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post #1 of 17 Old 07-17-2014, 08:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Transcendence

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Transc.../79102/#Review

I find it rather ironic that this film from DOP Wally Pfister, who prefers film to digital origination, is now on a BD that is more digital than film like. With copious amounts of DNR. I'd really prefer he shot it digitally and we would get that as is than shot on film and then get this overprocessed nonsense. Way to go WB, and Mr. Pfister for letting this happen.
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post #2 of 17 Old 07-19-2014, 06:30 PM
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I have seen Transcendence and it is filtered, though that review goes overboard on its severity and impact. How else were they going to keep Johnny Depp looking young? The video filtering helps Morgan Freeman look younger than he has in years.

Seriously, I have seen much worse examples. However, I think people will be visually disappointed, there is no groundbreaking cinematography on display given the subject matter. Everything feels like most of the budget went towards the deep and impressive cast. The VFX appear to be a failure of the imagination.
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post #3 of 17 Old 07-19-2014, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
I have seen Transcendence and it is filtered, ...
At which theater?
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post #4 of 17 Old 07-19-2014, 06:53 PM
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At which theater?
I'm speaking of the Blu-ray having been filtered, I have a review copy.
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post #5 of 17 Old 07-19-2014, 10:12 PM
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Ha!
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post #6 of 17 Old 07-20-2014, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
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It was not filtered in the cinema. Give me the DCP reformatted to 1080p Rec 709 and we are good.
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post #7 of 17 Old 07-20-2014, 03:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
I have seen Transcendence and it is filtered, though that review goes overboard on its severity and impact.
What do you mean "filtered"? Do you mean diffused or defocused?

Guaranteed, every movie these days (particularly with, shall we say, "actors of a certain age") goes through a defocus process on close-ups where they pull a defocus key on skintones to minimize wrinkles. You'd be surprised how often this has happened in the last 10 years. There are ways to do this that don't knock the whole image out of focus, nor does it filter anything per se; think of it as more of an anti-aliasing process.

I'd have to see the Blu-ray in question to understand what you're saying, but there could be a lot of things going on here, particularly when you bear into account the specific compression used in authoring. But a high-end ($100M) movie like this probably had lots and lots of tweaking at various stages, even though it originated on film. Pfister's a very sharp guy, very technical, and very hands-on; I'd bet for sure that everything you see on the disc was approved by him.
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post #8 of 17 Old 07-20-2014, 10:53 AM
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There is definite filtering going on, I have good references from other Blu-rays on how Morgan Freeman looks on screen in 1080p. I was not the one railing about it, merely confirming its existence. Pfister knows what he is doing with a camera, this looks very similar to other films he has worked on like Inception. People familiar with our Blu-ray Tiers's grading scale should be cognizant I placed it in Tier 1.75, even noting the less-than-stellar detail. Nothing will seem out of the ordinary for casual viewers, this is just not demo material despite the flashy CGI.
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post #9 of 17 Old 07-20-2014, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
There is definite filtering going on, I have good references from other Blu-rays on how Morgan Freeman looks on screen in 1080p.
Again: can you articulate what you mean by the word "filtered"? I've never heard it, so I'm confused by what you mean.

There are camera filters typically used in capture, like infrared filters or grad filters or diffusion filters or neutral density filters or daylight-compensation filters, but none will affect the image in the way you you're talking about. We do pull defocus keys during mastering just to slightly blur skin tones in order to cover up age lines, pores, facial scars, bad makeup, and similar problems, but they can only go so far. I haven't seen the transfer yet, so I can't say how good or ugly it looks.

If you simply mean, "they've degraded the resolution of this film so that it's not sharp enough," just say that. In this case, I'd say what you're seeing was a conscious decision by Wally Pfister, who's very technical and very aware of the mastering process. Again: a very hands-on guy.

But the term "filtered" has no meaning by itself. We need to have the same common language in order to communicate. There are real words that exist in mastering and cinematography, and I generally try to stick to those.
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post #10 of 17 Old 07-20-2014, 05:27 PM
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When people here speak of filtering it's usually a low-pass filter commonly applied to the entire Digital Intermediate, though it's tough to suss out in Transcendence with all of the VFX going on. It's very possible they didn't run such a crude software process, though it is done in certain cases to more evenly blend the digital effects into the film's structure. The defocus keys on certain stars are more evident than others in Transcendence, they didn't go wild with them like I've seen in some other big-budget movies with major stars. I have seen all of these actors (Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Johnny Depp, etc.) in films with less processing in quality 1080p, resulting in better definition and more actual resolution than Transcendence. I thought its color grading was very good, which I now feel is more important than ever.

Another issue gone unmentioned is the fairly weak AVC video encode for a major new release, possibly contributing to problems not seen on the Digital Intermediate. Here is the pertinent BDInfo scan data, WB went with a BD-25:


Code:
Title                                                           Codec    Length  Movie Size      Disc Size       Bitrate Bitrate Main Audio  Track                          Secondary Audio Track
-----                                                           ------   ------- --------------  --------------  ------- -------  ------------------                        ---------------------
00100.MPLS                                                       AVC     1:59:16 19,898,523,648  23,001,398,207  22.24   17.87   DTS-HD  Master 5.1 2151Kbps (48kHz/16-bit)
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post #11 of 17 Old 07-21-2014, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post
When people here speak of filtering it's usually a low-pass filter commonly applied to the entire Digital Intermediate, though it's tough to suss out in Transcendence with all of the VFX going on. It's very possible they didn't run such a crude software process, though it is done in certain cases to more evenly blend the digital effects into the film's structure.
Looked up the film's imdb tech specs yesterday, noticing there's no D.I. info provided. AIUI, some 99% of productions are reduced to 2k DIs before theater presentation ( Cioni video ). Cioni, who's 'in the biz', may also have mentioned it's often for VFX smoothing. Perhaps a 2k was used here for both D-cinema and the Blu-ray master? -- John


Jess Hall outlines why it was photochemical for everything but the digital media in a Onfilm interview .

Last edited by John Mason; 07-21-2014 at 10:58 AM. Reason: add-on
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post #12 of 17 Old 07-21-2014, 10:31 AM
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It's possible we are getting too jaded by the ultra-pristine transfers from digitally-shot blockbusters. Transcendence really doesn't look much different than a number of other movies shot on film driven by VFX, released under Warner Bros. in the past decade.
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post #13 of 17 Old 07-21-2014, 06:43 PM
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I thought it looked filtered in the theater. It looked very much like the non-IMAX portions of The Dark Knight Rises.
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post #14 of 17 Old 07-23-2014, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mason View Post
Looked up the film's imdb tech specs yesterday, noticing there's no D.I. info provided. AIUI, some 99% of productions are reduced to 2k DIs before theater presentation ( Cioni video ). Cioni, who's 'in the biz', may also have mentioned it's often for VFX smoothing. Perhaps a 2k was used here for both D-cinema and the Blu-ray master? -- John
If I'm not mistaken, Pfister doesn't like the DI process and is a holdout for photochemical post-production.

All of the movies Pfister has shot have a similar soft focus look to them, aside from the specific exception of the IMAX footage in the last two Dark Knight movies. I think this is more likely a lens choice than DNR.

When I saw Inception in the cinema, I got very annoyed when it appeared that the theater was projecting the entire movie out of focus. Then I bought the Blu-ray a few months later, and what do you know, it looks pretty much the same.

People in this forum are quick to yell "DNR!" anytime a new Blu-ray doesn't have razor sharp micro-detail in every pixel. Sometimes that turns out to be the culprit, and sometimes not.

Note: I have not watched Transcendence.

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Last edited by Josh Z; 07-23-2014 at 08:26 AM.
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post #15 of 17 Old 07-23-2014, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
If I'm not mistaken, Pfister doesn't like the DI process and is a holdout for photochemical post-production.

All of the movies Pfister has shot have a similar soft focus look to them, aside from the specific exception of the IMAX footage in the last two Dark Knight movies. I think this is more likely a lens choice than DNR.

When I saw Inception in the cinema, I got very annoyed when it appeared that the theater was projecting the entire movie out of focus. Then I bought the Blu-ray a few months later, and what do you know, it looks pretty much the same.

People in this forum are quick to yell "DNR!" anytime a new Blu-ray doesn't have razor sharp micro-detail in every pixel. Sometimes that turns out to be the culprit, and sometimes not.

Note: I have not watched Transcendence.
Sure enough. The last URL link edited into my post, not included with your excerpt, made it clear about the non-DI preferences of those making the film; (search the linked Kodak magazine article for Transcendence). -- John
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post #16 of 17 Old Yesterday, 02:00 AM - Thread Starter
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The stills at blu-ray.com show a digitally grain filtered image, not a digitally low pass filtered one or an optically defocused one or one shot with diffusion filters. Also sometimes bit starved and with compression artifacts.
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post #17 of 17 Old Yesterday, 12:51 PM
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More untouched 1080p screenshots from this disc. While this is not a reference transfer by any stretch, I still think it's very serviceable in practice.
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