Review transfers not cinematography - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:08 AM
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Default Review transfers not cinematography

I have noticed a tendency by some reviewers to end up reviewing cinematography instead of picture quality.

For example, I vividly remember vicious reviews of Spielberg's "1941" on DVD. Reviewer's lamented the "soft" picture quality of the transfer, when in reality, D.P. William Fraker (A.S.C.) and Spielberg had decided to use lots of filters, lenses and optical effects to create the intended look of the film.

Similarly, Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" was lambasted for a dark, impenetrable transfer on video while those who saw it in the theater understood that it was the intent of Altman and Vilmos Zsigmond (A.S.C.) to deconstruct the bright, clean mythos of the Hollywood Western by intentionally making the film extremely dark. This was not unlike David Fincher's goal in "Seven" or "Se7en" or whatever the hell you want to call that movie that Brad Pitt's ego ruined.

A great example of a movie that was nearly destroyed in transition to video is the boxed set of the "Aliens" director's cut released on Laserdisc. James Cameron personally supervised (and nearly made unwatchable) his sci-fi masterpiece by using an outdated telecine and insisting that his consumer 40" Mitsubishi CRT television was perfectly fine rather than using a professional grade monitor.
The result is a transfer that is grainy, unintentionally bright and poorly balanced.

The video of the "Aliens" transfer was nothing like what movie-goers saw in the theater and that is the most important element here: The reviewers need a frame of reference. They need to have seen a properly focused and presented 35mm version of the film they are reviewing. If "The Bourne Identity" is criticized for "subdued" colors shouldn't it be compared to the 35 mm to see if "subdued" color was the intent of the director of photographer?If a critique of that element is felt necessary shouldn't it be in body of the review of the film and not the review of the video transfer?
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Old 07-25-2007, 12:07 PM
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While I'm sure you may find many who agree with your concerns, I'm not sure this topic belongs in this section, perhaps the Feedback section of the forum is more appropriate.
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Old 07-25-2007, 02:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scubasteve View Post
I have noticed a tendency by some reviewers to end up reviewing cinematography instead of picture quality.

For example, I vividly remember vicious reviews of Spielberg's "1941" on DVD. Reviewer's lamented the "soft" picture quality of the transfer, when in reality, D.P. William Fraker (A.S.C.) and Spielberg had decided to use lots of filters, lenses and optical effects to create the intended look of the film.

Similarly, Altman's "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" was lambasted for a dark, impenetrable transfer on video while those who saw it in the theater understood that it was the intent of Altman and Vilmos Zsigmond (A.S.C.) to deconstruct the bright, clean mythos of the Hollywood Western by intentionally making the film extremely dark. This was not unlike David Fincher's goal in "Seven" or "Se7en" or whatever the hell you want to call that movie that Brad Pitt's ego ruined.

A great example of a movie that was nearly destroyed in transition to video is the boxed set of the "Aliens" director's cut released on Laserdisc. James Cameron personally supervised (and nearly made unwatchable) his sci-fi masterpiece by using an outdated telecine and insisting that his consumer 40" Mitsubishi CRT television was perfectly fine rather than using a professional grade monitor.
The result is a transfer that is grainy, unintentionally bright and poorly balanced.

The video of the "Aliens" transfer was nothing like what movie-goers saw in the theater and that is the most important element here: The reviewers need a frame of reference. They need to have seen a properly focused and presented 35mm version of the film they are reviewing. If "The Bourne Identity" is criticized for "subdued" colors shouldn't it be compared to the 35 mm to see if "subdued" color was the intent of the director of photographer?If a critique of that element is felt necessary shouldn't it be in body of the review of the film and not the review of the video transfer?
I agree SS, and this has been a problem with many of the reviews here, though, I've learned to judge the quality of the AQ and PQ on my own and just use their review as a baseline +/- 1-1.5.
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:19 PM
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I agree. The reviewers on this site come off as "Arm-chair Quarterbacks".

They should stick to the TRANSFER, and not cinematography unless they view the theatrical print (or viewed it).
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Old 07-28-2007, 03:28 PM
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Default 300 review perfectly illustrates my point

The visual concept for the film should be reviewed in the "movie" section not the video quality section.
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Old 07-28-2007, 04:33 PM
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like many others states, take the reviews on this site with a grind of salt, sometimes their close, other times they seem off when the PQ is actually how it was meant to be but for those who dont like to do blind buys, this will give you a guideline.

I myself trust my own taste and have yet to be disappointed.
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Old 07-28-2007, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by illegalprelude View Post
like many others states, take the reviews on this site with a grind of salt, sometimes their close, other times they seem off when the PQ is actually how it was meant to be but for those who dont like to do blind buys, this will give you a guideline.

I myself trust my own taste and have yet to be disappointed.
Here here! Reviews are just guidelines. Thanks illegalprelude. No one seems to "get" this.
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Old 07-28-2007, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Spideybat View Post
Here here! Reviews are just guidelines. Thanks illegalprelude. No one seems to "get" this.

It's not that people don't "get" it, it's just people have varying opinions on how artistic and stylistic film decisions should count in a review. It's not anything but that, and it's shared by many people on both sides of the HD spectrum here.
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Old 07-30-2007, 01:46 AM
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We would need an infinitely long list of studio, director, and producer contact information to verify what is an intention of the cinematography and what is a technical problem. And what happens when a director is dead? How do we balance budget limitations and camera types? Film stock and stylistic enhancements? The lists go on and on and amount to a slippery slope that has no perfect resolution.

I think a lot of people take for granted that a film "is meant to look" a certain way... how do you decipher what is intentional and what is accidental? It gets extremely tough (nigh on impossible). Is overexposure intentional or is it stylistic? What if a director messes up a shot, overexposes everything, and then claims it was intentional to save face? (Yes, these types of things happen quite often in the honest land of Hollywood!)

So, we write a lengthy review detailing exactly what we like and don't like personally. After reading the text as a guide, it's up to each reader to determine if the points we mention would bother them. If a reviewer's criticisms don't bother you, then you know it's a top notch transfer regardless of their opinion. If those are the sort of problems that bug you, then you know where you stand in relation to the likelihood that you'll enjoy a transfer.

In short -- what this would require is an enormous amount of never-ending research and man power that would make releasing timely reviews on every major release a fantasy.

These reviews are guides, not absolute truth. That extends to every review, on every site, and includes every review on every message board ever posted (including AVS Forums which, as great a resource as it is, is packed with differing opinions).

I appreciate those of you who say "that's why I don't take the reviews on this site seriously" or "I always know these reviews are off" -- but keep in mind that this happens with every review site and source. We don't run all of this through a magically precise computer -- therefore, it will always be opinion... no matter how hard some sources try to mask that fact.

Thanks as always for posting -- just keep in mind that there isn't one person out there who could rate any of these HD discs to everyone's satisfaction. Use every review site as a resource and not as an HDBible!
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Old 07-30-2007, 03:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Ken Brown View Post
just keep in mind that there isn't one person out there who could rate any of these HD discs to everyone's satisfaction. Use every review site as a resource and not as an HDBible!
Exactly! This is what I have been trying to tell people. Only a handful of members actually agree. Thanks for telling your side.
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