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Blu-ray titles in this tier consistently offer reference level high-definition picture quality that continues to impress both at viewing distances approximately 1.5 screen widths from the display and on larger projection screens over 100”.Tier 1 - Gold (Excellent)
A Blu-ray in Tier Zero will generally exhibit the following characteristics:
A sharp image with a palpable sense of depth, clarity, and presence that will often appear nearly three-dimensional in nature.
Excellent contrast, superb shadow detail, and the deepest black levels without macroblocking or clipping.
Exquisite resolution of ultra-fine detail, fabric and surface textures, individual strands of hair, and human faces down to the imperfections and pores. Animated material will often exhibit photo-realistic qualities and will feature beautifully rendered environments.
Sophisticated color palettes will be completely resolved down to the most subtle gradations of each hue. Primary colors will appear striking and dynamic. Black-and-white material will exhibit top-notch and accurate grayscale reproduction.
A film-based title will exhibit natural grain structure free of excessive digital noise reduction (DNR) or filtering that results in a noticeable impact on the image, including waxy looking faces and missing high-frequency detail in general.
Halos and ringing artifacts are either absent or not visible enough to be distracting from standard viewing distances.
No alteration from the originally intended aspect ratio or viewable image area.
An artifact-free video compression encoding that shows virtually no signs of chroma noise, banding, posterization, aliasing, macroblocking, compression noise, and other encoding deficiencies.
The transfer of the Blu-ray will be sourced from a master with virtually no visible flaws. This entails an image free of print damage, dirt, specks, cue marks, and other flaws that should be absent from a new and pristine transfer of source material in excellent condition.
Blu-rays in this tier are demo-worthy and exhibit many of the same image qualities as titles in tier zero, albeit with a few qualifications: May demonstrate reference picture quality but have brief periods of inconsistency; Or may exhibit excellent quality in general but ever so slightly rank below tier zero quality in terms of visual interest, detail, contrast, depth or clarity. Differences between titles in the top two tiers can be very subtle.Tier 2 - Silver (Good)
The titles in this tier are representative of good picture quality that is above-average and a significant upgrade over standard definition. The image will demonstrate a sharp nature that begins to approach a stronger quality of depth and dimensionality not present in the lower ranked tiers. Typically the image will lack any of the major deficiencies seen in the lower tiers such as visible compression artifacts, inappropriate application of post-processing tools, master defects, etc. While the Blu-rays ranked here are not truly worthy of being demo quality, they are visually pleasing to a casual watcher of HD material and are strong upgrades over the equivalent dvd version.Tier 3 - Bronze (Average)
The titles in this tier are representative of average picture quality considering all Blu-rays. Image quality characteristic of this tier will be superior to upscaled dvd but will lack any demo potential. Minor flaws or slight limitations in the source material may be present but these transfers are usually worth the upgrade over the dvd version. The picture will typically lack the depth and dimensionality exhibited in the higher tiers. Detail and clarity will be solid and present a pleasing image at standard viewing distances. In many cases the difference between this tier and the surrounding tiers is an issue of consistency to the picture quality.Tier 4 - Copper (Below Average)
The titles in this tier typically represent below-average picture quality that is subpar for the Blu-ray format. While still visually better than upscaled standard definition material, the differences are less obvious upon casual inspection. The image may have deficiencies in one or more areas. The picture will look flat and lack the sharpness seen in higher tiers. Compression artifacts, softness, poor black levels, questionable source material, and poorly transferred masters are just some of the problems exhibited in tier four. Some Blu-rays in this tier are significant upgrades over the dvd but are constrained in image quality due to the limitations inherent in the source material or the director's intended look.Tier 5 - Coal (Unacceptable)
The titles in this tier have severe limitations in their picture quality that is strongly underwhelming compared to the average Blu-ray. The image has deficiencies in multiple areas that would be obvious upon a casual viewing. Without question, the Blu-rays in tier five are among the worst looking selections available on the format. At various times, the picture quality is hard to distinguish from DVD content. Softness, artifacts, poor source material, limited resolution and clarity are general characteristics of titles in this tier.Disclaimer: Some of the Blu-rays ranked in the various tiers look as good as they possibly can on Blu-ray, given limitations in the original photography and the director's intended aesthetic. We recognize movies are not all created with the same intent and budget, and this is why certain titles can never achieve a tier zero or tier one ranking, even given a perfect transfer from the best possible source. Rankings as low as tier four can still constitute a worthy Blu-ray release, as long as the Blu-ray is visually transparent to the best available source for a particular title. This last point is beyond the scope of the tier system and should be investigated through other evaluations.