However, these are points of optimism in a sea of disappointment. There are very few choices open to me; if I accept that the projected picture was accurate, that would mean the color and exposure on the Bluray are the result of some wildly talented and imaginative studio technician. If I accept that the projectionist was faultless, that would mean having serious questions about your Restoration that so many have praised. Given the facts, I can't believe either these things. With so many statements about this being one of the most beautiful 70mm prints ever made, I can't believe my screening was the norm.

I went in expecting to see Vertigo. You can't imagine how uncomfortable it is to state, to you of all people, that not a single shot matched those expectations. From beginning to end, it was a miserable experience.

#196 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 26 2013 - 09:56 AM

Aston made a specific charge about the sound being sped up - that puts everything else in question, I'm afraid - as Mr. Harris notes, it is VERY difficult for that problem to happen - VERY difficult and I really doubt it happened at your screening.  Perhaps you were so upset about the other issues you perceived that it just seemed that way, but even the way you describe it seems off, frankly.


With all due respect, I'm not appreciative of the tone of dismissal. I have seen Vertigo in 2 (3 if the Bluray counts) subpar formats, I have seen ~30 year old Russian and Asian films on the big screen, I am not new to problematic film presentation. Believe me, I'm very aware of the the technical competence of RAH and the others who frequent this forum, which is why I have tried to go the extra mile in describing my issues with the presentation. If what I'm describing seems off, it's only because it did seem very off to me. I can't presume to speak for the audience, but their reactions mirrored mine. There was a lot of clapping during the titles and Hitchcock's cameo. The sound and pacing gave the film an absurdist tone, any one standing outside the door would've thought we were watching a Buster Keaton feature during some scenes. No one applauded at the end. Vertigo is not a happy film, but I didn't expect so many glum faces from those who had presumably seen the film before. I have gone through the Bluray again, I can't deny that everything seems to be slower paced.

I don't know how many times I have to repeat this, but I'm not saying this was a typical 70mm presentation of Vertigo. I think the Egyptian is quite capable of doing a proper projection, but I can't believe this was one of them. The fact that RAH can't confirm the problems I'm alleging, and I can't confirm the sound issues he's alleging makes it clear that there's some miscommunication going on.

#197 of 371 seangood79

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Posted May 26 2013 - 10:52 AM

In the Egyptian's defense, the changeover may have been as perfect as they could have made them. The frames may not have been there. Many theaters will build up the print to run off a platter with one projector. There's is this horrid practice of leaving one, or more, frames on the head and tail leader so the reels can be easily identified when breaking down. When the print moves on to the next theater, rather than peeling off the existing splicing tape, lazy projectionists just chop off another frame. I've seen plenty of 35mm prints missing up to a second at each reel change.

Plus, if a print is going to be damaged during projection, it is usually at the head or tail of a reel.

I have no idea if this was the condition of the print you saw, I'm just saying if you're watching a 17 year, well used, print with abrupt changeovers, it's not always the projectionist's fault.

As to the keystoning, here's a picture I took when we had The Master in 70mm, alongside a 35mm trailer.

Master.JPG

The film was 1.85, and black bars were added to the 2.1 frame. In all theaters, there is some keystone, based on the angle of the projector to the screen. It's usually not as noticeable because the entire frame is utilized, but those black bars give away the illusion.

Paul Thomas Anderson actually sent us framing loops so we could cut 70mm plates for 1.85, so we wouldn't have this issue.

We've since used those plates for screenings of Vertigo and Playtime, and they worked very nicely.

It sounds like The Egyptian had standard 70mm plates, and had the masking pulled in to 1.85. This would have been better than one screening of Vertigo I attended, where the theater used 2.1 plates, and had the masking pulled out all the way. Gave us a nice trapezoid picture, that slightly changed shape at each changeover.



#198 of 371 Robert Harris

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Posted May 26 2013 - 11:32 AM

Just a general point that must be made re: restorations based upon faded originals.

One cannot assess restorative efforts by viewing a 16 year-old Eastman print that has spent its life running before hot, bright light sources. Pigments burn and change. Also, when viewing color and comparing shot to shot, it will be a given that similar shots, facial tones, costumes, etc, will be different based upon two things. The original exposures and the amount of dye fade in each shot.  The thinner the exposure of the shot, the more obvious the dye fade.

Digital removes these problems.

RAH


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#199 of 371 haineshisway

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Posted May 26 2013 - 11:52 AM

With all due respect, I'm not appreciative of the tone of dismissal. I have seen Vertigo in 2 (3 if the Bluray counts) subpar formats, I have seen ~30 year old Russian and Asian films on the big screen, I am not new to problematic film presentation. Believe me, I'm very aware of the the technical competence of RAH and the others who frequent this forum, which is why I have tried to go the extra mile in describing my issues with the presentation. If what I'm describing seems off, it's only because it did seem very off to me. I can't presume to speak for the audience, but their reactions mirrored mine. There was a lot of clapping during the titles and Hitchcock's cameo. The sound and pacing gave the film an absurdist tone, any one standing outside the door would've thought we were watching a Buster Keaton feature during some scenes. No one applauded at the end. Vertigo is not a happy film, but I didn't expect so many glum faces from those who had presumably seen the film before. I have gone through the Bluray again, I can't deny that everything seems to be slower paced.

I don't know how many times I have to repeat this, but I'm not saying this was a typical 70mm presentation of Vertigo. I think the Egyptian is quite capable of doing a proper projection, but I can't believe this was one of them. The fact that RAH can't confirm the problems I'm alleging, and I can't confirm the sound issues he's alleging makes it clear that there's some miscommunication going on.

I was just pointing out that to have a sped up image (can't tell if you're actually saying that or not) OR sound is almost impossible to happen.  You say the whole film "seems" slower paced in your home.  I'm frankly at a loss - I wasn't at the screening and I've actually in all my six decades of moviegoing have never seen a film projected at the wrong speed, either sound or image - and, by the way, it would have to be both, I think - not sure you can have one without the other.  Are you saying the projected image looked sped up, like a silent movie?



#200 of 371 AstonMartin007

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Posted May 26 2013 - 03:06 PM

In the Egyptian's defense, the changeover may have been as perfect as they could have made them. The frames may not have been there. Many theaters will build up the print to run off a platter with one projector. There's is this horrid practice of leaving one, or more, frames on the head and tail leader so the reels can be easily identified when breaking down. When the print moves on to the next theater, rather than peeling off the existing splicing tape, lazy projectionists just chop off another frame. I've seen plenty of 35mm prints missing up to a second at each reel change.

Plus, if a print is going to be damaged during projection, it is usually at the head or tail of a reel.

I have no idea if this was the condition of the print you saw, I'm just saying if you're watching a 17 year, well used, print with abrupt changeovers, it's not always the projectionist's fault.

 

That's what I suspect happened as well. It's not really unheard of, just sad to see in a venerated print. I remember a 1997 screening of Titanic where the Captain's line that the ship was going to sink was played twice...rather funny, and I suspect another case of improper cutting across reels.

 

In all theaters, there is some keystone, based on the angle of the projector to the screen. It's usually not as noticeable because the entire frame is utilized, but those black bars give away the illusion.

Paul Thomas Anderson actually sent us framing loops so we could cut 70mm plates for 1.85, so we wouldn't have this issue.

We've since used those plates for screenings of Vertigo and Playtime, and they worked very nicely.

It sounds like The Egyptian had standard 70mm plates, and had the masking pulled in to 1.85. This would have been better than one screening of Vertigo I attended, where the theater used 2.1 plates, and had the masking pulled out all the way. Gave us a nice trapezoid picture, that slightly changed shape at each changeover.

 

I don't think the keystoning would account for the whole film being rotated. It was not as noticeable during the film, but during the credits for instance, it was very apparent the words were slightly rotated clockwise, which was strange because as I showed above, the right edge of the image was slanted counter-clockwise. The screen was perfect 1.85; all 3 edges were projected on except the right edge, and that edge never changed shape. During the 2nd half of the film, light from the projection room would show up at times above the top-right corner of the film, very noticeable given the dimness of the image. What they were doing up there, and why that didn't show up during the 1st hour, I have no idea. The whole thing gave a feeling of "What the hell is going on?!"

 

I was just pointing out that to have a sped up image (can't tell if you're actually saying that or not) OR sound is almost impossible to happen.  You say the whole film "seems" slower paced in your home.  I'm frankly at a loss - I wasn't at the screening and I've actually in all my six decades of moviegoing have never seen a film projected at the wrong speed, either sound or image - and, by the way, it would have to be both, I think - not sure you can have one without the other.  Are you saying the projected image looked sped up, like a silent movie?

 

You're thinking this now, I was thinking this DURING the film. I truly thought there was something wrong with me; why didn't the image look better, why was everything happening faster than all the other times I'd seen Vertigo. There was some slight flickering at times during the first half hour. It was only until the forest scene, where I saw the best cinematic depiction of "50 shades of grey" yet, that I stopped wondering if I'd had a rotten dinner. 

 

I don't think it's possible for Vertigo to become un-synced, isn't the soundtrack printed on the film? Otherwise it'd be easy to play the newer DTS mix instead. The only sync problems I noticed were when the Foley effects didn't match the screen actions.

 

I deliberately noted the end time because I was sure I was wrong. 24p is an ancient standard by now, there should be 0 discrepancies. For the 128 min film to end at 9:53PM, it had to have started at 7:44-45PM. If you're incredulous at all this, you should be...I'm the last person in the world to want to say these things, I'd love to be totally wrong. I used "seems" because if there was a discrepancy, it would still be >2%, roughly the equivalent of a 59sec minute. That's not a difference one would usually notice.

 

I compared the image to an cheap LCD screen because the high black levels and low brightness severely hurt the dynamic range of the image. Shots that really should've stood out, like Madeleine at Fort Point, looked sadly muted, the Golden Gate did not look anything like the Bluray, or real life...even the brightest, highest contrast shot of the whole film, the falling man against the white background, looked uninspiring. The one color that seemed to stand out was whiteish-yellow, so that during closeup shots of Kim Novak's face or Madeleine's apartment building, the picture seemed to approach something close to proper illumination.

 

At this point, I think we're going around in circles...I had a lot of problems with the film that none of you can be expected to understand without seeing it in person. If you don't believe me, fine. I was so ready to come back and exclaim my enthusiasm. Instead it was the most disappointing cinema experience ever.

 

Digital removes these problems.

 

It has to be done, absolutely ASAP. Even if the picture were absolutely perfect, there is no excuse for the soundtrack anymore.


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