Originally Posted by wuther
The problem is (or was) the studio/distributor/mastering management who have wildly different ideas of what the 'modern' home video consumers want. These are the same geniuses that thought home video should only be pan & scan.
No, actually those were different
geniuses. The executive offices at major studios have been revolving doors for the past 20 years or so, particularly in home video departments. The guy who made the decision to over-grain-reduce a 1995 transfer isn't the same guy who did it in 2000 or 2005 or 2010 or today. It's all different people. I like to think they've gotten smarter over the years, but some things never change.
It does not help there are still film grain haters demanding HD be clean though. For over a hundred year film goers have paid to watch productions with different levels of grain consistently and you will not find them complaining about it coming out the theater.
Don't forget that the very first Blu-ray releases in June of 2006 were roundly criticized for being grainy, being full of dirts, tons of scratches, and being very haphazardly mastered. Only when the discs got returned in droves did the studios sit up and take notice, and their reaction was to go in the opposite direction: spending lots of time removing all the positive and negative dirt, smoothing out density issues, and in some cases, doing too much grain reduction.
Finding a balance between spending money, spending time, having reasonable taste, and having technical expertise is the biggest problem we have in the entire mastering industry.
Lowry had a thing about it sure and he was wrong, not that there is any film grain consistently between the Bond film masters which is want he really should of been worried about but I am sure the pressure to knock them out fast had partly to do with it.
I was not around when the Bond films were being done, but I have been led to believe that MGM/UA (and Danjaq) spent an awful lot of money restoring all the films, knowing that this added to the value of their library and was also an important part of the Bond legacy. The films have made so many billions of dollars, even spending $500K-$600K per release would be a drop in the bucket. (I have no idea what was actually spent, but it's not an atypical amount for 4K restoration of this scale.)
John Lowry himself was a very curmudgeonly, opinionated guy, but he generally had a good attitude and a real fondness for the work. I knew John casually when I worked for Image Transform back in the 1980s, and the idea for Lowry Digital was more towards film preservation -- not grain reduction per se. The Lowry Process was actually a whole umbrella group of software used for grain management, noise reduction, selective enhancement, de-flicker, dirt removal, and other things including realignment of YCM separation, 3D imaging, and so on.
They actually cared very much about what they did, and the people I knew over there (all of which are now gone as far as I know) did great work. If anything, they might have been the most expensive restoration company around, because they did take a lot of time and care at trying to do things right. On the rare occasions I've seen questionable work come out of Lowry (or many other facilities), usually that was a deliberate choice on the part of the studio.
If a client hits you on the back of the head and says, "I want it green and ugly," the reality of the business is you either do what they ask for, or they walk out and take the work elsewhere. We can make all the tactful suggestions we can, but the bottom line is that the director or the studio rep in charge of the project makes that call.