Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Page 16 - AVS Forum
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post #451 of 473 Old 02-14-2012, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by flexx View Post


it looks exactly how it's supposed to look. Perhaps a brand new 4k or 8k transfer might resolve the grain even more, but hey...

maybe this kind of "popular" opinion is why the 30th anniversary ultimate edition set is $13.99 at amazon and an unbelievable $9.99 at best buy.

It's actually a bit depressing...

I'm a huge fan of the film, saw it multiple times in 1977-78, 1980, have the criterion cav set, the dvd special edition, had the orig cd pressing of the soundtrack, have the remastered cd, have the orig script, topps card set, poster, and now the blu-ray, which imho is the holy grail for this film.

Add it to your library before the ue pressing is gone.

Just my $.02



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post #452 of 473 Old 02-14-2012, 04:34 PM
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Nice, Flexx! I've still got my Fotonovel. Remember how great that was, back before we could just pop in a VHS?
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post #453 of 473 Old 02-14-2012, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ADU View Post

Picked up the box set, and watched the DC version. I probably saw this film in it's various incarnations at least a half dozen times in theaters, and it's still a very enjoyable flick in many ways (though beginning to show a few signs of age here and there).

But... of the 2 dozen or so BDs I've seen so far on my displays, the Close Encounters DC is one of the ugliest-looking. The colors look badly degraded, and most of the FX shots look cartoonishly blown-out. So I can't recommend this for it's PQ.

The Dolby audio track also sounded rather distorted and lacking in clarity (esp. compared to the Logan's Run track which sounds crystal clear, and like it might have been recorded yesterday on high-quality digital equipment).

I am mystified.

What are the BDs you've watched that you think looked great?
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post #454 of 473 Old 02-14-2012, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

Nice, Flexx! I've still got my Fotonovel. Remember how great that was, back before we could just pop in a VHS?

Thanks!

It pains me to say I *had* the CE3K Fotonovel as well and I can't find it...ugh... I did find the cards and put them in top loaders recently.

Still have the Saturday Night Fever, Grease, Rocky II, Heaven Can Wait, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) photo books!
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post #455 of 473 Old 02-14-2012, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

..... The film grain and "original film experience" are so perfectly captured, without DNR or weird modernization of the color palette. This presentation is exactly faithful to my lifelong memories and experiences of seeing this particular movie......

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

.......I think it really does come down to taste. The material--to my eyes--is first rate; it just hasn't been "cleaned up" to look like a modern digital movie, like a lot of other blockbusters. What you're seeing on CE3K actually resembles a photo-chemical print.... and personally, I wish more releases looked this way! To each his own.

+1!

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Originally Posted by Flexx View Post

........Maybe this kind of "popular" opinion is why the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition set is $13.99 at Amazon and an unbelievable $9.99 at Best Buy.

It's actually a bit depressing...


..........Add it to your library before the UE pressing is gone.

Just my $.02

Agreed! It's a steal at those prices. I believe when I bought it in 2008 I paid about $45.

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post #456 of 473 Old 02-15-2012, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by InspectorToschi View Post

Interesting. This is one of the first Blu-rays I bought and one of the main Blu-rays that truly made me appreciate what the format was capable of. Watching this Blu-ray upon release was the first time (For me at least) that a home video actually looked like film. For two hours I felt like I was actually in a little theater and the movie was being projected onto my wall. While I'm sure the transfer can be approved upon given the current technology, I watch this disc about two times a year and each time get swept away by how beautiful it looks.

For me it was La Femme Nikita. I felt like I was in an art house cinema, watching it for the first time all over again.

But yeah, add me to the list for those who are quite happy with CE3K on BD.
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post #457 of 473 Old 02-18-2012, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strevlac View Post

What are the BDs you've watched that you think looked great?

For fans of SF, Alien, Forbidden Planet, Logan's Run, and Star Wars 4-6 all look pretty good to me on Blu-ray. These were all made around the same time as Close Encounters (except Forbidden Planet which was made in 1956), and they all have a pretty filmic look. And they generally look much better to me on BD than Close Encounters.

Alien just seems to get better with age. There's been some add'l color and contrast enhancement for the BD edition to give it a slightly more modern look. IMO these adjustments are mostly for the best. The blacks look extremely deep on my HD CRT, and the images have a tremendous sense of "3D-ness", even without wearing any funny glasses.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The scene were Kane (J. Hurt) is bending over the egg and examining it is a particularly good example.


All of the money-shots of the planets and ships look outstanding in this. It's really a testament to the quality of the original filmmaking and FX work that this holds up as well as it does some 30+ years after it was made.

FWIW, I've already posted a few basic impressions of Forbidden Planet here. This xfer is also pretty remarkable when you consider the film was made in the early era of color. There is some noticeable grain in the background images in some scenes, and the detail gets a bit softer during dissolves and some FX shots, but aside from those occasional issues, the picture looks very detailed, and has very nice color and contrast in most scenes. And it's got a great score.

Logan's Run also looks pretty damn good for a film made in 1976. There are some signs of degradation/dirt here and there, but this xfer is probably the least "tweaked" in appearance of the bunch, and has the most natural look to it. And the contrast, detail and color (which is quite rich and varied thanks to some nice art direction) have all held up really well. The exterior and matte shots also look great, and have a very natural film quality to them. I'll backpeddle a little on the soundtrack though. The audio is quite clean on this film for the most part, but it's a little top/treble-heavy and there is some distortion apparent during some of the louder music and FX sequences. (Be advised that the audio ranges from quite soft to quite loud at times on this film.)

Star Wars 4-6 also look quite good on BD. These three films have obviously gotten a digital scrubbing-up, but most of the original model and matte shots are still intact, and look quite good. And generally speaking, the new CG material is integrated pretty well with the older FX shots.

Many of the scenes on Tatooine are heavy on browns. And I can't quite articulate why most of those scenes in A New Hope look good to me, but the ones in Close Encounters do not, except that there's a depth, luster and nuance to the colors in ANH that seems lacking in the more degraded appearance of the color on Close Encounters, especially in some of the exterior shots towards the end of CE.

There's alot of eye-candy to enjoy in these films, particularly in the snow battle and cloud city sequences in Empire Strikes Back and during the space battles in all three films.

I'm tempted to suggest T2, because it has a pretty filmic look to it as well, and the CG FX are seamlessly blended into the live-action film footage, which is pretty amazing to watch. The level of detail in the T2 BD is not as good as the other films above though. So it doesn't really take advantage of the additional resolution in the HD format, which is a shortcoming IMO.

I have not seen 2001, Blade Runner or The Abyss on BD yet, so I can't really recommend any of these yet. I've heard some good things about the 2001 xfer though. And I'll be curious to check all of these out as well.

I've only seen a few dozen BDs so far. And the movies listed above are not the best BD xfers I've seen up to this point (though they're among the better ones). The two best-looking BDs I've seen so far for color are probably Sleeping Beauty (1959) and Carlito's Way (1993).

There are some brief occasions where the image gets a little out of focus on Sleeping Beauty. But that is simply an astonishing xfer in most other respects. In most scenes, the detail, color and contrast is absolutely exquisite.

The xfer on Carlito is also close to perfect IMHO. There is maybe a bit of horizontal edge-enhancement visible in the darker scenes, but there's little or no evidence of color filtration/artificial enhancement on this, and the sense of depth, dimension, detail and richness in the color is striking. If you want to see an example of how good a "straight" color film xfer can look without major tweaking, I can't really think of a much better example than this.

The two most recent Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace also look fantastic, though there is some color filtration apparent on these, and QOS starts to look very monochromatic in the 2nd half of the film. The same probably goes for LOTR. I've only watched Fellowship of the Ring (non-extended) so far, but it looked really good. And my guess is the others will probably also follow suit. (Return of the King was the best-looking to me on DVD, so I'm lookin forward to checkin that out on BD.)

There are a few other recent films I can suggest as well...
  • Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - There is some slight filtration on this, but the color still has a pretty natural filmic feel to it overall. I suspect this may have been a slight disappointment to fans of the other two films, because there aren't as many dazzling FX in this. The film is basically 2 hours of nice landscape photography with some dwarves and centaurs thrown in here and there, and a few medievalish battles to liven things up. The color and detail in this are beautiful to watch though.
  • Babylon A.D. - Like Prince Caspian, this also has some subtle filtration. But the color still has a pretty natural feel to it, and there's a nice variation in the look of the film from scene to scene (rather than the sense of "sameness" you get on other films with heavier color filtration). I have not seen this on BD yet though, so my recommendation is based primarily on the DVD.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn - The image on this is noticeably contrast- & color-enhanced, esp. to bring out reddish tones. But it still retains alot of it's good film qualities and a high level of detail.
  • The Corpse Bride - This was shot using digital cameras, so it's not really a fair comparison to Close Encounters. But the picture has very nice depth, dimension, detail and color.
  • Twister - Also has good color and contrast and a very filmic look. It's maybe a tad on the darker side though (perhaps because of the setting/subject matter), so it can maybe handle a bit more contrast than some of the others.
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy - Also has a very nice color palette for a newer film. (Another one I've only seen on DVD.)

A few more DVD color suggestions here. (Top 5 on that list are particularly good IMO.)

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post #458 of 473 Old 02-18-2012, 05:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADU View Post

Alien just seems to get better with age. There's been some add'l color and contrast enhancement for the BD edition to give it a slightly more modern look. IMO these adjustments are mostly for the best. The blacks look extremely deep on my HD CRT, and the images have a tremendous sense of depth and dimension, and "3D-ness", even without wearing any funny glasses.

Star Wars 4-6 also look quite good on BD. These three films have obviously gotten a digital scrubbing-up, but most of the original model and matte shots are still intact, and look quite good. And generally speaking, the new CG material is integrated pretty well with the older FX shots.

Many of the scenes on Tatooine (sp?) are heavy on browns. And I can't quite articulate why most of those scenes in ANH look good to me, but the ones in Close Encounters do not, except that there's a depth, luster and nuance to the colors on ANH that seems lacking in the more degraded appearance of the color on Close Encounters, especially in some of the exterior shots towards the end of CE.


I have not seen 2001, Blade Runner or The Abyss on BD yet, so I can't really recommend any of these yet. I've heard good things about the 2001 xfer though. And I'll be curious to check all of these out as well.

Again, it's fascinating to me where people's basic aesthetic opinions diverge. Personally, I'm on the extreme end that thinks movies on BD should look the way they did during their original release, warts and all. In this spirit, I particularly love the gritty "filmstock" feel of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and its 70's earth tones. Similarly, when I watch BLADE RUNNER, I watch only the original editions (both 1982 and 1992 cuts) instead of the new "Final Cut" which has been scrubbed of grain during the optical effects, and given a modern "teal" color palette.

ALIEN, in my opinion, has been "too cleaned up". I still think it's the best home video edition ever available, so I love it... but if forced to compare to a presentation like CLOSE ENCOUNTERS, I'll choose CLOSE ENCOUNTERS any day. IMHO, the ALIEN blu-ray looks too much like it could have been shot with modern digital cameras.

And STAR WARS... don't even get me started. I only watch the non-anamorphic DVD release of the original theatrical cuts.

It's all one big continuum, with "severely cleaned up releases" like PATTON and the PREDATOR re-release abomination on one end, and with gritty "film print" releases--complete with dirt and scratches--on the other end. I'm much closer to the "dirt and scratches" side of that scale. (And please note, Adu... I absolutely understand that you're not advocating severe DNR like PATTON and PREDATOR; I'm just making a point that it's all one big spectrum).

"Eye candy" is entirely in the eye of the beholder. And there is no greater candy for my eyes than watching the Mothership rise up over Devil's Tower.
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post #459 of 473 Old 02-18-2012, 06:19 PM
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If we're going to compare different movies, let's at least compare films lensed by the same DP. I think you'll find Vilmos Zsigmond's work of the period (Obsession, CE3K, Deer Hunter, and a few years later, Blow Out - all available on excellent Blu-ray/HD-DVD releases) to be unique, recognizable, and somewhat similar in appearance.
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post #460 of 473 Old 02-19-2012, 05:33 AM
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Let's stay focused on CE3K, please. If you want to compare it to other BDs, please start a new thread or revive the film-like reference thread. Otherwise before you know it this thread will be focused on Patton, LOTR, or something else... Thanks.

I'm in the camp that this BD looks great. Great movie, too.

larry

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -- Thomas Alva Edison
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post #461 of 473 Old 02-22-2012, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

Great movie, too.

I agree. If you haven't seen Close Encounters before, I recommend giving it a spin... even if you're not a SF fan. Just don't expect to be dazzled by the PQ on this BD. That's all I'm really sayin.

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Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

Let's stay focused on CE3K, please.

Will do.

I'm afraid if I start new thread that another mod will merge it back into this one. (And I wouldn't blame em for it.) So I'll keep any references to other films as brief and on-topic as possible from here on.

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post #462 of 473 Old 02-22-2012, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

In this spirit, I particularly love the gritty "filmstock" feel of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and its 70's earth tones.

I think you've indirectly made one of my points here, which is that the earth tones don't look as good in Close Encounters as they should, or as I've seen in many other films on both BD and DVD. There is an unpleasant pallor to the color in much of this film (which I believe is partially the result of degradation, and probably also poor color-correction) that alternates between ugly washed-out maroons, anemic yellows, and pea-soup greens. This is particularly easy to see in some of the daylight exteriors. There a few scenes in the 2nd half of the film in Chapters 10-12 of the Original (theatrical) Version which are good examples of what I mean...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The closeup of Roy (Dreyfuss) and Jillian in Chapter 10 @ ~1:20:35 where they're looking through the windshield. And the scene where they're captured by the military starting around ~1:23:00. Also, pretty much the entire sequence where people are being loaded onto helicopters at the military camp, and where Roy, Jillian and a third guy escape and begin climbing the mountain, beginning in Chapter 11 @ ~1:27:40, and ending in Chapter 12 @ ~1:35:00.


The scene which begins around 1:23:00 in Chapter 10 of the OV looks almost completely washed-out, and lacking in depth. There's no definition to the colors, and everything has turned sort of an ugly washed-out beige-olive. By comparison, the earth tones look much better to me in the Logan's Run, Twister and Prince Caspian BDs, and DVDs like Captain Kronos and Ryan's Daughter. (<- brief & to the point)

I suppose you could try to make the case that some of what I'm seeing above was intentional on the part of the director/DP. But the anemic pallor to the color is pervasive throughout pretty much the whole film, including most of the "beauty shots" in Close Encounters.

The FX shots also exhibit some bad clipping/contouring/banding/posterization in many cases. A good example of that can be seen at ~1:41:35 in Chapter 13 of the OV...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
...where the first group of UFOs fly over Roy and Jillian on the mountainside...


...And also in many shots of the mothership. Most of the lens flares in Alien look smooth as silk by comparison to some of these shots.

The contouring that's visible at ~1:41:35 is not typical of a filmic response. (To better see what I mean, try pausing the image at ~1:41:35 and then stepping it forward a frame at a time until you get to 1:41:37.) So something else happened in the post-production, video xfer or color correction process to create that. The same goes for the blown-out highlights in many of the later FX scenes in the film.

If you like the way these scenes in Close Encounters look, then I'm happy for you. (<- Happy smiley face to prove my sincerity.) IMO though, this film should and probably could look much better without resorting to heavy-handed filtration, and while still remaining faithful to it's filmic origins.

Unlike some other folks here, I do not have a photographic memory. So I can't really remember exactly what the film looked like when I originally saw it in theaters. But with the advanced film scanning and color processing techniques available now, the film really should look better than it did in theaters, because there's a natural process of degradation that occurs when a film is replicated for theatrical distribution. If the film was transferred from source elements used to make those prints, then the color should have finer gradation, detail and fidelity than what most people originally saw in theaters (and what I believe is currently shown on this disc).

For all I know, there may even be ways of digitally reversing the natural aging/degradation process that occurs in film over time (and possibly through multiple generations), to restore the picture to the original luster it had when it was initially captured on celluloid. I think I could make some noticeable improvements to the color in some of poorer-lookin daylight shots mentioned above though with just some constructive rebalancing of color and gamma adjustment in Photoshop.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

Again, it's fascinating to me where people's basic aesthetic opinions diverge.

Aesthetics could be part of it. But it could also be differences in equipment and calibration.

Part of the problem with this xfer is the gamma is too low overall. So if your display is calibrated to a higher gamma setting such as 2.4 to 2.6, then it may look noticeably better to you than for people with displays more in the 2.0 to 2.2 range... because the higher display gamma will boost the sense of depth, luster and punch that's lacking in the film on the disc.

If you basically agree with my more negative assessment of the PQ above. Then you might try increasing (ie darkening) the gamma on either your display or player to see if that helps at all. If you have different gamma settings on your display, and are currently using 2.2, then you might try increasing it to something more in the 2.4 to 2.6 range. My guess is that will probably help some.

If you don't have gamma controls, then make sure the black level is correctly set on your player and display. Erring a bit on the darker side (or using some "dynamic black enhancement") might even be preferable in this case.

Using a cooler color temperature on the display (rather than the standard D65/6500K) might also help.

ADU
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post #463 of 473 Old 02-22-2012, 04:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADU View Post

I think you've indirectly made one of my points here, which is that the earth tones don't look as good in Close Encounters as they should, or as I've seen in many other films on both BD and DVD. There is an unpleasant pallor to the color in much of this film (which I believe is partially the result of degradation, and probably also poor color-correction) that alternates between ugly washed-out maroons, anemic yellows, and pea-soup greens. This is particularly easy to see in some of the daylight exteriors. There a few scenes in the 2nd half of the film in Chapters 10-12 of the Original (theatrical) Version which are good examples of what I mean...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The closeup of Roy (Dreyfuss) and Jillian in Chapter 10 @ ~1:20:35 where they're looking through the windshield. And the scene where they're captured by the military starting around ~1:23:00. Also, pretty much the entire sequence where people are being loaded onto helicopters at the military camp, and where Roy, Jillian and a third guy escape and begin climbing the mountain, beginning in Chapter 11 @ ~1:27:40, and ending in Chapter 12 @ ~1:35:00.


The scene which begins around 1:23:00 in Chapter 10 of the OV looks almost completely washed-out, and lacking in depth. There's no definition to the colors, and everything has turned sort of an ugly washed-out beige-olive. By comparison, the earth tones look much better to me in the Logan's Run, Twister and Prince Caspian BDs, and DVDs like Captain Kronos and Ryan's Daughter. (<- brief & to the point)

I suppose you could try to make the case that some of what I'm seeing above was intentional on the part of the director/DP. But the anemic pallor to the color is pervasive throughout pretty much the whole film, including most of the "beauty shots" in Close Encounters.

The FX shots also exhibit some bad clipping/contouring/banding/posterization in many cases. A good example of that can be seen at ~1:41:35 in Chapter 13 of the OV...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
...where the first group of UFOs fly over Roy and Jillian on the mountainside...


...And also in many shots of the mothership. Most of the lens flares in Alien look smooth as silk by comparison to some of these shots.

The contouring that's visible at ~1:41:35 is not typical of a filmic response. (To better see what I mean, try pausing the image at ~1:41:35 and then stepping it forward a frame at a time until you get to 1:41:37.) So something else happened in the post-production, video xfer or color correction process to create that. The same goes for the blown-out highlights in many of the later FX scenes in the film.

If you like the way these scenes in Close Encounters look, then I'm happy for you. (<- Happy smiley face to prove my sincerity.) IMO though, this film should and probably could look much better without resorting to heavy-handed filtration, and while still remaining faithful to it's filmic origins.

Unlike some other folks here, I do not have a photographic memory. So I can't really remember exactly what the film looked like when I originally saw it in theaters. But with the advanced film scanning and color processing techniques available now, the film really should look better than it did in theaters, because there's a natural process of degradation that occurs when a film is replicated for theatrical distribution. If the film was transferred from source elements used to make those prints, then the color should have finer gradation, detail and fidelity than what most people originally saw in theaters (and what I believe is currently shown on this disc).

For all I know, there may even be ways of digitally reversing the natural aging/degradation process that occurs in film over time (and possibly through multiple generations), to restore the picture to the original luster it had when it was initially captured on celluloid. I'd be wiling to wager though that I could make some noticeable improvements to the color in some of poorer-lookin daylight shots mentioned above with just some constructive rebalancing of color and gamma adjustment in Photoshop.



Aesthetics could be part of it. But it could also be differences in equipment and calibration.

Part of the problem with this xfer is the gamma is too low overall. So if your display is calibrated to a higher gamma setting such as 2.4 to 2.6, then it may look noticeably better to you than for people with displays more in the 2.0 to 2.2 range... because the higher display gamma will boost the sense of depth, luster and punch that's lacking in the film on the disc.

If you basically agree with my more negative assessment of the PQ above. Then you might try increasing (ie darkening) the gamma on either your display or player to see if that helps at all. If you have different gamma settings on your display, and are currently using 2.2, then you might try increasing it to something more in the 2.4 to 2.6 range. My guess is that will probably help some.

If you don't have gamma controls, then make sure the black level is correctly set on your player and display. Erring a bit on the darker side (or using some "dynamic black enhancement") might even be preferable in this case.

Using a cooler color temperature on the display (rather than the standard D65/6500K) might also help.

Do you know who Vilmos Zsigmond is? If not, educate yourself.

It doesn't matter what Close Encounteres looks like in comparison to any movie. What matters is, does it look like Close Encounters? Having seen this film projected theatrically many, many times over the years, I can say it does.
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post #464 of 473 Old 02-25-2012, 03:06 PM
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Do you know who Vilmos Zsigmond is?

Yes... but I've rejected your and other folks' basic thesis that the quaint "stone-washed" look and other defects in this xfer are all deliberate style choices, because it seems too implausible and too easy an out for some of the PQ problems on this disc. In my previous post of above, I gave at least three examples of scenes which represent crucial turning points in the storyline of the film...

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
  • The scene where Roy and Jillian get their first look at Devil's Tower "in the flesh".
  • The scene where they are captured and taken into custody by the military.
  • The scene where they finally get a 2nd up close and personal look at the UFOs since the beginning of the film (confirming that their apparently insane odyssey in the film was not in vain).


...all of which are undermined in their dramatic impact by distracting picture quality issues in the xfer, which makes no sense from either a directorial or cinematographic standpoint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

I particularly love the gritty "filmstock" feel of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and its 70's earth tones.

IMO, it's more like badly-dithered, poorly color-corrected 1990's color tones. The poor dithering/contouring in this reminds me of the 256 or 4096 HAM color palettes we used for computer graphics and video back in the 1990's, when the Collectors Edition was released. So I don't doubt this is close to the way many people saw it in theatres at that time.

The fact that many of the PQ issues on this title can be ameliorated (and the depth and realism of the film greatly enhanced) by simply boosting gamma on the player or display also leads me to believe that the problems in this xfer are more likely the result of shortcuts or sloppiness in the film xfer and color-correction process.

Studios (like Sony) often cut corners on their library titles, or they would not be able to turn a profit on them. And passing through the lower gamma of older telecine film xfers and encodes is a common mistake on library titles. I've seen it many times on DVDs. And it looks like it may have crept into a few titles on BD as well, including this one.

There are probably people in the industry who still to this day believe that the .45 exponent in the Rec. 709 transfer function is the "encoding gamma", which is not correct. And that was probably a much more commonly held misconception in the film and video industry during the 1990's and 2000's, when alot of early HD material like this was produced.

The CE Collectors Edition was released not long after the new Rec. 709 encoding standard was first approved in 1990. And most telecine/film xfers around that time were still probably using the old "2.2" standard. However, the effective gamma of the Rec. 709 standard (which is the only color encoding standard we have at present for HDTV production) is closer to a square root, or an average of ~.52 as shown in the luminance graphs below.





If this title was encoded with something closer to 1/2.2 or .45 (ie, the older NTSC or PC graphics standard), that would mean it's over-corrected by a factor of about .85 to .90, which would make the midtones and color appear noticeably less contrasty and more washed-out than they should. And it would enhance other "warts" in the image quality (such as the atrocious dithering/posterization in some of the FX shots) that would otherwise be more "hidden" by proper gamma adjustment. IMO, this is probably why the color in the film appears so anemic and stretched too thin ("stone-washed", if you like).

A correction of about 1.1 to 1.15 on the back end should compensate for over-correction in the encode. If you're making the correction on a display rather than a player, in theory, this would put the optimum display gamma for this title somewhere between about 2.65 and 2.75.

Another plausible explanation for the low gamma in this xfer is that it could've been mastered on displays closer to the range above. Version 1.0 of the Digital Cinema Initiatives (of which Sony is a member) was released in 2005 (2 years before this title was released on BD), and specified a 2.6 display gamma...

Quote:


Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a joint venture of the six major studios, published a system specification for digital cinema.[6] Briefly, the specification calls for picture encoding using the ISO/IEC 15444-1 "JPEG2000" (.jp2) standard and use of the CIE XYZ color space at 12 bits per component encoded with a 2.6 gamma applied at projection...

The 12-bit encoding in the DCI spec should have produced a much smoother looking image though than what's on this disc, which makes this explanation seem less likely to me (though it's possible that errors might have occurred in the down-conversion to 8-bits).

People were probably also not as sensitized to the importance of accurate gray/white balance around the time this title was produced (and there's still alot of fudging of color to get images to look "better" on cooler-appearing consumer displays). That's why I also suggest possibly trying a subjectively cooler (higher in Kelvins) temperature setting on the display. Sony was (and still is, to some degree) known for using rather high color temperatures (often in the 10,000 to 12,000 Kelvin range) on their HDTVs to make them more eye-catching. So the idea they might have erred, either deliberately or through neglect or sloppiness, in favor of cooler-looking displays on some early HD xfers seems quite possible to me. The color temperature is probably more a matter of taste though.

I'd say it's about time for a fresh modern digital encode of this film from original film elements to bring out more of the authentic detail, vibrance, depth and visceral realism in the film, more as I vaguely remember it when I first saw it back in the 1970's (though hopefully it will look even better than the actual release prints). I could be wrong of course, but think some of the defenders of the PQ on this version might be pleasantly surprised or even shocked to see what this film really could look like with a better xfer... provided DNR and teal-orange or some other kind of atrocious color-filtering is left out of the mix.

Although it may not seem like it from some of the comments above, I am very much "in your corner" for those who want to see this film in all of it's original glory (or as close to it as modern technology will allow) with the best presentation possible.

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Originally Posted by Flexx View Post

Maybe this kind of "popular" opinion is why the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition set is **** at Amazon and an unbelievable **** at Best Buy.

I think in this instance the "popular" opinion may be correct, but agree that it's not a bad deal at current street prices for what you get.

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post #465 of 473 Old 02-25-2012, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by ADU View Post

Although it may not seem like it from some of the comments above, I am very much "in your corner" for those who want to see this film in all of it's original glory (or as close to it as modern technology will allow) with the best presentation possible.

Very impressive and well articulated, Adu. I think I (and some others on here) misjudged your initial comments as being critical of the unique "film-ness" of the CE3K transfer, but you've demonstrated that you're looking at it with a much more technical eye.

While CE3K will continue to stand as one of my personal favorite Blu-rays, and while I clearly prefer its rugged film-print look to something that has been too "cleaned up"... I can certainly respect where you're coming from.
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post #466 of 473 Old 03-06-2012, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

Very impressive and well articulated, Adu. I think I (and some others on here) misjudged your initial comments as being critical of the unique "film-ness" of the CE3K transfer, but you've demonstrated that you're looking at it with a much more technical eye.

While CE3K will continue to stand as one of my personal favorite Blu-rays, and while I clearly prefer its rugged film-print look to something that has been too "cleaned up"... I can certainly respect where you're coming from.

Your comments are appreciated steel_breeze. However, I think some of what you're perceiving as the rugged film look on this title can simply be attributed to bad authoring.

I know some folks here don't like comparisons, but IMO they can be a useful tool and helpful in explicating a situation like this. So I went through my "extensive" collection of 2 dozen or so BDs to see if there were any other library titles that might help to better illustrate where I'm comin from on some of this.

Hopefully it's already clear from other comments that I'm in no way against the filmic look.... Far from it in fact. I actually prefer material originally shot on film because it's generally much easier to watch on my CRT than digitally photographed content (and it's also my own aesthetic preference). So the last thing I'd want is for images in Close Encounters to be "sanitized" to give them a more digitally-captured look. (There are only 1 or 2 live-action films on the wishlist in my sig which were not shot on film.)

I have no objection to the "worn look" either. There are 2 other library titles I recently purchased that I'll briefly offer as evidence of this: Jason & the Argonauts and the director's cut of Legend. Both of these are showing some fairly significant signs of age, degradation and wear & tear.

I prefer the DC of Legend to the Theatrical Version, even though the DC was made from an "inferior" source, because the flesh tones and color look more natural and not as overdone, and there's a nice chiaroscuro to the images. (Deep blacks tend to look good on my CRT. And Legend is, after all, about "lightness" and "darkness". So a bit more contrast seems warranted in this context.)

J&A was made more than a decade before the first release of CE3K, and is showing more signs of age, wear & tear, and heavier grain than CE3K. But I'm willing to give the PQ on J&A a pass because most of the film has good detail, often vibrant color, and a nice sense of depth. And most of Ray's miniature FX still look quite impressive.

If you want to get a better idea of the problems I'm seeing in the CE3K UE xfer, I recommend looking at the older Extended Cut of Stargate on Blu-ray. This film was made in 1994 by a different director and cinematographer. But the EC xfer exhibits the same kind of PQ issues as CE3K, including low gamma, and the same degraded-looking palette of maroons, yellows and greens, particularly in the slave city scenes. So it appears the two titles received the same or similar treatment in the xfer/encoding process.

The gamma values in my last post may also be somewhat conservative because most professional color-correction is done by eye, and noone really follows the Rec. 709 standard religiously. And because the trend in US production lately is to "go dark" (which also has potential downsides as described here).

IMO, the typical gamma in US broadcast and home video content probably ranges between about .50 and .55 these days, or somewhere around .525 on average. If the Close Encounters UE was encoded with something closer to .45 or 1/2.2, that would put the correction for proper display somewhere around 1.155 to 1.1667.


1/2.2 encoding gamma * 1.155 correction = .525
.45 encoding gamma * 1.1667 correction = .525

If this correction was being applied at the display, it would put the target display gamma for this title potentially as high as 2.8.


2.4 display gamma * 1.155 correction = 2.772
2.4 display gamma * 1.1667 correction = 2.8

(The 2.4 starting display gamma above comes from the new ITU-R BT.1886 recommendation for HDTV production btw.)

There are alot of other factors which can come into play though in a situation like this, including the ambient lighting, and white and black levels of the displays used for authoring/mastering the content and on the user's end. So the numbers rarely add up as easily as described above.

As mentioned before, I don't really remember exactly what Close Encounters looked like when I first saw it in theaters in 1977. But I do remember my impressions of the experience. And I recall being so dazzled by some of the FX that I nearly fell out of my seat. I didn't really get that impression from this xfer though... At least not out of the box. And we can go around and around in circles about the technical and style-related stuff. But in the final analysis, it's really the impressions that matter to me. And the only prescription I can offer to get some of that back on this xfer is gamma adjustment (or a new xfer).

(For those not that familiar with gamma adjustment, here's a brief description of what it entails. If you change the gamma on either your player or display, then it may also be necessary to tweak both the black and white level as well to prevent shadow details from being clipped/crushed and to ensure sufficient brightness in the image.)

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post #467 of 473 Old 03-06-2012, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
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Your comments are appreciated steel_breeze. However, I think some of what you're perceiving as the rugged film look on this title can simply be attributed to bad authoring.

I totally understand your point, Adu. (In fact, I totally understood it from your previous post.) But my "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" statement still holds--as maddening as that is to someone who understands the gamma curves and the science behind it all.

I'm absolutely not taking a position about whether or not CE3K was actually encoded correctly. I'm saying that whatever caused the CE3K Blu-ray to look the way it looks... I'm diggin' it. To my subjective eyes, it looks like a film print. Now I do admit that I've tweaked the gamma curve on my Panny 4000 projector, so that's obviously a big part of the equation too.

Like it or not, every variable that affects a title on its way to our eyeballs adds into the equation, and then it just comes down to "do we like it or not". Case in point, I was the DP on a small title that just came out on Blu-ray last month. As the guy who lit the movie and supervised the color grading, I can tell you definitively that our deliverables were correct at the post house... but the disc was encoded with incorrect video levels. The shadow detail is elevated and the highlights are low, effectively "washing out" the image. But crazy as it seems to me, I've gotten incredibly positive reviews on the video quality of that disc. It boggles my mind. When I watch the title, I have to raise the Contrast on my projector by 18 points and lower the Brightness by 13, just to watch it as the director and I intended!

So getting back to the main point... I totally agree that authoring (good or bad) factors hugely into the equation. In the case of CE3K, I'm personally diggin' the results. Wonder what Vilmos thinks of it!

EDIT: Adu, whatever my personal opinion about this particular title may be... I appreciate your observations and objective findings. This is the "AVS" forum, after all... so whether the end result is pleasing to people like myself or not, it should be noted when a disc is objectively "incorrect".
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post #468 of 473 Old 03-07-2012, 07:35 AM
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So I went through my "extensive" collection of 2 dozen or so BDs to see if there were any other library titles that might help to better illustrate where I'm comin from on some of this.

I went through my extensive collection of apples to tell you that this orange is no good.

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post #469 of 473 Old 03-07-2012, 08:51 AM
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Um...I never dug the Close Encounters BD either. I'll get my coat.
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post #470 of 473 Old 03-08-2012, 04:37 PM
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Some slight spoilers in this post.

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Originally Posted by Geoff D View Post

Um...I never dug the Close Encounters BD either. I'll get my coat.

I like your sense of conviction Geoff D.

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Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

I went through my extensive collection of apples to tell you that this orange is no good.

They're both fruit though, Josh. And I just wish this piece o' fruit looked a bit more freshly-picked from the tree.

A better analogy though might be gardens (which also ties in with the beauty & beholder thing). Horticulture isn't my forte, but some people like your more traditional ornamental type gardens with roses, tulips and such. Others like wildflowers, or more tropical/exotic plants, or bonsai trees. Some prefer vegetables or gourds. And some even like rocks or weeds. (Note the plural ending there.)

IMO, the FX in the early part of this film should be like wildflowers. You know how you're driving down some barren country, desert or mountain road, and you turn a corner, and your eyes are suddenly filling with a brilliant flash of yellow or blue or lavender blossoms growing in the middle of nowhere... That's what the FX should feel like in the beginning of CE3K. And by the end you should feel like you're surrounded by a lush tropical rain forest populated with brilliant anthurium, orchids, lotus, hibiscus, heliconia, bougainvillea, etc. (and I'm probably gettin some of those names wrong, but hopefully you know what I mean). This garden is so overgrown with weeds though that it's hard to see all the pretty flowers through 'em. If weeds happen to be your preference though, then you might possibly dig this garden.

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post #471 of 473 Old 03-08-2012, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

Case in point, I was the DP on a small title that just came out on Blu-ray last month. As the guy who lit the movie and supervised the color grading, I can tell you definitively that our deliverables were correct at the post house... but the disc was encoded with incorrect video levels. The shadow detail is elevated and the highlights are low, effectively "washing out" the image. But crazy as it seems to me, I've gotten incredibly positive reviews on the video quality of that disc. It boggles my mind. When I watch the title, I have to raise the Contrast on my projector by 18 points and lower the Brightness by 13, just to watch it as the director and I intended!

I feel your pain on this. I can somewhat understand errors in gamma, because the xfer functions are bit complex and somewhat open to interpretation, and because "correct" contrast can be fairly subjective.

There's no excuse for incorrect black and white levels though, because the specs on that are pretty unequivocal... And yet I still see errors in black and white levels on discs and equipment on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes the blacks are too elevated and sometimes the shadow detail is crushed. And occasionally it's a little of both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by steel_breeze View Post

EDIT: Adu, whatever my personal opinion about this particular title may be... I appreciate your observations and objective findings. This is the "AVS" forum, after all... so whether the end result is pleasing to people like myself or not, it should be noted when a disc is objectively "incorrect".

Hopefully I've made a few points that address both the objective and subjective aspects of this xfer.

However, the objective issues stand out so obviously to me on this title that I have some difficulty seeing how a credible case can be made on the other side of this argument subjectively.

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post #472 of 473 Old 03-08-2012, 05:45 PM
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IMO, the FX in the early part of this film should be like wildflowers. You know how you're driving down some barren country, desert or mountain road, and you turn a corner, and your eyes are suddenly filling with a brilliant flash of yellow or blue or lavender blossoms growing in the middle of nowhere... That's what the FX should feel like in the beginning of CE3K. And by the end you should feel like you're surrounded by a lush tropical rain forest populated with brilliant anthurium, orchids, lotus, hibiscus, heliconia, bougainvillea, etc.

This analogy makes my head hurt.

I don't feel special...
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post #473 of 473 Old 03-13-2012, 09:17 PM
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Comments in that post were (mostly) facetious, so I wouldn't dwell too deeply on em.

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