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Miramax Mystery Redux...

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Robert Harris, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

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    Several additional thoughts in regard to the newest high profile releases from Miramax and Disney...

    Cop Land is a terrific entertainment with an ensemble cast that interelates to perfection. Mr. Stallone playing against type and Mr. DeNiro taking a back seat to the rest of the cast are merely the icing on the cake.

    The presentation, which looks fine on monitors in the 40" arena, shows jagged digital lines on larger screens, where there should be none.

    ____


    Kill Bill Vol. 2 doesn't need any praise from these quarters. Tarentino is a major talent, and the Kill Bills only prove that once again.

    The presentation betters that of Vol. 1, with only slight EE, there is nothing to complain about here, and much to praise. Both the DVD and the film come highly recommended.

    ________


    Hidalgo, from Disney is another terrific piece of entertainment, beautifully cast, acted and photograhed.

    Again, as with Cop Land, Hidalgo looked fine on a 40" screen, but went into slight digital distress when projected on a large screen. Interestingly, it had some of the lowest transfer rates, some into the low 5s.

    This entire discussion of the Miramax / Disney transfers is, as I've previously mentioned, a veritable "storm in a teacup" for those who don't view their DVDs on larger screens.

    None of the films mentioned above fall into the category of what I would consider problematic, with Kill Bill Vol 2 a no-problem release.

    None have problems mentioned in regard to Cold Mountain or English Patient.
     
  2. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Thanks again, Robert, for your wonderful columns and input.

    This Miramax transfer thing is truly dismaying. I have a hunch that the secret behind the "look" of these Miramax DVDs can be found in a compression template some person (or persons) is using as a cookie cutter approach to all material. While the severity of the "look" varies from film to film, I can now spot a Miramax DVD a mile a way - or at least approx. 10 feet from my 92 in screen - generous low pass filtering and/or some kind of spatio filter to "smooth out" (i.e. blur) the image, then EE to sharpen edges.

    The really sad thing is that as problematic as the English Patient image is - it is an improvement over the god-awful print I saw in the theaters (I can't believe I just wrote that, but it's true!), and also IMHO bests the Criterion LD I will never give up.

    The Cold Mountain DVD is indeed a travesty.

    Kill Bill 1 is a smeary mess, but so colorful that it distracts and gives the appearance of a "nice looking image."

    On an OT retro note, you should check out the DVD of New Line's "The Sweet Hereafter." There's tons of bonus material as well as the film on a dual-layer disc, and the natural detail in the image is breathtaking. And it's an old title to boot.

    As you say, Criterion DVDs look fantastic - "Fear and Loathing" aside - and your observation of "Straw Dogs" as a great example is right on the mark - just saw that the other day.

    Anchor Bay has pleasantly surprised me from time to time (and I'm not necessarily talking about their new DiviMax stuff). Just the other day, I was watching the Ustinov-Poirot Agatha Christie flicks, "Death On The Nile" and "Evil Under The Sun," and I thought they looked great.

    Looking forward to further discussion on this Miramax/DVD compression topic!

    Cheers,
     
  3. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    Here's an example of some settings available for mpeg-2 encoding...

    [​IMG]

    Mind you, these tools are exactly that - tools - which can be valuable in achieving a stellar encoding; however, misuse or abuse is another thing...

    Cheers,
     
  4. Elias A.

    Elias A. Stunt Coordinator

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    Mr. Harris, I'm encouraged to hear that you found that Kill Bill Vol. 2 to be an improvement over Vol. 1. I found the image of Vol. 1 to be very problematic, with a very soft image and excessive edge enhancement. It also seemed to have copious amounts of digital grain that was very distracting. I haven't seen Vol. 1 in the theater, but the grain on the DVD looked quite artificial and not at all like natural film grain to my eyes. I'm worried that Vol. 2 will suffer from the same problems, especially since there have been so many other recent high profile releases from Miramax that also had excessive filtering, grain, and edge enhancement.

    On the other hand, other recent releases from Miramax like Copland apparently don't have the same problems (although they may have other issues), which only deepens the mystery. Is Miramax using two different compression houses to create their DVD's? Are there different technicians in charge of the compression process for different movies? It's very bizarre.

    Is there any way that we can make our concerns known to the powers that be at Miramax? I don't really have any illusions that a small group of enthusisasts can change corporate policy at a large company like Disney, but I feel like we should try to do something about this travesty.
     
  5. Cassy_w

    Cassy_w Second Unit

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    We just upgraded to the 73 inch Mitsubishi and our Disney/Miramax DVD's are flat out unwatchable now. We will not be buying any more. [​IMG]
     

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