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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been watching some tv shows from the 1960s on dvd ,and noticing that the picture quality is better than alot of HD shows now. I looked at Combat, Voyage to bottom of the sea, and Gilligans Island on dvd. Then I watched NCIS,Grays Anatomy, then Almost. Human and Last man Standing . The current HD shows could not match the old shows in depth and richness of color,clarity and sharpness,and overall brightness and detail. On the Combat show I could see individual pores of skin,sweat on faces,blades of grass. Many of todays HD shows seem to be shot in poorly lighted sets.The closeups are of a face half in light,half in shadow. No detail.Greys Anatomy and Last Man Standing are quite blurry compared to the 1960s shows on dvd.I dont understand why the older shows from 50 years ago look better than alot but not all HD programs of today. Perhaps it is a directors '' look'', maybe networks had more money to spend on production back then.Could it be the modern use of HD cameras instead of film.By the way , I watch the networks via antenna on a plasma tv,so I dont think over compression of network signals is the answer. All of this is just my viewing opinion. Thanks for any answers,comments ,or opinions.
 

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A lot of the "better" 60's shows were shot on 35mm film which is higher rez than some current HD Digicams used for TV productions.

They also amped-up the color saturation during film processing to produce more vibrant colors that really popped off the screen for the "wow effect" on the new color TV's and to separate themselves from shows still shot in B&W.

The DP's were not into "mood/natural lighting" so the sets were well light too. I remember reading "The Making of Star Trek" book about the 60's series and recall comments about the bright studio lights melting the actors make-up occasionally.
 

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'Grey's Anatomy' still shoots on film (although rumor has it this may be the last year). If it looks blurry to you, I can tell you why in 3 words: Middle Aged Actresses. They filter the crap out of that show, and light it with the emphasis on making the actresses look more pretty, with everything else being sacrificed for that effect.


I used to work on another ABC primetime soap opera, and was complaining to the DP that his unrealistic lighting was kind of screwing up my visual effects. It was obviously fake studio lighting that didn't look at all like the outdoor environment we were trying to create. The DP said to me 'Let me show you something, but don't say a word. Just be quiet". Then he had the gaffer make a minor change to the lighting that made the scene look more real. And immediately, the lead actor's face went from looking handsome to a pock-marked wrinkled unattractive person. Then they put the lights back the way they were, and the wrinkles disappeared. The DP said to me 'If I lit the actors realistically, I'd be fired". Lesson learned. Add to that a Pro Mist filter to hide even more wrinkles and baggy eyes, and of course everything will look soft and blurry.


And obviously, a gritty drama like 'Combat' is going to have a totally different look than a soap opera. You can't really compare those.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by vfxproducer  /t/1521419/1960s-tv-shows-picture-quality-vs-todays-hd-shows#post_24451905


'Grey's Anatomy' still shoots on film (although rumor has it this may be the last year). If it looks blurry to you, I can tell you why in 3 words: Middle Aged Actresses. They filter the crap out of that show, and light it with the emphasis on making the actresses look more pretty, with everything else being sacrificed for that effect.


I used to work on another ABC primetime soap opera, and was complaining to the DP that his unrealistic lighting was kind of screwing up my visual effects. It was obviously fake studio lighting that didn't look at all like the outdoor environment we were trying to create. The DP said to me 'Let me show you something, but don't say a word. Just be quiet". Then he had the gaffer make a minor change to the lighting that made the scene look more real. And immediately, the lead actor's face went from looking handsome to a pock-marked wrinkled unattractive person. Then they put the lights back the way they were, and the wrinkles disappeared. The DP said to me 'If I lit the actors realistically, I'd be fired". Lesson learned. Add to that a Pro Mist filter to hide even more wrinkles and baggy eyes, and of course everything will look soft and blurry.


And obviously, a gritty drama like 'Combat' is going to have a totally different look than a soap opera. You can't really compare those.

Its shot on 3-perf 35mm, giving it less fidelity (for lack of a better word) than older shows shot on 4-perf. Something has changed however, I watched an early episode recently and it looks inferior to more recent ones.


Even with all the lighting and filtering they do, its still obvious to me that Ellen Pompeo is way older then her character.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by reds75  /t/1521419/1960s-tv-shows-picture-quality-vs-todays-hd-shows#post_24450983


I have been watching some tv shows from the 1960s on dvd ,and noticing that the picture quality is better than alot of HD shows now. I looked at Combat, Voyage to bottom of the sea, and Gilligans Island on dvd. Then I watched NCIS,Grays Anatomy, then Almost. Human and Last man Standing . The current HD shows could not match the old shows in depth and richness of color,clarity and sharpness,and overall brightness and detail. On the Combat show I could see individual pores of skin,sweat on faces,blades of grass. Many of todays HD shows seem to be shot in poorly lighted sets.The closeups are of a face half in light,half in shadow. No detail.Greys Anatomy and Last Man Standing are quite blurry compared to the 1960s shows on dvd.I dont understand why the older shows from 50 years ago look better than alot but not all HD programs of today. Perhaps it is a directors '' look'', maybe networks had more money to spend on production back then.Could it be the modern use of HD cameras instead of film.By the way , I watch the networks via antenna on a plasma tv,so I dont think over compression of network signals is the answer. All of this is just my viewing opinion. Thanks for any answers,comments ,or opinions.

Are you comparing DVD's or BD's of those old 60's shows to current HD content? There is no way a DVD has more detail than a hi def presentation. I do realize bandwidth restrictions can cause blocking and other artifacts but that is a delivery issue. Maybe your cable/satelite box is set up wrong?


What size plasma, and how far do you sit from it? (I have a 70" LED, and an 8' projection screen)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by replayrob  /t/1521419/1960s-tv-shows-picture-quality-vs-todays-hd-shows#post_24451344


A lot of the "better" 60's shows were shot on 35mm film which is higher rez than some current HD Digicams used for TV productions.

They also amped-up the color saturation during film processing to produce more vibrant colors that really popped off the screen for the "wow effect" on the new color TV's and to separate themselves from shows still shot in B&W.

The DP's were not into "mood/natural lighting" so the sets were well light too. I remember reading "The Making of Star Trek" book about the 60's series and recall comments about the bright studio lights melting the actors make-up occasionally.

Agreed. Also, many newer shows have boosted contrast where one side of an actor's face is blown out white and the other half is dense black. I hate that look.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To answer Adpayne questions. The shows are on regular dvds. I watch network tv from antenna. Some HD network shows look very good like Elementary,Bones. I connect via hdmi, no problems there. I sit 8' back from 43'' plasma . I started watching HD in 2002. If people could watch just one episode of Combat or the Old Hawaii 5-0 series , it would make you think about picture quality on present day HD shows. The filtering of cameras is too bad because it takes away from the detail of HD. Also good lighting helps with sharp HD. I was shocked how good the first color episode of Combat looked. I felt like I was on the set. I instantly thought ,why dont most of todays HD shows look this good?
 

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I remember when the world just started having color. Rather, when the major networks started broadcasting in color.

 



 

NBC's peacock (and several variations appeared before some comedy shows and specials) were shown before every show that was broadcasted in color, and my recollection is that the sets and often the clothing were chosen to highlight that you were indeed seeing color. It wouldn't surprise me if the color intensity was also turned up a little.

 

If you are interested in another series, I had streamed Mission: Impossible (the TV series) in SD from Netflix, and, except for a rare compression artifact, I would have sworn I was viewing it in HD. It wouldn't surprise me if the streams were digitized from film.(At the time I streamed Mission: Impossible, I was worried about my data cap so I streamed the show mostly with the Roku set to the 1.5Mbps stream, the best SD stream available from Netflix for the original generation of Roku digital video players..)

 

Some other shows from that era are fairly poor video quality. If you look at DVDs of Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 2 and Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour: The Best of Season 3 (which I rented from Netflix), it looks like a transfer from video tape because the discs are full of video artifacts that are painful when watching on a 50-in HDTV.

 

So, it isn't universal that the DVDs or streams of 1960s shows are great--I suspect a big factor is whether it was filmed or video taped and the quality of the source from which they cut the DVD or stream.

 

Some modern shows are nice and crisp, but some shows seem to have a "soft focus". Some seem rich in color, some seem to be a palette of greys. (In one case I wondered if the color circuitry of my TV had gone out ... until I saw the color in the broadcaster's logo. And, no, it wasn't a B&W movie, just a movie that used mostly greys.)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by reds75  /t/1521419/1960s-tv-shows-picture-quality-vs-todays-hd-shows/0_50#post_24453129


To answer Adpayne questions. The shows are on regular dvds. I watch network tv from antenna. Some HD network shows look very good like Elementary,Bones. I connect via hdmi, no problems there. I sit 8' back from 43'' plasma . I started watching HD in 2002. If people could watch just one episode of Combat or the Old Hawaii 5-0 series , it would make you think about picture quality on present day HD shows. The filtering of cameras is too bad because it takes away from the detail of HD. Also good lighting helps with sharp HD. I was shocked how good the first color episode of Combat looked. I felt like I was on the set. I instantly thought ,why dont most of todays HD shows look this good?

Not everything needs to look so clear like you are looking through the window. Soap opera TV tends to have that same clean look vs the cinema/filter look of movies and nighttime TV... bump all that up to HD and sometimes the look/feel of filter/cinema adds to the atmosphere.


Lots of shows want a certain look/mood and do that through the filters or style of filming. I don't think we need everything to look like we are right there in the room with the action.
 

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There wasn't as much content being produced in the 1960s for television and the productions certainly weren't as rushed. Before a new wave of filmmakers came around in the 1970s, television was being shot on expensive film stocks with classical cinematography developed over decades. That clean, professional look fell out of favor due to rising costs and changing tastes in Hollywood.
 

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Lots of other examples of deliberate production filtering to diminish wrinkles on HD screens, but NCIS on CBS is one clear example. Recall a thread here a while back discussing NCIS's fuzziness.


If the OP's 43" plasma is this 1024 x 768 resolution Samsung model, as a post in the owner's thread suggests, that might have interesting effects with SD DVD versus HD comparisons. Also, sitting too far back for a given screen size can have a leveling effect when comparing SD vs. HD. -- John
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by reds75  /t/1521419/1960s-tv-shows-picture-quality-vs-todays-hd-shows#post_24450983


I have been watching some tv shows from the 1960s on dvd ,and noticing that the picture quality is better than alot of HD shows now. I looked at Combat, Voyage to bottom of the sea, and Gilligans Island on dvd. Then I watched NCIS,Grays Anatomy, then Almost. Human and Last man Standing . The current HD shows could not match the old shows in depth and richness of color,clarity and sharpness,and overall brightness and detail. On the Combat show I could see individual pores of skin,sweat on faces,blades of grass. Many of todays HD shows seem to be shot in poorly lighted sets.The closeups are of a face half in light,half in shadow. No detail.Greys Anatomy and Last Man Standing are quite blurry compared to the 1960s shows on dvd.I dont understand why the older shows from 50 years ago look better than alot but not all HD programs of today. Perhaps it is a directors '' look'', maybe networks had more money to spend on production back then.Could it be the modern use of HD cameras instead of film.By the way , I watch the networks via antenna on a plasma tv,so I dont think over compression of network signals is the answer. All of this is just my viewing opinion. Thanks for any answers,comments ,or opinions.

Most of those shows from the 60s were shot on slow stock film and by today's standards were overlit to compensate (today's DPs tend to prefer moodier, more chiaroscuro type lighting (see Kaminski/Speilberg). That's a fairly new thing because the stocks can really handle it now (even though digital is questionable). Since CSI came on the air, TV shows and commercials have become more comfortable with contrastier looks, where if you look at a show like Star Trek: TNG it is, in contrast somewhat flatly lit, especially in the last few seasons (this is in part due to the breakneck schedule of TV). It really comes down to a matter of taste. I tend to think most of today's movies shot on film generally look better than most stuff from the past. The processing, stocks, emulsions are just better. What people do with it is another story, but if you look at a film like War Horse or Lincoln, its almost indistinguishable from digital save for the grain. One of the other contributing factors is most of those TV shows were shot full aperture or full frame so there is more resolution than today's shows that are almost always crops of 3-perf (assuming they're shot on film at all). We're still in the early days of digital and I think cinematographers are still struggling with how to make digital sing the way film does. A few guys have pulled off making digital look spectacular for digital (meaning not trying to emulate film but make digital look as good as it can). I would put people like Roger Deakins and David Fincher and Ridley Scott in that category, whose movies still have a digital veneer but nonetheless look very nice overall. House of Cards is an example. On the other hand, we're only maybe 6 or 7 years into the digital revolution and the technology changes very quickly so a number of DPs out there are still trying to figure out best practices to get the best picture imaginable in the digital realm. Add to that the implementation of the digital intermediate and color grading has created a 'photoshopped' aesthetic to both features shot on film and digitally, different than the photochemical processing of film that was common up until about 2005.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks to everyone for all this information.Its good to know that some of my old tv dvds are more clear and detailed than some HD shows now days. I do wish more of todays HD programs would use, the 4-perf method,full aperture,and better lighting.JUST my personal opinion ,I sure not everyones agrees.
 

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I don't think it's been mentioned in this thread but if you want good quality(and like the programming) I'd strongly suggest Hogans Heroes. The DVDs look HD like, much better than you might remember it looked in syndication. Lots of other good programming from the 60s and maybe early 70s, by the mid to late 70s when they started using videotape the picture quality really lacked
 
 

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There are at least two episodes on the Hogan's Heroes DVDs that have quality far below that of the others. I don't know if they forgot to restore those episodes or if their masters were just too far gone to be restored, but they look terrible in comparison.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
My son has those Hogan dvds and they do have outstanding picture quality. You can tell the fake snow around the barracks,and the fake scar on general Burkhalters face. Superb detail.
 
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