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Universal Releases: Anamorphoric Vertigo, Birds etc. coming 9/2???

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul Drake, May 22, 2003.

  1. Paul Drake

    Paul Drake Stunt Coordinator

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    In reading yesterday's update on the Digital Bits, it made reference to a 9/2 release schedule from Universal which included: Vertigo, The Birds, Psycho, and Rear Window.

    Since all of these are still currently in print, I'm curious if these are improved by being anamorphic.

    Does anybody know, or is this nothing to be excited about??


    The digital bits - Universal September slate
     
  2. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    Sorry to burst bubbles, but I think those are just repricings. I'd love to be wrong, though.... an anamorphic VERTIGO (my all-time favorite film) would make me dizzy with joy!
     
  3. greg_t

    greg_t Screenwriter

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    Yes, the article states that some are repricings. Rear Window is aleady anamaphoric by the way.
     
  4. Paul Drake

    Paul Drake Stunt Coordinator

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    Drat! I completely missed the comment regarding repricings.

    This is still good news though. I always thought the Hitchcock Universals were priced a tad on the high side.

    Thanks for the clarifcation.
     
  5. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I've wanted Vertigo for a while, but couldn't justify the pricing. (Even if it was anamorphic)

    Looks like I'll be adding some of Sir Alfred's best to my DVD collection soon. I definately want Vertigo and Rear Window. (So what if Vertigo is non-16x9? It's a great transfer. If I have to re-buy it when I have a wide TV, so be it. If I can afford a 16x9 TV, I can afford rebuying a 16x9 re-do.)
     
  6. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    I've been waiting on/hoping for 16x9 as well for those disks that are not (like Vertigo, Birds, Psycho).

    FYI: North by NW is, along with Rear Window, 16x9. Any others out there?

    Dan
     
  7. Chad Gregory

    Chad Gregory Supporting Actor

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  8. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    I'm fairly certain The Birds is anamorphic, Dan, so there may be some good news there for ya'. (Update: while I was writing this Chad posted, so I'm sure this is right).

    As to Vertigo and Psycho, despite all of the praise for their transfers (and I own Vertigo on laser, as well, where it also looks fantastic), they are non-anamorphic, and I've long hoped for an anamorphic reissue of both. I know Robert Harris has commented here and elsewhere in the past that he can't justify asking the studio to go to the expense of remastering these films (particularly Vertigo) when the existing masters were already accomplished from high definition sources themselves made from 65mm* restoration elements of the film (please correct me if my memory's faulty, Mr. Harris), but ... I remain confused (I've read discussions on this on a number of HTF threads over the last couple of years, and on other websites as well).

    This in part ties in with my disappointment over the Columbia/TriStar laserdisc of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, a picture which I now understand to be in the hands of Warner Bros. (is this right?). I trust and pray WB will be mastering their eventual DVD of this title from 65mm picture elements, as is proper to the Super Panavision 70 production, rather than reduction 35mm elements (as was the laserdisc). Aside from a slight aspect ratio change, you simply lose a great deal in going the latter route. The superlative (at the time, though it no longer holds up in the world of DVD) laserdisc reissue of Oklahoma!, which to my understanding was made from proper 65mm Todd-AO elements, was one of the best looking lasers I'd seen when it was released (it’s possible they reduction printed it for the transfer, but I believe the buzz at the time was that it was from true 65mm picture elements, and of course much was also made of its 30 fps origins, as per the original Todd AO spec; anyone know if that transfer was, indeed, derived from 65mm?). The jump to a larger physical film source (Oklahoma! was shot in two different formats, Todd AO and CinemaScope, and was therefore, I presume, never reduction printed for theatrical exhibition?) resulted in a remarkable jump in film quality. And while lasers, in their day, could nicely suggest a theatrical experience, Hamlet could not. I saw that film in 70mm, and the laser was an unsatisfying and unconvincing imitation of that experience.

    But back to DVD ... to my understanding, Vertigo is only one corner of this issue. With Lawrence of Arabia, another restoration project of Mr. Harris', the color correction was off on the DVD, and thus, though anamorphic, it remains problematic (it was also mastered, I presume, from 35mm reduction elements). It looks quite good, at least to me (I've never seen it theatrically), but it does not look as it should. On My Fair Lady, which is also anamorphic, 35mm reduction elements were used (by necessity) for the transfer, so, again though anamorphic, it too should improve if remastered from large format elements, just as the large format elements of Vertigo already used for DVD would be better represented by anamorphic encoding. Bringing the two worlds together -- large format film elements and anamorphic DVD encoding -- should yield something quite stunning. One must simply find the money and the market, and I certainly hope the latter is in place, because all of the films I've mentioned are among the finest ever made.

    To more specifically address anamorphic enhancement: such captures greater definition from the source element (after its film to video transfer) than does non-anamorphic encoding. Given that a film print (or other film element, even at 16mm, and certainly at larger gauges) contains a rather large level of practical definition that NTSC video cannot capture (note the talk of 2K and 4K film restorations in the Lowry chat, or the information concerning the restoration of Frank Capra's The Matinee Idol found on Columbia's disc of that film), it stands to reason any film will, indeed, see tangible definition improvements with new anamorphic transfers (some additional portion of that gap between film and NTSC resolution is bridged).

    Mastering technology, as Mr. Harris says in the thread linked below, is there to make this happen. Large format, anamorphic, dual DD and DTS soundtracks ... again, this isn't a rallying cry for ... oh, Re-Animator or such, but for some of the most well regarded films ever made, and well regarded throughout both the industry and the viewing public.

    Specific to Mr. Hitchcock, Psycho and Vertigo are two of his best known films. I was absolutely enthralled by the Vertigo restoration when I was fortunate enough to see it at a local theatre in 70mm, in full, glorious DTS. I can't begin to quantify the sublime pleasure that was my theatrical Vertigo experience -- Mr. Harris and his partner, James Katz, have my unequivocal congratulations. [​IMG] A DTS laserdisc of the film was later issued, along with a Dolby Digital laserdisc, but the current DVD is strictly Dolby Digital. Now, my sound equipment is only Pro-Logic at the moment, so the current sound format is enough for me (having DTS for the future would be welcome, however), but I have an anamorphic capable television, and even with detail issues aside, the NTSC scan lines visible in playing a non-anamorphic disc are typically much more noticeable than on a properly encoded anamorphic presentation. Such scan lines (or "horizontal line structure") are par for the course on 1.37:1 features (where one wouldn't want to sacrifice resolution by windowboxing the picture to avoid scan lines!), but anamorphically enhanced widescreen films truly look like films, not like video, and rival the best (which is to say, most pleasing) theatrical experience I can find locally for most features. I'd so very much love for both of these to look like films. [​IMG] I could buy a home video projector and then I'm sure the differences would be more minimal (confined strictly to resolution), but ....

    Well, to put the advances of DVD technology in perspective, one need only compare WB's transfer of Christopher Nolan's Insomnia (widescreen edition, of course) to the transfers of films under similar conditions (recently in theatres, a well financed production, same camera system and aspect ratio, etc.) made in the first years of DVD. Insomnia is breathtaking -- it looks better than it did in theatres, and while that sort of exclamatory statement has been popularized among DVD enthusiasts since the format's very inception, I can honestly say it is true in this case. Insomnia demonstrates just how much true brilliance there is in this format -- a transfer to rival print projection for all visible color and practical detail, a fantastic soundtrack, a re-edit of the film to play alongside a commentary (it's a "shooting continuity" commentary) ... DVD is remarkable. And seeing what can be done today strictly in the arena of picture and sound transfers from 35mm originated films ... I have to think a High Definition transfer from a restored 65mm element, carefully compressed and anamorphically encoded for DVD, could give me heart failure. Aesthetically speaking, of course. [​IMG]

    At any rate, count me among those hoping proper** anamorphic editions of these films are somewhere in DVD's future. They'd certainly have a customer in me, though I already own both pictures in their current DVD form.

    * 70mm printed (w/ soundtrack), 65mm negative (w/o soundtrack), to my understanding: any corrections welcomed, of course.

    ** Another region saw an anamorphic release of Vertigo a while back, on which Mr. Harris and others commented ...

    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...threadid=82751

    ... but it was problematic in many respects, including cropping of the image and a lack of real resolution gains (explained on the above thread and elsewhere).
     
  9. EricMa

    EricMa Extra

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    I too have been hoping for anamorphic versions of Vertigo and Psycho. Anamorphic transfers are a pre-requisite for me. There are plenty of DVDs that I can buy with anamorphic transfers that I will not have to rebuy when future anamorphic versions are released.

    But these two films are at the top of my wish list so it is hard for me to continue to hold out.
     
  10. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Add me to the endless list of folks who'd love a 16x9 Vertigo/Psycho. In the meantime Eric do what I did...buy them used. That way you're not giving money directly to the studio for a 4x3-encoded transfer and you're not spending as much anyway. I understand how Mr. Harris praises this transfer bcs it used the best available source elements (hi resolution) and equipment at the time it was produced...which precluded 16x9 encoding--however I would have preferred Universal delay the project a year or two so they could have provided the maximum resolution possible on SD-DVD with a 16x9 transfer that has those same qualities.

    But everyone missed one more title from that list over at the bits:

     
  11. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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  12. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    It's just that whereas many of the other discs have at least "passable" 4x3 WS transfers...Twins looks like a VHS tape that's been hanging around on a rental-store shelf for a few years. It's really pretty bad...and *only* mildly-passable on sub-27" 4x3 displays.

    So part of me hopes that maybe the fact that the title is gaining some visibility might indicate an inevitable new transfer.

    Hopefully some-day...
     
  13. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

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    I'm pretty confident that Vertigo will be one of Universal's first HD-DVDs, if that is of any consolation, folks! [​IMG]

    Stunning film.


    Gordy
     
  14. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  15. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Unless I'm wrong, the ability to transfer films from a 65mm source is both pricey and has a limited number of houses outfitted for it. At least that's what I remember being the explanation behind the 35mm transfer for 'Hamelt.'
     
  16. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Assuming high quality optics and methods are used for the reduction, it would be very difficult to detect a difference of a single generation reduction from 65mm to 35mm in a transfer at NTSC or PAL video resolution. Depending on the limitations of the 65mm capable telecine hardware available, it may be better to transfer from a 35mm element derived from an early generational source anyway.

    Also, for the record, Psycho & Vertigo are the only non-anamorphic Hitchcock films in R1. All others are either anamorphic widescreen or were originally 1.37:1 academey ratio and do not require it.

    With the lowered price, I may finally break down and get the Vertigo DVD to replace my laserdisc.

    Regards,
     
  17. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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  18. Craig Beam

    Craig Beam Screenwriter

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    VERTIGO and PSYCHO were among the very first DVDs I bought back when I got my first player back in '98. That was five years ago! The only updates these essential titles have seen are the cover redesigns (which are pretty hideous, IMHO).... Meanwhile, T2: JUDGMENT DAY is about to see its third release (after a pretty excellent second edition). VERTIGO is my favorite film, so I'm kinda partial to it... but anamorphic editions of these two films are LONG overdue. What's it gonna take? Petitions? Rioting in the street?
     
  19. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    Bill,
    That's way too much text for me to muster the enthusiasm to try a point by point response, so let me put it this way. If Sony re-did Lawrence of Arabia from a well produced 35mm optical reduction low-contrast transfer element and it was supervised by someone who knows the film inside and out such as Robert Harris and/or Anne Coates, it would blow away the current transfer from a 65mm source. If Sony produced a new disc with the same level of supervision from a 65mm source, the differences from the 35mm sourced one would be somewhere between subtle and imperceptible.

    Regards,
     
  20. Bill Burns

    Bill Burns Supporting Actor

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    Ken,

    Verbosity remains my undying curse. [​IMG] I'll edit it down to a couple of brief paragraphs that get at my point (I only have one):

    Robert Harris has said in previous threads that Universal did us all a favor by going to the expense of using 65mm elements in their first, non-anamorphic transfer of Vertigo, and that a lesser, anamorphic transfer from 35mm elements would have been a let down. You seem to be saying he's wrong (a proper 35mm transfer and a proper 65mm transfer, i.e. transfers using optics and equipment of similar quality, which would mean both non-anamorphic or both anamorphic, whichever the case, are on roughly equal footing). Based on 65mm element transfers I've seen {because of its AR* I assume you're right and Lawrence is 65mm, but it doesn't really look it; it looks like very good 35mm, lacking, as I believe Mr. Harris has stated, proper color correction), primarily on laserdisc (it doesn't make much sense that laserdisc technology could demonstrate an appreciable difference, but DVD technology cannot, our digital format being more, not less, precise), and based on the distinctive look between 70mm and 35mm in theatres (one I can only partially attribute to practical definition) ... I remain convinced that Mr. Harris is correct, and a transfer from 65mm elements can appreciably outclass one from 35mm in a film originated on the former. Now that the technology is there for 65mm anamorphic transfers (again something Mr. Harris stated on the thread I linked a couple of posts ago, a thread that is now nearly a year old), I throw my hat in the "let's have these anamorphic" arena, but with the caveat that Vertigo, and perhaps reissues of Lawrence and My Fair Lady, be produced from 65mm picture elements.

    If I've mischaracterized Robert Harris' statements, I invite correction. But this is what his posts seem to have said, and my experience as a consumer backs it up.

    Still rather long, I know, I know, but that's about as brief as I can make it without losing the essence of my point! Sorry. [​IMG] A writer without an editor is a dangerous animal ....

    * It should be noted, for those keeping track of Hamlet's status, that the correct ARs of Super Panavision 70 and Panavision reduction prints to 35mm are somewhat divergent: I believe the former is 2.2:1, the latter 2.35:1, or somewhere thereabouts.
     

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