1960 vs. 2002

Discussion in 'DVD' started by DeeF, Jun 28, 2003.

  1. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Why does the picture on the DVD of King of Kings (1960) look better than the picture on the DVD of Gangs of New York (2002)? Is it 70mm vs. 35mm? Is it just a "look" of Gangs of New York?

    King of Kings looks amazing, clear, sharp, colorful, with no artifacts of any kind, and nothing distracting one from the movie (except the ugly post-looping of Spanish and Italian actors with American voiceovers).

    Gangs of New York looks like an older transfer, grainier, faded, with some obvious edge-enhancement.

    I really don't understand this.

    My equipment: Fujitsu 5001 plasma (calibrated), Panasonic RP-82 with Faroudja DCDi de-interlacing chip.
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Dee,
    Did you see "Gangs of New York" in a movie theater?
     
  3. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    No, I didn't see Gangs in a movie theater. But I didn't see King of Kings in a movie theater, either.

    I suppose it's just the look then, of the movie. But the DVD isn't very pleasing, to my eye, compared to Punch-Drunk Love, or About Schmidt, or Lord of the Rings, another movie with a look.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I asked the question in an attempt to ascertain whether the look of the film was different on dvd compared to what it looked like in a movie theater. I haven't see the dvd yet, but I suspect it looks very similar to what I saw in the movie theater except for the EE.

    Now, for "King of Kings" it has always been one of the most beautifully shot films ever in glorious Technicolor.


    Crawdaddy
     
  5. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    It does bring up an interesting question. If a film is grainer, and more faded, on purpose, then is that kind of film more likely to include edge enhancement on a DVD? Perhaps a grainier film looks almost blurry on a television at 480p, and needs to be "improved."

    I agree that King of Kings was fantastically well-shot. But still, it is 43 years old. One would think that it would be faded, scratchy, with duped sections in poor contrast, etc. (kinda like Giant). But this movie, for one, looks quite amazing on DVD.
     
  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    All DVDs contain some degree of edge-enhancement. The telecine technician may be inclined to go overboard when transferring a film with an intentionally grainier look.
     
  7. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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    KING OF KINGS was shot in "Super Technirama" (horizontal 35mm with an anamorphic squeeze), GANGS OF NEW YORK was shot in Super 35. The image area for KoK would probably be at least 5 times greater than that for GoNY. Also, Scorsese was looking for a 'gritty' feel for his film, while KoK is a Hollywood epic. The DVD of KoK is spectacular.
     
  8. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Another question: would the DVD transfer of King of Kings have been made from the large-format negative? Or would it have been from a 35mm copy?

    About the grittiness of Gangs, and these kinds of movies in general: I like grittiness, and I like many of the modern filters we use to give aesthetic depth to movies. This isn't what I found objectionable in the DVD of Gangs. It was what appeared to me to be electronic modification for a DVD. The picture looks altered, not on closeups, but on middle-range shots, especially. It looks like a transfer from 1999, not one from today.
     
  9. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    The King Of Kings DVD was most-surely transfered from high-quality 35mm elements. Whether the 35mm print was a new interpositive made from the 8-perf 1.5x anamorphic 35mm Technirama negative is something I cannot answer. I would like to know what elements Warner used for the transfer, as it is stunning, as others here have said.

    I think that King Of Kings is by far the best 'Hollywood religious epic', save Scorsese's own, The Last Temptation Of Christ. But I still find it a heavy-going film. But I love Nick Ray's films, and would like to see more of them on DVD.

    The transfer of Gangs Of New York looks great to me. The film has a raw beauty to it typical of Scorsese's at his best, but it is not up there with Mean Streets, Goodfellas or Casino. But it has considerably strengths - Day-Lewis' performance will most surely live forever in the Cinema lexicon. Great stuff.


    Gordy
     
  10. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    King of Kings was photographed on Eastmancolor negative stock. It is not a Technicolor production, although some 35mm prints were made via the dye transfer process.
     
  11. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    RAH,
    If so, then why does the film's credits says the film was shot using the 70MM Super Technirama Technicolor process?




    Crawdaddy
     
  12. Peter Apruzzese

    Peter Apruzzese Producer

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  13. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Robert Crawford: RAH,
    If so, then why does the film's credits says the film was shot using the 70MM Super Technirama Technicolor process?

    Because the process was created and owned by Technicolor.

    This is one of those cases where things can get rather confusing between Technicolor, the laboratory; Technicolor, the 3-strip photographed process; Technicolor, the dye transfer printing process.

    Technirama was designed, taking advantage of the entire negative area of (essentially) the Vista frame to create direct prints unsqueezed to 70mm from the original negs, or 35mm 4 perf printing matrices, which could transfer absolutely gorgeous vibrant dye transfer prints.
     
  15. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Gotcha! Due to this I will spell out the 3-strip Technicolor photographical process whenever I'm discussing movies filmed with that particular process.





    Crawdaddy
     
  16. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Such an interesting discussion!

    RAH:

    Wasn't 1960 a particularly bad time for Eastman stock? The failure of the yellow layer... I recall a discussion about the restoration of Pollyanna, made in 1960, that concerned Eastman stock of a particular vintage being very unstable, and all films made using this particular stock losing almost their entire yellow layer.

    Would King of Kings fall into this category?

    Gordon:

    Although I didn't really mean to be a discussion of the various merits of the films, since I didn't see either in the theater, I suppose the qualities of the DVDs are playing into my personal analysis of the films' actual quality.

    King of Kings is overlong, but surprisingly well-told, containing as much political intrigue as religious story. Although I think the DVD is amazing and beautiful, I think the best of the epics must be Spartacus. Spartacus isn't actually religious, but it has a similar quality, even to the point of the crucifixions at the end. It has the best script of all of these (by Dalton Trumbo). Its Criterion DVD is also superlative, shot in Technirama as well.

    Gangs of New York was disappointing to me, though I saw elements of greatness. As good as I thought Daniel Day-Lewis's performance was, I felt he worked a little bit in a vacuum. One didn't really understand, as hard as the creative team worked, the real New York in the 1850s and 1860s. I think the Five Points area needed more juxtaposition with other areas of New York, to give it focus. Also, the movie's story needed more imagination, and many of the actors needed to alter their modern acting styles (particularly Cameron Diaz). So, this movie fascinates mostly from a visual and design point of view. Which is why I'm disappointed with it, because I think the visual aspects have been compromised by the DVD's transfer.
     
  17. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    Dee,

    Most films shot in 70MM will look sharper, and less grainy than films shot in 35MM. (the frame is twice as big).

    During the late 1950's and into the early 1970's many "big" Hollywood productions were shot in 70MM (Todd-AO, Super-Panavision etc) 70MM is no longer used today (aside from the fact it is more expensive, most multiplexs aren't equiped or large enough to support a 70MM production, and most 70MM Film are transfered to DVD from their 35MM version.)

    So a 70MM film from 1960 will usually look better than a film from 2002.
     
  18. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Greg,

    I appreciate your efforts to explicate 70mm, although I'm fairly erudite about it already, having perused every corner of The Widescreen Museum. But I don't think your conclusion is substantive. 2002 films are new, and digital transfers are probably made before the films hit the movie theaters -- so they should be pristine. Most recent vintage films hardly warrant a mention as to picture quality, because they are always perfect.

    I used King of Kings as an example, because it is an older film that arrived on DVD this year. So it is a current transfer of an older film, which I juxtaposed against a current transfer of a new film. I found the new film lacking in the transfer department.

    King of Kings looks great, even amazing, but this is certainly not true of all 70mm movies on DVD. This movie looks better than any of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, for instance, which are the original large format movies. Oklahoma!, in particular, looks quite atrocious on DVD, even though it was restored in the 80s. The Sound of Music is notoriously bad. Other big epics, like Ben-Hur, and Lawrence of Arabia, do not have the same quality picture as King of Kings on DVD. Of Lawrence, we are getting a new DVD this fall, so we shall see what it looks like.
     
  19. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  20. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Greg, those formats are actually 65mm negative origination and 70mm for thetrical presentation. Like Dee says: www.widescreenmuseum.com has just about all a boy needs to know about film formats through the ages! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    65mm in the 60s was not great right across the board: Sovscope 70, the Russian 65mm/70mm system was shot on a lesser negative stock (Agfa, RAH?) and on films like War And Peace (1964-1967) it doesn't 'look' like 65/70mm at all when viewed today in cinemas and on the current DVD, but with all things considered, it is a miracle we actually have the complete film. But Eastman 65mm of 1957-1972(?) was of pretty damn good quality and films like Lawrence Of Arabia and My Fair Lady, you can really see why Super Panavision was such a great format to film big stories in! [​IMG]

    In an ideal world, Lord Of The Rings would have been shot in Super Panavision.


    Gordy
     

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