Watchmen - Warner (DC) vs Paramount (TC) Blu-ray comparison PIX - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Interestingly, some reframing, color, and contrast tweaks were done on certain shots in the DC. To try to keep things as fair as possible, I didn't include any of those in the comparison.

I don't believe the Warner version was "filtered" prior to encoding. Check the final pic. It's not representative of 95% of frames in that shot, but this one looks to me to have (very) slightly more grain in the Warner image.

Something happened to the horizontal resolution of Paramount's master. They both have lines as fine as one pixel high, but the Warner version also has lines that are only one pixel across. These are averaged out in the Paramount version, losing the incredibly tiny details. I guess they used different resize settings to prevent aliasing? (see image #17, the computer screen)

The chroma planes seem to be aligned slightly differently on each. Not sure if this is related to the above or not.

I'm also trying something new: I checked the extended BDInfo for each and found their largest single-frame size, and I've included those frames from both encodes. This represents a bitrate spike, so in theory they should be the most taxing frames efficiency-wise. In theory...

Watchmen: Director's cut - United States - Warner - 18.48Mbps VC-1
Watchmen: Theatrical cut - United Kingdom, etc - Paramount - 27.02Mbps AVC


Mouseovers here
(click Stop on this thread to not waste time downloading from both servers)
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post #2 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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post #3 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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post #5 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 02:23 PM - Thread Starter
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post #6 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 05:55 PM
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Thank you very much msgohan, this is the comparison of the year!


But I simply cannot agree with your assessments. Like I posted on another thread, on a quick comparison between the two of them, I found the Paramount version to be more detailed and the Warner a little more filtered.

But now with your comparisons, it's all even more clear. It's not even funny how much filtered the WB version is compared to the Paramount verision.

I hope other members come to same conclusions because it's really very apparent on the images.

When I posted on the huge Watchmen discussion thread that the WB version was still a bit filtered and that I could bet the Paramount version would be better (based on the outstanding quality they have been presention on their day-and-date releases), people almost jumped me. Well, time would tell.
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post #7 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 06:51 PM
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Looks like the additional bitrate makes for quite a bit of a difference in some of those shots.
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post #8 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 07:06 PM
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The computer screen (image 17) looks more detailed in the Paramount version IMHO.

Fight mediocrity: Insist on BD50 discs for all movies longer than 100 minutes, optimized video encodes that fully utilize the available space, lossless audio track, and new masters for catalog titles!
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post #9 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm not saying the Warner disc retains the grain. Any A/B comparison of the two in motion is easily picked out by the finer grain present in the Paramount encode.

My point was, if I can search for and find the occasional frame in the middle of a sequence with dulled grain that actually keeps it, how can it possibly have been run through a filter prior to encoding? That frame wasn't an edit point either (as in certain DNR'd titles that are clear when the camera angle changes).

With the larger details removed by the VC-1 encode (highlights on the glass in image #1 for example), I don't think it's unlikely that whatever combination of codec, bitrate, encoder settings, etc is to blame rather than a DNR pass.
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post #10 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 10:03 PM
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yikes @ #16: http://comparescreenshots.slicx.com/...125/picture:15 (note the facial detail)
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post #11 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 10:41 PM
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If i didn't have the screen caps to compare and just watched them both in motion. I probably wouldn't be able to see the difference. That being said, the screen shots do indeed show a slightly finer detail in the image on the Paramount release.

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post #12 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msgohan View Post

My point was, if I can search for and find the occasional frame in the middle of a sequence with dulled grain that actually keeps it, how can it possibly have been run through a filter prior to encoding? That frame wasn't an edit point either (as in certain DNR'd titles that are clear when the camera angle changes).

With the larger details removed by the VC-1 encode (highlights on the glass in image #1 for example), I don't think it's unlikely that whatever combination of codec, bitrate, encoder settings, etc is to blame rather than a DNR pass.

The Universal comparisons (Mummies, Serenity, Bourne) seem to add to the confusion. Serenity's avg bit-rate isn't much higher, yet the HD DVD seems to have areas where it looks like grain was completely removed. Seeing how Serenity was one of the first 10 movies to be released in HD, we can shrug it off.

The Bourne Identity seems to show grain similar to what we're seeing here. The HD DVD has smeared looking grain, and the blu-ray has it perfectly in tact. Miami Vice is the same way -- the grain (digital noise/perhaps intentional added fake grain) looks blurred on HD DVD, but looks nice and uniform on blu-ray. The third Bourne didnt seem to have much difference between HD and blu. Not sure what the bit-rates were off the top of my head.

Then there's the Mummy with the higher bit-rate on blu-ray, but each frame seems to look smoother. Perhaps this is an example of filtering whereas Bourne and Watchman are a result of a not-quite-high-enough bit-rate? Maybe it's an encoder setting? It's strange.

Of course, there's Domino with 20 mbps, grain kept in tact pretty well, but has weird blocking artifacts in dark areas (though they arent really noticeable during playback).

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post #13 of 142 Old 08-09-2009, 11:43 PM
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http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...8#post16809168
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Originally Posted by shadowrage View Post

For some reason their new titles seem to ofter resolve fine detail a bit oddly. But not a single one of their Catalog titles have issues like this at all. The Older the Warner title, the better it will look.

In all fairness this one wasn't a looker at the digital theater either. If Paramount does use AVC I except the differences to be similar to the Warner and Lionsgate releases of Rambo...with the Warner version looking a little 'blurry' in comparison.

Bam! as I predicted.

Warner and their POS VC-1 encodes. They need to switch codecs. Universal is the only studio that knows how to encode with it - super High bitrate is the only way with VC-1.

Come on guys. They don't "DNR" each title. Whoever does these VC-1 encodes for the newer movies doesn't have their technical stuff down yet.

Ridiculous codec tier sig gone. Still AVC/24bit lossless fanboy.

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Most Major studios>Small Studios>dogs>cats>Warner(the guys that do new movies)
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post #14 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 12:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sujay View Post

yikes @ #16: http://comparescreenshots.slicx.com/...125/picture:15 (note the facial detail)

I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, but that looks more like there was a slight bump in "sharpness" rather than an actual increase in detail.
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post #15 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 12:40 AM
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If I were as OCD as you guys were, I'd probably kill myself. Jesus Christ, the absolute most minuscule of differences, and you're acting like it's almost Patton.
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post #16 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitestang06 View Post

I'm not exactly sure how to describe it, but that looks more like there was a slight bump in "sharpness" rather than an actual increase in detail.

The difference is how the grain is rendered or, well, not rendered. That is directly linked to the bitrate which is then deciding on how much the HF coefficients are toned down and how much deblocking filtering is activated. The Warner encode looks good in motion and the bit rate is very variable, but in the end if you encode at 17 Mbit/s every time you go much higher for difficult shots you also have to go much lower for other shots or your average is not achieved. Something has got to give. You simply leave some accuracy and detail on the table compared to a 25 Mbit/s encode. That's a debatable decision if you still fill your 50 GB discs but rather consumer unfriendly if you leave 20 GB empty or squeeze it all onto 25 GB if 50 was necessary for top quality (not the case for Watchmen but other WB discs).
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post #17 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 12:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sujay View Post

yikes @ #16: http://comparescreenshots.slicx.com/...125/picture:15 (note the facial detail)

What's with all the dust? No dustbusting on the DI?
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post #18 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 12:54 AM
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Thanks msgohan. I think the caps are available at CinemaSquid and hundland.

Warner need not switch to AVC. At first, they need to get rid off these technical defencies that magnifies their incompetency and ruthless attitude towards delivering a solid product on one-go.

This doesn't mean that Paramount should be applauded as they too have commited many serious blunders. If Paramount not being able to do a DC was related to legal issues I am fine with their decision.

Btw, I don't see any major differences among the two considering the static nature of these caps.

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post #19 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 01:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nut bunnies View Post

If I were as OCD as you guys were, I'd probably kill myself. Jesus Christ, the absolute most minuscule of differences, and you're acting like it's almost Patton.

If you buy a movie, don't you want it to be the best HD version of a movie possible? To me that includes maximizing the quality of the encoding, which was obviously not done here as there is plenty of room for improvement. I have been accused of sitting too close to my TV, but over-compression in some scenes, especially the one in screenshot 16, was readily apparent in motion when I viewed this movie, resulting in mushy grain.
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post #20 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 01:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhafner View Post

What's with all the dust? No dustbusting on the DI?

Isn't everything in that frame CGI? There's tons of little particles floating around in a lot of the Dr. Manhattan scenes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lgans316 View Post

Thanks msgohan. I think the caps are available at CinemaSquid and hundland.

Btw, I don't see any major differences among the two considering the static nature of these caps.

These are my own caps taken from plenty of high-motion periods.
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post #21 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 01:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sujay View Post

yikes @ #16: http://comparescreenshots.slicx.com/...125/picture:15 (note the facial detail)

yes, certainly agree.....

the WB is slightly soft (missing some grain) ....

and damn this movie is too dark... i mean some scenes are sooo DARK at u hardly see anything.....
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post #22 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 02:45 AM
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The differences on mouseover 13 are quite pronounced. The actor's left eyebrow and right upper lip are far more detailed in the UK edition.

I think the differences must be to do with the VC-1 implementation that Warner is using. Shame RDjam no longer posts here much as he was very much the go-to man for VC-1 info.
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post #23 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 02:49 AM
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It's the same thing we've seen before from Warner, detail is mostly there in the important sections, but they're just not very proficient at encoding grain and background noise. There's also some odd vertical white lines in shot 17 (password screen).
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post #24 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 03:39 AM
 
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I was waiting for this one, thanks Xylon
Will have to pick this up next month
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post #25 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 04:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmike007 View Post

I was waiting for this one, thanks Xylon
Will have to pick this up next month

Xylon?
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post #26 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 04:14 AM
 
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DOH ! force of habit !
Sorry and thanks Msgohan
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post #27 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 05:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nut bunnies View Post

If I were as OCD as you guys were, I'd probably kill myself. Jesus Christ, the absolute most minuscule of differences, and you're acting like it's almost Patton.

That is not the objective of these threads. WE don't need you to tell us how "miniscule" the difference.

We like to see what is going on behind the scenes aside from the picture you are seeing. No matter how "small" it is. If you can't grasp that little tidbit and others (we know who they are) this section of the forum is not for you.
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post #28 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 07:14 AM
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Ohh ok, thanks for the clarification msgohan. I misunderstood on your first post

But yes, with WB it's always a 'killer' combination of bad compression, VC-1 smoothening at low bitrates and sometimes deliberate filtering.





stumlad,

Great post, that's my sentiments exactly.

But like I said above, whatever the reason is, the point is their discs look messy and bellow what they could and should have been.

ps: on Domino, it was probably the (automated or manual) localized tweaks. It benefits some parts of the frame at the expense of others, so bitrate is still kept in the low ranges. I think I was the first to post such objections about the disc back when it was released.
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post #29 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 07:56 AM
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First off, the Watchmen encode by Warner is one of the better compression jobs they have done in a while. They clearly devote more time and resources to the blockbusters and special movies on Blu-ray. But saying that, low-bitrate VC-1 has repeatedly shown to have a couple of deficiencies when directly compared against high-bitrate encodings using AVC. Brightly lit scenes show almost no difference at all, even in the smallest details typically. But shadow detail and delineation in the darker scenes are so superior on the Paramount encode that this is not a close call at all. The mouseovers really demonstrate this effect well.
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post #30 of 142 Old 08-10-2009, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nut bunnies View Post

If I were as OCD as you guys were, I'd probably kill myself. Jesus Christ, the absolute most minuscule of differences, and you're acting like it's almost Patton.

Great post.

Big difference between pointing out titles that have obvious flaws and the OCD we see on some of these transfers.
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