Robert Harris on The Bits - 1/21/03 column - OFFICIAL THREAD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Hunt, Jan 21, 2003.

  1. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider
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    Robert Harris' latest column is now up at The Digital Bits. This month, Robert looks at Criterion's The Complete Monterey Pop Festival and some of the challenges involved in bringing it to DVD in high quality.

    "Check the plate, please..."

    As always, click on the link to read Robert's comments and then come on back here to this official thread at the HTF to discuss, give feedback, ask questions of Robert and sound off as you will. Enjoy!
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I’d already taken his advice and have my copy in hand.

    As always I have learned something reading a Robert Harris column. This time (although I knew intellectually) the difficulties with 16mm. I would suppose now that a similar documentary would be shot in some HD video format or another, so those issues of grain will not be so important. And of course, many of us will feel that something is missing.

    Pretty funny to be able to read someone who considers it a ‘short’ 35 years ago—as do I.

    Very fine column.
     
  3. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    While I agree that MP looks incredible considering some other 16mm sourced materials from the time, I think some of the charm of the film is in the grainy and almost underground feel. Especially the Tiny Tim bits; it becomes so personal and special with the poor lighting, it feels like a stolen moment that was never meant to be seen.
     
  4. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    Great reading, RAH!! Nice editing, Bill!! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    (IMO, this is the finest DVD release of the year.)

    BTW, a semi-related topic (at best)... I'm very happy to see the Bits reporting on high-resolution audio!
     
  5. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  6. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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    Double post
     
  7. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

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    everyime I read one of Mr Harris' fine articles, another dvd is added to my ever growing collection

    Thanks for the story behind MP

    Cheers

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Darren Gross

    Darren Gross Supporting Actor

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    One question about 16mm ratios.

    While comparing aspect ratios of identical frames from a 35mm print to a 16mm print revealed that the 16mm version was minimally reduced on the top and bottom of the frame, dropping the ratio to around 1.66.

    Are the aspect ratios of 16mm reduction prints variable due to wider frame lines or is this an odd case?

    The original film was a 35mm camera original, shot open matte.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    An open matte 35mm film reduction printed to 16, generally loses a bit on all sides in the reduction. In most situations this is to cover dirt picked up on the edges of the 16 frame, thus providing a "clean" edge.

    The Tiny Tim footage was apparently shot in a club with only candle light as a source.
     
  10. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Ah, Monterey Pop! Where's Neil Young?! [​IMG] Ole Shakey wasn't to keen to perform with the Springfield at the festival. Crosby took his place! Classic Young (mis)behavior! [​IMG]

    I don't have the DVD. "Shame!" - yes, if I can find it for £40.00 in the UK, I'll order it soon. It's faaaar out. Jimi, Otis - OH! [​IMG]


    Gordy
     
  11. Mark Anthony

    Mark Anthony Second Unit

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    Robert, thank you for another great article

    Gordon, check out cd-wow.com - it's under £38 inc postage!

    M
     
  12. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    Thanks, Mark! [​IMG]

    I'll order it now.


    Gordy
     
  13. Juan C

    Juan C Second Unit

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    Excellent article, Mr Harris.

    Regarding mastering from 16mm, some studios resort to excessive filtering, as you can see from these Bad Taste screencaps:

    Region 1 (US-Anchor Bay)

    Region 2 (Spain-Filmax)
    Apart from the wrong aspect ratio and color balance, you'll notice the film grain has been steamrollered by filters.

    Mr Harris, I wonder if you can give other examples of good DVDs transferred from 16mm stock. I think of Darren Aronofsky's Pi and Joel Schumacher's Tigerland (note the DP was in both cases the in my opinion excellent Matt Libatique).
     
  14. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Other films mastered from 16mm elements:

    The Albert Maysles films from Criterion

    Last House on the Left shot in 16, but may have been transferred from 35 intermediate. Add'l scenes from 16.

    Texas Chainsaw...

    Woodstock, from 35 interm.

    16mm does have obvious film grain, but that is a major part of what 16mm is. I find it odd when there is an attempt to eliminate it.

    As I see more and more older 35mm releases on DVD which have been have their grain structure "helped" into oblivion, I have an overriding fear that some of the top directors of photography and camera operators from the classic decades of film production will be made to look like incompetent fools, placed in positions of authority.

    Take a beautifully composed, beautifully lit 35mm black and white image, take away the grain structure, and what do you have left?

    An image which appears slightly soft and out of focus.

    I wonder how long it will take for the public to start saying "What was wrong with those guys?"
     
  15. Mike Ackerman

    Mike Ackerman Auditioning

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    In defense of those DVD producers, one reason for blurring the grain might be to make the movie more compressible. I imagine that a static scene on grainy film would appear as a riot of action to the compression software. Perhaps a solution would be adding "fake grain" after decompression (does MPEG include this in its bag of tricks?) Smells like it would be too much digital fussing-around.

    I got to see My Fair Lady in 70mm last night, and now am looking forward to hearing Mr. Harris' commentary on the DVD.

    Mike
     
  16. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Mike - the Highlander syndrome. (On the first DVD release of Highlander, now out of print and replaced by a better one, the film's excessive grain played havoc with the compression).
     
  17. Mikey

    Mikey Auditioning

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    Robert,
    Thanks for another informative article.
    Glad to see that your are a fan of Monterey Pop era music as well. I will take your advice and get a copy of the MP dvd!
     
  18. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    A BETTER PLACE is one film transferred from 16mm that looks incredible for the most part. Also a very good film.
     
  19. Charles Ms

    Charles Ms Stunt Coordinator

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    The original "Evil Dead" is from a 16mm Master.
     
  20. Michael Coate

    Michael Coate Stunt Coordinator

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    Here are some additional 16mm productions available on DVD. Note that some of these may have been transferred from 35mm blow-up elements.

    16mm:
    The Brothers McMullen
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer (TV 1st season)
    Clerks
    Jimi Hendrix (concert)
    Medium Cool
    Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Rust Never Sleeps (concert)
    Stargate SG-1 (TV 1st season)

    Super 16mm:
    AC/DC: No Bull (concert)
    Chasing Amy
    Conspiracy
    Get On The Bus
    Kansas: Device Voice Drum (concert)
    Leaving Las Vegas
    Lenny Kravitz: Lenny Live (concert)
    The Loss Of Sexual Innocence
    Miss Julie
    Monsoon Wedding
    One Night Stand
    Prefontaine
    Romper Stomper
    Sade: Lovers Live (concert)
    This Is Spinal Tap
    Ulee's Gold
    Waiting For Guffman
     

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