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Stellar quality DVDs

2620 Views 7 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Richard W. Haines
I should join the big picture world very soon :bigsmile: but I am still old fashioned with SD DVD material. I have been informed that PQ will not be that good with less than stellar SD DVD movies.

Let's make a list:

- All Pixar movies

What else?:bigsmile:
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DVD can never be as good as HD-DVD or BD. But some video chips do a wonderful job at upconverting SD DVD into 1080p. Of course, a high quality DVD will give you a better 1080p picture than a ****** DVD.

Do you really want to make a list of all the stellar DVD movies? That could be a loooong one ... :)
Just to name a few:
5th Element
Panic room
Spiderman 1

Any Superbit mastered DVD.
Superbit dvds tend to be a little better than average dvds, as tonyvdb said.......... :)
There are quite a few out there too.
Disney's "Jungle Book" Plantinum Edition. It almost looked like an HD DVD although animation has
the advantage of a solid exposure without variations (like all features) so once the contrast,
color and brightness is set on a Standard DVD, it will look consistently sharp, vibrant and

For non-technical people, animation is always shot at one exposure so the entire movie will
look as good as the first shot. Feature films are shot at a variety of exposures (i.e. f. 22
in sunlight, f. 5.6 indoors) and each exposure setting and lighting condition will generate
a different depth of field and levels of apparent sharpness and grain structure. For example,
an exterior shot on a sunny day will generate a very sharp depth of field and the appearance
of no grain. However, a scene shot indoors even with a lot of light at f. 5.6 will show some
difference or nuances of grain from the light parts of the frame to the areas of the frame
that have less light (and show more grain but are not necessarily 'grainy'). That's where
HD transfers will enhance the image. A standard DVD replicates film grain differently than
a HD transfer. Of course all of this is rather complex and dependent on the original photography
and era the movie was made in. In general, pre-1968 movies utilized a great deal of light
(studio lighting) because the emulsions were slow back then (ASA 50 in the fifites and ASA 100
in the sixties) which was necessary just to generate an image. The more light you have, the
greater the depth of field, sharpness and grain structure. High key lighting generates a sharper
image on video than low key lighting with a low depth of field (i.e. "The Godfather" filmed at
f. 2 or wide open lenses with very little light).

The introduction of high speed stock in the seventies and later T-Grain stock with an enormous
latitude for exposure (200 speed Vision stock had a four point leeway) allowed cinematographers
to use less light to get a 5.6 indoor exposure. However, less light does affect the overall sharpness
and resolution of the final image which is why pre-1968 films (with the slower ASA but a great
deal of studio lighting) often look better than contemporary films on both standard DVD and HD
DVD. For the 'perfect' video image, the cinematographers should utilize classic studio high key
lighting with the current 200 speed stock. That would generate the sharpest and finest grain
image possible but most cut corners instead. You can under or over expose 200 speed Vision
Stock by four f. stops and still have an 'image' which is what many do. It won't be the optimum
image but it will save a lot of time and money by reducing the amount of lighting during principal photography.

This is why many sixties movies look better on standard DVD than current films.
For example, the Connery Bond films as photographed by Ted Moore all look
superior to most current movies in their latest releases because of the lighting
design and high f. stops with slow speed film stock. The more light you use,
the finer grain the image. Old timers like Freddie Young ("Lawrence of Arabia")
used to refere to it as 'painting with light' on film.
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The TV show "Lost" looks very good.

As always, very informative and interesting. Thank you!


Hopefully some of you will start to notice how important lighting design and it's relationship
to depth of field (sharpness) is when you watch a movie in both standard DVD and high definition.
Regardless of whether it was shot with a slow ASA stock in the fifties or the high lattitude stock
of today, the more light you have on set or on location, the sharper and finer grain the image
will look on video. Films shot with little light at low f. stops (i.e. "The Godfather", "Butch Cassidy")
don't transfer to digital easily.
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