Traveling Matt

Supporting Actor
Joined
Sep 1, 2006
Messages
736
I apologize if I came across a little harsh and, again, my disappointment is tentative. I haven't gotten the chance yet to cancel my pre-order but will hold off for now. Thank you for chiming in, Randy.

I think my concern is two possibilities: this release falling short, and this poor, neglected library avoiding justice yet again. An emotional response, but there you have it. I don't want to say more until we learn more, and lest it go further down the rabbit hole. I'm looking forward to more information.
 

Skretvedt

Agent
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
29
Real Name
Randy Skretvedt
No disrespect meant to RAH, and I know he has a big reputation with this crowd, but having worked on the L&H project since October 2018 I can tell you how much sweat went into it, and having RAH dismiss it as "not looking like film" puts a burr under my saddle -- on what is he watching this? I have seen these transfers on a multitude of monitors and in every case they look like film. Clean film, great-condition film, but film. Not like some blurry, over-"improved" video.

The source prints are restorations done by UCLA under the management of Scott MacQueen, and by the Library of Congress. They searched for the finest materials in the world before undertaking these. "The Chimp" -- which at one point was in such disrepair that it looked like it was not salvageable -- happily was restored thanks to the surprise discovery of a fine-grain master positive. I've mentioned that "Hog Wild" is from a pristine full-aperture source. "The Music Box" is from camera-negative materials and the soundtrack from pre-mix elements. The sources for "Me and My Pal" and "One Good Turn" in particular are in far better condition than what was available for the 2011 Universal/Vivendi DVD release.

I already have an army of Facebook friends telling me how happily surprised they are with the video and audio quality of the films, not to mention the many extras. Again, I would encourage any of you here who have the Blu-ray to weigh in with your opinions. Thank you.
 

sbeamish

Grip
Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
15
Real Name
Rob
While I have to admit that I did notice a bit of "softness" through some of HELPMATES, most of what I've seen has been stunning.

I've been watching my standard DVDs through a 4k Blu-ray player; on a 65" OLED TV. It's taking me back to 1986 and "The Stan and Ollie Follies," when I got to see those (mostly) gorgeous prints at NYC''s Film Forum.

ONE GOOD TURN, of course, is a marked improvement over other prints I've seen. I watched WAY OUT WEST yesterday and I had to keep reminding myself that I was sitting in my own home; not a high end revival house. I found THE BATTLE OF THE CENTURY simply unbelievable, given what we had previously.

Honestly, I bought this set for the commentaries and the other wonderful extras. I may be no connoisseur of film image quality, but I have zero regrets upgrading to this set. I ordered BOTH the DVD and Blu-ray of this release. While the Blu-ray is still a week away, I anticipate that my double purchase will be worth ever penny.
 

Mark Louis

Auditioning
Joined
Jun 25, 2020
Messages
10
Real Name
Mark Louis
Robert Harris, with all due respect, from your review it’s obvious that you didn’t do more than a cursory review of this excellent new Laurel & Hardy release. Without a doubt it’s the definitive restoration done by world class restorers at UCLA & the Library of Congress. Since your comments were focused on the opening titles, did you review the contents in its entirety? The details obviously went over your head! Sons of the Desert contains full frame and extended scenes for the very first time since 1933! Laurel & Hardy’s masterpiece, The Music Box, has upgraded audio with great detail and a 35mm nitrate film source for the 3rd reel not seen since 1932. I could on and on about the vast improvements in this new release. If you’re going to review the greatest comedy team of all time, please do your homework and know what you’re talking about!
 

sbeamish

Grip
Joined
Apr 5, 2008
Messages
15
Real Name
Rob
Forgot about the set having the commentaries so that will be great while watching them.
The odd thing is that the commentary track plays with no other sound. You can't hear the films themselves while Randy or Richard are talking. While I would prefer the usual muted soundtrack accompanying the commentaries, I have gotten used to it; even started to enjoy it. I watch with the commentary and, then, with the soundtrack. It's like a film symposium.
 

Skretvedt

Agent
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
29
Real Name
Randy Skretvedt
The odd thing is that the commentary track plays with no other sound. You can't hear the films themselves while Randy or Richard are talking. While I would prefer the usual muted soundtrack accompanying the commentaries, I have gotten used to it; even started to enjoy it. I watch with the commentary and, then, with the soundtrack. It's like a film symposium.
Thank you for your kind comments. I too would have preferred having the soundtrack at a low level under my comments but was asked to do it "solo," so them's the conditions that prevail, as Mr. Durante said. I did 19 commentaries (including the bonus shorts "The Tree in a Test Tube" -- beautifully restored to original Kodachrome luster -- and "That's That" -- the one surviving source of outtakes and bloopers). You'll also see my personal snapshots of L&H co-workers with the audio interviews, so apologies for being perhaps too ubiquitous on this set.
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,971
Real Name
Robert Harris
Robert Harris, with all due respect, from your review it’s obvious that you didn’t do more than a cursory review of this excellent new Laurel & Hardy release. Without a doubt it’s the definitive restoration done by world class restorers at UCLA & the Library of Congress. Since your comments were focused on the opening titles, did you review the contents in its entirety? The details obviously went over your head! Sons of the Desert contains full frame and extended scenes for the very first time since 1933! Laurel & Hardy’s masterpiece, The Music Box, has upgraded audio with great detail and a 35mm nitrate film source for the 3rd reel not seen since 1932. I could on and on about the vast improvements in this new release. If you’re going to review the greatest comedy team of all time, please do your homework and know what you’re talking about!
Mark Louis,

I return all due respect, and admiration for everyone involved in this huge project...

While I'm aware of the wonderful ongoing work performed by UCLA Film & Television Archive on these subjects, I've heard nothing about restoration work at the LoC. Perhaps I've just missed it, but would be interested to know what they've done. I'm aware that the disc packaging gives them credit.

As to The Music Box, a personal favorite of mine, I find the audio startlingly clear and almost otherworldly - like nothing I've ever hear before on this subject. Almost a reason in itself to add this set to one's library. It sounds as if one is virtually on-set.

I'm aware the the original camera negative survives on the film, but don't know whether it was that element scanned, or a fine grain. I'm presuming a fine grain, as I can see occasional positive dirt.

Other than that, the image is immaculate. Very nice densities, lovely shadow detail.

But as I've noted, to my eye, it appears overly processed, and superbly clean, not taking on a plastic-like appearance, but heading in that direction. Overall resolution is quite soft, and grain is virtually non-existent.

Again, I have no desire to damage this release, and am recommending that fans purchase it, but I must report what I'm seeing, which is nowhere close to what a quality modern image harvest would realize from either an OCN or a fine grain of this era, along with the requisite original grain.

It simply isn't there.
 

Skretvedt

Agent
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
29
Real Name
Randy Skretvedt
Mark Louis,

I return all due respect, and admiration for everyone involved in this huge project...

While I'm aware of the wonderful ongoing work performed by UCLA Film & Television Archive on these subjects, I've heard nothing about restoration work at the LoC. Perhaps I've just missed it, but would be interested to know what they've done. I'm aware that the disc packaging gives them credit.

As to The Music Box, a personal favorite of mine, I find the audio startlingly clear and almost otherworldly - like nothing I've ever hear before on this subject. Almost a reason in itself to add this set to one's library. It sounds as if one is virtually on-set.

I'm aware the the original camera negative survives on the film, but don't know whether it was that element scanned, or a fine grain. I'm presuming a fine grain, as I can see occasional positive dirt.

Other than that, the image is immaculate. Very nice densities, lovely shadow detail.

But as I've noted, to my eye, it appears overly processed, and superbly clean, not taking on a plastic-like appearance, but heading in that direction. Overall resolution is quite soft, and grain is virtually non-existent.

Again, I have no desire to damage this release, and am recommending that fans purchase it, but I must report what I'm seeing, which is nowhere close to what a quality modern image harvest would realize from either an OCN or a fine grain of this era, along with the requisite original grain.

It simply isn't there.
Mr. Harris, I would suggest seeing these on a variety of monitors. The film grain *is* there. Again, from the team who accomplished the digital restorations: "There was no grain reduction employed. End of story." Fine-grain master positives and camera negatives were used wherever they were available. Credits for UCLA or the Library of Congress are given for each and every one of the films in introductory or post-film titles, so you will easily be able to tell who did what on the photochemical restorations.
 

Robert Harris

Archivist
Reviewer
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
12,971
Real Name
Robert Harris
Mr. Harris, I would suggest seeing these on a variety of monitors. The film grain *is* there. Again, from the team who accomplished the digital restorations: "There was no grain reduction employed. End of story." Fine-grain master positives and camera negatives were employed wherever they were available. Credits for UCLA or the Library of Congress are given for each and every one of the films in introductory or post-film titles, so you will easily be able to tell who did what on the photochemical restorations.
Mr. Skretvedt,

I have viewed on both a flat panel as well as projection, and also compared to other black and white projects from the '30s and '40s, ie same stock. They're very different.

I cannot dispute the fact that no grain reduction was employed, and I believe it.

What I'm seeing is digital cleaning, that may have taken the grain, possibly as a byproduct, along with the scratches and dirt.

Having nothing to do with the look of the product, it is obvious that your attachment to the project has been immense, and I applaud your work.

As I only deal with the base film materials, I'm certain that others here will be highlighting your work.

RAH
 

bujaki

Cinematographer
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 1, 2012
Messages
4,514
Location
Richardson, TX
Real Name
Jose Ortiz-Marrero
Ok. My mistake. Mr. Harris didn’t list ALL the titles, just some. I’m going to get this because I’ve never seen BotC and I’d like to, now that it’s complete.
I saw it when Jon Mirsalis first showed it in public at Mostly Lost at the LoC, I think it was in 2016. It's well worth it.
 

bigshot

Effects Supervisor
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2008
Messages
2,917
Real Name
Stephen
I've got the other blu-ray release of The Very Best of L&H. It will be interesting to compare the two transfers side by side.
 
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Paul Penna

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 22, 2002
Messages
791
Real Name
Paul
The odd thing is that the commentary track plays with no other sound. You can't hear the films themselves while Randy or Richard are talking. While I would prefer the usual muted soundtrack accompanying the commentaries, I have gotten used to it; even started to enjoy it. I watch with the commentary and, then, with the soundtrack. It's like a film symposium.
Well, I certainly look forward to the commentaries, but that way of presenting them is a big mistake in my opinion. The same technique was made with the commentaries on the Fawlty Towers set, and I found it extremely frustrating. The commentator was obviously watching and listening the program and often remarking on dialog - which you couldn't hear. Of course, at this point I don't know how that's working out with the L&H commentaries, but for me not having the program audio audible behind the commentary is rather off-putting. For me a good commentary is one in which the commenter, along with you, is engaged with the film as it plays and acts as a docent or guide to explain or answer questions about what you're experiencing. Cutting off the sound kind or ruins that. I can't understand why it's thought to be a good idea. But definitely, I can't wait for the set to get here.
 

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