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A Few Words About A few words about...™ To Catch a Thief

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, May 7, 2007.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I'm torn about Paramount's new SD DVD of To Catch a Thief.

    Far higher in quality in comparison to the initial release, and with beautiful color and densities, the film, which was produced on Eastman 5248 and in VistaVision, is seemingly devoid of grain, and looks rather unlike film.

    This is a problem for me and for others who follow the original grain theory. The many viewers who hate grain will love it, and with
    everything else going for it, there's a great deal to love here.

    As an overall home video experience the new To Catch a Thief should fit the bill of anyone who has the common sense to wish to view this delightful mini-masterpiece. The track seems to be based upon a stereo music element, but in my current (hotel based) system, it remains a bit uncertain.

    Recommended.

    RAH
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    The lack of grain issue is definitely a problem with me. Also, I'm not going to buy this SD DVD because I hope Paramount releases it on HD/BRD.




    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

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    I'm really curious as to how the stereo track was created.
    Usually, paramount takes the mono mag which has separate mono dialog, music and effects, takes out the mono music and replaces it with the stereo music tracks.
    When I worked at Pioneer laserdisc, we wanted to do this, but paramoutn only had a composite mono optical track for the film and NO clean music tracks at all .
     
  4. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    Mr Harris, is it possible this is a new transfer from the V-V O-neg, which in combination with some digital magic is how they've managed to erase all the (presumably minimal as it's V-V) grain?

    Or have they just cleaned up the existing transfer or done a new transfer from the same 4 perf ip?

    As for the sound it could be one of Chace's (or one of their competitor's) attempt's at stereo-ization from mono (which never sounds genuine to me.)

    Regards

    M
     
  5. Dale MA

    Dale MA Screenwriter

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    I have done a quick A/V comparison on my own set-up and the new transfer blows the old DVD away. On the old DVD Cary Grants striped shirt was a shimmering nightmare, however on the new disc it is much better.
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I'm looking forward to picking this up! I've had the Paramount laserdisc which is dark and lacking in all areas! The first DVD was a massive improvement, so this new disc is a surprise to hear how good it is, in spite of the grain issue.
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    A bit of information for what might be considered "full disclosure."

    Productions photographed on 5248, whether standard 35mm 4 perf or VVLA 8 perf had precisely the same grain structure. They were photographed on the same stock.

    The differences came from a number of areas.

    The Vista productions used roughly twice the image area, and whether printed down to 35mm or straight across to 8 perf, had an appearance of being less grainy.

    This was based upon two points. Projecting an actual Vista print, which was quite rare, meant that the image would only be enlarged by approximately 50% -- larger film element -- same screen size -- more resolved image.

    When it came to dye transfer printing, the Vista OCN would be replicated as a reduction image to printing matrices, which in turn would be sent through the dye bath and imbibed to the blank.

    Because of the optics, dyes, mordant, etc. via the matrix stock, which had it's own grain structure, the resultant image had a smoother, "less grainy," more velvety look. A well-produced and projected Vista dye transfer print could take on the look of being very sharp, and far less grainy than the standard counterparts. Sharpness was partially an illusion, helped by the contrast of the process.

    Creating a video element from a large format source, in this case most likely separation masters, should have produced an image with approximately 50% of the normal grain -- fine, but still a part of the image, as it became lost in the duping process.

    RAH
     
  8. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

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    So if I understand you correctly, RAH, this new transfer is completely grainless, a la Lowry Digital Imaging restorations? I've seen the screencaps on DVD Beaver and the colour looks great, so I will probably pick this up, but it's a shame that none of the "sparkle" of the original film grain is retained.
     
  9. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    Thank you for your thorough reply Mr Harris

    M
     
  10. Richard--W

    Richard--W Banned
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    In other words, To Catch A Thief has been given The Linoleum Treatment.
     
  11. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I have no specific information as to how the clean-up was handled or by whom. I can only report what I see on my monitor, which is a quality product with low grain.

    Whether this is positive or negative depends totally on which side of the fence one sits.

    RAH
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    About the sound, does the credit music sound "wobbly," is that what you're hearing?

    It sounds wobbly to me.

    The picture far surpasses the original DVD, and I don't know what the movie looked like, so I have no complaints.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Same here. Here's hoping...
     
  14. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    Does this sometimes come down to taste? Two different video with the same film may end up producing an transfer with more or less grain, based on their preference?

    Or, does this have something to do with what managers expect of a modern video transfer? i.e., they don't realise that preserving the 'film look' should be the number one aim of a video transfer?
     
  15. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    I picked up the new TO CATCH A THIEF. I watched some of it, and it did seem like an improvement. Then I synched the old DVD with this one and did an A/B comparison and... WOW! It is SO different! Framing, especially during the first few reels, was SO different, revealing more on all sides. Other portions are cropped more on the top and reveal more at the bottom, but the framing in every instance (save for one) is FAR superior IMHO. Colors are more natural where they were oversaturated and somewhat blurry before. Whites that bloom and lack any kind of shadow detail in the old release are now are shades of yellow or off-white and are full of fine detail! The night scenes have heavy greeen tinting that is missing from the previous transfer, but I assume there must be some reason the tinting is there now. I'm going to make some screen capture comparisons myself and post them later today. I'm surprised a sticker touting, "New improved digital transfer!" isn't affixed to the packaging.
     
  16. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Here are frames from the 2002 and 2007 DVD releases of TO CATCH A THIEF. None have been retouched, and they were grabbed using VLC on a Mac. VLC doesn't let me still-step through, so a few of the captures (if not all) are a few frames off.

    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2007 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    2002 DVD
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    I find the green tinting interesting, as I don't remember it ever being present on the previous video releases. The variations in framing are also quite interesting, as is the fact that the 2007 DVD is 1.78:1 and the 2002 DVD is matted to 1.85:1.
     
  17. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks for posting the screen grabs. What a difference in color! Of course these are stills and not in motion, but the images do look much smoother and process shots look much better. The old release really looks like video in comparison!

    There must be some reason for the green. Perhaps it's a Hitchcock preference. But I don't think that is a common trait of his films.

    You didn't get a grab of the iconic Grace Kelley kiss sequence?[​IMG]
     
  18. Matt Hough

    Matt Hough Director
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    The framing differences really are striking!

    And, of course, contrast seems to have been modified quite a bit.
     
  19. John Alderson

    John Alderson Supporting Actor

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    I wasn't going to pick this up until I saw how dramatic the screengrabs are. I've never been happy with the video quality of this one. I'd like more details on why the two transfers are so dramatically different, especially the green tint.
     
  20. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    All the shots look way better now but man the green dark scenes are strange. What happened?
     

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