The Digital Bits: grain is not a defect on the disc! - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 02:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Bill Hunt has written a great editorial on the issue of film grain, consumer expectations, and the way forward. The whole article is worth a read, but here is a summary:

People new to Blu-ray have been complaining to thedigitalbits of picture "noise" on catalog films on Blu-ray. What they are seeing is actually film grain. Having never seen older films in a theater, they don't realize that. Film is shot on photochemical stock, so a film frame is comprised of tiny silver particles, and that is not a defect on the disc. However, many people expect older films to look as clean as modern ones.

This is probably going to be the main point enthusiasts and studios must explain to consumers. Currently, in response to feedback, studios are often applying excessive digital noise reduction to catalog films (and sometimes new releases) to remove grain, or refraining from releasing them altogether.

The final paragraph sums it up very eloquently:
Quote:


This isn't just a Blu-ray issue, it's going to affect ALL high-definition presentations of older films, if we allow it to. Film enthusiasts (and those at the studios who actually CARE about and respect the integrity of older films) need to really start educating people on this subject - new Blu-ray consumers, friends and family, fellow studio employees. FILM IS SUPPOSED TO LOOK LIKE FILM. Older titles on Blu-ray are NOT supposed to look perfect, as if they were shot today on video! The Blu-ray presentation should replicate, as closely as possible, the best original theatrical experience of the film. THAT'S the goal. I'll tell you right now, this is an important issue, just as anamorphic enhancement and presenting films in their original aspect ratios on DVD were before it. As we did with those issues, you better believe it's something the staff here at The Digital Bits will take up as a crusade with the Hollywood studios if it becomes necessary. So you studio folks... let's just say that you'd better get this one right, or you'll definitely be hearing about it from us in the months ahead (and, we suspect, from many others as well).

http://www.thedigitalbits.com/#mytwocents

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post #2 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 02:57 AM
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As someone who doesn't hate grain I hope Bill can get the studios to listen.

Grain isn't bad. It's the removal of detail from using noise reduction that's bad.

You watch a Donnie Yen movie to watch what Donnie does best - kick-ass!
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post #3 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:00 AM
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Hey Grubert let them know about that article

Lots of people observed including so called review sites Pan's Labyrinth US version PQ is superb. Film grain from movies are still viewed as a defect by the majority of the HD buying demographic and using DNR and EE are an acceptable practice. Including some ****** from higher up trying to justify these "enhancements" and that is an acceptable practice(sic).
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post #4 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xylon View Post

Hey Grubert let them know about that article

'Them' were actually the first to post the article.

Quote:


Lots of people observed including so called review sites Pan's Labyrinth US version PQ is superb. Film grain from movies are still viewed as a defect by the majority of the HD buying demographic and using DNR and EE are an acceptable practice. Including some ****** from higher up trying to justify these "enhancements" and that is an acceptable practice(sic).

Just days ago I watched Weinstein's Harsh Times on HD DVD. That is a low-budget movie, shot on Super 16. It's grainy as hell, as it should be. And the studio had the integrity not to touch it.

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post #5 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:11 AM
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joe 6 pac will consider it a defect if he bought a 30 dollar blu ray movie expecting awesome results and sees grain he is gonna get pissed....
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post #6 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jocktheglide View Post

joe 6 pac will consider it a defect if he bought a 30 dollar blu ray movie expecting awesome results and sees grain he is gonna get pissed....

If you buy a $15 Billie Holiday CD, do you expect Madonna sound production?

My CD of Miles Davis's Kind of Blue has tape hiss! Heresy!

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post #7 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post

If you buy a $15 Billie Holiday CD, do you expect Madonna sound production?

its posted as 1080P, true HD (in gold mine you), 24 frames per second touted from best buy guy, etc....and he sees grain well he wont settle for it....

If billie holiday said on the cover, "Madonna sound production" you bet damn well he is gonna expect it
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post #8 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:19 AM
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J6P says:

Quote:


I just want to grain to be removed because people aren't made from grain in real life, we don't look like wax dolls.


Blu-ray : 340
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post #9 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by lgans316 View Post

J6P says:

porn????
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post #10 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:


I just want to grain to be removed because people aren't made from grain in real life

People in real life aren't in B&W either, so all movies should be colorized for Blu-ray.

/sarcasm

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post #11 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post

'Them' were actually the first to post the article.



True. But very, very few reads. Practically no one is interested. Since you are a moderator there put it on sticky in the movie section.
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post #12 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 03:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post

Just days ago I watched Weinstein's Harsh Times on HD DVD. That is a low-budget movie, shot on Super 16. It's grainy as hell, as it should be. And the studio had the integrity not to touch it.

Unfortunately not consistent across the board.

Just watched The Golden Compass on my Epson 1080p 120", some of the close ups are lacking in detail. I will watch this again tomorrow on my Dell 24" to make a PQ evaluation and a review (and hopefully another PIX thread - Maxpower requested a pix so . . . . .)
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post #13 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 04:34 AM
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To me the only solution that will work is to have a post processing realtime chipset set to default on, on all Blu-ray players. And all the discs untouched as DNR and grain reduction goes.

That way the majority of the public won't ever have to subject themselves to the "horror" of grain, and get that HD "punch" on everything and we enthusiasts in the know can just turn off that post processing for the pure viewing experience.
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post #14 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 05:01 AM
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Is there somewhere that I could be educated on how a digital encode can be done to keep the "appropriate" amount of grain? Since film grain is a physical element of the film itself, and the digital encode is a digital representation of the image, then how is the encoder sure about how much grain should be evident?

I have been a movie enthusiast for over 30 years, and in the theater, unless it's a stylistic choice, I never notice grain to the level that I do on some HD media. I'm not one for asking for grain removal, and I do not like NR and EE at all (thought Face/Off on HD DVD was virtually unwatchable), but I'd like more understanding on why grain almost seems enhanced on some HD media compared to film presentation.

I'd like to know if the sharp digital representation of grain in HD movies actually more obtrusive than the analog representation of natural grain on film? Seems that way to me at times. (And don't call me J6P and treat my comments with derision, please. This is a serious question/discussion point to me.) Any info that could enlighten would be appreciated.
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post #15 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 05:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zBuff View Post

To me the only solution that will work is to have a post processing realtime chipset set to default on, on all Blu-ray players. And all the discs untouched as DNR and grain reduction goes.

That way the majority of the public won't ever have to subject themselves to the "horror" of grain, and get that HD "punch" on everything and we enthusiasts in the know can just turn off that post processing for the pure viewing experience.

You, sir, are a genius.
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post #16 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 05:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpco View Post

Is there somewhere that I could be educated on how a digital encode can be done to keep the "appropriate" amount of grain? Since film grain is a physical element of the film itself, and the digital encode is a digital representation of the image, then how is the encoder sure about how much grain should be evident?

All the film encoder has is the master tapes. He doesn't have access to film stock samples or answer prints. Hence, if filtering occurs upstream (as part of the telecine process, for instance), he can't know if the picture has been filtered or not.

Quote:


I have been a movie enthusiast for over 30 years, and in the theater, unless it's a stylistic choice, I never notice grain to the level that I do on some HD media. I'm not one for asking for grain removal, and I do not like NR and EE at all (thought Face/Off on HD DVD was virtually unwatchable), but I'd like more understanding on why grain almost seems enhanced on some HD media compared to film presentation.

I can think of three reasons:

The picture on a home theater (whether on an LCD or plasma screen, or on a front projection screen) is usually brighter than on most movie theaters. This makes grain more visible.

Also, grain is a bitrate hog. If bitrate is insufficient, video noise can exacerbate the grain. That's another reason studios may be tempted to apply DNR: a smooth picture compresses much better than a grainy one.

Finally, sharpening can also make a picture harsher.

Quote:


I'd like to know if the sharp digital representation of grain in HD movies actually more obtrusive than the analog representation of natural grain on film? Seems that way to me at times. (And don't call me J6P and treat my comments with derision, please. This is a serious question/discussion point to me.) Any info that could enlighten would be appreciated.

That's a good question. But I've seen movies like The Thing on HD DVD and PotC Curse of the Black Pearl on BD and never did I find the grain unnatural.

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post #17 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:04 AM
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Sometimes I do wish technology of silver halide films had been better or had stood up to passage of time better, but this is moot. Otoh, I understand perfectly that our intention is to get near-archival quality versions that most closely matches the original master.

If the master is grainy, then I want the BD copy to look like the original.

Often it is not easy to tell if it was the original that was at fault or the transfer to digital that was done 'on the cheap'. I'm not talking about supervised expensive restoration work, but if the scanning equipment and intermediate formats are really adding more loss to what came from the original.
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post #18 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zBuff View Post

To me the only solution that will work is to have a post processing realtime chipset set to default on, on all Blu-ray players. And all the discs untouched as DNR and grain reduction goes.

That way the majority of the public won't ever have to subject themselves to the "horror" of grain, and get that HD "punch" on everything and we enthusiasts in the know can just turn off that post processing for the pure viewing experience.

That's a very good suggestion, akin to boosted contrast to sell TVs. We all know how to dial that down.

Going one step further, the encoder could do an analsyis of the grain, and store a metadata in the header of the movie that tells the player what level of noise reduction it should apply, and possibly the algorithm if there are multiple choices. Heck, such metadata can even be spread in the movie, should some chapter or section be worse.

The above would avoid softening the image, if there is little to no noise present. Otherwise, J6P may complain that the image is too soft. Given the uphill battle to sell against DVD, we don't want to lose any advantage the format has on resolution front.

As to Hunt's initiative here, it is appreciated of course, but one wonders if he is trying more to defend the BD format rather than artistic intentions. He is probably genuine but given the history, one would wonder if film scratches were the issue, he would write that they should be in there too, because "that is film."

Talking about scratches, lot of old film stock also suffers from other artifacts. As such, movies of interest need to be cleaned up regardless.

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post #19 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:37 AM
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I don't think J6P is the one who buys older movies.

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post #20 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutgar View Post

I don't think J6P is the one who buys older movies.

You don't think Jane 6 Pack will buy Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Love Story or E.T. when they become available and/if Blu goes mainstream?

The SD DVD of Rio Bravo is on the end cap at my neighborhood grocrey store.
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post #21 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

As to Hunt's initiative here, it is appreciated of course, but one wonders if he is trying more to defend the BD format rather than artistic intentions. He is probably genuine but given the history, one would wonder if film scratches were the issue, he would write that they should be in there too, because "that is film."



Some people have obvioius problems to let go. But anyway...

If it's any consolation, the grain in the night scenes in Transformers looked very natural. And it sold a lot of HD DVDs despite the grain.

Quote:


Talking about scratches, lot of old film stock also suffers from other artifacts. As such, movies of interest need to be cleaned up regardless.

You're talking about movie preservation and restoration there. Not the same thing at all. If for example an old movie where the negative for a scene has been lost and you only have elements that are generations away from the original, then you can decrease the grain of that sequence.

Case in point, the restoration Robert A. Harris has just done for The Godfather:

Quote:


In this case, occasional sharpening and noise reduction were necessary, largely to even out differences among the many elements Harris brought in to remedy problems. He explains, “We started scanning bits and pieces of separation masters, interpositive, CRI [Color Reversal Intermediate], internegative — anything from which we thought we could harvest what we thought was the finest image. One would be sharp but wouldn’t have the right color; another had the right color but was soft or damaged.”


http://www.ascmag.com/magazine_dynam...ocus/page1.php

That's a very interesting article on all the work they did.

Again: "The Blu-ray presentation should replicate, as closely as possible, the best original theatrical experience of the film. THAT'S the goal."

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post #22 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allargon View Post

You don't think Jane 6 Pack will buy Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, Love Story or E.T. when they become available and/if Blu goes mainstream?

No. I think the people that buy older movies on HDM are the same people that already have HDM. And I don't consider them in the J6P catagory. This 'Grain' issue is more a problem with people's inexperience with film, and how film works. Both on the consumer side, and the studio side.

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post #23 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zBuff View Post

To me the only solution that will work is to have a post processing realtime chipset set to default on, on all Blu-ray players. And all the discs untouched as DNR and grain reduction goes.

That way the majority of the public won't ever have to subject themselves to the "horror" of grain, and get that HD "punch" on everything and we enthusiasts in the know can just turn off that post processing for the pure viewing experience.

Great idea. I actually twinker with the DNR on my display (Most displays however don't have it) for some movies. Sometimes I prefer it on, but most of the time I like it off.

I first noticed this after watching the movie "War"at buddies house on his Panasonic 1080p projector then watching the same thing on mine an hour or so after to compare. I didn't get why 60" showed more grain than his 100" + projector. Sure enough DNR was off on my set and the default was on for his.
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post #24 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post

If it's any consolation, the grain in the night scenes in Transformers looked very natural. And it sold a lot of HD DVDs despite the grain.

I heard 300 had some pretty good sales too, wait, what, it's the highest selling HDM title, but it has tons of grain! Surely not...
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post #25 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:07 AM
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The ONLY way we will see this trend stopped is if we can get some name filmmakers involved. otherwise forget it. We will simply have noise reduced crap on BD and that will be that. GOLDEN COMPASS was soft. Numerous other films as well. Meanwhile people bitch and moan about PREDATOR and COMMANDO being noisy. Well, duh! They are grainy films!

Many of us will be forced to buy BD releases from overseas at greatly increased prices. If you want Pan's Labyrinth without heavy DVNR you can import it, but it will cost you.

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post #26 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:46 AM
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Oh, tons of filmmakers want to be able to preserve the grain. And the compressionists generally want to do it as well.

I still can't share the name, but a recent director of an Oscar-winning film mandated last month that ALL his films be encoded in VC-1 for Blu-ray, precisely because only the VC-1 encodes he was shown preservered the original grain he wanted.

That said, we don't want to be slavishly reproducing grain in a 5th generation print or something. It's a hard line to draw, but we should have the grain that's essential to the character of the film, not extra grain that snuck in later for various reasons.

Are there really that many people complaining about grain? Really, if someone could live with VHS...

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post #27 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grubert View Post

:If it's any consolation, the grain in the night scenes in Transformers looked very natural. And it sold a lot of HD DVDs despite the grain.

There were two versions of Transformers. One in VC-1 and faithful to the source. And one in AVC and not. The creative decision maker picked the latter which goes to show you, that it is not just the users that might crave softer, more pleasant images.

Quote:


You're talking about movie preservation and restoration there. Not the same thing at all.

No, I am not talking about restoration in the classic sense of piecing together a movie that has fallen apart. I am talking about top movies that despite being 10 years old or so, have suffered degredation which requires fixing. Such "fixes" often translate into grain that is also taken out. Strict supervision is required to maintain the original grain while removing other objectionable issues that were not there in the original production. This is made harder if you have decision makers like above who may prefer a different vesion of the movie than originally created.

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post #28 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 08:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

There were two versions of Transformers. One in VC-1 and faithful to the source. And one in AVC and not. The creative decision maker picked the latter which goes to show you, that it is not just the users that might crave softer, more pleasant images.

Depends on your definition of source. The source IMO is the vision of the film-maker. If one realised his vision better then that obviously is closer to the source.

So if the HD DVD version or upcoming Blu-ray version of Transformers actually realises the artistic vision better than the theartrical release, then they are closer to the source.
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post #29 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by benwaggoner View Post

I still can't share the name, but a recent director of an Oscar-winning film mandated last month that ALL his films be encoded in VC-1 for Blu-ray, precisely because only the VC-1 encodes he was shown preservered the original grain he wanted.

when one of his titles is released, can you share the name then?
Damn you for making me want to know!
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post #30 of 338 Old 05-09-2008, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxpower1987 View Post

Depends on your definition of source.

The definition of anyone encoding a movie is to match the master given to them. It is not the job or responsibility of the compressionist or the codec to modify that look. I hope we all agree on this .

Quote:


The source IMO is the vision of the film-maker. If one realised his vision better then that obviously is closer to the source.

Well, in this case the vision of the decision maker matched the general public: softer images were better in his/her eyes.

Quote:


So if the HD DVD version or upcoming Blu-ray version of Transformers actually realises the artistic vision better than the theartrical release, then they are closer to the source.

They are not "closer to the source." They are closer to the vision of the director. The source for movie shots of real life, is real life. A softer version of real life doesn't make it more true to the "source." But I think we are agreeing .

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