Who or what determines audio/video quality of a movie? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been paying more attention the the audio/video quality of titles released on Blu-ray since I finished my Home theater and was curious why some titles have such poor audio/video quality while others are excellent?

Is it a matter of cost , expertise, or is there more of an artistic approach to the transfer where some are just more talented then others?

It dos not seem to follow movie budget as a huge budget film does not necessarily mean excellent audio/video.
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post #2 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 06:02 PM
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The PQ factors are innumerable... what the lens sees, the lens itself, the film (or digital system), how this film is shot, how has this film aged since it's been shot, generation loss from camera negative to whatever is scanned, how this film is transferred to digital, at what resolution and what equipment, what manipulation is performed upon this digital imagery afterwards, how the digital images are scaled to blu-ray resolution, how the blu-ray is compressed, etc... equipment quality, cost considerations, and operator skill are at play throughout the process.
it's kind of hard to answer a question this general... anything more specific?
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post #3 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 06:28 PM - Thread Starter
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I guess the simple question is,

"Is the audio/video quality of movie X better than movie Y because movie Y was cheap?

With the budget movies have I would think letting sales drop because the audio/video quality was bad would be a terrible idea. How much extra does it cost to produce a reference level audio/video quality Blu-ray as opposed to a "silver" rated Blu-ray?
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post #4 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 07:30 PM
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As 42041 stated, there are numerous factors that affect the available picture quality on all home video formats. Movies are profit-making vehicles for the most part except in the rare case of prestige films. Limitations in budget often determine how a movie will be filmed and shot. Shooting live-action on film and aiming for reference picture quality requires a certain monetary commitment that typically only blockbusters can meet. Hence why most of the movies in tier zero of the PQ thread are summer popcorn-fare. The other extreme are documentaries that rely on the strength of the picture to sell, like Baraka.

Blu-ray Picture Quality Tiers (updated through July 13, 2017)
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post #5 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazer1 View Post

I have been paying more attention the the audio/video quality of titles released on Blu-ray since I finished my Home theater and was curious why some titles have such poor audio/video quality while others are excellent?

Is it a matter of cost , expertise, or is there more of an artistic approach to the transfer where some are just more talented then others?

It dos not seem to follow movie budget as a huge budget film does not necessarily mean excellent audio/video.

Starting with video, tell us what you consider to be quality ? This isn't meant to be smart but how do you define it ? Personally, I can see some incredible video in older films that may be black and white that others on this forum think is ***** as an example.

Art

...
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post #6 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 08:16 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Sonneborn View Post

Starting with video, tell us what you consider to be quality ? This isn't meant to be smart but how do you define it ? Personally, I can see some incredible video in older films that may be black and white that others on this forum think is ***** as an example.

Art

I have only viewed a very few movies on Blu-ray and I only know there is a very noticeable difference in audio/video quality because of the reviews here.

I guess a good example is "Gladiator", a movie I really liked on DVD and looked forward to purchasing along with my Blu-ray player. After researching the Blu-ray it seems that it is of poor video quality so I passed. As I am enjoying my new 50" 1080P Plasma and 5.1 surround I am looking for excellent audio/video quality, I am sure with time I can again enjoy a movie for its content.
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post #7 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 08:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazer1 View Post

I have only viewed a very few movies on Blu-ray and I only know there is a very noticeable difference in audio/video quality because of the reviews here.

I guess a good example is "Gladiator", a movie I really liked on DVD and looked forward to purchasing along with my Blu-ray player. After researching the Blu-ray it seems that it is of poor video quality so I passed. As I am enjoying my new 50" 1080P Plasma and 5.1 surround I am looking for excellent audio/video quality, I am sure with time I can again enjoy a movie for its content.

As I understand it, a pretty significant change has happened in how movies make their way to home video in the 10 years since Gladiator came out. The digital intermediate process has become popular, where the camera negatives (the highest quality first generation source) are scanned into digital images at typically 2k or 4k resolution, and everything else is done in the digital domain. This digital master is used for both theatrical prints and home video, so you're seeing the highest quality version of the movie on Blu, that's faithful to the theatrical presentation.

Before that, only VFX shots were done digitally and printed out to film, everything else was done photochemically in a lab, and the master format was film, not digital. So the home video master would be made from film several generations removed from the original negative, so you lose quality there, and most likely on equipment that isn't of the same caliber as what is used these days in the DI process. Since this master was intended for small TV screens, the techs might apply processing to give them more "pop" on small screens and make them more compressible by filtering out the grain. On a big screen, this doesn't look so good. If they use one of these masters for the blu-ray, it looks like crap, and you get Gladiator.

If instead they go back to high quality film sources and produce a high quality, high resolution master for HD, you get a gorgeous disc like Braveheart.

(or to put this into more succinct terms, making a high quality release of an older film takes a certain amount of time and money, and studios are unwilling to spend it on every release)
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post #8 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 09:59 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 42041 View Post

The PQ factors are innumerable... what the lens sees, the lens itself, the film (or digital system), how this film is shot, how has this film aged since it's been shot, generation loss from camera negative to whatever is scanned, how this film is transferred to digital, at what resolution and what equipment, what manipulation is performed upon this digital imagery afterwards, how the digital images are scaled to blu-ray resolution, how the blu-ray is compressed, etc... equipment quality, cost considerations, and operator skill are at play throughout the process.
it's kind of hard to answer a question this general... anything more specific?

Right, the list is endless. Some of it may be specific to the particular blu-ray transfer itself (compression quality, bitrate, etc), and a lot has to do with where the master was sourced, and then of course the video and audio quality of the original film.

There is no way to answer such a general question.
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post #9 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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So what I am hearing is the quality of the Blu-ray is not necessarily up to whoever produces the Blu-ray?

The end result depends on many factors, some out of the control of the company producing the Blu-ray.

Lets use "Gladiator" as an example again, did they know the results would not be "reference" quality and could do nothing about it,...... did they know how to make it reference quality and did not want to spend the money........or did they think they where making reference quality Blu-ray and where surprised at the reviews?
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post #10 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 10:30 PM
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It depends on what type of "quality" you are talking about. There is purely the technical quality of the disc, which all depends on how well the transfer retains the audio and visual quality that the film makers intended (this assumes the source prints, recordings, etc., have not degraded or if they are then they have been restored by experts).

There is also the purely subjective quality of the cinematography. Some films are softer than others because of the format, the film stock (or these days, HD camcorder), the film processing. Some reviewers gave Eyes Wide Shut's disc a middling grade on video quality because it wasn't as sharp or detailed as most other releases. But the film was shot by the best director ever and a very talented cinematographer who were shooting on a specific film stock and then pushed two stops in processing. This allowed the film (shot mostly at night) to have a grainy, soft, dream-like quality. What you see on the disc is what I saw in the theaters. But some reviewers like sharp and detailed, so they were in effect passing judgement on the excellent cinematography in this film, though the transfer itself did exactly what it was intended to do: show the film makers' vision.

Which brings me to another point, a disc doesn't have to be sharp and detailed to take advantage of an HDTV. DVD simply didn't do Eyes Wide Shut justice because this grainy dreamlike quality didn't come across. Likewise, the Oscar-winning cinematography on Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, really lost something on DVD even though the film is pretty soft and grainy.

Another point: sharpness and detail aren't the same thing. Sharpness is how well things are defined, detail is how much picture information there is. For example, a DVD can as sharp as an HDTV when it comes to showing the edge of a backlit dark object, in fact it can actually be sharper (in theory, in certain situations), because a higher-resolution image can reveal a softness in the delineation between dark and bright that is resolved as a sharp line on a lower-resolution image. See Ansel Adam's book on the camera negative for more information than you probably want on this.

Detail is picture information. Reading a name on a character's name badge, that's detail. You can have detail without a lot of sharpness, and sharpness without a lot of detail.

Some technical issues that get in the way of high def heaven are that the HD transfer used for the disc could be a somewhat older one, perhaps one done on interlaced equipment, or perhaps from a 1080p or 2K scan, whereas the best scan of a 35mm film will come from a 4K scan. It may have been done carelessly. Things like edge enhancement or dynamic noise reduction or other things you frequently see on DVDs and other SD content may have been brought over to HD for no good reason. The Last Starfighter is one such example. I believe others have complained about 40 Year Old Virgin and Tremors suffering such treatment as well.

Also, depending on what variety of 35mm was used (Super35, anamorphic, matted, etc.) detail can very pretty widely. And stocks, apertures, and processing can all effect contrast, detail, and sharpness. Plenty of big budget movies were rather soft even in the theaters (Lord of the Rings, for example).
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post #11 of 15 Old 01-09-2010, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiramAbiff View Post

Another point: sharpness and detail aren't the same thing. Sharpness is how well things are defined, detail is how much picture information there is. For example, a DVD can as sharp as an HDTV when it comes to showing the edge of a backlit dark object, in fact it can actually be sharper (in theory, in certain situations), because a higher-resolution image can reveal a softness in the delineation between dark and bright that is resolved as a sharp line on a lower-resolution image. See Ansel Adam's book on the camera negative for more information than you probably want on this.

Detail is picture information. Reading a name on a character's name badge, that's detail. You can have detail without a lot of sharpness, and sharpness without a lot of detail.

This is something few people ever bring up on this forum but that's too bad, it's an important distinction when discussing PQ.
http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut.../sharpness.htm
Reading this will account for many moments when someone with a small TV tells you Gladiator looks sharp.
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post #12 of 15 Old 01-10-2010, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 42041 View Post

As I understand it, a pretty significant change has happened in how movies make their way to home video in the 10 years since Gladiator came out. The digital intermediate process has become popular, where the camera negatives (the highest quality first generation source) are scanned into digital images at typically 2k or 4k resolution, and everything else is done in the digital domain. This digital master is used for both theatrical prints and home video, so you're seeing the highest quality version of the movie on Blu, that's faithful to the theatrical presentation.

snip

There is nothing intrinisically limiting in the original mastering of Gladiator.
Film scanning hasn't changed much ( at all in fact). Video masters even back then were often derived by scanning the conformed negative.

HDTV versions of Gladiator bear this out. The BD version is simply a substandard master. Even 2k is not a limiting factor when it comes to generating 1080p video. I really wish peopleuld put down the 4k banner espeecially when it comes to discussing 1080p video mastering. 1080p video masters in my experience look nowhere near as sharp as original 2k film scans let alone 4k.

digital film janitor
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post #13 of 15 Old 01-10-2010, 03:31 PM
 
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Also include the type of film the movie was shot in - the ASA speed of the film. The higher you go (starting at say 50 up to 400 or even 800) the more grainy the image appears. Different film speeds are used for different lighting situations from daylight to almost total darkness.
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post #14 of 15 Old 01-10-2010, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blazer1 View Post

Lets use "Gladiator" as an example again, did they know the results would not be "reference" quality and could do nothing about it,...... did they know how to make it reference quality and did not want to spend the money........or did they think they where making reference quality Blu-ray and where surprised at the reviews?

Unless the people creating the Gladiator disc were totally incompetent, they had to have known what type of transfer they were unleashing on the consumer. Most likely the cost of creating a totally new transfer from the original film elements was not in the budget, so they released what they had to work with. Profit motivations are a powerful incentive to keep costs down, particularly for a catalog title that, while popular, will not sell like Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings, no matter how quality the transfer turns out.

Blu-ray Picture Quality Tiers (updated through July 13, 2017)
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post #15 of 15 Old 01-10-2010, 06:22 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

Unless the people creating the Gladiator disc were totally incompetent, they had to have known what type of transfer they were unleashing on the consumer. Most likely the cost of creating a totally new transfer from the original film elements was not in the budget, so they released what they had to work with. Profit motivations are a powerful incentive to keep costs down, particularly for a catalog title that, while popular, will not sell like Star Wars or Lord Of The Rings, no matter how quality the transfer turns out.

On the other hand - look what happens when they spend the big bucks - The Wizard Of Oz.
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