A Few Words About A few words about...™ Animal House -- in High Definition

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 11, 2006.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Occasionally, a film needs a second screening on different equipment to figure out precisely what is occurring, and with Animal House the image looked quite different on my home theater setup than it did in my office on a 30" Sony HiDef XBR, which is set up to be unforgiving.

    Universal's HD DVD of National Lampoon's Animal House looks as it should.

    The film is a bit grainy, especially in low light situations. There isn't a great deal of shadow detail.

    If there was ever a poster child for a film not meant to be an HD demo disc, one would think that this is it.

    And yet, when compared to the SD version on the flip side, the differences are obvious and noted with immediacy. The new HiDef image is far more detailed than the SD, with all of the requisite advantages of color densities, black levels and image stability, and one would not assume that the difference would be this great.

    This is still a low budget film, reportedly in the three million dollar area, and yet Universal's technical gurus have made it look far better than I've ever seen it. Probably even better than it looked on film in 1978. I don't see this as a bad thing, even though it may not be totally representative of the original "low budget" look. That look was probably due to a number of technical functions of the time. Technicolor had shut down its dye transfer production line, and duping stocks, be they CRI or IP to dupe negative were not yet of a requisite quality to look anywhere near they did even in the late 1980s.

    I've now said a number of times in different commentaries that the majority of the HD-DVD releases look much like film, and they should. Animal House was never a visually beautiful film. That simply isn't what it was about. Beginning with the original Universal logo which appears to have been taken from separation masters, the film then moves into its own, and looks like...

    Animal House.

    Only better.

    This time with a more detail, an image that is sharper overall, and a better color definition.

    A great addition to Universal's line of High Definition software, and very nicely rendered. The consumer should not be expecting King Kong quality, as it was never there.

    As an aside, although all may not have the same packaging, the release comes in a slightly modified case, losing the small flat "stands" at the bottom, and gaining a new locking mechanism at the side.

    Highly Recommended, and for those unaware, a comedy treat, unsuitable for the entire family.

    RAH
     
  2. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    This is exactly the kind of title I have no interest in buying on HD-DVD. I love the film(it's one of my all-time favorite comedies) and I'm sure the HD version does look better than SD, but I just don't think it would be enough of an upgrade in the picture/sound quality dept. to make me repurchase the title on a next-gen format. Just my .02 on the subject.
     
  3. Sean Bryan

    Sean Bryan Sean Bryan
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    Great film.

    Robert, I had read that when this film was prepared for the latest release on DVD, the director (John Landis?) complained that it was made to look too good. Reportedly, at his request, the transfer was then modified to look less "nice". I would imagine that the same master was used for the HD DVD.

    Have you heard anything about that? Just curious about your thoughts on that being done.
     
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I have no info on this. I can only tell you that at the time of release Technicolor had shut down its dye transfer operation, which meant that the release prints had to go through either a CRI or an IP / dupe process, neither of which at that time produced superior results.

    We really didn't get a high quality IP / IN stock until 5243 in 1986.

    RAH
     
  5. Shawn.F

    Shawn.F Supporting Actor

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    I picked it up at BB last night. I thought it looked fine, given how old the film is. Grainy? Sure. Not exactly HD demo material? You bet. Great to have in the HD library? Absolutely. Next stop: Caddyshack! Hopefully soon after: The Blues Brothers.

    "I can't believe I threw up in front of Dean Wormer."
    "Face it. You threw up ON Dean Wormer!"
     
  6. Sean Bryan

    Sean Bryan Sean Bryan
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    I read this at AVS. Here is the post ported over:


    So my impression is that J. Landis never wanted the film to look nice and clean. While it could have been made to look a little better/"cleaner", he chose to keep it looking they way he felt it should. Understandable.
     
  7. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    No, you threw up on Dean Wormer [​IMG]
     
  8. Ed St. Clair

    Ed St. Clair Producer

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    Sound advice from Mr. Harris, Brent (hope your post isn't considered a TC, cause this was discussed before HD discs arrived), & Sean.
    By the way, how is the "sound"???
    (great segue way, huh?!?!)
    Is the audio worth the up graded alone, to hear.. My Man, Otis!!!
     
  9. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    This is warming up in the other room right now, full review tomorrow!
     
  10. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Yeah, I knew about Landis dumbing down the transfer for the last
    SD release 2 years ago.

    That was my concern about buying it on HD-DVD. Are we getting the
    dumbed down transfer now exaggerated in High-Def or are we getting
    the pretty transfer that he doesn't want us to see?

    I preordered it anyway.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    The transfer appears to replicate the quality of the original negative and modern duplicating stock.

    RAH
     
  12. Pete T C

    Pete T C Second Unit

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    I'm torn on this one. On one hand it would be nice to have Animal House in HD but on the other hand I can easily see this title being double-dipped down the road on an HD30 disc with IME or something. And I already have the same edition DVD... Think I'll pass.
     
  13. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I am SO torn on this one as well! Have the last SD edition, which seemed nice, but the lure, the siren call of HD DVD (and payday yesterday) has me debating if I should pull the trigger and get the new version. Don't want Buyer's Remorse, especially with this movie.
     

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