Sunday, August 09, 2015

88 and Out: Zombi Holocaust, Burial Ground and Anthropophagous

I'm still here, friends. Just because I'm "busy" and have a "life" doesn't mean you can ever fully escape my rambling stupidity!

A couple recent releases from the UK based cult film distributor 88 Films have finally come out, and it's compelled me to say a few words about the releases themselves, the label distributing them, and  the context they've established in surprisingly clear terms. The how behind it is a little more complex than usual, so let's break it all down...



THE REMASTER CAMPAIGN


As most of you likely know, I contributed to an Indie Go Go campaign wherein 88 Films wanted crowd-fund a restoration of ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST from the original camera negative. As most of you who know me are aware, I don't actually like Zombie Holocaust much - but up until that point, the best release we'd gotten was the Media Blasters Blu-ray, which was rife with grotesque scratch repair artifacts, muddled color grading that made the film look like it was shot completely in the dark, and  super-funky CRT scanner noise masking legitimate detail, courtesy of the somewhat infamous Roman film lab LVR Video and Post. They've been responsible for most of the HD transfers released by Blue Underground and Arrow Video before the latter's dramatic turn-around in 2013, and the former... basically vanishing for a year and a half, presumably while Bill Lustig looked at the market conditions and decided to take a hiatus from trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

I've written a lot about how poorly LVR has handled the vast catalogue of Italian exploitation and thriller films of the 70s and 80s, and how Media Blasters managed to make them even worse, if only out of incompetence rather than malice. All in all it's felt kinda' shitty to be a fan of Italian trash film on Blu-ray, since not only did Arrow Video and Blue Underground mostly pull back once their cache of A-tier Fulci and Argento titles had been finished, but most of the titles we got looked like crap anyway. 88 Films drawing a line in the sand and promising a second-chance for the titles that Media Blasters/Shriek Show had treated less than well was an encouraging first step, and as 88 Films' releases of Full Moon and Troma films are regularly superior to their North American equivalents, I felt satisfied that I could trust them with my $35 for a restored copy of Zombie Holocaust.

Later on, the campaign was updated to include a new stretch goal to restore BURIAL GROUND in the same manner - and that's a garbage film I actually do quite like. Needless to say I did what had to be done, and put in a second pledge.


THE ITALIAN COLLECTION


It's thus with incredibly mixed feelings that I decided, despite loving the film to its cheap, stupid core, that I decided not to pre-order ANTHROPOPHAGOUS: THE BEAST for the seemingly fair price of £19.99. It's worth pointing out that this title was not part of the remaster initiative, which is why I was hesitant to throw a little more than $31 down before I knew what I was getting into. While short on directly-related bonus features the 88 Films release does include 42nd Street Memories, a feature-length documentary about the beloved "grindhouse" run of 1970s exploitation double-features, and pre-orders are set to include a slipcase and postcards, which is a decent enough bonus. And anyone who pre-ordered straight from the 88 Films website - the only store currently offering it - got the above slipcase, replicating the old UK "Video Nasty" cover about as closely as humanly possible.

Sadly, all of that means little to me when the final product looks... well... like THIS. Basically, it looks like every other low-quality CRT scan that LVR has applied noise reduction to in order to get OCD twats, like myself, to shut up about all that ugly scanner noise. Sadly, this isn't at all unexpected, as their earlier release of Antonio Bido's THE BLOODSTAINED SHADOW was also a LESS THAN STELLAR. The latter didn't receive any obvious degraining, and if I had to guess I'd lean towards that being due to D'amaot's penchant for shooting on 16mm, which naturally lends itself to a grainier image than a scan of a 35mm stock. That means there's some basic limitations to how good the negative for this D'amato flick will ever look, sure, but for all the bizarre and often easy-to-fix at a production level problems, the Media Blasters BD release of Beyond the Darkness had, at least scanner noise and DNR weren't among them!


The sign of things to come.

Doubtless some of you are thinking, wait a second, if the dated CRT scanner is producing excess noise, shouldn't noise-removal be a good thing? Arguably it can be an improvement, though of course you'll risk sludgy smearing and temporal warping, which I find to be more distracting in motion than even heavy noise (though, admittedly, a "smooth" transfer tends to look better in still frames). The problem is that "removing" the noise generated during a film scan doesn't bring back the detail that was obscured, nor does it produce a consistent, stable image underneath. It's basically swapping analogue static video for digital video vaseline, and I'm a firm believer that farming the film scan to a different lab with better equipment will allow you to avoid both ends of this unfortunate spectrum,

In short, 88 Films - bless their low budget and schlock loving hearts - already know that these masters are crap, and they're dumping them on us regardless. They even talk about how the masters "LOOK GREAT!" on the Face Place, but if you're looking to official social media for an HD transfer's objective worth, you're doing it wrong anyway.

Part of me feels hurt by this; I've never been a big fan of the "It's Okay When We Do It!" mentality, and by specifically raising the bar set by Media Blasters' rather crumby treatment of those two Spaghetti Gut-Munchers, seeing them pump out the exact same crap of their own accord at the very same time is... well, it just shakes whatever confidence I had in them, to be honest. I'm not angry anymore - hell, I'm not even surprised when I see a new Italian cult film in HD and immediately wince at the coarse grid of CRT grit floating on top of a fuzzy, washed-out image. I'm just sad at this point. I and people like me fought for better, and a handful of people in this industry dug their heels in and refused to compromise... so why is this, years later, still somehow the norm?


THE SAD REALITY


The reality, of course, is that they don't bother, because, well... nobody cares. Even if you look at the successful Indie Go Go campaign, less than 300 people actually contributed to make this new master happen, and quite a few of them paid dramatically more than the $31.25 or so asking price on principle. Less than 300 people cared enough to throw money at 88 Films to do two new transfers of iconic splatter trash-films, and I can tell you from personal experience that both I, and a friend of mine, contributed to this project solely on principle, not because we actually liked the film!

Certainly there are plenty more who were waiting to see the results with the intent to grab it for about half that price from Amazon UK - and those cheeky fuckers still get the "limited" slipcover, for what it's worth - but if you can't even convince 300 people to pay MSRP to guarantee a dramatically improved release, that's proof that Blu-ray is only continuing to contract to the point of irrelevancy, even to one of the most dedicated audiences out there; genre fanatics who own multiple copies of the same film because they're never satisfied that the presentation is "perfect enough"... than again, most hardcore horror fans were probably satisfied with a DVD copy or two in their own language and a half-dozen VHS and LD copies cluttering up their closets. I don't want to say that horror in by its very nature a nostalgia driven market, but... well, perhaps that's another discussion entirely. I wouldn't be surprised if many of the niche labels are gone or just empty husks about two years from now, with obvious exceptions being Shout Factory, Arrow Video, Vinegar Syndrome and studios that own their own content like Troma and Full Moon - though if they'll continue doing BD releases at all with the gradual take-over of streaming in 5 years is anyone's guess these days.

Just as importantly, having worked with a handful of licensors over the last decade, I know how... well, frankly, how shitty some of these outfits can be to work with. You want to license a title for Blu-ray from an Italian film studio? Great! It's entirely possible that they've already made HD masters. Why did they do that? Because they knew the title you wanted was popular and they wanted to have a master on hand. But what if you don't like the film lab, or you thought the work was poor? Well, it's entirely possible that this film lab has a 20+ year history with the guy who runs the film lab, and you'd not only be taking business away from the guy who's storing their negatives, but you're basically pissing on a professional friendship that goes back to a time when the Italian film industry actually made both of them money.

Remember when people flipped out about Fright Night and Enemy Mine being limited to 3,000 copies each? Say what you will about 25 year old horror and science fiction films, but those were mainstream Hollywood titles with surprisingly high scalper-potential. Zombie Holocaust is a real cult film, and it can't even get 300 fucking pre-orders! Those 275 copies just don't pay the goddamn bills, and honestly, while I'm frustrated by the lack of quality coming out of 88 Films, I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that based on the numbers we ourselves can see, the future of Italian cult films are middling-quality LVR CRT scans, or nothing at all. When I believed the market cared even the slightest bit, I dug my heels in and demanded better... now that we can see how few in number we are, all I can do is pray we get more transfers like the start of Blue Underground's run and less like the newer, digitally processed stuff that only added as many problems as they tried to fix.

Besides. 88 Films assured us all that there are worse film labs in Italy. The thought sends shivers down my spine... and makes me wonder who was responsible for the abomination that was the MB master for Burial Ground, a title I (incorrectly) attributed to them when it first came out. The number of labs left standing in Rome - good and bad alike - shrink with every passing year, and I have to wonder if LVR isn't the bottom of the barrel, good gravy, who is?



ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST


While I'm still waiting for the fuzzy-helmed clowns at Royal Fail to get me my goddamn package, screenshots of the 88 Films restoration of Zombie Holocaust are, at least, ENCOURAGING. Keep in mind that like Lucio Fulci' City of the Living Dead, this was for some inexplicable reason shot on Techniscope two-perf at a hard-matted 1.85 ratio, which means the OCN is effectively a 35mm camera using a 16mm frame's worth of resolution. Sounds pointless, I know, but if it's good enough for Lucio goddamn Fulci, I guess it's good enough for Mario Girolami, too.

Without a copy on hand to poke at, I'm surprised to hear people talking about plenty of scratches and instances of dirt that were untouched, despite Pinewood Studios having reportedly done the restoration work. Whether this is just a little "sparkle" around the edges or a full-blown Grindhouse Experience, I don't yet know, but truth be told I'd much rather have a raw, filthy and damaged presentation than one that's been so digitally manipulated it looks like the prior MEDIA BLASTERS RELEASE. Of course there's nothing preventing it from being scanned properly and having damage removed on a case-by-case basis, but such is the fate of cheap Italian splatter films, I guess...

I may do a longer write-up on Zombie Holocaust at some point, but honestly, my utter lack of enthusiasm for the flick itself leaves that sounding more like a chore than anything. Don't get me wrong, I "get" the love the film has for mashing up three disparate genres at once - undead zombies, mad scientists, and blood thirsty jungle savages - but everything about the film just feels a bit more dull than it ought to. Aside from Donald O'Brien giving a sweaty, over-the-top performance the flick doesn't deserve and one incredible gag in which Ian McCulloch basically liquefies a zombie's head with a boat motor, there's just nothing to recommend here beyond the conceptual novelty. If  you really want to experience Zombie Holocaust, watch Deodato's Last Cannibal World back-to-back with Fulci's Zombi 2. Your sense of taste will thank you later.

It's been said that a single line of dialogue disappeared during the restoration. Pity, that, but I don't expect it to be fixed, and if that's the only thing truly wrong with  the presentation, I'll live. That said, this is  why I wish labels like this would hire actual fans to QC  their work; true, everyone can make mistakes - I myself didn't catch the fucked up opening credits for Re-Animator on the German restoration, for example - but if you're willing to give two or three known fine-tooth-comb types advance copies for the chance to throw your hands up in the air and shout "Oh YEAH? Well ZombieFan92 didn't spot anything wrong, so it MUST be a minor issue!" would probably go a long way in satisfying some of those complaints, if only on a conceptual level.

Hardly something worth bitching about now, I know, but I'm always disappointed that the re-cut American version "Doctor Butcher M.D. - Medical Deviate" has never gotten a new modern transfer, Unlike a lot of US edits that simply removed footage or swapped the order of scenes around, Doctor Butcher is TRULY ITS OWN THING, and at this point I'd almost be satisfied with somebody hiding the entire VHS rip on a Blu-ray just to see what the heck it was.



BURIAL GROUND


Where things get a little more confusing is the situation with Andrea Bianchi's BURIAL GROUND/La Notti del Terrore. Unlike Zombie Holocaust I actually do like this cinematic turd, and I was furious with what a mess Media Blasters' prior attempt to restore the film for Blu-ray turned out to be.

88 Films initially said that they had located the film's original negative and interpositive, as well as a 35mm release print. They did a telecine on the print, though I... don't know why, unless they planned to release a beat-up "Grindhouse Print" on the disc as a bonus. I'd be thrilled, sure, but actual release prints are always multiple generations away from the negative and tend to be in the worst shape of any available elements, so starting from there for a high quality, archival copy was probably a bad idea to start with.

88 Films had their lab made a test scan of the IP, but were quickly left found wanting. They then tried a new scan of the negative... but realized why the Media Blasters BD was such a mess. The entire film was stored on 16mm A/B rolls with undercuts, meaning that the shots were never really edited on 16mm, but blown up to 35mm for editing purposes. Going back to the original negatives reveales plenty of extended footage never meant to be in the film at all, as well as frames marked out with a big scratched-in "X" signifying they didn't need the cut after that point. In short, restoring from the OCN would include re-editing the entire film from scratch! It's certainly doable - hell, I've done it myself from SD materials for certain content - but it's time consuming and expensive, for a project they likely had hoped would be a done-deal.

While Facebook-sized 1600:900 JPGs aren't quite the most ideal 1:1 source one could hope for, they're better than nothing. With that in mind, here's an idea of what 88 Films has to work with:

Interpositive Print 

Original Negative (New Scan) 

Original Negative (Media Blasters HD Master) 

35mm Release Print

None of them are "pretty", aesthetically speaking, but at the very least this vindicates my prior theory that the massive amounts of chroma noise on the MB Blu-ray was the result of a telecine device either not being designed for, or properly set up for, 16mm OCN content. The world of telecine and scanner hardware is vast, infinite to an outsider like myself, but at the same time it's not so impossible that I can't spot bullshit when I see it. I'd keep harping on Media Blasters utter lack of care and foresight into their own catalog, but with them not even having held an announcement panel at Anime Expo this year, I'd feel a bit like putting the spurs to a horse that's been rotting for weeks now.

I'm also shocked how poor the IP looks - they're struck straight from the negative, so in theory they have all the positive traits of being a "Generation 1" source without any of the irregularities of the OCN - keep in mind that quite often optical effects like fades or day-for-night shots are applied to the IP itself, rather than the OCN, so scanning straight from the negative may not actually yield the same results as a vintage print of those instructions weren't followed to the letter. Having watched stellar DVD transfers where people are turning on lanterns and trying to get to sleep in the middle of the day, I can assure you it happens more often than it should. If I had to guess, I wouldn't be surprised if the Interpositive was a 35mm blow-up, which alone can lead to problems with focus and clarity. It's the reason that the HD transfers for films like Lustig's Maniac and Bill Hinzman's Flesh Eater looked far wonkier than I expected on their HD debut, and while it's unfortunate to imagine this being as good as those films will ever look, without a proper 16mm negative to source a new transfer from, that's all she wrote.

So what'll become of Burial Ground? At this point, only 88 Films knows for sure, and it's possible they themselves aren't sure anymore. I can confirm that they've reached out to people who know this film like the back of their hand to be sure the bizarre example of hundreds of individual frames missing from the Media Blasters BD won't be repeated, but they did this information before they realized what a mess the original negative was. I know, personally, what I'd like to see them do... but I don't know what impact that would have on their budget, and if they're willing to take a loss on this title to do the "right thing" and hope their next release actually turns a profit to compensate.

This is pretty much why I haven't said a lot about cult-films on Blu-ray in the last year. Between this and Toei Animation being willing to re-upscale one of their major flagship titles of the 90s, it's clear that we lost. The video market only cares as much as they can squeeze a potential remake out of it, or profit off of the lead's recent death, or if they can buy out an entire film catalog for pennies on the dollar to the original owners don't have to have someone on payroll to piece out the "good" titles one by one to a mere three or four potential licensors. The future is looking grim, friends... but, it was nice watching it all burn to nothing with you.

Ah well. Gotta' get dressed and check out a 35mm print of BURIAL GROUND and NIGHTMARE CITY at The Egyptian. Just because I can't have a pristine HD copy doesn't mean I can't watch a filthy, faded, butchered print in the dark with total strangers!

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Will we get an article from you regarding the new Vampire Hunter D BluRay?

Anonymous said...

There was also a past mention of your forthcoming analyses of AnimEigo's Bubblegum Crisis Blu-ray and a comparison between the US and UK Blu-ray releases of Cowboy Bebop. Regarding the latter in particular I've read so many conflicting pros and cons that I'm still undecided which one represents the best set to get.

geekzapoppin said...

I second being interested in your thoughts on Vampire Hunter D. I was able to snag a copy of it yesterday. I felt it was disappointing. No extras except for a trailer. Also, I really miss the Streamline dub, if for nothing else than nostalgia. The new dub is far from the worst I've heard, but it's pretty lackluster. As for the film itself, they barely used 16GB of the disc. It looks better than the DVD, to be sure, but it didn't blow me away.

Kentai 拳態 said...

While I'm not going to be foolish and promise a time-table with MGSV's release imminent, I do plan on saying a few words on VAMPIRE HUNTER D as soon as I get my hands on it. Suffice to say I'm so familiar with the film that I'm bound to have a few complaints even on a "perfect" release, but my expectations are that it'll be roughly on par with Sony's treatment of the Rurouni Kenshin OVA's: Consistent with prior home video masters to a fault and a substantial increase in quality over any prior SD release, but with a certain frustrating lack of celluloid texture to remind us that it's 30 years old.

As for the other two titles mentioned:

I never got around to BUBBLEGUM CRISIS because... there isn't that much to say, honestly. AE's encode is ever-so-slightly less perfect that the Bandai Visual Japan release, and the only major complaint I have is the fact that the US release appears to have used the incorrect ("SD") BT.601 colorspace, where as the Japanese import used the proper ("HD") BT.709, resulting in a slightly wonky RGB shift. On a ten point scale, take whatever you consider the Japanese box set, subtract 1, and then add in the bonus features and English audio/subtitle options. It's a damn good release, just has a minor tech issue or two that I doubt most people would ever notice, and those who can likely know how to fix it via software filters anyway.

COWBOY BEBOP, on the other hand... man, that's a convoluted release if there ever was one. I may have to find the bits and bobs I'd set aside and start trying to explain what a mess that show is, no matter which version you buy.

That's not to say either release is "bad". Just that each release has some frustrating flaws that could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

A bit of a note about Vampire Hunter D, apparently Sentai goofed on the DVD release and the video is pillarboxed.

Source: http://www.fandompost.com/oldforums/showthread.php?43035-Sentai-Filmworks-licenses-Vampire-Hunter-D&p=322510&viewfull=1#post322510

The subs are also locked as well which I can understand why for Blu-ray (reverse importation due to the same region code) but for DVD? That doesn't make any sense.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Facebook is finicky with downloading images in original size but I was able to do so with the Burial Ground caps. Here are the two OCN scans in 1920x1080. Just based on these heavily compressed FB pics, the new test shot looks a lot nicer if just for textural reasons alone, but the possibility that 88 won't be going forward with a new scan is depressing. Like, fuck, that really bums me out.

caps-a-holic now has Zombi Holocaust caps, by the way.

Judging by these caps, I think the Vampire Hunter D Blu-ray looks great. Very soft in spots but I can deal with that. Seeing as how I've put up with Urban Vision's DVD all this time, it's a vast improvement. Not supplying the original dub is still a bullshit move, but in reality I don't have much a reason to watch anything but the Japanese. I'll just hang on to my DVD if I'm feeling nostalgic for the VHS days.

Speaking of Bebop, a nearby theater is showing Knockin' on Heaven's Door subtitled this weekend. When I asked about the presentation, I was told it's DCP shown on a 4K projector. Not sure what that means for the movie's resolution but I'm expecting 2K with a good bitstream and hopefully surround sound. Gonna go see that ish if I can convince anyone to go with me. Or be true otaku nerd and jerk alone with my tears in the theater.

Anonymous said...

Too bad there's *still* no consensus on the US and UK Bebop Blu-rays. Yours was the only opinion I was going to trust on the matter!

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Kentai, sir, I'm sure you're aware of the Mediumrare Ent. Blu-ray for Riki-Oh. From firsthand experience, it looks pretty boss and is—GASP!—an actual HD transfer, from film, zomg.

Bit of DNR applied but looks nice regardless. Even has the onscreen text during the three prisoner introductions at the beginning.

Just a shame the English audio (both 5.1 and 2.0 tracks) appears to be out of sync somewhat. E.g., when Zorro comes into the shower room to fight Ricky, his foot stomps are out of sync with what you're seeing, and you hear the punch he lays on Ricky before you even see it. Bogus. Later in the movie the sync issue is less noticeable and even practically nonexistent, so it's an inconsistent problem. From what I sampled of the Cantonese stereo track, it went a little out of sync later in the movie, such as during Ricky's interrogation. I guess it could just be due to the nature of this film, but I don't remember the Media Blasters DVD having any sync issues with the sound effects.

Danny Duchesneau said...

88 Films Zombie Holocaust looks quite good by the way. It was properly done.

Here's a small review I wrote about the quality of the release.

http://cciqr.blogspot.ca/2015/07/blu-ray-zombi-holocaust-uk-2015-88.html

Kentai 拳態 said...

Kriz: I am well aware that Medium Rare made good on their threat to release a new transfer for STORY OF RICKY. I want to see it in motion before I say anything, though; it's certainly a pretty major improvement over the previous SD master, but the rain in the scene where the old man gets carried away and Li-Wang (Ricky) gives him the toy he build looks slaughtered in the Caps-A-Holic page...


Does the Chinese audio on the disc have the narrator reading what everyone was arrested for? I know the Traditional Chinese text is there (which I'm slightly surprised by), but for who knows what reason some DVDs have the narration and some are just completely silent.


Danny: Organized, clearly explained, factual with cited sources... I like it!

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Yeah, the narrator's there on the Cantonese track. I wonder if it was originally just supposed to be the onscreen text (I'm guessing so).

Danny Duchesneau said...

Here's some information on Arrow's Nightmare City.

http://cciqr.blogspot.ca/2015/08/blu-ray-nightmare-city-uk-2015-arrow.html

Kentai 拳態 said...

Kirztoffer: Good question, actually. I don't know what the "original" version of the film would even be - were the old LD/VCD versions made from a subtitled theatrical print? I know prior copies were heavily censored so I never bothered tracking one down. Could be interesting to find out, though.

Danny: Funny how Arrow Video never quite admits in the featurette that the "4-perf reversal negative" was an older master created by LVR, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with what they did and think it's a more than acceptable compromise between a pair of unappealing options. I just find a mostly-transparent and sincere explanation of why they went in the direction they did, without casually mentioning that the "other" master has some avoidable digital processing artifacts that directly affect softness, is amusing.

That said, it has to look substantially better than the Grindhouse Releasing 35mm print I saw a couple weeks ago.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, y'all. It looks HD to my eyes (which admittedly need a new prescription) but with milky blacks and general softness. It looks sourced from a print or possibly really old HD master, and looks very similar to the Perfect Blue BD.

Question, if anyone knows: Did this movie always have onscreen English text at the introduction, or is that only the English-language version? English credits at the end as well.

Leo Lexmarque said...

People who say VHD: Bloodlust looks like an upscale probably don't know that despite being hand animated, it was digitally colored. Being that it was the early 00s and digipaint wasn't elaborate as it is now, the film tends to have that slightly over-brightened garish sheen that was so prevalent in early digipaint anime, even with stuff like Bloodlust which was printed to 35mm film. I assume a lot of the effects were digitally composited as well, and God knows what resolution and framerate the effects were being rendered at during its production.

Anonymous said...

Urban Vision sucks dick - http://www.caps-a-holic.com/hd_vergleiche/multi_comparison.php?art=part&x=494&y=99&action=1&image=3&hd_multiID=2588&cap1=59886&cap2=59894&disc1=6339&disc2=6340&lossless=#vergleich

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Leo: I was curious while watching if VHD:B was digitally painted, thanks for verifying that. I also wondered if the heavy digital effects shots might have been rendered at a lower resolution. I guess the movie is just a victim of circumstance and the Blu-ray probably looks as good as the movie possibly can. I was satisfied with it (lack of Japanese audio aside); popped in the DVD for comparison and the BD is a vast improvement.

Anon: The UV DVD for the first flick chomping a sack of dog dicks is nothing new. ;) It's always been horrible. The scenes of D falling into and walking through the catacombs are so dark you can barely see what's going on; I'm looking forward to watching the Blu-ray tomorrow and hopefully being able to actually see the background detail.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Ken Tie, what can you tell me about the Swedish Njutafilms 2015 Blu-ray of A Serbian Film? Supposedly uncut with English subs, just curious about video and subtitle quality. Never seen the film, don't wanna see it anything less than uncut HD at this point.

Kentai 拳態 said...

Leo: Not to call bullshit without reason, but if Bloodlust was digitally colored, why are the original cels hand-painted?

I could believe that Kawajiri went the 1995 GHOST IN THE SHELL route and had everything composited digitally, but no, the "ink and paint" on display is as analogue as it gets. Unless the hundreds of cels in possession of English speaking collector hands are the most clever reproductions ever spawned, I guess?

Anon: The Urban Vision has ALWAYS been an abomination. The Japanese DVD wasn't much better, either. We'll talk about the Sentai Blu-ray soon enough. First impressions are "pretty damn good, but not perfect".

Kriztoffer: Haven't seen the Njuta disc myself. If you need to own a physical copy I completely understand, but if you can play 25fps... well, you have my eMail, right?

The Scandinavian disc is pretty damn good, and I have little doubt any English subtitles will be the same slightly-sketchy translation that have been floating around since the screeners popped up years ago. I don't speak a word of Croatian, but I can spot a janky subtitle from a mile away...

Anonymous said...

So Death Note is getting a BD release... Not sure what to make of this, was it even animated in 480p? If Viz chooses the same authoring house that upscaled Sailor Moon, "Sub-abomic Bitchitle" or whatever, then I have no hope in humanity anymore.

Oh well.

Kentai 拳態 said...

Anon: Never seen a proper HD broadcast of DEATH NOTE, so the best we can likely hope for is that Madhouse kept their digital masters and can do a new 1080p render of whatever resolution the original assets were kept out, similar to what Studio Arms did for the ELFEN LIED BD master.

Subatomic Digital sucks, no argument here. The blended-frames on SAILOR MOON were the result of them not having a clue how to properly set field order on an IVTC algorithm, which is pretty basic fucking stuff. If you can't manually specify of an NTSC master if bottom field first, I don't want to hear anything else. The fact that Toei themselves only made a marginal improvement, however, feels even worse somehow...

Sugar Cookies said...



In other news... Venus Wars is coming to BD in December. This is fucking biblical news of epic proportions. I remember buying the DVD they released like what, 3 fucking years ago now? I was in Amoeba Music and had never even seen the film before. Can't wait to pick up more classic anime in HD, plus it saves me the trouble of importing the interlaced IT BD and adding custom subtitles.

Leo Lexmarque said...

I could have sworn I heard something along the line of Bloodlust having some digi-paint method applied to it. Keep in mind, I distinctly recall hearing Justin Sevakis mention the film having some digi-paint--or most likely, digital compositing--process used during its production (this was mentioned in response to a question asked on ANNcast as to why the film "looked like an upscale").

Sorry, wasn't trying to spread any misinformation, I was just going by what I assumed to be a reliable secondhand source as Justin authored the new blu-ray.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

VHD:B comparison on caps-a-holic.

http://caps-a-holic.com/hd_vergleiche/multi_comparison.php?disc1=6362&disc2=6363&hd_multiID=2598#auswahl

Poor contrast, milky blacks, softness, noisy—but I still think it's a pretty good upgrade from the DVD. Wonder if we'll ever see a better master of this.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Sheeit, maybe I should hyper-link that.

Kentai 拳態 said...

Kriztoffer: Better than a decentish CRT scan of an archival print? Not bloody likely. The R1 DVD actually has superior black level detail if you look at the outlines against dark backgrounds, but that was true of GHOST IN THE SHELL, too.

I assume it's ultimately a limitation of which way you want to lean the telecine, which is ultimately an analogue-to-digital conversion process: Do you go high-contrast and blow out the whites, or go low-contrast and lose some of the shadow fidelity? The black levels are a little "off", nobody with a good eye could deny that, but that detail is already long gone. Kind of a no-win situation, unless the telecine was that inherently borked. Hard to say without someone detailing what film elements, scanners and techniques were used the whole way through.

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Danny Duchesneau said...

Hi Kentai,

Is there a way to privately contact you? I tried the address on your blogger profile some days ago and never got an answer from you... Maybe it ended up in your spam/junk? My address looks a lot like my username "Danny Duchesneau".

Danny