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HTF Podcast Episode 5: Visiting Criterion Collection

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by Brian Dobbs, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. noel aguirre

    noel aguirre Second Unit
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    Spine 1000- Yayyyyyyyy!

    I hate to gripe but I wish if it could have been all Kaiju from Toho. Therefore no Mothra Nor Rodan standalones included.
    Nonetheless I am totally psyched!!
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    That makes total sense to me.
     
  3. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I just think it's funny that such obvious and significant issues like this seem to be out of the realm of knowledge of even "experts", including those who critique things like this for a living. I don't remotely pretend to be educated about video, but I know just a little bit. This morning I was thinking about this, having closely analyzed images in Photoshop, and the phrase "blacker than black" popped into my mind. I had to research it, because it was only something I was vaguely aware of. What really jumped out to me is when I discovered that there is no "blacker than black" in PAL. So any TV calibrated for one will look really bad with a source that's in the other. Clearly this "problem" doesn't exist with PAL releases of the same titles. So, I learned something today. It's amusing that so many "experts" aren't aware of the same stuff. Not surprising though. I run into it daily with photography, which I genuinely do know, and the many clueless "experts" these days.
     
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  4. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    But the specs for HD video are the same in Europe and North America, aren't they? So any PAL versus NTSC differences wouldn't apply to 1080/24 video.
     
  5. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    You encouraged me to look into this further. I'm trying to figure this out, because I have limited knowledge in this area. I think you are correct, and that with digital video, both NTSC and PAL have black set at 16. The point is that Pan's Labyrinth has some kind of noise around 9-10, so a properly calibrated monitor shouldn't show it. So, it still sounds like improper calibration to me. BTW, I looked at some other video from other studios, and none of them had artifacts in this area. The one thing I am quite certain about is that I was able to isolate the noise (blocking) in a still from Pan's Labyrinth, and that it's entirely within the "blacker than black" area, with a few levels between it and correct black.

    One extensive article I read commented that higher end current TVs tend to have two options of where black is set. It says they tend to call them "Extended" and "Limited" and that people incorrectly set it to "Extended " because why would you set it to "Limited" if you didn't know better.

    What I do know is that my plasma doesn't display blacker than black, where the CRT before it could, if incorrectly calibrated. That's why the noise doesn't show up, regardless of how high I set the brightness.

    The bottom line is, I find it absolutely impossible to believe Criterion would make such an obvious mistake as to master the noise into the proper range of the image. I have determined it is there, but it is definitely outside the range of what is supposed to be visible. That's supported by the fact that it is not visible with the vast majority of TVs. Including TVs of those here on HTF, most of which have been calibrated at least with a calibration disc. I'm trying to find the explanation why some people can see it one their monitors. Improper calibration is the most likely culprit. I'm just trying to come up with a specific explanation of what the specific mis-calibration is.
     
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  6. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    Could be maybe be a side effect of a TV in a PAL region needing to have settings that work with both HD and PAL? That some calibration that’s ideal for the PAL signal is still sticking around when it’s displaying HD?
     
  7. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    It's all very confusing. Analog PAL had black at 0, but apparently digital PAL has it at 16, but I'm not certain if that is only HD. NTSC in Japan had it at 16 as well, but it was changed to 0 in, I think, 1985. I recall that most TVs in Europe are capable of displaying both PAL and NTSC, so I don't know how that plays into everything. I wish someone with reliable knowledge would chime up.

    Again, the bottom line is that there are Criterion titles that have blocking (at least Pan's Labyrinth) in a very narrow area of about 8-10. Why, I don't know, and I doubt they're going to tell us. Of course, if a TV is properly calibrated for US discs, it isn't visible.

    I can post some images showing how narrow the range of the artifacts is, if anyone is interested. It's kind of interesting
     
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  8. Message #88 of 102 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    Michael Hofmann

    Michael Hofmann Auditioning

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    I feel compelled to respond here, since otherwise there's a lot of incorrect speculation going on.
    Indeed, there is absolutely no difference between Blu-ray video specs for European or North American display devices. Any mention of Europe vs. US, or PAL vs. NTSC does not make sense here, I'm afraid.

    Indeed, this is correct. Both player (or player software/graphics output on an HTPC) and output device (e.g. OLED TV) should be set to the "Limited setting" (range 16-235). If there is any mismatch, black and white level calibration will be off, and blacks will display as gray.

    All that said: Every part of my chain is set correctly in this regard (to 'limited'), brightness and contrast are set properly, and I still see lots of artifacts. However, and I agree with you there, I have looked at a few screenshots, and many of these artifacts do indeed seem to be inside the 0-16 range.

    This will require some more investigation.

    That would indeed be great, since, as I said above, compression is the art of removing details, while making this loss not visible to a human observer. I find it funny, though, that a few Criterion discs, such as Pan's Labyrinth and Blue Velvet, are among the only (or very few) discs where this particular extreme macroblocking effect in the dark color range can be observed, on certain types of output devices, apparently.
    Other people can see it, too, see e.g. https://forum.blu-ray.com/showpost.php?p=16666366&postcount=596 re. Blue Velvet, and I'm assuming most of them have their equipment set correctly.

    I have close to 1,000 Blu-rays, and watched hundreds of them on my OLED TV -- and have not seen this kind of issue on other discs (that claim to be competently encoded), at least not as prominently.

    I still think this is pretty careless encoding/QC on Criterion's side, and it just adds to the more general compression issues that many Criterion titles have, though more in the high-frequency detail/grain structure. Funnily enough, the compression of salient high-frequency detail in Pan's Labyrinth is quite alright, though not perfect... other Criterion releases are a lot worse there.
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It seems like most of the comments you just quoted weren't incorrect speculation.
     
  10. Message #90 of 102 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I already corrected myself regarding that detail. I am genuinely trying to figure this out, and I have already admitted that video is not something I know a lot about. So I'm trying to learn very quickly. Plus, what I originally stated wasn't outright incorrect, it used to be correct, but it no longer is. There's a difference. We live in an age when so many people state a conclusion, and then double and triple down on it when challenged, rather than have the willingness to accept new information and knowledge. When this detail was questioned, I immediately looked into it and immediately admitted that what I said did not appear to still be true, though it used to. I'd also like to point out that I have already put a lot more effort into exploring your complaints than you have done yourself. By your own admission, I have found a detail you were unaware of and need to explore more, despite your apparent infinite and unassailable wisdom. Pardon my sarcasm there. When I couldn't find what you claimed, I kept looking, then when I still couldn't find it, I kept looking some more.

    I am not "right fighting" here, which should be abundantly clear. I am genuinely trying to find what I can about what's going on and I have been abundantly willing to accept new information when I'm made aware of it. Please forgive me if I've had moments when there were details I was unaware of.

    As far as the range of the artifacts, which I need to state again, I put quite a bit of effort into finding, even though I doubted their existence, appear to be quite narrowly limited to the 8-11 range, and maybe less than that.
     
  11. JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    I am never willing to make that type of assumption.
     
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  12. Michael Hofmann

    Michael Hofmann Auditioning

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    There's a lot of "US vs. Europe" and "NTSC vs. PAL" mentioned earlier that that is just not applicable to Blu-ray sources (but might have been applicable in the DVD era). I wasn't trying to imply anything else.

    I wasn't necessarily unaware of this detail, but was and am quite confident that I have a correctly set up Blu-ray viewing chain w.r.t. all settings that could influence this, and I have very much double checked these.

    My wisdom is not infinite or unassailable, but fact of the matter is that quite a few people are complaining about bad compression with precisely these titles (and not with, say, 30% of all other Blu-rays, which would be much more likely with an improper setup). See e.g. my last post.

    All of these, where an output device is given, say that they're viewing on an OLED TV. You don't seem to have this type of output device, nor has anyone else so far come forward who will confirm or deny the presence of these artifacts on their OLED setup, with the color range settings in mind. That's where I'm saying that indeed more investigation is needed. Agree?

    It's good that we're not talking on the basis of "different people see different things, so you'll have to agree to disagree" anymore, as suggested by another participant earlier. That would be getting into voodoo territory, not a technical exchange. And I'm very happy that it's now also clear that severe artifacts are in fact on the disc, no matter the range, something that was heavily disputed earlier.

    Sounds good. Trust me, I am too.
     
  13. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  14. Message #94 of 102 Jul 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2019
    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    US vs Europe was mentioned again, even after I pointed out I corrected that and admitted it was a mistake, twice.
     
  15. Message #95 of 102 Jul 27, 2019
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    JohnRice

    JohnRice Executive Producer

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    OK, I'm going to summarize a few critical facts.

    I first looked for these artifacts on my plasma display. There are some important items to point out with that.
    1) It is calibrated
    2) The process of calibration demonstrated that is does not display anything that is blacker than black.
    3) Calibration also confirmed it displays a distinction between black and even one level above black.
    So, nothing is visible that shouldn't be, and everything that should be visible, is.
    The artifacts under discussion are not visible, ever. This made me doubt their presence.

    I hadn't been thinking about blacker than black, so I decided to explore if something was present in that area, and I found it is.

    I also looked at some other random discs, and those did NOT have similar artifacts in the blacker than black area.
    Which brings me to this statement...

    "the matter is that quite a few people are complaining about bad compression with precisely these titles (and not with, say, 30% of all other Blu-rays, which would be much more likely with an improper setup)"​

    If the artifacts don't exist on other discs, it's pretty simple to understand that they won't be visible. If they exist, aren't supposed to be visible, but are, that clearly points to incorrect calibration, which is supported by the other facts about the plasma display I first tried to find the artifacts with.

    The best I can tell regarding the artifacts with this particular title. A little speckling appears at 12, and the blocking appears at 10 and goes down to 8. None of this should be visible. BTW, it appears that current TVs, even cheap ones, tend to be pretty accurately calibrated to go to black precisely at 16, out of the box. You can adjust how fast they change from there and white levels, but were they cut off the image seems to be pretty reliable.

    Why are the artifacts even there, and does it matter? I don't know.

    Also, when I have made a statement, and with further experimentation corrected it after finding that the original statement wasn't correct, had changed at some point in time, or was incomplete, I will no longer waste my time explaining that I already modified or corrected the original statement. I will consider any further attempts to use those original statements proof of ignorance.
     
  16. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Or maybe...
     
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  17. Message #97 of 102 Jul 29, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2019
    PMF

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    Edited by PMF.-_-
     
  18. warnerbro

    warnerbro Supporting Actor

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    Criterion is releasing NOW VOYAGER! I'm so happy. But why are they releasing ALL ABOUT EVE? Is this really going to be better than the Fox version at more than double the price?
     
  19. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    I listen to podcasts while walking out dogs and at the gym. I will be checking this out.
     
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  20. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Thanks @Johnny Angell

    We have the next one in production now, going back and forth over our loose talking points. Hope to record in next few weeks.

    Still no plans to do a transcript, we'd welcome anyone who wants to take the time to do it on their own.
     

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