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The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 678

post #20311 of 21406
The Impossible

A nice-looking Blu that should make its way easily into Tier Silver. Sporadic soft shots and many daytime scenes with a washed-out look will keep it out of the reference/demo tiers.

This title is all about DETAILS (its most redeeming feature), with tons of shots revealing wounds, blood, dirt, grime, and sweat on dozens of tsunami victims, and beautiful cinematography (especially during the first 20 minutes) of Thailand's gorgeous landscapes. DEPTH too could be outstanding, along with accurate FLESH-TONES, decent BLACK LEVELS, and appreciable SHADOW DETAILS. But again, there were too many soft and washed-out shots to elevate this to one of the top two tiers. I should add there was nagging yellow hue at times (but not as bad as some of the orange/teal debacles I've seen of late).

This is, IMHO, destined for Tier Silver, and with the amazing details I'm inclined to put it at or near the top....

Tier Recommendation: 2.0* or 2.25*

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
post #20312 of 21406
^^^^^^

After watching a few of the scenes again today I realized I neglected to speak of the amazing facial close-ups. There is a shot of Naomi Watts laying on a hospital bed that is simply incredible....you could not see more detail even if you were "up close and personal." The make-up artists are to be commended for the realistic wounds. The texture of her skin is one of the best I've seen in a female lead and you could even see very fine hairs on her forehead.

There is also one or two shots of Ewan McGregor that came close to the texture displayed in that of Miss Watts and the depth and dimensionality in those shots were also remarkable.

Again, if not for some scenes that looked way too bright (and washed-out) this would have been a Tier Gold contender.
post #20313 of 21406
Star Driver: Part 1

recommendation: Tier 1.5*


Star Driver was released a couple of years ago by the now-defunct Bandai Entertainment. It's a modern anime series that combines both hand-drawn and CGI elements in its animation. Bandai gave the two-disc set a stellar AVC video encode with nary a flaw, fully replicating whatever was digitally produced by the show's creators. The animation quality is a cut above many other similar series, produced by noted animation house BONES.
post #20314 of 21406
Gangster Squad

Superb black levels highlight this messy encode from Warner that often struggles with banding, messy grain, and other compression concerns. Colors are a bit held back, countered by superb facial definition.

Tier 2.0*
post #20315 of 21406
Broken City

Miserable black levels are damning to this piece no matter how much detail it pushes out. There is some noise and smoothing at work too. Sharpness is generally high and the compression work is good, but lacks the dead on quality of most new releases.

Tier 2.25*
post #20316 of 21406
Gangster Squad

I recall the days when reference/demo material was somewhat the exception and not the rule, but I would say out of the last 20 Blu-rays I've viewed, at least a dozen of them have fallen into the top two tiers. I'm happy to say that's the case with this viewing as well.

Let me get a few *negatives* out of the way. There was some inconsistency in the PQ throughout the first half, with most scenes offering exceptional clarity and sharpness, but then out of nowhere it would lose definition and become flat. This seemed to be limited to interior shots with low lighting. There was also inconsistency in facial definition, for even though the majority of facial close-ups revealed excellent texture, there were some shots that were less-than-stellar, and in the case of Emma Stone there had to have been some *smoothing* in play. The only other "minor gripe" would be a couple of outdoor, daytime shots featuring the infamous "orange hues."

Thankfully the majority of the nearly two hour running time was filled with superb CLARITY & SHARPNESS, finely-rendered DETAILS, beautiful primary COLORS (at times), deep and inky BLACK LEVELS, and exquisite SHADOW DETAILS.

I know that my esteemed colleague (GRG) felt compelled to drop this into Tier Silver due to "banding, messy grain, and other compression concerns," but IMHO these were almost non-existent and thus I feel quite comfortable relegating this to....

Tier Recommendation: 1.5*

Viewed from 7.5' using the equipment listed below....
post #20317 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

I recall the days when reference/demo material was somewhat the exception and not the rule, but I would say out of the last 20 Blu-rays I've viewed, at least a dozen of them have fallen into the top two tiers. I'm happy to say that's the case with this viewing as well.
I think big-budget Hollywood films are looking better than ever, on the average. It is mostly due to the shift towards a completely digital production chain in recent years, from shooting to post-production. I still see disappointingly few Hollywood films (outside of CGI animation) that qualify for the top rung, Tier 0, but the major studios seemingly churn out Tier 1-caliber BDs these days with little effort.



The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

recommendation: Tier 1.25*

Another Blu-ray that is now out of print from the late Bandai, the film was first released to the format in 2011. The art design by Kyoto Animation is a little flashier in this feature than it was for the television show, using improved modeling and integrating CGI elements into the more traditional hand-drawn animation. The AVC video encode is pretty good once you make it past some very early shots of minor banding. The all-digital transfer does not display any irregularities and as I said before, this is more polished animation than the original show. The color palette is a little more subtle than animation aimed at children, though the film still utilizes vivid primary colors.

I'm Haruhi Suzumiya, from East Junior High. First off, I'm not interested in ordinary people. But, if any of you are aliens, time-travelers, or espers, please come see me. That is all!
post #20318 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

I think big-budget Hollywood films are looking better than ever, on the average. It is mostly due to the shift towards a completely digital production chain in recent years, from shooting to post-production. I still see disappointingly few Hollywood films (outside of CGI animation) that qualify for the top rung, Tier 0, but the major studios seemingly churn out Tier 1-caliber BDs these days with little effort.

I agree on both counts!
post #20319 of 21406
The Guilt Trip

Let me say from the outset that I was at a disadvantage in my viewing experience, for I succumbed to my wife's desire (with Mother's Day right around the corner smile.gif) and watched this on our rather small 40" Samsung LCD in our living room with a viewing distance of at least 8'. If the movie wasn't so bad I'd slip it into my Pioneer player in the "Man Cave" and watch some of the scenes over again, but I really don't think I could tolerate two viewings in a row (even if my main objective was to focus on the PQ).

What I did see was *okay*, but nothing to get excited about. The colors were solid; contrast was good; black levels and shadow details were acceptable; flesh tones were so-so; and there was a fair amount of sharpness and clarity in many scenes. Where I was somewhat disappointed was in the details and depth departments. It just didn't WOW me; in fact, in those two areas I would have to rate this as simply average (Tier 3).

All things considered I would nominate this for....

Tier Recommendation: 2.25*

PS Again, it may have fared better in my Man Cave on a larger and better display at a closer distance which would have resulted in a higher rating. Perhaps I'll give it another rent someday and check it out (but I highly doubt it).
Edited by djoberg - 5/5/13 at 7:37am
post #20320 of 21406
Anyone keeping up with the 4K news? Sony is redoing some of their Blu-rays with newer 4K transfers and the results appear to improve on the older Blu-rays. The new Blu-ray for Ghostbusters has better contrast and a more refined filmic transfer. Read about the developments in this AVS thread:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1470744/avs-cant-wait-special-mastered-in-4k-blu-ray-releases

The prices are a little ridiculous for reissues of discs most of us already own, but the process does seem to have improved the picture quality.


I would also like to point out a Blu-ray A/V demo disc being constructed for private home use by an AVS forum member, superleo. It's a disc that people would have to burn for themselves but the files are being provided for free by download.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1469192/reference-2-blu-ray-demo-disc-bd9s-bd50/0_60
Edited by Phantom Stranger - 5/5/13 at 12:29pm
post #20321 of 21406
^^^^^^

Regarding your question, I am not allowing myself to get too acquainted with anything related to 4K until I have a 4K display and a Blu-ray player with 4K (I do have a compatible A/V receiver). As far as purchasing 4K Blu-rays that look better than their 1080P counterparts, I most definitely will NOT be double-dipping. To me the difference would have to be overwhelming to justify that. I may pick up a new release though if I don't currently own it, as long as the price difference isn't too great.
Edited by djoberg - 5/6/13 at 10:34am
post #20322 of 21406
The Man With The Iron Fists

recommendation: Tier 0* (above The Lion King)

This might be the best picture quality I've seen yet from a movie shot primarily using the Red One camera. The Man With The Iron Fists is a very recent release by Universal, encoded in AVC on a BD-50. Its striking dimensionality and precise detail epitomize the qualities necessary for the highest level of the PQ Tiers. Aside from a somewhat cheap-looking opening credits sequence, this film is obvious demo material. Lush visuals are bolstered by vivid primary colors and stunning sharpness. This is a reference transfer with little extraneous processing and perfect transparency to the principal photography. The color palette shows no obvious bias or push, except a tendency for brilliant hues of saturated red inside the opulent Pink Blossom setting.

I would have likely ranked this BD even higher, if not for a few exaggerated moments of poorly-done CGI.
post #20323 of 21406
Look for a number of fixes to the Tiers in the next update, since forum member K-Spaz (who also graciously hosts the data on his own server) is back to coding on the back-end database. The dead HDDB.com links, which I've promised to eliminate for sometime, are now gone from the database entries! There is some possibility that the holdings area for new placements might make a comeback.

I am also looking for feedback from anyone on the current formatting of each Tier placement:

bb nf Juno Video: AVC | Audio: DTS-HD MA | AR: 1.85:1 | Fox

The bb link, if active, has always been the link to Blockbuster's online service page for that movie. Do people still use the Blockbuster rental service or should those links be completely removed? Keep in mind that over half the entries in the Tiers don't have active BB links, so it wouldn't be a huge loss anyway. The nf link is for Netflix of course and we don't have any intention of removing the Netflix links.

Does anyone have problems with the colors of the Tiers in the various forum skins? I believe someone has said it is hard to read on a black background.
post #20324 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

Anyone keeping up with the 4K news? Sony is redoing some of their Blu-rays with newer 4K transfers and the results appear to improve on the older Blu-rays.

The prices are a little ridiculous for reissues of discs most of us already own, but the process does seem to have improved the picture quality.
Howdy Guys, been a while.

Just looking on amazon, I thought they appear to be pretty cheap. Ranging from 14.99 to 34.99, and only one I saw was at 34.99. At 15 bucks, I'd double dip on one just so I could see for myself. But, I JUST bought a new projector and it ain't 4K. Not much sense in buying then. If any, I might try total recall. But, I'd better make sure my player will play it. I've not even looked at this stuff. For that matter, I'm not sure the playback is any different than any other blu.

Watched the special features for the 3D Hobbit last night and Peter J says that was filmed in 5K. The movie itself is some very nice 3D. Far superior to some I've seen, like Avatar, which is a bit over the top. There might have been 10 seconds with anything in the negative space in the whole movie. I prefer that to all that crap popping out. I just want to watch the movie. It seems more immersive to me when it's all positive space and realistic.
post #20325 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Spaz View Post

Just looking on amazon, I thought they appear to be pretty cheap. Ranging from 14.99 to 34.99, and only one I saw was at 34.99. At 15 bucks, I'd double dip on one just so I could see for myself. But, I JUST bought a new projector and it ain't 4K. Not much sense in buying then. If any, I might try total recall. But, I'd better make sure my player will play it. I've not even looked at this stuff. For that matter, I'm not sure the playback is any different than any other blu.
It's good seeing you back in the thread, K-Spaz! Looking around Amazon now, I guess someone misinformed me on the pricing for the 4K-mastered Blu-rays from Sony. Both the new Ghostbusters and Spider-Man BDs are on pre-order for $14.99, which seems reasonable. Sony actually gave these films new 4K scans and transfers, so you don't need anything but an ordinary Blu-ray player to derive some visual benefit from the BDs. Going off the screenshots, I think many here will prefer the new Ghostbusters transfer. The contrast has been changed back with more accurate color rendition.

Delhi Safari

recommendation: Tier 1.25*


Another family movie animated in razor-sharp CGI, the unusual thing here is that it was produced and made in India. The budget was $15 million, so the animation is not quite as polished or lavish as say a recent DreamWorks movie. The Blu-ray itself by Arc Entertainment represents a solid transfer of purely digital animation, so any flaws can mostly be attributed to the source material. The small budget does show up in some of the sparse backgrounds with reduced texture and the modelling of the secondary characters.

Delhi Safari is currently an exclusive at Walmart.
post #20326 of 21406
I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I bet nothing will be different about these 4k mastered discs. Take the Hobbit for instance. They don't have a choice as to which master to use, they only have one. So, even though my 5 disc set I got doesn't say it's from 4K, it's from a 4K. (well, 5K).

Movies like Total Recall, it's new enough that it most likely was shot with high res cameras as well. Could you imagine them making an encode from a lower res "master" just so they could market another from a higher res "master"? I can't. I'd say that unless these are a totally different resolution, then it's just more of the same with a new label and fancy marketing. But I could be mistaken.

They are right proud of 4K displays yet too, so, it'll take some time before they can produce any content en masse.

Fact is, I think this stuff may be hitting a wall (resolution / sharpness wise). I had a conversation with a casual viewer (but avid moviegoer) who'd seen my new system and mentioned that I think the movies have taken on a new dimension, as if the display quality is so good it makes it look like the production quality is less. They immediately agreed and went on to make many of the observations I have. His take on it was, "The movies now look more like the making-of-specials than they do a movie". It's like you're sitting there while they're recording. My verbiage was, "It's like you're watching a high-school production rather than Hollywood". I did increase the screen size in my room, and I've got a lot more image brightness and contrast. But, the entire viewing experience now has a different feel to it.

Considering what my new projector did to the movie experience (not always for the better), I can only imagine what 4K content will do. It's hard to say it's all bad, I mean the images are incredible. But, they are so big and so incredible, they take me away from the movie itself and I find myself watching images, not movies. Does that make sense?
post #20327 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by K-Spaz View Post

Considering what my new projector did to the movie experience (not always for the better), I can only imagine what 4K content will do. It's hard to say it's all bad, I mean the images are incredible. But, they are so big and so incredible, they take me away from the movie itself and I find myself watching images, not movies. Does that make sense?

Hey K-Spaz...where in the world have you been?! I'll echo Phantom's sentiments by saying we have missed you!

I only copied the last part of your last post because I wanted to offer a short comment on the words highlighted above, and that is, "Even my somewhat modest 60" flat panel is big enough to result in me 'watching images, not movies'." biggrin.gif Of course, part of the reason may be that I'm purposely focused on the PQ so I can offer a review on this thread. Sometimes I'll watch the movie again so I can focus solely on the movie, though if the PQ is excellent I still get drawn into the images. cool.gif
post #20328 of 21406
Hey Denny, glad to see you're still around too! As to where I've been, trying to keep the bills paid and a few bucks left over, so working plenty. Got the itch to update my projector and finally bit the bullet 2 weeks ago. New screen and all.

Something that has surprised me is that I'm beginning to enjoy 3D. For the most part, I've had no interest in it previously. But as long as a movie is filmed that way, I think they are excellent entertainment. I won't deny I've got some fatigue issues to work out but I'm getting my eyes used to it. I'm quite impressed with the image quality with glasses on. The stuff I'm watching is full res HD 3D and it's impressive. I have a DLP so I use the DLP-Link glasses. So far, I like it, though there isn't much content to watch. I'm going to say that it helps me with the complaint above about the image being almost too perfect. Movies become movies again and I just watch them for the experience. I find it's difficult to take in the entire screen at once so, if anything, that helps me to really watch the movie.

I took a cursory glance at the rankings and I have to say, I agree with about everything. You guys do a great job. And, there should be a big thanks go out to Phantom for all the work keeping the list up to date. Should anyone think that's an easy job, it isn't. It's a good bit of work and it consumes time.
post #20329 of 21406
The Guilt Trip

Smoothing is an issue here as Streisand is digitally washed over with DNR to hide her age. It's an ugly effect. Everything else is just blah, from colors to blacks. Limited fidelity all around, and some abhorrent green screen work.

Tier 3.0*
post #20330 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamereviewgod View Post

The Guilt Trip

Smoothing is an issue here as Streisand is digitally washed over with DNR to hide her age. It's an ugly effect. Everything else is just blah, from colors to blacks. Limited fidelity all around, and some abhorrent green screen work.

Tier 3.0*

After seeing your review, I might have been wrong in thinking this title would look better on my KURO with a closer viewing. I think the LCD may have fooled me because of its small size and with me sitting back so far. So, if I did see it on a 60' sitting up fairly close it may just magnify the flaws instead of enhancing the virtues.
Edited by djoberg - 5/8/13 at 4:22pm
post #20331 of 21406
Superman Unbound

placement: Tier 1.0*


WB has encoded the 75-minute main feature in AVC at moderate bitrates, on a BD-25. Banding was once a serious problem for Warner Bros. Animation's direct-to-video features, but they've completely eliminated the annoyance on Superman Unbound. This BD could qualify for Tier 0, my placement is on the conservative side. The color palette is "softer" than some of their prior DC Universe movies, so the reds and blues don't pop in quite the same rich style. Black levels are fantastic as always with the Digital Ink & Paint-created animation, producing stellar contrast and inky levels of darkness in the space locales. The animation budgets must have grown in recent years, because these features from WB continue to look more and more polished by objective measures. Artistically, the art design for Superman's head looks slightly askew.
post #20332 of 21406
Silver Linings Playbook

An inconsistent looker with substantial detail when it wants, but often veers soft via shots with Jennifer Lawrence. Warmly tinted with yellows and oranges saps some of the energy. Nice grain reproduction, and black levels are great.

Tier 1.75*
post #20333 of 21406
I forgot to post this earlier today, but the 9th annual HDTV shootout from V alue Electronics was streamed at 6 PM today, here:

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/632436/hdtvshootout/archives

I believe there might be another live stream of the event at 6 P.M. EST on Saturday night. The results so far are being discussed on this forum and elsewhere. I don't believe a definitive winner has been announced yet.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1472028/which-display-wins-the-shootout-lets-have-some-fun-make-your-predictions-here/0_60
Edited by Phantom Stranger - 5/10/13 at 8:13pm
post #20334 of 21406
^^^^^

Thanks Phantom! I got home from Minneapolis last night and ended up reading the whole thread and watching some of the live stream as well. Judging by the comments on the thread, it's going to be hard choosing a winner, with the top three all being plasmas (two Pannys...ZT60 and VT60...and Samsung 8500). They are saying the ZT was underwhelming as far as besting the VT in black levels. I plan to watch more of the live stream tonight.
post #20335 of 21406
WOW!! The results are in and the Samsung F8500 was declared the champion of the Shootout (by a very small margin). Panasonic is going to have to eat some "humble pie" after touting their new ZT60 as the new "reference" Flat Panel. They even bragged it would be the "KURO Killer," which was proved wrong by the measurements of the calibrationists at the show.

Even though the KURO was not bested by any of the three top contenders, they came very close and any one would be a fine choice for a plasma lover. I was surprised that Samsung stepped up to the plate and won and it was reported by ALL that it had the best "brightness" level which means it would do well in a living room environment where light (from windows) is an issue. The ZT60 and VT60 would do better in a darker room and their blacks levels were a tad better than the Samsung.

One final thought. The LCDs fared poorly at the Shootout (in comparison to the plasmas) and with OLED being at least 3-5 years from being marketable and affordable, it looks like plasma is here to stay in the foreseeable future. As a plasma lover I'm elated, for if my KURO meets its demise, I want to know that there will be an excellent plasma to replace it with, and right now there's at least three that would fit the bill. cool.gif
Edited by djoberg - 5/14/13 at 7:06am
post #20336 of 21406
I wasn't aware before this shootout that esteemed video calibrator, D-Nice, has applied some sort of custom software that enhances the KURO even further than is possible with factory controls. It's a real shame that Pioneer got out of the plasma market when they did, considering several-year-old technology is still successfully competing against the newest premium displays. I figured if the new Panasonic plasmas had any weak point, it would be light output in a lit environment.
post #20337 of 21406
Puella Magi Madoka Magica: Complete Series Collection (region-locked UK Import)

recommendation: Tier 1.5*


Manga Home Entertainment spread the 300-minute animated series over three BD-25s. This series deserves a higher Tier 1 placement for its innovative visual design and amazingly unique animation style in the battle scenes, but there is simply too much banding for that to happen. The source used for the transfer is possibly an HDCAM master, which might explain some of the banding and other minor artifacts. The picture quality looks great for the most part and has a very rich color palette, full of brilliant primary colors. This is the type of animation that was meant to be seen in a high-quality presentation that only Blu-ray can offer, combining hand-drawn elements with CGI. Like most other anime productions originally from Japan, this UK set is locked to Region B.

"If you ever feel like dying to help the universe, just let me know. I'll be waiting."
post #20338 of 21406
Ghostbusters - Mastered in 4K

The first disc is listed in Tier 3. This can rise up a notch. Most of the changes revolve around encoding and brightness. Black crush is a bit persistent, but also hides many of the spaces where compression liked to seep in before. Tighter resolution creates more detail opportunities, and color has been left alone for the most part (some minor tweaks).

Tier 2.5*


The Oranges

Small indie comedy shot digitally with mostly appealing results. Detail can be a little dry but is nicely done. Clarity is striking, and sharpness consistent. Black levels could be a shred heavier, and some early footage is meant to come from a vintage, low-res cell phone.

Tier 2.0*
post #20339 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

I wasn't aware before this shootout that esteemed video calibrator, D-Nice, has applied some sort of custom software that enhances the KURO even further than is possible with factory controls. It's a real shame that Pioneer got out of the plasma market when they did, considering several-year-old technology is still successfully competing against the newest premium displays. I figured if the new Panasonic plasmas had any weak point, it would be light output in a lit environment.

I'm a BIG fan of D-Nice and was glad to see that he was one of the three main calibrators at the Shootout. Did you know he has numerous KUROs throughout his house? He still believes it's THE REFERENCE DISPLAY to beat. If he did tours in my area I would most certainly hire him to do a calibration on mine. Until he does, I have to be content to use the multiple settings he has listed for the 9G KUROs. I saw a noticeable improvement after implementing those settings, though I must say the KURO Elite looked amazingly good "right-out-of-the-box" with it set on Pure Mode.
post #20340 of 21406
Quote:
Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

I wasn't aware before this shootout that esteemed video calibrator, D-Nice, has applied some sort of custom software that enhances the KURO even further than is possible with factory controls. It's a real shame that Pioneer got out of the plasma market when they did, considering several-year-old technology is still successfully competing against the newest premium displays. I figured if the new Panasonic plasmas had any weak point, it would be light output in a lit environment.

I'm a BIG fan of D-Nice and was glad to see that he was one of the three main calibrators at the Shootout. Did you know he has numerous KUROs throughout his house? He still believes it's THE REFERENCE DISPLAY to beat. If he did tours in my area I would most certainly hire him to do a calibration on mine. Until he does, I have to be content to use the multiple settings he has listed for the 9G KUROs. I saw a noticeable improvement after implementing those settings, though I must say the KURO Elite looked amazingly good "right-out-of-the-box" with it set on Pure Mode.

Custom software? You guys talking about controlcal and the like or something different? This software is readily available to any trained ISF calibrator in the country. I don't think its solely the work of one individual. Personally I've had my Kuro calibrated by Jeff Meier, better know as umr here on avs. He does travel tours and has a vast in depth knowledge regarding Pioneer plasmas, kuro included.

Sent from the Nodes of Ranvier
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