Monday, September 03, 2012

DVNR and Cartoons: I'm Just Sayin'...



Because it was relevant to a recent conversation (and because I've had these caps sitting on my desktop, like... forever) I decided I'd show off just how insanely... different, the un-processed "raw" HD scan of The Aristocats was before Disney performed any de-graining processing on it.

Now I get the seemingly sound concept behind why Disney has decided to remove anything resembling grain from their classic cartoons; they've argued, at length, that the original drawings of the animators were what was important, not the analog medium they were captured to, and to that end I suppose they've done an impressive job cleaning up the debris and color inconsistencies from frame to frame on pretty much every transfer they've ever done. Disney was also the first (as far as I know) to implement edge-detecting DVNR, a process which "traces" the outlines and tries to re-create solid colors between frames by, essentially, subtracting a vector traced duplicate image from the film negative. From a geeky tech standpoint, that's fucking awesome... but it's also why every single Disney classic has that funky "look". Some people love it, and I guess I understand why. I'm just not one of them.

That said, The Aristocats clearly didn't get the Four Fingered White Glove Treatment; this is some ass-ugly DVNR in my opinion, and sums up precisely why I wish it was avoided completely, on animation as well as live action. What's especially weird is that Disney actually didn't use ANY obvious degraining on The Fox and The Hound, and the results were pretty goddamn impressive compared to their usual output. I can understand them not wanting to spend a fortune on what's clearly the second-tier material in their catalog, but still...

Not that I give two shits about The Aristocats, honestly. Mrs. Kentai loves it because, y'know, kittens are awesome. But my love for shitty swingin' musical numbers just isn't what it used to be. Fox and the Hound I'd happily give a re-watch to, though. Not only does it look great, but it's easily the most pro-racism film Disney's ever done... and that's fucked up. No, seriously. Change it to the slightly less subtle "The Raccoon and The Hound" and it would have been banished ten times harder than Song of the South ever was.


Kriztoffer Swank said...

I was so disappointed when I saw these caps on Mackenzie's site. I don't care for the movie either, but I hope this is the last Disney Blu-ray to look this atrocious. Poorly-defined lines, missing detail, an overall soft appearance... Just ain't diggin' it, man.

But wait, I forgot: I have to buy and have actually seen the Blu-ray in motion to make that kinda judgment call. My bad. It probably looks fucking awesome. Grain and fidelity will magically swirl into existence once those still frames are quickly moving in sequence.

I don't hate Disney's BDs, though. For the most part, they look quite good; but like you, I'd prefer them to take a more historical, preservationist approach and reproduce these films the way they would've looked in theaters. (Funny that the title they don't care to give the royal treatment—The Fox and the Hound—ends up looking so much better than the rest.) And that includes, by the way, giving me my damn so-called racist crows and Sunflower.

Kentai 拳態 said...

I'll give Malificent her due and say that Disney's usual degraining process is pretty much the best in the business at eradicating filmic texture while keeping the overall "look" of the original cels underneath intact. I can't say something like Alice in Wonderland or Dumbo looks objectively "bad", just that I don't personally understand why Disney feels that 35mm film was somehow retroactively a mistake in the creative process.

It's a shame some of their B-list titles look like they were just run through NeatVideo with the dials cranked to 11, though. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine I consider a fairly dedicated videophile who said this particular release "looked fine" - less so because it looked *good* and more because, hell, it's the goddamn Aristocats. Seemed like the perfect excuse to post that comparison I've been unintentionally sitting on for ages.

Michael said...

To be honest, THE FOX AND THE HOUND is fubared too, just in a different way. Instead of removing all trace of grain, they've tried to "manage" it, and in the process made it look mushy and watercoloury. Ditto with THE RESCUERS and its sequel, which I recently posted about on my site.

Regarding THE ARISTOCATS, I'm pretty sure that these are two separate transfers. The older one, the one with grain, was used for the previous DVD release and is in a bizarre 1.75:1 aspect ratio (the same as recent versions of THE JUNGLE BOOK and ROBIN HOOD), whereas the new scan used for the BD is 1.66:1. That said, it doesn't really make much difference because either way the BD is buggered, and I'm inclined to think it's pretty damn dishonest to sell the thing by using clips that don't accurately depict the finished product.