Morningstar "Chistmas Carol"

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Shaw, Oct 19, 2005.

  1. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    The new release of "A Christmas Carol" from Morningstar Entertainment is only a partial improvement over previous releases. Certainly this new DVD has better black levels and contrast with grey levels much improved, but the transfer is plagued by scratches, noise, speckles and dirt throughout.

    The booklet that comes with it claims that the presentation is "seamless" and I saw it as anything but. Although the work that has gone into this title is certainly an improvement, it is far from the "Holy Grail" that we would like to see.

    I think that Morningstar only had so much budget to go into the restoration of this film. A full restoration would require the fixing of scratches and dirt and noise on the audio track.

    When Marley tells Scrooge that they were wrong on his death-bed, you can hear the audio track change several times and this is very distracting. Still, this is the best presentation of this film yet.

    VCI have previously released this movie with a transfer from the original negative. This transfer had poor blacks and whites were very washed out.

    I don't think this new transfer from Morningstar was made from the negative, since the booklet says it was struck from seven different prints, the only ones they could find worldwide.

    What I would love to see is a new negative made from the original and a whole new restoration from someone like Lowery Digital (did I spell that right?) or Robert Harris and James Katz, who restored "Vertigo" and "Rear Window".

    The whole trouble is that this film is not a huge seller and the budget needed for a full restoration would be beyond the budget of a studio like Morningstar. According to the booklet it was Laughsmith Entertainment who did the restoration. Seems to me that VCI could have simply let them restore the negative. Again, it all comes down to money.

    My question is this: will there ever be a proper and complete restoration of this film, the way Citizen Kane or Casablanca have been restored? Since this is not a huge seller, it doesn't look good at this point.

    Ah, well, one can only dream.[​IMG]

    Below are 9 screen captures straight from the disk, I did not apply any processing to the images other than changing them from bmp to jpg:

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/1167/pdvd0002fz.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/641/pdvd0016hc.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/768/pdvd0022ri.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/6354/pdvd0032in.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/7937/pdvd0041si.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/6771/pdvd0053ov.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/1596/pdvd0063px.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/4374/pdvd0076az.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/6756/pdvd0083up.jpg

    http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/1853/pdvd0092bq.jpg
     
  2. Sal Capone

    Sal Capone Auditioning

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    Shaw, where did you purchase this version; I don't see it available anywhere....thx.
     
  3. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Thanks for posting those screencaps, Shaw. From what I can see, there is some improvement over the VCI SCROOGE, but perhaps not enough for an upgrade. This is one of my favorite movies, and I would love to see a definitive version eventually.
     
  4. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Didn't Universal also release a version with Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer cartoon short as a bonus?

    At least that's what Amazon is listing...


    If so, was that better/worse than the trasnfer that VCI released?
     
  5. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Producer

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    Nice work, Shaw. It DOES look a bit better. But $35 now.... dang! What's the word on the R2 PAL release that's coming out? Potentially better with PAL's higher res..


    [​IMG] d
     
  6. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Has the few opening seconds been inserted back into the film from the titles? What are the special features like? My copy has yet to arrive. Makes me wonder what the BBC release would have beeen.

    Andy
     
  7. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    This disc is made by Morningstar Entertainment here in Canada. If you want it in the states you will have to import it, it appears.

    The special features include a few side by side samples of restored and unrestored footage. There is also the Original Theatrical Trailer which was a big surprise to me which looks pretty good, too.

    I purchased my disc at Futureshop which is the Best Buy here in Canada. Just exactly if you will be able to buy it in store in the US is debatable, although it doesn't look likely.

    This is the "Emeral Edition" and the restoration was done by Laughsmaith Entertainemnt, Inc. They used 5 different prints of the film and there were over 700 edits, according to the collectible booklet, which includes notes from the President of Morningstar, a brief note from the restoration team, notes about the film, chapters, and trivia about Dickens' famous novel.

    The 12 page booklet has a cover made to look like a leather-bound book and the pages are made to look as though they are very old with browned edges. The disc comes with a special slip-cover and the plastic case is see-through. The disc is not a flipper and is nicely silk-screened. The disc also appears to be dual-layer, single pass. I do not have the equipment to do a proper bit-rate evaluation.

    To contact Morningstar you can dial 1-800-590-3350. Whether or not you will be able to reach that calling area is debatable.

    I did call them to say "this could look a lot better." They simply stated that they were happy with the work that was done on it. No attempt was made to really clean up everything, so there are still scratches and dirt throughout, although the picture does get pretty solid at times.

    The audio does change quite a bit some times in a short space. Note the conversation that Scrooge and Marley have just before Marely dies. You can tell that it was put together from several different prints.

    I did ask Morningstar if any attempt was made to secure the negative (which appears to still be in the possesion of VCI.) So, for the moment, this is the best we are going to get.

    Still, this picture can be pretty nice at times, with deep blacks and what appears to be the proper grey levels with bald heads not whited out. On the VCI, the bald heads literally glow at times.

    According to the guy at Morningstar they will be revisiting this title down the road. I hope they don't plan to wait five years, since he mentioned this was a 55th Anniversary Edition and the next DVD could be a 60th Annn. Ed.

    At any rate, this could be a hell of a lot worse. I do not know anything about the Universal DVD and what the quality of it is like. I never even heard about it. Are you sure that's not the 1938 version of the story? I also do not know anything about a R2 release and since the company is in Canada, it doesn't look likely.

    The film is presented in two versions. "A Christmas Carol", (the US version) and "Scrooge", (the UK version). I need to watch the "Scrooge" version to see if there is any difference. According to the booklet, this is the first time all of the footage from the film has been put together since it's first theatrical release.

    I did check the running time of both version, which was identical. I don't think there is any real difference, except for the fact that opening titles are slightly different. I watched the US version and I did not see any new scenes or footage at all. I will get back to you about the "Scrooge" version after I've watched it.

    All in all, this is still worth the price, since it is overall more enjoyable. You just have to decide if you are willing to accept some bumps here and there throughout the presentation. Believe me, it could be a lot worse, but it could also be a lot better.

    threerandot
     
  8. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the update, Shaw! I'm looking forward to my copy arriving, which should hopefully be today!

    There is indeed a Regio 2 release around the corner. This seems to be like quite a nice release, which so far includes the following special features:
    - Audio commentary from George Cole
    - Exclusive interview
    - 'Traditions Of Christmas' featurette
    - B & W (with colour sequences)

    It seems like I need to hold on to my old VCI for the colourized version, MacNee introduction, and Rudolph cartoon. I'll need the Morningstar for the two different title sequences, and trailer, and the upcoming region 2 disc for the commentary, interviews, and featurette. 3 copies. That's about two too many!
     
  9. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    My copy arrived today in the mail. I enjoyed seeing the alternate opening titles, and the original theatrical trailer. Those were both nice suprises for me. The booklet I could take or leave. I'd rather have a nice filmed introduction by the president of morningstar than read his words. Also the restoration comparison could have been better. There should have been some text, or a filmed explanation. One good thing about this release is that the opening seconds have been restored into the film, which were missing from the VCI release. I'm not too sure, other than what I mentioned, is there any other footage restored into the film? Apparently some that hasn't been seen since 1951, but what is that?

    I am just distressed that they plan on re-visiting this title. Do it right the first time people.

    Andy
     
  10. Andrew Radke

    Andrew Radke Screenwriter

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    This is actually Morningstar's second release of this film. I have the first which was released a few years ago. Judging by the screencaps, they look quite similar to the version I have in terms of picture quality. My version also has various sounds such as scratches and pops. I may pick this up so I can do a comparison on the different versions. I'm wondering if Morningstar used the same print as was used on their initial release. Also, the theatrical trailer would indeed be a treat. If Morningstar does in fact 'revisit' this title again, it will be the third time.
     
  11. Shaw

    Shaw Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi: forgot to metion that for those interested that this is a region "0" release.

    I am also surprised that there is going to be a R2 release? With George Cole doing a commentary? Is that on Amazon yet? Is that also a Morningstar release? Who is releasiing the R2 version?

    I definitely want a "definitive" disc of this too. This ones certainly better than the VCI release.

    threerandot
     
  12. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    The R2 release is going to be done by DD Entertainment.

    Andy
     
  13. Keith Paynter

    Keith Paynter Screenwriter

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    I found this "over the counter" at A&B Sound.
     
  14. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    I also purchased my copy from A&B Sound, however online.

    Andy
     
  15. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    The UK R2 is by DD Video - I was none too impressed by their last transfer and I doubt this will see any significant improvement, but we live in hope; I also understand that VCI (who blocked the BBC release because they hold the R1 rights) may also be prepping another release - also with a commentary - next year.
     
  16. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Do you know anything more about next year's VCI release? It would be nice if they went all out, at least with a complete restoration but I doubt that will happen.

    I guess since VCI owns the R1 release, that's why the Morningstar release isn't exactly readily available - even in Canada.

    Andy
     
  17. Paul_Nyman

    Paul_Nyman Second Unit

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    Is the BBC releasing it anywhere on DVD outside R1? How would it suddenly switch from coming in November...and then it's pulled from release because of rights issues? Wouldn't all legal issues get resolved by BBC before they issued a press release which lays out all the DVD's details?Something doesn't sound right. I'v heard of VCI, is Morningstar related to them in any way?
     
  18. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Unbelieveably, the BBC assumed it was PD, and their disc was fully prepped before they were contacted by VCI; they simply got it wrong. Wouldn't it be cool if the Beeb and VCI got together and came to some sort of arrangement - shame for all that hard work to go to waste...
     
  19. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Nope, you can Google their website.

    They're a small Canadian Media company that put out DVD's of fairly obscure Canadian TV series and related projects like "The Raccoons", etc. Generally budget stuff too.
     
  20. Jean Paul Villeneuve

    Jean Paul Villeneuve Second Unit

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    I've seen the Morningstar release in the following stores.

    Wal-Mart $22.88
    Blockbuster $21.99
     

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