Warner Compression Problems?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Patrick Mason, Mar 15, 2006.

  1. Patrick Mason

    Patrick Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    Warner has long been considered a leader in DVD for a reason, and their transfers nearly always first-rate. Yet I feel their transfers on their most recent new release and catalogue titles have been suffering from some rather severe compression artifacting.

    I have noticed it in these titles off the top of my head:
    Good Night, And Good Luck.
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
    Lust For Life
    Network: 2 Disc Special Edition
    North Country

    I have not heard anyone else discussing this rather distressing decline in quality, yet both my high definition television (with a progressive scan DVD player and component inputs) and my Macintosh computer can both clearly display this issue.

    Am I alone here?


    Patrick
     
  2. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    You're not the only one getting that impression! I've noticed some unusual compression artifacts on "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Corpse Bride". It's not shockingly bad and the masters are really good, but compared to discs from other studios it's noticeable. For instance, "Corpse Bride" was shot completely digital, but doesn't look as good on disc as its colleague "Wallace & Gromit", which was shot on film.

    I think this is an encoder problem, because both of these discs haver relatively high bitrates and still exhibit these artifacts. It may be just a technical problem, but maybe Warner is deliberately a bit sloppy with the compression so the future HD-releases look better...
     
  3. Patrick Mason

    Patrick Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    Well at least someone out there is seeing this. I have also seen those two films on disc and they seemed to exhibit the same problems.

    I hope your HD-DVD conspiracy theory isn't true, but it's along the lines of what I've been thinking as well...


    Patrick
     
  4. Joseph Bolus

    Joseph Bolus Cinematographer

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    I recently viewed my copy of the new Harry Potter DVD on my Infocus 4805 and can verify that the disc exhibited compression problems (especially during the first seven minutes). Again, it wasn't *terrible*, but it was noticeable. (It also seemed as though the contrast level wasn't consistent throughout the movie.)

    There is no doubt that a properly mastered HD version of the "Goblet of Fire" movie will blow this transfer away in a side-by-side comparsion, even on a relatively small 16:9 display.

    Warner better not be "dumbing-down" DVD transfers in order to make the HD versions look better or they could have a major consumer uprising on their hands!
     
  5. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    Maybe this is really "only" an encoder issue. It doesn't look as if anything has been filtered out, the compression isn't just as invisible as it should be. Maybe we just got too sensitive, because studios like Dreamworks got so much better with their compression technique.

    The Dreamworks Animation DVDs all look terrific, and they usually have bitrates not over 6 mbit/s and squeeze extras plus movie on one DVD-9 without problems. Corpse Bride at 77 minutes uses ca 4,2 GB with an average bitrate of 7.39 mbit/s (brutto, there are four soundtracks at 448 kbit/s in there, but it still should be enough). Wallace & Gromit has 84 Minutes, uses only 3.9 GB with an average bitrate of 6.29 mbit/s (with two 5.1-tracks at 448 kbit/s and three 2.0-tracks at 192 kbit/s) and looks like a superbit disc!

    I'm not pointing fingers at Warner, but other studios are just better with their compression. Does anyone know who does the Authoring for Warner? I haven't seen any logos from Deluxe or other firms on their discs.
     
  6. PatH

    PatH Second Unit

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    If any studio dumbs down standard dbd trasfers to push HD/Blu-Ray, how would you prove it?

    PatH
     
  7. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    I knew I shouldn't have written that... I'm not accusing Warner of "dumbing down" the dvd transfers, that was just an observation - I don't believe the compression problems are intentional. Maybe there are discs from other studios which have the same problems, but I've only noticed this on the recent Warner discs. It's entirely possible that this isn't studio-related at all, but a problem of a certain authoring facility.

    Compared to some other quality issues this is really peanuts. Try watching a Warner disc from 1997, with a 130-minute-movie compressed onto one layer :).
     
  8. PatH

    PatH Second Unit

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    Guido:

    I understood you weren't accusing them, but my question still stands. I don't think I'm a conspiracy nut, but the possibility you raised is valid, for any and every studio, if not now, then down the road.

    PatH
     
  9. Patrick Mason

    Patrick Mason Stunt Coordinator

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    The thing that bothers me here is that these compression issues have been so severe and consistent throughout their entire crop of recent releases. Any dark areas of the screen are constantly plagued by terrible pixelation.

    What's distressing is that this is from Warner's, who have been providing the most wonderful transfers for years without these problems. I would hate to see their fantastic upcoming slate of movies continue with these issues, yet I have not seen any reviewers pointing out the problem in these releases.

    I'm afraid the studio may not be aware of the issue, and it would be great if somehow an awareness could be raised of the problem so that it can be fixed in future releases.


    Patrick
     
  10. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    I just remembered where I've seen those compression artifacts before: on some Disney releases. I'm not actually a fan of Disney stuff, but I've noticed the same problems on "The Incredibles" and even some time ago on "Finding Nemo". I think it's the same macroblocking on some backgrounds and the pixelation in the dark areas, but then it could be unrelated. But it's not an entirely new phenomenon.
     
  11. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    I've viewed 1,2 and 5, and saw no problems on a 185" screen. They actually looked good.
     
  12. widescreenforever

    widescreenforever Stunt Coordinator

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    I was watching on DVD the other day, my new addition to my library of Charlie Chaplins' 'City Lights'*.., This is a you know 1931 B/W near talkie ( some audio),, YET the Bitrate was a constant 10 through the dvd..!
    No wonder it looked so good.. a ten.., can you image?

    (*Warner Bros release from 2004 )

    most of my other dvd releases are 5.8 to 7.9 bitrates thru out.
     
  13. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Second Unit

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    yet another reason why i'm cutting back on dvd purchases. i'm fed up with all this type of nonsense (i.e. new releases with problems).

    if this issue (which i was surprised to see on corpse bride) is not known by the studio, then this does not bode well for HD. well after all, if they can't get SD-DVD right ...
     
  14. Guido Bibra

    Guido Bibra Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think the R1 Chaplins from Warner are a good example, because these were transcoded to NTSC from PAL masters. But that wasn't exactly the fault of Warner, because they only licensed these movies from MK2 France and that company only provided the restored PAL masters. But we're losing the theme of the thread here :).

    Absolutely wonderful encodings on Warner R1 discs are the new SE of Blazing Saddles, all of the Ultra-Resolution-Restorations... well, nearly all of their discs except the very recent ones. I haven't look at anything newer than "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "Corpse Bride", but the new R1 Marple Boxset is on the way and I wonder how good the black-and-white photography will hold up.
     
  15. Ryan Wong

    Ryan Wong Stunt Coordinator

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    I too noticed some compression artifact on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But I just watched Harry Potter and GOF last night, no issue at all. I think the first 7 minutes is intended to look gainy, which I don't really fancy.

    How about Polar Express? I noticed some compression issue there.
     
  16. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

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    Sounds like a POSSIBLE decoding issue for some.
     
  17. dailW

    dailW Stunt Coordinator

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    watched good night on tues.and was disapointed with the transfer same with the new harry potter.they are making universal look good
     
  18. JiM T

    JiM T Stunt Coordinator

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    The "HD-DVD conspiracy theory" is admittedly the first thing that shot through my mind upon reading the first post in this thread. I hope, hope, hope, it's not true, as WB has been my favorite for a few years now. But that said, due to the high res formats coming along, I've already made a personal decision to slow down a bit on standard DVD purchases, particularly of new titles. A few years ago, "Good Night and Good Luck" and "History of Violence" woould've been instant blind buys. Now, I can't seem to get myself to spend the money. HOWEVER, I won't be able to resist the upcoming John Ford sets in June, and really really hope that those films, above anything else, are not in any way compromised.
     
  19. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Producer

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    I wonder if it might be an encoder issue---they may have gotten in some new equipment that's causing this. I've noticed it primarily on discs that have 23 or 24 chapter stops (the new Miss Marples, Ten Little Indians being the most recent ones).
     
  20. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

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    Maybe the companies that Warner uses for compression don't have a lot of time to spend on quality control.
     

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