The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 756 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #22651 of 22675 Old 06-14-2015, 06:33 PM
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Oculus

My, how the "horror genre" has changed when it comes to PQ! Gone are the days of incredibly poor black levels, dizzying noise, softness and a flat picture void of details. Oculus boasts mesmerizing clarity, sharpness, black levels (with corresponding shadow details), contrast, colors, details and depth...from beginning to end. Enough said!

Tie Recommendation: Tier 0* (.75)

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post #22652 of 22675 Old 06-14-2015, 07:15 PM
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I've literally been meaning to see Oculus since it first hit Blu-ray. I can't believe you beat me to a newish horror release, Denny.

Horror fans will be pleased to know that Warner Bros. finally announced they will put four of their Hammer films on Blu-ray this October: The Mummy, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, and Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.

The Pillow Book

recommendation: Tier 2.25*

Independent distributor Film Movement Classics brings The Pillow Book to Blu-ray in a very fine 1.33:1 presentation that easily supersedes prior home video versions. It retains all of the various aspect ratios from the original theatrical run. The Pillow Book has very elaborate, changing cinematography during its uncut 126-minute running time. A number of aspect ratios are utilized within the larger 1.33 aspect ratio, supervised by Peter Greenaway himself for this movie's prior home video release. The stylized video presentation marks a sizable improvement in clarity and definition.

The 1080P main feature is encoded in AVC, averaging a fairly high 30 Mbps in a transparent encode without artifacts. The 1996 film has its best picture quality when the full 1.33 window is being used. The color saturation is deep and vivid, bringing out striking magenta tones. Contrast is steady with solid black levels. Flesh-tones are on the pale side. It's possible a touch of filtering was applied, the grain structure is rather smooth though fine detail still remains. The film elements are in pristine condition.

Some caveats apply to the picture-in-picture sections and some of the smaller aspect ratios matted inside the bigger 1.33:1 frame. The wider shots definitely suffer a bit in ultimate resolution when shrunk that small, even on a larger display or projection screen. I expected a sloppier technical experience, the superimposed imagery works without a hitch.

In some ways this is a remarkable new film transfer since The Pillow Book is such a demanding visual experience. While this transfer doesn't have the utmost detail or richest film quality, its clarity and definition are huge improvements.

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post #22653 of 22675 Old 06-14-2015, 09:05 PM
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Serena

This one caught my eye at the video store this afternoon. I was intrigued that Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence were doing another film together; that, along with reports of excellent PQ, made this a must-see.

The movie was so-so (nothing to write home to Mama about) and the PQ was STUNNING. This was filmed in the Smokey Mountains and the cinematography is amazing! Whether you're viewing panoramic shots or close-ups, they are teeming with crisp details! You can see every nuance in trees, roads, buildings, clothing, faces, and the list goes on and on. When primaries were on display they were bright and bold. Flesh tones were, for the most part, spot on. Blacks levels were deep and shadow details were never lacking. The majority of its 100 minute running time had stellar clarity and many shots had appreciable depth.

I must draw our attention to a couple of issues that may keep this out of the coveted Tier Blu. In a few instances as the camera was drawing in close on Bradley Cooper it became soft and out of focus. This even created a red push in his facial flesh tone. And then there were several shots where the director felt constrained to throw in some color-grading and he chose the increasingly popular "yellow hues" on those occasions. This resulted in a softening of the PQ and a lack of clarity and details. If not for these I'd be voting for low Tier 0, but conscience dictates that I put it right here...

Tier Recommendation: 1.0*

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post #22654 of 22675 Old 06-15-2015, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
Oculus

My, how the "horror genre" has changed when it comes to PQ! Gone are the days of incredibly poor black levels, dizzying noise, softness and a flat picture void of details. Oculus boasts mesmerizing clarity, sharpness, black levels (with corresponding shadow details), contrast, colors, details and depth...from beginning to end. Enough said!

Tie Recommendation: Tier 0* (.75)
My experience with this disc was very different - will need to give it a re-run. I recall some awful blacks.
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post #22655 of 22675 Old 06-15-2015, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rusky_g View Post
My experience with this disc was very different - will need to give it a re-run. I recall some awful blacks.
I just took the disc back Russ, or I would give it another spin and Fast-forward to the scenes with blacks. But I remember EVERY scene looking good and NONE looking bad.

I just found this review on Blu-ray.com:

Oculus is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1. Shot digitally with the Arri Alexa (Plus), Oculus makes full use of the tonal ranges the Arri Alexa is able to easily capture, offering brightly lit outdoor sequences and somewhat murky looking dimly lit interior scenes with equal sharpness, if not quite equal detail. Flanagan utilizes a number of extreme close-ups (visible in some of the screenshots included with this review) where fine detail is at spectacularly sharp levels. Colors are accurate looking, though the film tamps the palette down as things progress and more and more of the film takes place in near darkness. Shadow detail is still quite commendable in many of these darker sequences. There's no really aggressive color grading here, although some dark scenes have just a hint of blue in them. There are no problematic compression artifacts on display here, despite the overabundance of dark scenes.

He gave it a PQ score of 5 Stars (the most you can get).

He does mention "somewhat murky-looking dimly lit interior scenes with equal sharpness." That almost sounds like a contradiction of terms to me, but what I think he's describing is blacks that aren't "deep and inky" because there are lights, albeit "dimly lit." But he states "with equal sharpness," so he can't be describing bad black levels if the PQ is sharp. He goes on to say, "Shadow detail is still quite commendable in many of these darker scenes." That's exactly what impressed me...very good shadow detail! You simply can't have good shadow detail if the black levels are terrible.

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post #22656 of 22675 Old 06-16-2015, 05:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rusky_g View Post
My experience with this disc was very different - will need to give it a re-run. I recall some awful blacks.
Me again Russ. I woke up this morning and I remembered that my copy of Oculus had a couple of glitches in it where it would just freeze up. The only way I could get past those was to skip the rest of the chapter. So, it is quite possible that there could have been some poor blacks in the scenes that I missed. When I wrote the review I just figured there was consistency in everything I did see so it must have been good all the way through.

I checked to see if anyone wrote a review on this thread and there was one by Famouss. He gave it a 1.0 and in his comments on the black levels he said, "black levels overall were very good although they wavered here and there." If indeed I did miss those times when the blacks faltered, I would definitely change my placement recommendation from .75 to 1.0.

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post #22657 of 22675 Old 06-17-2015, 07:57 PM
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Coffy (Region B UK)

recommendation: Tier 4.0*

Arrow Video has locked this Blu-ray to Region B since they only control rights for the movie in the United Kingdom. Olive Films has released their own version of Coffy in the United States, presumably from the same HD master licensed from MGM. This is a serviceable, steady film transfer that looks like many other older MGM-licensed films on the format. The 1973 film is presented in its intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio at 1080P resolution. This is not a recent transfer derived from a pristine scan of the original camera negative. Coffy has adequate clarity and definition, showing a decent improvement in the transition to Hi-Def video. Arrow claims this transfer was made from a 35mm interpositive, which sounds correct.

One thing that does its job is the strong AVC video encode, mastered at high bitrates on a BD-50. The compression has to deal with the thick grain structure of Coffy and its occasionally suspect black levels. Darker shots turn out fairly rough in picture quality, clipping some shadow detail and delineation. The softer film has its sharper moments but doesn’t exude the type of depth seen in newer film scans from better elements.

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post #22658 of 22675 Old 06-18-2015, 02:16 AM
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Gone Girl
One of the sharpest non-animated movies I've ever seen. Especially the second half where the darkish/blueish tone from the first half seems to be lifted. Apparently shot with the Red Epic Dragon it's a feast for the eyes.

1.0 Blu


Ex Machina

A very bloomy soft film. Almost looks like added blur throughout the film. Probably a conscious decision but still below average (for a new release).

Great film though.

2.5 Silver


The Bridge on the River Kwai
This movie (1957!) has no business looking this good. After being very impressed with Rear Window and To Catch a Thief its wonderful to find another awesome transfer of an older (vintage) movie. Although it's not up to par compared to newest releases I still really love the look of this film.

1.5 Gold
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post #22659 of 22675 Old 06-18-2015, 06:17 AM
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^^^^^^

Thanks for the good reviews burnfout!

If you like the look of Gone Girl you should watch Lucy. That one might just blow you away!

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post #22660 of 22675 Old 06-20-2015, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
Me again Russ. I woke up this morning and I remembered that my copy of Oculus had a couple of glitches in it where it would just freeze up. The only way I could get past those was to skip the rest of the chapter. So, it is quite possible that there could have been some poor blacks in the scenes that I missed. When I wrote the review I just figured there was consistency in everything I did see so it must have been good all the way through.

I checked to see if anyone wrote a review on this thread and there was one by Famouss. He gave it a 1.0 and in his comments on the black levels he said, "black levels overall were very good although they wavered here and there." If indeed I did miss those times when the blacks faltered, I would definitely change my placement recommendation from .75 to 1.0.
Hey Denny

All my a/v stuff is in storage until Monday when we move in to the new house - I'll confess that my viewing of Oculus was also partial so will give it a full re-run and chime back in - can't wait to get back to reviewing as there's a stack of Blu's I can't wait to see!
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post #22661 of 22675 Old 06-24-2015, 03:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post
^^^^^^

Thanks for the good reviews burnfout!

If you like the look of Gone Girl you should watch Lucy. That one might just blow you away!

Thanks, yeah Lucy is definitely still on my list!


Big Eyes

With a 1.78:1 transfer (full screen) this is quite the looker. A nice clean and sharp disc where the thing that really shines are the beautiful colors. The blue ocean, green cars, neon signs on a black street all really pop of the screen.

I did see a couple of small banding issues, but overall a great disc.

Very high up on: Tier 1 Gold
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post #22662 of 22675 Old 06-24-2015, 08:29 AM
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Speaking of "Lucy's" very favorable PQ reviews here, the complex IMDB tech spec section seems interesting. It mentions Arri, Red, IMAX, and Sony F65 hardware was used, although the digital intermediate master format boiled everything down to 2k (before Blu-ray's 1080p).

An interview with the photography director shows the 8k F65 digital camera was used mostly, selected in large part for its color delivery. And 4k F65 RAW was also used.

Considering buying a Lucy disc to attempt measuring whether 2k=>1080p, from higher-resolution original sources, can equal (effective-resolution-wise), a disc such as "The Tree of Life," shot on film with 4k DI to 1080p conversion. -- John


EDIT: Notice "Gone Girl" used a 4k DI from a 6k Red camera codec. Both Lucy and Gone Girl are ~2.40:1, though, versus Tree of Lile's ~1.84:1. Assume none of the three can deliver >1920 lines effective resolution on most home displays, and black bars on the two ~2.40:1 movies, as discussed earlier above, lose a fair amount of 'subjective' resolution on 16X9s.. Saw Gone Girl on HBO last weekend and not unexpectedly PQ didn't stand out.

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post #22663 of 22675 Old 06-24-2015, 12:14 PM
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I am not sure Lucy would give an honest answer in your measurements but it would be interesting to find out.

Horsehead

recommendation: Tier 1.5*

Horsehead's cinematography is an elegant, sumptuous experience that looks stunning at times. The strong clarity revealed in the 2.39:1 presentation includes razor-sharp definition and flawless detail. The usage of light and shadow is masterful, especially in the surreal dream scenes. This is one filmmaker to keep an eye on in the future.

Horsehead's unforgettable imagery looks nearly perfect on this Blu-ray edition from Artsploitation Films. Filmed with RED cameras, the French production has immaculate picture quality. The only thing keeping it from a better ranking is a suspect AVC video encode that leads to occasional banding.

The transfer is likely from a pristine digital intermediate. It hasn't been processed beyond what was necessary for VFX and composite work. There isn't a hint of unnecessary noise or aliasing.

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post #22664 of 22675 Old 06-25-2015, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
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Saw Gone Girl on HBO last weekend and not unexpectedly PQ didn't stand out.
Probably more related with streaming then the actual PQ? I've never been impressed with a stream of anything.
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post #22665 of 22675 Old 06-25-2015, 05:45 AM
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Probably more related with streaming then the actual PQ? I've never been impressed with a stream of anything.
Same here, although watched Gone Girl via Verizon's FIOS HBO premium channel service, not streaming. Read that FIOS is now putting ~3 channels per QAM versus 2 earlier, so the bit rate was likely far less than the BRD. == John
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post #22666 of 22675 Old 06-25-2015, 10:26 AM
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Verizon's typical picture quality has gotten worse over the years.

Pit Stop

recommendation: Tier 4.5*

Arrow Video struck this transfer from director Jack Hill's own answer print. Pit Stop was filmed on the cheap in the late 1960s, originally backed by Roger Corman. The monochrome cinematography looks okay with only minor fluctuations to the print's contrast and density. There is some remaining film damage despite Arrow's best efforts to fix it.

The transfer has not been filtered. It looks surprisingly organic and film-like.

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post #22667 of 22675 Old 06-26-2015, 01:22 AM
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Inside Man

A six year old movie but still looking mighty fine. It outperforms several newer discs I've recently watched. I noticed nice inky blacks and good sharpness and clarity throughout with very few soft shots. Facial details are also great. As soon as the movies starts with the extreme close up of Clive Owen I was already impressed.

And sidenote: this Universal disc still has menu text instead of the horrible bland icons menus of (seemingly) all my other universal discs.

1.25 Gold
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post #22668 of 22675 Old 06-26-2015, 11:03 AM
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I think Universal switched to those bland menus to cut costs and author BDs for a global audience around five years ago. WB did the same thing.

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter

recommendation: Tier 1.75*

In some ways this independent film released by Starz/Anchor Bay has a stark beauty. The video quality has deep color saturation and very nice definition. An adequate video encode handles the carefully-shot production without severe difficulties. A hint of posterization and aliasing can be spotted in a few shots.

This type of clear picture quality would have probably earned a better ranking several years ago. The crisp digital video has excellent clarity and razor-sharp detail worthy of Tier One. The competition has simply gotten fierce at this level and the fantastic digital cinematography doesn't stand out as much these days.

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post #22669 of 22675 Old 06-27-2015, 08:40 PM
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The Pyramid

recommendation: Tier 2.25*

The 2014 horror film was released just last month on Blu-ray from Twentieth-Century Fox. The Pyramid's video quality is rather excellent when given the chance. It would have landed in Tier One without much of a fight if a couple of things weren't preventing it.

Most of the film transitions after a very good-looking opening act inside the darkened interiors of said pyramid. That prevents the kind of lovely detail and definition needed for a higher ranking despite its razor-sharp clarity. The firm black levels don't have much of a problem retaining shadow delineation.

One other minor problem is the occasional burst of banding in the 88-minute main feature. Despite an incredibly high AVC video encode that averages 36 Mbps, the presence of camera lights used inside the pyramid plays havoc with the light gradients.

This is a strong digital transfer that likely duplicates the 2K digital intermediate with complete transparency. It wouldn't be a travesty if someone else argued for a higher placement.

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post #22670 of 22675 Old 06-29-2015, 11:12 AM
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The Happiness of the Katakuris

recommendation: Tier 2.5*

Director Takashi Miike's madcap horror comedy was shot with early digital video technology. This is supposedly a new digital film transfer done for Arrow Video. Definition and clarity are fairly high but the contrast is a bit washed-out and color saturation could be better. Aside from those issues the video encode is flawless, bearing all the hallmarks of crisp digital video footage.

This BD certainly looks far better than prior DVD editions. The 2001 film is presented in its best possible fidelity and transparency to the original master.

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post #22671 of 22675 Old 06-30-2015, 06:49 PM
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Survivor

This Blu was absolutely STUNNING....in about HALF of its 100 minute running time. In those scenes the CLARITY and DEPTH were simply amazing, with DETAILS to match. BLACK LEVELS and SHADOW DETAILS were also phenomenal in those shots as well. The other HALF was, for the most part, excellent Tier 1 material. But there were instances where dark scenes became murky, soft and flat. Thankfully they were "few and far between," but there were enough to warrant some penalization. All things considered I'm thinking this is worth a high Tier 1 ranking. I'd like to go with the top of that tier, but my conscience dictates it should be dropped a notch....

Tier Recommendation: 1.25*

PS I had forgotten how much Pierce Brosnan has aged, but with some good facial close-ups I spotted some unsightly "age spots" on his forehead/temple. You gotta believe many actors are frowning upon this technology we call High Definition!
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The Imitation Game

New house sorted so reviews recommenced!

And what a gem to set things off, for this was a beauty! Textures and contrast were the standout features, tweed fabrics common in the era really stood out in particular. The colours were warm and inviting when needed but the pallete became muted when called for in the more serious flashback moments. There was tremendous depth in many scenes with excellent detail, any shot which featured 'Christopher' serving as prime examples. Elsewhere blacks and shadow detail were finally balanced, only a few fleeting soft shots noticed by my partner also kept this from the very top but that's just nitpicking to be honest.

A solid....
Tier 1.0
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Ghosthouse

recommendation: Tier 4.0*

This is part of a double-feature with Witchery. The Italian-made horror movie's film transfer appears to have been sourced from an older telecine master, possibly struck in Italy. The elements are in stable condition with decent cinematography considering their origins, there just is not a huge amount of fine detail in the 1080P video.

The encoding looks good with few artifacts, despite cramming two movies on a single BD-50.

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Quote:
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The Imitation Game

New house sorted so reviews recommenced!

And what a gem to set things off, for this was a beauty! Textures and contrast were the standout features, tweed fabrics common in the era really stood out in particular. The colours were warm and inviting when needed but the pallete became muted when called for in the more serious flashback moments. There was tremendous depth in many scenes with excellent detail, any shot which featured 'Christopher' serving as prime examples. Elsewhere blacks and shadow detail were finally balanced, only a few fleeting soft shots noticed by my partner also kept this from the very top but that's just nitpicking to be honest.

A solid....
Tier 1.0
Welcome back Russ!

Of course I agree with your analysis of this outstanding Blu, for it was a "gem" and a "beauty." I am a bit surprised you didn't consider it worthy of Tier Blu (as you may know, there were two of us who voted for .75 so it's in Tier Blu right now). If Phantom is viewing this post, I do have a question for him. Since there were two votes for .75, why is sitting in the BOTTOM of Tier Blu? Why isn't it at the .75 spot since there were no other reviews that came in with a placement recommendation?

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Good to be back, Denny! I have many titles to get through. I debated long and hard about this ranking, arguably it's low tier zero, top of tier one but my heart just about swung me towards the latter. In summary any PQ fan should most definitely put it on their list!
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Reply Blu-ray Software

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