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UHD Review A few words about...™ Billy Lynn's Halftime Walk -- in 4k UHD Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. Message #1 of 36 Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2017
    Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I have a dear friend, who when she has something of importance to say, always seems to begin the discussion with the word, "so..."

    So...

    I popped Ang Lee's newest offering from Columbia (Tri-Star actually) into my Panasonic 4k player, after which I'd checked the processor to see that it was set to that player, which was also after I turned on the Sony 665.

    I've been told that if you want everything to play nicely together in 4k, start with the panel or projector, and work backwards from there.

    The cause for my concern is that Billy Lynn is the first 4k UHD Blu-ray that runs at 60 fps.

    When all of this began, back around 1894, 16 frames per second was considered fast.

    It worked, and even when speed rose to the heights of 20 fps, our films were still known as "flickers," because that's what they did.

    Once sound arrived, 24fps became the standard, along with an aspect ratio of 1.37.

    That took a bump in October of 1955, when Oklahoma! arrived, running at 30fps, and alleviating the problem of picket-fencing, normally seen during tracking moves.

    30fps, as you can see from the Oklahoma! Blu-ray, has a magisterial quality about it. You know you're watching something not only different, but special.

    It's taken 61 years, and numerous experiments, for Ang Lee, with the extraordinary John Toll behind the camera, to up that ante, creating something that's almost other-worldly.

    So...

    An image hit the screen, along with a notification that I was running 4k / 24 fps. Fortunately, that was for the warning screens.

    When the logos arrived, a new notification told me I was truly running at 60 fps, and one look at the Tri-Star logo, confirmed the fact.

    I've viewed the first ten minutes or so of the film, and have found that I'll need to turn down sharpness a couple of points, but beyond that, I felt the need to report what I'm seeing -- and hearing via Dolby Atmos.

    My advice is simple.

    If you have 4k, along with a panel or projector that has the ability to run 60fps, run, do not walk to your closest purveyor of cinema software, or hit Amazon (or your web seller or choice) immediately...

    And get a copy of this ground-breaking disc, which will arrive next Tuesday, the 14th.

    Image - 5*

    Audio - 5 (Dolby Atmos)

    Pass / Fail - Pass

    Very Highly Recommended

    Did I use the word "ground-breaking?"

    RAH
     
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  2. Cranston37

    Cranston37 Cinematographer

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    Is the movie itself any good? I was interested in it when I saw the previews but it kind of just came and went...
     
  3. Wayne_j

    Wayne_j Producer

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    This was actually shot 120fps per eye in 4K 3D.
     
  4. gadgtfreek

    gadgtfreek Supporting Actor
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    Glad to see the rave reviews hitting about 60FPS, but I wont be buying this one.
     
  5. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Unfortunately, I felt it was at best just okay. I rated it a 6/10.

    I was fortunate to see it in the CineramaDome in LA at 120fps 3D, and visually it is quite stunning. The presentation certainly helped my rating, so contextualize that as you will.
     
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  6. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That's how I saw it theatrically. While HFR won't be liked by everyone, I think it looked significantly better at 120fps in Billy Lynn than it did at 48fps for The Hobbit.
     
  7. Brian Dobbs

    Brian Dobbs Ambassador

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    Oh man, I'm super excited by the prospect of HFR. I have memories of the Hobbit in 48 fps, but I really want some more time with it. Excited to pick this one up just for the 60 fps experience. Speaking of the Hobbit, when will we get Hobbit HFR?
     
  8. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    It should be noted that Ang Lee at the Q&A of the screening I attended made it clear that the film was optimized in several different frame-rates for the various capabilities of the theatrical venues. So while not the 120fps, the 60fps is not just a simple matter of dropping half the frames and calling it a day.
     
  9. Geoff_D

    Geoff_D Supporting Actor

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    Quite right, they created deliverables for 24fps, 60fps and 120fps and used RealD's 'True Motion' software to created "weighted averages" (interpolation) of the 120fps source frames that were truer to the inherent motion blur characteristics of the respective <120 masters. I've got the UHD on order, I cannae wait to see it captain!!
     
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  10. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    To add to that, according to Ang Lee's interview in American Cinematographer, the reason they picked 120fps as the frame rate to shoot in was because it neatly divides into 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps, which allowed them to create different versions without expensive conversion techniques. In the end, the overwhelming majority of theaters that played the film opted to do so in 2D at 24fps, and Sony did not support Ang Lee's desire for a wide release in the 120fps/4K/3D format that he shot it in. I did get to see it in one of the two theaters that did.

    With all of that being said, the article I read seemed clear that the 120fps/4K/3D version - which Lee nicknamed "the whole shebang" - was his preferred version.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I should have made note that the package includes three discs.

    Blu-ray, 3D Blu, and 4k
     
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  12. Interdimensional

    Interdimensional Second Unit

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    A shame none of them can deliver the "whole shebang". It's unfortunate that there is no current 3D disc format capable of high framerate.
     
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  13. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think BD3D can do 60fps at 720p, but I don't think anyone's used it.

    I'd probably watch 60fps at 720p over 24fps at 1080p for this title, if it were an option.
     
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  14. Message #14 of 36 Feb 8, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
    Interdimensional

    Interdimensional Second Unit

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    It might also be possible to release an over/under 3D HFR version on a UHD disc. Assuming most if not all 4k 3Dtvs can combine over/under images into 3D.

    Passive 3d already halves vertical resolution, so by going with over/under there wouldn't be any additional resolution loss. A resolution of 3840 x 1080 would seem an acceptable compromise. Although it would be a relatively small potential audience capable of taking advantage of this.
     
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  15. seangood79

    seangood79 Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think Sony should be blamed for such a limited release of Lee's preferred format.
    I know of no cinema that can project 120fps/4K/3D on a regular basis. I believe the few venues that had it used a dual projector system, and the content wasn't delivered through the standard DCP format.
    In fact, Sony projectors can't even play 120fps content. It simply isn't feasible to expect theaters to make the necessary upgrades less than a decade after Avatar helped tip the scales away from 35mm. And this movie was no Avatar.
    I don't know if Ang Lee was trying to future proof his movie, or if he truly thought his version would have a wider release.
    It's one thing for someone like Quentin Tarantino shoot and exhibit a film in an obsolete format. At least there were enough machines and collecting dust in a warehouse that could be utilized for a decent sized release.
    But to shoot a movie using a technology that doesn't exist outside of a few super expensive projectors? That's just a head scratcher.
     
  16. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I would imagine he felt he was promised that it would be given more support. Remember Sony isn't just a movie studio, it's a technology company; I think he had hoped they would have been more of a partner.

    The other thing is, he was well aware that the number of 120fps/4K/3D showings would be limited. But I don't think he expected Sony to basically just send it out there as a 24fps 2D 2K DCP, which is how it ended up being shown at almost every place it was shown. There were a lot of places that had the capability of showing it in formats closer to Lee's intent, and it doesn't seem that Sony even tried for that much. Every Dolby Vision theater (including all of the AMC Prime locations) is capable of showing it at 120 fps at 4K in 2D, or 2K in 3D. No Dolby Vision theater had a regularly booked engagement of the film. Every IMAX digital location would have been capable of showing it in a similar format. Instead, the film wasn't released to IMAX. The overwhelming majority of standard RealD-equipped 3D projectors could have shown it in 2K resolution at 60fps in 3D. There were minimal showings in that format. Instead, Sony basically sent it out as a standard 2D movie, and that was that.
     
  17. bujaki

    bujaki Producer

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    One Dolby Vision theater had a booking in Dallas for ONE DAY! That's where I caught it in 3D 60fps.
     
  18. Message #18 of 36 Feb 9, 2017
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2017
    Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Not unusual these days. It seems like everyone being interviewed on news programs says this now, What I believe it to be is a new way of giving their brains an extra half-second to formulate a response, and simply replaces the irritating "Um...," "Ah...," or "Well..." It's merely the advancement of a devolving language with further meaningless, colloquial phrases and pauses meant to disguise a silence. You would never have heard any such thing coming out of the mouth of, say, William F. Buckley. But these sorts of fill-ins are rampant now, and I also know people who use "So" as a means of momentary hesitation. The one I use most is "Well..." I wouldn't be hijacking your review, Robert, but for the fact that I've become very conscious of the relatively recent but already pervasive use of "So" at the start of a sentence on t.v. interviews. So, please forgive the intrusion. ;)

    With regards to BILLY MAY, I have ordered this as a 4k/3D set and look forward to it, as I always find Ang Lee's work to be absorbing and better than 90% of whatever else is "out there." Having a copy of LIFE OF PI, I also believe him to be one of the most effective directors when it comes to the use of 3D.
     
  19. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    In this case, it was more of a warning of impending technical or scheduling bad news.

    It enabled me to begin thinking about where my day might be going, as opposed to where I thought it was going.

    I.e., servers are down, when did you last visit Catalina?
     
  20. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    Yes, when written, it would serve a different purpose than when spoken. What did you not like about the film?
     

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