*** Official Warner Archive DVD Review Thread

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ernest, Mar 27, 2009.

  1. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Chuck, thanks for the in-depth reporting, and going to the trouble for the screenshots. The Grasshopper and Sweet November were two of the titles I was planning to order this week (note the past tense). In other words, this is substandard product (for a major studio bare bones dvd release in 2009) sold at a premium price.
    I was just tickled with this program from a conceptual standpoint. I still think it's a great idea. But my assumptions were that the modest rollout (150 to start, 20 per month thereafter) was arrived at because that was the inital number of titles they had digitally remastered (for HD...we are in an HD studio archiving era, are we not?) and had a 'disc image' of the full dvd release for retail sales that either had been imminent (within the next 12 months) or had been postponed from an earlier planned release and never found their way back on schedule.
    Essentially, I was expecting a generally high quality, progressive, well compressed and authored disc...just one delivered burned rather than stamped.
    These all sound like they've simply taken a master (interlaced and in some cases, masters from the mid 90s or earlier created for cable broadcast or LD) and used a one-size-fits-all compression system set to auto-pilot.
    This dampens my enthusiasm for this whole program quite a bit. I wwas NOT one of the people strenuously complaining about the $20 per cost. However I expected to be be seeing quality equivilent to their $10 bare bones retail catalog discs. That is clearly not the case here.
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  2. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Well, I don't think they were making anamorphic widescreen transfers of films like THE BABY MAKER and such in the 90s. Heck, of the 4 anamorphic widescreen titles I got NONE had EVER been released or shown before in widescreen anywhere. If these were recycled LD masters, that would be one thing, but they aren't.

    Now, as far as always using the best print for their source and doing any additional color correction or dirt removal...

    I wouldn't have a problem if the titles weren't interlaced and had better compression. Those are really my only major gripes, and the compression quality seems to vary from title to title as does the transfer quality.
     
  3. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    Any title that has the Turner logo preceding it, as well as severely windowboxed title cards, to me sounds like a 90's era master created by Turner for cable broadcast or an LD release. I wasn't refering to your reviews Chuck, but others I've read so far. The widescreen films being anamorphic, should be exempt here (unless Warner feels they can get away with slipping in an upconvert here and there ), but the Turner logo and the windowboxing has been noted on *some* pre-widescreen era titles so far.
    And frankly, while anamorphic is well and good, I consider that to be a baseline attribute at this point in time. And it's only one aspect of what contributes to a good presentation. If the vast majority of people are going to be watching these on sub 32" CRT sets, then the weak encoding and compression artifacting might not be a distraction. On a large display or a front projector they will be. I'll still be ordering Grasshopper (and others possibly) at some point as I've wanted to see it for a long time now. But overall quality factors into the sense of value, and value is becoming a bigger and bigger criteria for me. These archive titles (especially ones I haven't seen feedback on) will just get shuffled to the bottom of the deck in terms of priority.
    And just to clarify, I'm not expecting digital restoration on these either for the garden variety speckles and emulsion scratches. Compression artifacting and combing are the issue for me, as is the hit and miss nature. For $20 a pop, I'll have to let others be the guinea pigs here. While the preview on the site is a nice gesture, it is woefully inadequete in ascertaining how these will actually look on a proper set up-unless your only criteria is print quality.
     
  4. Timothy E

    Timothy E Supporting Actor
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    I do not understand the criticism on this forum regarding the quality of these discs.

    After all of the negative things I have heard, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the DVDs I have received this week from Warner Archive. Granted, I have done spot checks on only 2 discs so far, so I cannot speak to the quality of the other 148.

    I purchased Westbound (1959) with Randolph Scott and Doc Savage (1975) with Ron Ely. Both films are anamorphic widescreen in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio.

    Westbound is the only collaboration between star Randolph Scott, producer Harry Brown, and director Budd Boetticher that had not yet been released on DVD. I found the video and audio quality to compare favorably with the other restored versions of the "Ranown" films on DVD. This film is seldom shown on TV and even when it is shown it is typically pillarboxed. It is a joy seeing this film fill my widescreen TV. It is worth noting that this Warner Archive version of Westbound does not suffer from the "focusing" effect that stood out like a sore thumb on the DVD restoration of Seven Men From Now. On that DVD, the screen went noticeably in and out of focus during scene transitions. This effect was clearly not a deliberate artistic decision made by the producers of the film but rather a byproduct of restoration of footage during scenes followed by lack of restoration on transition scenes. I have not observed that glitch on the Westbound DVD by Warner Archive. Based on this, I do not agree that these DVDs are inferior to regular standard releases.

    Doc Savage has some minor (very minor) debris in the first few minutes which shows that it might receive further restoration in the future. The picture quality of the remainder of the film seems almost pristine. A trailer for the film is included on this DVD, and if you want to see how bad this film could look, then look no further than this unrestored trailer in 1.33.1 aspect ratio. Compared to the trailer, the film (which is 1.85:1 like Westbound) looks great.

    I have some standard studio DVD releases in my collection that are inferior in quality to these DVDs. I look forward to future releases in this collection and I hope to see the other studios follow suit in releasing films that might otherwise not see the light of day on DVD.
     
  5. Douglas R

    Douglas R Cinematographer

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    The French DVD, which I have, is 2 channel surround.
     
  6. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    If the reviewers could note the nature and size of their display, the source component, and the distance from the screen they are viewing from, it would be a big help in the future.
    This is not a criticism of any post in this thread, just a general issue I see when people post their impressions about various media. It's really aggrevating when you go into the HD forums. Too many variables that can swing someone else's perceptions from worthwile to worthless.
     
  7. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    I'm viewing the discs on a Sony BDP-350 Blu-Ray player via HDMI on my Polaroid 47" 1080p monitor.
     
  8. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    DREAM LOVER has that old logo at the beginning of it, but it is an anamorphic widescreen master, so go figure.

    I think there is a clear difference between the people who are watching their discs on analog displays and interlaced vs those with HD displays and upscaling capability. Those older displays with composite video could cover a lot of the problems some of us are seeing. DREAM LOVER might look just fine using S-Video on a 27" analog TV (I doubt it would look THAT good though), but upscaled to 1080p on a 47" LCD, well... All of the shortcomings are loud and clear.
     
  9. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Warner sent me a handful of these titles to evaluate.

    I pulled out a title at random, The Mating Game and put
    it in the player.

    I can't say I am overly impressed with what I saw. Video quality
    is quite watchable, but I would be very disappointed if this were a
    major studio release.

    Picture looked somewhat compressed as there were visible artifacts.

    The fact I was using a upconverting BD player probably magnified the
    transfer deficiencies. I mean, overall, the transfer looked just passable.

    I could say the same thing about Westbound which looked decent,
    but was plagued with very minor video shifting and some minor compression
    artifacts.

    The best thing about the the scenes I watched on both titles was the
    audio which sounded very clean.

    From other reviews I have read, I suppose these DVDs are meant to be
    taken at face value. They aren't major restorations, probably look
    decent but not superb, but fortunate enough are we to finally get these
    in our libraries.
     
  10. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Expecting these titles to be from HD masters is a bit too high of a standard, IMO. Investing the money into HD masters vs. the relatively inexpensive manner of this Warner Archive program are two things that just don't fit together.
     
  11. MLamarre

    MLamarre Second Unit

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    Some people are acting a bit spoiled regarding transfers. If they did every film's transfer to some people's standards, it would take them decades to get their thousands of films released.

    I'm sure if some titles sell well enough they will do additional restoration and release them to retailers, but you can't honestly expect every classic title to look as good as Gone with the Wind or The Wizard of Oz...
     
  12. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Well, no, not really. ALL studio titles now are routinely granted HD transfers that are then downconverted for DVD. That's one reason why there was a huge jump in quality on many titles from 2004-ish and on. HD masters downconverted to SD look much better than native 480 transfers.

    I wouldn't doubt these are from HD masters, it's just the encoding is all off. I'll bet Warner supplied the master tapes and left the authoring job to others - and it was bungled. Poor compression and encoding the titles as interlaced... Even the cheapest big studio releases don't tend to suffer in those areas.
     
  13. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    You're missing the point: it is the authoring job that most of us are concerned about. You can have a great print, great transfer, etc. But if the authoring is done poorly then you have a pixelated, interlaced mess. It doesn't appear that Warner's usual mastering standards are not in evidence on these releases, though some have terrific prints and transfers as their sources.

    Warner: If someone is listening, PLEASE change whatever company is doing the encoding on these titles!
     
  14. Richard M S

    Richard M S Supporting Actor

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    It is going to be interesting to see which films, if any, emerge looking better than ever from the vaults. I bet some films were destined for "proper" dvd releases, but maybe due to the declining demand for DVDs have been shifted to Warner Archives for release instead.
     
  15. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    Chuck, I hear what you're saying, but almost any DVD player purchased today will include good deinterlacing circuitry which could help mediate the flaws you have observed.

    My equipment currently consists of an Optoma HD-65 front projector and a Tosh XD-E500 upscaling player. I've decided to purchase "Sweet November" (I'm a *huge* Sandy Dennis fan!) just to see what it looks like with my configuration. Heck, I don't see how it could be any worse than the non-anamorphic release of the original Star Wars films!
     
  16. Chuck Pennington

    Chuck Pennington Supporting Actor

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    Yes, these transfers are easily deinterlaced with no problem, but the resultant quality still isn't as good as a progressive encode - a good one, anyway. The upscaling won't make the poor compression look any better.

    SWEET NOVEMBER I finished watching a few hours ago. It's just okay - quite soft - with what looks like a bit of edge ringing in some scenes. The software they are using for the compression seems to have problems with the color red. Did you see the weird vertical color strobing in the DREAM LOVER captures? Check out the hanky in Newley's jacket pocket in the first capture. That isn't a JPG artifact from the capture - that's what the image ACTUALLY looks like!

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  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It depends on your equipment and from pass experience, it has been hard for me to tell the difference with my video processor and display.

    I'm reserving judgement until I see some of these discs with my own eyes and equipment.
     
  18. BillyFeldman

    BillyFeldman Supporting Actor

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    I'd love to chime in but the eighteen titles I ordered and which have said "shipped" since early Tuesday, have yet to arrive. Very annoying.
     
  19. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm in the same boat, but you bring up an interesting point about reading more viewpoints except just a few about the quality of these discs. I hope these discs start shipping to people so a true consensus can take place about the PQ.





    Crawdaddy
     
  20. Simon Howson

    Simon Howson Screenwriter

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    I don't understand why / how a 72 minute film could exhibit compression artifacts.
     

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