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The Price of Blu-ray Perfection


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12 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Richard King

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 02:57 PM

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I probably watched The Wizard of Oz two dozen times through my childhood. My father would notice in the TV Guide that it was scheduled for Friday night, and he’d organize a movie night with popcorn and candy, and come Friday, after dinner, we’d all sit down on the living room and wait for show time. The air would be full of anticipation. And even on my family’s 20in. tube TV, broadcast in low resolution, interrupted incessantly by commercials, the movie boasted a timeless magic. The Wizard of Oz has been a favorite of this cinephile ever since.

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So, how far should "repairing" old classic films go in the Blue Ray era?
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#2 OFFLINE   spartanstew

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 03:14 PM

Thus, we’ve come to a point at which high-definition video is offering something of a “cinephile’s dilemma.” Purists argue that, beyond restoring a film’s basic, original cleanliness, no digital alteration should occur in the restoration process. In other words, no wire removal. Keep the “original theatrical experience” intact and unmolested. More progressive film lovers—and I count myself in this group—argue on the hypothetical side of the film’s director: In the case of Oz, Victor Fleming would surely have wanted no hint of visible wires marring his visual effect, and so if he were alive and able to view the film with the benefit of today’s projection technology, and had today’s digital-manipulation tools at his disposal—yes, he would most certainly remove those wires.

In the case of the Wizard of Oz Blu-ray, the restoration team has removed the wires (and made other minor digital improvements) to preserve the “magic” of the special effect. And I applaud them.


I applaud them too. Give me the best image possible and remove any of the stuff we're not supposed to see.

I'm sure Directv can't wait to get their hands on your unit.

 
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#3 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 03:17 PM

Having seen Gone with the Wind and Lawrence of Arabia go through the restoration process to HD...I can only say - bring more on.

I believe these lengthen the legacy of the films and introduce them to new audiences.

These stellar classics looking nothing less than amazing after the restore - virtually like looking at a new film for the first time. I saw not one ounce of anything that removed and substance or content from the original (and yes, I saw both of these in their original formats a long time ago).

While I respect the purist views on films, I also recognize these same arguments crept out when color was first introduced into motion pictures.

The movies somehow survived.
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#4 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 03:38 PM

I have to say, I've never been as much of a purist as some of my colleagues. I mean, I'm not saying you should colorize Citizen Kane. But I think it's a reasonable question to ask, for example, if the filmmaker really included so much grain because he liked it or because he had no choice.

I think the best guide for restoration is, ask yourself what makes for the purest experience; what makes the experience you have while watching the film most like that of the original theatregoer. Perhaps some grain reduction is in order, since you are more sensitive to that sort of thing than the original theatregoer. Possibly you want some color cleanup, too.

However, I don't think special effects should be tampered with unless there's a pervasive reason. That ruins the charm of older films. I just rewatched the 1980's Clash of the Titans and while the effects were dated to say the least, they added to the charm of the film. The original cinematographer made extensive use of the "day-for-night" technique of shooting during the day with a closed aperature to simulate nighttime, though, and digital technology could have helped achieve that better while keeping with the cinematographer's presumed vision.
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#5 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 03:40 PM

However, I don't think special effects should be tampered with unless there's a pervasive reason. That ruins the charm of older films. I just rewatched the 1980's Clash of the Titans and while the effects were dated to say the least, they added to the charm of the film. The original cinematographer made extensive use of the "day-for-night" technique of shooting during the day with a closed aperature to simulate nighttime, though, and digital technology could have helped achieve that better while keeping with the cinematographer's presumed vision.

That's a great example - agree.

When those creatures start looking real....they've gone too far. :D

Kinda like the Godzilla movies. :lol:
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#6 OFFLINE   Mark Holtz

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 07:06 PM

You guys are forgetting one thing....

A cleaned up film without dirt or scratches COMPRESSES better. Both Blu-Rays and DVDs have the limitation of the disc media. However, the cable and DBS companies are trying to compress more content into limited bandwidth, and a "clean" film, without blemishes, helps in that effort.
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#7 OFFLINE   dpeters11

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 07:30 PM

I've seen some stunning blus, of movies that I never even considered to be candidates. I saw The General on Blu, and it was absolutely stunning. It still had glitches in the video, but very impressive considering it's from 1927.(not to mention one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a long time.) On the other side, I've seen movies where they overuse some of the tools, like DNR and make faces etc waxy. And that happens on newer movies too, Gladiator is one example.

I'm OK with removing wires, etc. things that were never meant to be seen. Some of the most egregious changes to me were by the original owner of the film, like Lucas and the original trilogy when he did the Special Editions.

I do agree on the special effects. I wouldn't want to see Ray Harryhausen's effects replaced or changed.

#8 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:55 PM

You guys are forgetting one thing....

A cleaned up film without dirt or scratches COMPRESSES better. Both Blu-Rays and DVDs have the limitation of the disc media. However, the cable and DBS companies are trying to compress more content into limited bandwidth, and a "clean" film, without blemishes, helps in that effort.

I don't see a 50GB storage capacity as a limitation in any way. Movies over 3 hours store just fine with nominal compression.
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#9 OFFLINE   elaclair

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:01 AM

Along those same lines, what about the re-done effects on ST:TOS? It's fun to watch some of the episodes and compare the original effects with the re-done ones, but the question will always be, SHOULD they have re-done them? The reasoning is sound....the technology just wasn't there when they were originally filmed, but what about the "emotional" part. You've changed it, it's no longer the original, it's something else now. For what CBS did, I think it looks great, and they give you option of still seeing the original, but with current technology, how much farther could they have gone...and at what point is it too far? New CGI planets to orbit? Mmm, no problem. Cleaned up phaser effects? Yeah, that works. Re-mastered and enhanced soundtrack? Nice. Re-CGI klingons to look like current Klingons....Um, now THAT might be too far...at least for me....but current technology says we CAN......

#10 OFFLINE   hdtvfan0001

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:07 AM

Along those same lines, what about the re-done effects on ST:TOS? It's fun to watch some of the episodes and compare the original effects with the re-done ones, but the question will always be, SHOULD they have re-done them? The reasoning is sound....the technology just wasn't there when they were originally filmed, but what about the "emotional" part. You've changed it, it's no longer the original, it's something else now. For what CBS did, I think it looks great, and they give you option of still seeing the original, but with current technology, how much farther could they have gone...and at what point is it too far? New CGI planets to orbit? Mmm, no problem. Cleaned up phaser effects? Yeah, that works. Re-mastered and enhanced soundtrack? Nice. Re-CGI klingons to look like current Klingons....Um, now THAT might be too far...at least for me....but current technology says we CAN......

In the case of Star Trek...what I read was that the original film was in such delicate and poor condition, a remastering job was almost a "must".

I regret to admit that I also forget sometimes just how old some of the original film/recordings are for various productions...and despite efforts to preserve original master copies...it doesn't always work out to perfection.
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#11 OFFLINE   paulman182

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:35 AM

I thought the new effects on ST:TOS were great. I wouldn't want to see the originals no longer available for those who prefer them, however.

I'm not 100% sold on removing wires from the Wizard of Oz. I don't think the presence or absence of flaws in the effects has any bearing on how much an audience would enjoy that movie.

#12 OFFLINE   Stuart Sweet

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 09:43 AM

In the case of Star Trek...what I read was that the original film was in such delicate and poor condition, a remastering job was almost a "must".

I regret to admit that I also forget sometimes just how old some of the original film/recordings are for various productions...and despite efforts to preserve original master copies...it doesn't always work out to perfection.


I think some of that was true and some of that was, they didn't have the time or budget to do the effects they wanted.
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#13 OFFLINE   lee635

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Posted 08 July 2010 - 05:44 PM

You all are focusing in on the small set of movies/shows where "the original intent" gets changed, i.e Star Trek TOS. And I agree with you on those flicks, for example, where the, then state-of-the-art special effects may look cheesy today - Let it be.

The thing is, there is a much larger set of movies/shows that would benefit greatly from some technolipstick. I am thinking of most of the old films on AMC/TCM, etc. Lots of the old westerns, detective movies, etc. There is nothing worse than the washed out soundtrack, slightly blurry and slightly off-color viewing of many older movies. These films weren't trying to make any great special effects advances, they were just a victim of the available technology at the time combined with a loss of fidelity due to age. I think all those flicks will be much more enjoyable with some cleaning up.
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