Superbits: reference for picture quality (I think not!)

Discussion in 'DVD' started by JohnKings, Oct 24, 2003.

  1. JohnKings

    JohnKings Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't mean to start a contraversy, but I have been looking at the transfers on some of the superbit titles and don't think they are as great as some people seem to think!

    I have reviewed the Fifth Element and Starship Troopers and do not believe they are the best live action transfers out there as many have suggested. Fifth Element is very good, but Starship troopers has alot of noise and grain which I believe was unintended (especially in the opening scene).

    That said Training Day and the Blade Series (I and II) offer better overall PQ IMHO. This is strange because I rarely see these titles suggested as reference quality PQ.

    In my mind they are the three best live action transfers from film I have ever seen. What do others think of the Superbit Transfers?
     
  2. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    Go here and scroll down to "Titles in the Spotlight." There are some comparisons of Superbits vs. their regular release counterparts including The Fifth Element. In the The Fifth Element comparison at the very bottom Bjoern addresses Starship Troopers and says it is Columbia Tristar's best transfer at the time it was written. It's interesting reading if you haven't seen it already.

    Training Day is one of the best tranfers I've seen on my system. It almost looks Hi-Def.

    DJ
     
  3. EdwardKarlinski

    EdwardKarlinski Stunt Coordinator

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    I looked at the comparisons on that page, and I saw no difference between the Superbit and the original for Fifth Element.
     
  4. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Yes there are definately non Superbit titles out there that look just as good or better than Superbit. Such as Trainig Day, LOTR FOTR, Star Wars AOTC and so on but to say Superbit titles are not as great as some people say, I would have to strongly disagree with that. I think that Starship Troopers and Vertical Limit are some of the best pictures I have EVER seen!
     
  5. James W. Johnson

    James W. Johnson Screenwriter

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    I am not impressed with the Fifth Element or Punch Drunk Love Superbit titles.


    Edit: That being said, I think they did a wonderful job with what they had to work with.
     
  6. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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  7. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    What gets me about the whole "Superbit" thing is that, IMHO, it is basically a money grab. Has anyone ever seen a widescreen version of Francis Ford Coppola's "Bram Stoker's Dracula" that was not superbit? I looked high and low for this film at every major retailer and only found the "standard version" (fullscreen) for sale until I saw the superbit in widescreen. Now, the fullscreen version was priced at $14.95. the superbit widescreen was selling for $22.95. This smells as if the studio is squeezing out 8 more bucks to those of us who won't buy fullscreen movies. I don't know, it just galled me.
     
  8. Jeff Adams

    Jeff Adams Screenwriter

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    Yeah, the $22.95 price tag for Superbit is ridiculous.
     
  9. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Supporting Actor

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    Bram Stokers Dracula has not had a fullscreen DVD release, as far as I know. I have the original DVD and it's 1.85:1 widescreen.
     
  10. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It really depends on the DVD and the film.

    Lawrence of Arabia's Superbit DVD looks amazing. If the edge enhancement was not applied to the HD master, it would be flawless. The color, detail, and print quality is superb.

    However, many of Columbia's DVD's have similar "extremely clear" quality. Off the top of my head, there's It Happened One Night, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Monty Python and the Holy Grail: SE, and And For Something Completely Diffferent.

    Despite the first two having problems with elements surviving and the last two being shot on cheap film stock...they are quite perfect in terms of compression (in my opinion, at least)

    There's a lot of DVD's out there that are reference quality, but people don't realize it!
     
  11. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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  13. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    It's a branding/marketing concept, but since the brand normally means something, I think it's a little better than most. I have heard from some folks wishing their films were released with more extras and others wishing that films would be released with no extras or extraneous non-OAR versions to maximize picture quality. The Superbit brand is a marketing concept targeted directly at the latter camp that allows CTHE to still appease the "extras! extras! extras!" and "foolscreen" camps with their non-Superbit branded releases.

    Other than finding it kind of silly that they portrayed it as a "technology" (show me the patents [​IMG]), I don't really have a problem with it. If you are not in the niche to which they are marketing or it varies by title (as it does for me), I still don't see anything negative about it.

    Regards,
     
  14. Brian L

    Brian L Cinematographer

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  15. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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  16. Gary Seven

    Gary Seven Grand Poo Pah

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    I most certainly saw the difference in some of those shots of the 5th element comparison. I do own the Superbit 5th element (they have them at costco for 19.99) and it is an excellent transfer. For me what shows off Superbit though is the transfer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Wow!

    I will buy Superbit if it's a title I want and don't have and it's on sale or at Costco.
     
  17. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    I think that the Superbit's of MASK OF ZORRO and STARSHIP TROOPERS are both noticably superior to the non-Superbit editions. But I do agree that I've seen non-Superbit releases that are just as good, if not better.

    I would love to see THE END OF THE AFFAIR released as a Superbit, because the existing release places both the anamorphic and full-screen versions on the same side of the disc, and the widescreen transfer suffers as a result.
     
  18. Aaron Cohen

    Aaron Cohen Second Unit

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    I think what confuses people and makes them think Superbit is something ultra special are the stupid stickers on the boxes that say "PLAYS IN ALL DVD PLAYERS!" That seems to imply that something special is done.....HAHAHAHAHA! The people that think Superbit DVD is a separate format entirely from DVD's that are not Superbit are the same ones that think THX is an entirely different and superior alternative audio track to Dolby Digital and DTS..... I was recently told that my DA4ES reciever was a waste of money because it "Did not DO" THX sound. [​IMG]
     
  19. Cliff Olson

    Cliff Olson Stunt Coordinator

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  20. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    I'd never seen the site before, but David's link earlier offers one of the best and most extensive treatments of EE I've ever seen (probably the best). The disc comparisons are also great, and very revealing (I knew, almost subconciously, that I was enjoying an improved picture on The Patriot when I bought the Superbit, but the clarifying screen grabs here pin down the precise nature of the improvements, which are considerable in some cases; Crouching Tiger's improvements were even more obvious, to me, when I first watched the Superbit, but that title isn't compared on the site), but the site's EE page is its coup de grace. If anyone still questions why EE is never something to shrug away, but a point of very valid contention and a problem that should always be noted, and in some cases emphasized, here's a direct link to the relevant page, with many screenshot samples:

    http://www.videophile.info/Guide_EE/Page_01.htm

    I have to disagree with the writer, though, that Braveheart is a good example of little to no EE. The screenshots he provides, oddly, show no strong contrast gradiants (all of the heads are framed against black, essentially), and so naturally no EE can be seen. But in looking at brighter scenes and brighter sections of shots (a fine example would be the trunks of trees in the background early in the film, when the young William Wallace is trailing alongside his dad, who's on horseback -- the distant tree trunks are framed against brighter backgrounds, and EE is very much evident to my eye), the title proves problematic.

    Still, that page offers a concise and effective (typos aside) rundown of the problem itself. I'm not entirely clear why EE visible along verticle lines is referred to as horizontal EE, and "horizontal" EE (halos along horizontal lines) are in fact vertical EE ... that's all a bit puzzling, and the page doesn't really clear that up. But otherwise, I found it very useful as a reference. Many thanks to David for linking the comparisons page earlier.
     

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