"Downton Abbey" on PBS - Page 10 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #271 of 343 Old 04-05-2015, 04:02 AM
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I finally found the time to binge-watch the recently-ended season of DA. After observing the poor video quality of the first episode (smearing, ghosting, crushed blacks), I looked for this thread to see what others are saying. I am encouraged that I am not the only one who experienced poor picture quality. I watch on DirecTV.

What is not clear is whether PBS has acknowledged the video issues, and whether they have plans to fix it. Any comments?
I also experienced the crushed blacks in the early episodes of last season (2015). My method of reception was from OTA recorded on a Tivo Romeo.

Just to make it watchable, I'd change the gamma on my TV to lighten up the lower levels.

Seems that they got it mostly worked out after a few episodes. Not sure what was going on.
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post #272 of 343 Old 09-30-2015, 12:30 PM
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post #273 of 343 Old 09-30-2015, 12:50 PM
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How do I subscribe to this thread?
At the top of the page, click "thread tools" and select "subscribe".
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post #274 of 343 Old 09-30-2015, 03:38 PM
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At the top of the page, click "thread tools" and select "subscribe".
It wasn't really at the TOP of the page, but I found it, finally. Thanks, AustinJerry. One would think that this info would be in an FAQ. I find the site less than user-friendly. But, thanks, again.

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post #275 of 343 Old 09-30-2015, 03:52 PM
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I'm pulling for Thomas and Andy to hook up (after S06E02). Maybe if Thomas finds somebody to love he won't be such an duplicitous jerk.

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post #276 of 343 Old 09-30-2015, 04:11 PM
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There's basically two ways to do it.

If you make a post,(and please don't post "subscribed") you are automatically subscribed.

If you don't have anything to post go to "Thread Tools", then "subscribe to this thread", then "add subscription."
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post #277 of 343 Old 12-07-2015, 05:50 AM
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The wife and I were trying to find a show that we both could be invested in (she has poor taste and couldn’t get into great shows like Breaking Bad, TWD, Sons, Hell on Wheels, etc…), and we decided to give Downton a shot. I’m surprised how much I enjoy this show! Normally this type of show isn’t my cup of tea (pun intended) but I’m really glad we decided to watch it. The things I enjoy most is the level of sophistication of their “trash talking” and the facial expressions of Maggie Smith (Violet “Granny” Crawley).

Looking forward to catching up and watching Season 6 live in Jan.
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post #278 of 343 Old 12-07-2015, 04:13 PM
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Looking forward to catching up and watching Season 6 live in Jan.
And its the final season.
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post #279 of 343 Old 01-04-2016, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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A NY Times review of the first episode of Season 6. Here, got hooked into watching much of a local PBS replay of the previous seasons. Noticed the channel was offering discs of the full 6 seasons, including all Season.6 episodes, for ~$240 as a PBS contribution. -- John
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post #280 of 343 Old 01-04-2016, 11:41 AM
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I thought the first episode was spot on, the 1+hr flew by and reminded me why Downton is probably my favorite British programme. My only complaint, as it has been for the entire series, was the black level. It's so dark that darker areas of the screen get lost in the black. Watching the 1hr preview of the coming season, before the actual show, it was very obvious. Whenever they played clips from the actual program it was dark, when they showed live bits of the actors talking about the show or anything other than the actual program itself, it looked great! bright and colorful. I've read apparently this is done as a visual effect of the actual series, I don't really care for it but to each his own. I know what a proper black level on a calibrated TV looks like, Downton is more like watching a 7.5 IRE N. American device on European 0 IRE display, too dark and contrasty.

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post #281 of 343 Old 01-04-2016, 01:50 PM
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^ I've complained about the black level on PBS every season, so this time around I watched a rip from the original ITV airing in the UK. And there was no black crush at all! The picture was much brighter and better than anything I've seen here (although I didn't even bother to check what season 6 looks like on PBS).
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post #282 of 343 Old 01-04-2016, 02:58 PM
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I enjoyed it, as usual. The Bates are off the hook, finally. The Earl really knows exactly how to handle blackmailers and I cheered when the Dowager Countess took her maid down a few notches. Then the final kiss, something I thought I'd ever see.
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post #283 of 343 Old 01-05-2016, 10:12 AM
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I had an almost Pavlovian response to the opening theme music of the new series. And the first episode lived up to the anticipation. Of course there were the familiar characters, the location (I was born in Yorkshire, and had no idea the county possessed such treasures), the spot-on performances. But I was also struck by the beauty of the images (shot using Arri Alexas according to IMDb) . This has to be one of the best photographed series on television - no, not just TV, the movies also. The lighting, the color balance (no messing around with colors for special effects, just a careful adjustment for a 'natural' look), and. of course, the production design. The opening hunt was almost text-book perfect - carefully chosen camera positions, costuming (the reds were brilliant, but not over-the-top), editing, music. Even the simple two person conversations should be used as teaching tools in directing and photography. There were no eye-catching gimmicks, just using carefully photographed images to tell the story. It took my breath away.
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post #284 of 343 Old 01-05-2016, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by d3193 View Post
I had an almost Pavlovian response to the opening theme music of the new series. And the first episode lived up to the anticipation. Of course there were the familiar characters, the location (I was born in Yorkshire, and had no idea the county possessed such treasures), the spot-on performances. But I was also struck by the beauty of the images (shot using Arri Alexas according to IMDb) . This has to be one of the best photographed series on television - no, not just TV, the movies also. The lighting, the color balance (no messing around with colors for special effects, just a careful adjustment for a 'natural' look), and. of course, the production design. The opening hunt was almost text-book perfect - carefully chosen camera positions, costuming (the reds were brilliant, but not over-the-top), editing, music. Even the simple two person conversations should be used as teaching tools in directing and photography. There were no eye-catching gimmicks, just using carefully photographed images to tell the story. It took my breath away.
I agree, exterior shots looked great, unfortunately(for me anyway) interior shots were lost in the darkness. No detail in the shadow,just black Of course as you said the characters and such more than made up for that for me and I still consider it to be one of if not the best programme on TV and no I also don't like it when they "mess around with colors for special effect", never liked CSI Miami and a few other programs because of this. To me the BBC programme Poldark was about as good as it gets, none of the darkness of Downton, I don't know why one is dark and one not but I know what I see and I see darkeness in interior shots in Downton, not really exterior shots like the Fox chase where things looked great, including the red outfits.

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post #285 of 343 Old 01-05-2016, 04:38 PM
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...Of course there were the familiar characters, the location (I was born in Yorkshire, and had no idea the county possessed such treasures)...

Although it's set in Yorkshire it's not actually filmed there (although it's quite believable).
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post #286 of 343 Old 01-05-2016, 09:49 PM
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I agree, exterior shots looked great, unfortunately(for me anyway) interior shots were lost in the darkness. No detail in the shadow,just black Of course as you said the characters and such more than made up for that for me and I still consider it to be one of if not the best programme on TV and no I also don't like it when they "mess around with colors for special effect", never liked CSI Miami and a few other programs because of this. To me the BBC programme Poldark was about as good as it gets, none of the darkness of Downton, I don't know why one is dark and one not but I know what I see and I see darkeness in interior shots in Downton, not really exterior shots like the Fox chase where things looked great, including the red outfits.
I too noticed the unnaturally dark interior scenes but think it has something to do with the version that PBS is using. I don't see that darkness when I stream off of Amazon.
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post #287 of 343 Old 01-05-2016, 09:52 PM
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Originally Posted by d3193 View Post
I had an almost Pavlovian response to the opening theme music of the new series. And the first episode lived up to the anticipation. Of course there were the familiar characters, the location (I was born in Yorkshire, and had no idea the county possessed such treasures), the spot-on performances. But I was also struck by the beauty of the images (shot using Arri Alexas according to IMDb) . This has to be one of the best photographed series on television - no, not just TV, the movies also. The lighting, the color balance (no messing around with colors for special effects, just a careful adjustment for a 'natural' look), and. of course, the production design. The opening hunt was almost text-book perfect - carefully chosen camera positions, costuming (the reds were brilliant, but not over-the-top), editing, music. Even the simple two person conversations should be used as teaching tools in directing and photography. There were no eye-catching gimmicks, just using carefully photographed images to tell the story. It took my breath away.
I so totally agree with your post. I find myself (retired pro photographer) having to fight watching all the technical aspects to stay in the story.

It does point out just how lame a lot of other content is mastered.
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post #288 of 343 Old 01-06-2016, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by d3193 View Post
I had an almost Pavlovian response to the opening theme music of the new series. And the first episode lived up to the anticipation. Of course there were the familiar characters, the location (I was born in Yorkshire, and had no idea the county possessed such treasures), the spot-on performances. But I was also struck by the beauty of the images (shot using Arri Alexas according to IMDb) . This has to be one of the best photographed series on television - no, not just TV, the movies also. The lighting, the color balance (no messing around with colors for special effects, just a careful adjustment for a 'natural' look), and. of course, the production design. The opening hunt was almost text-book perfect - carefully chosen camera positions, costuming (the reds were brilliant, but not over-the-top), editing, music. Even the simple two person conversations should be used as teaching tools in directing and photography. There were no eye-catching gimmicks, just using carefully photographed images to tell the story. It took my breath away.
Nice summary of the overall 'look'. Watched lots of previous series and Downton specials from Channel Thirteen before this last series. A few specials showed author Julian Fellowes meticulously researching related local stories. (Maybe a new series.) Suspect his great knowledge of the history and culture has aided the plot. Several times I noticed a brief scene that seemed to condense into less than a minute what would require most of an episode in other less cleverly crafted/edited programs.


Also noticed the grandmother, played by Maggie Smith, had her usual sly and wicked lines. Perhaps her dialog has become infectious since more witticisms seem to be popping up even in the 'downstairs' dialog. -- John
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post #289 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
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There's a number of comments throughout the thread about the use of Arri's Alexa cameras for the Downtown series. Here's an article by a cinematographer explaining the Alexa's special color processing that may help explain the 'look' of the images. Somewhat technical. The article was linked from a less-complex writeup that was mentioned in this Blu-ray PQ thread post. -- John

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post #290 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 09:25 AM
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There's a number of comments throughout the thread about the use of Arri's Alexa cameras for the Downtown series. Here's an article by a cinematographer explaining the Alex's special color processing that may help explain the 'look' of the images. Somewhat technical. The article was linked from a less-complex writeup that was mentioned in this Blu-ray PQ thread post. -- John
Interesting article, thanks John.
I have to wonder if the newest BBC series Sherlock also uses the Arri Alexa cameras? I see a similar effect as Downton, that is loss of detail in dark areas of the screen, would explain a lot if that is the case.
I do love the colors using this processing but at least with my monitor it loses much of the dark area detail, something I don't really care for. Personally I'd trade off some of the color saturation if it meant more detail in dark areas, others may feel differently or have different monitors that react to this differently
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post #291 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 10:08 AM
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Personally I'd trade off some of the color saturation if it meant more detail in dark areas, others may feel differently or have different monitors that react to this differently
I always think I have my video levels wrong when viewing the show. Perhaps I should swap them and it might look right. At the same time I never feel like I am missing any content (I should be seeing) so after a few minutes I stop noticing.
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post #292 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 10:53 AM
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Although it's set in Yorkshire it's not actually filmed there (although it's quite believable).
Of course, you are right. I have been totally sucked into the fictional world of Downton, and should have known better.

I am not aware of the crushed blacks that so many are reporting. Is that because I am watching on a LiCos display (Sony 60XBR1), which might have a lower gamma than most?

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post #293 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 11:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Mentioned a while back I'd given up on the black levels, especially dark suits, since it didn't look like it was going to change. So many shows are shot with Alexas it never seemed like the cameras are entirely at fault. For the 2016 season and the numerous replays of Downton series I caught last week, I still set my gamma slightly lower and switched my color from Standard mode to Cinema. Doesn't cure the black problem, but helps a bit. -- John

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post #294 of 343 Old 01-07-2016, 11:53 AM
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I am SO GLAD they finally seemingly put to rest the tired old Bates Murder Family sub plot. Enjoyed the opener very much. As always, "Grannie" gets the best lines.
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post #295 of 343 Old 01-18-2016, 08:43 AM - Thread Starter
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NY Times review for episode 3, 6th and last season. Managed to avoid too much soapyness, with someone popping in on a wedding. Remains of the Day versus hard-core porn?! Well...hmm. -- John
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post #296 of 343 Old 01-20-2016, 02:33 PM
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Can someone help me with the geography of Downton? I've been to York and recall that it is quite a bit north of London. Yet when Edith or anyone else has to travel to London they say they are going "up" to London. Is that just idiomatic? To my thinking it should be "down" to London, as in the direction South is down and North is up from your current position.
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post #297 of 343 Old 01-20-2016, 02:53 PM
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Can someone help me with the geography of Downton? I've been to York and recall that it is quite a bit north of London. Yet when Edith or anyone else has to travel to London they say they are going "up" to London. Is that just idiomatic? To my thinking it should be "down" to London, as in the direction South is down and North is up from your current position.

Yes, it's just a saying. Posh people always go "up" to London, but it's not used universally in the UK (I grew up in the north of England and would never say it myself).
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post #298 of 343 Old 01-20-2016, 04:35 PM
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Kind of like people of Maine saying "down east."

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post #299 of 343 Old 01-20-2016, 04:42 PM
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"Downton Abbey" on PBS

Or like people from the outer boroughs say I'm going to the city referring to Manhattan when we all live in NYC or us from Queens refer to Nassau and Suffolk counties as Long Island when actually the Island is comprised of Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.


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post #300 of 343 Old 01-20-2016, 07:20 PM
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Or like people from the outer boroughs say I'm going to the city referring to Manhattan when we all live in NYC or us from Queens refer to Nassau and Suffolk counties as Long Island when actually the Island is comprised of Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.


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I used to work in Manhattan on Wall St. while living in Queens so I know all about that. Actually, while I lived in both Brooklyn and Queens we always referred to Nassau and Suffolk county places as being "on the Island". But that has nothing to do with geographic direction.

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Yes, it's just a saying. Posh people always go "up" to London, but it's not used universally in the UK (I grew up in the north of England and would never say it myself).
That helps - a bit. So it's more of defining a social status reference. London and its environs are more upper crust than the shires.

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Kind of like people of Maine saying "down east."
Isn't everything from Maine down, except NH and VT. I've never heard that about Maine people. Interesting.
Thanks for all your replies.
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