A few words about…™ – The Crow — in 4k UHD

The Crow 4k review
The Crow, a 1994 fan favorite from filmmaker Alex Proyas, and the final appearance by Brandon Lee, is making its 4k debut via Paramount’s Miramax label, and it’s a beautiful product.

While I’m not well versed on the film, and am unable to comment upon original color, densities, et al, the new 4k appears to use all of the tools available to create a superior 4k Blu-ray.

Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography shines, with especially blacks coming to the fore. Grain structure appears authentic, and the entire universe created in the film just seems to work nicely.

Audio is rich and full.

For packaging collectors, this one has the major attribute of having a plastic cover which integrates design of the enclosed Steelbook with transparent portions of the outer jacket. One should presume that this may also be one of those First Edition situations. The only downside that I found, and it could just be the sample that I received, is that the Steelbook easily slips from the outer shell, akin to the heavy board packaging for Twilight Forever Blu-ray, which also dropped out when taken off the shelf.

Image – 10 (Dolby Vision)

Audio – 10 (DTS-HD MA 5.1)

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Makes use of and works well in 4k – 7

Upgrade from Blu-ray – Yes

Worth your attention – 8

Slipcover rating – 8

Highly Recommended

RAH

Robert has been known in the film industry for his unmatched skill and passion in film preservation. Growing up around photography, his first home theater experience began at age ten with 16mm. Years later he was running 35 and 70mm at home.

His restoration projects have breathed new life into classic films like Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, My Fair Lady, Spartacus, and The Godfather series. Beyond his restoration work, he has also shared his expertise through publications, contributing to the academic discourse on film restoration. The Academy Film Archive houses the Robert A. Harris Collection, a testament to his significant contributions to film preservation.

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sbjork

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Can't wait until mine ships! I know that you have reservations about HDR, but if any films could benefit from the improved contrast of HDR, it's this one and Proyas' Dark City.
 

Robert Harris

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Can't wait until mine ships! I know that you have reservations about HDR, but if any films could benefit from the improved contrast of HDR, it's this one and Proyas' Dark City.
I have far fewer reservations about HDR now that the process has gotten more mature. Initially, I don't believe that many colorists knew how to properly use it. And secondly, it's not always either necessary or helpful.

This is an instance where it does its job.
 

Dave H

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This has been on my most-wanted catalog list for years. Not that the prior Blu-ray was poor, but there was room for improvement and it sounds like they knocked it out of the park. Looking forward to it.
 

Wes Candela

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I have far fewer reservations about HDR now that the process has gotten more mature. Initially, I don't believe that many colorists knew how to properly use it. And secondly, it's not always either necessary or helpful.

This is an instance where it does its job.
absolutely agree with you, Mr. Harris as I usually do.
this is a beautiful transfer and rendition of the crow for all of us that love the movie

visually it was spectacular one first viewing it opening day in the theater
During DVD releases and Blu-ray, I thought it was holding up pretty well

But watching it now in 4K with Dolby Vision, it’s luminous and radiant.

A little technical note I picked up from the directors commentary:
Alex Proyas and Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski's used panda vision LEE Filters on camera lenses during shooting

Specifically, green and blue filters

Then, when processing the film, they removed the green and the blue so the film would yield a striking black, white and red color palette throughout, which I never knew, but shows how much ambition and visionary foresight. There was on hand during the making of this film.

I usually LEE filters myself just for photography, And after I got one, I couldn’t stop purchasing more until my wallet started to scream at me.

But the directors commentary is very informative
The movie looks better than it ever has.

Brandon Lee rest in peace
 

sbjork

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It's a gorgeous disc, but I suspect that some of that gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh came with AI assistance. Not the whole film, but probably on the close-ups. Yet I'm seeing exactly zero Internet outrage about that. If I'm right, that confirms my suspicion that we don't really care about the use of digital tools as long as the results look good. And those tools are getting better and better.

Regardless of whether or not AI enhancement was used, I'm happy with the results. We're rapidly approaching the point where it's going to be very, very difficult to tell the difference.
 

sbjork

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absolutely agree with you, Mr. Harris as I usually do.
this is a beautiful transfer and rendition of the crow for all of us that love the movie

visually it was spectacular one first viewing it opening day in the theater
During DVD releases and Blu-ray, I thought it was holding up pretty well

But watching it now in 4K with Dolby Vision, it’s luminous and radiant.

A little technical note I picked up from the directors commentary:
Alex Proyas and Cinematographer Dariusz Wolski's used panda vision LEE Filters on camera lenses during shooting

Specifically, green and blue filters

Then, when processing the film, they removed the green and the blue so the film would yield a striking black, white and red color palette throughout, which I never knew, but shows how much ambition and visionary foresight. There was on hand during the making of this film.

I usually LEE filters myself just for photography, And after I got one, I couldn’t stop purchasing more until my wallet started to scream at me.

But the directors commentary is very informative
The movie looks better than it ever has.

Brandon Lee rest in peace
According to Darius Wolski in an American Cinematographer podcast, he used a sepia filter and then dialed out the browns during the printing process.
 

Wes Candela

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According to Darius Wolski in an American Cinematographer podcast, he used a sepia filter and then dialed out the browns during the printing process.
yeah. It’s smart. Way smart.

I’ve never heard of a process like that before, so interesting. But the results are on the screen, it’s what gives “The Crow ” that distinctive look.

The director’s commentary at 32 mins into film, you hear Alex Proyes recalling the process they used in photographing and printing the film back in 1994 in a bit more detail.

i’m going quote him here:

“I seem to remember us shooting the entire movie through either a heavy blue or a heavy orange filter.
And then taking that bias in the film out in the printing.
What that did is it resulted in bleaching the colors.
And all the colors that were really left were the reds that we were after.
The fire, the blood in the film.”

- Alex Proyes on shooting “The Crow”
from 4K UHD Directors commentary.

“ and I say I’m dead … and I move.

” You're the guy that murdered Tin-Tin.”

“He was already dead. he died a year ago the moment he touched her.
They’re all dead… They just don’t know it yet.”

Eric Draven to Officer Albrehct,
“The Crow”, 1994
IMG_7044.jpeg
 
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Wes Candela

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And for the diehard fans, like myself, out there, that haven’t heard the directors commentary, some interesting storyline info given.

- Eric Draven loses his powers when he associates and open himself up to humans

He has brought back specifically for vengeance, any act that deviates from that path weakens him.

This is why his when Draven saves Darla from using morphine, he is weakened by the act.

(A fight was filmed between Draven and Fun Boy where draven takes a beating… but it was cut.)
 
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sbjork

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yeah. It’s smart. Way smart.

I’ve never heard of a process like that before, so interesting. But the results are on the screen, it’s what gives “The Crow ” that distinctive look.

The director’s commentary at 32 mins into film, you hear Alex Proyes recalling the process they used in photographing and printing the film back in 1994 in a bit more detail.

i’m going quote him here:

“I seem to remember us shooting the entire movie through either a heavy blue or a heavy orange filter.
And then taking that bias in the film out in the printing.
What that did is it resulted in bleaching the colors.
And all the colors that were really left were the reds that we were after.
The fire, the blood in the film.”

- Alex Proyes on shooting “The Crow”
from 4K UHD Directors commentary.

“ and I say I’m dead … and I move.

” You're the guy that murdered Tin-Tin.”

“He was already dead. he died a year ago the moment he touched her.
They’re all dead… They just don’t know it yet.”

Eric Draven to Officer Albrehct,
“The Crow”, 1994
View attachment 222366
That's the same commentary that was on the 2011 Blu-ray, and I did listen to it again after watching the film. But Wolski described it a little differently in the ASC podcast, so I'm leaning toward his version. He also said that they had to avoid blues in the costumes and production design because it would have ended up being exaggerated by the process that he used.
 

Wes Candela

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That's the same commentary that was on the 2011 Blu-ray, and I did listen to it again after watching the film. But Wolski described it a little differently in the ASC podcast, so I'm leaning toward his version. He also said that they had to avoid blues in the costumes and production design because it would have ended up being exaggerated by the process that he used.
Ahh
Ok, didn't know if it was new I'd never listened before.

Or maybe I did and I forgot?

But listening last month I remember what you're stating above:
that decisions were made to keep the wardrobe in line with the color palette they were aiming for.

Just understanding filters now I found the commentary fascinating.

You think some AI was used to accent the image for the 4K release?
 

sbjork

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You think some AI was used to accent the image for the 4K release?
It's possible. But that's pure speculation on my part. If it was used, it was used beautifully, and it seems to have fooled pretty much everybody. So I'm okay with it. If it wasn't, then it's still further proof that judging things accurately is just going to get more and more difficult going forward. We're all going to be fooled, one way or another.
 
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Wes Candela

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It's possible. But that's pure speculation on my part. If it was used, it was used beautifully, and it seems to have fooled pretty much everybody. So I'm okay with it. If it wasn't, then it's still further proof that judging things accurately is just going to get more and more difficult going forward. We're all going to be fooled, one way or another.
I gotcha, agree.
they knocked the crow out of the park…however, they accomplished it.

in 2024 I am loving what I see with HDR and Dolby Vision, i'm loving most of the releases I'm seeing
 

Dave H

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It's possible. But that's pure speculation on my part. If it was used, it was used beautifully, and it seems to have fooled pretty much everybody. So I'm okay with it. If it wasn't, then it's still further proof that judging things accurately is just going to get more and more difficult going forward. We're all going to be fooled, one way or another.

More like conspiratorial. :) I see no evidence for AI tampering at all.

What I see is an outstanding 4K transfer with no DNR and excellent encoding. This is what it takes to get a truly stellar disc like this one. This is how good catalog titles can look on the format when done with the utmost care.
 

sbjork

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More like conspiratorial. :) I see no evidence for AI tampering at all.

What I see is an outstanding 4K transfer with no DNR and excellent encoding. This is what it takes to get a truly stellar disc like this one. This is how good catalog titles can look on the format when done with the utmost care.
No, more like speculation. AI tools are quite real, not a conspiracy theory, and they're being used in ways that are no longer going to be obvious. Plus, if they were used here, it was done with the utmost care. That's the whole point. Catalogue titles are going to look good in the format even when they've had AI tools applied. We're going to have to learn to accept that fact, because they're here to stay. Tools like these are neither good nor bad; it's all about how they're used. Whether or not it's true in this case, I'll guarantee you that that are going to be future titles that used AI tools where people will have no clue that it was even done.

And you're right that there's no DNR, but that's because AI degraining and enhancement tools aren't DNR. DNR is an outdated term that applies to a simple process that's no longer used on major titles like these. I'll also guarantee you that there are titles out there where the grain has been stripped out as part of the mastering process, with fake grain added back at the end, and most people are going to be none the wiser.
 

Wes Candela

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More like conspiratorial. :) I see no evidence for AI tampering at all.

What I see is an outstanding 4K transfer with no DNR and excellent encoding. This is what it takes to get a truly stellar disc like this one. This is how good catalog titles can look on the format when done with the utmost care.

I have to agree I just re-watched some of it 10 minutes ago.

it looks and sounds …GREAT.

“ There's a really big bird in here.”

“ Here Fun Boy…”
copy_ED260A3B-C651-43DD-90E2-73F5FB55FCFD.gif
 
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Wes Candela

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No, more like speculation. AI tools are quite real, not a conspiracy theory, and they're being used in ways that are no longer going to be obvious. Plus, if they were used here, it was done with the utmost care. That's the whole point. Catalogue titles are going to look good in the format even when they've had AI tools applied. We're going to have to learn to accept that fact, because they're here to stay. Tools like these are neither good nor bad; it's all about how they're used. Whether or not it's true in this case, I'll guarantee you that that are going to be future titles that used AI tools where people will have no clue that it was even done.

And you're right that there's no DNR, but that's because AI degraining and enhancement tools aren't DNR. DNR is an outdated term that applies to a simple process that's no longer used on major titles like these. I'll also guarantee you that there are titles out there where the grain has been stripped out as part of the mastering process, with fake grain added back at the end, and most people are going to be none the wiser.
I don't know what the future holds, but I can tell you this:
AI is being implemented right now In ways I can’t imagine.

Tools are hyper smart. They are already using AI to touch up photographs…and the results are impressive.

it’s not my thing to use an AI when working on my pics, but the option exists to analyze my pics and suggest different presets within 30 seconds.
if I applied them, you wouldn’t know.

Personally, I prefer choosing those options myself…and I prefer knowing the filmmakers made the decisions themselves.

But I’m not in the business, so I don’t know what options they (The Filmmakers) are being offered To spruce up their films besides the use of HDR.
 
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Dave H

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No, more like speculation. AI tools are quite real, not a conspiracy theory, and they're being used in ways that are no longer going to be obvious. Plus, if they were used here, it was done with the utmost care. That's the whole point. Catalogue titles are going to look good in the format even when they've had AI tools applied. We're going to have to learn to accept that fact, because they're here to stay. Tools like these are neither good nor bad; it's all about how they're used. Whether or not it's true in this case, I'll guarantee you that that are going to be future titles that used AI tools where people will have no clue that it was even done.

And you're right that there's no DNR, but that's because AI degraining and enhancement tools aren't DNR. DNR is an outdated term that applies to a simple process that's no longer used on major titles like these. I'll also guarantee you that there are titles out there where the grain has been stripped out as part of the mastering process, with fake grain added back at the end, and most people are going to be none the wiser.

Aside from the Cameron titles, please provide me evidence this movie and all of the many others have had AI processing applied. The Cameron titles have caused such an internet frenzy where I see people now accusing 'this' or 'that' on AI.

Degraining and regraining is a very old technique going back to the Lowry and DVD days. Yes, it's evolved.

Call it what you will...grain reduction still happens too often unfortunately and causes the unintended consequences.

But you know where I would like to see AI used? For better compression.
 

sbjork

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Aside from the Cameron titles, please provide me evidence this movie and all of the many others have had AI processing applied. The Cameron titles have caused such an internet frenzy where I see people now accusing 'this' or 'that' on AI.

Degraining and regraining is a very old technique going back to the Lowry and DVD days. Yes, it's evolved.

Call it what you will...grain reduction still happens too often unfortunately and causes the unintended consequences.

But you know where I would like to see AI used? For better compression.
Yes, it has evolved, and again, that's my whole point. It's no longer "DNR," which was the term that you used.

Considering that I'm one of the ones on these forums who has repeatedly said that the Cameron titles don't look that bad, even if they're not what I would have preferred, don't lump me into "internet frenzy." And speculation precludes direct evidence. I'm just reporting what I'm seeing. The clarity and definition on the closeups of Jon Polito’s ribbed sweater, Ernie Hudson’s white T-shirt, Tony Todd and Marco Rodríguez’s craggy skin, are somewhat reminiscent of the textural clarity on closeups in Titanic -- not just a Cameron title, but a Paramount title. The clarity on those closeups exceeds that of the surrounding medium and long shots. It looks almost impossibly sharp and detailed given the lenses, film stocks, and filters that Darius Wolski used.
 
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