Casablanca SE cropping

Discussion in 'DVD' started by ScottR, Sep 1, 2006.

  1. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    This subject was briefly brought up in another thread, but I feel it is important enough to have its own. I give credit where credit is due, and WB has produced a beautiful SE. However, I am a tad concerned about the way it has been cropped. Viewing screengrabs on dvdbeaver, it is apparent that the newer disc crops image on all four sides. The most concerning cropped shot is the first shot of Rick's hand ok'ing a check. The previous dvd showed the date December 2, 41. Now, I feel that bit of information is important to the story. But on the SE version, the 1 is cut off. WB and Lowry seemed to take great care in remastering this beloved title, so I am going to give them the benefit of the doubt by saying that they payed close attention to how this was cropped. I wonder what they used as a guideline, because this shot in particular seemed to be framed very specifically (not that others weren't, but this is a most obvious example.) I have noticed that a lot of WB remastered titles are cropped a little heavier than previous versions. Is this due to the process used, or are they being more faithful to the original framing?
     
  2. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    Holy delayed reaction, Batman!!!!

    [​IMG]
     
  3. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    LOL...I didn't know it was cropped differently until I went to the site.
     
  4. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    In case anyone is wondering, here are the screengrabs from dvdbeaver.com. The top is the Region 2 version, the bottom is the Region 1 SE. I bet the theatrical release even more fully showed the date than the R2 version.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Either way, you wouldn't see the year at all due to overscan.
     
  6. ScottR

    ScottR Cinematographer

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    True, but I was just wondering if WB had some sort of guidelines as to where to crop the frame.
     
  7. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    You are right, except if you are watching on a system without overscan (e.g., my computer or my DVD player with "negative" zoom).

    Actually, I first discovered this "problem" watching my VHS version. (The date is obviously important and there is no other substantial reason for lingering on this image while Rick is approving the payout.)

    When the DVD SE came out, I re-discovered it when I began wondering what else was missing when the displayed image went from slightly letterboxed (to take account for the 1.37:1 AR) for the opening credits to zoomed in to eliminate the top and bottom bars for the rest of the movie. My JVC XV-S65 allows for displaying the image at 50% reduction. I watched Casablana in that manner and, sure enough, the date was there as I expected it should be. Nothing else significant appears to be missing.

    Personally, I would not mind seeing 1.37:1 movies letterboxed.

    In any event, what gives with the framing/cropping? Is it an artifact of restoration?
     
  8. seanOhara

    seanOhara Supporting Actor

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    I always thought the check signing was there to delay Rick's first appearance even longer, building more suspence.
     
  9. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Like, Ira, I have no overscan on my system, so that argument doesn't wash with me.
     
  10. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    You don't represent the average viewer.

    Regardless of whether or not a small number of home theater enthusiasts have expensive high-end displays that can reduce or eliminate overscan, the fact is that 99.9% of viewers who watch this DVD will do so on a display that does have overscan. For an overwhelming majority of viewers, the date will not appear in full on screen for either the R1 or R2 version. If the date is an important element of that shot's composition, then both versions have a framing problem.
     
  11. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well I may not represent the average viewer now, but I do represent the average viewer when the film came out. It was shown in theaters without overscan, and that's how it was thought it would always be seen by the filmmakers.

    Given that, their choice to put important information near the edge of a frame that they figured would always be seen is in no way a framing problem, and a dvd that can show that without overscan doesn't have a framing problem. Rather such a dvd cannot overcome the framing problem that viewers with overscan have, without windowboxing the image on all 4 sides, but that's using a dvd to overcome a television deficiency, not a framing problem in the dvd itself.
     
  12. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    The actual term "overscan" might apply exclusively to the realm of home video, but there is just as much variation in framing from theater to theater as there is between different television sets. The theatrical framing is no more likely to be 100% precise than it would be on your television set. Any competent director or cinematographer knows this and takes it into account when framing a shot. If some visual element is important to a shot, he would not place it so close to the edge of the frame.

    In this particular case, if the date is an important element of the shot in question, then there most certainly is a framing problem. Whether the problem is in the transfer used for the DVD (which would be the case if said transfer was cropped as compared to the original film) or is inherent in the original photography (which would be the case if the DVD accurately reflected the framing of the original film), I cannot say.
     
  13. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well Carl, we'll just have to agree to disagree.
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Not trying to be argumentative, but how can you agree to disagree when it's not known for sure whether the full date was intended to be shown in the first place?





    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Ira Siegel

    Ira Siegel Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually, this question has come up, and remained unanswered, a number of times. In August, 2003, Scott and others asked pretty much the same question in the Casablanca SE DVD review thread.
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This film has been studied like no other so you never know if a source hasn't reference this scene on whether the date has any significance or not to the film.

    Perhaps the camera lingered on the check signing as an initial introduction for Rick.

    As a military history buff, I'm well aware of the events that took place at that time.

    Yes, we had that question before as well as inquiries about the yellow tint associated with some dvd releases derived from some recent film restorations. So the next time we have a Warner chat, I'm going to make sure that I ask Warner about both issues.






    Crawdaddy
     
  17. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well Robert, I can only say, that there are 2 things that lead me to think the date is important:

    1) It's there. In the frame. On the film. To me, that makes it a slam dunk that it's important. If the filmmakers didn't want it there, they could have filmed it or edited it differently.

    2) To me, it would be just too much of a coincidence that a film about a reluctant American getting involved in the fight against Nazis, start off 5 days before Pearl Harbor when much of America had the same mindset. No way was it not thought out, and put in on purpose.

    Is this date a vital and major piece of info, without which the film is a completely different entity? No. But that doesn't mean that it's not still an important and intended piece of info.

    Frankly, how you can question that is beyond me, but then, given our other disagreements in the past, I guess it's not surprising that our opinions differ.
     
  18. seanOhara

    seanOhara Supporting Actor

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    The date is important, but it's established again later in the film when Rick says, "It's December 1941 in Casablanca. What time is it in New York?"
     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Because it's fun![​IMG] Seriously, I question you because I honestly don't know if the entire year was intended to be shown or not. Why? Because the film was released the following year after December 7th and the filmmakers could've properly assumed that people will recognize that connection without the entire date year being necessarily framed for that scene. It's possible, that this movie was filmed for 1942 audiences in mind without having any regard to 1941 being frame in that shot because people didn't have to be reminded the significance of a December date with a 194 attached to it. This film was not expected to be the iconic movie it became. Unlike today, filmmakers back in those days made their films thinking of their present movie audiences without any regard to having their films viewed by people many years after a film's release year.

    Also, as Sean indicated the year was mentioned again as Rick sat with lamenating Elsa coming into his gin joint.




    Crawdaddy
     
  20. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I don't believe that anyone has suggesting that the date on which the film takes place is unimportant. The question is whether or not the display of the date in the "check signing" shot in particular is vital. Your second argument is irrelevant to this query (not least of all because the date is established elsewhere in the film).

    As for your first point, I will reiterate that no competent director or DP would ever place a vital piece of visual information so close to the edge of the fame. As I've always considered the production team responsible for Casablanca to be competent (to say the least!), then the framing of the R2 DVD (which certainly might not be an accurate reflection of the correct original framing) implies that the display of the date is unimportant in this particular shot.
     

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