The New PQ Tier thread for Blu-Ray - Discussion - Page 486 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #14551 of 26060 Old 12-13-2009, 09:10 AM
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Miracle On 34th Street

recommendation: Tier 3.0

A movie that rightfully deserves its perennial airing around Christmas, Fox has brought the original Miracle On 34th Street into the twenty-first century, in a fine transfer and strong presentation on this disc. Having made its BD debut on October 6th of this year, the 96-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-25. The only version provided is the only one truly needed for most fans, the original black-and-white film in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

The average video bitrate for the AVC-encoded main feature is 22.71 Mbps per the BDInfo scan, which corresponds well with the 22 Mbps listed on the packaging. The compression job is credited to Deluxe Digital Studios, who handles many of Fox's Blu-rays. There are no compression artifacts to complain about or point out. Fields of grain look naturalistic and film-like in characterization, that are appropriate to films of similar vintage in high-definition. While I hesitate endorsing the practice of squeezing any film onto a BD-25, the lower parameters do not look to have compromised the integrity of the film or its picture quality in any way here.

What is remarkable about the image is the pristine appearance of the film element itself. The master has less visible damage and age-related deterioration than many films shot in the past ten years. There is a distinct lack of any visible digital cleaning remnants, a nice bonus for an older film. Still, the picture is startlingly free of debris that mar other older films which have undergone extensive restorations with digital cleanup. While I will not say unequivocally that no digital noise reduction has been used, the healthy look of the grain-structure leads me to believe either none or very little was applied.

Viewers on larger displays and screens will notice a wisp of ringing around high-contrast edges on occasion. The halos are barely on the threshold of visibility, even to the sharpest-eyed viewers, and will likely be missed by most non-videophile watchers. A small amount of density fluctuations occur in the contrast, which is not atypical for a film of this age. The slightest perceptible level of telecine wobble occurs in one scene, blink and you will miss it. These minor problems do not really detract from the fine viewing experience. The black-and-white cinematography of this movie was not intended for maximum dimensionality or resolution. But the quality is consistent and shows a decent level of high-definition appeal.

Contrast is mostly strong, with just a bit of clipping below-black information in a few, short scenes. Whites are slightly elevated in spots, leading to a few details getting washed out. Clarity is generally very good though. Textures in cloth and fabrics are strong, that show the fine pinstripes on men's suits for example. Close-ups are relatively uncommon and the way the film was shot looks to have minimized the best detail usually visible. The image is generally flat, but has an average level of sharpness that reminds the viewer this is true high-definition at all times.

While this film will never be mistaken for eye candy, Fox has delivered a great transfer in most respects that admirably serves the picture quality and replicates the original source material in a way that likely has not been seen by the general public since it premiered in 1947. It is as good as I believe Miracle On 34th Street can look at 1080p resolution, so pick it up without fear a better edition is coming for visual quality. A placement in tier 3.0 sounds fair.

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post #14552 of 26060 Old 12-13-2009, 01:32 PM
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I wanted to get everybodys opinion on this. Does anyone think Band of brothers to be one of the best looking blu ray's for they are trying to capture. I have never seen such a difference from DVD to BD. The really capture the mood of ww2.

I was disappointed with the Blu-ray's DNR to be honest.. Band of Brothers on HD-DVD is probably the only reason why i haven't gotten rid of my HD-DVD player.. It may be a minor thing but it just looked too soft for some reason .
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post #14553 of 26060 Old 12-13-2009, 10:15 PM
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Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I really liked this presentation of the film, although, going along with what the others have said, there are some contributing factors that may or may not keep it out of the highest tiers. First of all, it's a very dark film. There were maybe 3 instances altogether where I really was impressed with the color saturation and the pop (the opening London scene, Dumbledore's fire, and snow scenes). Aside from those, the use of brilliant color is noticeably absent. What color there is, say in a sweater, is quite muted and dull. This is, of course, artistic intent though, and we once again come to the fine line of where outstanding PQ and Artistic Intent just don't get along quite so well.

On the plus side though, this film had some of the most absolute darkest blacks I've ever seen. I really was amazed a number of times, at just how deep my set got during this film. I've never seen it that black before, and checking my notes I had marked that more than a few times, objects or backgrounds on the screen were very much noticeably darker than the letterbox bars, and when the night sky or black background blended into the bars it was just exceptional. The black level was really outstanding here. My particular display was praised for its great rendering of shadow detail in a number of reviews, and this movie really brought that out to a forefront. Along with the excellent inky blacks, there was some great shadow detail in probably 80% of the scenes in the movie.

I was a bit offended by the glowy, soft facial details. Especially when this film was rendering the blacks and shadow detail at such an amazing level, the overall softness just drove me nuts. How could you go from absolute nirvana on one category to what looked like HD Satellite feed on another? It really boggled my mind here. I will say that I thought this to be a case of some sort of filtering or DNR, because I did notice an extremely fine layer of grain in some of the brighter scenes, but it was qutie absent in much of the darker segments. So, who knows.

Overall, the EXCELLENT blacks are quite reference level, but unfortunately this title lacks the pure pop and color saturation that would allow it to be ranked in the demo tiers. The lack of detail evident throughout helps to solidify this, and therefore I feel it belongs as high as it can go without breaking into tier 1.

Tier Recommendation: 2.0
Viewed on a Panasonic TC-P55G10 at 7.5', played via PS3 at 1080p/24, calibrated custom mode.

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post #14554 of 26060 Old 12-13-2009, 10:17 PM
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Office Space

Clean-looking title, almost clinical, with fine grain present throughout. With this, it does have a sharpened look as well as evidenced by ringing throughout on high-contrast edges. Speaking of contrast, it's a bit boosted which helps create the fluorescent, vitamin D deprived, office look. This is also evident in the cakey appearance of our main characters - these may seem like DNR at first, but there was (1) clearly thicker make up on certain scenes and (2) no wavering of the presence of grain even during scenes where faces seemed smooth. There were a couple of extreme facial close-up's that showed exemplary details.

Skin tones were a bit on the rosy side. Blacks were not really all that impressive. In fact, it's hard to recall a black object that was deep - one of the Bobs' suits, the thermos. Colors were limited to steely hues - shades of grays and dark blues. We do get a dose of red in the form of Milton's Swingline stapler. I own the SD DVD and have definitely noticed an increase in discernible details, specially in the background.

Overall, this blatantly dull and bland look works well with the story. However, for the purposes of this thread,I believe a high Bronze placement is in order.

Tier Recommendation: 3.0

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post #14555 of 26060 Old 12-13-2009, 11:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jedimasterchad View Post

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
...
Overall, the EXCELLENT blacks are quite reference level, but unfortunately this title lacks the pure pop and color saturation that would allow it to be ranked in the demo tiers. The lack of detail evident throughout helps to solidify this, and therefore I feel it belongs as high as it can go without breaking into tier 1.

Tier Recommendation: 2.0
Viewed on a Panasonic TC-P55G10 at 7.5', played via PS3 at 1080p/24, calibrated custom mode.

Sounds like you and I were on the exact same page for this one, Chad!
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post #14556 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 12:33 AM
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Sounds like you and I were on the exact same page for this one, Chad!

Yeah, I really wanted it to score higher, but I just couldn't bring myself to give it any better of a vote with the entire tone of the movie being so dark. Somebody just got me Crank 2 for my birthday, and by comparison, the level of pop and detail is night and day compared to HP, and I wouldn't hesitate to use Crank 2 as a PQ demo, whereas the only thing to demo with HP was the black level. I still really enjoyed the movie though, especially considering it is my least favorite book in the series.

Another of my favorite scenes was the night-time battle at the Weasely residence. The entire screen had faded completely black except for the characters illuminated just so, and the effect was great in a dark room. I just can't say enough about the blacks in this movie, it really took my set to a new level and I will judge blacks against this film from now on. I just hope that maybe in this holiday rush we still have yet to see another perfect blu-ray that performs well in all categories...(District 9 looks promising, and so does Inglorious Bastards, so maybe we will have one).

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post #14557 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by jedimasterchad View Post

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I really liked this presentation of the film, although, going along with what the others have said, there are some contributing factors that may or may not keep it out of the highest tiers. First of all, it's a very dark film. There were maybe 3 instances altogether where I really was impressed with the color saturation and the pop (the opening London scene, Dumbledore's fire, and snow scenes). Aside from those, the use of brilliant color is noticeably absent. What color there is, say in a sweater, is quite muted and dull. This is, of course, artistic intent though, and we once again come to the fine line of where outstanding PQ and Artistic Intent just don't get along quite so well.

On the plus side though, this film had some of the most absolute darkest blacks I've ever seen. I really was amazed a number of times, at just how deep my set got during this film. I've never seen it that black before, and checking my notes I had marked that more than a few times, objects or backgrounds on the screen were very much noticeably darker than the letterbox bars, and when the night sky or black background blended into the bars it was just exceptional. The black level was really outstanding here. My particular display was praised for its great rendering of shadow detail in a number of reviews, and this movie really brought that out to a forefront. Along with the excellent inky blacks, there was some great shadow detail in probably 80% of the scenes in the movie.

I was a bit offended by the glowy, soft facial details. Especially when this film was rendering the blacks and shadow detail at such an amazing level, the overall softness just drove me nuts. How could you go from absolute nirvana on one category to what looked like HD Satellite feed on another? It really boggled my mind here. I will say that I thought this to be a case of some sort of filtering or DNR, because I did notice an extremely fine layer of grain in some of the brighter scenes, but it was qutie absent in much of the darker segments. So, who knows.

Overall, the EXCELLENT blacks are quite reference level, but unfortunately this title lacks the pure pop and color saturation that would allow it to be ranked in the demo tiers. The lack of detail evident throughout helps to solidify this, and therefore I feel it belongs as high as it can go without breaking into tier 1.

Tier Recommendation: 2.0
Viewed on a Panasonic TC-P55G10 at 7.5', played via PS3 at 1080p/24, calibrated custom mode.

I haven't yet watched this newest HP, but it appears that Warner has applied their usual low video bitrate approach here, which often results in softening.
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post #14558 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 08:08 AM
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Great Expectations (UK Import)

recommendation: Tier 4.0


A David Lean film from 1946, ITV released Great Expectations as a region-free Blu-ray on June 24, 2008. It may look better than any prior dvd version, but this is not the impressive leap in quality most discs demonstrate at 1080p resolution. As the U.K. import is the only Blu-ray version in the world, fans have to accept the somewhat suspect quality and tolerate it for now.

The VC-1 encode is a low-bitrate affair by any standard, where the 118-minute main feature is squeezed on a BD-25. An ample amount of free space is inexplicably leftover. Video bitrates rarely leave the teens, and peak moments are noticeably low in magnitude. Henceforth, moments of artifacting and untoward reproduction of the film at times take away from the overall picture quality. A general amount of compression haze obscures the frame, leaving the impression of a transfer with limited detail and reduced fidelity to the source master.

Also of notice is the unremastered state of the film itself. The master looks below-average in cleanliness, showing off regular damage and debris in spots. While the decomposition is not always intrusive, it occasionally does reach the point of distraction. Even tolerant viewers might have problems with the visible print damage that peppers the movie. Most of the films from the period that have made it on Blu-ray have had expensive restorations done to them. Cleaning up debris and finding film elements that are pristine requires some investment of time and money. Great Expectations has not, and suffers in comparison to other gems like The Third Man. One positive is the complete lack of filtering or edge enhancement to the master itself in the transfer. Other than the compression problems, the grain resembles natural film-texture. The complete lack of halos and ringing is a welcome sight also.

There is not a lot of ultra-fine detail evident in the transfer, indicating to me it was encoded from an older telecined high-definition master intended for dvd. The impressive cinematography found in most of Lean's films is still visible, but tarnished somewhat by the sub-par effort. Shadow detail and delineation of the darkest elements in the frame is a key feature of Great Expectations, which this disc only moderately gets correct. The image is at least stable and a slight improvement over dvd in terms of resolution and detail. Gradations within shadows are a touch better, particularly in the moodily-lit scenes. Visible elements in the frame have a decent level of clarity.

As a long-time fan of both the novel by Dickens and this specific film adaptation, the BD is a slight disappointment. It is nice to have on Blu-ray, but really does not deserve a better placement than tier four. Only a marginal video upgrade for a movie that deserves better.

Watching on a 60 Pioneer KURO plasma at 1080p/24 fed by a PS3 (firmware 3.15), at a viewing distance of six feet.

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post #14559 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 04:47 PM
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Ferris Bueller's Day Off


2.35 : 1


FBDO looks damn good in Blu! I expected soft mush. What I got was a film that showed pretty good detail. Facial closeups showed excellent pore detail, even with caked makeup evident (especially on Principal Rooney).

Contrast seems to have been boosted a tad bit, but improves picture quality dramatically! Reds, on Ferris' bedroom flags, telephone, Cameron's jersey, and even the famous 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California, look awesome!

Detail in clothing and fabrics showed an improvement over the DVD (at least from what I remembered). Panoramic views of Chicago reminded me of the AU version of American Psycho. Beautiful!

Speckles pop up every now and then, but did not distract from the viewing experience. Black levels were black, not grey like I expected. I did expect more grain, but I have no proof of any tampering. Overall, I was pleased!

Wow! I was surprised at how good this movie looks! It also made me realize how much younger I'm NOT getting!


Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Tier Recommendation: Tier 3.0
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post #14560 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 09:38 PM
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Red Cliff (UK Import)

I will preface any remarks by saying this is a review of Red Cliff: Part 1, but my understanding is that Part 2 is virtually identical in quality.

It is a real pleasure to view another action film that should easily qualify for a Tier Blu placement. I did NOT find this perfect, but it is definitely good enough to call *reference* material, IMO. I would like to list a few of its greatest virtues, beginning with the best.

1) DEPTH....I am happy to report that we are treated to MANY scenes with the 3D pop we all covet. I paused my TV at the 1 hr. 11 minute mark to just marvel at the blades of grass that stood in the foreground with horses and riders making up the background. This was as close to the "looking through a window" effect that you can get. Simply amazing!! And this is just one example of many.

2) DETAIL....Details in general were superb, with lush scenery affording us plenty of opportunities to exhibit this virtue, along with finely-rendered details in clothing (the coats of armor worn by many of the soldiers were a sight to behold). Facial details were also exemplary, displaying every whisker, scar, wrinkle, and fine texture.

3) FLESH TONES....Spot on!!

4) COLORS....If you like them natural and vibrant, you will not be disappointed. There were a few scenes with a stylized golden hue, but this not distract one iota.

5) CONTRAST....Bold contrast was displayed throughout.

6) BLACK LEVELS....Most of the scenes were filmed during the day with very few instances of blacks, but when blacks were highlighted they were deep and inky and added to the sense of depth alluded to above.

7) FILM GRAIN....I am always glad when I can add that there was a fine layer of grain which resulted in the true, film-look we long for (especially when it yields more detail, as it did in this case).

The *only* real drawback that I noticed from time to time was softness, though these occurrences were limited to the first half of the movie and the total running time was probably only 10 minutes or so.

I ended up looking at the Rankings Thread to get some idea where to place this. My thinking is it belongs somewhere in the middle of Tier 0 or perhaps a bit lower. Right now the following placement seems fair....

Tier Recommendation: Tier 0 Right Below Transporter 3

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PS I also enjoyed the movie immensely! After seeing Public Enemies with its poor character development, it was refreshing to see a film where they took their time to introduce you to the lead characters. And my what beautiful cinematography and epic battle scenes! I can't wait to see the final installment later this week.

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post #14561 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by patrick99 View Post

I haven't yet watched this newest HP, but it appears that Warner has applied their usual low video bitrate approach here, which often results in softening.

Applies to The Hangover too but with sharpening applied as per Ken Brown's review.

Hot Fuzz - Tier 1 or maybe Low Tier 0

Braveheart (UK Import) - Tier 2.25 (smokes the DVD but noticed minor white specks and aliasing. Close-ups could have looked better. Not a sharp transfer but looks good.)

The Pursuit of Happyness - Tier 1.75

djoberg,

I hope you like Red Cliff Part II. I think the UK version looked a tad saturated than the HK / Taiwan BDs. Thought Part II PQ was a bit soft in comparison to Part I mainly due to filming in foggy conditions.

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post #14562 of 26060 Old 12-14-2009, 11:07 PM
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I only watched the first half hour or so of this (There Will Be Blood), but based on that, I would say high Tier 2 is generous. Both outdoor and indoor shots looked somewhat unresolved to me. Not nearly as sharp as one would expect from a new movie. I wonder who is doing Paramount's BD encodes. Does anyone know? This doesn't strike me as being the same quality level of work in the compression process that we see for Fox, Disney, or Sony.

This post by patrick99 was dated over a year ago. I found it by searching for members who disagreed with There Will Be Blood's placement of 2.0. Black levels are underwhelming. Contrast is lacking. Backround shots are soft. In fact, some closeup scenes appear soft!

I popped in Blade Runner and The Kite Runner just to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Those two titles belong in 2.0. TWBB clearly doesn't.

Honestly, There Will Be Blood appears to be at least a tier too high!
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post #14563 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by djoberg View Post

Red Cliff (UK Import)

I will preface any remarks by saying this is a review of Red Cliff: Part 1, but my understanding is that Part 2 is virtually identical in quality.

It is a real pleasure to view another action film that should easily qualify for a Tier Blu placement. I did NOT find this perfect, but it is definitely good enough to call *reference* material, IMO. I would like to list a few of its greatest virtues, beginning with the best.

PS I also enjoyed the movie immensely! After seeing Public Enemies with its poor character development, it was refreshing to see a film where they took their time to introduce you to the lead characters. And my what beautiful cinematography and epic battle scenes! I can't wait to see the final installment later this week.

It is truly the epitome of pleasure for the eyes, Denny. I am in complete agreement with the factors you cite. Anyone that wants a spectacular demo sequence needs to check out the scene of the horse giving birth. Incredible dimension and resolution as strong as any Blu-ray yet. The only weaker aspects were the few scenes involving some CGI trickery. When the camera pulls out and you see the the enormous CGI naval fleet, that one scene stands out where the overall detail and sharpness momentarily take a step back. My final judgment will likely be in the top half of the Blu tier.
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This post by patrick99 was dated over a year ago. I found it by searching for members who disagreed with There Will Be Blood's placement of 2.0. Black levels are underwhelming. Contrast is lacking. Backround shots are soft. In fact, some closeup scenes appear soft!

I popped in Blade Runner and The Kite Runner just to make sure I wasn't going crazy. Those two titles belong in 2.0. TWBB clearly doesn't.

Honestly, There Will Be Blood appears to be at least a tier too high!

Having not watched this since it first came out, and my recollections being hazy to some degree, there is some merit in your conclusion. If you feel it properly belongs in tier three, give it a quick placement. As opposed to Red Cliff, There Will Be Blood was clearly not filmed to be a paragon of high-definition greatness.

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post #14564 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 08:14 AM
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A CHRISTMAS TALE

A must view for any Blu -Ray fan who enjoys a fantastic story with a superb quality picture. From what I can gather on the web, the very talented , creative , and ground breaking director and story teller Arnaud Desplechin, had a direct hand in creating the digital transfer. The detail and color rendition is fantastic and each scene is staged and lit to perfection. A true joy to watch in every sense of the word. The only fault I can see with this disk is that some scenes had a bit more color intensity than others but I would take a guess that this was probably the intention of Mr. Desplechin to create a mood.I've only seen one other film he made"Rois et reine",but along with this one, he appears to be a perfectionist along the lines of Kubrick,creating each scene with care. Detail in darker scenes is very high and flesh tones are like looking in a mirror.
Do yourself a favor a rent a copy if you can. And don't let the 2 hr. 30 min. runtime dissuade from renting it. It flies by and as a matter of fact , a second viewing might be a good idea. It is that beautiful to watch , I'd say.


This is in French, right?

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post #14565 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 08:16 AM
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I see that the US version of Red Cliff is slated to come out at the end of March. Sounds like it may even be the same transfer/encode. Seems too long a wait; should have probably bitten when it was $19 shipped.

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post #14566 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post


Having not watched this since it first came out, and my recollections being hazy to some degree, there is some merit in your conclusion. If you feel it properly belongs in tier three, give it a quick placement. As opposed to Red Cliff, There Will Be Blood was clearly not filmed to be a paragon of high-definition greatness.

I agree with your statement in bold. That's the exact reason I disagree with its placement. I'll don't have to return it until the weekend, so I'll try to do a review soon. Has anyone else watched this film recently?
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post #14567 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 09:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lgans316 View Post

djoberg,

I hope you like Red Cliff Part II. I think the UK version looked a tad saturated than the HK / Taiwan BDs. Thought Part II PQ was a bit soft in comparison to Part I mainly due to filming in foggy conditions.

I trust I will like Part 2! I was so impressed with the storyline and the battle scenes of Part 1, especially the last battle scene. I had never seen anything like that before, and to think they received their *strategy* by observing a turtle.

I had read that the Hong Kong version was the best, but I didn't see any reviews commenting on Part 2 being "a bit soft." Having said that, when there are "foggy conditions," it can't help but come across as looking soft.

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post #14568 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 09:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

It is truly the epitome of pleasure for the eyes, Denny. I am in complete agreement with the factors you cite. Anyone that wants a spectacular demo sequence needs to check out the scene of the horse giving birth. Incredible dimension and resolution as strong as any Blu-ray yet.

Agreed! I was mesmerized by that scene (and several others, like the one I mentioned where they were hunting the tiger in the field/woods with the weeds and cattails in the foreground).

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post #14569 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 10:44 AM
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I ordered Red Cliff after your recommendation and a friends recommendation. However, I am not sure I want to see a high def horse birth

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

Anyone that wants a spectacular demo sequence needs to check out the scene of the horse giving birth.

For anyone else interested, Red Cliff at Amazon UK states £8.98, but when I ordered it came out to £7.81. I found an interested friend and ordered two copies so that we could split the shipping and it came out to £15.62 + £4.07 shipping = £19.69 = $33.39 total.
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post #14570 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by selimsivad View Post

I agree with your statement in bold. That's the exact reason I disagree with its placement. I'll don't have to return it until the weekend, so I'll try to do a review soon. Has anyone else watched this film recently?

Already have it on DVD, so I can't say much. There are very few titles I'd get again on Blu just to have it on Blu, and this isn't one of them. I can perhaps add it to my Netflix Q but it would take the better half of the week to get it here. I should have new movies arriving tomorrow.

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post #14571 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 12:00 PM
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Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic

recommendation: Tier 2.25

An unusual type of feature to get a release on Blu-ray. Warner Bros. has basically animated the panels from the original graphic novel with limited motion, very faithfully at least in terms of art and style, while the dialogue is voiced by one person speaking for every character. The animation process is very simplistic, and not a direct analogue to the more familiar animation we have all seen that displays higher frame-rates. The line-art is as crisp, and colors are as vibrant, as most other animated titles in high-definition.

A release that originally premiered in March, the 325-minute motion comic (yes, the entire graphic novel is covered) is showcased on a BD-50. The VC-1 video encode averages 10.11 Mbps, but do not be shocked by that figure. The compression is very good, as the simplistic animation with limited motion between frames compresses easily and without any artifacting. On a technical basis, the transfer has no problems like halos or distracting debris. Most likely it was taken directly from the digital files of the creative team as the transfer source, and hence as close to the original intentions of the artists as possible. The limits of the picture quality seem entirely imposed by the production process and tools used to create the animation.

Placing this disc in tier 2.25 is more of a subjective judgment than anything, because there are few other movies like this on Blu-ray or any other format. It most closely resembles in appearance the Venture Bros. season that was previously placed at the same ranking. The lack of painstaking detail in the background art, and loss of fluidity in motion, is what drops the ranking into the Silver tier. Still, the overall effect produced works reasonably well and looks pleasing to the eye most of the time. Anyone interested in seeing a comic book come to life, so to speak, should check it out. The only real problem with the program is the entirely baffling decision to allow one person, a man, voice all characters. That includes female characters, which comes off as strange at best, and awkward much of the time.

BDInfo Scan (courtesy of Stephen Dawson):
https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...5#post16866435

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post #14572 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom Stranger View Post

Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic

recommendation: Tier 2.25

An unusual type of feature to get a release on Blu-ray. Warner Bros. has basically animated the panels from the original graphic novel with limited motion, very faithfully at least in terms of art and style, while the dialogue is voiced by one person speaking for every character. The animation process is very simplistic, and not a direct analogue to the more familiar animation we have all seen that displays higher frame-rates. The line-art is as crisp, and colors are as vibrant, as most other animated titles in high-definition.

A release that originally premiered in March, the 325-minute motion comic (yes, the entire graphic novel is covered) is showcased on a BD-50. The VC-1 video encode averages 10.11 Mbps, but do not be shocked by that figure. The compression is very good, as the simplistic animation with limited motion between frames compresses easily and without any artifacting. On a technical basis, the transfer has no problems like halos or distracting debris. Most likely it was taken directly from the digital files of the creative team as the transfer source, and hence as close to the original intentions of the artists as possible. The limits of the picture quality seem entirely imposed by the production process and tools used to create the animation.

Placing this disc in tier 2.25 is more of a subjective judgment than anything, because there are few other movies like this on Blu-ray or any other format. It most closely resembles in appearance the Venture Bros. season that was previously placed at the same ranking. The lack of painstaking detail in the background art, and loss of fluidity in motion, is what drops the ranking into the Silver tier. Still, the overall effect produced works reasonably well and looks pleasing to the eye most of the time. Anyone interested in seeing a comic book come to life, so to speak, should check it out. The only real problem with the program is the entirely baffling decision to allow one person, a man, voice all characters. That includes female characters, which comes off as strange at best, and awkward much of the time.

BDInfo Scan (courtesy of Stephen Dawson):
https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...5#post16866435

I agree with this 100% Phantom Stranger. And with the one guy reading the whole thing, it was more like you were listening to an audiobook. At least, that is what I had to tell myself in order to deal with him doing the voices for all of the women.
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post #14573 of 26060 Old 12-15-2009, 09:29 PM
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Julie & Julia

Fine grain present throughout - this was a wonderful presentation that showcased vibrant, rich, natural colors coupled with strong and stable contrast. Blacks were deep, with minimal crushing in only a few scenes. Details were excellent, from the threaded textures in sweaters and general clothing to cobblestones and vegetation in France. Shadow details were also well-rendered and gave beautiful depth and dimensionality to almost every scene (will caveat this later). Panoramic shots were fully detailed through the use of limitless depth of field.

Facial details were decent as well, but not as superb as some of the best titles. The best scenes that exhibited my above descriptions existed during the French sequences with Julia, bright outdoor shots in Julie's world, and some of the brighter indoor shots. Somehow, the look diminishes a bit inside Julie's apartment, specially at night. Scenes take on weaker contrast and less details.

All in all, a solid Gold presentation for me despite some ringing here and there. The most offensive of these was on Julie's boss' jawline when he was showing her some displeasure with her new-found hobby. I did not spy any obvious DNR, though some of the problematic apartment scenes came close to the look.

Still, the colors really shone!

Tier Recommendation: 1.75

Though this does graze the chick flick genre a tad, I didn't mind the pacing and development.

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post #14574 of 26060 Old 12-16-2009, 12:55 AM
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Inglourious Basterds

A fine layer of grain present giving way to a beautifully filmic presentation. Colors were geared to represent the time period with its warmer tones and saturated reds. At the same time, the French countryside, with its full complement of fall colors, leaped off the screen.

Blacks were deep and bold; contrast was tight, allowing each scene maximum dimensionality - especially medium scenes that held much of Tarantino's trademark dialogues. In addition, these scenes showed remarkable details, light or dark.

Skin tones were spot on for the most part. Some of the lesser quality ones were products of their environment. Facial details were some of the best on blu, particularly on Aldo and the Colonel. On the flip side, there were an unusual number of softer shots - in the basement, the lunch with Shoshana,etc. Some momentary instances of black crushing also crept in. And finally, I sensed some minuscule ringing. I say sensed because I don't see the actual ringing paused, but there's a bit of sharpening. Regardless, it did not detract too much, but thought it was worth mentioning.

My initial gut reaction was 1.25. However, softness does occur - minor softness at that - as the story progressed. In the end, I will drop it a quarter of a tier....

Tier Recommendation: 1.50

As in the theatre, the over 2-hour presentation flew - it's just that enjoyable for me. The deliberate pacing seemed to really squeeze as much gratification from each scene as possible.

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post #14575 of 26060 Old 12-16-2009, 09:59 AM
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Band Of Brothers

recommendation: 2.75


The picture quality is too inconsistent and contains detectable grain-reduction. High-frequency information is lacking in many scenes, and a touch of minor compression artifacts also briefly appear. A solid Blu-ray presentation, but not what one would call having excellent demonstration-potential because of the intended aesthetic choices. People have to remember the series originally premiered on HBO in 2001, and the CGI looks relatively outdated by today's standards. That is plainly obvious at 1080p resolution. Its current placement in the middle of tier one is a serious reach, compared to the other films in that tier.

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post #14576 of 26060 Old 12-16-2009, 10:15 AM
 
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Just a preview: I had a chance to watch a bit of The Hurt Locker on BD last night...it looked (and) sounded incredible. I only had time to watch the first few chapters. I hope it holds up the rest of the way.
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post #14577 of 26060 Old 12-16-2009, 01:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deltasun View Post

Inglourious Basterds

A fine layer of grain present giving way to a beautifully filmic presentation. Colors were geared to represent the time period with its warmer tones and saturated reds. At the same time, the French countryside, with its full complement of fall colors, leaped off the screen.

Blacks were deep and bold; contrast was tight, allowing each scene maximum dimensionality - especially medium scenes that held much of Tarantino's trademark dialogues. In addition, these scenes showed remarkable details, light or dark.

Skin tones were spot on for the most part. Some of the lesser quality ones were products of their environment. Facial details were some of the best on blu, particularly on Aldo and the Colonel. On the flip side, there were an unusual number of softer shots - in the basement, the lunch with Shoshana,etc. Some momentary instances of black crushing also crept in. And finally, I sensed some minuscule ringing. I say sensed because I don't see the actual ringing paused, but there's a bit of sharpening. Regardless, it did not detract too much, but thought it was worth mentioning.

My initial gut reaction was 1.25. However, softness does occur - minor softness at that - as the story progressed. In the end, I will drop it a quarter of a tier....

Tier Recommendation: 1.50

What he said.
My only gripe (very minor) is that night scenes could have been more inky. The closeups of Aldo Raine in Chapter Two were some of the best I've ever seen!


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post #14578 of 26060 Old 12-16-2009, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selimsivad View Post

What he said.
My only gripe (very minor) is that night scenes could have been more inky. The closeups of Aldo Raine in Chapter Two were some of the best I've ever seen!


Tier Recommendation: 1.50

i should have mentioned that too, miles...specially towards the end, the night shots could have been deeper. i see you've changed your sig already - good one! i like that quote in the forest scene:

aldo: werner, do you understand what sit down means
werner: yes
aldo: well, sit down

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post #14579 of 26060 Old 12-17-2009, 01:20 PM
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Black Narcissus (UK Import)

recommendation: Tier 2.0

An early Technicolor classic from 1947, ITV released this movie as a region-free British BD on June 23, 2008. The 100-minute main feature is encoded in VC-1 on a BD-25. BDInfo reveals the average video bitrate to be 20.99 Mbps. Black Narcissus won the Oscar for Jack Cardiff's stunning cinematography in 1947. The transfer is a complete revelation of a very worthy movie, and surpasses my wildest fantasies of how it was going to look in high-definition. Needless to say, this is the definitive version of Black Narcissus, and utterly humiliates prior dvds in every way imaginable for visual superiority.

To allay any fears, the VC-1 encode handles almost all frames excellently, with the shortest glimpses of artifacting in a couple of shots. Video-bitrates, while somewhat low in average, show sustained peaks in the thirties and forties when needed. The only moment that might be questionable comes late in the movie, when the camera pans up to watch the fog rise up and swallow the convent on the mountain. That is when a small but noticeable shot of noise appears. Other than that, grain is nicely reproduced and looks appropriate for the era and film stock used. Superbly shot and lighted, the grain never intrudes and rarely makes its presence obvious.

It is highly doubtful any level of digital noise-reduction was used in the transfer. The slight lack of detail in close-ups can be explained by the soft-focus lighting employed to highlight the nuns' faces. Notice the differences in level of detail between close-ups of the men and the women. Each gender is filmed completely differently, particularly the nuns. A very small amount of ringing on occasion results from the original photography and film elements, and has always been present in the film. Only the most obsessed viewers will be able to distinguish it from normal viewing distances anyway. The entire transfer is as unprocessed by unnecessary filters as a modern Blu-ray can be today.

The wonderful Technicolor production produces marvelous colors in each and every minute of the film. Lush, living greens are mixed with vibrant splashes of pink and red, in a manner that would stand out even if the film had been released yesterday to theaters. A shot in the middle of the film solely focuses on the delicate flowers the nuns have been growing. It was akin to a living garden appearing in my room, as they looked so real one could reach out and pick them. There is an appreciable dimension and depth to the image, that truly deserves a spot in tier one somewhere. When the film flashes back to one of the sisters fishing, the sparkling water of the lake is simply awesome to behold. One can almost feel the sun shining down on it. Contrast is nearly perfect, with inky blacks frequently being tested and proven worthy of demo-quality. A slight, slight amount of blooming occurs where a few details in the nuns' habits get washed out. Flesh tones are remarkably natural in look, from the paler skin of the British nuns, to the darker-shaded skin of the native Hindus. This transfer is not the over-driven, pumped-up contrast of so many modern films.

I am grateful such a powerful piece of cinema has been faithfully preserved on Blu-ray. As I was watching it, my mind kept making the natural comparison for picture quality to A Passage To India on Blu-ray. Another fine example of film-making in itself, while obviously different due to the differing ages involved, is highly reminiscent of the video quality seen on Black Narcissus. Many similarities are shared between the two films, to a certain degree.

At times thoughts of tier one danced in my mind for placement, but a few camera tricks that have not aged well and some brief indications of age-related wear force me to recommend the top of tier two. The matte paintings that serve as the image's background when the camera peeks off the cliff, stick out to the modern viewer. While it no doubt inspired awe in 1947, the effect now looks dated at best. Print damage is kept to a bare minimum, and the film element looks in very good condition, but the occasional white speck does pop up. Related to the age of the film, a minor amount of registration errors in the first reel produce a touch of color-fringing. The problem is seen on brightly-colored reds the most, very early in the movie. There is also slight wavering in luminosity, again in the first reel only. These problems are minor in magnitude though and only prevent the disc from a ranking in tier one.

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https://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...4#post14918914

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post #14580 of 26060 Old 12-17-2009, 10:03 PM
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I just saw Red Cliff: Part 2 and I remain confident that this too will easily qualify for Tier 0 (I recommend the same placement I gave for Part 1). Though there was a lengthy scene that appeared soft because of fog, the rest of the movie had the same amazing depth and detail as Part 1.

I noticed two big differences between Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 had more daytime scenes and with them more color. But Part 2 had an exceptional nighttime scene (with a running time of perhaps 30-45 minutes...the last epic battle scene) with very deep and inky blacks (the KURO and other displays that excel in blacks were made for scenes like these!!) and equally impressive shadow details.

I would join Phantom in recommending the UK Import version of this movie. Not only is the PQ worth the relatively small price you would pay, but the movie itself is quite compelling. Though the two parts have a running time of 286 minutes, the storyline (with its fascinating culture), fairly good acting, and epic battle scenes kept my attention throughout.

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