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A few words about...™ Public Enemies -- in Blu-ray

A Few Words About

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#1 of 19 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted February 17 2013 - 02:39 AM

Michael Mann's Public Enemies is an interesting film, re-telling the John Dillinger story with an all-star cast.


Having missed it theatrically, I picked up the Blu-ray of the Universal release, and while I found it colorful and beautifully shot, to be a bit of an awkward presentation -- possibly because of its combination of HD footage with a bit of S35, which were then finalized to a 2k DI.  The HD has a sharpened, and unpleasant appearance to it.


Currently available on Amazon for 8.99 for the Blu-ray, it's definitely worth the price of admission.


Image - 2 / 4.5


Audio - 5


Recommended.


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


#2 of 19 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted February 17 2013 - 04:53 AM

I thought the BD represented the original product - I thought that was how it looked on the big screen.  Mann's decision to use digital video was a bad choice, IMO - it looks like something from Youtube too much of the time...


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#3 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Kalzer

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Posted February 18 2013 - 05:07 AM

That is how it looked in theatres and it took me out of the experience frequently. Somehow the darker sequences just appeared like poor grade camcorder footage, and every time I've seen this in passing even on broadcast TV, it looked poor. The early days of digital film were quick murky. The fact that it's a period piece makes the poor look stick out even more.
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#4 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted February 18 2013 - 01:54 PM

That is how it looked in theatres and it took me out of the experience frequently. Somehow the darker sequences just appeared like poor grade camcorder footage, and every time I've seen this in passing even on broadcast TV, it looked poor. The early days of digital film were quick murky. The fact that it's a period piece makes the poor look stick out even more.

2009 is the early days of digital filmmaking? :confused:

#5 of 19 OFFLINE   rsmithjr

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Posted February 18 2013 - 01:58 PM

"Universal release... . The HD has a sharpened, and unpleasant appearance to it." Universal has made its reputation on this kind of release IMHO.

#6 of 19 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted February 18 2013 - 03:59 PM

I can assure you this was one of the ugliest films I've ever sat through in a theater. Pathetic. If the Blu-ray is pathetic then I'd say they did a perfect transfer.

#7 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Andrew

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Posted February 18 2013 - 06:07 PM

Public Enemies contains some striking cinematography, but also some very ugly, distracting cinematography. The key cause of the latter, I believe, is that the filmmakers employed a "360 degree shutter" for scenes where lighting was limited. In the July 2009 American Cinematographer article on the film, Cinematographer Dante Spinotti explains regarding one such scene: "we turned the camera shutter to 360 degrees and increased the gain to +3dB, and it worked fantastically. You really don’t need a lot of light to get the right density on your waveform with these cameras.” Michael Mann prefers to shoot on location, which often means limited use of lights, and although a 360 degree shutter can greatly increase the light sensitivity of a camera, it causes excessive motion blur which gives even the best HD cinema cameras a distinct video look in scenes with a lot of motion. This effect is seen repeatedly throughout the film. I think the daylight photography in Public Enemies fares much better, having a very sharp, hyper-real look to it that pops in a way unique to HD cinema cameras while retaining cinematic-looking motion. At the end of the day, I think Mann simply pushed the technology too far. Digital can look truly great (e.g. Social Network, Prometheus, The Book of Eli, Drive, Hugo, Zero Dark Thirty), but the limitations of the technology must be respected. http://www.theasc.co...emies/page1.php http://www.red.com/l...angle-tutorial/

#8 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Kalzer

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Posted February 19 2013 - 04:51 AM

2009 is the early days of digital filmmaking? :confused:

In the scale of how quickly this tech is evolving, I'd say 'early days' relatively speaking! One of the things I gathered from the Keanu Reeves hosted documentary about the digital switchover is that the tech is advancing rapidly. Problems that were inherit in the first batch of cameras have been ironed out in the more recent batches. Cinematographers are re-learning their craft. 'Public Enemies' was just a symptom of inexperience on a large scale. I only wish digital projection would advance as rapidly. Seems several Toronto are theatres are stuck with murky projectors likely for the next ten years at least.
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#9 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Andrew

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Posted February 19 2013 - 06:44 AM

I've been so disappointed with projection at the theatres close to my home (east of Toronto) that I go to the movies drastically less than I used to. Blu-ray and high def streaming seem to ensure a level of consistency that I'm not getting at the theatre anymore. Now I have seen some excellent theatrical digital projection, but it's the exception. When theatrical projection is taken as seriously as ticket and concession sales, then maybe I will reconsider. I'm just tired of looking at movie screens with soft, dim, poorly projected films, that would look superior on my 40" LCD--and don't even get me started on the lack of etiquette from moviegoers nowadays.

#10 of 19 OFFLINE   Felix Martinez

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Posted February 19 2013 - 11:32 AM

Originally Posted by haineshisway 

I can assure you this was one of the ugliest films I've ever sat through in a theater. Pathetic. If the Blu-ray is pathetic then I'd say they did a perfect transfer.


Agreed.

And I have no prob with how Mann's Collateral and Miami Vice look on Blu-ray - in fact I think they look wonderful, and some sequences of Miami Vice - with the storm clouds and available light outside at night - captures the Miami summer skies like no other film I can recall.


But yes, I simply do not like how Public Enemies turned out, visually.



#11 of 19 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted February 19 2013 - 03:08 PM

2009 is the early days of digital filmmaking? :confused:

It certainly is. This was the time when Digital cameras that were capable of HD/2k or greater quality began to be regularly used as an alternative to film. Everything prior to this was really just consumer grade SD or experimental (things like Dancer in the Dark and the SW prequels). I've always had a bit of a personal grudge with this film. I was shooting my first feature at the same time Mann was shooting this in Chicago, and my lead actor got a gig as a featured extra playing one of the FBI men. Which meant that 4/5 of the way into my shoot he snuck off and cut his hair without telling me... So we had a few scenes of him in a hat which really don't hide the fact that his River Phoenix style haircut had had the back chopped off of it. Oh well, that's showbiz
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#12 of 19 ONLINE   Neil S. Bulk

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Posted February 20 2013 - 05:58 AM

I thought the sound was lousy on this movie. Dialogue was incredibly difficult to understand at times. I had to keep turning on the subtitles to learn what people were saying.


And the muzzle flashes on the machine guns were the same animation, every time. They all looked the same!



#13 of 19 OFFLINE   Richard V

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Posted February 20 2013 - 06:20 AM

I can assure you this was one of the ugliest films I've ever sat through in a theater. Pathetic. If the Blu-ray is pathetic then I'd say they did a perfect transfer.

:laugh:
See you at the pah-ty, Richter.

#14 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Kalzer

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Posted February 20 2013 - 03:26 PM

I've been so disappointed with projection at the theatres close to my home (east of Toronto) that I go to the movies drastically less than I used to. Blu-ray and high def streaming seem to ensure a level of consistency that I'm not getting at the theatre anymore. Now I have seen some excellent theatrical digital projection, but it's the exception. When theatrical projection is taken as seriously as ticket and concession sales, then maybe I will reconsider. I'm just tired of looking at movie screens with soft, dim, poorly projected films, that would look superior on my 40" LCD--and don't even get me started on the lack of etiquette from moviegoers nowadays.

I'm living East of Toronto too! I find the Empire Theatre in Whitby still looks really good. The digital projectors the Cineplex chain bought look to be murky 2K and look like poorly blown up DVDs. The Cineplex at Yonge Dundas looks a lot better though since they inherited the 4K Sony projectors AMC installed there. Tiff Bell Lightbox is also really good. Still upsetting to think that the cinema cannot be reliably counted upon for the superior image and sound. Don't even get me started on IMAX and other premium screens being used for 3D presentation only.
- Mark Kalzer

#15 of 19 OFFLINE   Kirk Andrew

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Posted February 20 2013 - 07:15 PM

The Scarborough Coliseum is all digital, and I've seen some pleasing presentations there, but, Jack Reacher, the last movie I saw there, looked awful. 2K only looks good if you sit at the very back. But Zero Dark Thirty looked fantastic at Cineplex odeon Yonge and Dundas. Must've been 4K.

#16 of 19 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted February 21 2013 - 03:40 AM

I thought the sound was lousy on this movie. Dialogue was incredibly difficult to understand at times. I had to keep turning on the subtitles to learn what people were saying.

The sound was horrible in the theatre, too. Very muddy and hard to understand.
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#17 of 19 OFFLINE   Mark Kalzer

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Posted February 23 2013 - 08:50 AM

The Scarborough Coliseum is all digital, and I've seen some pleasing presentations there, but, Jack Reacher, the last movie I saw there, looked awful. 2K only looks good if you sit at the very back. But Zero Dark Thirty looked fantastic at Cineplex odeon Yonge and Dundas. Must've been 4K.

The Cineplex at Yonge Dundas is 4K. AMC rigged every screen there with 4K Sony projectors and cineplex inherited it. The higher quality has always been evident. The the Cineplex AVX screens don't stand up to 4K.
- Mark Kalzer

#18 of 19 OFFLINE   Charles Rees

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Posted February 23 2013 - 07:52 PM

I couldn't agree more. I haven't been to a cinema for years and watch everything at home.

#19 of 19 OFFLINE   Lromero1396

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Posted February 24 2013 - 04:30 AM

I'm living East of Toronto too! I find the Empire Theatre in Whitby still looks really good. The digital projectors the Cineplex chain bought look to be murky 2K and look like poorly blown up DVDs. The Cineplex at Yonge Dundas looks a lot better though since they inherited the 4K Sony projectors AMC installed there. Tiff Bell Lightbox is also really good. Still upsetting to think that the cinema cannot be reliably counted upon for the superior image and sound. Don't even get me started on IMAX and other premium screens being used for 3D presentation only.

Where I'm from, there's a nice AMC theater about an hour's drive away from where I live. It has an excellent IMAX and the sound on all screens is quite good. The local theater has mediocre 2k projection and the sound quality barely supasses what a 640kbps Dolby track could deliver IMO. Stereo imaging (audio directionality) across the front channels is very narrow and the only directional sound comes from the surround speakers. But, they have never been known for great projection. Usually there are hiccups when starting a film that occur when they change over from the advertisment projector to the main projector used for the movie and once, the image dropped out for about 5 seconds during the film. Then there's a dollar theater nearby that's even worse: the sound is even more abysmal and there's even a noise floor running constantly. Yes, these are all digital theaters. Back in the days of 35mm film, both local theaters were just as bad and neither seemed to have skilled projectionists. The film prints were always very dirty and you could expect significant scratches and bad splices just a week or two into release. Don't even get me started on the dollar theater, which often had prints which appeared to be halfway through a tour of duty in a grindhouse. Even with that, I miss the days when movies were exhibited in 35mm. Plus, the digital switch made ticket prices increase by about $1.50 US.





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