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Rear Window: HDTV-sourced custom BD (Harris Restoration)

8 Replies, 5610 Views

This custom BD of Rear Window is likely to have a rather limited audience.  It is sourced from an HDTV broadcast of the Harris restoration, which was not used on the official BD.

Is the Harris restoration better in some way?  I'm not really the best person to comment because I don't know this film particularly well, though some might prefer the (obviously different) color-timing.  To be honest, I prefer the official BD, but it's important that we try to preserve film history.  

Although the broadcast was not of the highest quality, it's the best that is available.  The custom BD is synchronized to the official one, so people should be able to mux in whatever dub tracks they want.

DTS-HD MA (from the official BD)
various subtitles

The Aluminum Falcon
PM me (preferably on ot.com) if you are interested.

Please do not:

pass on my links;
remux my releases;
re-encode my releases.
(This post was last modified: 2017-04-23, 08:07 PM by Chewtobacca.)
Hey, you are making a lot of projects lately! That's great, for the whole community! Kudos!!!
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
Just like your other two projects, I'd love copy of this too, Chew. Especially as a big Hitchcock and Jimmy Stewart fan. spoRv is right you are on fire.
(This post was last modified: 2015-08-01, 09:20 PM by PDB.)
Thanks, guys.  Unfortunately, it's a consequence of no longer having a job and going through a spell of ill health, but I might as well make myself useful. Smile
Looks like I'll be needing to purchase another hard drive.... Thanks for all your efforts! Happy
Thanks once again for a fine disc, Chewtobacca!

For anyone curious about the Harris restoration, here are some links describing the effort they went through to restore Rear Window:




In short, like with Vertigo, The Man who Knew Too Much 1956, and a few other Hitchcock films, the rights for Rear Window reverted to Hitchcock in 1967. From 1967 to 1983, he had them stored in poor conditions for film  with no air-conditioning and no heat. This obviously resulted in quite a bit of degradation of the surviving elements. Consequently, most of the films needed restoration.

The specific restoration for Rear Window was complicated by the fact that no dye-transfer prints were made in 1954, from which to reference the colors.  That being said, I think Harris did a rather nice job with the colors- far better than he did with Vertigo. He also ensured that scenes had proper density, without inconsistent black levels. The modern dye-transfer prints struck off of the restoration look absolutely beautiful on the big screen. The HDTV broadcast that Chewtobacca has preserved is based on the latest transfer of the Harris restoration- a mid-2000s-era transfer done by Lowry. Thankfully, even if grain isn't as finely resolved as on the official BD, detail is actually about the same, and there is none of Lowry's signature "frozen grain." From someone who has seen the Harris's version in 35mm, the transfer is a pretty faithful representation.

For better or worse, the Blu-Ray bypasses Harris's restoration entirely, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, colors are slightly inconsistent, and color banding has been observed in some scenes, where it wouldn't have been has the Harris restoration been used. Like, ALL of the Hitchcock BDs on Universal's set, it looks nice... but it could have been better.

To conclude, here's restorationist Robert Harris's own thoughts about the BD from his "A few words" column. To those of you (like me) that think he is typically too easy on Blu-Rays, here he honestly points out all the flaws of the BD:

Robert Harris Wrote:After sampling a number of sequences for Rear Window, I'm of the opinion that it could have been better. Even using the dupe negative that we prepared in 2000, would have gotten things to where they are in most cases, with less expense. The work done here seems like a bit of a waste of digital energy. Or alternatively, recreating what we had done in the analogue world, but now digitally, would have yielded a far more highly resolved image in the dupe sections.

There are things that disturb me with this project. We worked very hard to make Grace Kelly's initial appearance in the film to work properly from faded elements. Our final negative could have been used, but it appears that something else has been done. And it's left tracks. Look at the background of the sequence in question, and horizontal banding is all too obvious. It shouldn't be there. Is this a problem of bits? I'm not certain.

Grain reduction has massaged the opening credits, leaving some odd digital artifacts in the background. Flesh tones, which have always been a problem, should have been better, along with the tracking of the color of Mr. Stewart's pajamas, which on this Blu-ray is done well.

Bottom line is that for the casual viewer, this may be a beautiful presentation, but my eye is probably the wrong one to be viewing it. I could have been far happier if things had been performed differently -- and better. Again, and to be fair, I believe that most people will love the look of Rear Window on Blu-ray.

One very interesting technical point. Those of you familiar with early 1950s Eastman Color productions, will be all too aware of cut-in printer functions. You'll notice that these look beautiful, as though the dupes are perfectly hidden. In this case, they aren't. All of what would have been printer functions, in this case, the fade in and outs, were all shot as original in camera.
Thank you very much for explaining all of that, The Aluminum Falcon, and for your counsel about the end credits. I think that including the Harris-restoration credits as a separate file within the download is a reasonable compromise between not disrupting the flow of the ending and acknowledging the work of the restoration team.
That's a great write up Falcon. Thanks for that.

Regardless of which is more "right". Its nice to now have the choice of both version to watch.
Wow! Excellent news! I too am very interested in this as I've never been a fan of what they started doing to the color even on the DVDs.
Damn Fool Idealistic Crusader

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