So, how are we supposed to judge PQ on HDM? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 08:22 PM - Thread Starter
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I've decided to make this thread because I simply think the sort of judging that goes on with regards to PQ in Blu-ray or HD DVD movies doesn't always make sense. I think HighDefDigest might be one of the biggest offenders out there when it comes to PQ ratings as we all know. One of the greatest things about HDM in my humble opinion is the ability to accurately reproduce the director's intentions for a film whether we agree with their choices or not (grain, black crush, etc.).

So where my question arises is, should we be giving 2 separate PQ ratings to HDM releases? The first PQ rating being relative to how close to what the director intended a film to look like. Are there things done by the studio to change the way the picture is supposed to look like DNR, EE, etc. The second PQ rating based on the eye candy level.

The reason I bring this up is in the case of Stanley Kubrick's films. It's widely known that he was incredibly visual, so the visual appearance of his films was calculated. Certainly 2001 looks better on the eye candy level than A Clockwork Orange does. But are both fully representative of how the film was shot? Even though A Clockwork Orange is not going to turn as many heads in HD as 2001 will, does that mean it the PQ is really not all that great on it? Hence my suggestion for reviews having 2 PQ ratings for the above mentioned aspects of picture.

I would like to hear other thoughts on this.

My apologies if any of this sounds convoluted in any way, I've tried to get it out in a easy to read manner.
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post #2 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 08:41 PM
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I would rent it. If I thought it sucked then I wouldn't buy it. If I thought it was good or better then I might buy it. For me its that basic.
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post #3 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DangerousK View Post

I've decided to make this thread because I simply think the sort of judging that goes on with regards to PQ in Blu-ray or HD DVD movies doesn't always make sense. I think HighDefDigest might be one of the biggest offenders out there when it comes to PQ ratings as we all know. One of the greatest things about HDM in my humble opinion is the ability to accurately reproduce the director's intentions for a film whether we agree with their choices or not (grain, black crush, etc.).

So where my question arises is, should we be giving 2 separate PQ ratings to HDM releases? The first PQ rating being relative to how close to what the director intended a film to look like. Are there things done by the studio to change the way the picture is supposed to look like DNR, EE, etc. The second PQ rating based on the eye candy level.

The reason I bring this up is in the case of Stanley Kubrick's films. It's widely known that he was incredibly visual, so the visual appearance of his films was calculated. Certainly 2001 looks better on the eye candy level than A Clockwork Orange does. But are both fully representative of how the film was shot? Even though A Clockwork Orange is not going to turn as many heads in HD as 2001 will, does that mean it the PQ is really not all that great on it? Hence my suggestion for reviews having 2 PQ ratings for the above mentioned aspects of picture.

I would like to hear other thoughts on this.

My apologies if any of this sounds convoluted in any way, I've tried to get it out in a easy to read manner.


You're right, there should be legitimate PQ ratings based on each individual film, and maybe a separate "WOW factor rating".

For example:

The Movie Itself 4.5 out of 5
HD Video Quality 4.5 out of 5
WOW factor 3.5 out of 5
HD Audio Quality 3.5 out of 5
Supplements 3.5 out of 5
High-Def Extras 2 out of 5
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post #4 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 09:03 PM
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Funny you should ask. IMO a disk that "improves" on how a film would have looked at the time of it's release should be docked points, and that means smoothing or boosting so that the resulting image no longer reflects what was native to the inter-positive when new. That means grain and muted color are AOK if it reflects the films origins faithfully.

DELIVERANCE for example got unfairly slammed for looking like DELIVERANCE.
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post #5 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 09:09 PM
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The problem is that, other than general guidelines and things we read about a film or see in theaters, we don't really know how close something is to the director's intention. When I see a modern film that's very grainy, or desaturated in color, I assume it's supposed to be that way, but how do I know how accurate it is? How do I know they didn't decide to pump up the colors beyond what they're supposed to be (but still to a point that's less saturated than "normal"-looking movies), or filter out some of the grain (while retaining a grainy appearance)? Then you have instances where the color is just different from the DVD or laserdisc, and you just don't know which is right.

I usually don't worry about it much. I'm only really disappointed in a transfer when there's an obvious flaw like edge enhancement or telecine wobble (Edward Scissorhands, I'm looking at you on both counts). Noise reduction is another problem.
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post #6 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 09:17 PM
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To a certain extent it comes down to personal preference. I value that, but definitely don't agree with all of the critics. It would be nice if somebody would come up with an objective test for how close the HDM image is to the master.
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post #7 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 09:45 PM
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1) If the director intended a film to look blurry and grainy the end result is the same, the picture quality is blurry and grainy and not good

2) You might not always know what the director intended (I don't have Batman Begins on HD-DVD but people have said it looks soft, but some people say the director didn't intend it to be soft?)

Picture quality is picture quality though.

I think there should be notes saying "the director intended it to look this way" etc. I don't personally like overly grainy films, but I suppose there are some styles of cinematography that could make some look less sharp etc. on purpose (eg. as otherwise it might look too fake or whatever).
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post #8 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 09:58 PM
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The reason I bailed on the Tier threads on these forums was for precisely the reasons you started this thread. I was repeatedly hammered for saying a transfer was astonishingly good and reproduced well the film presentation I saw but wasn't eye candy. I agree completely a great reproduction of what a pristine film print looks like is the goal not to look like discovery HD or a PS3 game. However, for me, I simply feel like Don Quixote trying to get that mind set to stick.

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post #9 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs View Post

1) If the director intended a film to look blurry and grainy the end result is the same, the picture quality is blurry and grainy and not good

Picture quality is picture quality though.

I think there should be notes saying "the director intended it to look this way" etc. I don't personally like overly grainy films, but I suppose there are some styles of cinematography that could make some look less sharp etc. on purpose (eg. as otherwise it might look too fake or whatever).

One point I keep trying to make to directors is that if something looks like a mistake, it *is* a mistake, regardless of whether you intended it to be that way or not.

The point of art is to produce emotional and intellectual responses from the audience (and entertain them in the process). As a director, you've failed if you have to hand out notes with your film saying, "that part that looks like a couple of bad edits there...I meant to do that to symbolize something deep...just ignore how my film makes you feel and try to feel *this* way about it instead."

If the PQ is bad, it's bad--whether it's bad because of a bad transfer or a bad source. It might be the best they could do with the materials they had, but I don't think you should award bonus points or extra credit just because they tried hard.
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post #10 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Sonneborn View Post

The reason I bailed on the Tier threads on these forums was for precisely the reasons you started this thread. I was repeatedly hammered for saying a transfer was astonishingly good and reproduced well the film presentation I saw but wasn't eye candy. I agree completely a great reproduction of what a pristine film print looks like is the goal not to look like discovery HD or a PS3 game. However, for me, I simply feel like Don Quixote trying to get that mind set to stick.

Art

I couldn't agree more. One of the things we're seeing in this age of almost digitially perfect media is unrealistic expectations from people. I don't think it is fair to expect a deliberately soft movie like, say, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, to look like Discovery HD.

On the other hand, it's REALLY hard to tell what is or isn't director's intent, especially with respect to things like color timing (note the furor over the color timing choices in Halloween and Bram Stoker's Dracula).

I can appreciate that some choices aren't to the liking of many, but that's not the same as saying they are necessarily wrong.

Where I think we most certainly can draw definite lines, though, is where unnatural effects have been added: edge enhancement, macroblocking, noise reduction, etc. These are easily visible, and unless it is explicit, it's never a good thing for the presentation.
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post #11 of 66 Old 01-12-2008, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icemage View Post

I couldn't agree more. One of the things we're seeing in this age of almost digitially perfect media is unrealistic expectations from people. I don't think it is fair to expect a deliberately soft movie like, say, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, to look like Discovery HD.

I see no reason why Sky Captain could not have been filmed to look sharp. I haven't seen the film (I've seen clips, etc.), but if it was supposed to look a bit like old films, aren't there old films that look sharp too? There have been really old films released on high def media and people on these forums have been saying they look great (and they were filmed in 35mm just like modern films), so I see no reason why Sky Captain couldn't have been a sharper 'film'.
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post #12 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 12:30 AM
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It seems to me that what the OP is asking for is a "perfect" Tier thread. There is no such thing. The people on AVS have no shortage of differing opinons and no matter how inclusive or exclusive a Tier thread is there will be many, many people who think it should be another way.

As others have said, there's no way for most of us to really know what the director intended. Especially with older movies. Who's to say that if a director had modern cameras and film stock (or digital cameras) when making a movie 30 years ago it wouldn't look different than it does? Maybe they would've liked for it to look better but had to settle for what was available.

Besides, I think the fact that an intentionally grainy movie like 300 is in the second Tier on both threads shows that intent does factor in to the decisions. If it was an accident of sloppy film making that it looked the way it does it probably wouldn't be as high as it is.

The whole thing is completely subjective anyway. You can watch any movie from the the top 3 tiers on both lists and be assured of seeing a movie with a very high PQ.

Pics from my TV here and here.
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post #13 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris0 View Post

Besides, I think the fact that an intentionally grainy movie like 300 is in the second Tier on both threads shows that intent does factor in to the decisions. If it was an accident of sloppy film making that it looked the way it does it probably wouldn't be as high as it is.

How any film with lots of added, intentional film grain can be rated "4.0-4.49 Stars - Excellent HD DVD Picture Quality" is beyond me
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post #14 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 01:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs View Post

How any film with lots of added, intentional film grain can be rated "4.0-4.49 Stars - Excellent HD DVD Picture Quality" is beyond me

But it's the director's intent!

Pics from my TV here and here.
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post #15 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 02:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Bloggs View Post

I see no reason why Sky Captain could not have been filmed to look sharp. I haven't seen the film (I've seen clips, etc.), but if it was supposed to look a bit like old films, aren't there old films that look sharp too? There have been really old films released on high def media and people on these forums have been saying they look great (and they were filmed in 35mm just like modern films), so I see no reason why Sky Captain couldn't have been a sharper 'film'.

That's the point, though. I am sure that Sky Captain, when it was originally filmed, BEFORE post-processing, was quite sharp. But the entire movie has had a bunch of desaturation and softening filters deliberately applied to it to make everything shinier, glossier, and softer.

It is not supposed to look like an "old film". It has a very unique presentation all its own.

Complaining about a movie like this (or 300 as referenced above, for its intentional grain) is akin to complaining that Monet or Picasso aren't good enough because their work doesn't look like Thomas Kincaid.
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post #16 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 03:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris0 View Post

As others have said, there's no way for most of us to really know what the director intended. Especially with older movies. Who's to say that if a director had modern cameras and film stock (or digital cameras) when making a movie 30 years ago it wouldn't look different than it does? Maybe they would've liked for it to look better but had to settle for what was available.

Well, that's getting into a whole different territory. There's a difference between a director's "original vision" and his "intent" with regard to a film. He may have wanted to do something grand, but had to work within the limitations of the time, and we should respect what he ended up creating. Sure, if color film was cheaper and more available back then, many more films may have been shot in color, but that doesn't mean we should go back and colorize them now. We should accept (or reject) the films as they are.

Like with Sky Captain, sure, he COULD have made it sharper, but he didn't. That's really all that matters. If that bothers you, don't watch the film. It's similar to the Cleanflicks controversy, where some people want to be able to see a film and/or show it to their kids, but without certain content they find objective. Well, that content is supposed to be there, so take it or leave it.
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post #17 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 04:29 AM
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Well, the thing about CleanFlicks is that if you take out the objectionable content of some movies, it will be about 5 minutes long. See Pulp Fiction for an example of this.

I think the most important things for PQ are how accurately the transfer represents the original film (as shown in theaters, so if it was soft in theaters it should be soft on video), how clean the print is, the accuracy of color and brightness, and how good the encoding is with regards to artifacts such as macroblocking.

As for Sky Captain, I saw that in the theater, thought it was kind of cool, and never felt the desire to watch it again after that. I still haven't.
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post #18 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 06:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trygve View Post

One point I keep trying to make to directors is that if something looks like a mistake, it *is* a mistake, regardless of whether you intended it to be that way or not.

The point of art is to produce emotional and intellectual responses from the audience (and entertain them in the process). As a director, you've failed if you have to hand out notes with your film saying, "that part that looks like a couple of bad edits there...I meant to do that to symbolize something deep...just ignore how my film makes you feel and try to feel *this* way about it instead."

If the PQ is bad, it's bad--whether it's bad because of a bad transfer or a bad source. It might be the best they could do with the materials they had, but I don't think you should award bonus points or extra credit just because they tried hard.

So what you are saying is that jumpy cameras, soft focus, grain, lighting and color have nothing to do with setting a mood?
Everyone has their own interpretation so some will not get everything.
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post #19 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by DangerousK View Post

One of the greatest things about HDM in my humble opinion is the ability to accurately reproduce the director's intentions for a film whether we agree with their choices or not (grain, black crush, etc.).

This is similar, with respect to music, that the label PentaTone is doing with their RQR (Remastered Quadro Recordings):

Quote:
In the early 1970’s, Philips Classics was already highly aware of the advantages offered by multi-channel music reproduction compared to the stereo techniques in use at the time. ....

Contact was also made with the original technicians in order to get hold of as much existing knowledge as possible. In the digital domain, no artificial echo has been added, in order to maintain the quality of the original tapes as much as possible.

Although the new SACD standard allows for 5 fully fledged channels, plus a subwoofer channel, a conscious choice was made to release these early recordings in their original 4-channel version in this RQR series: the idea behind this being to do justice to the original intentions of both artists and recording technicians.

I own several RQR recordings and they are very nice.
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post #20 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 07:04 AM
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I've posted about this several times and agree with both Art and the OP. I even suggested in both tier threads to change the rating system because of this.
But it's futile it seems.
There are 2 schools of thought on this and even on AVS we are in the minority.
There are fans of film and fans of HiDef.
People who buy HDM to show off their HT and people who buy their HT to showoff their favorite movies.

Director's intent isn't quite so mysterious. It doesn't take a DP to do this. Sure there will be weird cases like Halloween and Dracula that result in endless debate. But for the most part it's cut and dry. Do you see dirt, scratches, compression artifacts, smudging ect? Was there any restoration or does it look like it was pulled right off the shelf dust and all. For film lovers the whole point of HDM is not to have the presentation itself distract from the experience. A film that is intended to be soft shouldn't have that held against it, a film that is 35 years old shouldn't have that held against it, just as a sci-fil film shouldn't be faulted for not being a comedy.

I personally like the "wow factor" rating as it caters to the eye candy police. But in reality the eye candy police are in the majority here. So it would probably be less disturbing to the masses to have a "Original Presentation" or "Intent" rating.
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post #21 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 07:32 AM
 
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This is a very good question and many have offered their opinion. Seems the concensus is to compare the HDM PQ to what was shown in a top notch theater on opening night.

But does this worK?

How do you compare a disc like Battle of the Bulge or Grand Prix or any of the other 65mm productions against what we see on an HDM. 65mm cinematography blows away 35mm on a big screen. Can you see this difference at home using an HDM? IMO - no you can't because the limit is 1080 - a fraction of the PQ that these films offered.

How are you going to compare Beowulf when it comes out? It was designed to be seen as a 3D film. There are no plans today to release it as a 3D film. So are you going to say; "well I saw it in 2D so i can compare it to the HDM" which really doesn't hold any water because that is not the way it was designed to be seen.

How do you judge IMAX films on HDM? There is no way to compare HDM to IMAX.

So what is the standard to judge films against what we see on HDM? No flaws in the presentation?
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post #22 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 08:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThumperII View Post

So what you are saying is that jumpy cameras, soft focus, grain, lighting and color have nothing to do with setting a mood?

No, I'm saying pretty much the opposite of that. Sometimes it's sets the *wrong* mood and sometimes it destroys or detracts from the mood that the director/DP claims to be trying to create.

Quote:
Everyone has their own interpretation so some will not get everything.

If there was no commonality in response to visual stimulus, there'd be no point in making film to begin with. For film (or any art) to be meaningful, it has to be meaningful to an audience, not only the artist.
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post #23 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by trygve View Post

No, I'm saying pretty much the opposite of that. Sometimes it's sets the *wrong* mood and sometimes it destroys or detracts from the mood that the director/DP claims to be trying to create.



If there was no commonality in response to visual stimulus, there'd be no point in making film to begin with. For film (or any art) to be meaningful, it has to be meaningful to an audience, not only the artist.

I know but still we aren't talking about getting directors to make films the way you want that is simply not even germane. We are talking about judging picture quality of films already made. My belief is if the images reproduce very well what the first generation film looked like without artifacts,it is what it should be and therefore should be held high in rating.

I do not believe that all HDM must look like an XBox game or cause guests to say your system is great.

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post #24 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Art Sonneborn View Post

The reason I bailed on the Tier threads on these forums was for precisely the reasons you started this thread. I was repeatedly hammered for saying a transfer was astonishingly good and reproduced well the film presentation I saw but wasn't eye candy. I agree completely a great reproduction of what a pristine film print looks like is the goal not to look like discovery HD or a PS3 game. However, for me, I simply feel like Don Quixote trying to get that mind set to stick.

Art

I think the Tier threads have a use if you are simply looking for demo material. I've also ignored them completely because I don't think they are good judges for PQ IMO since I'm looking more for what the actual picture should look like.

I definitely agree with you about a pristine film print being the goal. I think Discovery HD and PS3 games look nice, don't get me wrong. But they are what they are.

Since I used A Clockwork Orange as an example for people not necessarily being "wowed" by it, I will be perfectly honest and say I loved the way A Clockwork Orange looked in HD. Just seeing the closeup of Malcolm McDowell's face at the beginning was wonderful, and incredibly unnerving. It looks like film though which is what I enjoy.

I think this issue is what could prevent HDM from ever becoming mainstream. I said it during a presentation in one of my graduate school courses in December. I brought up the topic of HDM since I thought it was essential to what I was discussing. One of the things I said to the class was, "How do you explain to people that just because it does not look like an sporting event in HD, it does not mean the picture is bad?"

Last night I was watching Kurosawa's Rashomon for the first time (I know, I'm late to the party on that one ), and I started thinking about what would happen if Criterion started releasing in an HD format. Would Rashomon get docked points in the PQ area because it doesn't look like Casablanca or Robin Hood? I don't think in HD, it would ever look like those 2 do. I could be wrong about that.

I appreciate all the replies, it's nice reading the different viewpoints. Keep them coming folks!
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post #25 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Icemage View Post

That's the point, though. I am sure that Sky Captain, when it was originally filmed, BEFORE post-processing, was quite sharp. But the entire movie has had a bunch of desaturation and softening filters deliberately applied to it to make everything shinier, glossier, and softer.

It is not supposed to look like an "old film". It has a very unique presentation all its own.

Complaining about a movie like this (or 300 as referenced above, for its intentional grain) is akin to complaining that Monet or Picasso aren't good enough because their work doesn't look like Thomas Kincaid.


100% agreed. Sky Captain wasn't soft to achieve an "old movie look". It was soft and filmed in distorted colour to look a certain way. And the HD version replicated that beautifully.

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
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post #26 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 11:21 AM
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I want a Home Theater experience--to me the goal when watching a film at home is to replicate as closely as possible how a movie was intended by it's makers to look and sound in a theater. For this reason I don't want anything done during the transfer process to try to make a film look like Discovery HD or a video game--to me this is every bit as bad as pan&scan or colorizing.

BTW, when 3 Kings was released on dvd there was a short informational segment before the movie explaining that the color variations seen during the movie were intended by the director--sort of a "do not adjust your set" blurb. I've also noticed that most director's commentaries these days specifically mention the "look" the director was going for when making parts of the film. It should be common knowledge by now that color timing, grain, etc. are as much a part of the creative process as the script and acting and have been for many many years now. Messing with the look of a film to satisfy the pop-meisters is just as bad as dubbing in different dialogue would be.

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post #27 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThumperII View Post

So what you are saying is that jumpy cameras, soft focus, grain, lighting and color have nothing to do with setting a mood?
Everyone has their own interpretation so some will not get everything.

This is an interesting point. People talk about the effective resolution of 35mm film. What would the effective bit rate be on a fast action scene?

EDIT: related question -- what is the maximum bit rate processing rate of the average persons eyes and brain?
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post #28 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 11:54 AM
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I think it should look as close to the directors intent as possible.

I would like to see more directors having a hand in what the home video releases look like.

Only watches movies on celluloid in the DOP's personal home theater.
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post #29 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 12:07 PM
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This topic comes up over and over again, pretty much without exception every time a new review is published.

If a reviewer docks a disc points for being soft and grainy, readers complain, "It's supposed to look like that, you stupid idiot!!!!"

If a reviewer gives a disc high points for being a faithful presentation, readers complain, "How could you give that a high score? It looks like crap, you stupid idiot!!!"

If a reviewer tries to strike a balance between the two extremes, readers complain, "Don't be so wishy-washy, you stupid idiot!!!!"

Every reader believes himself to be a uniquely qualified expert. Every reader believes the reviewer to be an incompetent moron. It's a damned-if-you-do / damned-if-you-don't / damned-for-even-trying / damn-you-for-not-reading-my-mind-and-telling-me-what-I-want-to-hear proposition.

The reviewers, meanwhile, keep plugging along, doing what they're doing, and hoping that some day readers will bother to actually read the text of the reviews and not just look at the star ratings. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

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post #30 of 66 Old 01-13-2008, 12:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

This topic comes up over and over again, pretty much without exception every time a new review is published.

If a reviewer docks a disc points for being soft and grainy, readers complain, "It's supposed to look like that, you stupid idiot!!!!"

If a reviewer gives a disc high points for being a faithful presentation, readers complain, "How could you give that a high score? It looks like crap, you stupid idiot!!!"

If a reviewer tries to strike a balance between the two extremes, readers complain, "Don't be so wishy-washy, you stupid idiot!!!!"

Every reader believes himself to be a uniquely qualified expert. Every reader believes the reviewer to be an incompetent moron. It's a damned-if-you-do / damned-if-you-don't / damned-for-even-trying / damn-you-for-not-reading-my-mind-and-telling-me-what-I-want-to-hear proposition.

The reviewers, meanwhile, keep plugging along, doing what they're doing, and hoping that some day readers will bother to actually read the text of the reviews and not just look at the star ratings. Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Yeah, I imagine that it can be a pretty thankless job, as nobody is always happy and if someone is happy there's someone else who isn't.

My question is narrow: How does one know whether a transfer is consistent with a "director's intent"? From seeing it in the theater?
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