Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

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Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 3:12 pm

4K Ultra HD has so greatly improved picture quality that I'm now firmly fixated on ditching old-fashioned standard Blu-ray. 4K Ultra HD has four times the resolution of an old-fashioned standard Blu-ray player. The difference is visible, and I'm looking forward to replacing all my old DVDs and Blu-rays with the newer, better format. This will soon be the 9th time I purchase The General (8mm, Super 8mm, 16mm, Laserdisc, Betamax, VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray).

Which other silent movies do you think will be so vastly improved with upgraded scanning that they will finally seem attractive to non-silent movie buffs?
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 3:31 pm

I work by converting this to DPI. Any idea what that would be?

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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 3:48 pm

I think beyond HD is very very diminishing returns for silent films. The film stocks used in the 1920's were not fine grained by the standards of today. The lenses on the cameras were uncoated. How many pixels do you need to image a single grain on the film? Does 4 pixels per grain make the grain more lifelike?
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 3:52 pm

I've been told that 4K Ultra HD (UHD) is a resolution of 3840 pixels × 2160 lines (8.3 megapixels, aspect ratio 16:9) and is one of the two resolutions of ultra high definition television targeted towards consumer television, the other being 8K UHD which is 7680 pixels × 4320 lines (33.2 megapixels), which would be even better. I suppose a few seasons from now I'll have to buy The General yet again in 8K UHD. Will Superman's crystals ever become a reality so we can stop this nonsense? It's enough to make my hat flowers wilt.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 5:06 pm

Phototone wrote:I think beyond HD is very very diminishing returns for silent films. The film stocks used in the 1920's were not fine grained by the standards of today. The lenses on the cameras were uncoated. How many pixels do you need to image a single grain on the film? Does 4 pixels per grain make the grain more lifelike?


I've done more double-dips than Dairy Queen, but as an end-user I'm still inclined to take diminishing returns with a grain.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 5:22 pm

Unless I've missed something somewhere, I don't think that The General is being released on 4K. Would be interesting though. That said, I went 4K a few months ago and am pretty happy with it, especially with how blu rays look. I have a Samsung 4K machine as well as an Oppo and both do a great job of upscaling blu rays to 4K.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 6:07 pm

4K is almost exclusively new movies... usually ones with digital effects. I don't think we'll be seeing silent films on 4K any time soon.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostSun Aug 06, 2017 8:55 pm

I'd have to say that DVD's are better than video-tape - and of the latter I thought Betamax was better than VHS. I haven't progressed further than DVD's - which are adequate for me. I did though see a 4K television demonstrated in a store and thought it looked very lifelike - but the price of it would have sent my bank manager into an apoplectic fit.

I still have all my 78's, reel to reel tapes, cassette tapes and long playing gramophone records as well as Cd's. I could never bring myself to throw them out - but it's been a while since I have listened to any of them.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 8:55 am

I can't find a single 4k disc silent movie on amazon's US site. Not holding my breath, considering how many great silents still haven't even made it to DVD (much less Blu-Ray).
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 9:35 am

ColemanShedman wrote:I can't find a single 4k disc silent movie on amazon's US site. Not holding my breath, considering how many great silents still haven't even made it to DVD (much less Blu-Ray).


It's just a matter of time. Distributors wouldn't be putting any effort into 4K masters on certain high profile titles if UHD weren't being contemplated for future releases. Some will likely benefit, others won't. It all depends on the quality of the source elements.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 10:04 am

Standard HD of 2k is a very close approximation of a typical mass-produced 35mm theatrical print from a dupe negative, and a well-mastered 1080p or 1080i Blu-ray of a silent or classic will look about like a new 35mm revival-house print.

A 4k version is pretty close to a print from the original camera negative. A 4k copy of a 4k scan of a silent would realistically only show some improvement over a normal 2k Blu-ray if it had been scanned from an original nitrate negative in pristine condition. There are several major and minor films that survive in that shape, but not very many.

A big problem for me so far is that I prefer to project on a home theatre screen and find it harder to sit in front of a TV set, whatever the resolution, as they are so tiny by comparison (even 65" 4k sets). When home 4k projectors become affordable, I might consider making a switch, as it would be most useful for improved resolution of movies originally shot in large formats like 65mm, Cinerama, VistaVision, IMAX, etc. Right now the only classic announced for a 4k disc is THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, and that was shot in 35mm. I once saw a "showprint" made from its camera negative, and would expect the 4k disc to look about the same. For other classics, if they're scanned from preservation prints, dupe negatives, fine-grain positives, etc., rather than a camera negative, a 4k copy will probably look only marginally better if any different at all from a properly-authored normal 2k Blu-ray made from a 4k scan.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 10:13 am

Outside of some in-store displays, I have yet to really see a 4K film. Live broadcasts and sporting events will probably benefit most from these high resolutions, but I'm not sure it will be worth it financially to me, to upgrade a lot of my stuff. Standard HD is about 95% there for me anyway. But, I don't have one of those big 120 inch projection screens either. :?

I will say this much however... I do feel like films that have been scanned and remastered in 4k (or higher) do look better when downsized to 1080 than those done in 2k. I think. Maybe it's psychological... but I feel like they look a tad crisper and stronger.

Either way... in theory and in practice and regardless of the film stock... higher resolutions WILL always be better. It's just a matter of what's worth it.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 10:55 am

R. Cat wrote:It's just a matter of time. Distributors wouldn't be putting any effort into 4K masters on certain high profile titles if UHD weren't being contemplated for future releases.


That isn't necessarily true. The studio libraries are transitioning from film based masters to digital masters. 4K is a format that can be projected theatrically. If they have a 4K master, they don't need to maintain the 35mm elements. The studios are more interested in archiving in 4K than they are distributing in 4K.

The reason that 4K transfers on blu-ray look better is because 4K allows more headroom for digital restoration filters. A straight transfer wouldn't look much different, but when you apply your restoration in 4K and downsample to 1080p, there is an improvement.

Whether or not you will see a difference between different resolutions depends on the size of your screen and how far you sit from it. A screen the size of a wall with a close viewing distance will reveal 4K, but on a 19 inch TV viewed from the other side of the room, there would be no difference.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 12:42 pm

bigshot wrote:
R. Cat wrote:It's just a matter of time. Distributors wouldn't be putting any effort into 4K masters on certain high profile titles if UHD weren't being contemplated for future releases.


That isn't necessarily true. The studio libraries are transitioning from film based masters to digital masters. 4K is a format that can be projected theatrically. If they have a 4K master, they don't need to maintain the 35mm elements. The studios are more interested in archiving in 4K than they are distributing in 4K.

The reason that 4K transfers on blu-ray look better is because 4K allows more headroom for digital restoration filters. A straight transfer wouldn't look much different, but when you apply your restoration in 4K and downsample to 1080p, there is an improvement.

Whether or not you will see a difference between different resolutions depends on the size of your screen and how far you sit from it. A screen the size of a wall with a close viewing distance will reveal 4K, but on a 19 inch TV viewed from the other side of the room, there would be no difference.


Are 19" TVs still being manufactured? Does anyone still watch small scale TV from across a room? These days desktop computer monitors are usually 21" or larger and the viewing distances are just an arm's length away. Televisions ...such as they are... have morphed into much larger panels & HT projectors, although there is a retro movement of classic TV nostalgia going around reminiscent of the niche market interest for vinyl LPs and turntables.

That said, I agree that the prime motivator in respect to 4K media storage is digital preservation of film. Everything else, including UHD format adoption, is open to speculation.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 4:32 pm

Blu-ray is where I stop - technology can go merrily along without me from here in.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostMon Aug 07, 2017 11:09 pm

I think the speculation about silent movies on the 4K UltraHD format is still very premature at this point. The number of films released on that format so far that were originally released in the 20th century can still be counted on my fingers. Catalogs are just starting to be probed for classics, and so far the upcoming releases tend to be of very effects heavy films and reliable money makers. The licensing costs associated with the newer format are higher than they are for Blu-ray and the technology will still have the occasional hiccup. Companies like Criterion, Eureka, BFI, Kino would have to adopt the new technology before we really started to see a push toward 4K silents.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 9:55 am

People were resistant to Blu-ray and it never really took off because at the same time that the picture was getting clearer, people were watching the picture on tinier and tinier screens, where extra resolution is of no use whatsoever. I see 4k as a failed attempt to sell some television sets after the abandonment of 3d. It's just not going to happen. Picture quality is not relevant to the consumer at large. I don't see any innovations that will work, frankly. VR is a nonstarter because of the dork factor in wearing the stupid helmets.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 11:14 am

Mark Zimmer wrote:People were resistant to Blu-ray and it never really took off because at the same time that the picture was getting clearer, people were watching the picture on tinier and tinier screens, where extra resolution is of no use whatsoever. I see 4k as a failed attempt to sell some television sets after the abandonment of 3d. It's just not going to happen. Picture quality is not relevant to the consumer at large. I don't see any innovations that will work, frankly. VR is a nonstarter because of the dork factor in wearing the stupid helmets.


Yes, watching movies on tiny screens is part of the iPad, iPhone revolution, but only as part of a much larger market that covers a broader spectrum of viewers. Some folks don't like watching movies on iPhones because the smaller the image, the less impressive the film. Of course, for folks on the go, it's convenient, but it has no value for family viewing or group interaction.

Blu-ray did eventually take off as did widescreen high resolution TVs & prices have come down over time. Also, picture quality does matter to the average consumer, although the average consumer may see it differently than those who are obsessed with getting the best image. In a competitive store setting "higher quality" is defined by brighter, sharper, more colorful images ...realistic PQ often takes a back seat... but image impressions do sell big screen TVs.

3D was always iffy because no single system was settled on for home use (active vs passive) before it was marketed. You're probably right about VR because the cumbersome gear and geekiness of it limits interest to the gamer market.

Mark, your points are valid, especially for future consumers. There is a diminishing return, both filmmakers and electronic's manufacturers know it. We haven't reached that point yet, but we're approaching it.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 11:26 am

I can definitely see the advantage of UHD for people who like recent movies and have a very large monitor. The difference can be seen clearly. UHD has more realistic color and contrast levels and it looks sharp and clear. But it's not likely to be a great deal of difference if the movie comes from a 80 year old beat up B&W film element. 4K is for Spiderman movies and recent Attenborough documentaries, not Phantom of the Opera or Birth of a Nation.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 11:28 am

Saint-Just wrote:Blu-ray is where I stop - technology can go merrily along without me from here in.


My sentiments exactly.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 2:13 pm

bigshot wrote:4K is for Spiderman movies and recent Attenborough documentaries, not Phantom of the Opera or Birth of a Nation.


...and you can rest assured, if/when silents get the 4K treatment, Phantom and Birth is what we'll get!
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 4:28 pm

I respectfully disagree that ". . . it's not likely to be a great deal of difference if the movie comes from a 80 year old beat up B&W film element. 4K is for Spiderman movies and recent Attenborough documentaries, not Phantom of the Opera or Birth of a Nation."

If a love for silent movies is to carry over to the next generation, indeed if vintage silent movies themselves are to carry over to the next generation through restoration and archiving, the films absolutely must be copied and stored in every improved form that develops. Silent films for future generations must reach them through their preferred technology, and the films must be as presentable as possible, preferably appearing once again as they originally looked in a pristine first-generation print with director-authorized tints, tones, and orchestra score . . . as major film releases were seen in their original premier exhibitions.

The next generation will enjoy Phantom of the Opera and The Birth of a Nation as much, if not more, than those reading this site thread today. Silent movies are not just for people with one leg in their grave already; they are also for those in the future. In fact, the next generation may be the generation that finally realizes that film + music is the long-sought universal language, and they may demand that all future productions be made that way.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 5:25 pm

There's a point where a format reaches transparency. The same thing is true of audio. What's the point of a 24/96 transfer of a phonograph record that has a dynamic range and frequency response that's a fraction of what the digital file is capable of containing? A 16/44.1 transfer would sound exactly the same. At some point, increased video resolution is just going to be rendering the chatter and noise beneath the film grain better... it won't make the movie itself look any different. A camera negative of a modern film or a movie shot in UHD has detail worth resolving at 4K. An old silent film doesn't. 2K transfers are plenty for silent films. Above that, the law of diminishing returns starts kicking in.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 5:28 pm

2 Reel wrote:I respectfully disagree that ". . . it's not likely to be a great deal of difference if the movie comes from a 80 year old beat up B&W film element. 4K is for Spiderman movies and recent Attenborough documentaries, not Phantom of the Opera or Birth of a Nation."

If a love for silent movies is to carry over to the next generation, indeed if vintage silent movies themselves are to carry over to the next generation through restoration and archiving, the films absolutely must be copied and stored in every improved form that develops. Silent films for future generations must reach them through their preferred technology, and the films must be as presentable as possible, preferably appearing once again as they originally looked in a pristine first-generation print with director-authorized tints, tones, and orchestra score . . . as major film releases were seen in their original premier exhibitions.

The next generation will enjoy Phantom of the Opera and The Birth of a Nation as much, if not more, than those reading this site thread today. Silent movies are not just for people with one leg in their grave already; they are also for those in the future. In fact, the next generation may be the generation that finally realizes that film + music is the long-sought universal language, and they may demand that all future productions be made that way.


I would tend to agree with you but I would extend what you have said by stating that the ideal way to see a silent picture for me would be in a cinema palace catering for an audience in the thousands rather than the hundreds; with the full orchestra in attendance as well as the cinema organ and perhaps a stage prologue on the first half. Luckily I have been able to have had that exhilarating experience on a few occasions.

To be realistic though, it is accessibility that is the main point to be considered as regards gaining new members to the silent picture appreciation society. I can remember in my youth that it was almost impossible to see a silent picture - all we had was "Fractured Flickers" on the TV and perhaps a once in a blue moon short series like "Silents Please" - which only served to whet the appetite.

Moving forward to today, I am continually astounded as well as grateful to the plethora of silent pictures that are now available - and - they are available for me to watch in my own home. It doesn't matter all that much whether one watches them on VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray or Colossal Super-Duper Scope - whatever one finds to one's taste. All it matter is that they are readily available for people to watch.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 5:52 pm

There seems to be some confusion as to the true resolution of modern films. Hollywood has been shooting more and more films digitally since the first few appeared about a decade ago. But with extremely rare exceptions, they are all shot and finished at 2k resolution. This is especially true for almost all of the special-effects spectaculars of recent years. They simply do not exist in true 4K versions. Those few holdouts shooting and finishing on film may end up with true 4K releases ( such as Christopher Nolan's films) but that's about it. At any given week your local multiplex is running 2K versions of at least 80-90% of their titles, even if they proudly tell you they have 4K equipment. They may have the equipment, but they don't have the content because the studios aren't supplying it.

4k UHD offers other quality improvements besides the additional resolution, which helps disguise the fact that a lot of the content is merely upscaled 2K.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 6:21 pm

Even most new movies in 4K Blu Ray discs, are from 2k files converted to 4K. They look sharper cause 4K add less softness than Full HD, since each one add something like one pixel ratio of softness, and since 4K had smaller pixels it get less softness and end with sharper look than a Full HD.

It's quite like when you watched a 1080p video on youtube in a small window with less 50% of vertical resolution resolution, and it even so looks much more sharper than when you watch a 480p video in that same small window.

4K still have compression artefacts and motion softness even in low motion scnes. Video should be able to produce sharp images in los motion, since video get image frames exposed for a very short time, much more short than film cameras.

Strange how some old films looks better in HD than a lot of films from 80's that looked like crap, blurred and grainy in many Blu Ray edition.

bigshot wrote:4K is almost exclusively new movies... usually ones with digital effects. I don't think we'll be seeing silent films on 4K any time soon.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostTue Aug 08, 2017 6:35 pm

And mpeg-4, AVC, it's problematic, a crap, they all add a lot of softness during low motion, so the real resolution drop with motion. Plus the softness of the TV due low refresh rate.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 6:38 am

I really very much doubt that we'll see much in the way of 4K in the silent world. Heck, I still feel lucky when I get to see a Blu Ray of a film. Shorts and obscure foreign films I expect to see on DVD at best.

During the restoration of Manos the Hands of Fate (supposedly the worst movie ever made but I dispute that) the original 16mm camera positive was scanned at 2K. People were wondering why there wasn't a 4k scan and the restoration team basically said 1) 4K was a hell of a lot more expensive and 2) you can't really do a 4k scan of 16mm. How many silents only exist out there as 16mm or worse?

After saving my pennies for a long while my wife and I were finally able to get a nice TV for our downstairs for use as a sort of home theater (we're still sitting on lawn furniture down there but hey, we'll get there someday!) and you know what, I can't imagine on our 55" TV that 4K would look any better than 1080p of most Blu Rays. Heck, 720p on some video games and stuff looks just fine.

VHS to DVD was a huge jump (though I do still watch VHS from time to time btw) and DVD to Blu Ray was a bigger jump. BD to 4K is barely noticeable.
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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 9:31 am

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Re: Blu-ray: the beginning of the end

PostWed Aug 09, 2017 9:44 am

bigshot wrote:Image


So, if I'm watching it on my 30" computer screen, or my IPad, it doesn't make a difference? That doesn't seem right.

Bob
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