lark144

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mark gross
Things are getting more and more interesting.

What I'm learning is that there is more than one way to look at film, or in this case a Blu-ray. And we must be open to the opinion of others.

I heard, late last night, that the new restoration of Paramount’s To Catch a Thief, has received one of the most prestigious awards in the international archival field – the Cecilia Giménez Parchment – awarded for special recognition by the University of Turino.

I reached out early this morning and was able to speak with Professor Antonio Sfocato. While we had just a few problems in translation – he’s far more fluent in English than I am in Italian – he was able to bring an interpreter in for our brief chat.

A transcription is as follows:

RAH: Good evening, professor, thank you so much for taking my call.

AS: My pleasure, Robert, I have with me, my aid, Annette, who can help us.

RAH: Can you explain what you seek in deciding to give out this prestigious award?

AS: We look for, how you say… pretty. We see the ancient cinema of the twentieth century as something very much (speaks with Annette), very much stuck in manners of times gone by. We seek glorious images, bright colors, but never painful to the eyes. When we look at our own cinemas of the past, like The Stolen Bicycle, we see the huge moving silver pieces, how you call…

ANNETTE: Grain?

AS: Yes, grain, as interrupting the flow of art to the brain through the eyes. When we see something like Mr. Hitchcock’s film, finally as he meant it to be seen, without all the interruption, we said, “yes!” perfection.

RAH: I’ve seen it, and came away disturbed because it appeared overly soft, grain-less, and blown out—

AS: Sorry, what is this “blown out…”

RAH: An overall loss of bright areas, basically going clear, and without detail…

AS: Ah, but this is what we love. You have been to Morano?

RAH: Sorry, Morano?

AS: Near Venice, where glass is an artform.

RAH: I’ve not.

AS: You must visit. Please understand that clarity is most important to us in art. One can add colors, and in the cinema, can make it appear to move, but clarity is essential.

RAH: So, you’re looking for a more transparent image?

ANNETTE: I believe he’s looking for “clean.”

RAH: Did you see the new Blu-ray of the Michael Curtiz film, King Creole?

AS: Of course, we preview all of the American Blu-rays. And there are many fans of Mr. Presley here in Italy.

RAH: And no award for—

AS: No, no. It was very sharp, and beautiful. You could slice prosciutto with the main titles, they were so sharp, but not good. Too much grain. Not for us.

RAH: But Thief was perfect?

AS: In every way.

RAH: Will the award be shipped over, or—

AS: We will present the award at the Venice Festival this fall. And now I must go.

RAH: Thank you for speaking with me.
You should get the Obscuro award--in English "cheek in tongue".
 
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Nick*Z

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NICK
Looks like the whites are also blown out on the new disc.
Many specular highlights lost too. The new disc is a fail in my not so humble opinion for all of the reasons being discussed here - framing, DNR, color density, incorrect day-for-night, etc. The only thing Paramount improved here was the integrity of the main titles, and even then, there was some minor gate weave in the credits that was not present in the original mastering effort. So, sorry. Whatever the studio 'stands by' - its' not anything like it should look and that's a sincere disappointment and a shame. A sham too.
 

AlexNH

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Alex Koutroubas
Summary below provided by Bill Hunt, thedigitalbits on July 20, 2020:

In a Zoom call last week, Paramount’s Senior Vice President of Archives, Andrea Kalas—joined by film historian Leonard Maltin....

She was also asked about the studio’s treatment of film grain on its recent catalog BD restorations, and acknowledged the difficulty of this issue. Apparently, when the film is scanned, digitized, and compressed, a certain percentage of that original grain becomes digital noise, so they have to figure out how to address it on a case by case basis. [Editor’s Note: My suggestion is that Paramount should contact the restoration teams at Warner Bros., Sony, and Criterion to see how they approach the grain issue, because those companies almost always do it right. No more excessive grain removal with DNR, please! And static “fake grain texture” added back into the image afterwards is also a big no-no.]

 

Nelson Au

Film Editor
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Reading over that article, in addition to what is quoted above, it’s great to see Roman Holiday is coming and the other titles coming from the Paramount Present label. But there’s no discussion of the work done on To Catch A Thief. I was hoping the color issues was discussed, but I guess not. Did they discuss that?
 

Neil Middlemiss

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Neil Middlemiss
Summary below provided by Bill Hunt, thedigitalbits on July 20, 2020:

In a Zoom call last week, Paramount’s Senior Vice President of Archives, Andrea Kalas—joined by film historian Leonard Maltin....

She was also asked about the studio’s treatment of film grain on its recent catalog BD restorations, and acknowledged the difficulty of this issue. Apparently, when the film is scanned, digitized, and compressed, a certain percentage of that original grain becomes digital noise, so they have to figure out how to address it on a case by case basis. [Editor’s Note: My suggestion is that Paramount should contact the restoration teams at Warner Bros., Sony, and Criterion to see how they approach the grain issue, because those companies almost always do it right. No more excessive grain removal with DNR, please! And static “fake grain texture” added back into the image afterwards is also a big no-no.]

That was in response to my question posed to Andrea Kalas on the call.
 

Robert Harris

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Robert Harris
Summary below provided by Bill Hunt, thedigitalbits on July 20, 2020:

In a Zoom call last week, Paramount’s Senior Vice President of Archives, Andrea Kalas—joined by film historian Leonard Maltin....

She was also asked about the studio’s treatment of film grain on its recent catalog BD restorations, and acknowledged the difficulty of this issue. Apparently, when the film is scanned, digitized, and compressed, a certain percentage of that original grain becomes digital noise, so they have to figure out how to address it on a case by case basis. [Editor’s Note: My suggestion is that Paramount should contact the restoration teams at Warner Bros., Sony, and Criterion to see how they approach the grain issue, because those companies almost always do it right. No more excessive grain removal with DNR, please! And static “fake grain texture” added back into the image afterwards is also a big no-no.]

What's noted above is true, but goes back to 1997 when there were compression artifacts involving grain, which needed to be reduced.

With HD, and now 4k, grain is no longer a problem.

So, yes, the above statement is accurate.
 

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