2001: A Space Odyssey...Warner's New Reference DVD???... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-10-2001, 01:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Perhaps I am too late offering my opinions about Kubrick's masterpiece 2001: a space odyssey, but it took me a long time to check the recent Warner's DVD release in several systems. I've seen 2001 upteen times on video from the several several versions that are available, including the costly Criterion LD boxed set and MGM's DVD, and all exhibit many ugly visual flaws, flaws that I hoped Warner's new release would cure. I believe they did it to a great degree! Anyway, for whatever is worth...here it is...

I tackled the "reviewing" of 2001 in purely technical terms. Thus I let the more knowledgeable movie "critics" give their point of view about just what was that Kubrick had in mind when he created his epic sci-fi masterpiece.
Yet one thing is certain: the special effects used in this sci-fi epic indeed set a benchmark of superb technical achievement, one that have been hardly matched, let alone surpassed. Indeed film directors like Lucas wound up borrowing heavily from 2001 to produce their own brand of sci-fi movies.
In the final anlysis, 2001: a space odyssey posses a character that doesn't seem to diminish as time goes by; it remains ageless...

Colimetry...

Finally, Kubrick's masterpiece has received full justice! Coloration exhibited by the new DVD has tremendous depth and density. No matter what system I used to watch it, all showed a colimetry that is highly reminiscent of the 70mm presentation when I first saw 2001 early in 1969 at a very large cinema theater in San Diego.
Coloration runs the gamut, and colors are incredibly solid with nary a smear; no bleeding here! This help increasing a sense of 3-D perception. Indeed, the reds of the chairs in the lunch room at the space station (chapter 5, minute 27) have finally stopped bleeding! Every preceding video transfer I own exhibits this most visibly horrible problem. Not on the new DVD! Simply dazzling.

Black Level and Contrast...

The ratio between black level and contrast dynamics is superb; much detail can be seen even on very darkly lit scenes (star fields, the monolith's resting place, etc.). Blacks don't become crushed and absorb detail, while constrast has a very wide dynamic range. This help increase film-like, 3-D conditions.
But be forewarned that in order to benefit from these parameters display devices MUST be properly, globally calibrated. Even better, have your sets professionally calibrated to exact NTSC standards (as much a set will allow it anyway).

Image Quality...

The video image is very sharp looking and solid as a rock. Detail is high and extremely film-like. Only a higher resolution format would be able to surpass the quality offered by this NTSC transfer (which causes me to wonder just how much better would a PAL version be. Exploring that one will come next!).
The image doesn't seem to suffer much by being projected on a large screen (a 10 foot wide image on my 12 foot wide scope screen) as it remains pretty much like those images shown by smaller systems, which is great news as larger screen sizes does indeed increases personal involvement.
The letterboxed (downconversion) aspect ratio is around 2:21:1, which is about right since the source proceeds from 70mm (65mm) film elements (the movie was photographed in Super-Panavision 70mm).
The anomorphic image appear to be a bit less wide but I won't sweat it at all; it still lies within reasonable limits of spherical 70mm film photography.
There are no digital artifacts that I could detect. Other than very -and I mean very- slight shimmering momentarily occurring in certain areas of the movie primarily when viewed downconverted letterbox via an Mpact2 "DIVA" equipped PC, the anomorphic enhanced image is totally free of any digital artifacts. This was true even when the image was amplified to match the height of the 12' scope screen; none became evident. That goes for the MPact2 processor when set to run anomorphic widescreen rather than downconverted letterbox as well.

Can I now claim this to be another reference DVD? Nope...not quite, and this is why: EDGE ENHANCEMENT. Yup, that obnoxious, pesky problem rear its ugly head once again to mess things up! Although EE was lightly applied, it can begin to be detected on 36" TV sets (I certainly could see it on my WEGA 36" set from a distance of 10 feet. Not enough to mess viewing pleasure too much, but was there nonetheless). It worsens somewhat as screen size increases.
Even a 15" PC monitor shows it when viewed about a foot from the screen. Yet further out and it becomes inconsequential. But who watch movies on 15" sets anyway?
I wish I could say the same for the image shown on the scope screen; on brightly lit scenes the EE can most definitely be seen. Darker lit scenes fare much better as EE becomes nearly invisible. The amount of EE isn't present to the same degree Lawrence Of Arabia and other recent releases suffer from, but it is there. Damn! I wish it wasn't.
This is the one single factor that stops me from declaring the new Kubrick Collection's 2001: a space odyssey from being a true video reference.

Sonics...

The soundtrack was also reworked, and on chapter 29 (the "psyche-a-delic" scene) bass has a very low end reach and high amplitude character. It sure caused my SVS 46/16 subwoofer octet to work far more than it has recently!
Just don't expect the sort of dazzling sonic displays heard from modern soundtracks, though.
Surround sound activity is sparsely present but it is well balanced when pressed into action. Not bad for a late 60's film!

There is no doubt that Warner's 2001 is the best I've ever seen this film look on video. Although this NTSC transfer may lack the higher resolution other formats provide, this is as good as it gets for the here and now. And if it wasn't because of the amount of visible edge enhancement I most surely would proclaim it to be a new reference DVD.
Even so -and with the caveats mentioned above- it is the version to own and add to one's movie collection.
Try it...you'll like it!!!

-THTS




[This message has been edited by Frank J Manrique (edited 07-10-2001).]
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post #2 of 13 Old 07-10-2001, 08:24 PM
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Great review Frank. You're right on, the release is fantastic except for the edge enhancement. It isn't too much of a problem on my 65" RPTV and I enjoy watching this film immensely on DVD.

BTW, its Kubrick not Kubrik http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

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post #3 of 13 Old 07-10-2001, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Seb,

What 'da 'ya mean it ain't Kubrick? http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/biggrin.gif Oops! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/eek.gif ...Mea culpa! It was Kubrik, so you're right! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/redface.gif Must have been that late night typing... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/rolleyes.gif There...I fixed it... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

-THTS

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post #4 of 13 Old 07-12-2001, 07:43 PM
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Hi Frank,
Thanks for the great review. I also noticed some edge enhancement. I'm going to have to watch this again on my projector. I'm not really sure what Kubrick was ultimately trying to say, but it sure looks good! http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif
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post #5 of 13 Old 07-12-2001, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, Larry,

Bud, check it out again and let us know what you find! Thanks...

-THTS

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post #6 of 13 Old 07-13-2001, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Frank J Manrique:

Yet one thing is certain: the special effects used in this sci-fi epic indeed set a benchmark of superb technical achievement, one that have been hardly matched, let alone surpassed.
Frank, I agree whole heartedly with this statement. The reason why the 2001 effects are so good is that they used meticulously crafted models whereas most modern special effects rely heavily on CG. The models are better although more costly. I am sure that CG will continue to get better, but 2001 has the best effects I've ever seen. The other thing that I like is that it gets the physics right. For instance, during the docking sequence with the rotating space station the film accurately relays how the ship must be rotating at the same rate as the station to complete the maneuver. Many other films violate the laws of physics on a regular basis.

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post #7 of 13 Old 07-13-2001, 07:50 AM
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Frank once again a great review! I also noticed the EE but it must be less than half of what was laid on the letterboxed previous version. Did you notice the brown discoloration on the earth below at the beginning of the space scenes.This is a lot like that which plagued the LD version of Ben Hur.This is off topic but when I mentioned Ben Hur I thought of an interesting incident that happened to me recently. I was at Best Buy the other day looking through their DVD rack: the young man attending had a name tag Ben Herr. He had never heard of the movie!

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post #8 of 13 Old 07-13-2001, 08:44 PM - Thread Starter
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John,

You are sooo right! Real miniature models do offer a tridimensionality that CG images just can't seem to match. Maybe further down the road CGI techs will be able to, but so far they haven't fooled me into thinking I am seeing real 3-D objects whenever I see them.

And you are also right about your opinions regarding the laws of physics not being obeyed my movie makers (which seldom happens!). Very, very perceptive!

Thanks for posting... http://www.avsforum.com/ubb/smile.gif

-THTS

[This message has been edited by Frank J Manrique (edited 07-13-2001).]
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post #9 of 13 Old 07-13-2001, 09:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Art,

Yes, I did notice the discoloration (bronwish/yellow- amber/smoke-like) at certain points in the begining of the space shots (mother Earth) you allude to, but I am sure they proceed from the film elements used and not the transferring process itself.

To tell the truth, such visual blemishes don't perturb me in the least because they occur in the film domain; what really gets my goat is when blatant flaws are video-sourced and may arise due to shoddy QC and God only knows what other reasons!

Yup, EE is minimally applied, but is enough to bother me. Hate to pound on a dead horse, yet I wish EE wasn't used at all. I would feel better about the HT experience and be much happier if such lousy band-aid wasn't relied on as much as it seems to do by authoring techs/telecine operators presently. Arrgh!

-THTS

[This message has been edited by Frank J Manrique (edited 07-14-2001).]
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post #10 of 13 Old 07-14-2001, 08:40 AM
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Frank,
I would also like to see the EE go the way of Saber toothed tiger, but I don't know what we as mere mortals can do. Some discs that look like fecal remnants on my HT look very good on my 30" Toshiba in my living room. I think this fact will be the windmill we will be fighting. Sheer numbers are against us. Anamorphic transfers are the rule now so maybe there is hope if one can imagine that this a similar thing.

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post #11 of 13 Old 07-15-2001, 01:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Art,

True...very true. Just hope one day we'll get super-clean video sources so our costly HTs are truly well served. 'Till then we'll keep fighting the windmill monsters!...

-THTS

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post #12 of 13 Old 07-17-2001, 12:31 AM
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Best looking ever from Warner... not a chance. Best this film has ever looked on Home Video ...Absolutely!

Check out that room full of red chairs ...OUCH! I can see pixelating all over those things. (note: I am using a JVC 721 progressive player which does not have the chroma bug)

Classic Film, Great Transfer, but Warner's refrence DVD? I do not think so.
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post #13 of 13 Old 07-17-2001, 01:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Sean O,

It may not be quite a reference...but it is close enough (though I hate that edge enhancement!). Yup, the best this movie has ever looked on VIDEO...I said as much in my post.

I viewed this new DVD on several systems...all of which but one are progressive scan. The best system I got is a GeForce-based HT-PC...and I saw zero digital artifacts even when the image was zoomed to nearly 12 feet in width.
But then my display device's (Dukane ImagePro 9015 D-ILA, professionally calibrated to NTSC standards) native resolution is matched perfectly, thus no artifacting from it internal scaler occurs. And of course...it doesn't suffer from the so-called "chroma bug" either!
It'll be interesting to try 2001 on a Skyworth DVP-1050p progressive scan machine outputting a progressive RGB signal. That comes next...

-THTS
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