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Degrading the transfer for Animal House to suit the director's vision. Going too far?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Johnny G, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Wait a minute... does this new edition have the original MONO track? Or just a new 5.1 remix?


    Gordy
     
  2. Brian McHale

    Brian McHale Supporting Actor

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  3. Bryant Frazer

    Bryant Frazer Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm sympathetic to Landis's concerns, and I say more power to him. I wouldn't say it's a question of "degrading" the transfer as much as it is trying to preserve the proper look. What is commonly thought of as a dynamite DVD transfer has often been tweaked to play to the strengths of the medium, rather than to represent a filmed image.

    I recently picked up a copy of Wings of Desire, one of my favorite films, on DVD. I've seen this several times over the years in 35mm, owned a VHS copy and then a laserdisc copy, and was really looking forward to a nice DVD version. Well, the DVD is nice. It's incredibly crisp and detailed. I see things in this version of the film that I hadn't noticed before. But I saw a 35mm print of Wings of Desire in February of this year, projected at the great Castro in San Francisco, and I can pretty confidently say that the new DVD does not do a very good job of representing the look of a theatrical screening. The DVD has that harsh, super-detailed "DVD" look (with some degree of "edge enhancement"), but it does not have the rich and creamy look of the film prints.

    Based on the evidence in my own DVD collection, I can tell there are widely varying views out there on the subjects of "digital restoration" and telecine work. Titles like Citizen Kane are beautiful showpieces for the DVD format. They reveal detail that wasn't easily visible in earlier versions, and they can throw an entire film into a new light. But, to those of us who have seen Kane in 35mm, there are important ways in which they don't resemble the original film at all.

    I'm often guilty of gushing over the work the folks at the Criterion Collection do, but they seem as well-attuned as anyone to the peculiarities of reproducing a filmed image on DVD. Their Stan Brakhage films, in particular, are just startlingly good. I don't think anyone, even the folks involved in creating the DVD transfers, expected the soul of his work to transfer as well as it did to the digital video medium. Their transfers of black and white films are similarly marvelous, with rich tonal qualities and lots of shadow detail, as well as a crisp image, but without the incredibly sharp edges that sometimes make a DVD image pop off the screen in a way alien to actual 35mm images.

    My point? There are a lot of critical decisions to be made in the telecine suite as a film is transferred to video, and it's not always clear which of them are "correct." The best practice, as far as I can tell, is to get the director and/or cinematographer there in the room with the colorist, and what they say goes. This gives us decisions that I disagree with, like Vittorio Storaro's insistence on underframing Apocalypse Now, but it's hard to quibble much.

    -bf-
     
  4. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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  5. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I think the key phrase here is 'original' intent. Artists are not always the best judge of their own works (there have been famous artists who wanted much of their work destroyed. Should we respect those wishes?)

    The problem is that artists who go back and look at their work are not the same people who produced those works originally. They've changed, which is why we get Solo shooting first and FBI guns changed to walkie-talkies in E.T. and pan& scan Kubrick products.

    And by the way, if you look at that 'tenet', note it says "original creators" not "director". The director might in many instances be the best judge, but not always.
     
  7. Thomas T

    Thomas T Producer

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    The advent of DVD, the promised future of high definition and more specifically the home theatre mindset (and yes, I'm generalizing here) and its impact on movies is very disturbing in some ways.

    HT groupies want 60 year old films to look like they were made yesterday! No grain, no scratches, no reel change marks, no shadows, no hiss, no soft focus etc. ..... everything washed in a razor sharp crisp digital makeover!

    I say you go, Landis, you go!
     
  8. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  9. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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  10. ChrisA

    ChrisA Second Unit

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    Could someone please summarize the differences betewwn the Special Edition I already own and the Doule Secret Probation Edition... I want to be well informed on my choice to sell the one I have and buy the double secret probation.

    I look foward to the Blu-Ray version....
     
  11. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    You miss the point. My point was that John Landis (2003) isn't the same person as John Landis (1978). Would John Landis (1978) disagree with John Landis (2003)? I don't know, and frankly, I feel no need to try to prove anything. I have my opinion, you have yours. But I am pretty certain that Steven Speilberg (1982) would disagree with Steven Speilberg (2002) about certain changes to E.T. Charlie Chaplin (1942) thought that adding his narrative to The Gold Rush improved that film. I disagree, and I'm going to watch what I feel to be the superior version, not the inferior one, even if the director disagrees with me.

    John Landis (1978) is the only director who I trust to evaluate Animal House, and he doesn't exist anymore. Are you the same person, with all of the same tastes and opinions, that you were in 1978? I'm not.
     
  12. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

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    Would 2003 director agree with 78 or 82 director, lol !Funniest thing i heard all day ! [​IMG]
     
  13. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

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    I forgot to mention , my local suncoast was taking preorders for animal house for 13.99.[​IMG]
     
  14. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  15. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I'm with Tony Zannikos - funniest post all day! [​IMG]

    You've heard of Back To The Future, now - Back To The Movie Lab!

    Landis '03: Landis, what are you doing to my movie?!

    Landis '78: Hey, man, what you talkin' about your movie - this is my movie, beard-o!

    Landis '03: No, no - you're using the wrong printing stock. *Here*, I brought some fine-grain Eastmancolor stock from the future for you to print on.

    Landis '78: Oh, cool!

    Landis '03 & Landis '78: See you next wednesday!


    I'm still waiting for Michael Wadleigh to take out all that goddamn hippy music out of Woodstock and replace it with 70s Kraut-Rock - Kraftwerk, Can and then capped-off with Neil Young's, 'Revolution Blues'.

    And would Gilliam please take out all those drug scenes in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas?

    Just say 'no'.


    Gordy
     
  16. Xenia Stathakopoulou

    Xenia Stathakopoulou Cinematographer

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    This thread reminds me of that famous line from the austin powers movie, allow me to introduce myself to myself, lol ! Good one Gordon ![​IMG]
     
  17. ChrisA

    ChrisA Second Unit

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    Could someone please summarize the differences between the Special Edition I already own and the Doule Secret Probation Edition... I want to be well informed on my choice to sell the one I have and buy the double secret probation.

    I look foward to the Blu-Ray version....
     
  18. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    Let's think about motion pictures, how they are photographed and how they are distributed, or at least were, in the olden days. ( [​IMG] )

    You shoot a negative. This negative is printed as a positive. This positive is copied onto duplicate negatives. These negatives are printed to the thousands of positives that make their way into the theatres.

    Each of these stages has its own set of characteristics. Let's say you knew you were photographing a film that would be distributed on a cheap, grainy, high-contrast stock. To make the film look the way you want it to in the theatres, you'll have to do different things at different stages to compensate for that. But, now, twenty years later, you go back to the original negative and make a new video transfer from it. Without that grainy, contrasty step in the middle, your film suddenly looks totally different.

    So, let's say you had used contrast-reducing filters and a bit of a softening filter of some kind to tone down your film to compensate for that cheap printing stock. The new video transfer will lack colour and be all soft compared to what it should look like.

    People make the very bad assumption that you can simply make a positive from the negative and no interpretation is needed, when, in fact, there are numerous artistic judments to be made at the printing stage. This means that a "new transfer from the negative" also will have to have all of these artistic judgments made, hopefully by the same people who made them in the first place or by people who've at least seen what the film is supposed to look like.
     
  19. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    Aaron's point is an important one. One criticism that was raised of the 2001 DVD was that with the resolution of DVD you could now see what was holding up the pen in zero gravity, whereas it was hidden in film grain on later-generation prints before. I think similar objections were raised to some effects work on one of the Chaplin features done for Image.
     
  20. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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