There is something odd about these releases, and I presume that it has nothing to do with Criterion, and more with the licensor.

Both films begin with an explanatory preface explaining the horrible condition of the elements, presumably caused by multiple distributors over the decades and their mishandling of the films. The notes are long and set the stage for anything that might appear untoward while viewing the film. Normally one would find these notes as addendums to a booklet.

Both give us basically the same verbiage and details.

Then, even stranger, there appears the credit for the current licensor, Master Licensing, followed by an “above the title” credit for the entity that performed the restorations.

I’ve had some negative comments on the inter-web, complaining that either my company or I have been given credit for restorative efforts, which I’ve always found odd, as anyone who puts a year or more into a project should not go un-noted, and I always make note of the crews who put their labors into my projects.

But we always put them at the end of a film – actually after the end – with a couple of beats between end and restoration credits.

I’m not suggesting that TLE, a German entity, who did very nice work on these films, shouldn’t be credited. It’s deserved, and their work is nicely done.

It just seemed a bit odd to take name above the title.

As to the work performed on these wonderful films…

It’s top notch, with some very minor niggling exceptions. I did note examples of what I call magnetic grain (looks a bit like an old Etch A Sketch) or those toys that allow one to play with magnetic filings. The affect is one of making the grain appear to be racing away from an object as it moves. As I recall, there are some wonderful examples in Footloose. The other were small a clumping of grain, which just looked a bit odd.

Neither of these problems affect the enjoyment of the film, as they’ll be invisible from a nominal seating distance. And sometimes, dependent upon the damage being covered, there may not be a way around the look.

Grain appears generally natural, wonderful blacks, nice highlights, good stability.

As an aside, the film has always been promoted as being shot on location in Manhattan, but possibly because of the clarity of the newly restored element, some shots, for example a police office early in the film, has that look of a studio shot with a city background.

Audio is fine.

Image – 4.75

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – Absolutely

Highly Recommended.

RAH

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My memory could be kinda hazy but i thought one or two Criterion laserdisc releases did have a note on the screen before the beginning of the film about the condition of the film's negative or surviving elements? Liked Naked City and will buy the Blu-ray.
 

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My memory could be kinda hazy but i thought one or two Criterion laserdisc releases did have a note on the screen before the beginning of the film about the condition of the film's negative or surviving elements? Liked Naked City and will buy the Blu-ray.
This is not a note. It's a tome akin to War & Peace.
 
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I was always under the impression that some of the interiors in NAKED CITY, especially the precinct house, were studio sets shot at Universal. I read it somewhere, possibly in an interview with Jules Dassin.
 

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I was always under the impression that some of the interiors in NAKED CITY, especially the precinct house, were studio sets shot at Universal. I read it somewhere, possibly in an interview with Jules Dassin.
I believe the reality is that it was shot “substantially” on location. No harm in that.
 
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I enjoyed the original Criterion DVDs despite the picture issues, that were pretty typical for movies of that vintage!

If you're on the fence, the DVDs are available from Netflix and streaming from several sources (provenance unknown).

Great movies, good luck!
 

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There is something odd about these releases, and I presume that it has nothing to do with Criterion, and more with the licensor.

Both films begin with an explanatory preface explaining the horrible condition of the elements, presumably caused by multiple distributors over the decades and their mishandling of the films. The notes are long and set the stage for anything that might appear untoward while viewing the film. Normally one would find these notes as addendums to a booklet.

Both give us basically the same verbiage and details.

Then, even stranger, there appears the credit for the current licensor, Master Licensing, followed by an "above the title" credit for the entity that performed the restorations.
I checked the Arrow Blu-ray editions of these two films yesterday. Neither has an explanatory preface.
 

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I checked the Arrow Blu-ray editions of these two films yesterday. Neither has an explanatory preface.
Yup, I have both of those Blu-rays which were derived from older masters than these Criterion Blu-rays which were derived from a more recent 4K master. I'll be buying both of these Criterion Blu-rays later this Fall.

The following text is taken from the Criterion Blu-ray of "The Naked City":

This new 4K digital restoration was undertaken by TLEFilms Film Restoration & Preservation Services in Berlin using footage from four separate elements -- primarily a 35mm nitrate fine-grain master positive from the British Film Institute and a safety duplicate negative -- transferred via two film scanners, an IMAGICA Imager XE Advanced Plus and a Scanity HDR. Digital restoration was performed using the Pixel Farm's PFClean 2017 and Foundry's Furnace 4. The soundtrack was remastered primarily from the 35mm nitrate fine-grain variable -density soundtrack, as well as the 35mm original sound negative. TLEFilms performed the sound restoration using iZotope's RX and Ozone.

Restoration supervisor: Torsten Kaiser/TLEFilms Film Restoration & Preservation Services, Berlin.
Colorist: Roland Fliss/PostFactory GmbH, Berlin.
Restoration produced by Master Licensing, Inc.
Producer: Simon Brook.
Executive producers: Andrew Garroni, Lauren Garroni.
 

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The on-screen opening prologue also makes note of the fact that "a total of 13 elements were selected and used... Almost 2 millions frames were scanned and color re-timed."

Question: What does "13 elements" actually mean? Separate rolls, or 13 complete versions of the film?

2 million frames equals 1,754 minutes of material "scanned and re-timed." Or to put it another way, the length of the entire film was scanned and re-timed over 18 times.

I've never seen a film restored in this manner before, but apparently the elements were in such disrepair, that the owner provided a budget far outside of anything I've ever been allowed, or requested. My hat is off to Master Licensing!

To place things in perspective, My Fair Lady is approximately 250,000 frames in length, inclusive of head and tail leaders.

After examination of all elements, we scanned approximately 325,000 frames total, and did color and clean on about 255,000, before encoding printer functions.

Simply interested factoids.

The resultant Blu-rays, and presumably DCPs - should DCPs ever be used again - are lovely!

As I recall, both films have substantially the same prologue, which means that 4 million frames and over 3,500 minutes of material were finalized. A check of the BFI website shows contemporary nitrate for both titles. The archive holds some wonderful film elements.
 
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I've seen that magnetic grain issue before using automated software to try to clean up scanned filmed elements. Essentially you trade off noise/grain/dirt reduction vs motion in the image. In temporal mode, you don't want the software to misinterpret movement as something to "clean/remove" so the software will protect the immediate areas around motion, resulting in that surrounding area not being "cleaned" like the rest of the frame.
 
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Stefan Andersson

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Hello!

I found some more info about the restoration of Naked City:

"Originally filmed on 35mm nitrate, the original camera negative is believed to be lost or destroyed. The restoration has taken two years and been culled together from 6 picture elements and 7 sound elements obtained from around the world, including the British Film Institute.

In total almost 2 million frames were scanned and color re-timed - all at 4K resolution- resulting in the film being seen and heard in full clarity and accurate bandwidth for the first time since its 1948 release.

Concurrently, the same process was undertaken to restore an additional Master Licensing Jules Dassin title, the 1947 film Brute Force."

Source: https://masterlicensinginc.com/venice-classics (scroll down for videos about the restorations of Naked City and Brute Force)


"The Naked City has had a long and circuitous route to restoration as the film’s distributor, Universal, handed over the film’s rights to producer Mark Hellinger’s estate in 1956, who then oversaw a successful television series of the same name which aired from 1958-1963. In 1988, independent producer Andrew Garroni acquired the rights from the Hellinger estate and paired with Showtime to produce a spin-off series of TV movies in 1998.

A long-time admirer of Jules Dassin’s work, Garroni remarked on the film’s enduring appeal: “As the son of an Italian cinematographer, I’ve always admired the Italian neorealism influence Dassin brought to this gritty slice-of-New York-life story. There is an elegance The Naked City has always possessed compared to the other crime movies of the time.

While the film has been a mainstay with film historians, it has found new life with audiences since Criterion released a special edition DVD in 2007. The renewed interest led Garroni to work with Torsten Kaiser of TLEFilms FRPS Film Restoration and Preservation Services in Germany to begin the arduous task of restoring the movie. Originally filmed on 35mm nitrate, the original camera negative was believed to be lost or destroyed. The restoration has taken two years and been culled together from 6 picture elements and 7 sound elements obtained from around the world, including the British Film Institute and Columbia Industries (Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group).

Kaiser stated, “This print represents the correct, very finely detailed, luminescent quality only the original picture elements can provide. This restoration for preservation focused on precision scanning and exact colour retiming to match the references on the stability and steadiness of the picture. The sound achieves a resonance and bandwidth of the original like never before heard in greatest detail.

Beyond the Festival, Master Licensing plans to release the newly restored version in 2019 and Garroni along with his daughter Lauren Garroni, a writer, are working on a new adaptation for television."

Source: https://coyotepr.uk/films/brand-new...ity-to-premiere-at-75th-venice-film-festival/
 

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Hello!

I found some more info about the restoration of Naked City:

"Originally filmed on 35mm nitrate, the original camera negative is believed to be lost or destroyed. The restoration has taken two years and been culled together from 6 picture elements and 7 sound elements obtained from around the world, including the British Film Institute.

In total almost 2 million frames were scanned and color re-timed - all at 4K resolution- resulting in the film being seen and heard in full clarity and accurate bandwidth for the first time since its 1948 release.

Concurrently, the same process was undertaken to restore an additional Master Licensing Jules Dassin title, the 1947 film Brute Force."

Source: https://masterlicensinginc.com/venice-classics (scroll down for videos about the restorations of Naked City and Brute Force)


"The Naked City has had a long and circuitous route to restoration as the film’s distributor, Universal, handed over the film’s rights to producer Mark Hellinger’s estate in 1956, who then oversaw a successful television series of the same name which aired from 1958-1963. In 1988, independent producer Andrew Garroni acquired the rights from the Hellinger estate and paired with Showtime to produce a spin-off series of TV movies in 1998.

A long-time admirer of Jules Dassin’s work, Garroni remarked on the film’s enduring appeal: “As the son of an Italian cinematographer, I’ve always admired the Italian neorealism influence Dassin brought to this gritty slice-of-New York-life story. There is an elegance The Naked City has always possessed compared to the other crime movies of the time.

While the film has been a mainstay with film historians, it has found new life with audiences since Criterion released a special edition DVD in 2007. The renewed interest led Garroni to work with Torsten Kaiser of TLEFilms FRPS Film Restoration and Preservation Services in Germany to begin the arduous task of restoring the movie. Originally filmed on 35mm nitrate, the original camera negative was believed to be lost or destroyed. The restoration has taken two years and been culled together from 6 picture elements and 7 sound elements obtained from around the world, including the British Film Institute and Columbia Industries (Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group).

Kaiser stated, “This print represents the correct, very finely detailed, luminescent quality only the original picture elements can provide. This restoration for preservation focused on precision scanning and exact colour retiming to match the references on the stability and steadiness of the picture. The sound achieves a resonance and bandwidth of the original like never before heard in greatest detail.

Beyond the Festival, Master Licensing plans to release the newly restored version in 2019 and Garroni along with his daughter Lauren Garroni, a writer, are working on a new adaptation for television."

Source: https://coyotepr.uk/films/brand-new...ity-to-premiere-at-75th-venice-film-festival/
I received the following note from an archival student:

”Goodness! That sher is a lot’o’scanning ‘n colorin’ an such. An lisnin’ too.”
 

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Hello Robert,

hope this finds you well and in good spirits.
Two things:

1) the so-called "above the title" credit is NOT unusual or IN ANY WAY problematic at ALL. It has been and is traditionally used in Europe this way by archives as well as rightsholders such as the Murnau Foundation for decades. Look no further than METROPOLIS, "M", VAMPYR, etc. Also, to put things in perspective/context here - the reference to TLEFilms FRPS is one, very brief sentence at the very end of the two introductory plates. I specifically made ABSOLUTELY sure that the credits with regard to our involvement did NOT on any way compromise the integrity of the restoration or, of course, the picture itself. Nothing would be further from my understanding and execution of the work ethics, where I set the bar extremely high.
With the enormous investment by the rightsholder it was a compromise to address the presention issue of this restoration; where the rightsholder is mentioned, followed by an equally brief "restoration by" tag. I kept this as low key as it should go, considering that the presentation was first seen in (and at) Venice at the Film Festival in 2018; red carpet and all. So, it is not as if this an extravaganza of some kind.

Also, the (team)credit at the END is set several seconds - so VERY WELL AFTER ANY PICTURE OR SOUND of the feature has ENDED. Your comment, unfortunately, is a bit misleading as it could be interpreted that it was done here otherwise (though I would assume that it was not intentional).

2) Again, and you should know actually having known me and my position re: this issue since forever -
There was ABSOLUTELY NO AUTOMATIC CLEANUP SOFTWARE UTILIZED AT ANY STAGE OF THE RESTORATION AT ANY TIME.
It could (I have not seen the discs), perhaps, be possibly an encoding issue and / or due to some of the visual settings integrated in the respective display. Many do have features that - and this is a huge issue that angers me a lot - cannot be entirely unlocked/removed in those settings. The master, as it was sent to Criterion, is certainly just fine. Otherwise the work would be for the dust bin; and that is something Iwould not even consider doing, especially having done so over 2 years plus on each feature.

re: materials: Each material had something the other lacked. I (as you know) have the enormous freedom and flexibility to scan and then review immediately and in great detail the film elements on both IMAGICA and SCANITY HDR scanners 24/7, 365. It helped A LOT with both; especially with the nitrate. Similarly, by the way, with ADVISE & CONSENT, THE BIG COMBO or CANADIAN PACIFIC and THE CARIBOO TRAIL.

hope this helped a little shedding some light...

been a long day - gotta go...

best
TK :cheers:
 
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Robert Crawford

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Hello Robert,

hope this finds you well and in good spirits.
Two things:

1) the so-called "above the title" credit is NOT unusual or IN ANY WAY problematic at ALL. It has been and is traditionally used in Europe this way by archives as well as rightsholders such as the Murnau Foundation for decades. Look no further than METROPOLIS, "M", VAMPYR, etc. Also, to put things in perspective/context here - the reference to TLEFilms FRPS is one, very brief sentence at the very end of the two introductory plates. I specifically made ABSOLUTELY sure that the credits with regard to our involvement did NOT on any way compromise the integrity of the restoration or, of course, the picture itself. Nothing would be further from my understanding and execution of the work ethics, where I set the bar extremely high.
With the enormous investment by the rightsholder it was a compromise to address the presention issue of this restoration; where the rightsholder is mentioned, followed by an equally brief "restoration by" tag. I kept this as low key as it should go, considering that the presentation was first seen in (and at) Venice at the Film Festival in 2018; red carpet and all. So, it is not as if this an extravaganza of some kind.

Also, the (team)credit at the END is set several seconds - so VERY WELL AFTER ANY PICTURE OR SOUND of the feature has ENDED. Your comment, unfortunately, is a bit misleading as it could be interpreted that it was done here otherwise (though I would assume that it was not intentional).

2) Again, and you should know actually having known me and my position re: this issue since forever -
There was ABSOLUTELY NO AUTOMATIC CLEANUP SOFTWARE UTILIZED AT ANY STAGE OF THE RESTORATION AT ANY TIME.
It could (I have not seen the discs), perhaps, be possibly an encoding issue and / or due to some of the visual settings integrated in the respective display. Many do have features that - and this is a huge issue that angers me a lot - cannot be entirely unlocked/removed in those settings. The master, as it was sent to Criterion, is certainly just fine. Otherwise the work would be for the dust bin; and that is something Iwould not even consider doing, especially having done so over 2 years plus on each feature.

re: materials: Each material had something the other lacked. I (as you know) have the enormous freedom and flexibility to scan and then review immediately and in great detail the film elements on both IMAGICA and SCANITY HDR scanners 24/7, 365. It helped A LOT with both; especially with the nitrate. Similarly, by the way, with ADVISE & CONSENT, THE BIG COMBO or CANADIAN PACIFIC and THE CARIBOO TRAIL.

hope this helped a little shedding some light...

been a long day - gotta go...

best
TK :cheers:
Thank you for your input and clarification. Don't be a stranger as I appreciate your thoughts.
 

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Hello Robert,

hope this finds you well and in good spirits.
Two things:

1) the so-called "above the title" credit is NOT unusual or IN ANY WAY problematic at ALL. It has been and is traditionally used in Europe this way by archives as well as rightsholders such as the Murnau Foundation for decades. Look no further than METROPOLIS, "M", VAMPYR, etc. Also, to put things in perspective/context here - the reference to TLEFilms FRPS is one, very brief sentence at the very end of the two introductory plates. I specifically made ABSOLUTELY sure that the credits with regard to our involvement did NOT on any way compromise the integrity of the restoration or, of course, the picture itself. Nothing would be further from my understanding and execution of the work ethics, where I set the bar extremely high.
With the enormous investment by the rightsholder it was a compromise to address the presention issue of this restoration; where the rightsholder is mentioned, followed by an equally brief "restoration by" tag. I kept this as low key as it should go, considering that the presentation was first seen in (and at) Venice at the Film Festival in 2018; red carpet and all. So, it is not as if this an extravaganza of some kind.

Also, the (team)credit at the END is set several seconds - so VERY WELL AFTER ANY PICTURE OR SOUND of the feature has ENDED. Your comment, unfortunately, is a bit misleading as it could be interpreted that it was done here otherwise (though I would assume that it was not intentional).

2) Again, and you should know actually having known me and my position re: this issue since forever -
There was ABSOLUTELY NO AUTOMATIC CLEANUP SOFTWARE UTILIZED AT ANY STAGE OF THE RESTORATION AT ANY TIME.
It could (I have not seen the discs), perhaps, be possibly an encoding issue and / or due to some of the visual settings integrated in the respective display. Many do have features that - and this is a huge issue that angers me a lot - cannot be entirely unlocked/removed in those settings. The master, as it was sent to Criterion, is certainly just fine. Otherwise the work would be for the dust bin; and that is something Iwould not even consider doing, especially having done so over 2 years plus on each feature.

re: materials: Each material had something the other lacked. I (as you know) have the enormous freedom and flexibility to scan and then review immediately and in great detail the film elements on both IMAGICA and SCANITY HDR scanners 24/7, 365. It helped A LOT with both; especially with the nitrate. Similarly, by the way, with ADVISE & CONSENT, THE BIG COMBO or CANADIAN PACIFIC and THE CARIBOO TRAIL.

hope this helped a little shedding some light...

been a long day - gotta go...

best
TK :cheers:
Torsten,

Always a pleasure. We will disagree on a single point. The digital anomaly that I saw does in no way suggest this work should go to the dust bin. It’s quite wonderful.

Early on, at a filmmaker’s urging I agreed to allow a shot or two to ride through a restoration imperfect, but generally less than apparent the general viewer.

As to above the title credit, if this is the norm in Europe...

Very nice work, regardless.

One question, however. Where do two million frames come into play?
 

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correct text below (due to technical issues with the display of the text - for whatever reason it came out screwed)
 
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Torsten Kaiser

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Hey Bob,

Thanx for the comments.

Re: your Q: This was due to a (very conscious and) clear - and in retrospect, correct choice re: workflow. Several key factors played into this:

- the actual mechanical status (how damaged are the various materials - what is, really, the BEST SURVIVING SHOT)
- quality level of the DUPLICATION of the respective material (such as Fine Grains from OCN; direct-minted nitrate prints from OCN, etc)
- level of DE-GENERATION of the respective materials (shrinkage, chemical destabilisation)
- possible use of corrected footage that other elements do not hold

Again, in retrospect, given that both films have quite a history of all sorts of problems it turned out to be the absolute right decision not only to scan all these materials in their ENTIRETY (including most with color re-timing) but also on BOTH SCANNERS, as both feature, when analysed in detail specifically after color re-timing - sometimes different possibilities / advantages that are NOT visible when just analysing the materials in the “traditional” way. Comparing the footage in its digital submaster status “black and forth”, if you will, has clear advantages. It also resolves issues such as with very damaged shots, where density and detail are an issue (there is one “beauty” on reel 4 of THE NAKED CITY that was always a problem; no longer…). So, in a nutshell, it is a blessing to work this way. At the beginning, a GIGANTIC PUZZLE, but in the end you KNOW what is really there and what is really the best. 320TB of data …

One of the key problems was the (very problematic) minting of the duplicates to begin with. Both Original Negs (for both features considered lost/destroyed after continuous research and tracing efforts indicate that) were evidently minted on machines that were not well/correct aligned (“loose”) resulting in what I would describe as an “elevator” effect at the beginning and end of pretty much EVERY SHOT for 2-3 frames. That in turn created an instability that affected both the visual quality and it also affected the narrative as you had more difficulty to follow the story. Most of the shots were corrected, all by hand. For this, a special workflow had to be created. That is partially why this took so long - but it CERTAINLY was rewarding. On TNC, the results both in picture and in sound are, when comparing to previous versions both on 35 and on analogue tape/digital media, VERY different. On BF, the results are now as best as can be; the production was clearly hampered by poor minting to Fine Grain (another issue is the variable density track on the nitrate that was very brittle - the variable area tracks on the safety materials, unfortunately, were at times even worse), and even the direct prints have issues in sound (Rosza’s score) where I wish it would have been protected in a better / different way. Unfortunately, the improvement we have is as far as it goes. Now pretty good (and much better than before) but not perfect. Anyway, I made sure to go FOR ALL DETAIL and not de-noise the at times noisy soundtrack “to death”.

oh, yeah - and even the trailers are completely re-built faithfully inclusive all traditional effects “from scratch” using, wherever possible, the best footage from the feature (some shots used in the trailers were actually filmed from different angles / were alternative shots). That is VERY RARELY done these days.

TK
 

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This is probably old news to folks here, but the new Criterion HD versions of Brute Force and Naked City are available to stream via HBO Max. I've never seen either film, and wanted to sample them. Based on the first few minutes of Brute Force, the video and audio quality are very good, but I'm sure it's not as good as the disc.
 

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This is probably old news to folks here, but the new Criterion HD versions of Brute Force and Naked City are available to stream via HBO Max. I've never seen either film, and wanted to sample them. Based on the first few minutes of Brute Force, the video and audio quality are very good, but I'm sure it's not as good as the disc.
This morning, I watched both "Brute Force" and "The Naked City" in their entirety on "The Criterion Channel". Both of them are derived from the most recent 4K work. Both of them have TLE Films credits before the movie credits and are much cleaner with less imperfections than what is currently on iTunes or HBO Max. Back in 2018, I bought both of those Criterion HD digitals on iTunes during a iTunes Criterion sale. This morning, both of them are still derived from older masters and are not derived from the most recent 4K work. I thoroughly sampled the HBO Max streams and they are the same as my iTunes HD digitals with the same imperfections which are not present in the new streams on "The Criterion Channel". Even the audio on those iTunes and HBO Max streams are less impressive to my hearing than what is currently playing on "The Criterion Channel". All together, I spent close to five hours watching both movies in their entirety on "The Criterion Channel" and then comparing them to the iTunes and HBO Max streams by sampling the same film sequences between the three streaming sources. Again, "The Criterion Channel" streams are cleaner, more pristine with "before credits detailing the TLE Films restoration work". While the streams on iTunes and HBO Max have more imperfections during the same film sequences and they don't have "before credits detailing the TLE Films restoration work".