Optical effects used in catalogue titles. - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 01-21-2013, 07:20 AM
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Default Optical effects used in catalogue titles.

This subject usually comes up in the discussion of the older titles remastered onto Blu-Ray.

The use of optical effects in movies, either for special effects, fading and the opening/closing title sequences.

The result of these effects when remastered for BD is obvious, such as increased visibility of grain, dirt, noise and it is generally inconsistant with the rest of the movie.

My question is, are there any techniques used to counter/remove this problem that a movie company will use during the restoration process, or will they have to go back to the original elements and reconstruct the scene again from scratch digitally?

How exactly is this done and does anyone have any links to info on this and similar subjects?
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:01 PM
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Its very unusual for opticals to be recomposited in catalog titles because of the cost of doing so. It also depends on the availability and the condition of original elements. Searching the archives, cataloging, scanning, processing, recombining - this can get very expensive. The only really high profile catalog release I can think of that actually did this to a large extent is Blade Runner The Final Cut. And the Final Cut was in development hell for quite a long time.

It is also a question of authenticity and preservation. This is a very emotional issue for some who feel that cleaning up of original elements to remove dirt and damage that occurred *after* the film was made is acceptable but that digital recompositing of opticals is revisionist and undesireable. Optical compositing is one of the lost arts of the cinema and some feel that recompositing them destroys the work and skill that went into creating the opticals in the first place. In the case of Blade Runner, at least there are reasonably dcent hi def transfers of the film in a completely unrevised state so people who hate the idea of revisionism can still enjoy the film as it was made. In the case of Blade Runner it was a high profile catalog release by one of Hollywood's top directors, so no expense was spared in providing as complete a release as possible. But most catalog titles are low-overhead revenue generators for the studios, so they tend to want to spend as little money as possible on the transfers because the margins are so tiny on those releases.

What one generally wants from a catalog release is for it to be as close to what the film might have looked like at the time it was first released. With films that use optical composites and other analog effects techniques, that means you get grain and dirt in effects shots. In most cases, that grain and dirt would have been present in the original release. Attempting to remove those "defects" like higher grain levels and black lines around composited layers can lead very quickly to the slippery slope of the Star Wars Special Editions.

Last edited by Sim_Mat; 01-21-2013 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 01-21-2013, 01:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sim_Mat View Post
Its very unusual for opticals to be recomposited in catalog titles because of the cost of doing so. It also depends on the availability and the condition of original elements. Searching the archives, cataloging, scanning, processing, recombining - this can get very expensive. The only really high profile catalog release I can think of that actually did this to a large extent is Blade Runner The Final Cut. And the Final Cut was in development hell for quite a long time.

It is also a question of authenticity and preservation. This is a very emotional issue for some who feel that cleaning up of original elements to remove dirt and damage that occurred *after* the film was made is acceptable but that digital recompositing of opticals is revisionist and undesireable. Optical compositing is one of the lost arts of the cinema and some feel that recompositing them destroys the work and skill that went into creating the opticals in the first place. In the case of Blade Runner, at least there are reasonably dcent hi def transfers of the film in a completely unrevised state so people who hate the idea of revisionism can still enjoy the film as it was made. In the case of Blade Runner it was a high profile catalog release by one of Hollywood's top directors, so no expense was spared in providing as complete a release as possible. But most catalog titles are low-overhead revenue generators for the studios, so they tend to want to spend as little money as possible on the transfers because the margins are so tiny on those releases.

What one generally wants from a catalog release is for it to be as close to what the film might have looked like at the time it was first released. With films that use optical composites and other analog effects techniques, that means you get grain and dirt in effects shots. In most cases, that grain and dirt would have been present in the original release. Attempting to remove those "defects" like higher grain levels and black lines around composited layers can lead very quickly to the slippery slope of the Star Wars Special Editions.
Thankyou Sim

That is a very informative explanation. I can totally identify with both sides of the argument, however I personally find the residue of opticals a distraction when watching a BD, I hope it becomes much more common to recomposite these sequences digitally in the future.
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:23 PM
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The problem with this sort of thing is as more time goes by, it becomes harder and harder to find the original effects elements. With Blade Runner for example, they were lucky enough to find a whole lot of film that had been scheduled to be disposed of, its just so happened that the warehouse where it was being kept hadn't got around to throwing it away. They also got lucky that a lab that had processed some of the film from the visual effects contractor just happened to have it in their store room. We have reached the point, now, where it is 20 years since the last big optically composited effects films were made. Its going to get harder and harder to find all the necessary elements.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:54 PM
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I have yet to view the new Terminator remaster from Lowry Digital.

My concern was how the quality of the image has held up after the print clean, restoration and remaster? That movie has heavy optical effects during the future war sequences and the end sequence. The 2006 version looks terrible during these parts of the movie. There are black specks and scratches everywhere and very heavy grain.

I will wait until the US release comes and I can read the review of the disc on here.
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Old 01-21-2013, 05:41 PM
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Would the edits in the early Hitchcock titles fall into this category? Where they fade out, and in on a new shot? There's the jump in film quality when this happens, and I'd love to see that stuff cleared up a little.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by JSmith View Post
The 2006 version looks terrible during these parts of the movie. There are black specks and scratches everywhere and very heavy grain.
They can remove black spots and scratches, but you can't remove grain without removing detail from the image which will make it all waxy and DNR'd. Lowry, IMO, is very hit and miss - they often miss some fairly major film damage for some reason. Their grain management and reduction processes also leave a lot to be desired. Everyone raves about the blu ray transfer of Goldfinger, for example. And while it is astonishingly good in places, in others something truly disastrous has happened to the grain structure. Look at the sequence where Bond plays golf with Goldfinger - there are strange halos of grain around objects, like a golfball on the grass, where it looks like the grain surrounding the object is flowing in a totally different way to the grain in the rest of the image. So any form of tampering with grain, IMO, is a very risky thing to do. Its better to clean up specks and scratches but they shouldn't go near the grain IMO.
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Old 01-22-2013, 03:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Sim_Mat View Post
They can remove black spots and scratches, but you can't remove grain without removing detail from the image which will make it all waxy and DNR'd. Lowry, IMO, is very hit and miss - they often miss some fairly major film damage for some reason. Their grain management and reduction processes also leave a lot to be desired. Everyone raves about the blu ray transfer of Goldfinger, for example. And while it is astonishingly good in places, in others something truly disastrous has happened to the grain structure. Look at the sequence where Bond plays golf with Goldfinger - there are strange halos of grain around objects, like a golfball on the grass, where it looks like the grain surrounding the object is flowing in a totally different way to the grain in the rest of the image. So any form of tampering with grain, IMO, is a very risky thing to do. Its better to clean up specks and scratches but they shouldn't go near the grain IMO.
I agree, if a complete reconstruction of these optical effects is off the table, I would prefer they didn't mess with the grain either, as long as the print is as clean and the black specks and scratches have been removed, I can live with that. It is unfortunate that the increase in image resolution over the years is highlighting the limitations of the special effects technology of the 80's, but I still believe they showed a far greater level of creativity and ingenuity with what they had available than special effects artists today.
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