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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Patton -- in Blu-Ray (2 Viewers)

Robert Harris

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The original post, which I had deleted at the request of Fox marketing has been located, with a huge thank you to Felix Martinez! I have shortened slightly, without changing the character of the piece. I will warn those who may not know my occasionally odd sense of humor, that this was written with: A. Steam being emitted from my ears, quite like an animated character; B. With about as much dry humour as might be mustered under the circumstances. C. As should be telegraphed by the final line.



I've been waiting since the day that Patton was announced by Fox on Blu-Ray to see one of the great war films impeccably transferred and released on a format that could finally do it justice for home video purposes.

A copy arrived at my office mid-day, and once I was able to take a break I viewed the opening ten minutes or so on a Sony 30" XBR CRT that I use for finite work.

It looked glorious.

But the real test would come when it was projected onto a large screen, the way that many home video aficionados view their discs.

The film seems to have been impeccably transferred from what appears to be a 65mm element. I use the word appears, as I can't be certain.

Color, densities, black levels all appear to be dead on and perfect.

I love this film.

Gloriously scripted.

Perfectly acted.

Meticulously directed.

Brilliantly photographed, I believe on Eastman 5254 negative.

Why then, when viewing it was I thinking of the Data, of the coming 5k Red Epic?

My mind actually left the film, and went into digital territory.

If this had been shot with an early version of the Epic I thought, might it have had more detail than 65mm?

Could it?

What would it look like?

I finally figured out what troubled me.

I knew that I wasn't viewing film.

I can tell the difference between a Blu-Ray disc and film by many means.

The easiest way to tell is by weight.

Patton on Blu-Ray weights possibly an ounce.

On film it would probably hit the scales at around 600 pounds.

It was definitely Blu-Ray.

But it didn't look like film. It looked like scrubbed data, shorn of its high frequency information. I'm certain that the film has more information than I'm seeing.

The image is impeccably clean, with only an occasional bit of errant dirt, which is welcome.

So why am I thinking "here we go once again," and feel as though I'm attempting to climb a greased flagpole.

This is a meticulously created BD disc of one of our greatest films.

Everything about it appears to be absolutely, delightfully perfect.

But it seems to be yet another example of film that no longer looks like film.

The reality of this situation is that I'm probably preaching to the wind. This is a disc that will be wonderfully reviewed, and the public will revel in the image's clarity and brilliance.

They will be pleased.

Do I like this Blu-Ray of Patton?

Absolutely!

Can I recommend it?

Without a doubt.

Can I live with it?

If there's no alternative.

I cannot however, get over the point that film should look like film, video should look like video, and data like data.

And here is a film magnificently photographed in 65mm, that looks like data.

No real detail. Pretty, colorful images.

For a disc that I was looking forward to giving five stars and an extremely high recommendation, with nothing higher possible...

I give a hearty Recommended. Fox marketing would like to be slapped on the back, and hear the words "Job well done!"

This is great filmmaking and story-telling at the highest level.

Presented on Blu-Ray disc as really clean, good-looking data, which somehow gets me thinking of Louis Pasteur (1822-1895).

RAH
 

Rachael B

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I choose this film to be my BD of the week, next week. Hot dam I like George C. Scott as a general. His Patton is almost as good as his General Turgeson bit...and there's good ole Karl Malden. He's a fine General too.

Robert are you implying that some DNR has been applied. I must admit I didn't understand all the term you used....like the "Red" and "Dalsa". You lost me there.

Well, it sounds like the film was reincarnated as good data.
 

DavidJ

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I'm not sure how to respond to these comments. In some ways it is good news, but at the same time I'm disappointed that the film has been "scrubbed."
Although it is a different situation this is somewhat analogous to my recent theater going experiences. In Moore, Oklahoma there is a beautiful new theater with a brilliant sound system. To my ear, it is the best I've heard in the state and the best I've heard in years. It also has a wonderful digital projection system. It will be awesome for Wall-E later in the summer, but for movies originated on film I still prefer even mediocre film projection. Not that digital is bad. That is what we use in our home systems after all and it is quite nice, but it is not the same as projected film and that is one of the reasons I'll still go out to see films. I'm just perplexed as to why I have to choose between great sound and a more film like image.
And now I'm perplexed by Patton. Why can't we have the benefits of modern HD discs without sacrificing the look and feel of film? So I'm a bit disappointed. I'll still enjoy what will be the best presentation of this film that I've had the opportunity to see, but there'll be that nagging sensation that it could have been better or to me more authentic.
 

Douglas Monce

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Rachael B said:
I choose this film to be my BD of the week, next week. Hot dam I like George C. Scott as a general. His Patton is almost as good as his General Turgeson bit...and there's good ole Karl Malden. He's a fine General too.
Robert are you implying that some DNR has been applied. I must admit I didn't understand all the term you used....like the "Red" and "Dalsa". You lost me there.
Well, it sounds like the film was reincarnated as good data.
Red and Dalsa are two HD cameras that are starting to be used by the film industry. Red being, I believe the first production ready 4k camera.
doug
 

DavidJ

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Rachael B said:
I choose this film to be my BD of the week, next week. Hot dam I like George C. Scott as a general. His Patton is almost as good as his General Turgeson bit...and there's good ole Karl Malden. He's a fine General too.
Robert are you implying that some DNR has been applied. I must admit I didn't understand all the term you used....like the "Red" and "Dalsa". You lost me there.
Well, it sounds like the film was reincarnated as good data.
Rachael, both Dalsa and Red are wonderful digital cinema cameras. The Red One has a 4K imaging sensor. The Epic that Mr. Harris referenced is an upcoming model that will have a 5K sensor.
RED / Index
 

MatthewA

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Is it at all possible that with the way the film was photographed the grain was minimal to begin with? Maybe I'm a little naive on this, but in most of the 65mm-originating films I've seen on film, I noticed a very clear image with very little grain (at least to my eyes a couple of years ago; I now wear glasses). Patton wasn't one of them, but the recent reprints I saw of other Fox films from around the same period (The Sound of Music, Doctor Doolittle, Hello Dolly) seemed almost like looking out a window. Though they are different films shot and stored under different conditions.
How is the detail compared to other Blu-Rays of 65mm films you've seen, like 2001?
 

EnricoE

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i wonder how a grain heavy film such as saving private ryan will look on blu-ray. i hope they wont abply any dnr on that one.
as for patton, i wont get it any time soon on br as i'm quite happy with the dvd. besides, you can't get every new release. then there is the note that a studio once again got their "make everything clean and slick" method out of the box doesn't convince me in getting it. they should finally stop doing that!!!
 

Douglas Monce

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MatthewA said:
Is it at all possible that with the way the film was photographed the grain was minimal to begin with?
The grain should be finer in appearance that a 35mm film, but it should still be there. Also if enough DNR is used the image will start to lose high frequency detail along with grain. The whole thing starts to take on a plastic (best way I can describe it) like look.
Doug
 

Kris Z.

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Thanks yet again. This is what I was afraid of after looking at the screenshots in the blu-ray.com review.

Sad really. We finally have a a home video format that can do the movies justice and retain much of the cinematic experience even on larger screens, and they throw it all out the window.

If people want the movies to 'pop' (what does this mean anyway?) they should go to the IMAX 3D viewings.
 

Robert Harris

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As I presume that Patton was shot on Eastman 5254, it would have precisely the same grain structure as every other film shot on 5254.
Because it was shot on 65mm, the APPARENT grain seems finer because, when projected in 70mm, the image is being magnified only 40% that of 35mm.
And yes, a "plastic" look is a very good word. High frequency information in faces, fabrics, walls, etc. is gone.
There are ways around this.
Grain structure can be reduced without affecting the rest of the image, but at present I'm aware of only one facility with this capability -- Lowry -- which can also modify the grain structure without removing it totally, and without turning cinema to plastic.
RAH
 

Douglas Monce

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Robert Harris said:
Grain structure can be reduced without affecting the rest of the image, but at present I'm aware of only one facility with this capability -- Lowry -- which can also modify the grain structure without removing it totally, and without turning cinema to plastic.
RAH
Yes if I didn't say it clearly I was trying to indicate that the grain would APPEAR to be finer because of the lower magnification. I don't know how apparent that would be on a reduction to 35mm, though I imagine that it would look less grainy than a standard 35mm to 35mm release print.
I've only seen the standard resolution versions, but Lowry seem to have done a very good job in this regard with the early Bond films. Dr. No in particular, I thought, looks fantastic.
Of course it helps when you have a DP of the caliber of Ted Moore providing a really solid, well exposed negative to start with.
Doug
 

Michel_Hafner

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Seufz...

(Also, data as a medium can look like anything (film, video...). Data is neutral. Scanners, projectors, algorithms... they are not so neutral (depends). And data has limits defined by the technical specs of the data. If they don't match the source data distorts the source. So data can not be neutral as well. Oh, the complexity... )
 

Charles_Y

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I'm sorry but I think these complaints specious. Totally subjective and probably no way to prove. Could comparison screenshots be provided? I've heard this argument before and can't see for my own eyes what they mean.

I think it more like the complaints of analog/vinyl vs. digital/cd. I think the former a dinosaur and good riddance. something of a backhanded compliment in my view.
 

Vincent_P

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Robert Harris's complaints "specious"? You're talking about the man who saved films like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, SPARTACUS, VERTIGO, REAR WINDOW, THE GODFATHER and others from extinction. If anybody should know what "film" is supposed to look like, it's him.
You should do a little research before you throw around comments like this.
Vincent
Charles_Y said:
I'm sorry but I think these complaints specious. Totally subjective and probably no way to prove. Could comparison screenshots be provided? I've heard this argument before and can't see for my own eyes what they mean.
I think it more like the complaints of analog/vinyl vs. digital/cd. I think the former a dinosaur and good riddance. something of a backhanded compliment in my view.
 

RobertR

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I'm sorry but I think these complaints specious. Totally subjective and probably no way to prove. Could comparison screenshots be provided? I've heard this argument before and can't see for my own eyes what they mean.

I think it more like the complaints of analog/vinyl vs. digital/cd. I think the former a dinosaur and good riddance. something of a backhanded compliment in my view.
You think it's "specious" to ask that a disc actually look like the film it's made from? Mr. Harris is dead on with his complaint, and I feel very sorry that studios are doing this sort of thing (and even more sorry that ignorant internet reviewers are going to tell everyone the transfer looks so gorgeous because of the absence of grain). Here's an audio analogy for you, since you brought up analog vs. digital: Suppose you have an analog source that happens to have tape hiss, and you transfer it to digital. You despise tape hiss, so you roll off the highs to get rid of the hiss. You now have a "clean", hiss-free digital transfer that also happens to be missing high frequencies that were present in the source. So you're telling me you'd be happy with this?

Edit: I just read the Blu-Ray.com review, and the reviewer whines quite a bit about tape hiss that was present in the source. I've no doubt he would have been happy to have the highs rolled off to get rid of it.
 

Mike Williams

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Well, I will have to pick this up regardless, because this is my second favorite movie of all time, right behind "The Godfather" and just in front of "Lawrence of Arabia." I actually LIKE the screenshots I've seen on blu-ray.com and, of course, nearly all the reviews have been outstanding with the only complaints rightly coming from Mr. Harris and from dvdreview.com in regards to the "scrubbed away grain." I'm just excited to hear how sharp and defined the image is, considering how soft the 2-disc Cinema Classics DVD is.
 

Robert Harris

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I'm also looking for others to chime in here, as the image via my system looks beautiful, sharp and clean, but devoid of high frequency anything.
Frames captures for this type question are unfortunately of very little value.
 

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