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

A Few Words About Warner Paramount

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#1 of 96 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 26 2013 - 08:45 AM

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Warner's new Blu-ray of the great George Stevens' Shane is a perfect example of what occurs when a three-strip Technicolor production is brought to Blu-ray with consummate intelligence, extremely high-end technical precision, and an overall desire by those involved for absolute perfection.

That said, I must invoke the theory as espoused by David Lean, that any true restoration must have some tiny artifact to enable people to believe that it actually is a restoration. Much like a hand-woven Native American blanket, there must be some tiny thing to hold it back from absolute technical perfection.

For those interested in the more technical attributes of reviewing or commenting upon Blu-rays, and especially those in the rarified air of three-strip Technicolor -- and with comments regarding The Quiet Man over at that thread -- this discussion may be instructive.

I've compared three Blu-rays based upon three-strip productions. The Quiet Man, Niagara (which will be dealt with in a bit more detail when I have a moment, and Shane.

All began as black & white negatives, which went through Technicolor's matrix and dye transfer printing system. There is little different about them technically.

My feelings about The Quiet Man are no secret. I'm unimpressed with Olive's work on this project. And the other two films in this discussion make the perfect point of why it's as poor as it is.

Three-strip negatives, if printed directly to a positive will generally yield an image far grainier and more highly resolved than was ever seen on original dye transfer prints. Those original prints were far softer, and less highly resolved, than the casual viewer might recognize. Their "sharpness," for lack of a better word, was more imagined that real. It was based upon the contrast of those prints.

In reproducing a three-strip production for Blu-ray, one must recognize what those original prints looked like, and how very different a modern 4k scan of the three records is from what was intended. The same thing could be said of scanning original Eastman negatives in 4k toward the creation of a DCP or Blu-ray, but to a far lessor extent. Working with modern stocks, do you reproduce what's on the original negative, or the slightly more velvety image of a dupe? That answer is in the eye of the beholder. The situation with three-strip, being far more drastic, is not.

The original negatives for Shane were scanned beautifully. The resultant processed image has superbly perfect registration (even in dupes), color, black levels, shadow detail and highlights. The image is just soft enough to give it that authentic dye transfer look -- almost akin to watching moving velvet on the screen. Grain looks authentic for a dye transfer print, and moves naturally.

Compare Shane, back to back, with Niagara, and you'll find a slightly different beast. Color on Niagara is gorgeous, as it should be with anything three-strip, as nothing is lost to time or fading. Registration is equally nice, as are black levels and all other attributes. And while the visible grain structure allows for an extremely pleasing overall look, there are portions of the frame, where certain elements freeze in place, with hardly any moving grain. Just an anomaly. Sit back at a normal viewing distance, and nothing is obvious. The final product is beautiful.

Compare either of these Blu-rays to The Quiet Man, and what you'll find is an extremely competent original scan and basic compositing and color. The comparison ends there. Final registration and grain are handled poorly.

The original stereo tracks for Shane are long gone. The Blu-ray is presented in DTS-HD MA 2S, to give it a bit of presence. Aspect ratio, which has been discussed elsewhere, is the proper 1.37:1. The film was released theatrically in a placebo-like wide-screen, which would not have made its way to Blu-ray. A 1.66 with very thoughtful vertical tracking was prepared, but the final decision for release is perfect at 1.37.

Back to that blanket. What's wrong with WB's presentation of Shane?

What my eyes are seeing, is something tiny, and which may have existed on the original elements. In one of the final shots, with Alan Ladd riding away from the camera toward the mountains in the far background, there are small areas of snow in the peaks. Whether that snow was problematic within the exposures of the original negatives, or just some anomaly in the processing or compression of the final image is unknown to me. It simply looks a bit odd. And for those who care, that is what's potentially wrong with Shane. It may have always been that way.

But it matters naught.

This Blu-ray will hold up against huge projection with perfection. With all of the pre-planning, technical proficiency and finishing work for this Blu-ray, it's a "perfect storm." But in a very good way.

Shane is a meticulously produced Blu-ray which shows ultimate love, care and dedication toward properly reproducing (and saving for future generations via asset protection) one of the finest films ever made.

Image - 5

Audio - 4.5

Very Highly Recommended.

RAH
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#2 of 96 OFFLINE   Robin9

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Posted July 26 2013 - 08:51 AM

Well, I was going to buy it anyway . . . . 

 

Many thanks for the review.



#3 of 96 OFFLINE   haineshisway

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Posted July 26 2013 - 09:18 AM

Okay, that tears it.  If the snow on the mountaintops in that one shot looks weird I'm not touching this with a ten-foot pole or even a five-foot czech.  Can't they get anything right these days? :)

 

I can't wait to get my copy.  I'm drooling, which isn't pretty.



#4 of 96 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted July 26 2013 - 12:32 PM

Based on your comments I'm guessing the original negatives were scanned and digitally recombined? Warner used to call this the Ultra-resolution process but I don't think they use that moniker any more.

#5 of 96 ONLINE   Bob Furmanek

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Posted July 26 2013 - 01:08 PM

I'm VERY anxious to see this, thanks for the review!


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#6 of 96 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted July 26 2013 - 02:09 PM

This is gonna be beautiful.


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#7 of 96 OFFLINE   kinzoels

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Posted July 26 2013 - 06:12 PM

Sorry, I know this is a Shane blog, but I've tried everything....How about a few words about...Hammer's blu ray DRACULA from Mr. Harris!!!!!!

 



#8 of 96 OFFLINE   JoshZ

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Posted July 27 2013 - 12:48 PM

I wish Warner had offered this in multiple aspect ratios, like Criterion's On the Waterfront. While the movie may have been composed for 1.37:1 (and should rightly be offered in that ratio), it also has an important place in cinema history for being projected at 1.66:1. Ideally, I'd have liked to see this at 1.37:1, the original 1.66:1 matte, and the more recent 1.66:1 reframing (where the composition was adjusted shot-by-shot).

 

However, if budget only allowed one encoding on the disc, I suppose that 1.37:1 was the right one to pick.


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#9 of 96 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 27 2013 - 12:54 PM


Compare Shane, back to back, with Niagara, and you'll find a slightly different beast.  Color on Niagara is gorgeous, as it should be with anything three-strip, as nothing is lost to time or fading.  Registration is equally nice, as are black levels and all other attributes.  And while the visible grain structure allows for an extremely pleasing overall look, there are portions of the frame, where certain elements freeze in place, with hardly any moving grain. 

 

RAH

 

Are you talking about frozen grain with Niagara, if so i do not think this is just an anomaly.


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#10 of 96 OFFLINE   Mark-P

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Posted July 27 2013 - 01:21 PM

Edit: Oops. Wrong thread. I thought I was in the Niagara thread. My bad.


Edited by Mark-P, July 27 2013 - 02:54 PM.


#11 of 96 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted July 27 2013 - 01:25 PM

Niagara only qualifies for one aspect ratio. It premiered in January 1953 and went into wide release in February. The fact that its release may have lingered into the widescreen era and that it was incorrectly projected at 1.66:1 is irrelevant, as there are countless Academy frame movies that were re-released in the widescreen era and projected improperly.

Shane was filmed a full year before Niagara started filming.  The former was a 1951 production while the latter was filmed in 1952.


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#12 of 96 OFFLINE   Lromero1396

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Posted July 28 2013 - 08:12 AM

Shane was filmed a full year before Niagara started filming.  The former was a 1951 production while the latter was filmed in 1952.

 

This is precisely why there was such a backlash against the 1.66 tilt-and-scanned version that George Stevens Jr. Supervised. Widescreen wasn't on any director's mind in 1951, and the 1.66 version would have been a MAR and not an OAR. I myself support OAR all the way, so I'm thrilled about this release being 1.37.

I wish Warner had offered this in multiple aspect ratios, like Criterion's On the Waterfront. While the movie may have been composed for 1.37:1 (and should rightly be offered in that ratio), it also has an important place in cinema history for being projected at 1.66:1. Ideally, I'd have liked to see this at 1.37:1, the original 1.66:1 matte, and the more recent 1.66:1 reframing (where the composition was adjusted shot-by-shot).

 

However, if budget only allowed one encoding on the disc, I suppose that 1.37:1 was the right one to pick.

Agreed

 

And on a side note, after seeing a lot of recent DVDs, MOD DVDs, and BDs of 3-strip productions with incorrect color, I'm looking forward to one presentation which has been done right.


Edited by Lromero1396, July 28 2013 - 08:15 AM.


#13 of 96 OFFLINE   HDvision

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Posted July 28 2013 - 12:05 PM

Here's a quick compare how much the Blu-ray gains over the DVD. Pretty nice.

 

The OAR is 1.66:1. That is how it was released in the theaters. This Blu-ray is more like "original intented ratio as shot by the camera on set and that would have been released in the theaters that way if the movie had been issued a year before in an alternate reality that  however didn't happen". It's not the theatrical aspect ratio thought. And I agree a set with both versions would have been awesome (and probably would have boosted sales and the release profile).

 

 

385644shanecomp.jpg


Edited by HDvision, July 28 2013 - 12:06 PM.


#14 of 96 OFFLINE   FoxyMulder

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Posted July 28 2013 - 12:10 PM

Here's a quick compare how much the Blu-ray gains over the DVD. Pretty nice.

 

The OAR is 1.66:1. That is how it was released in the theaters.

 

Are you certain, i thought it was shown in theaters at 1.37:1.


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"A good body with a dull brain is as cheap as life itself"   

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#15 of 96 OFFLINE   HDvision

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Posted July 28 2013 - 12:20 PM

In the aspect ratio thread, Bob posted documents showing the initial release was 1.66:1. That's part of the film legacy, so that release kind of feel half the story. I would like to see a release in widescreen along with a documentary on that morphing it took.
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#16 of 96 OFFLINE   Cremildo

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Posted July 28 2013 - 06:05 PM

Here's a quick compare how much the Blu-ray gains over the DVD. Pretty nice.

 

The OAR is 1.66:1. That is how it was released in the theaters.

 

 

 

As usual, for the 50th time, you're forgetting the fact that the widescreen AR was imposed by the studio after the shooting AND the fact that the widescreen framing that people saw theatrically in 1953 would not be the one replicated in the Blu-ray.


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#17 of 96 OFFLINE   HDvision

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Posted July 28 2013 - 10:40 PM

According to Bob's documentation, it's otherwise. (See the aspect ratio thread). As for the original "placebo" framing being gone, it doesn't matter, as movies framing are fixed all the time on home-video. I'm sure the 1.66:1 new master is beautiful, and would make a wonderful companion to this one.



#18 of 96 OFFLINE   Moe Dickstein

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Posted July 28 2013 - 11:54 PM

The original theatrical ratio for Shane is 1.66

Period.
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#19 of 96 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted July 28 2013 - 11:59 PM

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Please cease discussion of aspect ratio in this thread. That horse was processed into pet food long a go.

1.37 is correct as designed and photographed.

I suggest that everyone take a hard look at the Blu, and try to visualize, shot by shot, how each might be handled cropped, and how many don't work.

RAH
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#20 of 96 OFFLINE   Dave B Ferris

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Posted July 29 2013 - 07:35 AM

Speaking of aspect ratio, though we were asked not to, look at the title for this upcoming presentation of LOA at the American Cinematheque/Aero Theater.

 

 

 

70mm Print!
SET THE ASPECT RATIO TO STUN: MOVIES IN 70MM

Sat, August 3 • 7:30pm

This sweeping epic of Arab infighting and British colonialism is as timely as ever, and as beautiful. See it on the big screen as it was meant to be seen - in a 70mm print!







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