Why Does Libeled Lady on DVD Look 10x Worse Than The LD?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Paul_Scott, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    10 x may be a slight exaggeration, but its only slight.
    i finally got a gander at the dvd tonight and was shocked and disappointed at what i saw.
    not only was there significant damage to the elements (speckling, large speckling, prominent vertical scratches lasting several minutes at a clip, etc) but the transfer in general had a slightly processed look to it.
    or maybe it was just the fact that it was a generation or two away from the source which would explain the slightly pumped contrast, and blown out and lost detail.

    i own the LD, though i hadn't watched it in about 14 years, and i never remembered it looking like this.
    i pulled it out afterwards and fast forwarded to a couple sequences and, sure enough, there is a totally different print used for the LD transfer.
    apart from some minor speckling and scratches that occur very infrequently, the film on LD looks fantastic!
    a substantially better greyscale, and thus much better, finer details.
    and nowhere close to the damage seen on the dvd.
    the LD has a copyright date of 1991.
    anyone know why the same print/neg wasn't used for this dvd?

    in comparison to the ld, the dvd looks about a 1/2 step away from being an ok public domain job.


    Warner has done some amazing stuff, no doubt, but to say i'm disappointed in the job done here, to one of the best romantic comedies of the '30s (its one of my favorites of all time), would be an understatment.
    especially in light of seeing how decent the LD looks- in fact, i think the results would have been better if they had just used that transfer seeing as how all the fine detail on the dvd is obscured anyway, by what looks to be the dupey nature of the print.
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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  3. Michael Boyd

    Michael Boyd Second Unit

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    He says he pulled the LD out and watched it.

    The pics on DVDBeaver look okay to me.
     
  4. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    I have both the new DVD and the LD, and I can't agree with the viewpoint that the LD is better...I just did A/B comparisons of both.

    The DVD is far better, clearer, sharper & overall quite acceptable.

    Yes, there are moments of "speckles", especially at the beginning, but overall the presentation is just fine.

    Is it in the same league of perfection to near-perfection as most of Warner's other classics? No. But then again, since (according to Robert Harris in a related thread) the original negative is long gone, this might be the best WB could do without a hugely extensive (and very expensive)
    digital frame-by-frame clean-up. That would not have made financial sense to the studio. It's a TERRIFIC four-star
    (figuratively and literally) comedy, but it isn't that well-known, and from my viewpoint, we're lucky to have it on DVD at all.

    It's likely that the new DVD was transferred from the same surviving element that the LD was, but is now the victim of at least 14 years of subsequent wear in between (although this is just a supposition on my part, certainly not fact.)


    The screen captures on DVD BEAVER do look very good and are a good overall representation of what the DVD looks like.
     
  5. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    I do hate to keep pointing this out, but people's willingness to forgive WB for a transfer like this, because of the elements, and their continual dumping on Columbia for Twentieth Century and other catalog films that have somewhat problematic transfers (as well as Universal for the Marx Bros. set), also because of the elements, is endlessly amusing.

    That said, I'm enjoying but not loving this set. I watched Bringing Up Baby, a film I've never been in love with, and thought the transfer merely okay. Libeled Lady is merely okay, for the reasons stated, so I'm not shoveling any blame Warners way, just as I won't shovel blame at Columbia for their lost negs and Universal for theirs.
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  7. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

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    What people? Do you really need to ask that question? I think not. Just go back to the Twentieth Century thread, and several other Columbia threads about various transfers. You think I'm making this up? You think you haven't heard me say this before whenever people have done this? What people?

    Mr. Crawford, I do believe you're trying to give me the Gaslight treatment.

    I also believe you enjoy coming after me at every opportunity. It's predictable as rainwater.
     
  8. Brian PB

    Brian PB Supporting Actor

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    The Laser Examiner has posted a lengthy article on the WB "Classic Comedies Collection". Although it doesn't compare the Libeled Lady DVD with its laserdisc incarnation, it judges the DVD video transfer to be the second best (after The Philadelphia Story) in the collection.

    [The article is the first of five parts on WB's recent classic releases, and is essential reading.]
     
  9. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I think people should forgive both Warner and the other studios. Universal's remasters of the Marx Bros. films are fantastic. Columbia's Twentieth Century DVD looks great, from how DVD Beaver's screenshots look.

    The truth is, most people have no idea why a 1932 film doesn't look like Gladiator or Spider-Man 2 on DVD. People don't understand how negatives are lost, how film elements are overprinted, or even how restoration works. Some people automatically think a movie hasn't been restored just because it has damage or flaws on it. I've read some reviews of Universal's "Duck Soup" remaster, which claimed it was totally unrestored. Of course, they don't know that Universal had a new restoration negative made and that a lot of digital restoration was probably applied to the digital master used for the DVD.

    It's like when the My Fair Lady SE was criticized for having some white specks on the print (embedded dirt on the negative). This has to drive the restoration experts crazy... they spend months restoring a film, only to have it criticized for tiny details like that!
     
  10. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    I think you're exaggerating a bit Arthur. I know that we jousted a bit in the Marx thread, but a vast majority of the complaints in that thread (mine included) were due to the complete lack of effort in adding extras to a set of films that are one of the anchors of Universal's library. I would've gladly bought that set if a decent documentary or a few commentary tracks were included. I wasn't about to pay $50 to upgrade from my Image discs for a minimal amount of picture improvement.
     
  11. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    This is a comment I respectfully disagree with. The Uni Marx set looks only a SLIGHT bit better than the Image releases, was relatively higher priced than one would expect from Universal, especially given their "fire sale" pricing on Abbott & Costello, Francis, Monster Legacy, etc.

    They could have taken the time to give more care to their Marx. Bros films, but chose not to. They rushed them out after seeing how successful WB was with their Marx films, and the slipshod effort shows.

    They should have waited, searched worldwide archives, and then done the best they could with the best of what was available. But they didn't care.....

    Warner cares....and I always trust that they try harder than any other video label (even Criterion) to deliver amazing releases.
     
  12. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Gosh, I just watched this movie last night. It's amazing! I was absolutely thrilled with the picture quality.

    I see some scratches. But what I really see is clarity, definition, detail, contrast! All my guests were just stunned at its quality.

    And the audio is unbelievable. I don't know where they came up with that version of the audio, because it literally sounds like it was recorded yesterday.

    And the movie is good too! Hilarious, really an unknown to me, until last night.
     
  13. LaurenceGarvey

    LaurenceGarvey Second Unit

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    There is a BIG difference between criticizing Warners -- which has done a TERRIFIC job with getting out its classic catalog -- and Universal, which has not. There are always going to be people who gripe about most of whatever they see and not appreciate what they have, but Warners doesn't deserve that griping. I agree with Mr. Rollins' post in particular.

    The Universal Marx Bros. set, coming on the heels of the Warner set, was an embarrassment and a rip-off. Frankly, if more films of the 1930s and '40s were released on DVD and looked like LIBELED LADY, it would be okay with me.
     
  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I have challenge your comments because you like to paint with a wide brush by implying that everybody is picking on poor Columbia and Universal which is why I wanted you to define "people". Every studio has their fans and critics on this forum. Some of them have responded in this very thread, but they don't represent everybody except to voice their personal opinion.

    What perceptions individual members might have of a particular studio are unavoidable, since those perceptions are based subjectively through our acceptance or non-acceptance of their products. Furthermore, how dvds look or sound pleasing on my HT system might not be the same on another member's system due to different equipment, room environment, eyes, ears and any other personal baggage. Case in point, those that think the Marx Brothers set was only marginal better than the Image releases. Personally, I would say they're more than marginal, but that's me.

    As far as your comment that I enjoy going after you. I have better things to do in my life than to participate in such perverse behavior. My problem with some of your comments is how you state them. There are ways to express one's opinion without being condescending to other members.





    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    [​IMG] i don't know what to say.
    i can't believe we are watching the same material.

    look, i realize Warner has done tremendous work.
    i rarely have more than a mild nit-pick (which is voiced more for discussion than anything else- the KK discussion is about another subject entirely), but i really think someone blew it here.

    i'm not going to get very far without screencaps, i'll try to find a way to get some up this week.
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    It doesn't really matter, if most of us are satisfied with the dvd. People are going to judge this dvd release on their own accord.





    Crawdaddy
     
  17. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    Well, it's possible that they had the best possible elements. Also, it looks like the best elements ended up at Universal or UCLA's Film & TV Archive (in terms of the 1929-1948 Paramount features). UCLA doesn't list anything for the Marx Bros. films. We're talking about the pre-1948 Paramount catalog, which in general hasn't been taken care of. Remember that the Region 2 DVD's are exactly the same, so it's likely Universal Europe has to work with the same elements. I'd like to know if Universal really does have better materials to work with, though.

    Just from observation, Duck Soup and Horse Feathers look a lot like dupe negative origin. Monkey Business and some parts of The Cocoanuts look like fine-grain positive origin The fact that The Cocoanuts has a blend of what seems to be fine-grain positive, dupe negative, and 16mm origin, leads me to believe that a little bit of work was put into making the film look as good as it could.

    If there's any indication of how the Paramount films owned by Universal survive as, UCLA lists some restorations....

    Double Indemnity (1944) was preserved from a nitrate fine-grain positive.

    Cleopatra (1934) was preserved from Cecil B. DeMille's own nitrate print.

    The Sign of the Cross (1932) was preserved from DeMille's personal nitrate print.

    The Wild Party (1929) was preserved from a nitrate print.

    The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) was preserved from the nitrate camera negative.

    Union Pacific (1939) was restored from DeMille's personal nitrate print.


    So, I think it's safe to assume that Universal has to rely mainly on surviving fine-grains and prints for the Paramount films.
     
  18. Kain_C

    Kain_C Screenwriter

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    So you are saying that screencaps are not necessary if a majority (which may be debatable) of people like the DVD? What about the people who haven't decided on buying the disc?
     
  19. Andrew Budgell

    Andrew Budgell Screenwriter

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    Yeah, I agree. I'm sorry Robert, but you just come across to me as a complete snob. You are the only fault with this forum in my opinion. I don't want to be using my wide paintbrush by saying this though so I'll speak for myself.

    Andy
     
  20. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Universal Marx Bros set - MSRP $59.98
    Warner Marx Bros set - MSRP $59.92

    The only legit complaint is the lack of bonus material. But for anyone who didn't have the Image releases of the early films, the Universal Box set was no where close to a "rip off".

    In the end, I got 12 Marx Bros film for $85-90. That, my friends, is me ripping off Universal and Warner, IMO.

    Arthur is right - Warner has become so chic, so infallible, that even when Universal releases a very nice and admirable Box set like the Marx Bros set - which could never have the films looking as good as the Warner films due to the way they were handled over 70 years - it's lynching time for Universal by unfair comparison.

    Anyway - Libeled Lady on DVD looks to be a very nice transfer per the condition of the film. I look forward to seeing it.
     

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