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 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:03 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

For a couple of weeks now I've been gleaning information from Amazon and BluRay (dot)com about the picture / audio qualities of various films I've been interested in. I suppose it's common knowledge to most, but it was somewhat enlightening to me, that just because it's a Blu Ray Disc, it isn't always necessarily significantly 'better' than the regular dvd version. A lot of course, would have to be with the original film's look and the way it was filmed as well as the condition of the print used for the transfer to B.D. But I've also read reviews by persons who've purchased the b.d. and found the actual transfer is 'terrible' and that the regular dvd is better. 'Dressed to Kill' is one title, 'Bullitt' is another and also 'Rain Man' which some people on Amazon have said it's a stright dvd look on blu, and that MGM did a sloppy job with a great film. (I've since found out that MGM is releasing a REMASTERED blu ray version due out soon, so I'll wait.)
My question to you: are there any titles (off the top of your head), that you really cannot tell much difference between the dvd and the blu ray, and that you'd recommend not to purchase? Thanks!

Separately, does anyone have a copy of 'CAVALCADE' from the early '30s? It's an Oscar winner for Best Picture that I've never seen and is not available on dvd. But it is available on Blu Ray, but the Amazon reviewers nearly all complain about how atrocious the image quality if from Fox.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:09 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

"Carousel" and "The King and I" are two other DVD releases that surpass the mediocrities in the recently released Rodgers and Hammerstein Blu-ray box.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   Thomas   (Member)

I'd like to help, but I daresay I'm the only person on this board that doesn't have any facility to play Blu Ray discs. I guess I've always just been happy with regular DVDs. I've had one of those DVD players that is supposed to 'upscale' your regular discs for years, and I've just continued with that. I also baulked at the idea of buying my favourite films on Blu Ray again, like I did after VHS. I don't feel I'm missing out much.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   mastadge   (Member)

There really are very few films where the BD is not better. There are some disappointing transfers where the BD is sourced from the same master as the DVD, rather than remastered for higher definition with the latest technologies, and so is a little disappointing, but even so will almost always offer increased resolution and better sound over the DVD. The cases where the BD is actually worse than the earlier editions usually have to do with tinkering: the infamous problems with the color timing of Twilight Time's Night of the Living Dead or the original BD release of The French Connection; the situation with The Last Emperor where the cinematographer cropped the film to fit his new aspect ratio fetish, things like that; or situations where the digital clean-up crew went overboard with the digital noise reduction, eliminating grain and fine detail along with dust and scratches and rendering the film "waxy" looking, as was the case with Predator.

Other issues are just of personal preference: for instance, the UK BD of Zulu has beautiful colors that really pop, whereas the Twilight Time edition has a more natural color scheme that may be more true to the filmmaker's intent but doesn't look as beautiful on the screen (the Twilight Time also has better sound). Or the above mentioned Predator -- some people really hate film grain, and prefer the DNR-to-death version, while others prefer the grainier version.

As for films that aren't worth upgrading from DVD, Donnie Darko's at the top of my list. That BD transfer got no love. The only reason I bought it was because my DVD edition had gotten scratched over the years.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:15 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

"Carousel" and "The King and I" are two other DVD releases that surpass the mediocrities in the recently released Rodgers and Hammerstein Blu-ray box.


I saw the price on that box at Amaxon Ron, $200.00 (list price), but on sale for significantly less, (still very pricey though). 'OKLAHOMA' and 'THE KING AND I' are the only two I wanted from that collection though. Unfortunately, 'King and I' isn't on B.D. by itself yet. And 'Oklahoma' is released in TODD A-O and another version, but I don't know the differences at the moment.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:32 AM   
 By:   philiperic   (Member)

A title that immediately comes to mind is TT's release of the classic musical COVER GIRL starring Gene Kelly and Rita Hayworth. This had received a dvd release in 2003 that looks wonderful (there is a later reissue with a different master ), especially when watched on a BR player. The TT BR does not , IMO, look as good as the dvd - I believe that was the general consensus of reviewers- perhaps because the earlier, better master was not used for BR.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:39 AM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

Always try to find reviews or screenshots before buying a title would be my advice. Comparing releases internationally where possible is advised as there are differences in extras & quality of the transfer. Blu-rays are still region locked but most of them are not.

Check blu-ray.com for this as well as for threads on individual titles, usually they mention alternate releases worth checking into. Another helpful site is http://www.caps-a-holic.com it lets you compare screenshots between different releases of the same movie (dvd and blu-ray).

Also, if the blu-ray is 1080i (interlaced) instead of 1080p (progressive), chances of it being a great transfer are slim as most 1080i I've encountered are usually not that far removed from their dvd counterpart.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:41 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I just mentioned in another thread, Battlestar Galactica TNS. Also The Secret of NIMH. The Black Stallion looks awful on BR from what I can gleam. Too much noise and dirt on these releases. On the opposite end Star Trek 4 was DNR to death and looks like a Photoshop cartoon. Disney's release of the Miyazaki's animated films are horribly grainy and washed out. (Though that was a demand of Miyazaki himself.)

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:44 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

Last Of The Mohicans. My UK DVD looks superb, but the Blu-ray is far too dark (I understand this was the directors choice), luckily I saw it at a friends house so I didn't buy it. Cleopatra, a nice rich DVD, but I don't like the Blu-ray, it's too cold, a colourist at Fox had got a bit of a cold eye.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:46 AM   
 By:   PhiladelphiaSon   (Member)

You do NOT want THE KING AND I or CAROUSEL from this new Blu-ray box release. They are horrible. OKLAHOMA! Todd-AO is superb, except for one sequence that is supposed to be dusk and is presented as high noon; and, the mediocre soundtrack. The other is the Cinemascope version, which is nothing special.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:48 AM   
 By:   Mr. Jack   (Member)

Also The Secret of NIMH.

The only movie I've ever bought on Blu-Ray and ended up selling because the DVD looked better.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 9:54 AM   
 By:   Ado   (Member)

It is worth considering also that a high resolution print on BluRay will expose the dirt, scratches and weaknesses of the original film, as well as flaws in the production of the film as well. In effects films the matte lines and composites are more readily apparent, and in animation imperfections in the lines are more easily seen as well. It really comes down to how much care is put into the remastering for bluray, and sometimes they go too far with the DNR to clean it up. With many catalog titles there is a limit to what can be done with them. 9 out of 10 times though, blu ray nets a great improvement to the film and enjoyment. I was totally impressed with Outland bluray last year, a pretty old film that was made to look much much better on Blu.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 10:57 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

"Carousel" and "The King and I" are two other DVD releases that surpass the mediocrities in the recently released Rodgers and Hammerstein Blu-ray box.

Yes, these were BIG disappointments to me as well. The older standard DVDs looked so good (and accurate to Shamroy and Clarke's original photographic work) that these Blu-rays came as a real shock. Shawn Belston has been doing a surprisingly good job on the restorations of the older Fox library materials from often "chancey" surviving elements, so I chalk up the ultimate "look" of these Blu-rays to failures in the final video transfer process. I saw each of these films first-run when they came out in the mid-1950s, and then I also saw the "Grandeur 70" (70mm) transfer of THE KING AND I in 1960, so I have pretty vivid memories of the two films.

One thing I have noticed more recently---and not just in regard to Blu-rays---is that it seems to me the younger transfer personnel (and, perhaps their supervisors), reflect a belief that ALL films of the past---and ALL genres---looked more, photographically, like everybody's favorite kind of old film today---the film noir. Today's transfer artists seem to be trying to make every film look like a John Alton film-noir like REIGN OF TERROR or even, SLIGHTLY SCARLET, without ever having apparently coming across a "high-key" John Alton film like FATHER OF THE BRIDE or DESIGNING WOMAN! It's one thing to have deep, rich blacks where they should be on an old film---it's quite another to have overall look of the film underexposed---which Alton never did. Ultimately, the shadows, the lighting balance, facial levels, and exposure were all built into the original photography whether it was a murder mystery featuring Jane Greer or a romantic film featuring Joan Crawford.

This may all tie in to the "obsessive need" to see grain in films today. If you transfer a film down in the scale so as to give it an artificial noir look, the grain will also show up more (unless it has been digitally removed). The old cameramen (pre-1960s) hated grain and were always trying to shoot and expose films in a way which eliminated it as best they could, or at least made it more negligible.

I first noticed this noir effect in the photography/transfer of the edgy crime/police shows on TV and cable around 15 years ago---and now the effect has crept into many of the transfers of old films. It seems to be the application of heavy dark density to the shadow areas and the underplaying of the luminance levels. (I can hardly watch the old Warner's dvds of THE BARKLEYS OF BROADWAY and THE PIRATE---they seem so dark. Fortunately, for the most part, the Warner transfer processes today seem much better.) Speaking only photographically, the CAROUSEL Blu-ray transfer looks about 2 camera stops underexposed.

One of the things that cameramen did photographically to give the image sparkle, and what they used to call "snap", was to put a backlight---a rim light---on people and objects (in both black-and-white AND color). Even though we're talking about a 2-dimensional final medium, this backlight artificially separated them in space, giving the image almost a 3-dimensional appearance if done correctly. The human face was considered the mid-standard exposure level. If you saw grain in the face, or bags under the eyes, or facial elements that shouldn't be there---the film was usually underexposed, or underprinted, or, today, not properly transferred. It should be remembered, however, that even in the films noir, the face could look perfectly exposed and yet everything surrounding it could have a noir quality. That was the magic of great lighting.

When I was trained in motion picture photography by several of the old-time best, I was instructed to take my meter readings for exposure at the point of the face of the key player/s in the shot. The lens would be set for a given exposure---let's say f4---at the beginning of the picture which would, hopefully, remain the same for the ENTIRE film's shooting. Thus, the light falling on the subjects and set would be adjusted for the exposure level on the lens---not the exposure level on the lens adjusted for the lighting!!! This gave the film negative a consistency of exposure, and the holy grail of most cameramen was to have a camera negative which was so well (properly) exposed that the entire film would print on one printer light position without changes. This was extremely hard to do, but it was possible, and I managed to do it several times in my career. I was also told not to use the meter to light any other parts of the set, but to judge everything I saw on the set---all my lighting---other than the exposure on the performer's face---by eye. This gave a balance to everything within the shot. Shooting outdoors is quite different, because the light is constantly changing each moment, but studio photography can be quite controlled. After many years of experience, I could often go onto a set, take a meter reading in the morning, set the lens at f4 (or whatever) and light the rest of the day, by eye.

But all this is water under the bridge. We aren't chemically photographic anymore, we are digital---and that brings a whole new set of problems, many of which are yet to be solved.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 11:14 AM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Since Manderly was speaking of 'deep blacks' from films of the distant past, one of my favorites and that I viewed last night was Richard Brooks, 'In Cold Blood'. The reviews on the BluRaydotCom website gave that film excellent ratings for the images. And they were correct. Conrad Hall's outstanding black and white cinematography was far superior than the old dvd I remember seeing many years ago. The only time I noticed grain was inside the Kansas City bus station in the film.

 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 1:32 PM   
 By:   Mr. Marshall   (Member)

I was pissed that Andre Dursin seemed to be dissing the standard dvd release of THE BIG RED ONE vis a vis the new bluray of the short version.
Trust me, you will enjoy the dvd esp. if watched on a br player.
Standard dvds look fine ON BLURAY PLAYER BECAUSE THE RESOLUTION goes up in pixels - 750 iirc.

DONT BE GREEDY, DAMMITT!
bruce

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 2:53 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

Has anyone seen the new B.D. of 'GLORY' from 1989? It's listed as remastered in 4-D. Supposedly it has richer and/or, deeper colors? Apparently, you need to buy a new and expensive moniter/tv to be able to see the difference. (Who has the money to buy a new tv monitor for this?) But, it says it will play on any Blu Ray player.

 
 
 Posted:   May 21, 2014 - 4:20 PM   
 By:   joec   (Member)

PATTON looks horrible in its initial blu-ray issue (packaged with the bound in booklet). Everyone looks like the just walked out of a wax museum and way too bright throughout. I understand the 2nd blu-ray issue is much better. I am thinking of replanting my 1st PATTON with the newer one.

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2014 - 1:14 AM   
 By:   manderley   (Member)

.....I am thinking of replanting my 1st PATTON with the newer one.....

Be sure to water them both carefully, and give them a little plant food in the spring..... smile

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2014 - 1:56 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

PATTON looks horrible in its initial blu-ray issue (packaged with the bound in booklet). Everyone looks like the just walked out of a wax museum and way too bright throughout. I understand the 2nd blu-ray issue is much better. I am thinking of replanting my 1st PATTON with the newer one.

Fox re-issued Patton with a new re-mastered transfer (that I understand is very good), & then released it for the first time in the UK...but they released the old - house of wax - version! It seems Europe are victims of some infighting between various Fox departments. And Patton is region A locked. It looks like the same thing has happened with the Fox Archive releases, they've released some horrible 4x3 mono DVD's in the US, when the same film has got a very nice 'scope & stereo release elsewhere in the world (& sometimes earlier in the US). It looks like some parts of Fox won't work with other parts of Fox.

 
 
 Posted:   May 22, 2014 - 2:19 AM   
 By:   jenkwombat   (Member)

"THE DARK KNIGHT RISES"' Blu-Ray changes aspect ratio *constantly* throughout the film, from approximately 2.35:1 to whatever ratio is used for IMAX presentation, whereas the DVD shows the film straight as 2.35:1. Needless to say, many viewers (like me) find the Blu-Ray's constantly changing aspect ratio to be extremely annoying.

 
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