Monday, January 23, 2023

"M*A*S*H" Tidbits


File this under things "only Todd" thinks about.

I was thinking about "M*A*S*H" s08e11, the 'real time' episode with the ever-present clock in the lower right corner of the screen. When comparing my DVDs (which are faithful representations of what was aired on CBS) and the Hulu HD remastered versions of the episodes, I noticed a few things.

As created in 1979, the clock in the episode must have been a video effect (as opposed to a film optical) placed over the conformed film edit. For the HD remaster, which features per-shot reframes, they created a new burn-in of the clock.

left: HD remaster on Hulu, right: the original way it was seen on CBS

I'll do you one more. s07e04 was a "clip" show. As aired, Fox clearly cut together video segments of a bad CBS telecine which included the stupid laugh track. For the HD remaster, they actually RE-CUT the clips from the previously remastered episodes. Bravo, Fox!

In addition, as aired, the black and white sections and the titles were clearly video effects. The Fox HD remastered version properly pillarboxes the black and white material, but didn't reconstruct the video composite using the camera negative. They would have had to create new titles, as well. So I understand the decision.

left: HD remaster on Hulu, right: the original way it was seen on CBS

left: HD remaster on Hulu, right: the original way it was seen on CBS


Saturday, January 21, 2023

"Heat" Alternate Edit of the Coffee Shop Scene

view on YouTube

Fellow "Heat" (1995) fans - I just found an amazing Easter Egg on the Blu-ray. It's an early edit of the infamous Pacino/De Niro coffee shop scene, created early in the film's production when director Michael Mann wanted the scene to be shorter and have a lot less dialogue. It's much moodier and more threatening than the final version, if you ask me.

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Success is Proof of Failure

The tweet you see above is an absolutely perfect example of how the success of plausibility and believability of modern digital effects is used by bozos as evidence that "CGI sucks".

Because the suit in the "Iron Man" (2008) shot they're referring to is computer graphics, not a physical suit.

Another beautiful, chef's kiss example:

"Nope" was shot on film—the day-for-night material was shot on film AND digital infrared simultaneously, which were combined in the digital intermediate and every single sky in the movie [except one] was computer graphics/digital paintings.

Friday, January 13, 2023

TV Shows in High Definition

"Columbo" s02e04, in HD as it appears on Peacock

Important context for the discussion of "how easy is it to remaster an old TV show in HD?"

Old TV shows that were shot on film, edited and conformed on film:

  • Knight Rider
  • Columbo
  • Murder, She Wrote
  • M*A*S*H
  • The Love Boat
  • V

Old TV shows that were shot on film, edited and conformed on video:

  • Frasier
  • Scrubs
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
  • Friends
  • Seinfeld

Shows shot on film & edited and conformed on film -- the path to an HD restoration is straightforward. A scan of the already edited and conformed negative. Yes, color balancing and fixes are required.

"Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" s01e09, in standard definition as it appears on Paramount+

Shows shot on film but edited and conformed on video -- the path to an HD restoration is much more difficult. All filmed material needs to be scanned and that means hunting through original camera negatives. Then the whole show has to be reedited. MUCH MUCH MUCH more complicated.

Another complication for shows "shot on film but edited and conformed on video" - visual effects. The visual effects were finished at VIDEO RESOLUTION, while the rest of the live-action for the show was captured on film. The choices at this point are:

  •  upscale the video resolution visual effects (720x480) to HD (1440x1080)
  •  redo the visual effects from scratch at HD

The former is cheap and is generally unacceptable. The latter is very expensive and time consuming but looks much better.

This is why shows like "The Love Boat" made for a relatively easy HD transition, and shows like "Star Trek: The Next Generation" took years and millions of dollars to go to HD, and why we may never see "Scrubs" and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" in HD.

original Mastodon thread:

Saturday, January 07, 2023

"Captain Phillips" on HBO Max Has Broken Subtitles

Looks like the on-screen subtitles of Somali dialogue in “Captain Phillips” (2013) are broken on HBO Max in the U.S. Scenes in Somalia feature no on-screen subtitles (even when English CC is ON), unlike the English Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film which show the lines of dialogue in English.

Most likely, this is similar to the "Schindler's List" issue on Peacock (which has since been fixed!). The issue: two versions of the English-language-native movie are made available to the streaming service, a textless version for international use, and a version with English subtitles where appropriate burned into the movie (as was seen in English movie theaters upon initial release).

The textless version of the movie is used for streatming in non-English localities and the local language is subtitled with on-the-fly on screen graphics. The problem might be that HBO Max is serving the textless version of the film for English localities, like the United States.

view on YouTube

Originally pointed out by @FifthCrichton 

update Jan 8 2023: HBO Max has replicated the issue and has opened a ticket for it to be fixed.

Original tweet:

update Mar 24 2023: HBO Max has fixed the problem!

Friday, January 06, 2023

New Rule: No New 4K Releases Until...

New rule (if I was in charge): a movie studio can’t release any 4K titles of their already-in-HD movies from their catalog until every single film they own the rights to has a solid HD release.

This is self-explanatory.

Original Mastodon post: 

"Why does OLD MOVIE's visual effects still hold up?"

"Why does OLD MOVIE's visual effects still hold up?"

  • shot design
  • planning and organization
  • taste
  • sticking to a plan
  • appropriate timeline
  • small volume of work
  • appropriate budget

These principles are timeless.

If you think a visual effects shot looks like crap, the people involved with the movie can point to one or more of these bullet points to indicate the reason.

Please note how none of these bullet points are about technique because making good art is technique-agnostic.

Original tweet:

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

"Schindler's List" on Peacock Missing End Titles

There's a bit of a problem with "Schindler's List" (1993) as it appears on the Peacock streaming service in the United States. As of January 4, 2022, the end titles are missing from the film that describe the real-life events that happen after the end of the film. This is a bit of a problem because the viewer is missing vital information that was intended to be given, and leads to off-putting shots of 'nothing'. On Peacock, Goeth's execution shot (not featured in the comparison below) is particularly awkward since the shot ends with a ten-second long freeze frame of his body hanging from a noose, with no titles.

Look at the video below to see a comparison.

view on YouTube

This seems to be a localization issue - a textless version of the film is frequently created so that the on-screen titles can be presented in different languages instead of subtitles OVER the native language of the film (English). In this case, the textless version of the film might have been given to Peacock by Universal with the intention of the titles appearing as rendered-on-the-fly subtitle overlays in each user's local language.

I have sent this movie to @Peacock and @PeacockTVCare on Twitter. There's no "submit a problem"-type page on the Peacock web site that I've been able to find.

update: 3:06pm 2023-01-04 - Peacock fixed it! Screenshots from Peacock below: