Serious Problem With NAQOYQATSI DVD!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Mark Cappelletty, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I got an early copy of Miramax's NAQOYQATSI DVD and, much to my dismay, I've discovered that it's been improperly authored. Playing it on my 32" Sony (with my stalwart Sony 550 DVD Player set in 4x3 letterbox mode), I noticed that some of the images looked stretched-- and, it was only until after I put my player in 16x9 mode that it looked normal. It's hard to discern at first with the lack of human figures in the film (most of the first chunk of the film is taken up by abstract images or landscapes), but something is seriously amiss with this; it's as if Miramax took a 1.33 image and stretched it to 1.78:1.

    I saw the film theatrically and, as far as I can remember last year, it looked fine in 1.85:1.

    What gives?
     
  2. Mikael Soderholm

    Mikael Soderholm Supporting Actor

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    Well, I've searched and searched (didn't even know this was on its way, thanks for letting me know [​IMG]), but those online shops that have it listed at all don't seem to have any specs...

    However, here I found info to the effect that it should be 1,78:1. Now, it seems your player doesn't do the downconversion right (assuming it is actually anamorphic), so it sure sounds like an authoring problem...

    However, I seem to recall from the trailers on the other two Qatsi-discs that this one was actually 2,35:1, at least the trailers were that wide, so is this some sort of semi-p&s? Or were the trailers wider than the actual film?
     
  3. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    Mikael,

    No, it's definitely not 2.35:1 and my DVD player has never had a problem with downconversion. It was 1.85:1 in the theaters.

    The only way I really noticed this is during the black-and-white profiles of people in (I think) Chapter 4. They all looked vertically squished and stretched while my player was in 4x3 letterbox. When I switched the player to 16x9 mode, they looked fine, though the image was now (naturally) full-frame. I'm going to check it out on my friend's 16x9 set tomorrow to see how it looks there.

    The disc is quite nice otherwise-- flawless print, interviews with Godfrey Reggio, Steven Soderbergh, Philip Glass & Yo-Yo Ma, etc. It streets on Tuesday.
     
  4. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    So what you're suggesting is it is a 4:3 transfer encoded as 16x9- so when the player converts to 4:3 lbx, you are getting a squashed fat image-- and setting it to 16x9 results in a 4:3 fullscreen picture that looks geometrically correct?

    So, playing it on a 16x9 set in proper mode will again result in a fat stretched image (save as watching a 4:3 native in the wrong mode)

    -Vince
     
  5. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    Vince,

    You got it. I will find out more when I'm able to test it out on a 16x9 screen.
     
  6. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Mark,

    Just got the screener. I'll try to post a review over the weekend as I know this is one some folks are interested in viewing (glad to know it streets Tues...that helps motivate me!).

    I already checked the film out briefly. The disc is indeed 16x9 anamorphic and seems about 1.78:1 in aspect ratio. I also noticed that many of the images look "stretched"...faces appear fat.

    Other please note...this is with the disc properly displaying a native 16x9 image on a 16x9 TV.

    I've never seen the film projected theatrically so I assumed this was just part of the 'artistic' visual style...many images appear normal so the "stretched" thing isn't something that affects all the content...just certain scenes.

    If any of you know more about this do let us know. I'd like for my review to accurately let folks know anything they need to be aware of before purchasing this disc.

    -dave [​IMG]
     
  7. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    I think it's all "stretched," David. The only way the human figures look normal is when you squeeze it to 16x9 on a 4x3 TV. I'm almost 100% sure that something is screwy and that it's not supposed to look this way.
     
  8. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  9. Matt_P

    Matt_P Second Unit

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    Any further word on the transfer?
     
  10. EricW

    EricW Cinematographer

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    can we get some screen caps?
     
  11. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    I made a post over at Qatsi.org stating what was said here and asking if they had any offical opinion on the matter.

    I would think they have seen the DVD, but perhaps they aren't aware of the problem.

    -paul
     
  12. RichSL

    RichSL Agent

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    David,

    Is a review imminent at all?
     
  13. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Rich,

    My apologies to all for my tardiness with this review. Life has been a bit crazy this weekend and while I've watched the program and made all suitable notes, I haven't composed the review just yet.

    If I have time tonight after work I'll try to get it typed and posted...

    In the meantime...let me say a few things for those of you wondering about some of the major issues:

    Picture: 16x9 1.78:1 WS. Picture is overall about as good as it can be given the limitations of the source material and MPEG compression. Bit-rate is very high...typically between 7-9 mbps so clearly the mastering folks were doing their best. However, there seems (to my eyes) to be a slight overall softness to the picture that feels like a bit of over-filtering...but I can't be sure having never seen this projected on film.

    CAVEAT: much of the content is video in origin and modified on the computer...so this accounts for many "artifacts" like scan-line aliasing and I even saw what looked like dot-crawl in one segment. IMO, this movie has made use of low-fi computer imagery which, while maybe considered artful and expressive of the director's intensions, seems to fall short on the objective picture-quality scale (again, this is a content/source related caveat...not a "DVD problem" per-se).

    Oh...the "STRETCH" thing...it's even visible in 4x3 lbxed segments included in one of the documentary shorts. Given that most of the film originated as 4x3 video material...perhaps they made a decision to "stretch" everything to generate a 1.78:1 WS image for theaters? I never heard them comment on it but that seems like what might have happened. Indeed, after closer inspection, then *entire* movie is "stretched" like taking a 4x3 full-frame image and stretching it sideways to fill a 16x9 screen.

    Those of you who saw this projected...please add your voice here (and do so again in my offical review thread once I get it posted).



    Sound: 5.1 DD. Excellent. Glorious 5.1 that makes substantial and qualitive use of the surround channels. Yo-Yo's strings are rendered beautifully through the center channel (this is not like many 5.1 "music" mixes which eschew the center channel...this recording uses it correctly). There's a great naturalness and sense of depth to the music and a wide frequency response and dynamic range. Really a glorious 5.1 music recording even if you don't turn on the TV.


    Extras: Trailers for the two previous films in the series (not this one), an interview between P. Glass and Yo Yo which was worth-while but not life-changing, and a *great* (IMO) filmed question-answer panel session with the films director, Philip Glass, and another fellow who worked on the technical aspects of production. Another short or two. Fans will appreciate these extras. The interviews and discussions seem to take the place of a running commentary in their quality and information (though somewhat shorter in length).



    Please don't be upset if I repeat some of what I shared above in my official review [​IMG]

    dave [​IMG]
     
  14. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    David,

    I saw this projected at the Egyptian Theater in LA last October and would thinks that I would remember the "stretching" had it been in effect. They're so picky there that someone -- a projectionist or someone else -- would have mentioned it because people would have complained.

    Has anyone contacted Buena Vista/Miramax yet about this? Disney's usually pretty good about fixing disc errors.
     
  15. RyanM

    RyanM Agent

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    I was at the Los Angeles premiere (10/18/02) at the Egyptian as well, and the stretching is normal and part of the film as it was presented in the theater.

    Ryan
     
  16. Mark Cappelletty

    Mark Cappelletty Cinematographer

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    Ryan,

    I don't remember the stretching at all, but it was a year ago and could be mistaken. It seems like a weird effect, particularly as the image looks normal only when you put your player in 16x9 mode on a 4x3 player.

    Hopefully we'll get some clarification from Qatsi.org or in other reviews.
     
  17. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    I spoke to my brother who has seen it a number of times in the theater and he also states that the "stretching" was part of the original theatrical presentation.
     
  18. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    Since some people say there isn't a problem, might I suggest changing the title of this thread to something less dramatic like " Is there a problem with the Naqoyqatsi transfer?" so as not to alarm people until (if) we get confirmation.
     
  19. JimmyK

    JimmyK Second Unit

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    I saw this in the theater some time ago and don't remember seeing any stretching. However, it's very possible that there was and I just don't remember it.

    I would like to know if there is or is not a problem before I purchase this title. Hopefully someone here will be able to get an answer for us.

    JimmyK
     
  20. RyanM

    RyanM Agent

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    I should also note that the stretching was noticable at a screening I attended this summer at the New Beverly cinema and can also be seen in the trailer, which you can download off of Apple's trailer site or view on the Koy/Pow discs. Goddfrey spoke after the LA premiere and addressed the stretching - albeit indirectly - by stating (and I paraphrase) that one of his aims in Naqoyqatsi was to take images we were familiar with (e.g. stock footage) and placed them in a new context through juxtaposition or distorting them so that they became unfamiliar. The latter tactic could include, but is not limited to, stretching the image.

    [edit]I've been flipping between aspect ratios and I personally prefer unstretching it [​IMG]. I'm not entirely convinced that the stretching was intentional and not a side-effect of converting it for theatrical presentation. Recall the cropping on Koyaanisqatsi for the widescreen version.

    Ryan
     

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