Episode 29 Compression

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Episode 29 Compression

Postby dugpa » Sun Apr 22, 2007 11:04 am

Well, I finally popped in Episode 29 as I was saving it for the weekend to sit back and enjoy. To my dismay, the transfer on this Episode for all the dark scenes was just AWFUL.

What I had feared with the whole squeezing 4 Episodes per disc was brought to life the minute any scene with too much black level came on the screen. I have to say that being Episode 29 is my favorite of the entire Series, I was deeply disappointed with Paramount's decision to squeeze as many Episodes as they could on a single disc to save a buck. It defeats the purpose of doing the transfer from the original negative.

Did anyone else notice this?

-B
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Postby bmiller » Sun Apr 22, 2007 3:58 pm

Hello Brian,

I'm just getting ready to watch Episode 29 myself so I can't comment on that episode's visual quality but I was surprised that on average we're getting four episodes per disc. As soon as I realized that, I figured Paramount employed some major compression to make it all "fit". As you implied, it's dumb as hell to make new prints from the original negative and then compress the hell out of it. And oh yes, let's keep delaying and delaying and delaying and delaying the release of the Second Season. It sort of reminds me of my major Lynchian pet peeve: the whole Eraserhead compression story.

I joined DL.com from Day One and from time to time Lynch would mention in the chat rooms that the latest Eraserhead compression had failed(ie. too many compression artifacts) and he would have to go back to the drawing board. Nobody in the chat rooms that had the least familarity with compressing video to DVD could figure out what the problem was, because, including final credits, the whole movie is only about 88 minutes long. And of course Lynch, who is about the most unhelpful person ever born when it comes to imparting straightforward explanations, wouldn't tell anyone the simple reason why they were getting all these compression artifacts.

So, this absurdity continued for about a year, every couple of months Lynch would announce the latest compression failure in trying to master Eraserhead, until finally he got a master DVD authored to his liking and it was released on DVD. So I finally get Eraserhead in the mail and lo and behold there is an 84 minute video and sound extra on the DVD, David's Eraserhead "Stories". That was the reason Lynch was getting so many compression problems: he took an 88 minute movie and an 84 minute extra and made the decision to CRAM them together on one disc instead of two discs, which any sane person would have done.

If you pull out the Eraserhead booklet that came with the DVD and refer to the last page of text entitled: "Restoring Eraserhead", you'll find all the painstaking steps Lynch went through to make sure the video transfer and audio quality were top notch. Of course, what isn't written on this page is the very last step that was taken: include an 84 minute extra and compress the hell out of it all. The last sentence on the page is actually a baldfaced lie:

"Again, adhering to that original dictum, the audio is presented on the DVD as PCM audio, which means it has not been compressed, as most DVD's are, and will deliver maximum fidelity."

This, of course, is a lie since the audio on Eraserhead is unremarkable compressed 192KB/sec Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, not uncompressed PCM audio. That's how Lynch was finally able to remove enough compression artifacts to release the DVD: he saved enough bits by going from PCM to DD 2.0 that he was able to devote move bits to the movie. But had he released the movie and extras on separate discs we would have had even better video quality and an incredible PCM audio soundtrack. But then again, if somebody's ONLY charging $39.94 + S&H for Eraserhead maybe he couldn't afford to make it a two disc set.

So, I hate to say it but I will anyway, it sounds like Paramount pulled a Lynch. I do want to take this opportunity to thank you Brian for all work you do on dugpa.com to keep us all informed and I'm really looking forward to your review of the Second Season. Keep up the good work, sir!!!
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Postby dugpa » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:31 pm

Welcome to the board bmiller. I agree with you 100%. It makes no sense as to why they didn't put Eraserhead on 2 discs but only to cut costs.

I wonder if they release Twin Peaks on HD if they will try to squeeze the entire first and second season on 1 disc.

:roll:

Complete waste of a good transfer. My Season 2 review is coming. I finally finished it and am now trying to get some time to write something worth reading. :)


-B
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Postby silenttwn » Mon Apr 23, 2007 10:57 pm

I'd complain but I'm glad that I have season two on DVD. To be honest, when I first heard that they were putting four episodes on a disc I really expected worse. I'm pretty happy with the results. They're not perfect, but yeah. You do have a point that the great transfer is kind of wasted.

On the flip side, it still amazes me how beautiful season one looks and sounds.
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Postby mjwilson » Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:28 am

I haven't reached episode 29 yet, but 4 45 minute episodes on a disc is pretty standard from what I've seen on other box sets. We were really spoiled with 2 eps per disk on Season 1 - and I'm grateful for that - but an 11 or 12 disc set for this release was never likely.

Other releases with the same amount per disc don't routinely get complaints about the picture quality. So I don't think we can necessarily say that fitting 4 episodes on a disc equates to "compressing the hell out of them". Not in general anyway - as I say I haven't reached 29 yet. Maybe that needed a bit more care and attention.
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Postby LeoFaraon » Tue Apr 24, 2007 5:31 am

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Postby dugpa » Tue Apr 24, 2007 8:31 am

mjwilson wrote:I haven't reached episode 29 yet, but 4 45 minute episodes on a disc is pretty standard from what I've seen on other box sets. We were really spoiled with 2 eps per disk on Season 1 - and I'm grateful for that - but an 11 or 12 disc set for this release was never likely.


Although it is becoming standard, I think we were hoping that they would mirror the quality of the Season 1 DVDs.

In all fairness, they did a great job on keeping the quality for most of the set. It's only the dark scenes in Episode that in my opinion are almost unwatchable.

I was watching on a big screen tv and the amount of artifacts and "creepy crawlies" was shocking. It took me totally out of the film. My wife who usually doesn't notice these things was like "what the hell is wrong with the picture?"

Anyway, I am hoping that they reauthor the next set however, it is just a shame that after waiting this long, Episode 29 had to be the one to take a hit in quality of al the Episodes. They should have put it on it's own disc.

-B
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Postby Asterisk » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:11 am

As a general comment on Region 2 sets: it's true we may have fewer episodes per disc, but that is often because we have so many different language and subtitle (CC) options. I'm always surprised how few US discs have.

I'm currently watching Scrubs Region 2/4 discs, and there are at least five language tracks and 14-20 subtitle tracks per set. Crazy!
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Postby bmiller » Wed Apr 25, 2007 3:40 am

This is probably the wrong forum for this but since we're all talking compression it's probably not too early to start thinking about this :

"I've been told that the INLAND EMPIRE DVD will be out in the US in August. Expect an official announcement in the next few weeks."

Hmmm....172 minute movie shot with a consumer-grade Digital Video camera compressed onto one DVD disc??? I wonder what that will look like?? Any predictions, Brian???

Maybe I should start a website to campaign for a 2-disc DVD release of Inland Empire. What's the name of the company releasing the DVD? Is it Rhino?
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Postby Asterisk » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:57 am

In the UK, Inland Empire will be a two-disc set (see www.play.com). Whether that is to split the film (not ideal either) or for extras, I don't know. Mine's on pre-order, though.
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Postby LeoFaraon » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:41 am

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Postby dugpa » Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:24 am

bmiller wrote:This is probably the wrong forum for this but since we're all talking compression it's probably not too early to start thinking about this :

"I've been told that the INLAND EMPIRE DVD will be out in the US in August. Expect an official announcement in the next few weeks."

Hmmm....172 minute movie shot with a consumer-grade Digital Video camera compressed onto one DVD disc??? I wonder what that will look like?? Any predictions, Brian???

Maybe I should start a website to campaign for a 2-disc DVD release of Inland Empire. What's the name of the company releasing the DVD? Is it Rhino?


I believe that Rhino will be distributing it. From what I have been told this will be a 2 disc set in the US. If they tried to squeeze the film and extras on 1 DVD, I'd probablyhave to pass and grab the UK Edition.
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Postby bmiller » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:42 pm

I believe that Rhino will be distributing it. From what I have been told this will be a 2 disc set in the US. If they tried to squeeze the film and extras on 1 DVD, I'd probablyhave to pass and grab the UK Edition.


Right, but we're still talking about the entire 172 minute movie on one disc and the extras on disc two? 172 minutes of video + sound on one disc is kind of pushing it in terms of picture quality. Do you remember how many dark scenes are in Inland Empire? A helluva lot!!

I can't imagine Lynch splitting the movie itself over two discs since that would require interrupting it for the ten seconds necessary to insert disc two. Maybe Lynch will go further with the Inland Empire DVD than merely foregoing chapter stops by releasing the first DVD movie in history which automatically disables the DVD player's Stop Function until the movie ends. LOL.
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Postby John Neff » Thu Apr 26, 2007 9:46 am

Hi. I want to address the Eraserhead compression issue, as I do not have the TP S2 set (and probably won't, with what I've read), and IE as a DVD.
bmiller, I don't know what your username was on DL.com, but as you can see, mine has not changed. I am sure we have chatted at one time or another. Greetings.

Eraserhead went through 7 compressions/authorings because of the high contrast black and white content, with dully-lit images. The one thing DVD Codecs (Compressor/Decpompressors) hate the most is B&W high contrast with low gray details. To witness, watch the B&W end credit roll from a movie you like, that you think was authored well. The credits jump and the edges of the letters are all ragged as they move... get the picture? This happened to the whole movie! So, it was more a 'look' issue than anything.

BUT... as to the extras and the sound... I spent a LOT of time cleaning up the soundtrack. The elements had been stored badly for many years, and when we finally got a good ProTools transfer, there were hundreds of 'Splice Bumps' in the low frequencies, from edits of mag soundtrack, that you would never hear in an old optical print, because they roll off the low frequencies starting at 200 Hz, but Digital is theoretically deliverable down to the 38-40Hz region. So, I edited out all the bumps that were not below dialog (relatively easy with the amount of dialog!), and applied forensic audio cleaning to the entire track to reduce magnetic hiss, clicks, pops and amazingly static electricity discharges that had built up on the soundtrack through the years. We got as good a result as one could have hoped for. Because of the length of the movie, I argued that the track be presented uncompressed. The maker agreed. The liner notes were written.

THEN... the thing comes out and I see the DD2.0 light light up on my player.... I was aghast! In fact, someone on the chat room or TP Gazette had brought this up to me a day or two before, and I defended the PCM status.

AND... in the end it turned out to be real estate. With all that was going to go on the disc, the audio got sent to the chopping block. BUT... I sincerely believe Dave did not know this. I think he was hoodwinked by the Author/Manufacturer, because he had insisted that the audio remain untouched.

As to IE, of course I am no longer there, but the person responsible for the DVD manufacturing, etc. is still in a business relationship with me, and I have offered an opinion about IE technically. Anyone who saw "Buena Vista Social Club" in the theatre saw what looked like a '70s Ektachrome 16mm movie blown up for 35mm exhibition. That was the look it had on film, kind of a Maysles Bros. look. But when you bought the DVD, it looked like a home video movie! Why? Because the DVD was authored from the digital files and should have been re-scanned from a film Interpositive. I have told this person that if they do the same thing, IE will look like the home DV project it was shot as, and that they should re-scan from film.

We'll see, won't we?
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Postby LeoFaraon » Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:57 pm

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