The new enemy of the HD Formats is Noise Reduction!

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Gary Murrell, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. Gary Murrell

    Gary Murrell Supporting Actor

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    I have been meaning to make a post here about this for a long while now, it seems my negative comments on films are not acceptable any longer at my previous long time hang-out. [​IMG]

    We have a serious knew problem with the fabulous HD/BD formats that if not corrected will utterly kill the format with film lovers like us, that problem is the regular attempts at moving film grain from these otherwise fine releases.

    Film grain is a natural part of the image and is only visible now (versus DVD) due to the higher frequency details and resolution of HD/BD formats. You will notice in my reviews that I always mention whether or not the film I am reviewing has been trashed with noise reduction, this is very important because when NR has been applied to a release we are robbed of all life and detail that is present in films at this high of a resolution.

    I have to be blunt and honest here, the only reason this is occuring is to please all these morons that think grain is bad and some fanboy console gamers so they won't complain that everything doesn't look like Shrek!

    The worst case example of this horrid practise is Face/Off on HD-DVD, absolutely and utterly hammered with NR, NR is easily spotted by looking for slight smearing and ghosting, here is a long thread on AVS discussing this problem with this release and how in general Paramount has ruined nearly every release so far.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=933107

    Some other titles that are totally or partially ruined with NR are:

    Complete Jack Ryan set HD [​IMG]
    Top Gun HD
    Face/Off HD
    Black Rain HD
    Untouchables (bad!!!) HD
    First Blood BD
    Italian Job HD
    Dawn of the Dead BD
    Tremors HD

    here is another more complete list in this thread:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=937873

    a example of NR is this great screenhot, look at Fred Ward's face from Tremors:

    http://www.cif-forums.com/png/tremors_1.png

    to make matters worse, our old buddy from DVD is back and that is false EE or edge enhancement, this is usually always done to NR'd transfers in a attempt to bring back some detail that is totally smudged away via the NR process, in the end you are left with a nasty image, Face/Off on HD-DVD is a prime example of this tragedy

    people need to push studios for better PQ than this crap we are being given, please stop this NR/EE madness, this means you Paramount

    -Gary
     
  2. Harpozep

    Harpozep Stunt Coordinator

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    True enough there. Sigh.........
    The only up side is that the result still looks better than what is broadcast on my Comcast HD cable. Lots of same color critter movement, burnt highlights and edge highlights. Sony LCOS 60" so I have many adjustments and still HD cable typically looks terrible.
    I have the Untouchables on HD and have yet to view it. Now I'll look at it with this NR post in mind.
     
  3. captainjoe

    captainjoe Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree 100%. This is a major problem that studios need to quit doing. The Last Starfighter is absolutely terrible with DNR. I hope this doesn't become worse with every title utilizing this. There is only one studio that is consistent with not using EE or DNR on new titles and that is Warner. Classy transfer all the way with a few exceptions on some very early releases.
     
  4. Gary Murrell

    Gary Murrell Supporting Actor

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    Warner is the best, bar none, always have been in regards from everything to masters to preservation and DVD, HD-DVD etc. they know how to get things done right [​IMG]

    Sony is very very good as well, I would rate them second to Warner so far in everything HD wise, just my opinion of course [​IMG], their BD50/avc/pcm/truehd releases from the past 6 to 9 months have been astounding

    Paramount started out wonderfully also, Tomb Raider is splendid, as is Sahara and Sleepy Hollow, Italian Job has master issues because it looked the same on Showtime HD as it did on the HD/BD releases

    that is one thing to consider here, the master houses could be doing this and could be to blame, not the studios

    only insiders can give us a idea as to where the blame is

    -Gary
     
  5. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Eesh, so it looks like NR is the new EE. Great. I don't own any of the listed titles (as a BD only owner right now there's only a couple listed) but I sure hope they right the ship, no matter which format wins. I had high hopes that this HD format would finally put an end to silly digital "enhancements" that do nothing but detract from the actual picture quality.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    DNR isn't a new problem, but it's certainly more obvious with hi-def releases. Even with SD DVD, there were certain releases where you could tell there'd been way too much noise reduction.

    One that immediately springs to mind is the Anchor Bay version of Bad Boys (the early Sean Penn film), which was much anticipated because the previous release had been significantly shortened. It was great to see the restored portions, but the entire image looked flat, shiny and artificial -- completely wrong for a prison movie. But someone had obviously tried to clean it up for the video generation.

    M.
     
  7. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    I was hoping that after the now famous faux-pas in the Bernstein scene in Warner's SD DVD of Citizen Kane that the studios would have started backing off on DNR. In SD DVD, EE practically nauseates me, but DNR in HD is now starting to scare me.

    But, Gary, exactly what are we looking at in the capture from Tremors (a film I don't own and have only seen once)? Is it that Ward's face has no gloss or sheen and little highlights? Did they digitally remove part of his beard stubble? Is it possible he is shaded from the light by Kevin Bacon?
     
  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    There are hordes of philistines over at AVS complaining that HD discs don't all look like Discovery HD, perhaps this DNR is in response to them.
     
  9. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    Recalling some lectures n signal theory, noise is random, and therefore, resistant to compression. In the early days of DVD, it was a choice between running Noise reduction, and ending up with far more visible artifacts, such as blocky video. Running noise reduction results in a blurry image, so a sharpen filter was used--- resulting in ringing-- edge enhancement.

    So, is this done out of habit, or is 50GB still not enough?
     
  10. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    Look at his eyebrows.
     
  11. Gary Murrell

    Gary Murrell Supporting Actor

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    Bingo! we have a winner [​IMG]

    -Gary
     
  12. Dave H

    Dave H Producer

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    I think another part of the problem is some feel that HD movies should look as clean as video games. I've seen threads on other forums/Web sites of people stating this. I really wish these people would just turn on their noise reduction settings at "high" on their player and/or display instead of encouraging studios to do it.

    It's very, very unfortunate and I really think we need to push the studios to avoid DNR. It's another battle we have just like the OAR and EE battles on SD DVD.
     
  13. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    On top of that, there are those calling for "full screen" releases in 16:9 so they don't have to cope with the "evil black bars".

    I think studios should include little blurbs on how to "enhance" the viewing experience for people looking for the "pristine hi-def video look" from 40 year old films shot in natural lighting. It could say "while the film grain in this movie is a normal byproduct of the technology of the time the film was made and, further, was often used by directors (even today) to create a mood and effect, it is possible you might find this effect unattractive. If so, we suggest turning on the "noise reduction" feature of your display to a setting that renders the image more to your liking."

    But, of course, this is a pipe dream. Ah well.
     
  14. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    Yes, and not all of them are over at AVS.

    What the hell is wrong with grain, anyway? Why the allergic reaction? As far as I'm concerned, grain has the same beautiful, textural effect, whether in SD or HD. When I see grain rendered in HD, I still see all the other benefits of HD working with and underneath the grain. It's not as if grain is destroying the inherent strength of high-def imaging.

    A lot of people have a long future of disappointment if seeing grain causes them to break out in hives. Many fantastic, even classic films, many of them fairly recent, have yet to be released in high-def...titles with a visual cornerstone of INTENTIONAL grain.

    And, so far as full-screen...I'll be damn if I haven't noticed an over all up-tick in the sale of full-screen titles, at least among casually noticed instances in the Amazon Top 100 list. Perhaps it was wishful thinking, but I thought that drivel was receding into a past concern.
     
  15. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    They are going to have a fit when they get to Aliens, probably one of the grainiest films of the last 30 years.

    Doug
     
  16. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Or nearly any Super 35 production with an abundance of night scenes. Another one that comes to mind for the grain-haters is Saving Private Ryan.
     
  17. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    Yes, 'Saving Private Ryan' is a fine example.

    They'll be doing their best Quazimodo, with hands pressed tightly over their ears, repeating, "The grain...the GRAIN!"
     
  18. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    With Super 35, Silverado comes to mind. One of the early Super 35 films. I remember reading about it in American Cinematographer. The DP talked about using a chemical process called silvering to try and help control the grain. I believe Top Gun also used this process.

    Doug
     
  19. Gary Murrell

    Gary Murrell Supporting Actor

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    yes Top Gun was always really grainy, however somehow the HD-DVD managed to not be, I wonder how that is [​IMG]

    that and Face/Off are the worst offenders so far

    -Gary
     
  20. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    Both Top Gun and Silverado were made before the introduction of T-grain films. T-grain really made the use of Super 35 acceptable to filmmakers in terms of sharpness and reduced grain, hence the move away from anamorphic lenses for the majority of 2.35:1 films.

    Personally given the choice I think I would still use anamorphic lenses to be able to use the whole academy negative area, unless I was doing lots of in camera effects.

    Doug
     

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