Best Catalog Film Transfers? - AVS Forum
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Purpose of thread:

The purpose of this thread is 2-fold:

1. To compile a list of the best catalog film transfers on Blu-ray.
2. To try to answer the question: what specific ingredients or attributes make the best catalog film transfers on Blu-ray?

Definition of a catalog film:

For purposes of this thread, a "catalog film" is any motion picture film that's been sitting in a studio's vault for some time gathering dust and cobwebs. In otherwords, not a new, current or recent movie release.

Recommendations for posting:

If you want to suggest a film or films... rather than posting lists, I recommend separating each film you want to discuss into a different post, to make it easier for others to quote/reference. Also try to include at least a brief description of the reasons why you believe the film is one the better catalog transfers, and make sure the title of the film is displayed prominently somewhere in your post, preferably near the top. I won't be compiling a list of the suggestions made here, so if you want your recommendations to be noticed, it's in your interest to make sure the title of the film is noticeable (within reason) in your post. Also, if there is more than one edition or version of the title available on Blu-ray, please specify which version you're recommending.

No personal attacks allowed. Stay on topic.

Beyond that just about anything else goes. Comparisons and lively (but civil) debates are encouraged here. If you disagree with someone else's suggestion, by all means say so, and back up your viewpoint with an argument.

Have fun.

Related topics:

Film Reference and Analysis - the master discussion that inspired this thread.
Most Film-like Transfers? - companion discussion to this thread.


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Old 04-12-2012, 05:24 PM
 
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Evil Dead


Flawless remaster with what they had to work with, puts modern 35mm transfers to absolute shame.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:25 PM
 
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Rocky Horror Picture Show


Fox showing that they can play in Sony's world and at times rule it
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmike007 View Post

Rocky Horror Picture Show

PQ is again flawless showing why Sony is the very best in the business

That was a Fox title.

The proper setting for sharpness is always0.
Also my Oppo BDP-103D is region free.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanboyz View Post

That was a Fox title.

Pasted the wrong title the description was from the post below I have had to hastily change
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:32 PM
 
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Bridge on the River Kwai

PQ is again flawless showing why Sony is the very best in the business
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:42 PM
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A Nightmare on Elm Street (US realese)

Haven't seen it my self, but everyone seem to say it's near perfect and with grain intact.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:49 PM
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This could be a very long list these days, which is a good thing. I'm on my iPad so typing all of them out would be fatiguing.
I think the Spielberg remasters, like Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report, are about as good as it gets.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:51 PM
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Ben-Hur

We show it here at about 2.66 to 1 and, while only 86" wide, much of it looks like it was shot yesterday. And it's over a half century old.

Hank Brown

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JPEG's of my Home Theater.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 42041 View Post

This could be a very long list these days, which is a good thing. I'm on my iPad so typing all of them out would be fatiguing.
I think the Spielberg remasters, like Saving Private Ryan and Minority Report, are about as good as it gets.

Not representative of the film's original look, extensively re-colored and framed digitally
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dvdmike007 View Post

Not representative of the film's original look, extensively re-colored and framed digitally

Since I scarcely remember how they looked originally, and I haven't seen them on film since, I can't make that judgement call. On their own terms, I think they're stunning.
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:02 PM - Thread Starter
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I've only seen a few dozen films on Blu so far, but Carlito's Way is probably the best transfer of a catalog title that I've seen up to this point.

The image is often on the darker side, but unlike some other dark films I've seen on Blu-ray and DVD it never looks muddy or murky (which is probably a testament to the beautiful job done by the cinematographer and lighting designer). Contrast and detail are both excellent. And the color has a very natural and often quite lustrous (but not overdone) look to it in most scenes. There is one exterior scene toward the beginning of the film that takes place near a produce stand which has a particularly nice/natural-looking palette of colors. The color in this also reminds me a bit of the glamourous look in some old Hammer horror films (ie "Hammer glamour"). There is also a subtle film-grain visible in many scenes which rarely gets noticeable enough to be distracting.

Picture-wise, the worst thing I can probably say is that there's maybe a slight impression of horizontal edginess and ringing visible at times in some of the darker scenes. Some of that edginess could be attributable to the anamorphic lenses used for filming though, which tend to stretch out-of-focus highlights vertically.

Audio is also excellent on this title. The soundtrack is clear and dynamic, and features a lot of great old disco-era tunes.

This and Star Wars: A New Hope are my current references for older films.

Rated R for mature content btw.

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Old 04-12-2012, 06:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADU View Post

I've only seen a few dozen films on Blu so far, but Carlito's Way is probably the best transfer of a catalog title that I've seen up to this point.

The image is often on the darker side, but unlike some other dark films I've seen on Blu-ray and DVD it never looks muddy or murky (which is probably a testament to the beautiful job done by the cinematographer and lighting designer). Contrast and detail are both excellent. And the color has a very natural and often quite lustrous (but not overdone) look to it in most scenes. There is one exterior scene toward the beginning of the film that takes place near a produce stand which has a particularly nice/natural-looking palette of colors. The color in this also reminds me a bit of the glamourous look (ie "Hammer glamour") in some old Hammer horror films at times. There is also a subtle film-grain visible in many scenes, which rarely gets noticeable enough to be distracting.

Picture-wise, the worst thing I can probably say is that there's maybe a slight impression of horizontal edginess visible at times in some of the darker scenes. Some of that could be attributable to anamorphic lenses used for filming though, which tend to stretch out of focus highlights vertically.

Audio is also excellent on this title. The soundtrack is clear and dynamic, and features a lot of great old disco-era tunes.

This and Star Wars: A New Hope are my current references for older films.

Rated R for mature content btw.

There is DNR on both
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Old 04-12-2012, 06:31 PM
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Ben Hur
King Of Kings
The Bible
Cleopatra
The Bridge On The River Kwai
Taxi Driver
Superman: The Movie (theatrical cut)
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (despite what that one dude said about the gamma)
The Commancheros
Rocky Horror Picture Show (outside of the brief color filtering gaff)
The Deep
The Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad
Jason And The Argonauts
Easy Rider
Head
Five Easy Pieces
The Last Picture Show
Drive, He Said
The King Of Marvin Gardens
A Safe Place (though it's a dreadful film)
The Guns Of Navarone
The Caine Mutiny
The French Connection (remaster)
The Godfather I & II
The Cincinatti Kid
The African Queen (despite the ugly digital credit recreations)
The Ten Commandments
Wings
Fiddler On The Roof
An American In Paris
Brazil (token Universal title)

and lots more.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADU View Post

This and Star Wars: A New Hope are my current references for older films.

Oh man, Star Wars: A New Hope has some weird DNR artifacts. Just watch C3PO as he walks with R2-D2 from the escape pod, really annoying haloing artifacts once seen cannot be unseen.

I would not claim any of the OT look film like, and ESB has poor compressed and clipped soundtrack. Shame since that is my favorite of the bunch.

Best Regards
KvE

PS 42041 reminded me of the other fact that none of them have well rendered contrast or accurate nor appropriate color timings.

Politics is like a corral, no matter where you are you'll always be shovelling it.

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Old 04-12-2012, 07:53 PM
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The Star Wars blu's didn't impress me much either, sadly. The detail is often excellent, but that Lowry processing is icky, between that and the colors they look more like video than film, which I don't like.

The post above reminded me of Taxi Driver, aside from some very minor issues it's also an absolutely top-notch transfer. The new French Connection disc is of similar caliber.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:53 PM
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Just check the Tier sticky!

"I wonder if any of the releases had slipcovers though."
"Are these comfirmed to have slipcovers?"
"They look nice in those slips."
"This slipcover looks too good to pass up."
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by BIG ED View Post

Just check the Tier sticky!

I second that. The Tier thread is my go to list...
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Old 04-12-2012, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Superman2 View Post

I second that. The Tier thread is my go to list...

Right!
Check Tier Zero (not what I would have numbered it/as a number zero is nothing/although they we're probably going for 'zero defects') & your done.

"I wonder if any of the releases had slipcovers though."
"Are these comfirmed to have slipcovers?"
"They look nice in those slips."
"This slipcover looks too good to pass up."
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:28 PM
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This thread is about catalog transfers, meaning mostly pre-DI stuff. The Tier 0 discs are almost all DI transfers or stuff filmed/animated digitally in the first place, so of course they're going to look good (unless someone screws them up by adding DNR/EE/colors that wern't on the DI, or over-compressing them like Warner often does).

And to further distinguish it from the Tier thread, I think the point of this thread shouldn't be if a disc looks good or not, but whether or not it's faithful to the source. You can have a poor looking disc that would place low in the Tier thread, but it can still be faithful to the source, like stuff filmed on 16mm and 28 Days Later.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:59 AM
 
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Quote:
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Just check the Tier sticky!

Worst thread on the site
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Old 04-13-2012, 02:38 AM
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The Guns of Navarone looks great from Sony, except for the transition scenes which I guess were sourced from an old theatrical print, same thing with Bridge on the River Kwai.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:14 AM
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The Guns of Navarone brings up a question for me: Are we going to be describing 'good' transfers per an abstract conception (ie. comparing the movie to its "peers") or vis-a-vis what we otherwise know to be the condition of known elements of the individual film?

There is only so much that can be done with The Guns of Navarone because of processing/over-printing damage to the original elements. Another significant example would be the recent To Kill A Mockingbird disc- probably not considered great by many viewers' abstract standards, but perhaps much more commendable in light of what we could ever reasonably hope to expect of the existing elements for that particular film.

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Old 04-13-2012, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KMFDMvsEnya View Post

Oh man, Star Wars: A New Hope has some weird DNR artifacts. Just watch C3PO as he walks with R2-D2 from the escape pod, really annoying haloing artifacts once seen cannot be unseen.

I would not claim any of the OT look film like, and ESB has poor compressed and clipped soundtrack. Shame since that is my favorite of the bunch.

Best Regards
KvE

PS 42041 reminded me of the other fact that none of them have well rendered contrast or accurate nor appropriate color timings.

Could you please elaborate one the issues with Empire's soundtrack?

The proper setting for sharpness is always0.
Also my Oppo BDP-103D is region free.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:40 AM
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GREAT
* The Conversation
* American History X
* Fright Night
* Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
* Ben Hur


GREAT BUT ALTERED

* Star Wars IV-VI (not worth mentioning but, color timing and such)
* A Nightmare on Elm Street (new color timings)
* The Evil Dead (little continuity fixes here and there)

The proper setting for sharpness is always0.
Also my Oppo BDP-103D is region free.
That makes me awesome.
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanboyz View Post

* Star Wars IV-VI (not worth mentioning but, color timing and such)

To say nothing of content alterations and edits never seen in any theatrical release.

I don't feel special...
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Old 04-13-2012, 09:44 AM
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Most of the good ones that come to mind have already been said but I'll throw these in as well:

The Seventh Seal
Braveheart (minor jaggies in the first reel notwithstanding)
The Night of the Hunter
The Princess Bride
Manhunter
Yojimbo
Labyrinth
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

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Old 04-13-2012, 10:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spectator View Post

To say nothing of content alterations and edits never seen in any theatrical release.

Pretty much. If you're calling Star Wars a catalog title, then its only fair to compare it against the 1977/1980/1983 theatrical versions. And in that case it's quite possibly the worst catalog transfer I've ever seen. Not only are there the obvious major content changes, but blacks are crushed, highlights are blown out, there's some sort of weird Lowryization (I wouldn't call it DNR, maybe proto-DNR) especially evident in the Tatooine desert, color is badly shifted all over the place, and sound is just plain screwed up. I would call Predator UHE a better transfer than Star Wars any day.

If you take the Lucasfilm position that Star Wars is a work in progress and all changes are part of the original vision, then the Star Wars trilogy Blu Rays are films first released in 2011 and are not catalog titles at all. Either way none of them belong in this list.
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Old 04-13-2012, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spectator View Post


To say nothing of content alterations and edits never seen in any theatrical release.

And DNR, and halos and artifacting caused by the DNR
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:00 PM
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The most impressive, in terms of preserving an acute HD clarity, that I've seen lately was It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. I didn't watch it with a critical eye, but was absolutely stunned by the visuals from beginning to end.

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