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UHD Review A Few Words About A few words about...™ - True Lies -- in 4k UHD (1 Viewer)

Michael Osadciw

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Zero reason not to run the OCN through the latest scanner.

Robert, have film scanners improved by a wide margin over the last decade (or two)? Would a 4K scan of an OCN today on a modern scanner capture more information than a 4K scan a decade ago on an older scanner? Or is it our tools beyond the scanner that matter more today? I'm thinking of, but not limited to:
  1. higher resolution mastering monitors to view the scan (e.g. a new BVM-HX3110 vs. an older BVM-E250 or BVM-L230)
  2. current versions of Davinci Resolve or Baselight (or other)
  3. improved & faster computers to monitor, render, and store/playback new file types long-term
I'm thinking about 4K scans that have been done for decades, but the the tools (beyond the scanner?) are inferior to what's used today. There was the transition from CRT to LCD with poor black levels and poor gamma. Most, if not all, were 1080p and 8bit at the pixel level.

Would any of this have impact on using that 4K scan/file today to make a UHD release? Or would reviewing that old scan/file on modern equipment be no different than a fresh OCN scan today and then viewing that new file through today's modern pipeline?

I'm thinking about the scan only and not the additional work completed thereafter (e.g. colour, removal of dirt, image stabilization, etc.)

I've got to calibrate monitors for a film restoration facility in Toronto as soon as they get their new BVM. They've got a Lasergraphics Director scanner. I'm excited to check it out.
 

Robert Harris

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Robert, have film scanners improved by a wide margin over the last decade (or two)? Would a 4K scan of an OCN today on a modern scanner capture more information than a 4K scan a decade ago on an older scanner? Or is it our tools beyond the scanner that matter more today? I'm thinking of, but not limited to:
  1. higher resolution mastering monitors to view the scan (e.g. a new BVM-HX3110 vs. an older BVM-E250 or BVM-L230)
  2. current versions of Davinci Resolve or Baselight (or other)
  3. improved & faster computers to monitor, render, and store/playback new file types long-term
I'm thinking about 4K scans that have been done for decades, but the the tools (beyond the scanner?) are inferior to what's used today. There was the transition from CRT to LCD with poor black levels and poor gamma. Most, if not all, were 1080p and 8bit at the pixel level.

Would any of this have impact on using that 4K scan/file today to make a UHD release? Or would reviewing that old scan/file on modern equipment be no different than a fresh OCN scan today and then viewing that new file through today's modern pipeline?

I'm thinking about the scan only and not the additional work completed thereafter (e.g. colour, removal of dirt, image stabilization, etc.)

I've got to calibrate monitors for a film restoration facility in Toronto as soon as they get their new BVM. They've got a Lasergraphics Director scanner. I'm excited to check it out.
Opinion.

Newer scanners are better. More film friendly. More bit depth. Higher resolution.

Would a major difference be seen on a 4k Blu-ray comparing a 2007 scan and a 2024 scan. I don’t believe major. Especially after compression.

The main reason to re-scan on newer gear is more toward asset protection, and not home video. It’s the dpx files.
 

Michael Osadciw

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Would a major difference be seen on a 4k Blu-ray comparing a 2007 scan and a 2024 scan. I don’t believe major. Especially after compression.

The main reason to re-scan on newer gear is more toward asset protection, and not home video. It’s the dpx files.

Good points, especially with regards to home video compression. I'm not a pixel peeper, but on a 10-foot screen when watching 4K Blu-ray, I see too many compression artefacts around moving objects at a regular viewing distance (e.g. a person moving against a static background has a "halo of compression" moving with them that blurs the details. Film grain can also be quite tricky at these sizes). I don't try to look for it. I just see it. Not only that, but 4:2:0 compression/delivery also adds loss. I can't say I've seen compression artefacts in theatrical presentations on 60-foot screens :) Home video, as good as 4K-HDR10 is and as enjoyable as it is, still has limits and room for growth.

Archive - absolutely. Our culture needs to preserve motion picture art for the centuries ahead. Files get outdated. Drives crash or malfunction. It could be a disaster if we don't take time to archive correctly. All we need to do is look at what's been lost throughout the 20th century on both film and videotape.
 

TonyD

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This movie doesn’t look right to me, maybe it never did and we just didn’t notice Or didn’t know better
 

sbjork

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Why would they focus something designed to be out, if the filmmaker is overseeing?
I'm guessing that the filmmaker in this case either didn't notice or didn't care. Maybe he didn't give this one the same undivided attention that he did to the others. Minor quibbles aside, I thought that True Lies looked fine in this new reimagination, even if it's not what I would have preferred. But the shallow focus shots here are definitely some of the weakest across all four titles.
 

tenia

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What I'm surprised by, especially with True Lies, is that these remasters supposedly took that long to be released because Cameron couldn't find the time to oversee them, or at least ot have a proper look and green light them, and how he's supposedly such a perfectionist.
And yet, we're now supposed to believe he either ended up not really caring, or not noticing these issues, or being OK with the issues generated by the Park Road process, ie not being that perfectionist after all.

I'm also unsure about the end issues being because of the out-of-focus shots. Or, rather : maybe it explains why the Park Road process particularly struggled and left the remaster in such a state, but isn't the Park Road process and leaving the remaster in such a state the actual issue ? Shouldn't someone at some point raised a red flag and say "hey, it looks like the movie's look doesn't suit our process, maybe we should tweak things because it doesn't look good this way" ?

Opinion.

Newer scanners are better. More film friendly. More bit depth. Higher resolution.

Would a major difference be seen on a 4k Blu-ray comparing a 2007 scan and a 2024 scan. I don’t believe major. Especially after compression.

The main reason to re-scan on newer gear is more toward asset protection, and not home video. It’s the dpx files.
I'm always surprised at how most Spirit DataCine-type based 4k masters aren't ageing that well, and how they now look like older presentations than what they actually are when compared to Arriscan-type based 4K masters.

I can't say I've seen compression artefacts in theatrical presentations on 60-foot screens :)
Wouldn't it be because of the likely smaller pixels density (because of the larger theatrical screen) dithering compression issue ?

Home video, as good as 4K-HDR10 is and as enjoyable as it is, still has limits and room for growth.
I wish though that, before looking at more structural changes on the formats, studios and labels would first get their stuff together compression-wise. There still routinely are poorly encoded UHDs, and even poorly encoded BDs. I don't know if you have examples of discs on which you saw compression issues, but it might be likely not so much be coming from a 4:2:0 issue but from the encoder having dropped the ball (which means it'd be likely to happen even with a technically superior design).
 
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TravisR

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What I'm surprised by, especially with True Lies, is that these remasters supposedly took that long to be released because Cameron couldn't find the time to oversee them, or at least ot have a proper look and green light them, and how he's supposedly such a perfectionist.
And yet, we're now supposed to believe he either ended up not really caring, or not noticing these issues, or being OK with the issues generated by the Park Road process, ie not being that perfectionist after all.
I don't think anyone feels that Cameron couldn't find the time in nearly 25 years to approve a transfer. It was an issue of him not having the interest to do it. Perfectism is also not an issue here because it's likely that he got the look that he wanted for them. He's got all the power in Hollywood so why approve what he didn't like when he could get them to do it the way he wanted?
 

tenia

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I don't think anyone feels that Cameron couldn't find the time in nearly 25 years to approve a transfer. It was an issue of him not having the interest to do it. Perfectism is also not an issue here because it's likely that he got the look that he wanted for them. He's got all the power in Hollywood so why approve what he didn't like when he could get them to do it the way he wanted?
All of this is, still and however, what some are suggesting to try and explain the results. That's what I'm trying to convey here : it can't all be right at the same time. It cannot both be exactly like what Cameron wanted AND being something he barely looked at (if at all), for instance.
Same goes for how long it took to get the remasters done and getting them right : I still see people saying "it's EXACTLY what Cameron wanted them to look like, and that's why it took so long", yet, we also get people saying "it's looking like this because it had to be rushed" : which is it ?

I still feel there are much easier and more coherent explanations than this for these results, but these other hypothesis keep being provided, and yeah, they don't fit.

For instance, it's quite clear that True Lies looks quite aside from the other 3 remasters : is it really a matter of the out-of-focus shots having been difficult to handle for Park Road, or the Park Road process having been pushed more intensively just 'cause, but actually True Lies should look like, say, Aliens or Abyss, thus still not like it should / like Cameron wanted ?
 
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JoshZ

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What I'm surprised by, especially with True Lies, is that these remasters supposedly took that long to be released because Cameron couldn't find the time to oversee them, or at least ot have a proper look and green light them, and how he's supposedly such a perfectionist.
And yet, we're now supposed to believe he either ended up not really caring, or not noticing these issues, or being OK with the issues generated by the Park Road process, ie not being that perfectionist after all.

I think the issue for Cameron is as much about control as it is about him being a perfectionist. Cameron insists on having oversight of home video masters for his movies because he doesn't trust anyone else to do it. Yet at the same time, in recent years he's lost interest in revisiting his older work, and prefers to focus his energies on making more Avatar movies, his deep sea exploration hobby, and so forth.

Back in the day, he spent a lot of time and energy painstakingly mastering The Abyss and True Lies in both widescreen and his preferred "No F***ing Black Bars!!!" pan & scan for Laserdisc and felt he was done with them. Although non-anamorphic letterbox, he believed that work was adequate enough to hold over onto DVD as well.

I think he's known for a long time that he needed to redo both movies for HD, but just didn't want to put the time into it. It didn't help matters that he mostly turned his back on True Lies after 9/11 and didn't want to look at it again. So, year after year, he just kept putting it off and making excuses about being "too busy," even when he didn't seem to have much else going on.

We know that Fox did prepare HD masters for both True Lies and The Abyss in the early 2000s, but Cameron refused to sign off on them. The HD master for True Lies was released on D-VHS, likely due to a loophole in Cameron's contract that didn't specifically mention that short-lived format, but he scuttled a planned "Five Star Edition" DVD release. Both HD masters later turned up on cable and streaming periodically.

When this Park Road Post process came along that could automate the remastering process through A.I. and give him results he was mostly happy with, that seems to have been enough excuse for Cameron to finally overcome his inertia and give the thumbs-up to release them.

The profound irony in this, of course, is that James Cameron may not trust another human to remaster his movies for him, but he apparently does trust Skynet to do it.
 

tenia

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When this Park Road Post process came along that could automate the remastering process through A.I. and give him results he was mostly happy with, that seems to have been enough excuse for Cameron to finally overcome his inertia and give the thumbs-up to release them.

The profound irony in this, of course, is that James Cameron may not trust another human to remaster his movies for him, but he apparently does trust Skynet to do it.
That's my main point : an obvious explanation about True Lies' remaster looking like it looks might simply be that the Park Road process is has been turned up to 11 on this one, while it hasn't been so on Abyss and Aliens, for no other reason than a purely digital remastering decision. And maybe it actually shouldn't have been turned up that intensely, but that's what we got in the end, and all the "trying to fight against out of focus" hypothesis might entirely be over-analysis, and the remaster just feels more artificially filtered than the other remasters because that's just what happened : it got filtered more, and that's pretty much it (especially because the whole remaster is heavily filtered and more so than Abyss and Aliens, yet not 100% of the shots are out of focus). But all this would mean : people saying "that's how Cameron wants it to look now" might be wrong. Maybe he wanted it to look like Aliens or Abyss. But instead it looks like this. And seemingly, it's close enough for the whole chain of decision.

I mean, these are not the only filtered remasters/restorations on the whole market, did one ever thought so hard about a technical reasoning behind resorting to such a high level of filtering except "someone turned the knob too high" ? Did, I don't know, Universal DNRed their 6K/4K master of An American Werewolf in London for original technical reasons ?

I guess we'll see what'll happen with Terminator, both in terms of end results and who got it looking like it'll look.
 

Worth

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That's my main point : an obvious explanation about True Lies' remaster looking like it looks might simply be that the Park Road process is has been turned up to 11 on this one, while it hasn't been so on Abyss and Aliens, for no other reason than a purely digital remastering decision.
Maybe True Lies was the first one they did and got better at the process with the other two.
 

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Maybe True Lies was the first one they did and got better at the process with the other two.

That's the story Digital Bits was told, I believe.

I also expect that The Abyss got the most human oversight and scrutiny during the process because it was planned for a theatrical re-release. And True Lies got the least scrutiny because Cameron doesn't especially like that movie very much anymore.
 

tenia

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That's indeed the story that made the runs at some point : True Lies was the first of the 4 movies to be remastered by Park Road, and basically served as a guinea pig.
Which... is a bit of a preservation nightmarish idea, IMO because, did nobody thought once the fourth one was done "hey, shouldn't we re-do the prototype ?"
 

TonyD

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That's indeed the story that made the runs at some point : True Lies was the first of the 4 movies to be remastered by Park Road, and basically served as a guinea pig.
Which... is a bit of a preservation nightmarish idea, IMO because, did nobody thought once the fourth one was done "hey, shouldn't we re-do the prototype ?"

Would have been nice
 

Stephen_J_H

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That's indeed the story that made the runs at some point : True Lies was the first of the 4 movies to be remastered by Park Road, and basically served as a guinea pig.
Which... is a bit of a preservation nightmarish idea, IMO because, did nobody thought once the fourth one was done "hey, shouldn't we re-do the prototype ?"
It's only a preservation nightmare if they junk the OCN. You can be mad at Disney for lots of things, but their preservation efforts on their mainline titles are without equal.
 

tenia

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It's only a preservation nightmare if they junk the OCN. You can be mad at Disney for lots of things, but their preservation efforts on their mainline titles are without equal.
I don't know : we the public can't see the OCN, can't see what's be done upstream and that might have been perfectly fine. All we have access to is what Park Road has output, of which the result is so good that the hypothesis it was a prototype used for gaining experience feels plausible.
So maybe "preservation" isn't the right word. Ways of working, in any case, would suit perfectly (I've been working in the manufacturing industry for more than a decade, and am currently working in the medical industry : nobody in his right mind would use a commercial product in such an experimental way : that's what experimental processes are for !).
 

tenia

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I see Robert Crawford's lovely reaction to my post.
Maybe it's because my concerns were phrased in a way losing things in translation, so I'll try to make it clearer : I am not sure what's good it does for good pre-heavy-artificial-processing work to be shelved away from the public, only for post-heavy-artificial-processing work to be what's made accessible to the public instead.
And I don't think it's a particularly laughable concern. Maybe it's one that doesn't need to be, but in the end, if there's a very good presentation of True Lies' OCN somewhere, from a good scan, good clean-up, good grading, I guess... that's what many people want to see instead of what we got ?
 
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TonyD

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Hand waving away and laughing at those who don’t like this awful release because Cameron decided it’s what he wanted us to have.
 

Robert Crawford

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I see Robert Crawford's lovely reaction to my post.
Maybe it's because my concerns were phrased in a way losing things in translation, so I'll try to make it clearer : I am not sure what's good it does for good pre-heavy-artificial-processing work to be shelved away from the public, only for post-heavy-artificial-processing work to be what's made accessible to the public instead.
And I don't think it's a particularly laughable concern. Maybe it's one that doesn't need to be, but in the end, if there's a very good presentation of True Lies' OCN somewhere, from a good scan, good clean-up, good grading, I guess... that's what many people want to see instead of what we got ?
I laughed at your medical versus home video analogy in your previous post. We’re talking about home video which is a far cry from the necessary quality control processes needed and utilized in the medical field. Furthermore, I haven’t expressed my opinion about True Lies 4K/UHD because I haven’t watched my disc yet so I don’t have any problem with your discontent with this release. With that said, it’s only a movie which is my only point.
 

Robert Crawford

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I feel like this the Mirror Universe HTF
Hand waving away and laughing at those who don’t like this awful release because Cameron decided it’s what he wanted us to have.
As I stated I have no opinion regarding True Lies perse because I haven’t watched it yet.
 

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