Jacques Rivette on DVD and BD

Discuss internationally-released DVDs and Blu-rays or other international DVD and Blu-ray-related topics.
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Tommaso
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#101 Post by Tommaso » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:57 am

MichaelB wrote:The latter would give them more leeway, but it would also mean that they could re-encode it with a lower bitrate, producing an inferior image from the same materials. But without actually being privy to the production process, all this is guesswork.
Thanks, this answers it, but leads me to a more general question. There are a lot of double-layered discs around that do not use the full capacity of the disc. Has this to do with simply taking over existing encodes, or is it cheaper/quicker in some way to use a lower bitrate? It seems that only Criterion expressly say that they always use the highest possible bitrate regarding length of the film and extras added. And the difference normally shows.

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MichaelB
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#102 Post by MichaelB » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:19 am

Tommaso wrote:Thanks, this answers it, but leads me to a more general question. There are a lot of double-layered discs around that do not use the full capacity of the disc. Has this to do with simply taking over existing encodes, or is it cheaper/quicker in some way to use a lower bitrate? It seems that only Criterion expressly say that they always use the highest possible bitrate regarding length of the film and extras added. And the difference normally shows.
Well, it's not always the case that absolutely filling the disc to capacity is necessarily the best way of going about things, and neither is it invariably the case that a sky-high bitrate will equate to the best possible transfer.

Just to give you a good example, Ruscico's PAL transfers usually have bitrates towards the upper end of the 8/9 megabyte scale - one of the reasons their longer films are often split across two discs. But few would claim that the end result is superior to a well-authored Criterion.

Also, when I was putting together the BFI's Quay Brothers package, I explicitly instructed the authoring house to use the highest bitrate necessary, deliberately keeping the running time of disc one down to just over two hours to give them all the leeway they needed. The end result scored 10s for picture and sound in DVD Times' review, attracted comments like "As close to perfect as you could hope for" from DVD Outsider and was also singled out in Nick Bradshaw and Tim Robey's book The DVD Stack as one of the finest transfers they'd ever seen. And yet, if you look at this DVD Beaver analysis, you'll see the bitrate isn't anything like as high as it could be, hovering around the 6 megabyte mark instead of being up there in the 8s or 9s.

In other words, it's not necessarily the quantity of bits that matters, it's their quality. A single-pass encode might have the same bitrate as a dual or multipass one, but you'd almost certainly be able to tell the difference. (The difference at the production end, of course, is that it takes longer to process and so therefore costs more).

(For another good example, read this heated discussion about MoC's Buster Keaton shorts, where the fact that MoC apparently had a lower bitrate than other editions was cited as "evidence" that the transfers were inferior - despite the fact that onscreen comparisons told a very different story!)

(UPDATE: And on delving into the Keaton discussion in more detail, I see I used more or less exactly the same arguments that I did above, despite posting over a year ago! Still, no-one's challenged me on them in the interim, and I think they still stand up.

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Tommaso
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#103 Post by Tommaso » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:02 pm

Thanks again, Michael! This was highly illuminating , though I had of course already noted that some films look great even on a single-layered disc. Also thanks for notifying me of the Keaton discussion, which I hadn't known about, not being particularly interested in Keaton's films. And yes, the Quay Brothers set has some of the best transfers I've seen anywhere.

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justeleblanc
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#104 Post by justeleblanc » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:06 pm

Screencaps from the Japanese Le Pont du Nord DVD are here.

They kinda look like Beta-max transfers to me. Thoughts?

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Michael Kerpan
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#105 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 15, 2008 6:10 pm

justeleblanc wrote:Screencaps from the Japanese Le Pont du Nord DVD are here.

They kinda look like Beta-max transfers to me. Thoughts?
Two (almost) matching screen captures from the old French videotape.

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mk ... pont01.png

http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a59/mk ... pont02.png
Last edited by Michael Kerpan on Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#106 Post by franco » Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:22 pm

Maybe I am just functionally challenged when it comes to capturing screen shots. There is a lot of motion blur, but to my eyes the quality comes close to the BFI Celine et Julie. The movie itself takes about 7.5 GB... I wonder what all that space is used for.

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#107 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:36 pm

franco wrote:Maybe I am just functionally challenged when it comes to capturing screen shots. There is a lot of motion blur, but to my eyes the quality comes close to the BFI Celine et Julie. The movie itself takes about 7.5 GB... I wonder what all that space is used for.
I've never done a methodical comparison -- but purely subjectively the BFI C&J doesn't look as good as the French one (which also has better extras -- no subs, of course).

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franco
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#108 Post by franco » Fri Feb 15, 2008 8:40 pm

Michael, thank you for sharing the screenshots of the videotape. Don't you think they look similar in quality to the New Yorker Celine and Julie?

I can hardly understand why BFI didn't bother translating the great interviews from the French disc.

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#109 Post by Michael Kerpan » Fri Feb 15, 2008 11:07 pm

franco wrote:Michael, thank you for sharing the screenshots of the videotape. Don't you think they look similar in quality to the New Yorker Celine and Julie?
I never saw the New Yorker video of C&J, only the French video, the French DVD and the BFI DVD. ;~}

I'm hoping that the New Yorker DVD (when it finally comes out will look like the French DVD.
I can hardly understand why BFI didn't bother translating the great interviews from the French disc.
I never heard any explanation. I know New Yorker was (at one point) hoping to include subbed versions of the French extras. Not sure where things stand currently.

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#110 Post by martin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:14 am

I've just had a quick look at Bluebell's Love on the Ground and Wuthering Heights. Love on the Ground looks ok - not impressive, just ok. It's dual layer but since the filesize is quite small, the bitrate is very low! The optional subs are in a pale yellow color (not too annoying). Here are som brief specs:

Love on the Ground
Bitrate 3,96 Mb/s
Dual layer (filesize 4,91 Gb)
PAL, 16:9
169 minutes
Optional subs (pale yellow color)
Region 0
No extras of any kind

Wuthering Heights looks a bit dark and 'muddy', but note that I'm watching this on a computerscreen in sunlight, which isn't the best way of judging the image quality. It's single layer!

Wuthering Heights
Bitrate 4,29 Mb/s
Single layer (filesize 3,98 Gb)
PAL, 16:9
126 minutes
Optional subs (pale yellow color)
Region 0
No extras of any kind

Final verdict: I wish Bluebell would put a little more effort in their releases and use higher bitrates. It seems a bit careless to put a +2 hour movie on a single layer disc. But it's good that the 2 films are anamorphic and that the subs are optional as indicated by Michael's preview disks. One thing is certain: I'll enjoy the films!
Last edited by martin on Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Tommaso
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#111 Post by Tommaso » Thu Feb 28, 2008 9:20 am

Truly disappointing, then, considering how good the French arte discs are. And YELLOW subs on top of it. Count me out, then.

My next Rivette purchase will be the forthcoming AE of "Don't touch the axe". I hope AE will get that one right.....

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#112 Post by martin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:37 am

To be fair I should perhaps stress that the subs are a pale yellow color (or yellowish) - not as annoying as they could be. I've added a few screenshots of both films in the screen captures thread.

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#113 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:37 am

I don't have the check discs immediately to hand, but if they have changed the subtitle colour from white to yellow I'm extremely annoyed, as I'd certainly have mentioned it in the review. And I don't recall them being yellow.

(And it's too late to change it, as the next issue of Sight & Sound is already at the printers)

I'm equally unimpressed about the discs being single-layer, as I was prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt - as it's not at all unusual to release single-layer checkdiscs of dual-layer releases.

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Michael Kerpan
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#114 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:59 am

martin wrote:To be fair I should perhaps stress that the subs are a pale yellow color (or yellowish) - not as annoying as they could be. I've added a few screenshots of both films in the screen captures thread.
Do your screen shots closely match what you see on your screen. I'm asking because they look more drab than I recall the Arte DVDs being.

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#115 Post by Tommaso » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:09 pm

Okay, after looking at the screencaps I have to admit that this sort of yellow doesn't seem all too disturbing. Still, I have the feeling that especially with "L'amour par terre" the arte disc looks much clearer.

For the sake of information, here are the file sizes of the arte discs.

L'amour: 7,84 GB
Hurlevent: 6,66 GB

Even though MichaelB has so nicely explained above that file size/bit rate can be deceptive in judging the quality of a disc, the difference here is obvious and probably accounts for the weaker image of the Bluebells.
Last edited by Tommaso on Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#116 Post by domino harvey » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:09 pm

Are the transfers progressive?

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MichaelB
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#117 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:13 pm

Tommaso wrote:Even though MichaelB has so nicely explained above that file size/bit rate can be deceptive in judging the quality of a disc, the difference here is obvious and probably accounts for the weaker image of the Bluebells.
Just to be absolutely clear, there's an enormous difference between authoring something with a bitrate that's lower than the maximum but nonetheless completely adequate for the job and what seems to be the situation here.

It's simply not possible to cram a nearly three-hour film (in an anamorphic transfer, so the entire frame is filled throughout) onto a single-layer disc without cutting massive corners in the quality department - and I'm really shocked to hear that they've done this.

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#118 Post by martin » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:40 pm

Love on the Ground is actually dual-layer but the full capacity is not used (far from!).

The screenshots appear rather dark but I haven't have time to see the films yet. I'll have to watch them in proper conditions before I can tell if the screenshots resembles a viewing. But the screenshots are grabbed with Power DVD, neutral settings.

Wuthering Heights is not progressive. I think Love on the Ground is (I didn't notice any interlacing when I grabbed the images).

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#119 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 28, 2008 12:44 pm

I definitely recall Love on the Ground being on the dark side, but I don't remember any brightness issues with the others.

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Barmy
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#120 Post by Barmy » Thu Feb 28, 2008 1:38 pm

With all the power this board has I would have thought you could band together and eradicate yellow subtitles forever.

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#121 Post by martin » Mon Mar 03, 2008 4:18 am

I've seen Wuthering Heights now (R2 UK). It does look better when viewed on a tv. The picture has more detail and contrast than I expected after having seen my screen captures. I didn't notice any heavy digital artifacts or pixelations, even though the bitrate is extremely low.

The transfer looks interlaced (see the last screen capture) - pehaps from a NTSC master, I'm not sure (the playing time is 2 hrs 6 min 20 sec)?

Anyway, the screencaptures I posted are correct. I've checked the set-up, and my captures (from other discs) always looks exactly the same as for instance Gary's on DVDBeaver. Bluebell's Wuthering Heights DVD is very dark. It's just that the tv is able to present a much better picture than the screencaptures suggests...

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#122 Post by domino harvey » Mon Mar 03, 2008 5:41 pm

I just got all three Bluebell DVDs from Amazon.co.uk-- popped in Gang of Four and Wuthering Heights, which looked better than I'd been prepared for, the combing is real slight and the extreme soft graininess of the image actually helps to mask it! Love the only quote they were able to dig up for Love on the Ground :roll:

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#123 Post by Michael Kerpan » Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:46 am

Some comparison shots from Hurlevent and L'amour par terre added to Screen Captures thread.

As far as I can tell the Arte DVDs are DVD-9s -- but I don't see any huge differences between my shots and those from the Blue Bell versions.

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#124 Post by martin » Fri Mar 07, 2008 4:22 am

Thanks for the shots from the French release. I'm relieved the Bluebell doesn't look too bad in direct comparison.

I've seen a very brief German review regarding the new German Rivette box from Arthaus. Unfortunately the picture quality of Merry-Go-Round "leaves something to be desired", as the reviewer says without getting into further detail.

It's a shame as I'm very curious about this film which I've never seen. Has it ever been released on dvd before?

Furthermore it seems confirmed that the Claire Denis documantary on Rivette is not on the Arthaus box even though jpc.de still has it listed as an extra feature.

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#125 Post by Tommaso » Fri Mar 07, 2008 8:14 am

I think there's a stand-alone Italian dvd of "Merry-go-Round", but I have no idea how that one looks. Also, you sure won't have any subs.

I've seen "Merry-go-round" several times on German TV, and remember nothing particularly bad about it, so perhaps arthaus used another print or somehow messed up the transfer (which I find unlikely, given that their recent releases were quite good as far as I've seen them).

But that reminds me of the other German Rivette Box from Flax Films, which contains "Noiseuse", "Marie et Julien" and "Bande des quatre". I recently bought this although I have the arte box, because it also contains the short version of "Noiseuse" plus a wonderful reprint of the 1994 'Du'-magazine on Rivette, and admittedly, because I wanted to have at least some of his films with subs. Anyway, I had only heard good things about this set before, but after watching "Bande des quatre", I'm disappointed. Apart from YELLOW subs, it doesn't look bad, colours et al are exactly the same as the arte transfer, so I suppose they used the same master. Nevertheless, the image is far less sharp than on the arte (popped it in afterwards for a direct comparison, and the difference was more than evident), so I wonder what went wrong. The only answer I have is that it must be the added German dub taking away from the image quality as the film is so long, and that here bitrate might indeed be an important factor.

This makes me fear that although the difference of the screen caps between "Hurlevent" arte and Bluebell doesn't seem so huge, the overall impression when actually seeing the thing in motion might be rather different.

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