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titch

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After six years of 4K discs and 15 years of Blu-rays, there is still little transparency regarding the various companies which are responsible for the authoring of the video masters. There are exceptions - some of the discs have a title card clearly identifying who has been responsible for a restoration - if the film has been restored. There seems to be a tendency for some reviewers to assume that the publishing company has actually done the authoring for the video master, but this is often not the case. On this forum, there are many knowledgable insiders and I have learned a few names to look out for and respect.

I read with great interest Robert Harris' thoughts about the "above the title" restoration credits before Brute Force and Naked City and have thought a bit about this during the last few months. I would prefer to know in advance who the team responsible for the restoration efforts and mastering of the video author are, as it seems like there is a connection between the company and the quality of the published disc.

https://www.hometheaterforum.com/a-few-words-about-brute-force-naked-city-in-blu-ray/

I have purchased 50 4K discs from Europe and the US last year and the quality varies tremendously. Also, 4K discs which have previously been published by one company in Germany, are later published in the UK (e.g. Crash and Oldboy). I would like to know if the master and authoring efforts used by both companies is identical. Arrow Films provide the information on the booklet of their 4K discs but precious few others do. StudioCanal is an example of how their titles can be a crapshoot, as they use many different companies and don't themselves bother to provide this information on their discs (but a quick title card right at the end of their films, after the end credits, can provide this information). Out of StudioCanal's output for 2020, Breathless was restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata, Le Cercle Rouge and Total Recall by Hiventy, Mandabi by VDM, The Elephant Man by Fidelity In Motion, The Ladykillers and Flash Gordon by Silver Salt. Of these released on 4K discs, Breathless, Elephant Man, The Ladykillers and Flash Gordon were reference quality. Total Recall and Le Cercle Rouge - not quite. Is this because of the company doing the restoration and mastering? The Koch Media 4K discs of Showgirls and Dog Soldiers are terrible - which company did the mastering?

Criterion use masters made by many different companies (sometimes they write that they have done the restoration themselves), but they don't always bother to divulge who made the master for them. And the same films released by different companies on both sides of the pond can have quite different audio and video presentations - Sweet Charity, to name one example.

Am I the only one who who like to know which company has done the transfer? Is this relevant? Are there some companies which are consistently better than others? I'd like to know if the authoring of the forthcoming 4K UHD of My Fair Lady is done by a separate entity than that of the 4K streaming master. Seeing how StudioCanal outsources all their restorations and mastering efforts, do Hollywood studios such as Sony, Warner, Universal and Paramount do everything in-house, or they also outsource this job? If I know in advance that Fidelity In Motion or Silver Salt are responsible for restoring and authoring, I wouldn't need any reviews to know that I'm likely getting a superb product. Nor do I hesitate if I know that Robert Harris or Grover Crisp have personally been responsible for supervising the authoring.
 

Ronald Epstein

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In my experience, outside of a premium label like Criterion who does all their authoring inhouse, I think Warner Bros. is the most consistent in the quality of restored titles they offer, all of which are done through Motion Picture Imaging on their studio lot.

Warner is particularly interesting because people complain about a lot of unreleased titles still in limbo. However, the studio has always taken the stand that if something they are considering is not up to a certain standard of quality or would be too expensive to restore, it won't get released. For that reason, you can always count on a Warner Bros. release looking exceptional.
 

titch

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In my experience, outside of a premium label like Criterion who does all their authoring inhouse, I think Warner Bros. is the most consistent in the quality of restored titles they offer, all of which are done through Motion Picture Imaging on their studio lot.

Warner is particularly interesting because people complain about a lot of unreleased titles still in limbo. However, the studio has always taken the stand that if something they are considering is not up to a certain standard of quality or would be too expensive to restore, it won't get released. For that reason, you can always count on a Warner Bros. release looking exceptional.
I'm not entirely sure about Criterion doing their own authoring for all their titles. They are dependent on the masters they receive for a lot of them. A recent example is Fellini Satyricon - this 4K restoration and scan was not restored by Criterion, although there is no information anywhere on Criterion's box about who actually performed it. It just said "restored". And a few of Criterion's very badly mastered titles were performed by French companies (possibly Pathé) - Children Of Paradise and The Earrings of Madame De... to mention a couple of titles. This is why I would like Criterion, and other companies, to write explicitly on their material which company has done the authoring. Arrow does it.
 

Robert Harris

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There is generally minimal or zero connection between the two subjects in your query.

Reconstruction and restoration, be they analogue, digital or hybrid are one thing.

Authoring has nothing to do with them.

The most perfect restoration work can be destroyed once it enters the digital mastering realm, and authoring.
 

titch

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There is generally minimal or zero connection between the two subjects in your query.

Reconstruction and restoration, be they analogue, digital or hybrid are one thing.

Authoring has nothing to do with them.

The most perfect restoration work can be destroyed once it enters the digital mastering realm, and authoring.
Exactly why this is such a minefield to navigate through. But I've noticed during the last couple of years that a few select companies seem do it perfectly. And consistently.
 

Robert Harris

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Exactly why this is such a minefield to navigate through. But I've noticed during the last couple of years that a few select companies seem do it perfectly. And consistently.
Companies do not perform film restoration.

People restore films, using different post-production houses and their employees as desired and necessary.
 

titch

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Companies do not perform film restoration.

People restore films, using different post-production houses and their employees as desired and necessary.
I acknowledge that people restore films but Silver Salt is the company announced as responsible for the new 4K version of The Ladykillers that StudioCanal has released in Europe. Why is this information not relevant to include on the release information? The package has a booklet, which goes into quite some detail about the work performed to arrive at the result I am screening at home. But not a word about Silver Salt. What information do you think should be included by the publisher about the people/companies who have been involved in the finished product? It certainly isn't enough to say that "StudioCanal" have produced the video. They haven't.
 

B-ROLL

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I acknowledge that people restore films but Silver Salt is the company announced as responsible for the new 4K version of The Ladykillers that StudioCanal has released in Europe. Why is this information not relevant to include on the release information? The package has a booklet, which goes into quite some detail about the work performed to arrive at the result I am screening at home. But not a word about Silver Salt. What information do you think should be included by the publisher about the people/companies who have been involved in the finished product? It certainly isn't enough to say that "StudioCanal" have produced the video. They haven't.
StudioCanal produces very little of what they release.

If you're into the business aspect of things not "restorations" - you might be interested in this

1611949489017.png
book - you never know who might show up :cool:.
 

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I am no professional. Help me out. What is the difference between authoring and mastering and how does each affect to look of the final product?
 

Josh Steinberg

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Very broadly speaking...

“Mastering” is the process by which you end up with a completed copy of the content that has the visual and audio elements finished the way the content creators wants. With older content shot on film, that involves scanning the film, performing color correction, image cleanup and stabilization, and audio cleanup. With newer content that originated digitally, its performing color correction and audio adjusting to make sure it looks and sounds as it’s supposed to. The idea is that when this process is over, you have a master copy that can be the basis for all future uses, whether that’s for movie theaters to show, cable companies to play on TV, streaming services to stream, home video labels to put on disc, etc.

“Authoring” is the specific process of taking that completed master and converting it to a format that plays on the disc and conforms to the standards of that disc type, while still retaining the properties that the content creators have approved. For example, a finished master copy of a movie might take up hundreds of gigabytes of space, or even terabytes. A Blu-ray disc, by comparison, can only hold up to 50 gigabytes of space. Authoring is the process by which that data is compressed to fit onto the disc.
 

Stephen_J_H

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As RAH stated above, there are some great post houses, and FotoKem is one of them; however, the actual restoration work is done by people with the requisite training and experience to know what to do with that raw data once it moves into the digital realm.
 

Ray H

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Out of StudioCanal's output for 2020, Breathless was restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata, Le Cercle Rouge and Total Recall by Hiventy, Mandabi by VDM, The Elephant Man by Fidelity In Motion, The Ladykillers and Flash Gordon by Silver Salt. Of these released on 4K discs, Breathless, Elephant Man, The Ladykillers and Flash Gordon were reference quality. Total Recall and Le Cercle Rouge - not quite. Is this because of the company doing the restoration and mastering? The Koch Media 4K discs of Showgirls and Dog Soldiers are terrible - which company did the mastering?
The Elephant Man's restoration was done by L’Immagine Ritrovata. Fidelity in Motion is an authoring/encoding company and they're among the best in the business from what I've gathered. They handled the encoding for StudioCanal's 4K disc.

I've actually read some bad things regarding the encoding/compression on StudioCanal's Breathless 4K release.

Criterion's encoding was handled by Radius60 and now Pixelogic, who acquired them. They still get some flack for the quality of their encodes.
 
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titch

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Lots of very good comments here.

As Robert Harris, and others have pointed out - authoring is a critical step in determining how the final result looks on our screens. But the people and companies responsible for the authoring don't usually feature in production credits as clearly as the companies and people involved in the restoration. For example, on the stellar 2020 4K UHD release of Spartacus last year, who was responsible for the authoring?
IMG_3247.jpg
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IMG_3249.jpg

Another couple of examples of very good releases from last year: King Of New York - Arrow Films, Dawn Of The Dead - Second Sight Films; detailed restoration information is provided on the booklet, including the companies involved and all the people who worked on them. But there is no mention of authoring of the final masters for the discs.
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Criterion used the same restored master as StudioCanal did for La Strada (performed by L’Immagine Ritrovata). The people authoring for StudioCanal destroyed the result of the restoration work on their region B release, by de-graining the image. The people authoring for Criterion's left the grain in the picture.

Therefore, it should be just as important to have information about the authoring company and people involved, in the credits.
 

Ray H

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On both Dawn of the Dead and King of New York, the opposite page list Production Credits. Fidelity in Motion (David Mackenzie) did the encoding on both. They're credited as Mastering. They usually handle the better reviewed stuff for Arrow and Studio Canal.
 

Robert Harris

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On both Dawn of the Dead and King of New York, the opposite page list Production Credits. Fidelity in Motion (David Mackenzie) did the encoding on both. They're credited as Mastering. They usually handle the better reviewed stuff for Arrow and Studio Canal.
David Mackenzie does superior work.
 

RobertMG

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David Mackenzie does superior work.

Off topic but concerns restoration does the OCN exist on Northwest Passage 1940 if so WB could do a stunning restoration and put this classic on Blu
 
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