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Looking for the "right" Alien³ color grading...
#1
After I have found that the LD has a different color grading than BD/DVD/HDTV, and that its master used *may* be a silver retention processed print, I thought to give a try also to Alien³ laserdisc...

First, we know that DVD and BD have the same color grading; here I compared the LD just to my PAL DVD only because I can play it on the fly, but of course the following should apply to BD as well, so I'll refer to BD from now.

I have two Alien³ laserdiscs, one NTSC US, that is the only one ever released there (so, no THX or DTS or AC3, even if there is a Japanese THX and AC3, and a French THX one) and the other is the PAL UK. They have similar color grading, but not exactly the same; usually I think that a US (or JP) laserdisc is the way to go for a US film, but this time the US LD is not that good, it is cropped on bottom and right in comparison with the PAL LD, so *probably* the color grading is wrong as well; then, for this movie, I'll take the PAL LD as color reference here.

To me, it seems like the Alien Resurrection "affaire": the LD has more golden skin tones and richer colors, while the BD has natural skin tones but duller colors in some shots; there is not a single variation for the whole film - for example, is not the case where one is colder and the other warmer, or one leans towards magenta while the other towards blue and so on... there are instances where the LD is more magenta, while sometimes the contrary happens; the only things that seems costant is the skin colors, which are more natural and paler on the BD, and often the green/blue is a lot more saturated on LD.

Again, a quick'n'dirt comparison, so this could change after the proper comparison will be ready; I should prepare it to show you the differences, but I'm lazy and it's late, so that's all for now (not representative of the whole difference, but it gives you an idea) - top LD, bottom DVD:

[Image: A3_test_comparison2.jpg]
[Image: A3_test_comparison.jpg]

Can't say the LD has the "right" color grading; I have seen many comparisons between LD and DVD or BD and almost all the time there are just slight difference, color wise, due mainly to color spaces, luma levels and saturation settings, once they are adjusted the color grading is, more or less, the same; but sometimes it differ greatly, and could not be matched adjusting the various setting; in these cases, most often the older master have the "right" grading, thanks also to the fact they usually use a release print to make the master, hence retaining the theatrical colors, while nowadays the norm is to scan the negative and, because it has no color grading, they are forced to make it digitally, with the result that it could not be the same of a release print scan; without talking about the teal&orange trend, and the fact that it seems impossible for the studio to release a new version of an older title without "refreshing" its color, to be more "modern"...
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#2
(2017-02-04, 06:20 AM)spoRv Wrote: I have two Alien³ laserdiscs, one NTSC US, that is the only one ever released there (so, no THX or DTS or AC3, even if there is a Japanese THX and AC3, and a French THX one) and the other is the PAL UK.

Alien 3 was released in 1992, DTS wasn't released until 1993 (Jurassic Park was the first movie with a DTS soundtrack according to Wikipedia). Batman Returns was (according to Wikipedia) the first movie to use Dolby Digital, and this photo doesn't appear to have DD, thus I don't think Alien 3 had digital audio - just matrixed Dolby Surround.

Quote:They have similar color grading, but not exactly the same; usually I think that a US (or JP) laserdisc is the way to go for a US film, but this time the US LD is not that good, it is cropped on bottom and right in comparison with the PAL LD, so *probably* the color grading is wrong as well; then, for this movie, I'll take the PAL LD as color reference here.

Some the Assembly Cut scenes have different grading to the Theatrical. Look at the scene immediately following Clemen's death for example.

Quote:in these cases, most often the older master have the "right" grading, thanks also to the fact they usually use a release print to make the master

Why would they use a release print to make a master? Also, the telecine operator did the grading usually on the fly, which means it should be less authentic than a modern scan if your goal is to be authentic to the look of the release print.

Quote:while nowadays the norm is to scan the negative

I'm not an expert, but I thought the norm was always to use negative or positive film rather than release prints whenever possible? They're certainly easier to scan because the dynamic range is much easier to extract:

[Image: Nlq8SZP.jpg]

Quote:and the fact that it seems impossible for the studio to release a new version of an older title without "refreshing" its color, to be more "modern"...

I agree the bluray is likely not "fully authentic".
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#3
(2017-02-04, 09:06 AM)Valeyard Wrote: Alien 3 was released in 1992, DTS wasn't released until 1993 (Jurassic Park was the first movie with a DTS soundtrack according to Wikipedia). Batman Returns was (according to Wikipedia) the first movie to use Dolby Digital, and this photo doesn't appear to have DD, thus I don't think Alien 3 had digital audio - just matrixed Dolby Surround.

Thanks for the history lesson! Tongue but, as I'm collecting laserdisc since 1996, having 3300+ titles, and studying the topic since the beginning, I'm aware of that... just for information, there was an announcement of Alien 3 DTS LD, but it was never produced: http://www.lddb.com/laserdisc/09391/0559384/Alien-3 - and the only US LD has indeed the PCM tracks as well.

(2017-02-04, 09:06 AM)Valeyard Wrote: Some the Assembly Cut scenes have different grading to the Theatrical. Look at the scene immediately following Clemen's death for example.

That's an interesting findings... I'd take a look at it, even if, without a direct comparison, it would be a guess work to understand if the PAL LD has a similar grading.


(2017-02-04, 09:06 AM)Valeyard Wrote: Why would they use a release print to make a master? Also, the telecine operator did the grading usually on the fly, which means it should be less authentic than a modern scan if your goal is to be authentic to the look of the release print.

Haven't you noted that sometimes there is "cigarette burns" (reel change marks) even on VHS, LD or DVD? (still to know if any BD has it, though) That's an evidence of a master using release print, do you agree? Why would they do that? Frankly, I don't know... scanning cost? Don't think so... the only/best existing print? It happened few times with Criterion IIRC. But experts would be more precise.

(2017-02-04, 09:06 AM)Valeyard Wrote: I agree the bluray is likely not "fully authentic".

At least, something that we agree to agree! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin
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#4
Alien 3 is pretty consistent over all the video. I also did a comparison with the LD for my workprint project. If you compare it to 35mm trailers I have its pretty close too. The only source that is a bit difference are the worprint tapes that are most likely inaccurate but still look neat.

One thing the BD does need is a reduction in pink/magenta that the LD doesn't have. Much like AR that's most likely caused by the telecine or color corrections of the day. Late 90s and 2000s transfer tend to have that. A3 also need more blue in the highlights for the rumor control, autopsy scenes, etc.

In the end A3 and AR are old transfers and could use a polish

Affair is a little much don't you think?
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#5
As I wrote, NTSC and PAL are a bit different, so at the end BD(DVD)<>NTSC LD<>PAL LD
Again, can't say PAL LD has the "right" grading, but it seems nicer than the BD(DVD)...

Magenta... thing... do you like "Pink tint"? It sounds good! Big Grin We have to find out a name for this, it is encountered more and more, in particular now that we know what is it, and how to spot it.

Well, maybe you do Alien 1 & 2, and I do 3 & 4... a complete FanRes Alien saga!!! Ok
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#6
PAL LD captured. I'll compare it later.

Two things:
  • in the laserdisc, during the opening credits, the name of Charles Dance appears before Charles S. Dutton, the contrary in the DVD (and I presume on BD as well) EDIT: confirmed!
  • at the end of the disc, there are three trailers for Alien, Aliens, Alien 3; the latter has the scene of Clemens walking on the beach, bringing Ripley inside, entering with her; all these scenes are present only in the special edition, so finally I can say I'm not definitely mad (not completely) when I thought I had seen those scenes before... Big Grin
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#7
(2017-02-04, 04:46 PM)spoRv Wrote: Thanks for the history lesson! Tongue but, as I'm collecting laserdisc since 1996, having 3300+ titles, and studying the topic since the beginning, I'm aware of that... just for information, there was an announcement of Alien 3 DTS LD, but it was never produced: http://www.lddb.com/laserdisc/09391/0559384/Alien-3 - and the only US LD has indeed the PCM tracks as well.

That's interesting!

(2017-02-04, 04:46 PM)spoRv Wrote: Haven't you noted that sometimes there is "cigarette burns" (reel change marks) even on VHS, LD or DVD? (still to know if any BD has it, though) That's an evidence of a master using release print, do you agree?

No I don't, the cue marks could be in the IP or IN.
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#8
OK, finished to put the LD capture in sync with the BD.

BD misses two frames at the end of a shot; LD misses two frames, one each at the end of two shots (plus one due to capture, as it's in the middle of a shot), plus some at the end of side A and at the beginnning of side B - they are also faded. BD has more image on left side, but less on bottom; few shots on BD are zoomed (like the fourth below); this leads me to think they probably used different masters.

Also, I discovered that my BD (from Alien Anthology box set) was an early release with two audio errors; first, the computer voiceover during the opening credits is in Spanish (while the original Italian track has no voiceovers at all), and about 4 minutes during the bioscanner scene audio is in English... I'm lucky, as usual Big Grin ! About this, even if I'll be able to retrieve the correct DTS 768kbps track, I wonder if the AC3 448kpbs track found on DVD (albeit PAL) could be better; at least, it has no high frequency rolloff...

Back on topic: as written by PDB, the pink tint on BD is there, but less noticeable than AR; at the contrary, sometime there is more pink on LD than BD; but, in general, LD is warmer and BD is colder; skin tones are always "innaturally natural" on BD, often too pale, while LD, even if they seem too golden when watched as screenshots,  work well in motion.

So, which is the "right" color grading? As usual, difficult to say... I watched the Assembly Cut few days ago, and it worked very well - haven't that feeling that the grading is "wrong"; but this evening I watched the raw LD capture (along with the wrong BD Italian track) and it worked well, too... so, none could be defined wrong, consequentially neither right; at this point, it's just a matter of preference.

Last word: I bet that the trailer found at the end of the LD was taken directly from a 35mm film, at least the grain is an hint; apart the fact that is cropped, it has completely different colors; as it includes those scenes found only on the Assembly Cut (that was the Director's Cut at the time, I presume) it could be possible that it was a preliminary trailer, without color timing.

Screenshot comparisons, top LD, bottom BD:

[Image: A3_LD_Vs_BD_005997.jpg]
[Image: A3_LD_Vs_BD_011913.jpg]
[Image: A3_LD_Vs_BD_057602.jpg]
[Image: A3_LD_Vs_BD_068295.jpg]
[Image: A3_LD_Vs_BD_100226.jpg]
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#9
I prefer the LD look of this one.
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#10
I'd have to agree that the LD looks nicerOk
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