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The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 668

post #20011 of 21406
Baraka

recommendation: Tier 0 (nearly identical to the current placement in the middle)

This is a new placement for 2013 meant to supersede my prior recommendation, made all those years ago. Yes, the transfer still has traces of visible edge enhancement. That still does not move it out of consideration for Tier Zero, at least from my perspective. The 70mm photography was consciously made for eye candy, much more so than a normal Hollywood film.

Baraka's captivating subject matter simply produces more arresting imagery than the typical movie considered for the Picture Quality Tiers. That aspect alone gives Baraka a significant advantage over the rest of the field. This is not a list for the best transfers, but the absolute best picture quality.

Looking at it today, the Blu-ray from MPI would probably turn out a little differently if made in 2013. The following critique is reaching for the tiniest nit-picks to the film, in what is almost entirely reference-level video. Getting the compression issue out of the way, it is almost a certainty that one of the newest AVC encoders would be used now instead of the VC-1 video encode the disc currently possesses.

While the VC-1 encode runs at moderately high bitrates, the newest AVC encodes are a tad more refined and reproduce the master with greater transparency than this particular VC-1 encode. Smoke and fire once again prove to be a nemesis for the VC-1 codec in Baraka, as it does for most film-based features. As I watched from three feet away this time, there are two or three instances where the color gradients slightly degrade and the faintest hint of posterization enters the scene. The vast majority of the time there are no artifacts and the picture would largely duplicate the results of a new AVC encode, but we are striving for perfection here and I felt it needed to be mentioned.

If one is hunting for problems, the jet-black Asian hair featured in a couple of brief shots could be construed as a slight clipping of overall black levels. The contrast is usually pitch-perfect except for the tiniest loss in shadow structure, as the strands of hair partially meld into one cohesive wall of black. The wide variety of flesh-tones, presented in a completely realistic manner, are still among the best ever seen in 1080P.

The main source of controversy is obviously the ringing and apparent sharpening. Baraka's transfer definitely contains visible sharpening, though it is far more apparent in some scenes than others. If one is specifically looking for the ringing, it can be found scattered throughout certain locales in the movie. The brief clips of the Wailing Wall seems to it have worse than most, though I could list any number of scenes where the sharpening is evident. Would it have been better to see a completely unprocessed 8K master, unburdened with unnecessary ringing? Yes, but this sharpening is not egregious enough for me to condemn Baraka to Tier One. When push comes to shove, Baraka still looks better than almost all other Blu-rays I have seen. There is a visual excitement that has to be accounted for that goes beyond a simple checklist of videophile categories. Baraka still makes new Blu-ray owners sit up and marvel at the visuals.

If I were on some crusade against halos, the lowest I would even consider dropping the disc is Tier 1.0. Having seen many more Blu-rays since I first watched Baraka on the format, it still holds up as a spectacular example of the video quality possible in 1080P. Actual film doesn't get much better on Blu-ray. Is everything perfect with the disc? No, but we must deal in practical reality and not some vague platonic ideal that does not exist at the moment. People are holding some imagined version of Baraka against the actual disc, when it still outshines nearly all other films on the format.

Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.

BDInfo scan (courtesy of CinemaSquid):
http://www.cinemasquid.com/blu-ray/movies/releases/baraka/25df7009-fa8a-419e-af1f-0e9a650d9643#specs
post #20012 of 21406
^^^^^

Thanks Phantom for the review of Baraka. It will be interesting to get your take on Samsara. I'm sure you will find it quite similar to Baraka and I'm really curious to see if you notice any EE and evidence of sharpening. If so, I'm certain any penalization will be, as in the case of Baraka, very minimal.
post #20013 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by 42041 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

BTW, you said you "stopped contributing to this list for the above reason"....I'm not sure what you mean by "the above reason." Could you clarify that point? Thanks!
What I mean is that excellent transfers of films shot a certain way can get placed very low, and very average transfers of beautifully shot films, or transfers that are very sharp by virtue of excessive electronic sharpening like The Dark Knight can get ranked very high. I don't have anything against people ranking blurays by their "eye candy" factor but the only thing I'm personally interested in is how accurately a blu-ray replicates a movie's original photography, for better or worse.
I would hope you reconsider in the future, you gave very accurate placements for a number of films that do not tend to get a lot of coverage from other contributors. Your scores were always fairly accurate and reliable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

^^^^^

Thanks Phantom for the review of Baraka. It will be interesting to get your take on Samsara. I'm sure you will find it quite similar to Baraka and I'm really curious to see if you notice any EE and evidence of sharpening. If so, I'm certain any penalization will be, as in the case of Baraka, very minimal.
I will attempt to get a look at Samsara down the road, but it's not at the top of my current priorities.
post #20014 of 21406
Within the last month, I am now using a 9G Kuro Elite, professionally calibrated television to watch my flicks on. Prior to this, I had an ST30, which was a fine television for viewing movies. There are, however, some movies that I have now observed on a near-reference screen, which stand out much more than I realized, before. One movie that I'm shocked at not seeing in the Blu category of PQ is Braveheart. It is a stunning picture on the Kuro, and I'm not sure if I've seen anything better, yet.
post #20015 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTNUT1975 View Post

Within the last month, I am now using a 9G Kuro Elite, professionally calibrated television to watch my flicks on. Prior to this, I had an ST30, which was a fine television for viewing movies. There are, however, some movies that I have now observed on a near-reference screen, which stand out much more than I realized, before. One movie that I'm shocked at not seeing in the Blu category of PQ is Braveheart. It is a stunning picture on the Kuro, and I'm not sure if I've seen anything better, yet.
It is currently placed very high on the list in Tier 1.0, which is the highest rank outside of Tier Zero / Tier Blu. Your feedback might very well push Braveheart up into the Blu Tier with the next update.
post #20016 of 21406
The Thompsons

recommendation: Tier 1.75*


The Thompsons is a 2012 independent horror production, distributed by XLrator. I've never heard of the distributor before this recent release. While not utilizing the Red One camera to its full extent, the video quality on this BD-25 still exudes depth and dimensionality. If not for an egregious amount of sharpening present in all exterior shots, producing glowing halos at certain camera angles, the disc likely would have been ranked in Tier 1.25. The ringing is that bad, for what is otherwise a very fine transfer with a normal color-timing. Sharpness and overall resolution shine throughout the movie, though outdoor scenery has slightly blown-out highlights.
post #20017 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTNUT1975 View Post

Within the last month, I am now using a 9G Kuro Elite, professionally calibrated television to watch my flicks on. Prior to this, I had an ST30, which was a fine television for viewing movies. There are, however, some movies that I have now observed on a near-reference screen, which stand out much more than I realized, before. One movie that I'm shocked at not seeing in the Blu category of PQ is Braveheart. It is a stunning picture on the Kuro, and I'm not sure if I've seen anything better, yet.

I'm with you! I voted for Tier 0 but the majority decided on Tier 1. I would join Phantom in encouraging you to give a review with your vote for Tier 0.

BTW, excellent choice on the Pioneer KURO Elite. I've had mine for three years and I still stand in awe of the PQ, whether I'm watching Blu-rays or satellite tv.
post #20018 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by HTNUT1975 View Post

Within the last month, I am now using a 9G Kuro Elite, professionally calibrated television to watch my flicks on. Prior to this, I had an ST30, which was a fine television for viewing movies. There are, however, some movies that I have now observed on a near-reference screen, which stand out much more than I realized, before. One movie that I'm shocked at not seeing in the Blu category of PQ is Braveheart. It is a stunning picture on the Kuro, and I'm not sure if I've seen anything better, yet.

Congrats on the kuro! They are few and far between and a very rare find as they're not made anymore. I've had mine since 2009 with a pro cal by umr(Jeff Meier). Like dj said, I'm still in awe of the picture at times and I cringe thinking about the day it'll need to be replaced.

Sent from the Nodes of Ranvier
post #20019 of 21406
The Wolf Man (1941)

The only transfer in the Universal box riddled with edge enhancement, some noise reduction, and other filters for the entire movie. What a shame. Halos are frequent, and brightening of the contrast means some blown out highlights. Some crushing blacks are no fun either. Points for grain management and not much else.

Tier 3.5*
post #20020 of 21406
Senseless

recommendation: Tier 2.75*


Amazingly enough, Echo Bridge has finally found a high-quality master for one of their BDs from the Miramax catalog. A significant upgrade in visual quality over the DVD version, Senseless looks better than average for a 90's comedy in 1080P. Minor ringing and slightly reddish flesh-tones are the only real negatives to be found in the image. Senseless is a Best Buy retail exclusive until the end of March.
post #20021 of 21406
Tai Chi Zero

recommendation: Tier 0* (above I, Robot)

Tai Chi Zero came out a couple of weeks ago and I had not really heard any buzz about it in Blu-ray circles, much less videophile mentions. Well Go USA has been a spotty Blu-ray distributor in the past but I picked the disc up on a whim, mostly because I was yearning to see a modern kung fu movie. Shot on the RED Epic digital camera at 5K resolution (yes, you read that number correctly), Tai Chi Zero produces what is possibly the most staggering dimensionality and clarity of any live-action film on Blu-ray, non-Avatar division. The first 45 minutes are an extended demo reel for incredible pop and fine detail, highlighting the kinetic visual style of the wire-fu action.

There is some mild aliasing evident for the CGI elements that pepper the various digital sets, but the image is easily as pristine as any other live-action film on home video. Pitch-perfect black levels are matched with a fairly neutral color palette.
post #20022 of 21406
Here Comes the Boom

The first half of this movie is completely muted, near black and white. Things start picking up near the halfway mark, as does the detail. What was initially a smeary, filtered mess turns into something with nice sharpness and perky definition. Flesh tones bronze a little, and black levels never quite reach their full potential, but it remains a looker... for half of it.

Tier 2.75*
post #20023 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBloggz View Post

Congrats on the kuro! They are few and far between and a very rare find as they're not made anymore. I've had mine since 2009 with a pro cal by umr(Jeff Meier). Like dj said, I'm still in awe of the picture at times and I cringe thinking about the day it'll need to be replaced.

Sent from the Nodes of Ranvier

I hope my KURO lasts at least another 5 years, but if it died today I would replace it with the Panasonic 65VT50. That won the "Flat Panel Shootout" last year for its outstanding colors and contrast. The blacks were excellent too....just shy of what our KURO produces.
post #20024 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

I hope my KURO lasts at least another 5 years, but if it died today I would replace it with the Panasonic 65VT50. That won the "Flat Panel Shootout" last year for its outstanding colors and contrast. The blacks were excellent too....just shy of what our KURO produces.

I have a Kuro 5020 and for a couple months now, the 65VT50. While most sets are still leaps and bounds behind the Kuro, I'd still say the VT50 is maybe a half step behind. Those near perfect blacks make such a difference and even though the VT50 is close, it's just not quite there.
post #20025 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by tcramer View Post

I have a Kuro 5020 and for a couple months now, the 65VT50. While most sets are still leaps and bounds behind the Kuro, I'd still say the VT50 is maybe a half step behind. Those near perfect blacks make such a difference and even though the VT50 is close, it's just not quite there.

Yes, I had heard that the blacks "weren't quite there." The Sharp Elite supposedly has BETTER blacks, and its contrast is much higher, but being an LCD is has the characteristic "off-axis viewing problem."

I apologize to those not interested in this subject and for going "off topic." So, to bring it back to topic, I want to rent a couple of current titles this weekend. Anyone have a suggestion for something with good PQ AND at least a halfway decent movie?
Edited by djoberg - 2/6/13 at 3:23pm
post #20026 of 21406
The Secret World Of Arrietty

recommendation: Tier 0* (above Alice In Wonderland)

Studio Ghibli has done it again, producing stunning hand-drawn animation in this 2010 film that looks fabulous on Blu-ray. Disney has provided the video encode with sufficient parameters, though purists will likely want to seek out the Japanese editions for its much higher video bitrates. The lush color palette is highlighted in the painted backgrounds, brimming with artistic details. As Hollywood moves increasingly towards CGI animation, there is really no other entity in the world producing traditional animation of this quality other than Studio Ghibli. The Secret World Of Arrietty is the type of movie that Walt Disney would be producing today. My highest personal recommendation to those looking for family entertainment.
post #20027 of 21406
Didn't read the rules for posting here, but....

....where is Lawrence of Arabia?
post #20028 of 21406
Alex Cross

Often detailed and sharp, this one is quite consistent. Grain is well managed and clean without any compression issues. It's the black levels that down Cross though, muddying and turning blue-ish far too often even though they can have bite. A pleasing contrast can't save it.

Tier 1.75*
post #20029 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by jh901 View Post

Didn't read the rules for posting here, but....

....where is Lawrence of Arabia?

It has been reviewed, but since it is a recent bluray title, has not been put in the rankings thread yet. If you use the search function for this thread, you'll see the rankings given.

If you'd like to post a review, that will add to the rankings already posted and will log your opinion of whether it's good or bad.
post #20030 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by jh901 View Post

Didn't read the rules for posting here, but....

....where is Lawrence of Arabia?

It hasn't been placed yet, but several reviews have been written, including one by yours truly:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/858316/the-new-pq-tier-thread-for-blu-ray-discussion/19800#post_22650913
post #20031 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by jh901 View Post

Didn't read the rules for posting here, but....

....where is Lawrence of Arabia?
The actual guidelines for a formal recommendation can be found in the first post of the Picture Quality Tiers list:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1425519/the-official-picture-quality-tiers-for-blu-ray-rankings-updated-through-december-1-2012#post_22325128

The last update to the Tiers was on December 1 and we hadn't received any scoring for it by that date, so it was unlisted. Since then we've had several different posters assign it a placement, so expect to see Lawrence Of Arabia listed in the Tiers upon the next update. That next update should occur by the end of February at the latest.

It's never too late to contribute feedback or comments on Lawrence of Arabia, or any other Blu-ray. I try to incorporate the entire discussion thread's opinion on a disc when assigning its final placement. Newer members are welcomed at any time to give their opinion, their recommendations will be equally considered in the final estimation alongside the other reviews.
post #20032 of 21406
The Barbarian and the Geisha

recommendation: Tier 4.5*

A strange entry in the career of John Wayne, this 1958 CinemaScope film by Fox hasn't made a very good transition to Blu-ray. Immediately apparent from one viewing is that little attempt has been made at a restoration of the film elements. The original photography wasn't likely razor-sharp to begin with, but Fox pulled whatever dated master they had laying around for this Blu-ray release. It was originally an exclusive for Wal-mart stores. If anyone saw the transfer on Twilight Time's Demetrius and the Gladiators BD, the general condition of TBATG is very similar to that master.

The first reel of the film is in the worst shape, they must have had to pull protection elements for it when making the transfer. The overall condition does seem to improve after that point, but the dated transfer has artificial sharpening on top of the optical ringing inherent to the film's photography. The score seems to have survived in much better condition by comparison. It's not an unwatchable Blu-ray, but hopeful viewers should hold back their expectations for a dramatic visual improvement.
post #20033 of 21406
End of Watch

All over the place as sources shift from dash cams to handheld to high-end. No real consistency aside from dull blacks. Detail comes and goes although it peaks nicely. Contrast is brutal in spots. Not much here overall though for the Tiers.

Tier 4.0*
post #20034 of 21406
Placebo: We Come In Pieces

recommendation: Tier 4.5*


Concert footage doesn't get much more raw this one, a 2008 performance by Placebo. The 1080i video is barely decent enough to deserve a Blu-ray release. It's apparent this concert came to Blu-ray for its audio capabilities.


The Violent Kind

recommendation: Tier 4.5*

One of the more erratic presentations I've seen from a fictional movie, the picture quality ranges from Tier One to Tier Five for extended scenes. It was a low-budget, independent production and exterior scenes look quite good, marred only by an abundance of aliasing from digital cameras. Most of the actual movie takes place inside a house, which creates inconsistent contrast and a flat color palette. Most of the last act has serious exposure problems inside the house, leading to a picture replete with video noise.
post #20035 of 21406
Top Gun 3D

We never decided on the how/when/where of 3D placement, did we? I remember the thread had some posts on the subject and not much else.

From a 2D standpoint, there are some positives. The DNR and EE of the old release is gone. So is some of the black crush. Hooray! On the other hand, this is a drastic departure from the previous edition in color timing. It is now a faded teal/orange palette that robs the movie of its punch. While detail is spectacular at times, the loss of a natural palette is a real shame.

Tier 3.0*
post #20036 of 21406
Hi all,

For the people using BD Info, what hides behind the Total Bitrate calculation ? Is it the sum of the video + audio + subs avreage bitrates, or does it takes in account peaks of bitrates ?
post #20037 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamereviewgod View Post

Top Gun 3D

We never decided on the how/when/where of 3D placement, did we? I remember the thread had some posts on the subject and not much else.

From a 2D standpoint, there are some positives. The DNR and EE of the old release is gone. So is some of the black crush. Hooray! On the other hand, this is a drastic departure from the previous edition in color timing. It is now a faded teal/orange palette that robs the movie of its punch. While detail is spectacular at times, the loss of a natural palette is a real shame.

Tier 3.0*
There is some consternation about Paramount leaving the DNRed transfer of the 2D release alone and confining the fresh transfer to the 3D version of the film.
Quote:
Originally Posted by tenia54 View Post

Hi all,

For the people using BD Info, what hides behind the Total Bitrate calculation ? Is it the sum of the video + audio + subs avreage bitrates, or does it takes in account peaks of bitrates ?
The program's creator, AVSforum's very own CinemaSquid, would be the man to ask about that question. I've never been that concerned with total bitrate on Blu-ray. The audio does not begin to impact the video's bandwidth that greatly unless there are multiple lossless soundtracks on a film. I have seen it become a problem on certain Blu-ray music titles. The audio does start to become a significant factor on the overall bandwidth for options like a 5.1 TrueHD soundtrack at 24-bit/96kHz.
post #20038 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

There is some consternation about Paramount leaving the DNRed transfer of the 2D release alone and confining the fresh transfer to the 3D version of the film.

Looks like the Jurassic Park 3D release will have a similar problem if that thread is to be believed.
post #20039 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBloggz View Post

Congrats on the kuro! They are few and far between and a very rare find as they're not made anymore. I've had mine since 2009 with a pro cal by umr(Jeff Meier). Like dj said, I'm still in awe of the picture at times and I cringe thinking about the day it'll need to be replaced.

Sent from the Nodes of Ranvier

Thanks! My TV was actually calibrated by Jeff Meier as well! He was here for hours and I really had a blast just talking to him and picking his brain. I did not realize the unique capabilities he has due to his customized equipment. What a joy this TV now is. I actually think I may be a little addicted. I haven't gotten used to it, yet. It continually and predictably, without fail, impresses and mesmerizes me. I think the longer I've been watching it, the more impressed I've become. I don't mean to hijack the thread too much, but it was from viewing Braveheart on a calibrated Kuro that I had to voice my opinion.
post #20040 of 21406
Frankenweenie

Gorgeous B&W effort with stunning levels of fine detail. Great gray scale keeps plenty of depth in the image and clarity is unsurpassed. Texture work on the puppets is really something, and the environments are gloriously rendered. No compression, aliasing, or other anomalies ruin the fun.

Tier 0.75*
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