It sounds like my opinions on this transfer are going to diverge quite a bit from the majority here... which is certainly no reflection on the quality of the film itself, which is fantastic.
Originally Posted by FoxyMulder
Here is some information on the restoration of The Searchers.http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articl...ris082106.html
From the above article.There are currently discussions swirling around the web about the look of the new DVDs of The Searchers, and I know only a few absolute facts. We know that the original VistaVision negative is fully faded and unusable; that the original dye transfer (matricy) prints were further modified via that process from what was contained in the Oneg, and that the process itself changed between the time that film originally ran theatrically and the period in which further dye transfer prints were produced. Lastly, without a viable negative, everything must now be derived from black & white separation masters, which were never tested, and probably never examined until the early 1990s.
I thought it best to go direct to the source for answers. Ned Price, Vice President of Mastering, Warner Bros. Technical Operations, was kind enough to take the time to discuss the film's problems.RAH: Have you been reading any of the comments on line, and if so, do you take them seriously.
NP: We absolutely take them seriously. From what I've been able to deduce, people have been using the 1991 transfer as a reference, and it is in no way a reference. Believe me, I was there. We had very limited color correction capabilities.
That entire article makes for fascinating reading so i recommend it to all fans of this fine western.
^ This makes alot of sense.
I don't have any new or inside info on how this HD transfer was done, but in my considered opinion, it's highly unlikely it came from anything close to the original VistaVision elements. IMO, the color, contrast and detail in the image are too badly degraded for that to be possible.
Just to refresh folks memories, VistaVision was an early large film format comparable in framesize and resolution to other 65mm & 70mm film formats, but photographed on regular 35mm film. The additional size/resolution in Vista was acheived by turning the film frame sideways to take up 8-perforations like a 35mm still camera, instead of the usual 4 (or sometimes 3) perforations of most 35m motion picture cameras.
The resolution of widescreen images was more than doubled with this approach. And most of the optical FX for the orginal Star Wars were photographed with this process to diminish the loss of picture quality from multiple generations of film printing.
The coarseness of the grain and level of detail in this Blu-ray transfer are not consistent with that higher resolution process though. And the appearance of the film suggests that it was probably sourced from a later generation print of a 35mm optical down-conversion.
It's possible all the original Vista elements are either gone or unusable though (as suggested in the digital bits article above), and this was derived from the best surviving print available. If so, that's quite a shame, because the PQ on this current transfer just doesn't do the extraordinary cinematography in this film justice.
To get a feel for how this might have looked transfered from high resolution Vista elements, I suggest checking out the recent BD releases of Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia, which were both recorded and transfered from similar high resolution film elements.