'Superman: The Movie' 4K UHD Blu-ray... it's official.

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by The Hermit, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident

    I don’t have a problem with the Special Editions in and of themselves. The problem with the original trilogy is not allowing the theatrical versions to exist side-by-side with the Special Editions. If the theatricals and Special Editions existed side-by-side, as is the case with most movies that have been reissued with alterations such as Blade Runner and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, there would be no controversy.
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  2. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    George Lucas' continued excuse was always that the theatrical versions don't exist anymore, and that the original camera negatives were physically altered for the Special Editions... I don't necessarily buy that although I concede the possibility of being wrong, but if they indeed were, that was an act of utter cultural vandalism and nothing less.

    Either way, the interpositives for those films absolutely exist in pristine condition and could be used to create terrific new 2K transfers which, if meticulously remastered with care and precision, could rival any current film on release... that could all be done, dusted, and released by late spring/early summer next year if they so chose, but I guess Disney may be holding out until they own FOX lock, stock, and barrel... and then we'll maybe see the theatrical versions restored and reissued... let's hope so.

    Until then, I'm looking forward to Superman: The Movie on 4K UHD... and hopefully the theatrical version of Superman II in 4K UHD after that... oh yeah!!!
  3. mBen989

    mBen989 Forum Resident

    Scranton, PA
    That's what I've heard as well.

    A few more examples.

    Consider a few shots from Gone with the Wind were matted for widescreen for a 1950s reissue then spliced into the OCN. They remained there until the 50th anniversary.

    Consider the negative for The Godfather was set up for one method of film printing and got mangled to conform to another.

    Consider A Hard Day's Night had its soundtrack processed into Dolby Stereo for a 1982 reissue then all its primary audio elements were junked.
  4. Encuentro

    Encuentro Forum Resident

  5. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

  6. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    Anyone purchased and/or watched this as yet...?

    I've seen some select footage but not the entire film, so just a few thoughts, observations and opinions;

    * The original WB title card is back, baby!!!
    * Man, this is a grainy film... the soft diffused look I expected, but grain the size of canned hams (as @Vidiot would say) I didn't.
    * I expected the overall contrast to be sharper, but it's a little on the soft side, although that might be an unavoidable by-product of the original photography, I'm guessing.
    * Colors are wonderful; vibrant, bright, deep blacks, and best of all, true to the original timing (goodbye teal!!!).
    * The 5.1 soundtrack remastered from the 70mm 6-track original mix is the way to hear this baby... and it's the default option when you hit 'Play'.
    * All of the wires have been digitally erased this time and all the wonky old optical artifacts have been nicely cleaned up.

    All in all, this looks spectacular, better than it's ever looked before, but yet... the graininess and highly-diffused photography have become more pronounced at the higher resolution scan, maybe to a distracting degree for some... if they'd remastered the film in a similar fashion from the O-negs but at good ol' 2K 1080p resolution, it might have balanced things out in a more natural way.

    That's not really a complaint though... glad we now have the definitive CBM in it's definitive version in what is now undoubtedly a definitive presentation.

    I know I say this all the time now, but... Superman II theatrical cut in 4K UHD? Yes please, sir...
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  7. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    St. Louis
    If it looks anything like Close Encounters I am def in.

    Grain removal/reduction is wrong. Grain caries vital information that the human eye resolves frame to frame.

    I just read bluray.com review and I swear it reads the exact same or at least it reads like it was anticipating your response.

    Not saying anything negative at all, but that is my honest observation about the video section (not therest of the 4K review.

    I am convinced on this purchase!
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  8. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Close Encounters was not shot with panty hose over the lens.
  9. Matthew

    Matthew Forum Resident

    Jammin' at Sun
    Oh man I hope not. Close Encounters is too much to the point of distraction.

    When I see this restoration on the big screen in a few weeks, hopefully it's not a fuzzy mess.

    At the least, I hope the grain is consistent throughout the film.

    Grain management is not "wrong."
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  10. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    Grain management is wrong. There is no other way to put it. Close Encounters 4K is amazing on my screen. Glorious, frankly.

    You won't like this release. How grain be consistent when lighting is never the same?
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  11. Kiko1974

    Kiko1974 Forum Resident

    I love how Close Encounters Of The Third Kind looks on UHD BD with HDR, with Superman The Movie I cancelled my preorder after borrowing my neighbour's UHD BD.
  12. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    St. Louis
    "Management" is artificial. Hate it and always will. Each to his own.

    I respect your taste even if I don't agree with it at all.
  13. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    You have a combination of truth and misconception in your message. Most of the original camera negative for Star Wars still exists, but there are a few trims and damaged segments that would have to be slugged in from the IP. I think the technology exists today to restore all the 1970s/1980s Star Wars films to their original theatrical versions... all it would take is a whole lotta time and plenty o' money.

    I have actually held most of the IPs and some of the OCN of Star Wars in my hands, when I worked for Modern Videofilm in the 1980s. I don't agree with you that George Lucas ever said the films couldn't be restored due to damage. The people I worked with at ILM on the 2004 restoration (HD supervisor Fred Meyers, project manager Jen Coranado, producer Rick McCallum, and ILM chief Ken Moriyama) all told me it could be done... but George only was concerned with the 2004 version at that time. Anything else you've heard is total speculation. I'm giving you the real names who were involved with what actually happened -- no fake news here.

    Any film that was cut can be uncut, provided they want to spend the money to disassemble the negatives again. Most likely at this point, they'd just rescan it and do all that work digitally -- there's no need to break apart the negs and redo the hot splices at this point. The material is far too fragile and important anyway to handle that way. IPs can be scanned to 4K just like anything else, but as I've said many times here, I'm not convinced anamorphic films with a lot of diffusion (like this one) really has any resolution above 2K anyway. I think the restoration should be done at 4K DPX or EXR files just so there's no excuses and no criticisms that could be made against the project. But I don't pretend there would be any discernible difference between a 2K image and a 4K image from 40-year-old material. Great source material can look demonstrably sharper.
  14. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Take a look at the Blu-rays of Gone with the Wind and Godfather -- both restored by the staff at Warner's Motion Picture Imaging facility in Burbank -- and tell me how they look. To me, I don't think the films ever looked better. But I think each cost over a million dollars and took a year to digitally restore, using multiple sets of elements, mixing and matching to get the best possible results. Wizard of Oz and Citizen Kane had similar problems: every time they thought the restoration was done, suddenly somebody would come up with a better element and they'd have to start over again. The restoration business is not an easy one.

    There are some interesting explanations as to how and why those Hard Days Night 3-track mag tracks were lost. I know the stories, but I don't think the people involved want them publicized. Let's just say "bad decisions were made." The mono comp track still exists, and I think the current derived stereo & surround tracks were done from that. (There are more recent and more successful films than that where most of the master soundtracks were lost, due to fire, neglect, lawsuits, changes in ownership, vault mishaps, mislabelling, or format disintegration.)

    Warner's did the Superman restoration as well, and I think they did the best they could with what they had. I haven't seen the 4K material yet, though I have the disc and just need to find the time to watch it. A quick scan told me the grain wasn't horrific, but it is very noticeable in some scenes. And I think it's worse than it was from a 1978 print in the theater.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
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  15. budwhite

    budwhite Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

    Götaland, Sverige
    Thanks for the review.
    I think that's a very valid point.
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  16. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    Only a Sith deals in absolutes :p.

    A couple o' thoughts here;

    1) I never, ever said or implied that the cut negatives from Star Wars don't exist anymore... in fact, I went toe-to-toe with another forum member on the SW Blu-ray thread back in May over this very point when said member insisted, against all evidence, that Lucas had destroyed all cut material.

    2) Furthermore, I've never explicitly or implicitly stated that George Lucas said the theatrical version(s) couldn't be restored due to damage... in fact, I've never even heard him say the 'd' word with regards those original versions; it's always been his continued excuse that they no longer existed anymore in intact negative form (which is sadly true), that the revised versions were his preferred and final versions, and that he essentially wished for the day when those revised versions were the only versions in existence.

    3) Aren't you the guy who said you couldn't get 4K from an interpositive? Have you now changed your professional opinion on that one...?

    None of the above is to be argumentative and/or sound confrontational... believe me, that is not my intention, and I greatly respect both your professional experience and your sharing that on this forum, Marc good sir, long may you continue to do so... I just want to be quoted and understood correctly is all.

    Have a groovy weekend :cool:.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  17. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    That's not the way I read your quote, which began "George Lucas' continued excuse was always that the theatrical versions don't exist anymore, and that the original camera negatives were physically altered for the Special Editions..." It's hard to excuse a false quote this egregious, and again, show me where Lucas made this statement. Find a published interview or a link with a date that quotes this directly. I know it wasn't true because I was there. What Lucas did say was something a little different: "Other versions of the movie exist, but the only one I care about is the one we're working on right now." I'm with you that the changes were questionable in terms of judgement and taste, but that's a different problem.

    Naw, never said that. I know people who scan Super 8mm to 4K, which is crazy... but it can be done. You can do anything. I just said it would be better from the O-neg. An IP can look great if it's a really good pin-reg scan. In some cases, the negs have deteriorated to the point where they're so beat to hell, the IP looks tons better. You can draw a comparison to cases where an original album master has been damaged and subjected to shedding and all kinds of damage... but a protection dub happened to be pristine, untouched, and in perfect shape. There's a lot of "it depends" to it.

    An IP is really just a fine-grain contact print struck off the O-neg, often done at slow speed, with really, really good film (and expensive stock, roughly $2 per foot). For technical reasons, the IP has a yellow backing, so it requires some adjustments to get rid of the yellow and pull out accurate whites and a balanced picture... but it can be done. But almost all of the pieces to Star Wars do still survive. I don't have an exact number, but I would bet less than 50 shots no longer exist, and those could be plugged in from IP and corrected to the point where you couldn't tell. If 2000 shots were O-neg and 50 were IP, it wouldn't be the end of the world, especially if they're just a second here and two seconds there.

    But I don't think there's more than 2K of actual detail even in the camera negative of Star Wars, because of all the diffusion used by Gil Taylor. Empire and Jedi are sharper, but again, the sharpness is degraded because of the anamorphic lenses. By 10 years later (1990 and later), I think they actually could routinely have 4K of detail in the camera negative, because Kodak film and industry lenses got better. But 1977... :shake: This goes for thousands of films, but they're still doing 4K restorations just because it's not that much more expensive to do it nowadays. And there are solid commercial reasons to make 4K available for HDR and streaming. And I think that's why Superman was done. I'm glad it was restored because it's an important film, plus it's one of the most profitable films in the history of Warner Bros., so it's got a lot of historical importance.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2018
  18. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    Fair enough, maybe I should have been more specific in my chosen words, your point is both understood and acknowledged... what I meant to say and convey was that Lucas did say - and has done so in numerous interviews - that the original theatrical versions no longer exist as singular, spliced, intact original camera negatives and that it would take too much time and money (this coming from a guy worth approx. $10 billion!!!) to put together again... a task he wasn't particularly interested in anyway, regardless of who would have ultimately footed the bill for it.

    Doesn't excuse or explain why he couldn't have just authorized a new 2K scan and remastering of the interpositives back in 2006 for a DVD release (even a limited one) of the OT theatrical versions... there would have been plenty of qualified people who would have literally jumped at that chance, and ol' Georgie wouldn't have had to do anything at all except sign off on them and collect the royalties afterwards, alas...

    Still, this is a Superman thread not a Star Wars one, so lest I go off tangent any further, we now return you to the original topic, already in progress...
  19. jh901

    jh901 Forum Resident

    For the record, STM looks the only way it can look. It doesn't make sense to cover a camera lens in order to create a diffuse look, but that's what we've got and all we'll ever have. What stinks beyond that is that the original soundtrack mix is only offered in Dolby Digital. The guys who make these decisions in the home video divisions of their respective studios have no shame.

    Anyhow, fortunately there doesn't appear to have been an effort to modernize the image by fake sharpening, contrast boosting, DNR, and other lame tricks that should be banned under penalty of onerous fines. Is the new 4K a "must have"? Well, I'd recommend that those expecting something that can't be to save the money. Hopefully, everyone bought The Matrix 4Ks!!
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  20. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    St. Louis
    The look of Superman in its often hated diffusion look (and me personally, I like it) is still an artistic decision. It is no different from the grainy look in the dream sequence of Sisters, the dropped frame of Midnight Cowby etc...

    What I am trying to understand is this idea that any of these situations translates into less resolution. 2K for a film print is just not correct.

    While I am well aware of 16 mm being used on Sisters, I have debated until my fingers bleed that a film print still is and will always be vast in information and that it takes instrumentation to see its limits...and even then....

    BUT getting back to this and outside of the instrumentation part of the point, what about the fact that a blurred image has just as much information as a sharp image? When did we ever get to the stance (and I am not just blaming anyone here, but rather review after reviewer spreading this myth)?

    Take color, we all know there is no real absolute black. If you take any instrumentation out its edge..you are still going to see some degree of light. It is just physics and there is no way of getting around it. We still don't have to go that far, if we did, we wouldn't see the pages of 4K TV discussions with my black is much blacker than your black. It is like the Spinal Tap commentary. How much blacker can it get? The answer...is none...yeah right. :D

    I digress... the point I am making is yes there is an absolute reason to transfer Superman in 4K, and that includes all its grain to go with it. This is vital to the chemicals that adhered to that grain on the negative over 40 years ago. Any and all digital trickery is a lie. This is not "Sith" absolutes, it is just a fact. While the whole digital transfer is also a lie, many of us would not like to introduce human error to go with it. Btw, I hate flying wires and stuntmen being fixed too! Sorry, had to throw Terminator 2 in there as well.

    While it is true that there is some proclaiming that they didn't see grain in the film print, there is a reason for this. The film print is a different presentation. Getting around the fact that our eyes got just a wee bit tad difference seeing things in a theater, there is more to it. While some say that it is like a photo copy, I say it is a different save state of the photosensitive molecules involved that were all just an approximation of the original physical image. Obviously the more you "photo copy", the more you are going to get away from that film grain of the original negative and give a more blurred look which will draw people's attention away from the film grain that is used on that print! Does this translate into less accurate? While it is often labeled as philosophical, I make the argument that anything that gives the mind something to focus on, besides the film grain, will allow a clearer more pleasing picture.

    The transfer from negative has created a conundrum. On one hand you do get a more accurate image of what is there on first physical touch (light deflection properties..etc), you are also getting just one more representation of the truth. Negative..IP's...even Release Print. Both representations in their own way. Neither has to be "wrong".

    I myself, being a film fan, have been very pleased with IP's as well, and sometimes when done right, they can be quite dazzling, because they have the color timing preserved and the technicians out of there!

    Superman in 4K is going to be grainy if done right and that is a very very GOOD thing. If one adjusts their mind and doesn't focus, you are going to get very very good detail, because your mind will calibrate, and watch the beauty for what it is. It is the same as seeing an old scary movie or action film. If you sit arms folded saying that can't be real or that can't be scary...well it is obviously not going to work. Those that focus on grain, and don't let the detail wash over them...same point.

    I once read where Kubrick stated that Frank Capra had good films, but there were a fantasy. I love Kubrick, but I have to disagree with him entirely and would have loved to debate him on this point. His movies could also be a "fantasy"...but one of his often bleak reality. I think both directors have their own way of getting a very finite message apart. Capra has his surreal It's a Wonderful Life, and Kubrick has his 2001. Both have their merits to be sure, and you could argue both as reality in their sense of the great things that happen all the time (maybe just not in one place like a greatest hits approach that both directors like to splash together) and what they represent. One could say the same thing with this way that people transfer films.

    ...BUT there is one big fat difference. I don't care what the technicians want in all these cases. I care about preserving the original intent and most transfers should be "flat". ORIGINAL Director's notes should be honored and IP's can be a valuable tool. It sounds like that has been done with Superman 4K, and I LOVE IT. This clamoring for technicians to "fix it" by "de-graining" as quoted above, should be banned under penalty. Perhaps instead of fines, they should be made to watch Weird Science or Predator on bluray over and over until they understand that the waxy frickin' mess is just wrong wrong wrong.

    When I think of "flat", I think of Vinegar Syndrome where they for the most part, put it out as is. That is how it is done people.
  21. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    Show me one of these interviews.
  22. I'm almost positive that Disney will scan the original Star Wars Trilogy at 8K resolution. A few landmark films have already been scanned at 8K for posterity. Basically the computer techs believe downconverting from 8K to 4K looks better than scanning at a mere 4K and calling it a day. It's the same reason why films with questionable visible resolution beyond 2K are getting scanned at 4K. The downconversion looks slightly better at 2K.
  23. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Hollywood, USA
    To me, 8K is a complete waste of time. There is no "there" there. I get acquisition in 8K because you can blow the image up or crop it and still deliver great 8K images. But 8K for the home isn't practical. 90% of most people can't even see good 4K HDR. And there's still a large part of the audience that can't even see good HD. I think there's a lot of "cart before the horse" thinking here.

    The only stuff where you might make an argument that an 8K restoration is warranted would be large-format 65mm spherical negative stuff like My Fair Lady, Lawrence of Arabia, and 2001, stuff like that. Even there, I think it's gonna top out at 6K. Above that, it's all just noise. You could draw a comparison between storing 6 gallons of information in an 8 gallon drum or a 16 gallon drum: it doesn't really give you more water. And it's even stupider if you start with only 2 or 3 gallons.

    Still, I'm glad that a classic like Superman got this much attention, and I'm glad that Ned Price, George Feltenstein and the staff at WB is taking care of these films as best they can.
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  24. genesim

    genesim Forum Resident

    St. Louis
    I don't see any harm in using 8K resolution scan with an analog print because logically speaking the information is absolutely there. 6K for 70 mm is absolutely wrong.

    Arri group have approximated 35 mm at 6k and 70 mm is double that.

    Of course all that isn't exact either, because again we are talking about ANALOG. To put things in such a simplistic terms is completely unrealistic. To say that humans cannot see 4K is equally as unrealistic (and that isn't even touching bit rates).

    There are scientific studies on what the human eye can see, and it is APPROXIMATED to be 12K. It all comes down to focus. Of course what the senses perceives and what the brain interprets are just not as easily quantified.

    I have never ever heard any study whatsoever that said humans can't see HD resolution.
  25. The Hermit

    The Hermit Wavin' that magick glowstick since 1976 Thread Starter

    I believe the 2001 'Special Edition' had a photo-chemical transfer/timing - having been produced between late '99 and early 2000 - rather than a digital scan, and it always looked great to my eyes (the lamentable addition of new footage notwithstanding)... there's still a lot to be said for analogue, even in these pixelated times.

    I'll say this for the 'Special Edition'... it looks much better and more natural than the new 4K UHD remaster, which I like less and less the more of it I see; it's a wildly inconsistent presentation with one shot/scene looking great, whilst another looks like a plague of locusts has invaded the screen with the heavy grain content... plus the new HDR color timing is far too dark in some shots... there's some strange vertical bars on the sunrise shot at the end of the film... and intended look or not, a film with this amount of diffusion in the original photography is simply not 4K material; Geoffrey Unsworth and Dick Donner had no comprehension of high-resolution scans when they made the initial decision on the cinematography of S:TM, they knew full well that there would be loss of detail from camera negative to release print, which would cover up optical effect imperfections, wires, and heavy diffusion/grain... but a hi-res 2160p scan of the camera negative shows absolutely everything up in graphic detail with no place to hide... not all 35mm O-neg sources are created equal when it comes to 4K, it would appear...

    Now I know why the likes of Robert A. Harris and even our own @Vidiot had reservations about this film getting a 4K UHD transfer... turns out they're fears were both well-founded and justified... yeah, the new version has slightly increased clarity thanks to the higher resolution, but with that, comes a picture that at times is unnaturally hazy and grainy in a way that it's DP and director hadn't anticipated back in the late 1970's... seriously, it looks like the negative has been dipped in a vat of vasoline at times, and I know it never looked like that to such a degree before. It isn't what the original camera negative looks like, but rather what looks best... and in that regard, both the 'Special Edition' and theatrical cuts as seen on Blu-ray from 2011 look better to my eyes; they're brighter, more vivid, better overall contrast, more natural looking, and the grain/diffusion is tempered and more agreeable, thanks to both versions being sourced from 2K scans of interpositives... sometimes that slight loss of detail is a blessing rather than a curse!

    My initial thoughts towards the new 4K transfer were really rather positive to begin with once I got a look at some of it... but alas, the excessive haziness exacerbated by the hi-res scan really does this timeless classic no favors whatsoever and does grate after a while... guess I'll hang on to my Anthology Blu-ray set for a while longer then...
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2018
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