What's new

Does HDR/Dolby Vision alter the directors visual intent? (1 Viewer)

Wes Candela

Visual Storytelling Enthusiast
Nov 2, 2012
New York, NY
Real Name
Wes Candela
I sent the following letter to Mr. Robert Harris @Robert Harris on the use of HDR in Vertigo l, Alfred Hitchcock, 1958

And if he thinks it's worrisome that films are being visually altered by her grading.

See below and let me know what you think please!

Dear Mr. Harris,
I've been a great admirer of yours for years.
You are of the men who brought Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo“, 1958 back to life.

I first saw this film at 12 years old on The Movies
Channel when they ran all 5 of “The Lost Hitchcock“ Films.
I am a cinephile, when I saw Vertigo for the first time I was in love, I was haunted and unaware of its legacy.

Little did I know that the film was lost to us at that time in 1985.

it was not until I was in my 22nd year in 1996, watching the DVD that I saw the 30-minute documentary on the restoration you embarked on to save, conserve and restore this masterpiece that I understood how dangerously close we came to it being lost forever.
Unfortunately, I have never seen the film on the silver screen.
Never saw it in its original VistaVision presentation or projected in 70mm...made possible in great part by you and James Katz.

From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you to you for everything you did 30 years ago to allow the world to experience the masterpiece that is Vertigo.

Why I am writing to you:
I have a question for you. I am extremely curious about your opinion.
as the visual resolution improves for home media, from DVD for 420p, to Bluray 1080p...

Digital technology has made it possible for us at home to see a startling clarity and representation of the films we love.

The colors are becoming more accurate, and the definition is crisper cleaner and cleaner.

However, digital cinema is not celluloid.

And while I find the images, I am seeing on 4K UHD, beautiful, I am worried.

HDR. Dolby Vision. I am just going to take Vertigo for example.

Liberties are being taken with the colors of these films.

The colors you so painstakingly restored with the flick of a few buttons, Alfred Hitchcock's original color palette for vertigo, are beginning to alter when watching the HDR versions of these movies as is, and the brightness and darkness, in each frame of each scene.
This to me is extremely concerning, as in the file in a film purist at heart.

With the expanded color, and gamut that 4K offers us, in addition to the added resolution...
We are able to view these films at home on larger screens now with incredible detail. And we can more distinctly see the original intent of the Director, the cinematographer, the editor, the costume designers the set designers... all of the hard-working people that created this masterpiece this icon of cinema this remarkable landmark film in cinematic history as Alfred Hitchcock never dreamed would be possible I imagine.

Alfred Hitchcock did not intend for his films to be graded in HDR.
And the bottom line is that what we are watching when we watch a Vertigo in Dolby Vision is not what we were intended to see.

The colors have changed, the focus has changed, the details being accentuated or different than which was intended by Alfred Hitchcock in my mind.

Please see the attached screen grabs and let me know if you wouldn't mind what your thoughts are on the high dynamic range being introduced into home media.

for directors that are still alive, they can guide and have a say in what makes it onto the 4K UHD disk, and ultimately our televisions, or projectors at home

But for Alfred Hitchcock, and all the other great directors that have passed away, they have absolutely no say in what is being done to their films visually and how they are changing.

Do you feel this is right? Does this bother you? Has this ever crossed your mind before?

thank God, you preserved a 65 mm negative without any of these changes, or else we would not have the film in the state it is in today.

I will never forget that you and Mr. Katz are responsible for this.
but I am extremely interested in your opinion on this matter.

Thank you so much for your time Mr. Harris, and for all of your work, words will never express what it means to me.

Wes Candela

On The Screenshots:
please note the difference between the Blu-ray version of Kim Novak's entrance at Ernie's in 1080P

The red wallpaper behind her exploding with color,
And then the second screenshot of the 4K UHD HDR, version of this frame.
The red has been drowned out, her fave has now been brightened.
for some reason these are small changes

For me, this is simply not what was envisioned by Hitchcock.
is it right in your mind? wouldn't an upgrade in resolution and color gamut suffice?

Vertigo 1080p

Vertigo UHD 4K HDR

Wes Candela

Visual Storytelling Enthusiast
Nov 2, 2012
New York, NY
Real Name
Wes Candela
Hey all
a little update

Mr. Harris
@Robert Harris
wrote me back with his thoughts on the matter.

see below

and I asked which scene in Vertigo irked him.


Thank you for the kind words.

The 4k of Vertigo was handled delicately, with only one shot that troubles me, and I believe that will be corrected in the archival world.

Universal has been superb in Not over-using HDR and DV. I describe it as waving the vermouth over the martini. Some entities feel the need to make themselves known, change what is correct, and thereby stand out.

Universal is not one of those.

All best,


Users who are viewing this thread

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks