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Robert Crawford

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You gave me a thumbs down, implying you disagreed and didn't understand why I found the Blu unwatchable. Therefore I felt I had to respond.
Well, I was in a disagreeable mood early this morning.:) I disagree with you regarding that Blu-ray being unwatchable, but from my perspective. I would never question what another person is seeing from their perspective.
 

Robert Harris

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Agreed, and perhaps I shouldn't have used a UHD as an example, but that just happened to be the other thing that I watched last weekend. But I did read people arguing about its color timing, not just the dynamic range. In any event, I'd still argue that their real frame of reference isn't original theatrical prints anyway. We're talking about a movie that they've probably watched dozens of times on home video in the decades since, on different formats. Even if it was possible to actually remember specific color timing from decades ago -- and I'll maintain that it isn't -- how could they keep that straight after so many viewings of different timings on home video? The human brain just doesn't work that way. It all becomes noise after awhile, and blends together. There's a good reason why eyewitness testimony is often so unreliable.
One cannot.

In 2008, when The Godfather(s) were released, there was a hue and cry from a certain segment of the population, who would swear on their mother’s life that there was never 4Y + 1R, and that the film always appeared absolutely normal.
 

Robert Harris

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So are you saying the 4K disc looks as bad as the 2012 Blu-ray? I understand they have similar issues.
I’m not.

The 2012 Blu-ray looks far better, as all that bloody noise is more homogenized. I believe it’s all the same base master.

One might wonder is Paramount junked, lost or never archived the original scan files.
 

Robert Harris

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Now, I'm confused. The 4K disc is worse than the 2012 Blu-ray?
Far worse, as it exposes all of the extra work Paramount went to as they attempted “perfection.”

Everything is exposed down to the very last bit of digital noise, odd digital anomalies, blown out highlights, and soft areas with neither digital noise nor grain.
 

Robert Crawford

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Far worse, as it exposes all of the extra work Paramount went to as they attempted “perfection.”

Everything is exposed down to the very last bit of digital noise, odd digital anomalies, blown out highlights, and soft areas with neither digital noise nor grain.
Wow! Does anybody that has this 4K disc agree with RAH?
 
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Sorry, but I just saw this thread and am catching up. This part of Robert's initial post confused me (the first bit seems to contradict the second). What am I missing please? If it's very reminiscent of the way it looked on film doesn't that imply a good and faithful transfer? But then in the second saying it looks nothing like film - isn;t that the complete opposite? I feel I'm misreading it somehow...

Beautiful black & white, and very reminiscent of the way that it looked on film.

And yet, this isn't film, and looks nothing like it
 

sbjork

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One cannot.

In 2008, when The Godfather(s) were released, there was a hue and cry from a certain segment of the population, who would swear on their mother’s life that there was never 4Y + 1R, and that the film always appeared absolutely normal.
I think that people tend to conflate the totality of their experiences with individual details. They're confusing the part with the whole. In that case, they're melding decades of television and VHS viewings, and blending it into one whole that never existed.

Now, I can vividly remember the experience of seeing your 70mm restoration of Lawrence of Arabia in 1989, on the 105-foot wide Cinerama screen at the late lamented Cooper Theatre in St. Louis Park, MN. The totality of the experience is seared into my brain. The individual details, not so much. Worse, I've watched the film myriad times since then on VHS, multiple laserdisc and DVD releases, Blu-ray, and UHD. How does my last viewing of that UHD compare to the 70mm print from 1989? I wouldn't venture a guess. Even leaving the dynamic range out of the equation, it would be absurd for me to try to compare the color timing between the two.

People put entirely too much faith in their own memories.
 

Robert Harris

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Sorry, but I just saw this thread and am catching up. This part of Robert's initial post confused me (the first bit seems to contradict the second). What am I missing please? If it's very reminiscent of the way it looked on film doesn't that imply a good and faithful transfer? But then in the second saying it looks nothing like film - isn;t that the complete opposite? I feel I'm misreading it somehow...
What I’m saying is that the underlying image basics, along with the story are in place, but the digital changes destroy the experience unless one is in the “I don’t care” camp.
 

Chewbabka

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I watched this on 65” OLED last night, at a seating distance of 8ft, and thought it was awful. Better than the old Blu-Ray, yes, but not good.

During the opening credits, I swear the so-called “grain” appeared a temporally repeating pattern wherein I could follow individual specks as they moved in small circles about the screen. The opening scenes, at the train platform, at the undertaker’s, and the stagecoach robbery were ugly.

Much of the later indoor scenes—at the restaurant, in the schoolhouse, at the convention—were more pleasing to look at, but they weren’t convincing. Detail was fantastic, especially on textiles, but “grain” also seems to magically disappear in those areas, creating a strange uneven appearance to the frame. Overall, grain appeared to selectively cover the image rather than constitute it.

I enjoyed the restored mono.
 

Robert Harris

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I watched this on 65” OLED last night, at a seating distance of 8ft, and thought it was awful. Better than the old Blu-Ray, yes, but not good.

During the opening credits, I swear the so-called “grain” appeared a temporally repeating pattern wherein I could follow individual specks as they moved in small circles about the screen. The opening scenes, at the train platform, at the undertaker’s, and the stagecoach robbery were ugly.

Much of the later indoor scenes—at the restaurant, in the schoolhouse, at the convention—were more pleasing to look at, but they weren’t convincing. Detail was fantastic, especially on textiles, but “grain” also seems to magically disappear in those areas, creating a strange uneven appearance to the frame. Overall, grain appeared to selectively cover the image rather than constitute it.

I enjoyed the restored mono.
And the reality is, that all we should be seeing is grain.

There is no image without it.
 

Chewbabka

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And the reality is, that all we should be seeing is grain.

There is no image without it.
The night before I watched 3:10 to Yuma (1957) on Criterion Blu-Ray, and while less detailed and with some encode warts, I’d much rather Valance had looked like that than what I saw last night.

Of course, a modern but faithful 4K transfer of either would blow both out of the park… sad
 

JoshZ

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Agreed, and perhaps I shouldn't have used a UHD as an example, but that just happened to be the other thing that I watched last weekend. But I did read people arguing about its color timing, not just the dynamic range. In any event, I'd still argue that their real frame of reference isn't original theatrical prints anyway. We're talking about a movie that they've probably watched dozens of times on home video in the decades since, on different formats. Even if it was possible to actually remember specific color timing from decades ago -- and I'll maintain that it isn't -- how could they keep that straight after so many viewings of different timings on home video? The human brain just doesn't work that way. It all becomes noise after awhile, and blends together. There's a good reason why eyewitness testimony is often so unreliable.

I agree with this point in general. However, some films make such a striking use of color that they can leave an impression that will stick with you. When I watched the first Blu-ray release of Coppola's Dracula, it was immediately clear that the color grading was all wrong. When I saw that film in the theater a few times in 1992, certain details really stood out to me, yet were missing or radically different on the Blu-ray. This wasn't just a case of my conflating memories of other home video editions. That Blu-ray was a conscious effort to change the movie. It's certainly telling that subsequent Blu-ray reissues and the 4K UHD have brought the movie back toward the original look.

There's also the case of the first Blu-ray release of The French Connection, with the "pastel" colors that are so goofy it's impossible the movie could have ever looked that way previously. I didn't need Owen Roizman to speak out against William Friedkin (though I appreciated that he did) to know that Blu-ray was wrong. It was obvious just from looking at it.

My personal bugbear is the trend over the last couple decades to recolor older movies into teal-and-orange. That's not to say that the colors teal or orange didn't exist on film in the past. However, the fad of blanketing an entire movie into a stark juxtaposition of teal and orange in every shot is something that began with the advent of digital color grading in the early 2000s. Movies prior to that simply should not look that way. When I see a 1980s movie (Aliens, for example) given a teal-and-orange makeover, it really sticks in my craw. No argument about the elasticity of memory will ever convince me that the movie looked like that during its original release, because it could not have.
 

lark144

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And yet that's one of the films on which Kende supervised the grade. So back to my main point, all a reviewer can do is makes subjective judgement based on the best available information.
Yes. It's odd isn't it? Otherwise, the whole film is perfect, both in color and illumination. It's not so much that I remember, as seeing those colors again, I realize that's exactly what it was. Unlike Mr. Harris, I don't have access to original filming notes and exposure values. Even the last scene is ok, but that last shot is so dark, it can hardly be seen, and it's so important, it changes everything. Well, maybe it was always like that, it was just the power of that image was so inedible in my mind, that it seemed brighter, sharper, more dynamic. Maybe I'm being a revisionist by wanting it brighter. Maybe it was so murky, and I had to look so closely at it to figure out what it was, that it gained in power and impact because of it.
 

Josh Steinberg

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Someone mentioned Top Gun a few posts back, and it’s funny in that I had a few thoughts about that film from watching it last night.

Was revisiting my 3D edition last night and the disc went bad. I also have a digital copy which iTunes upgraded to the new 4K-sourced master, so I switched over to that to finish the film. While I can’t claim to be a Top Gun expert, I’m reasonably familiar with the film and certainly very familiar with the late 80s/early 90s visual style of Tony Scott/Simpson & Bruckheimer productions. Top Gun is a film that is meant to look *hot*. Lots of high contrast, overly saturated imagery pushing towards vivid oranges and reds to represent sun baked heat. It’s supposed to feel like 110 degrees during the daytime scenes. That look has more or less carried over in all of the previous home video versions and formats.

The new 4K has the same sort of redoing of the white balance to something more neutral as seen on the new Godfather master. There’s no heat in the image anymore. Clearly they’ve gone back to the original negative and made a choice not to time the film in a fashion similar to the original release because all of the saturation and contrast that’s a key part of the Tony Scott look is just gone. The new master looks perfectly lovely in that neutral, balanced way that’s objectively clean and crisp looking but lacking all of the stylization that was meant to be part of the presentation. Viewed as its own entity, it doesn’t look bad… but it doesn’t look like a Tony Scott film either.

Again, if this happens once or twice, it’s an accident. If it continually happens on each new remastering, as it does, we’ve moved out of the realm of accidents and ignorance and into the realm of conscious decision making.
 

sbjork

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Yes. It's odd isn't it? Otherwise, the whole film is perfect, both in color and illumination. It's not so much that I remember, as seeing those colors again, I realize that's exactly what it was. Unlike Mr. Harris, I don't have access to original filming notes and exposure values. Even the last scene is ok, but that last shot is so dark, it can hardly be seen, and it's so important, it changes everything. Well, maybe it was always like that, it was just the power of that image was so inedible in my mind, that it seemed brighter, sharper, more dynamic. Maybe I'm being a revisionist by wanting it brighter. Maybe it was so murky, and I had to look so closely at it to figure out what it was, that it gained in power and impact because of it.
That's exactly why memory is a tricky bastard!
 

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