"Not bad for a 40 year old film..." etc. True? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 04:04 AM - Thread Starter
AVS Special Member
 
Pecker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,197
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 21 Post(s)
Liked: 20
Can someone answer this question, please.

I see a lot of comments in reviews, and posts here, that say something like "It's not bad for a 40 year old film...", or "It's not as good as a new film, but then again it is 10 years old...". That's right - age has been used as an excuse on films only a decade old!

Is this true? Were old filming techniques that bad? Does a negative lose detail in a way that cannot be restored over time?

Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood look superb to me.

I remember seeing a restored version on A Matter Of Life And Death (Powell & Pressburger - 1946) [US A Stairway To Heaven] at the National Film Theatre in London - it was around 50 years old at the time, and parts looked absolutely awesome.

Can age really be used as an excuse?

Steve W
Pecker is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 04:21 AM
AVS Special Member
 
MovieSwede's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Gothenburg
Posts: 6,770
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Liked: 37
It all comes down to filmstocks and postprocessing.

You can clearly se what age a certain movie was shoot.

Even if older movies look good, they dont come in the same PQ as new films. Filmstock and processing has evolved.

But im totaly satisfied if they look as they were ment to look.
MovieSwede is offline  
post #3 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 06:28 AM
AVS Special Member
 
mproper's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Palmyra, PA
Posts: 7,043
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 13
It all depends on the master and how much time/effort/money has been put into restoring it.

For example, movies such as LOTR are no doubt stored on a computer somewhere. Older movies, especially those not deemed as classics (something like Inner Space springs to mind) may have been stored in a leaky basement and not be in the best shape, and requires a lot of effort to clean up the print. So is it worth spending a lot of time/effort/money cleaning up a damaged print of a 30 or 40 year old movie that isn't going to sell that much anyways? I would assume it's a balancing act. Something like Casablanca might be worth going through frame by frame to remove all the damage and spend a lot of time on the encode, whereas something like Inner Space might be worth just cleaning up major damage/artifacts and getting it to a presentable level.
mproper is offline  
post #4 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 08:11 AM
AVS Addicted Member
 
ccotenj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: the toxic waste dumps of new jersey
Posts: 21,915
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 89
yup, true. but it has nothing to do with techniques. if anything, filmmaking as an "art" was much better back in the day.

it has to do with the fact that film is an organic substance and it decays. and since no one really knew that someone would attempt to re-issue these films many years later, not a lot of care was put into storage.

it's simply AMAZING how well they can restore old films if given anything at all to work with though.

as far as the films that are 10 years or less old, i think a lot of those comments are in regards to cgi and effects.

- chris

 

my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

ccotenj is offline  
post #5 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 08:12 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Icemage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,978
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Well, one of the issues, as I understand it, is that film elements tend to deteriorate with age - dirt, scratches from movement, or chemical decomposition, even when properly stored and cared for; and this goes double for films that weren't given proper TLC when put into storage. This is why many of the larger studios have opted to move to 4K digital scanning, in order to preserve these films before their film elements become irretrievably ravaged by time.
Icemage is offline  
post #6 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 01:28 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Supermans's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 3,086
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by mproper View Post

It all depends on the master and how much time/effort/money has been put into restoring it.

For example, movies such as LOTR are no doubt stored on a computer somewhere. Older movies, especially those not deemed as classics (something like Inner Space springs to mind) may have been stored in a leaky basement and not be in the best shape, and requires a lot of effort to clean up the print. So is it worth spending a lot of time/effort/money cleaning up a damaged print of a 30 or 40 year old movie that isn't going to sell that much anyways? I would assume it's a balancing act. Something like Casablanca might be worth going through frame by frame to remove all the damage and spend a lot of time on the encode, whereas something like Inner Space might be worth just cleaning up major damage/artifacts and getting it to a presentable level.

The sad truth of the matter is that most films will not get a great treatment to High Def unless they are a classic and or they ahve a large following. Inner Space should be alright since it was released in good shape to Laserdisc and DVD, so the film is hopefully in good shape. LOTR is all stored digitally and my only hope is that LOTR is placed on a Blu-ray with lossless audio and a high bitrate all on one disc.. HD-DVD can have it span across two discs and everyones happy...
Supermans is offline  
post #7 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:07 PM
Senior Member
 
Luke M's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 432
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Liked: 14
I've always wondered why movies made in the 1970s and early '80s look so ugly compared with what came before, and after. Technical reasons or was ugly just the style?
Luke M is online now  
post #8 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:21 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Icemage's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,978
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke M View Post

I've always wondered why movies made in the 1970s and early '80s look so ugly compared with what came before, and after. Technical reasons or was ugly just the style?

Maybe less attention to detail? Not every movie from that period looked bad, but you may have a point about the overall average visual quality taking a nosedive in that period.
Icemage is offline  
post #9 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:30 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
ccotenj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: the toxic waste dumps of new jersey
Posts: 21,915
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 89
maybe there was some type of vacuum in the "creative energy of the universe", because there was some pretty crappy music made during that period of time too...

seriously though... it's a style issue... it's not like there was any shortage of great moviemakers in that period of time...

the 70's weren't exactly a great time in the united states (nam, nixon, economy, race riots, etc., i could go on but you get the point)... it's possible that the moviemaking style merely reflected the times...

- chris

 

my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

ccotenj is offline  
post #10 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:31 PM
 
Lee Stewart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Posts: 19,369
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 44
The quality of a film is based on the grain structure of the film itself, and the quality of the camera lens.

Both have inproved since what was used over 40 years ago.
Lee Stewart is offline  
post #11 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:45 PM
Member
 
dumbswede's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Champaign Ill.
Posts: 86
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke M View Post

I've always wondered why movies made in the 1970s and early '80s look so ugly compared with what came before, and after. Technical reasons or was ugly just the style?

The real classics before the 70's were filmed in Technicolor which wasn't just a fancy name for the film, but a high quality process that used 3 separate strips of film to record RGB just like 3CCD cameras are better quality than single CCD cameras. Modern film is dye based and almost certainly less chemically stable than the silver halide on the strips in Technicolor. If you restore Technicolor from the final prints it probably isn't much of a difference, but if you go back to the original negatives you can often restore the film to BETTER than its original theatrical release because you can critically align the 3 strips dynamically with computers. This has been done on many DVD releases and is know as Super-Bit.

Technicolor also has higher color saturation than normal film. NASA used this trick for some recent Hubble Telescope space image releases, filming several nebulas in separate exposures of red green and blue and then recombining. Some photography purists think Technicolor is too colorful, but for things like Musicals the results speak for themselves.

Hey, wait I don't get any mod points for informative???

I have given a great deal of thought to my sig, but evidently not enough.
dumbswede is offline  
post #12 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 05:52 PM
AVS Addicted Member
 
ccotenj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: the toxic waste dumps of new jersey
Posts: 21,915
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 89
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumbswede View Post

The real classics before the 70's were filmed in Technicolor ...

well... some of them... a lot of them were filmed in black and white...

- chris

 

my build thread - updated 8-20-12 - new seating installed and projector isolation solution

 


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.

ccotenj is offline  
post #13 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 07:30 PM
AVS Special Member
 
bboisvert's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 2,780
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke M View Post

I've always wondered why movies made in the 1970s and early '80s look so ugly compared with what came before, and after.

Examples, please.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
bboisvert is offline  
post #14 of 19 Old 10-23-2007, 11:16 PM
Senior Member
 
HiramAbiff's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 301
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pecker View Post

Can someone answer this question, please.

I see a lot of comments in reviews, and posts here, that say something like "It's not bad for a 40 year old film...", or "It's not as good as a new film, but then again it is 10 years old...". That's right - age has been used as an excuse on films only a decade old!

Is this true? Were old filming techniques that bad? Does a negative lose detail in a way that cannot be restored over time?

Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood look superb to me.

I remember seeing a restored version on A Matter Of Life And Death (Powell & Pressburger - 1946) [US A Stairway To Heaven] at the National Film Theatre in London - it was around 50 years old at the time, and parts looked absolutely awesome.

Can age really be used as an excuse?

Steve W

Well, up until about 1999 or so, movies were shot not on film but by being chiseled onto frames made from rock (cement for low budget).

ha ha ha



Age can be an excuse if the film elements aren't that good. Nowadays the camera negatives can be scanned into a DI, and the disc can be made from that with zero degradation. But before DI, between the camera negatives and the distribution prints you had more prints along the way (interpositives, internegatives, posineginters, nosipegitives, etc.). In analog, a copy of a copy is not as good as the original, and finer detail is lost with each generation. And film deteriorates over age.

So it all depends on the elements they have to work with, how good they were stored, etc. Black and white film lasts longer than color, so a film that had three b&w archival prints made for each color from the camera negatives would be a great source to make an HD version from and a film that only had distribution prints to work with (which could be in crappy quality) would be a lesser source. Criterion, for example, searches the world for the best elements for their films and typically does a 2k or 4k scanning job (this is for DVD!) of negatives or interpositives or whatever they can get, and then they touch it up as best they can.

I saw a 35mm print of Ace in the Hole (1950 IIRC) and it was as sharp as HD. Silent movies suffer the most, unfortunately.


To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 0 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
HiramAbiff is offline  
post #15 of 19 Old 10-24-2007, 12:10 AM
AVS Special Member
 
MovieSwede's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Gothenburg
Posts: 6,770
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Liked: 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke M View Post

I've always wondered why movies made in the 1970s and early '80s look so ugly compared with what came before, and after. Technical reasons or was ugly just the style?

I have always wondered that myself. But the technicolor process maybe has something to do with it.

Also filmstocks and how they shoot the movie could effect the final look.
MovieSwede is offline  
post #16 of 19 Old 10-26-2007, 12:20 PM
Senior Member
 
Chris Moreau's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Arlington, VA USA
Posts: 269
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by MovieSwede View Post

I have always wondered that myself. But the technicolor process maybe has something to do with it.

Also filmstocks and how they shoot the movie could effect the final look.


Those are certainly two of the reasons. The filmstocks used in the 60's and 70's have faded horribly, so unless separation masters were made (and retained), restoring them to their original look is very difficult, if not impossible.

The original elements from old Technicolor films from the 40's and 50's, however, can be used for amazing restorations -- especially when Warner's Ultra-Resolution process (which is all digital) is used. When we finally see The Wizard of Oz and Singin' In The Rain in HD, I think folks are going to be astonished.
Chris Moreau is offline  
post #17 of 19 Old 10-26-2007, 12:34 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Neo1965's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: CANADA!
Posts: 3,525
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
If someone who knows about the particulars of the film stocks used through the ages(who makes them, model number, operating characteristics, known shelf life), that would help clarify mysteries surrounding some of what we've seen.

There's supposed to be ongoing projects in the studios to digitally archive the classics before they are lost to us forever. I wonder how things like Gone with the Wind and Dr Zhivago masters are. Would it be even possible to get good HD digital masters from what's available now?
Neo1965 is offline  
post #18 of 19 Old 10-26-2007, 01:36 PM
Advanced Member
 
rexdigital's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 604
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumbswede View Post

If you restore Technicolor from the final prints it probably isn't much of a difference, but if you go back to the original negatives you can often restore the film to BETTER than its original theatrical release because you can critically align the 3 strips dynamically with computers. This has been done on many DVD releases and is know as Super-Bit.

Are you telling us Fifth Element and Spider-Man was filmed in 3-strip?

Super-Bit means the bit rate of the DVD is pushed to absolute maximum in every possible way. Has nothing to do with 3-strip technicolor.
rexdigital is offline  
post #19 of 19 Old 10-26-2007, 02:04 PM
 
ChrisWiggles's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Seattle
Posts: 20,730
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pecker View Post

Can someone answer this question, please.

I see a lot of comments in reviews, and posts here, that say something like "It's not bad for a 40 year old film...", or "It's not as good as a new film, but then again it is 10 years old...". That's right - age has been used as an excuse on films only a decade old!

Is this true? Were old filming techniques that bad? Does a negative lose detail in a way that cannot be restored over time?

Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood look superb to me.

I remember seeing a restored version on A Matter Of Life And Death (Powell & Pressburger - 1946) [US A Stairway To Heaven] at the National Film Theatre in London - it was around 50 years old at the time, and parts looked absolutely awesome.

Can age really be used as an excuse?

Steve W

Yes and no. Part of it is the condition and generation of the film sources, and how well they've been preserved. Some old films were made with an incredible eye for technical brilliance, especially some of the old 70mm stuff, which can be quite old. And some very old B&W stuff can also be quite incredible. But age is a losing battle in terms of degradation of the original film elements, them getting lost, etc. The kind of preservation we often have implemented now just didn't exist, and original negatives and the like were just stuck in all kind of random places, the backs of bowling alleys, etc, and nobody even really knew or appreciated what was basically rotting away back there. There are some arguments that some of the most well done film is older, as you don't see really much besides specialty films (IMAX etc) using 70mm stock or the like. I think Titanic is sort of an exception to that.

But mainly it has to do with the aging and condition of the film, less so the technical capabilities back then, though that also has impacts, though I think less than many people think, and in some cases there are advantages back then that aren't really used anymore. I believe there were some film processes that were very expensive that were used occassionally back in the day that aren't used for economic reasons today, that have advantages. But you'd have to ask people more familiar with film for info about that.
ChrisWiggles is offline  
Reply HDTV Software Media Discussion

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off