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[proposal] Hitchcock: Restorations of Universal BDs
#1
As I did on originaltrilogy.com, I thought I'd propose a preservation project for some classic Hitchcock movies, which are considered among the best of all time. The BDs released by Universal in their Masterpiece set and subsequently stand-alone were nice but occasionally imperfect.

  1. Vertigo (1958), while good looking, pales in comparison to a vintage IB print. I would propose timing the BD master, which has a healthy amount of detail from a 4K scan, to the look of an IB print. Scenes that are in particularly need of retiming are the final bell tower scenes and some of the night scenes. In general, the Blu lacks color and contrast. To this end, I can provide references from a 1958 dye-transfer print for a BD-based project.

  2. Rear Window (1954) is also flawed. For their BD release, Universal chose to forego the wonderful 2000 Harris/Katz restoration. As a result, the BD's colors are somewhat weaker. A preservation project of this would be based on the 1080i HDTV-TS file that was floating around a few years ago. Based off a scan of the 2000 restoration, it should be quite presentable without much tweaking.

  3. Frenzy (1972) was DNR'ed to death. Like Rear Window, a preservation of this would be based on the 1080i HDTV-TS file that was floating around a few years ago. Despite being a dated master and 25 fps, it doesn't have the grain reduction of the BD. I've been trying to get it off of RuTracker but am stuck at 37.59%.

  4. The Man who Knew Too Much (1956) has garnered a decent amount of controversy, particularly from Robert Harris, who, due to budget issues, never got an appropriate crack at this title. The BD stems from a badly faded film element; as a result, the color flickers, clearly unstable. Interestingly enough, though, the first DVD release uses a different master, presumably a film print struck when the "Lost Hitchcocks" were reissued in the 1980s. It's quite an old/rough transfer, but the color seems consistent, no doubt because the (badly stored?) elements further deteriorated over the last thirty years.

    In lieu of the official restoration, which Harris demands must happen, an ideal fan preservation could use the chroma (color) of the old DVD and the luma of the BD master, which has sufficient detail. Please excuse me my technical ignorance, but I believe this is the technology made famous with projects, such as Andrea's The Thing and Halloween. Officially, it's also been used to restore some Doctor Who episodes. Were it to work, such a project would preserve the film in high quality if all else fails.


To my knowledge, short of finding 35mm prints and scanning them (WHICH WOULD BE WONDERFUL Smile ), there's nothing really to do with Saboteur, Shadow of a Doubt, Rope, The Trouble with Harry, Psycho, The Birds, Marnie, Turn Curtain, Topaz, and Family Plot. This is unfortunate, considering how questionable the last four titles look.

Thanks for reading! I sincerely hope someone with the right technical know-how will pick up this project.
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#2
Speaking of finding Hitchcock, it looks like there's a lovely 16mm IB print of To Catch a Thief on eBay:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/16mm-Alfred-Hitc...1833833058
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#3
This one should be officially done by Universal, but as usual they do not care and think half assing it is always okay.

All of the films really aren't where they should be. The least messed with such as Saboteur are fine but are presumably based on old scans. Family Plot is one of the worst BDs from a major studio, the DNR usage on others is stupid and awful, the old scans are really showing their age, and the spififng up on Psycho, Vertigo, Rear Window really isn't good-it merely polishes what is in today's world a turd.

I hope to see a print of RW next month locally-if Uni sends one-and it is very likely to be to Harris-Katz 2000 restoration on IB. I'm starting to think the old 2000 DVD was also based on it as it has different color which I prefer to the 2005 DVD and BD.

TMWKTM is only watchable on the initial DVD. The new master is atrocious, blown out, undetailed and generally bad. This and Goldeneye UE were the first DVDs I wrote the studios about as a teenager because they were so incorrect.

I think today as you said the only way to go is print scans. That is the only way one would be able to get a better source. I've seen several in the recent past and they all were FAR superior or a definite improvement over their BD counterparts-even less tinkered ones like Rope. But even those may not be correct as they were struck likely sometime in the 90's.
These all need and deserve full 4K remasters from the best available materials with original audio...but Hitch isn't a household name is it? Wink
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#4
For a long time I have been hoping to regrade NbNW to the Criterion and MGM LDs both of which look very similar to each other and not like the WB's DVD or BD. The Criterion is clearly from a print (damage and change overs) and seems to match pictures I have seen of an IB tech.

Side note: I read the later LPPs used in rep house don't look like the vintage IB techs, take that for what you will.

Worse case scenario it would be nice to have a project with the mono. The 5.1 is just crap. Just compare the truck explosion in the mono vs 5.1.
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#5
That would fit with what I've heard. The prints that went around for years IIRC were stuck sometime in the 80's. The color ideally would be somewhere between the two LDs I think. Something about the BD color pallette has always struck me as wrong.

And oh goodness that 5.1...should be thrown into the path of the cropduster when you hear how well the mono was mixed and balanced.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#6
So it only took me 17 years to finally see the 2000 Harris-Katz RW restoration print. I read all about the restoration when I was 10 years old...and it never came anywhere near in theaters. So all these years I've wondered what the Tech IB prints looked like.

Why in the world can't they scan this at 4K and call it a day? IT'S PERFECT!

Background: This was shown at an art museum without the best space for films, but this aside they bring over the local arthouse facilities manager (a friend of mine) for occasional showings-and thank goodness the staff booker always tries for 35mm. They have great projectors despite the less than stellar auditorium. Imagine a big empty room with a small stage at one end with a section of the wall painted white. Like a high school cheap auditorium of sorts.
So for some time it looked as if the studio was going to back out of sending a print forcing the BD to be used until lo and behold some cans showed up today. (The museum's last movie was Funny Face, and if you know how bad that BD is...imagine it in an art museum because Paramount apparently ships nothing these days.)
The print came up, hard matted with soft frame edges to something like 1.66 but my friend said the manufacture date looked like 2011. So I think to myself maybe they stuck a print of the BD master.
...and then it opened with the correct late 90's Uni logo...and...
It was the 2000 print. Later on he found the IB markers on the heads and tails.

The colors are perfectly realized and not garish like the BD nor slightly paler like the 2005 and 2008 DVDs. I revisited my copies before the show for reference. And now, I stand by my earlier notion that despite the older transfers inadequacies, and like Vertigo, the original DVD seems to retain more of the restored print color balance than the 2005-2008 discs. And the BD is DEAD WRONG and GARISH in comparison.

And the whole film is grainy-but properly and ORGANICALLY so. Not some here and there and not merely video noise peeking through.


Here's the ironic part. While I was waiting to see if the print showed up, I saw RW listed in this year's TCM festival as DCP. My friend mentioned he knew someone who was working the festival and said he could ask what the resolution was.
It's 2K.
So apparently because the booker here did this a year in advance, we got a print instead of the TCM festival.
So maybe 10 year old me got a little over on the officials for the long wait. Wink


Also of note, my friend mentioned the Vertigo DCP that is available is 4K. Sooo who knows what the studio did. After digging into RW closely the BD is unwatchable.

And the 1080 file you found TAF appears to be an hdtv cap of the 2008 legacy DVD master as it looks different to what I saw this evening and nearly identical to caps of the '08 disc. I only have the '05 one but the '08 merely tweaked some things with better compression.


Alas, no cameras are allowed in the building.
We have got to find one of these prints. SERIOUSLY. I never knew the colors, blacks or textures could look that rich.


http://caps-a-holic.com/c.php?d1=2828&d2=2827&c=382

http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/34858/rea...cy-series/

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCompare...window.htm
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#7
Completely agree with your thoughts, captainsolo, though keep in mind that both Harris restorations (Rear Window and Vertigo) were not necessarily true to how original 1954/1958 prints looked.

While we do have a reference to a 1958 IB of Vertigo to confirm the actual look, we don't know about Rear Window, as no IB prints were struck on the initial run. Therefore, while Vertigo can be restored to its actual 1958 glory, Rear Window probably should be restored based on the look of a restoration dye transfer print.

We can use Dr. Dre's ColorMatch tool on the Blu-Ray (best detail) and include Moshrom's great synced DVD track, which is the best source as the LD is riddled with high-generation noise.
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#8
Agreed. The first dye transfer was on the 1962 reissue according to the restoration notes and even then the color was going bad.

The DVDs are far closer to the restoration but seem a bit on the pale side to me whereas the BD master is way too overdone particularly in all the oranges and reds of the bricks and skin tones and especially the sunset. The other thing is how the BD is obviously shorn of grain and the restoration has it everywhere but never overpoweringly so.

Best of all would be if Universal got off their rear and let the team redo the work with today's tools as was done in Spartacus and My Fair Lady..and to truly restore the other 12 titles they hold.

I'm going to dig out my old VHS tape to glance at and reference the old 83 reissue color on the video transfer. I still have a number of these lying around and they seem identical to the mca LD releases.

Are there any recommended copies to look for for preservation purposes? With the scrubbing of audio on the bds now being a concern it makes me start to wonder even about the few that seemed in okay shape. The Universal films seem to be stuck with either using an old untouched lossy DVD track or using VHS or Beta audio.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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#9
For preservation purposes? There aren't really many things to look out for Rear Window. I transferred a bit of Rear Window and the whole of Vertigo from those old pre-restoration MCA LDs for Moshrom, and his judgment was the audio was not worthwhile to preserve, being too high-generation. Like you say, I doubt the VHS is a unique transfer and more likely just a lower-quality version of the LD. I think that for Rear Window, the DVD track is the best right now.

Do you think that Chewtobacca's disc- that aforementioned HDTV cap- is the definitive version of Rear Window then? It's my go-to, but, I'm not sure it would beat a properly color-corrected BD, unless there are grain issues.

FYI, Touch of Evil is the same way: MCA LD is useless... Sad
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#10
I figured as much.
(Is the ToE BD audio bad somehow? There's always the UK release if necessary that used a high generation source and presents multi ratios.)

I was referring to all Hitch releases not just RW across formats. I'm going to try and get a couple of the early DVDs I'm curious about to check out.

Like I said, I think the 1080 disc is an upresed airing of the 2008 DVD. It has moments of seemingly frozen grain (women on the rooftop when Jeff is on the phone with his editor) and then others that look suspiciously clear. I don't know if this is due to television compression or something. I don't have the 08 DVD but that was an update of the 05 disc and seems to match this HD airing perfectly.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader
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