"The Wizard of Oz" Blu-Ray Review - Page 3 - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #21 of 21 Old 11-15-09, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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Richard W. Haines
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
Posts: 792
Re: "The Wizard of Oz" Blu-Ray Review

I'm sure you are aware of all that but I'm filling in others who are reading this so they know
what we are talking about and it doesn't seem like a private conversation.

The 1:37 Metrocolor prints of "Gone with the Wind" were made for revival theaters or special
event screenings in the seventies and eighties. The official Metrocolor theatrical re-issues were masked off to 1:85 after 1967 and 2.21 x 1 for 70mm Roadshow prints. Even the 1:37 prints contained those 1:66 masked off shots from the 1954 and 1961 Technicolor re-issues. The
1954 IB prints were in either four track magnetic stereo or in Perspecta optical sound.

I can't account for platters in Bangkok but in the US many of the multiplexes and megaplexes
didn't have professional projectionists in the booth. Just unskilled 'operators' so the platters were set up incorrectly and the prints became worn very quickly after about a week. The system itself
is not topnotch since platters are not enclosed in magazines but in the open which means dust will
accumulate on the plate during it's run. As a film collector I noticed more wear on plattered
prints (platter scratches that looked like cat claws) than on those that were shown in the
"A" theaters in the reel to reel system. One advantage of the reel to reel method is that
the leaders don't have to be removed. In plattered films frames are lost when they are removed
as they travel from theater to theater (A run, sub-run and clearance). And where the film is
spliced together on the MUT, there is accumulated dust and dirt. If they had devised a platter
system that was enclosed it might've been a better format but they were not designed to improve
presentation but to reduce labor costs. As I noted in my book, it's not a good idea to automate
showmanship. It's always best to have the projectionist available in the booth for the entire
show for trouble shooting and monitoring the performance. A single operator running 10
projectors will cause all kinds of problems in the long run. If the print is framed incorrectly
or the sound needs adjustment you have to go looking for the operator.

Regarding imbibition, since the dyes are transferred from the first generation matrix to the blank
stock there is not another generation loss. It's a first generation release copy which is the
optimum screening print for an analog format like film. Dye transfer is a mechanical process not photo-chemical once the matrix is made so a generation isn't added like it would be in the later Eastmancolor system of IP/IN.

Regarding "Snow White" digital clean up, I have no objection to removing artifacts on the image
or sound that were not designed to be there. I'm sure Disney would've approved getting rid
of the accumulated dust on the multi-plane camera if he had the technology to do it at the
time. All camera negatives before 1968 (they year they started to mass produce release
copies from intermediates rather than the EK) will have some amount of wear from their
release run. There's only so much you can remove with wet gate printing so scanning in the
camera negative at 4K or 8K, doing some dust busting and then out-putting a new 35mm
internegative for the future is an excellent way of restoring the films. I'm also in favor of
removing track damage (hiss from magnetic deterioration) since that was also not intended.
They started mixing on 35mm magnetic fullcoats circa 1952 and they will all have deterioration problems.

In terms of re-mixing old movies to 5.1, I tend to prefer the new audio but I do like it when
they include the original mono track as an option too so you have a choice.

I'm not in favor of watching any new film from an intermediate be it digital or IN. I'm only
interested in seeing EK prints at film festivals or in the few theaters that still play them.
However for classics, it's pretty much a given that they need to
be restored digitally and the 4K out put negatives I've seen are quite good and far superior
to the early 2K DI. I haven't seen a negative and then
print derived from a 8K intermediate ("Wizard of Oz" or "North by Northwest") so I'll reserve
my judgment until I screen one.

A 35mm IB print shown on a 40 foot screen will of course look better than any Blu-Ray projected
on a DLP that large but for home theater screens (10 foot wide), there is not that much of a
resolution difference. As spectacular as the IB color is, it's rare to find a mint 35mm print of anything and the Blu-Ray will not have any scratches or wear on it. The sound of a Blu-Ray will
be better than the older optical track mono of most IBs. Four track mag prints sounded good but
most are deteriorated by now and the oxide flakes off in the Penthouse when you screen them.

Regarding classics, 2K is pretty much obsolete now and they are out-putting DI's from 4K transfers (i.e. "The Sand Pebbles"). Some studios are even going back and replacing the earlier transfers.
"The Wizard of Oz" was originally restored via a 4K transfer but it was re-scanned and restored at
8K. I'm sure they out-putted a new DI from the 8K to replace the older 4K. That's the advantage
of shooting on film (as I do on all of my features). You have a 'hard copy' to transfer to whatever
format they develop in the future and are not stuck with the current pixel count as a film-maker
would be if they shot their feature digitally.

All pre-1968 Eastmancolor negatives are damaged because they struck the release copies directly
off of them from 1952-1968. From 1968-1982 they used intermediate elements for their release (CRIs and later INs) run but still made some EK Showprints or 70mm blow up prints for select theaters. Of course there is the fading issue during these years and it's easier to restore the color digitally than it is photo chemically. The only negatives that would be in mint shape (no wear or color fading) would be those shot on low fade Eastmancolor stock after 1983. Otherwise, the pre-1982 Eastmancolor negatives will require restoration (color fading and/or wear). Even films that were restored photo-chemically like "My Fair Lady" could use a further digital clean up of some damage that they couldn't correct with the technology of the time.
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