Can the image quality on dvd be better than the one in the theater?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Bart_R, May 23, 2004.

  1. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    I was just talking to somebody on some message board, and he was saying that the image on a dvd can look better simply because it is projected on a smaller screen. Can this be true? Isn't film projected in a theater meant to be projected in such a big/wide format (without losing out in terms of sharpness etc.)? Can dvd, shown on a television set look better without it being enhanced in some way?

    And what about cgi-images looking better on dvd? Can this only happen when a movie is shot on digital video or also in other instances?

    It would be great if someone could shed some light on this.
    Thanks [​IMG]

    Bart.
     
  2. Chris_Morris

    Chris_Morris Screenwriter

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    Yes it can. A DVD can also look better on a smaller screen, a bigger screen allows the flaws to show up easier. Also in a movie theater, the print used (just like a VHS tape) gets worn some each time it's shown. For the best movie theater showing, you would have to catch the first showing of a film, unless it is a digital projection theater.


    Chris
     
  3. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for your reply Chris.

    Ok, so it really is that simple, then? I always thought that a certain film strip was meant for projection on a certain size screen without there being any compromises in terms of image quality. If a film is shot in a certain gauge (say 35, or 70 mm) and is projected as such, it shouldn't be lacking in terms of image quality, right?

    I mean, I can see that a film will lose quality when it is shot in 35 mm and printed and projected in 70 mm, but other than that I always thought it would be as good as it can be.

    Anyway, thanks again for your answer. [​IMG]

    Bart.
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    But, all things being equal (which they seldom are) Film would have CONSIDERABLY better resolution, better color accuracy and better clarity than a DVD of the same material-- so if a film were projected onto a same size screen as a DVD, it would be "better" than the dvd (just as projecting a DVD source onto a 20 foot wide screen would be quite a bit worse than film).

    You question essentially revolves around the concept of resolution over a projected area, but also you have to consider your seating distance from the screen affecting perceived screen size, etc.
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    In addition, one needs to bear in mind that release prints can be shoddily manufactured during the high-speed duplication process. Not only that, but in the vast majority of cases at high school kid-run multiplexes, those same release prints are indifferently projected and often the projector lamps are inadequate.

    Because of this combination, a well-authored DVD viewed in a truly good home theater can appear "better" than the release print you saw at the MegaCinema 20 at the mall.

    But film has vastly superior resolution than even the best DVD.
     
  6. Neil Joseph

    Neil Joseph Lead Actor

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    I believe when I went to see Finding Nemo, it was projected digitally at 1920x1080 (1080 progressive). Mind you, the screen went the entire width of the cinema or about 80-100 ft.
     
  7. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Just like you can have huge differences in PQ in TVs, all the way up to the highest-end CRT projection systems, the same is with film. Many theaters have crappy PQ. If you take the best HT setup and play DVDs on it, it will look stunning, but film done the best it can with early-generation fresh prints will still blow it away.

    But if you take crappy film print in a crappy theater, and compare that to the best HT, the HT will probably win.
     
  8. Jon_Skiffington

    Jon_Skiffington Auditioning

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    I work for a company that develops image compression software. I was actually having a conversation with some of the other engineers last month where we were discussing that, if film were to be invented today, it would probably win the Nobel Prize.

    The reason for this is simple: the resolution of film and the depth of color that it can store is absolutely without match in the digital domain.

    Granted, technology is always advancing, film does degrade over time, and it's much easier to store DVDs that reels of celluloid...but film is still an amazing medium.
     
  9. Ed Moxley

    Ed Moxley Cinematographer

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    The usual 35mm film probably isn't hard to beat with a dvd at home. But, when some films are shown in 70mm, like some theaters showed the original Star Wars movies, a dvd probably isn't going to look as good. And you can forget about Imax.... About the only thing to compete with Imax would be high def.

    The larger the film, the sharper the picture.......
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Uh, no- with proper handling film can last for years. I've run movies that stayed for 3 months and they looked as good on their last showing as they did on the first. I have trailers that are around 10 years old that still look fabulous too (granted they don't get played every day). The problem is film can get scratched if it's mishandled or mis-threaded, so that can trash a film no matter how long it's been out- some theatres manage to do this on the first day!
    Film done right beats anything else, but video done right still beats film done wrong.
     
  11. Joon Hartzell

    Joon Hartzell Auditioning

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    I worked in a movie theater for a while and they would sometimes let me run the projector, and I can only repectfully disagree with you. Our film always got scratched within a day or two, and we didnt do anything wrong. I got nearly 5 hours of training and our manager was an expert at it--he could thread the projector in less than 30 seconds! So I don't think theres anything anyone can do to stop the film from getting scratched.
     
  12. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Regardless, the resolution *capabilities* with film FAR FAR FAR surpass the non-hd 480i crappiness of a DVD. Unfortunately, far too often that capability is never fully exploited. Film done right blows right past HD too.
     
  13. Bart_R

    Bart_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks everybody for your replies. Interesting comments

    "Regardless, the resolution *capabilities* with film FAR FAR FAR surpass the non-hd 480i crappiness of a DVD. Unfortunately, far too often that capability is never fully exploited. Film done right blows right past HD too"

    Ok, so we've established that film inherently has a much better resolution than dvd, but the question here is then, how much can film be blown up before it will lose its competitive advantage (the better resolution) so that the dvd will start looking better (when shown on a smaller [t.v.]screen)? I think the reason why the person I was talking to on the other message board felt the image looked better on dvd/a tv-screen, was that the screen was smaller and therefore gained in (perceived) resolution when compared to film in the theater.

    So, whereabout lies the crossover point here?

    Thanks so far guys [​IMG]
     
  14. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Ok, well...

    First, we'd have to assign a comparable resolution number to film in a digital term (since it's analog- this is really not an exact comparison, but for argument sake). I have seen several numbers bandied about for film resolution, 20 million "quality" pixels in a top-quality 35mm shot, 12 million are more typical for "good" shots, 4 million for lower quality stock or camera.

    Then you have the issue of how it was shot (super-35 versus anamorphic) for issues of resolution.

    But, let's assume an anamorphic frame, done at 4k resolution (which is the standard for doing digital vfx so it would be considered close with film resolution). For the complete area of a film that was shot anamorphically 4K would be about 3600x3000 [about 10 million pixels].

    Ok, then for DVD- well, lets remember that NTSC video is an interlaced format... but even if we throw that out and put film and video on an even playing field in terms of progressive images (which they're not really, but we'll make an assumption that gives dvd an slight advantage)- dvd is 720x480 [350,000] pixels for ana anamorphic image.

    So what is the average TV screen size? Lets say you have a medium rear projection screen, so let's say a 48 inch diagonal, which is about 42 x 23 inch screen. this would result, dispaying a dvd image, in about 18 pixels per inch.

    So, in the theater, to get 20 pixels per inch from "film resolution" 4k image, the screen would have to be wider than 17 feet- which of course, most are.

    So, by that comparison, DVD would "win." However- it doesn't take into account the distance from the screen. In your livingroom you probably sit much closer to the screen (even relatively speaking) than you do at the theater.


    So, i guess, the answer would be even less clear, and the variables are many.
     
  15. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Properly done, DVD should be shown at the same viewing angle as film, so the problem is that DVD, not film, will begin to look like crap a *LOT* sooner when blown up. Ask anyone with a projection setup, plain DVD looks like crap. This is why video processing and HTPCs are so important to scale the video up to higher resolutions. There is no question that film done right will always look better than DVD done right. But both are very often done poorly.
     
  16. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Well there are a number of other issues going on here. The initial question was phrased in the fashion of a perceptual issue.

    Yes, a DVD player on a component progressive 20" CRT is going to look fabulous, and may appear sharper, brighter, clearer, more colorful, et cetera, than a 35mm Super35 print of the same blown up to a 80' wide screen.

    Now, take that same DVD signal and project it onto the same 80' wide screen.

    Or, as a corollary, take that same 35mm print and project it onto a 20" diagonal screen and compare it to the CRT.

    These are, of course, extremes, but it also addresses the legalistic phrasology.

    Check, also the issue of viewing distance. If you're 20' from a 80' screen, the screen dominates your vision. If you move in to where the screen fills the same angle of vision as does the film screen, then you may begin to wonder about what you're looking at - especially if it's a non-flat-screen, cause the curved edges are going to be invisible from your eye-position, and you're nose is going to be leaving prints on the glass!

    Leo Kerr
    [email protected]
     
  17. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    For comparing your viewing angle and picture sharpness, compare sitting about two feet from a computer monitor to sitting about 6 to 8 feet from a rear projection TV to sitting near the back row in a movie theater.

    The original (4:3) movie screens from half a century ago were sized the way they were so people in the back row could see something meaningful.

    If the channels in the projector through which the film passes are not clean, the film can be scratched by dust and grit even with careful threading and handling. Also the film is occasionally bowed which usually happens from wide temperature changes while the film is wound tighly on a reel, and this increases the chances of getting scratched as it passes through the projector.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     

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