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3D Blu-ray Review Dragonfly Squadron: THE HTF 3D ADDICT REVIEW (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.








Dragonfly Squadron

Studio: Olive Films
Product October 14, 2014
Ratio: 1.66
Audio: Mono
Running Time: 83 minutes
Rating: NR


On A Scale 0-5

Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 4
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 1



Seen any really good 3D films lately? Chances are, if you have been watching
some of the recent fare released theatrically and then to Blu-ray, you have probably
seen more "fake" 3D than real. Hollywood is finding it much easier (and cheaper) to
simply upconvert films in post production rather than giving premium paying audiences
"the real thing."

Perhaps that is one of the reasons why film collectors like myself who read and participate
on this forum start salivating the moment they learn a film from The Golden Era of 3D is
about to be released to Blu-ray. These films, produced during the 1950s, were the "real
deal," that provided moviegoers with sensational stereoscopic imagery. I think it's safe to
say that all of these golden era releases often surpass the "watered down" conversions
that are playing across screens today.



Before I begin to talk about Dragonfly Squadron, I'd like to make reference to Preserving
a Lost 3-D film by HTF resident and 3D expert, Bob Furmanek. I can't think of a better way to
prime one's self for watching this film than to read all the historic information behind it. One
of the most interesting aspects that Bob points out about Dragonfly Squadron is that when
the film was released in 1954, 3D was dwindling and theater owners were opting to book flat
versions of the film. For that reason, Dragonfly Squadron has never been seen in its intended
format until this new restoration prepared by the 3-D Film Archive.



Dragonfly Squadron takes place in 1950 shortly before the United States enters the Korean
conflict. Air Force Major Brady (John Hodiak) is assigned to the Kongku base where he is to
oversee the training of a squadron of South Korean pilots. With enemy forces on the move, it's
essential that Brady get these pilots trained in a short period of time. At the Kongku base,
Brady meets a former fiancé (Barbara Britton) who left him after finding out that her husband (Bruce
Bennett), who was thought to have been killed in action, wasn't. As the invasion of South Korea
commences, the evacuation of all Americans is ordered, and Brady and his remaining company
find themselves under attack from North Korean airplanes before help from the U.S. is due
to arrive.

DF_7.jpg

The film provides a decent story, but never really rises above being the B-picture that it is.
The problem I had were two major distractions, one of which involving Brady's former love
interest, and the other, a nosy newspaper reporter named Dixon Jess Barker) who shows up
at inopportune moments to agitate things. And, if you want to see some real scene chewing,
look no further than the inclusion of Chuck Connors appearing as U.S. Captain Warnowski.
He spits out some of the worst clichés you'll see in any film. However, those distractions aside,
I thought the film featured some cool, realistic aerial footage and great, explosive airfield battle
sequences that look larger than life thanks to its 3D photography.

Would quickly like to mention that it was great to see actor Gerald Mohr cast in this film. He
is a familiar face to Lost In Space fans who might remember his role as Morbus in the episode,
A Visit to Hades.



Let me talk a little about the transfer....

Anyone expecting a pristine restoration along the lines of what Warner had done with House
of Wax and Dial M For Murder is going to be disappointed. This is not a major studio restoration
effort. To quote film archivist, Bob Furmanek:

Quote
We faced many challenges with the restoration, including flat title-overlays; de-composition during the final attack sequence; excessive grain in some dupe footage and a flat credit sequence. (The opposite side was found at the 11th hour.) The full details on the restoration can be found here: http://www.3dfilmarc...gonfly-squadron

We brought in the full project - from HD scanning to scene to scene stereoscopic correction - for a fraction (about 1/30th) of what the studios have spent on their 3-D holdings. It's not scrubbed clean of film grain and other imperfections but the 3-D alignment is now flawless and we feel that you'll be very pleased. In my humble opinion, it turned out quite well.


...and I have to agree with Mr. Furmanek. Under the circumstances, everything did turn out
rather well. The film is littered with dust speckles and other anomalies that are magnified
through 3D viewing. Film grain is evident, which is a good thing. It's not what one would call
a "pretty" transfer. That being said, I think the 3-D film archive put its best efforts forward in
doing the best restoration that they could. In the end, the positives greatly outweigh the negatives.



The moment the opening titles appear on screen, you have this immediate "Oh Wow!" moment
realizing the beautiful stereoscopic image before you. It looks like the view master images we
all enjoyed as children. Depth is amazingly infinite. When you remove your eyewear, you can
see that the image is greatly blurred. The more blurred the image, the better the 3D separation.
While watching this film, you notice how objects are effectively layered within the scene. For
instance, you'll have two actors speaking to each other inside a small office, but yet, the thing
your eyes are immediately drawn to is the hanging light fixture that seems to take on a life of its
own. The thing that makes a film like Dragonfly Squadron such an immersive experience is that
one gets the sense of realistic space and distance -- whether it be inside the barracks or outside
on a vast airfield. The action war sequences are very well done, and with the enhancement of
3D photography, you see lots of explosive debris being hurdled towards the screen. The total lack
of any pop-out gimmickry is more than made up by the intense level of depth which makes for
a very satisfying 3D experience.

I was quite surprised, despite the limited cleanup that was done, how sharp images remain. If
you want to see something really revealing, check out the scene early in the film where newspaper
reporter Dixon first meets Brady at a bar counter. Look at Dixon's head and check out the individual
strands of hair. For me, it shows how incredibly revealing the imagery is. Best of all, I found no
traces of ghosting or aliasing.



What is very important to note about this transfer is that this Blu-ray shows that a quality 3D
restoration can be achieved by the Archive at a very reasonable rate. While it's great that some
films will get a several hundred thousand dollar restoration, I am very satisfied watching a vintage
film that might show some wear so long as the 3D image is optimally aligned, vertically, which is
precisely what the Archive has done. I feel that is a better option than leaving these films locked
up in a vault where no one gets to see and enjoy them. I hope the studios will take notice and
work with the 3-D Film Archive to release more Golden Era 3D on Blu-ray.

The film is presented in mono. Overall, despite the hint of background hiss and occasional film
crackle, the audio presentation is more than adequate.

Both 3D and 2D versions are available on a single Blu-ray disc. The only extras provided is the
film's original promotional trailer.



CONCLUSION



Dragonfly Squadron may not be the quintessential golden era release, but certainly an essential
one, nonetheless. With outstanding levels of depth, the film certainly fulfills the addiction that most
collectors crave for.

But I have something even more important to say about this Blu-ray release...

It's very important that collectors support the efforts of the 3-D Film Archive in purchasing these
releases. If we buy them, we send a message to the studios that there's a demand for these films.
Personally, I don't hesitate to purchase anything released from this time period because I find the
experience to be so much more gratifying than what I get from modern upconversions.

Highly recommended!

Note: Watch for Todd Erwin's review in the next week. HTF will also be running a contest
to give away several copies of this Blu-ray to our readers. Watch for upcoming announcement.


Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.

Equipment

Samsung PN64F8500 display professionally calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon 3311CI Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers
SV Sound Subwoofer
 

Bob Furmanek

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Thank you very much, Ron!

When I began this work about 35 years ago, my goal was to get these films out of the vaults and back onto the silver screen where people could once again see them as the filmmakers intended. http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/home/history-of-the-archive

Seeing a 3-D film flat is like watching a color film in black and white or a widescreen film in pan and scan. You're not seeing it as the director and creative team intended.

In those days, I would have to track down two 35mm prints of the same film and spend several thousand dollars acquiring them in the hope that I had found a left/right side. Once the dual-35mm prints were restored, I was limited to just a few venues that could safely project them in 35mm.

Now we are able to restore a title in HD for 3-D Blu-ray from the 35mm elements for roughly 12 to 15K and it can be purchased for under 30 dollars.

We hope this release - and the THE BUBBLE next month - will convince the studios that we can deliver a quality 3-D product (most importantly, with the vertical alignment restored) for a great price.

We'd love to work on REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, THE GLASS WEB, TAZA: SON OF COCHISE, WINGS OF THE HAWK, I THE JURY, GORILLA AT LARGE, MONEY FROM HOME, THE MAZE, JIVARO, THE MOONLIGHTER, DANGEROUS MISSION, SON OF SINBAD, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, SEPTEMBER STORM, ARENA, BWANA DEVIL, GOG, THE DIAMOND WIZARD, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR, FRIDAY THE 13th 3-D, JAWS 3-D and many more. Bring them on!
 

EddieLarkin

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Bob Furmanek

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Thanks, Eddie.

I should also add that if a studio wants extensive image clean-up, we are able to do that as well. However, it would increase the cost.

On both DRAGONFLY SQUADRON and THE BUBBLE, we removed many bits of imbedded dirt from the image. There is a before/after restoration demo on THE BUBBLE release next month.
 

FoxyMulder

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Just wondering something, on viewing the images supplied with the review i note what looks like edge halo's on a few of them, are these just images that have been sharpened for viewing on this review page or do the represent the transfer. ?

It could be the guy in the last image has a projection screen image in front of him and maybe the second image around the cap is something else but i ask because i am wondering, it doesn't look like chromatic abberation, looks sharpened.
 

EddieLarkin

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I'm confident they represent the transfer. I only see "halos" on the second cap and the last cap. Both of those shots look like they could be rear projection or dupe shots. Such "halos" appear all the time in duped film elements, they're not exclusive to digital. Case in point, Dial M for Murder:

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=10453&position=5
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=10453&position=6

Now THOSE are halos buddy!

Perhaps as well the unique 3D process also lends itself to haloing, though I'll leave the experts to comment on that.
 

Reed Grele

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Bob Furmanek said:
We're ready to work on REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE, THE GLASS WEB, TAZA: SON OF COCHISE, WINGS OF THE HAWK, I THE JURY, GORILLA AT LARGE, MONEY FROM HOME, THE MAZE, JIVARO, THE MOONLIGHTER, DANGEROUS MISSION, SON OF SINBAD, THE BOUNTY HUNTER, SEPTEMBER STORM, ARENA, BWANA DEVIL, GOG, THE DIAMOND WIZARD, FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR, FRIDAY THE 13th 3-D, JAWS 3-D and many more. Bring them on!
I can't wait for these! :)

But was FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (La Marca del Hombre-Lobo) really filmed in 70mm, stereo, and 3D?

I've read many stories over the years about it premiering that way, and even the IMDB states that it was, but thought that perhaps if indeed it really did, that all had been lost.
 

FoxyMulder

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EddieLarkin said:
I'm confident they represent the transfer. I only see "halos" on the second cap and the last cap. Both of those shots look like they could be rear projection or dupe shots. Such "halos" appear all the time in duped film elements, they're not exclusive to digital. Case in point, Dial M for Murder:

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=10453&position=5
http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screenshot.php?movieid=10453&position=6

Now THOSE are halos buddy!

Perhaps as well the unique 3D process also lends itself to haloing, though I'll leave the experts to comment on that.
Yes, those shots are not halo's due to sharpening, note the colour, the shots i refer to look like traditional sharpening to me, still if it's the exception rather than the rule then all is good, as you note it might also be rear projection for the last shot.

An explanation of what you are seeing with Dial M For Murder.

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/topic/317771-a-few-words-about™-dial-m-for-murder-take-two-in-blu-ray/?p=3874912

The "ringing" are analogue anomalies found in dupes, as made in 1953-4, and there is no way around them. Duping to early separation stock, and back to camera negative, was simply way things had to be done at that time...

http://www.hometheaterforum.com/topic/317771-a-few-words-about™-dial-m-for-murder-take-two-in-blu-ray/?p=4017736

the "halos" are Mackie Lines and are present in all WarnerColor opticals. It's a flaw in the early intermediate stock.
 

EddieLarkin

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I understand that, my point is the halos you point out look like photography halos to me. Obviously they don't look as bad as WarnerColor opticals, because we know how bad WarnerColor was, but unless you're watching the film it's not going to be obvious if those shots are opticals also.
 

StephenDH

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Move" Gog" and "It Came from Outer Space" to the front of the restoration queue, then "I, the Jury", and Friday the 13th. IIID to the back please.
 

Bob Furmanek

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What you are seeing is what's on the original left/right 35mm camera negatives. There are dupe sections cut into the negative to correct optically for vertical alignment issues. That practice was very common with 3-D films in 1953. Many times, the labs would have to fix issues that were baked-in during principal photography with the dual-35mm rigs.

These vintage 3-D films are not optically perfect. That's why each of these films must be corrected shot-by-shot in order to prepare them for HD mastering. That's precisely what we have done with DRAGONFLY.

We have not done any artificial sharpening of the image.
 

Bob Furmanek

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You're welcome, Nick.

The only shots in the film with rear-projection are scenes when they're having a conversation while driving in a jeep.

The last frame with the explosion is real. Those buildings were actually blown up behind John Hodiak!
 

Bob Furmanek

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Reed Grele said:
I can't wait for these! :)

But was FRANKENSTEIN'S BLOODY TERROR (La Marca del Hombre-Lobo) really filmed in 70mm, stereo, and 3D?

I've read many stories over the years about it premiering that way, and even the IMDB states that it was, but thought that perhaps if indeed it really did, that all had been lost.
Yes, it was actually shot in 65mm, side by side squeezed 3-D.

Here's a poor-quality scan of some original 70mm frames:

Frankenstiensbloodyterror.jpg
 

FoxyMulder

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Bob Furmanek said:
What you are seeing is what's on the original left/right 35mm camera negatives.

We have not done any artificial sharpening of the image.
Thanks, that's good to know, i'm a bit of a pain for pointing out halo's but i can't help it, i dislike them immensely.
 

EddieLarkin

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Bob Furmanek said:
The last cap with the explosion is real. Those buildings were actually blown up behind John Hodiak!
I considered that but thought "surely not?". Very interesting to know that before viewing!
 

Bob Furmanek

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The battle scenes are VERY well done, especially for a low-budget film.

In fact, the 4AM explosions threw someone from their bed near the location in Chatsworth and they sued the studio!
 

Powell&Pressburger

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I am going to buy this title for sure. I already pre-ordered The Bubble some time back. This one I missed putting in an amazon pre-order and it seems it has been stuck at about 32.00 since end of July. Hoping it drops some soon.

The review looks good. Always looking for some interesting 3D films to add to my collection. The older films are always worthwhile. Can't wait to see what other classic 3Ds could eventually be released.
 

Bob Furmanek

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FoxyMulder said:
Thanks, that's good to know, i'm a bit of a pain for pointing out halo's but i can't help it, i dislike them immensely.
I understand Malcolm and please remember; there is only so much you can do with artifacts that are printed into the original 35mm elements.

If you had seen this film in a theater when it was first released in 1954, those halo's would have been there.
 

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