mark-edk

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I posted earlier (maybe in another thread) about a comment I saw many years ago on CompuServe from a colorist (Marc Wielage) who did a transfer of TCaT and deliberately toned down the green tint in the night scenes because he didn't like the effect. I found Marc Wielage still active today in video work, posting at another site. He commented about the film:

The only full Hitchcock transfers I've done were North by Northwest (for laserdisc in the late 1980s) and To Catch a Thief. I regret a decision I made in mastering to pull some of the green in the night scenes of the latter, because when I saw a Tech print years later, it was clear that -- for whatever reason -- the night scenes were deliberately lit and timed very green. It looked weird as hell, but I can only assume Hitchcock wanted it that way, and I was wrong to try to try to reduce it.
FWIW.
 

Mike Frezon

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I'm fine with the new colors. My issues are the framing and the lost detail/washed look.
This is a perfectly good comment as it pertains to the topic of the thread.

Funny how Glen C and Robert disappeared on this thread. Where did they go?
This is a not a perfectly good comment as it is off-topic of the subject at hand. Let's stick with talking about the film and not about each other.
 

Neil S. Bulk

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Going through this thread and seeing the discussion and the screenshots and the reactions, is it possible that the 4k restoration is good (barring a day-for-night snafu) and the authoring for Blu-ray has compromised the image?
 
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Josh Steinberg

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That’s my guess. I was not thrilled with Paramount’s new BD for Wonderful Life but it looked to me that it wasn’t a restoration/master issue so much as an authoring/compression choice. They seem to be going for a certain look that’s not necessarily true to the original presentation, but I can’t tell if it’s an accident or a choice.
 
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Robert Harris

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Going through this thread and seeing the discussion and the screenshots and the reactions, is it possible that the 4k restoration is good (barring a day-for-night snafu) and the authoring for Blu-ray has compromised the image?
While that seems to be the situation with Wonderful Life, it‘s doubtful in this case. There just seem to be multiple problems. I‘m thinking that too much was spent, and too much work was done. This should have been an extremely simple effort.
 

tenia

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is it possible that the 4k restoration is good (barring a day-for-night snafu) and the authoring for Blu-ray has compromised the image?
The end result does not look like a poor encoding (which I guess is what you meant by authoring). Sub-par compression yields a certain type of issue that isn't visible here. However, it does, very simply, has the look of a thoroughly digitally filtered restoration, that's for sure.
Maybe the filtering was specifically applied for the BD (and the DCP would be intact, for instance), which is possible though it has been the exception rather than the rule, but it would still have to have been applied willingly.
This is extremely unlikely to be the authoring house screwing up (except if it has applied a digital filter without having been requested to, but I think it's unheard of).
 
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Robert Harris

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The end result does not look like a poor encoding (which I guess is what you meant by authoring). Sub-par compression yields a certain type of issue that isn't visible here. However, it does, very simply, has the look of a thoroughly digitally filtered restoration, that's for sure.
Maybe the filtering was specifically applied for the BD (and the DCP would be intact, for instance), which is possible though it has been the exception rather than the rule, but it would still have to have been applied willingly.
This is extremely unlikely to be the authoring house screwing up (except if it has applied a digital filter without having been requested to, but I think it's unheard of).
The interesting fact is that while some filtering was necessary for DVDs, it is not for more highly resolved platforms. Lower resolution read grain as video noise.
 

JWC1969

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From the Digital Bits, who reached out to the restoration team for this release:

Meanwhile, I have an update for you on a title Dennis looked at here at The Bits a couple of weeks ago, specifically the Paramount Presents Blu-ray edition of To Catch a Thief (reviewed here). Many readers complained that Paramount had used extensive Digital Noise Reduction on the title, as—compared to the original 2012 Blu-ray—there was almost no grain visible. But knowing Paramount’s current archive and restoration team, that didn’t seem right—I know they really care about the quality of their catalog Blu-ray work. So I contacted the studio and asked for clarification on the restoration. Paramount’s SVP of Archives, Andrea Kalas, was kind enough to provide this detailed technical statement:

“Paramount undertook a full restoration of To Catch a Thief from a 6K 16-bit scan of the original VistaVision negative, making it the first time the original negative has been directly sourced for a home entertainment release. The 2012 Blu-ray was sourced from an interpositive (IP) that was printed in 2006 from the Vista Vision negative (IN).

“The original negative contained some duplicate negative that was added to replace damaged sections in 1999. For this restoration, those duplicate sections were replaced with original YCM material so that we were sourcing the most original elements available.

“The blue in the original negative was slightly faded in sections so the 35mm yellow separation master was scanned and recombined with the negative to restore the blue channel. An original IB print was used to verify that the color and optical fades matched the look of the original theatrical release. We find IB prints extremely valuable for restorations because they are known for their more stable, permanent dyes.

“For the opening titles, the textless background from the original negative was scanned and the titles were rebuilt and overlaid on the original negative. This allowed us to improve the resolution and quality of the main titles while minimizing issues inherent to the older title creation technology.

“This restoration also includes a new 5.1 audio mix that was created after cleaning up the 2007 mix and we also created UHD HDR-10 files for future use.

“We made every effort to accurately restore this beautifully produced film by referencing the original print throughout the process. In addition, using the original negative allowed us to minimize the need for digital noise reduction. With these facts in mind, we stand by this restoration. We continually endeavor to restore Paramount’s great films using the best technology available alongside every resource we can find to bring the original vision of the filmmakers to audiences.”
 

Mark-P

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From the Digital Bits, who reached out to the restoration team for this release:

Meanwhile, I have an update for you on a title Dennis looked at here at The Bits a couple of weeks ago, specifically the Paramount Presents Blu-ray edition of To Catch a Thief (reviewed here). Many readers complained that Paramount had used extensive Digital Noise Reduction on the title, as—compared to the original 2012 Blu-ray—there was almost no grain visible. But knowing Paramount’s current archive and restoration team, that didn’t seem right—I know they really care about the quality of their catalog Blu-ray work. So I contacted the studio and asked for clarification on the restoration. Paramount’s SVP of Archives, Andrea Kalas, was kind enough to provide this detailed technical statement:

“Paramount undertook a full restoration of To Catch a Thief from a 6K 16-bit scan of the original VistaVision negative, making it the first time the original negative has been directly sourced for a home entertainment release. The 2012 Blu-ray was sourced from an interpositive (IP) that was printed in 2006 from the Vista Vision negative (IN).

“The original negative contained some duplicate negative that was added to replace damaged sections in 1999. For this restoration, those duplicate sections were replaced with original YCM material so that we were sourcing the most original elements available.

“The blue in the original negative was slightly faded in sections so the 35mm yellow separation master was scanned and recombined with the negative to restore the blue channel. An original IB print was used to verify that the color and optical fades matched the look of the original theatrical release. We find IB prints extremely valuable for restorations because they are known for their more stable, permanent dyes.

“For the opening titles, the textless background from the original negative was scanned and the titles were rebuilt and overlaid on the original negative. This allowed us to improve the resolution and quality of the main titles while minimizing issues inherent to the older title creation technology.

“This restoration also includes a new 5.1 audio mix that was created after cleaning up the 2007 mix and we also created UHD HDR-10 files for future use.

“We made every effort to accurately restore this beautifully produced film by referencing the original print throughout the process. In addition, using the original negative allowed us to minimize the need for digital noise reduction. With these facts in mind, we stand by this restoration. We continually endeavor to restore Paramount’s great films using the best technology available alongside every resource we can find to bring the original vision of the filmmakers to audiences.”
You heard it here first. Exact same statement that Paramount gave to Robert Harris on May 21st:
 

Trancas

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Well, here's Paramount’s SVP of Archives, Andrea Kalas last September, discussing preserving of film files on the Cloud:



Did the original untouched 6k scans of TCAT get lost in the cloud? Was there no going back from the overly noise-reduced, zoomed in version they've presented on the 2020 blu-ray? After scanning all those different elements at 6k is this all we have left? This cool, somewhat pastel, somewhat blurred mess?
Ms Kalas describes a certain quality that they strive for: "fixity - how to show that a given preservation file has not changed over time." She goes into a lot of detail about retaining every bit of information on the original file.......but what's happened to this classic movie? Have they left that "fixity" on the VistaVision negative only? How long will that gradually fading negative hold up?


Screen Shot 2020-05-26 at 10.59.31 PM.png
 
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tenia

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From the Digital Bits, who reached out to the restoration team for this release:

Meanwhile, I have an update for you on a title Dennis looked at here at The Bits a couple of weeks ago, specifically the Paramount Presents Blu-ray edition of To Catch a Thief (reviewed here). Many readers complained that Paramount had used extensive Digital Noise Reduction on the title, as—compared to the original 2012 Blu-ray—there was almost no grain visible. But knowing Paramount’s current archive and restoration team, that didn’t seem right—I know they really care about the quality of their catalog Blu-ray work.
Their review states something similar to this, which is absolutely stupid, since it basically means "we don't care what's concretely on the disc but are judging something based on the studio's current team's reputation instead".
Which is actually even not the case, since they're likely to be the ones who digitally futzed with Grease and Borsalino too.
 

Robert Harris

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In response to a comment over at BD.com, regarding the disc not yet being reviewed there, I posted the following:


BD.com has some wonderful reviewers. If someone fears sticking their head above protection, one cannot blame them.

But reviewers, regardless of site, have a responsibility to keep the public informed, to praise, to chastise, and to protect buyers from spending their hard-earned funds on anything that is less than as perfect as possible.

And that is Not, To Catch a Thief.

Like Mr. Hunt, and others, I have friends at the studios who will generally be forgiving when a release is given a fail, as I found necessary with Thief. Aeons ago, when WB released their first Blu of Amadeus, I rated it a fail for grain removal and overly aggressive digital noise reduction - something that no longer occurs - and received a thank you message.

No one is perfect. Problematic releases still make it to the public. But when they do, it’s far easier to locate the problem, fix and replace, then to try to sweep it under the digital rug.

There are either multiple errors in Paramount’s most recent message, or the problem goes far deeper than one might surmise. Questions abound, among them, was the studio working from a defective dye transfer print? Was it an early trial print, or a density print, and not an accurately produced final release print?

If the print was followed, and it did not have a proper day-for-night sequence, did no one question the propriety of the print as a reasonable reference.

This situation could become a master’s class in film restoration. But everything begins with accurate facts. I’m not sure that we’re even at a starting position as yet.
 

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