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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:28 am 
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Two near-concurrent pieces have helpfully flagged up an ongoing dilemma for BD producers - namely, if your audience routinely and often vociferously expects a perfect picture and you know that this is going to be impossible to deliver because the surviving source materials just aren't up to it, what do you do?

Here's James White on Nightmare City and Neil Marshall on Dog Soldiers, both of which are having to be released in what would normally be considered subpar versions because in both cases they only had severely flawed materials to work from. In the case of Nightmare City, the original camera negative has undergone pronounced chemical deterioration and although the interneg is in much better condition it has a seriously soft picture (presumably a by-product of blowing it up from two-perf Techniscope to four-perf anamorphic 35mm), and in the case of Dog Soldiers they couldn't find any pre-print elements at all and had to make use of two theatrical prints, with all the high contrast and nonexistent shadow detail that that implies.

These are common occurrences in the world of silent-film restoration, but what's striking about these cases is that they're from much more recent films - Nightmare City is just thirty-five years old and Dog Soldiers, shockingly, is only thirteen.

Personally, I think the only solution is to be as honest and upfront with customers as is possible - hence Arrow's pre-emptive warnings over Nightmare City. After all, I'd much rather have a visibly flawed HD transfer than nothing at all, and I do accept that it sometimes does come down to that choice. (Although Arrow is offering the viewer a choice by presenting Nightmare City in two separate versions taken from each source.)

But what does everyone else think? Should we set a minimum quality threshold for source materials, to be applied across the board, or should we accept that sometimes you'll get situations like the above and that this is an inevitable part of working with a very fragile medium like film?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:38 am 
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With newer films like these, is more difficult to accept bad PQ than silents. If a film is truly a masterpiece, I would prefer to see it in a flawed condition if the alternative is not seeing it at all. But for films like Dog Soldiers and Nightmare City, I am not that sold (to be honest, I am not a fan of either of these films).


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:44 am 
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perkizitore wrote:
With newer films like these, is more difficult to accept bad PQ than silents. If a film is truly a masterpiece, I would prefer to see it in a flawed condition if the alternative is not seeing it at all. But for films like Dog Soldiers and Nightmare City, I am not that sold (to be honest, I am not a fan of either of these films).

But by your own admission you're not a fan. What if you are, and this is the only way you're going to get to see them in high definition? After all, they're both genre titles of some significance - Dog Soldiers in particular is one of the best British horror films of the last two decades.

Arrow has turned down quite a few off-the-shelf HD masters over the years, but in some of those cases it was possible to go back to the pre-print elements and create brand new restorations, at least where the substantial additional cost could be justified. They initially assumed that Nightmare City would be a similar situation - only to discover that the soft picture on the existing BD was actually a fair reflection of the 35mm source, and that the only superior-quality image anywhere in existence was on the severely damaged (indeed, partially decomposing) camera negative. But by that stage money had already been spent, so it was a choice between cancelling the release and writing it off or attempting a fresh transfer which does at least have a markedly more detailed picture... provided you can tune out the damage.

UPDATED TO ADD: Please don't send me PMs about this - they defeat the purpose of an open discussion, and there wasn't anything in the one that I've just received that couldn't have been posted here.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 10:37 am 
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I see a lot of "if it can't be perfect they shouldn't have bothered" arguments lately for certain releases, and I don't get it. I didn't really notice them until Criterion released It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World where people were falling over themselves to bitch about how the Roadshow version was constructed using faded elements, the extended LaserDisc, and photos where scenes were missing. They were literally saying they shouldn't have bothered and that it was a hack job. I don't like the film but the last thing I would call that is a hack job: it was an impressive effort, and was really well put together, lovingly so (and the commentary that went with it was, much to my surprise, one of my favourite features). Plus it was a supplement, the regular film was there and they could still watch that or just get the old Blu-ray, which looks the same. Lately I have also been seeing it with Code Red releases, Arrow, and other cult film labels especially.
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With newer films like these, is more difficult to accept bad PQ than silents. If a film is truly a masterpiece, I would prefer to see it in a flawed condition if the alternative is not seeing it at all. But for films like Dog Soldiers and Nightmare City, I am not that sold (to be honest, I am not a fan of either of these films).

I don't care for Dog Soldiers either but I would never say they shouldn't bother, and it sounds like they were at least trying to create a better master than what was used for an older Blu-ray. Are you basically saying that because they can't find better elements then they just say "fuck it" and not give the film the best special edition they possibly can for people who actually like the film? That only if the film is worthwhile in your eyes should anyone bother? I hate, hate Billy Madison (like HATE it) but I'd be annoyed if I came across some article that said they were never going to release it on video because the negative couldn't be found and couldn't look as good as it possibly could because of it. That's probably a bad analogy because the general audience wouldn't care if it came from a negative and the studio would more than likely release it even if it was sourced from VHS, but that kind of thinking just sets a kind of precedent that I'm not a big fan of. Most of the Code Red films being released are ones I don't, or I'm pretty sure I won't, care for, but I think it's great that guy (as nutty as he appears to be on social media) is churning them out because then it's getting that stuff out there.

I'm guilty of this, too, though it's usually because I'm unaware of the issues. The most recent thing I can think of is that I was wishing The Fisher King got a new transfer from maybe the negative (Criterion's Blu-ray uses the old Image master, which was fine, but sourced from a later generation print) but who knows, maybe that's the best thing that was available. But if that was the case it would be nice if the notes for the release mention this.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:08 am 
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cdnchris wrote:
...but who knows, maybe that's the best thing that was available. But if that was the case it would be nice if the notes for the release mention this.
I think this is key in a time of heightened expectations; when the restoration work on a new release is as promoted as with the Apu Trilogy, for instance, no one's going to complain about any perceived imperfections, but when there's no explanation as to why a seemingly inferior transfer was used for a release, those who care immediately question that choice, whether or not it was actually a choice at all. Many releases feature fairly standard language referencing the clean-up work done on a new transfer, but it may behoove distributors to more consistently summarize the choices made with the material available.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:11 am 
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Well, I understand how Blu Ray is perceived as a format of excellence and thus anything falling short of virtually flawless (meaning there is a level of acceptance) seems as a waste.
But the level of acceptance needs also to be tuned to what’s possible and what were the previous releases like, because that’s where the work power lies in.

I watched yesterday Abel Gance’s Paradis perdu through Pathé’s new BD (from 2014 Bologna restoration), and it is not perfect. There are a couple of shots with vertical micro scratches, and the black level is not perfect (blacks are not deep enough), and there are shots that seems to have definition pulsations (they probably come from an inferior source), but should I discard it ? Certainly not. That’s also why I always say that a good restoration (not a perfect one, but a good one already) is more rewarding than slapping Transfomers 4 properly on BD.

For Dog Soliders, the question though is more a question of fidelity. BD is also meant to represent the most accurately possible (at the present moment) a movie as it was shot and projected in theatres at the time. So one can wonder : what’s the point of taking a battered overblown 35mm-blown-from-16mm projection print to perform a new restoration on ? It might be the best available, but in this case, is it good enough to justify the hours of work performed on it ? To justify a BD release ? It can seem overkilling a problematic material, hence giving birth to a problematic BD. Sure it's the best possible, but again, is it good ?

That’s also why the roadshow reconstruction is an alternative on the Criterion set. Ask yourself : aside from the cinematographic qualities of it, if there only was the Roadshow reconstruction on the BD set, would you think it would make a good presentation, PQ wise ?
Again, sure it was a lot of hard and caring work, sure it’s marvellous to see this included in the set, but this level of final PQ would never get 1st place on a BD release. And that’s saying a lot on what the market is expecting.

To come back to Nightmare City and Dog Soldiers, I guess the question could be summed up like this : if you put both encodes on each release (clean but soft Interneg-based + damaged but more precise OCN-based for Nightmare City, upscale with the proper color-scheme + overblown 35mm projection print for Dog Soldiers), which one do you think would be the most often watched ?

Some of us here might chose the OCN-based Nightmare City and the overblown Dog Soldiers, because we know that the process behind would be more caring about the original material, but I'm not certain at all the general public would do the same. Hence the "backlash" about IAMMMMW and the backlash about Dog Soldiers.

And that's also why other presentations remain provided with these.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:30 am 
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Michael and I have discussed this in the past, but there seems to be a kind of generation gap in action here. Not that long ago (80s / 90s) your only chance of seeing vast numbers of really important old films was through the vagaries of repertory, and you'd be entirely at the mercy of whatever prints survived in whatever condition in circulation. And you'd nevertheless be pathetically grateful for the opportunity and richly appreciate the film even if half the subtitles were illegible, the ends of reels were chewed to hell and the soundtrack sounded like it included an offscreen roaring bonfire.

PQ fetishism has its place, particularly when avoidable shortcuts are taken at the production end, but it should NEVER trump basic availability. Invisible films die away in the public consciousness and will be much less likely to ever be revived, even if good elements miraculously surface.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 11:57 am 

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Quote:
Michael and I have discussed this in the past, but there seems to be a kind of generation gap in action here.


I doubt many of the most vociferous A/V nerds out there grew up swapping 3rd generation VHS boots with fellow traders tracked down from the classifieds in SAMHAIN magazine. I still fondly remember watching a VHS comp tape (duped for me by UK publisher Trevor Barley) that paired EMANUELLE IN AMERICA with WOMEN IN CELLBLOCK 9, followed by a string of Euro/Rollin/D'Amato etc clips at the end of the video. I loved it, and watching the same footage with a notebook out to check for signs of DNR on the film grain wouldn't really be the same.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:44 pm 
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Let's not paint this as young tech nerds getting nitpicky over PQ and missing the bigger picture, because that's complete nonsense. Neither of these films are difficult to see in decent consistent quality, as they have several worldwide DVD releases, and existing Blu-ray releases. If a label is going to take them on again, then the only thing they really have to offer is a new and improved transfer. If they risk falling down in that regard because of element issues, then they do have a genuine dilemma.

All I ask of labels is good decision making. Outside of a completely unrealistic full blown restoration, Arrow are presenting their film in the best possible quality that not only they can offer, but that likely can be offered by anyone else in the world. On top of that, they're offering an alternative version just in case, something I'm confident I'll never watch. When did a bit of damage or deterioration ever hurt anybody anyway? There are plenty of silent films on Blu-ray that suffer from a great deal of damage, but the viewing experience is fine as long as they're sharp, consistent and filmic. People rarely talk about the unfortunate amount of damage on Nosferatu, but they do complain about the softness on The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

If Arrow are worried that they're about to face the same wrath Scream Factory have over Dog Soldiers, they needn't be, because I think there's a pretty clear difference that most fans understand. Arrow have made all the right decisions, even if the end product hasn't come out as great as everyone would have liked. Scream Factory on the other hand, I'm not so sure about that. If you're going to do a new transfer, surely the one golden rule is to make sure it's at least as good as the currently available one? They've seemingly failed in this regard, and fans are asking why should they even bother. Once they realised that they only had prints to work from, they should have cut their losses and gone back to the older master, which they definitely had access to if I'm interpreting Jordan's comments correctly. To not do so sounds like very bad decision making to me. What possible benefit did they expect to reap, other than being able to put "new transfer" on the sell sheet?

To answer Michael's question, I don't think there should be a minimum quality threshold full stop, as each film has its own unique circumstances. But labels do need to strongly consider what has come before their release, and ask themselves what they're both promising customers, and what they're actually giving.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:38 pm 
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I'd agree that perhaps a detailed restoration piece (or impossibility of restoration piece) in a video or booklet essay might be helpful, if not for purchasers then at least for future film historians! Consumer wise, I guess as long as the difficulties are made as clear as possible, perhaps on the packaging or with a detailed sheet provided with review copies or something like that, this could mitigate things a little. Though I could understand that causing its own problems in causing potential purchasers to avoid something based on seeing a disclaimer or warning box, and there is always the potential that a reviewer will always judge a film less for the circumstances of its production and the availability of its materials than for how well it fares compared to something like Transformers or digitally sourced disc of a latest blockbuster.

But then we are presumably getting into issues of marketing and economics of running a label and how to sell something that will inherently be 'flawed', turning a problem into a virtue and maybe stressing the rarity of even the available imperfect elements. I'd perhaps be interested in seeing a label that would release poorer quality 'repetory' prints of films just to get them out there, though with an attempt made to release a film in the best possible version (the way that say Second Run does on DVD), rather than as an excuse for releasing any available master. For a while I was really hoping that the Eclipse series would be that, and to a certain extent it is, though the line being the home for 'poor available quality materials' seems to have been muddied up with 'this isn't quite ready for the mainline, off the shelf' releases. This also brings up the question of how everyone feels about bundling films up together in double bills, or series, or whatever, where a big name film offsets a smaller title, or a poorer quality (both transfer-wise or actual film quality-wise!) title is combined with a known quantity.

There is also the issue that is the opposite of zedz's argument of rarities that Eddie Larkin alludes to above, that when a film has had a long history of home video releases, then issues such as picture quality and fixing any previously outstanding issue might become much more of a selling point to a consumer considering whether to re-buy yet another version of a film. For example on my part, I'm still waiting for a definitive version of Suspiria to turn up, despite having a couple of previous releases. A film such as, say *looking around room* The Boondock Saints or Organ, I can probably live with the DVD of unless there is some huge extra feature or spectacular jump in picture quality that I was not previously aware of. Though it is important to note that I had wanted to see both of those films enough to buy the DVDs at least once!

zedz wrote:
PQ fetishism has its place, particularly when avoidable shortcuts are taken at the production end, but it should NEVER trump basic availability. Invisible films die away in the public consciousness and will be much less likely to ever be revived, even if good elements miraculously surface.

I'd very much second zedz's comments, availability is key here (I'd want to see the film first and foremost, though I'm extremely grateful for people more technical and perceptive than I am in going to great lengths to source materials and critique picture quality) although that might run counter to commercially exploiting a film through normal channels. For example I'm aware of television policies to move away from showing black and white films, and presumably silents fall into that category too, so whole swathes of films, unless they're too important to be ignored or lucky enough to exist in good versions or get a Powell & Pressburger style restoration (though even in that case I'll only relax when they manage to get to the rarities such as Oh, Rosalinda!), can be in danger of dropping out of the picture and perhaps the public consciousness.

It also seems that every upgrade of technology has been accompanied with "the best you'll ever see the film on home entertainment format" comments. Comments that will be technically accurate but in certain cases, might not be quite so noticable to a home viewer without a dedicated setup. There is also the issue that every Blu-ray seems to have to stand as a benchmark for not only the film but the format in general, which might cause its own issues in companies understandably backing away from the 'riskier' projects.

So it all seems marketing and economics of what material would be viable to release at all let alone in the best possible quality maybe from the original camera negative, maybe with a huge multi-partner restoration project behind it, which is something that I guess is also going to widely vary from project to project depending on quality of materials, availability, licensing costs, and so on.

Thinking in a really starry-eyed and naive way that doesn't take rightsholders and copyright and such into account maybe at a certain point for films that cannot be exploited anymore through the usual commercial channels there could be the equivalent of a rest home, or storage area for films that have been commercially abandoned, but remain culturally significant. By this I'd mean something accessible to everyone rather than a film archive. Presumably such a thing would have to be online though.
tenia wrote:
That’s also why the roadshow reconstruction [of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World] is an alternative on the Criterion set. Ask yourself : aside from the cinematographic qualities of it, if there only was the Roadshow reconstruction on the BD set, would you think it would make a good presentation, PQ wise ?
Again, sure it was a lot of hard and caring work, sure it’s marvellous to see this included in the set, but this level of final PQ would never get 1st place on a BD release. And that’s saying a lot on what the market is expecting.

That's very true as well, but it does show that the existence of a better (or acceptable) quality version of a film can itself allow a more flawed but alternative in some ways version of the film to get a release too. I'm also thinking of something like the German Filmmuseum's disc of Enthusiasm with the original and then 'properly synched-up' versions presented together.


Last edited by colinr0380 on Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:35 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 1:43 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
There is also the issue that is the opposite of zedz's argument of rarities that Eddie Larkin alludes to above, that when a film has had a long history of home video releases, then issues such as picture quality and fixing any previously might become much more of a seeling point to a consumer considering whether to re-buy yet another version of a film. For example on my part, I'm still waiting for a definitive version of Suspiria to turn up, despite having a couple of previous releases.

Yes, Arrow would not have taken on the HandMade library if they hadn't had the option of creating definitive original neg-sourced director/cinematographer-approved restorations. Withnail & I had already come out on Blu-ray twice, and DVD umpteen times.

Similarly, while they'd obviously love to do Night of the Living Dead, it would have to be a new scan from the original camera neg - there's absolutely no point doing it otherwise, because there are so many cheapo rival editions that you have to offer something really special if you're expecting to charge full price.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:33 pm 
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This whole thread seems unanswerable to me, in the sense it's surely rhetorical. In the larger picture Michael's "argument " surely answers itself. It's both practically impossible and ludicrous to set minimum standard parameters when the elements are less than pristine, as they are here. Surely anyone in the collecting or production biz is going to say, so long as the work is in reliable hands (like yours etc...) it's fine?

There are far, far worse looking and expensive restorations from elements that were in much less heinous shape than these - look at Universal's hideous, completely misjudged 4K of Imitation of Life from O-Neg's and a desk operator who never took his foot off the chromakey pedal. The jobs that really strike a sour note are the post film stage when digital mishandling totally fucks a project, like Eclair's post scan work on Madame de.

Anyone here who frequents the backchannels, especially the one now still in repair knows how hard this work can be, how parlous the elements can be (in these case soften weak VHS or digibeta) and appreciates the results when they're at least viewable. I am thinking aloud the Third Reich project as the most notable major effort, and the painstaking work done by amateurs like them or us with home computer tools, and often expensive software, and zero assistance from the authorized German film world, with additional hundreds of unpaid hours of work re grading and retiming and transcribing and writing multilingual subs.
I understand Arrow is doing commercial work and product but who honestly looking at these titles would really give a second thought to how "bad" they looked? They Don't!


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 6:53 am 

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Quote:
Let's not paint this as young tech nerds getting nitpicky over PQ and missing the bigger picture, because that's complete nonsense.


I was making a general comment about the post immediately before mine, not referring to the specific dilemma of NIGHTMARE CITY and DOG SOLDIERS. Re the points you raised, I'll reiterate that there seem to be plenty of younger folk on forums these days who are new to a large number of the cult films being released, and who seem determined to dismiss fresh-to-the-market titles (not double or triple dips) because the 1080p transfer was done back in the dark ages of 2007 and shows signs of digital manipulation of grain when blown up on their PC monitor. I can only repeat that pretty much all the obsessive fans and collectors of my generation (I'm now 43) spent a lot of time in the early 90's being tremendously grateful to find a multi-generation dupe of an NTSC to PAL VHS because there was no other way to see the movie. I now read posts where young 'fans' will respond "I'm glad you early buyers warned me in advance of that light [objectively imperceptible] DNR on the disc - I'll skip the release and wait till someone does a proper 4K transfer".


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 11:27 am 
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zedz wrote:
PQ fetishism has its place, particularly when avoidable shortcuts are taken at the production end, but it should NEVER trump basic availability. Invisible films die away in the public consciousness and will be much less likely to ever be revived, even if good elements miraculously surface.


Don't misunderstand me. We're not talking of pure availability here, but a specific avaibility : on BD.
Of course, labels taking shortcuts or restorations done by a couple of blind guys are not the same than shortcomings because the original elements were stored in a cave for 40 years in Mexico. But the end result and thus the question remain the same : is it worthy to spend a tremendous amount of time working on those elements to try and best the previous restorations ? Is it worthy to then do a BD release ?

But then again, as Eddie wrote : I don't think a damaged print of Nightmare City will be welcomed the same way than an overblown 35mm projection print blown up from a 16mm source.

colinr0380 wrote:
tenia wrote:
That’s also why the roadshow reconstruction [of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World] is an alternative on the Criterion set. Ask yourself : aside from the cinematographic qualities of it, if there only was the Roadshow reconstruction on the BD set, would you think it would make a good presentation, PQ wise ?
Again, sure it was a lot of hard and caring work, sure it’s marvellous to see this included in the set, but this level of final PQ would never get 1st place on a BD release. And that’s saying a lot on what the market is expecting.

That's very true as well, but it does show that the existence of a better (or acceptable) quality version of a film can itself allow a more flawed but alternative in some ways version of the film to get a release too. I'm also thinking of something like the German Filmmuseum's disc of Enthusiasm with the original and then 'properly synched-up' versions presented together.


I'm all for reconstructions, trying to get back to the original presentation and duration of a movie, being for Metropolis, Quai des brumes or others.
But I also understand how wildly different material can end up being more distracting than anything.

That's the actual matter lying in the discussion : what level of limitations is acceptable before getting distracting from watching the movie itself, especially on BD when you accept a certain level of quality (because otherwise, you would be satisfied with a cheaper inferior format like a DVD) ?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 7:41 pm 
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I am a fan of the Peplum genre, 1958-1965.

What is this "restoration" process you all speak of? And these Blurays? Are these some new
type of technologies?

:)


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 25, 2015 8:14 pm 
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So it sounds like the problem isn't really the film quality itself, but educating people on how much effort went into restoring the film. How difficult would it be to include a quick restoration demonstration for each disc that has less than perfect quality, along with a title card that explains the suboptimal material conditions and asks the viewer to check the demonstration for a comparison. I wouldn't expect anything too in depth, but showing a quick before and after for a couple of frames/scenes may do a lot to persuade the audience (who are hopefully a bit more open minded than the average moviegoer when it comes to special projects like these) that despite looking a bit beat up, this is the best these films are going to look using currently available restoration techniques.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 2:04 am 
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jindianajonz wrote:
So it sounds like the problem isn't really the film quality itself, but educating people on how much effort went into restoring the film. How difficult would it be to include a quick restoration demonstration for each disc that has less than perfect quality, along with a title card that explains the suboptimal material conditions and asks the viewer to check the demonstration for a comparison.


I've learnt that when it comes to catalog movies and general audience, expectations and understanding always are a question of education.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 11:22 am 
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Sorry for cross-posting from another forum, but this is an interesting post from "onemanband" in the 88 Films thread at blu-ray.com that sheds some light on some of these issues, specifically about controversial Italian transfers:

onemanband wrote:
We’ve worked on some of the titles discussed here for German label X-rated so maybe I can add my few cents. There are a lot of assumptions in this thread which, after a while, seem to become fact plus misinformation about the whole issue in general.

Solamente Nero and Spasmo are LVR scans with color correction done there. Dust busting, scratch removal etc. wasn’t, we’ve done that. (Btw, we’ve also worked on most of the new Spencer Hill BD releases by 3L in Germany, also done stuff for Koch, Ascot, Turbine, many others.
La Casa Con La Scala Nel Buio wasn’t done at LVR at all.
We’ve supplied SPASMO back to the producer in two versions, one with slight noise concealment, one without (I don't know which label uses what, we've never dealt with them directly) - so their clients can pick and choose. Why? Because these transfers are not for BD alone, in fact if it was for BD alone very few films would get transfers at all because it just isn’t worth it from an economic point of view for rights holders. Most tv stations would reject transfers with such heavy noise/grain because of lower transmission bitrates so it has to be dealt with. Like it or not. You will also find a lot of consumer TVs from certain manufacturers and some panel generations seriously struggling with a noise/grain component like that which results in smearing and clouding.

Are these transfers problematic - partially, yes. There is just no easy answer to it. I am sorry to say but people here tend to have a very naive idea of the situation. Film is essentially dead in Italy, very few companies have any interest to invest in new technology in that field because there is not a big market for it anymore. Cinecitta closed it’s lab quite a while ago. When Technicolor in Rome closed doors in 2013 it created huge problems, lots of producers and library holders where faced with hundreds of negatives, internegatives and interpositives that needed to go somewhere. And you cannot simply put them in any warehouse or your attic - it needs to go somewhere appropriate for film. Air conditioned, precautions for fire, insurrance issues, a place where people work who deal with film and which preferably can also scan the stuff because that’s the point of having those negatives stored in the first place.
But it also needs a place that has staff that knows how to deal with OLD film, knows how to clean it, repair it, prep it for scanning. And it has to be a place that can handle 2-perf because a lot of those films are.
Guess what, it’s a tough call to find such a place these days. There are only a handful in all of Italy today. In France you have L’Eclair that are well equipped to handle such tasks, in the US it is fairly easy - in Italy not so much.
So once you have a contract with a lab to store your negatives and positives, it’s not a question of simply taking it out and giving it somewhere else for scanning (IF you have another place of which you KNOW can handle the material AND give good results). You can’t simply go “trial and error”, it all costs a lot of money. Again, there are insurance issues which are massive for the transport alone (unless you don’t care what happens to your property but believe it or not most companies and producers actually do). As a foreign licensee to ask for a negative to be sent abroad to a lab of your choice, unknown to the rights holder, is not only costly but very likely to not be meet with much enthusiasm - and as much as I would prefer different, more modern scanner technology used at times, I do understand the producer’s position.
Unless you’ve worked with a company for many years and they know and trust you and want to make you happy, you are very likely to have to live with whatever lab the negative is located at.

Spasmo is a 2-perf negative, so half 35mm resolution which boosts the grain and noise when doing a transfer on certain equipment, also the neg wasn’t in pretty bad condition.
If this had been done with a DFT Scanity, yes, it would have looked better. A maxed out Scanity is half a million Euro. I am not even aware of a single Italian lab that has such equipment.

The idea that “there is lots of money to be made” from such genre releases is silly. A lot of these releases from smaller labels are labours of love, some investing a lot of privat time without pay to make any kind of return on the investment. We, too, have put in a lot of non-pay work, especially in Spasmo, to clean damage a different scanner would have dealt with. It can be frustrating at times to read some of these comments here, especially since nobody here has seen the condition of the negative to begin with.
Most of the costly 2k and 4K transfer and restoration jobs in Italy can only be done via state subsidising. Todo Modo was done that way just recently. Came out on DVD only in Italy - nowhere else to be seen so far. Antonioni, Fellini, you can get financial help there. No subsidising for Spasmo I am afraid.
So, again, I, too, wish the quality of some of those scans was better to begin with as it makes restoration work a lot easier. But simply pointing fingers are labels and rights holders thinking they just don’t want to spent a few Euros more to make it all fantastic means not understanding the scope of the issue. It’s a lot more than just a few Euro and a lot more that comes into play beyond that.
As things stand, the situation is likely to get even worse in years to come as the market is declining and more labs are closing their fllm departments.


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