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Midnight Cowboy: SE reviews?

Old 02-21-06, 10:07 PM
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Midnight Cowboy: SE reviews?

Has anyone seen this yet? I love this movie and own the older version on DVD. I'm curious as to the differences between them. Is it worth the double dip?
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Old 02-22-06, 01:00 AM
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All I can say is: another dirty trick by Sony. It even recieved the disgrace of the year award by dvdbeaver.....

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/DVDCom...ightcowboy.htm

On the back of the box it says in big bold yellow on black letters "MASTERED IN HIGH DEFINITION" So that means they are lying to us right there with that piss poor transfer.

The bad transfer aside, the whores spread the whole thing over two discs when it could have easily fit on one disc just so they can sell it at 19.99 without 90% of its buyers catching wind of it.

I swear Sony is the biggest, dirtiest, money whore of all time. Just you watch, they will release another one right into blu-ray as a barebones dvd then a few months later they will make another special edition out of it.

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Old 02-22-06, 11:15 AM
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Sony? Or MGM?
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Old 02-22-06, 11:57 AM
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Oh man, I just bought this and upgraded (or so I thought) over the previous release. but haven't opened it yet. This is in my top 50 all-time. Is this really worth keeping? I think I may keep it regardless.

Damn Sony!
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Old 02-22-06, 04:24 PM
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http://dvd.ign.com/articles/689/689542p1.html
http://www.dvdfile.com/index.php?opt...&Itemid=3.html

Both of those reviews point out improvements. I will have to open this up and check it out myself later.
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Old 02-22-06, 06:52 PM
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Sony owns MGM.
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Old 02-22-06, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by dvd_luver
http://dvd.ign.com/articles/689/689542p1.html
http://www.dvdfile.com/index.php?opt...&Itemid=3.html

Both of those reviews point out improvements. I will have to open this up and check it out myself later.
Man, those reviews make it sound great. I just wish we could get an answer to exactly how the movie itself compares to the older DVD.
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Old 02-23-06, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by DeputyDave
Man, those reviews make it sound great. I just wish we could get an answer to exactly how the movie itself compares to the older DVD.
Yeah, but you can automatically discount the DVD File review because they obviously haven't done their homework. They claim that the disc boasts a high definition transfer; DVD Beaver has clearly demonstrated that it does not. (You wouldn't see all that combing if it were.)
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Old 02-23-06, 12:29 PM
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I got a copy of this last week (early UK release of the R1), and apart from one or two dark scenes the transfer is pretty darn good - don't care if it's hi-def or not, it certainly looked very good to me and the best I have ever seen it without a doubt.

Lets be realistic here, it's a 35 year old movie and there is only so much that can be done to restore it anyway.

I read the DVD Beaver review and I think their comments are way over the top and far too picky - though I have not seen the film on DVD before (only tv/cable /video screenings) so cannot make any comparisons.

So...colour me blissfully ignorant, I thought it looked fine and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I just can't get worked up over issues with transfers on movies of this vintage - and I consider myself to be quite picky when it comes to pic and sound on DVD, and I can assure you I have seen far worse.
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Old 02-23-06, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Ambassador
Yeah, but you can automatically discount the DVD File review because they obviously haven't done their homework. They claim that the disc boasts a high definition transfer; DVD Beaver has clearly demonstrated that it does not. (You wouldn't see all that combing if it were.)
The combing on the DVD has nothing to do with whether the movie was mastered in high definition or not. DVD is still a standard-definition format. The movie was mastered to high definition, then downscaled to 480i, like most DVDs. Apparently Sony/MGM either screwed up the progressive flagging on the disc (which won't be an issue if you use a motion-adaptive deinterlacer), or this is actually a poor PAL-to-NTSC conversion with blended frames.

I'm not saying the studio didn't screw up, but the claim about being a high definition master may not be incorrect.
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Old 02-23-06, 01:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
The combing on the DVD has nothing to do with whether the movie was mastered in high definition or not. DVD is still a standard-definition format. The movie was mastered to high definition, then downscaled to 480i, like most DVDs. Apparently Sony/MGM either screwed up the progressive flagging on the disc (which won't be an issue if you use a motion-adaptive deinterlacer), or this is actually a poor PAL-to-NTSC conversion with blended frames.

I'm not saying the studio didn't screw up, but the claim about being a high definition master may not be incorrect.
You are correct. I mis-spoke (or mis-typed). At any rate, what I meant is that, hi-def master or not, it doesn't look very good on any viewing system better than a tube tv. You're absolutely correct that it's either a simple mistake of not giving it a progressive transfer or of poor PAL->NTSC converting. With MGM/Sony, who knows? When you buy a disc from the MGM label, it's more likely than not to be non-progressive. That's simply unacceptable in 2006!

I got a copy of this last week (early UK release of the R1), and apart from one or two dark scenes the transfer is pretty darn good - don't care if it's hi-def or not, it certainly looked very good to me and the best I have ever seen it without a doubt.

Lets be realistic here, it's a 35 year old movie and there is only so much that can be done to restore it anyway.

I read the DVD Beaver review and I think their comments are way over the top and far too picky - though I have not seen the film on DVD before (only tv/cable /video screenings) so cannot make any comparisons.

So...colour me blissfully ignorant, I thought it looked fine and enjoyed it thoroughly.

I just can't get worked up over issues with transfers on movies of this vintage - and I consider myself to be quite picky when it comes to pic and sound on DVD, and I can assure you I have seen far worse.
JM1, I understand your point, but this has nothing to do with the vintage of the movie so much as it has to do with whether or not MGM (or any other company, for that matter) creates a transfer that is suitable for current technology. Basically, it boils down to progressive vs. non-progressive transfers, as Josh Z has correctly corrected me. If you have a tube tv, then a non-progressive transfer isn't that noticeable. But if you have a more advanced system -- or even just try to watch the DVD on your computer monitor -- then it can be a major problem. And this is a separate issue from the state of existing film elements. (For instance, I have silent films on both progressive and non-progressive discs. Regardless of the film elements, the progressive transfers are much more suitable to current home theater technology.) Maybe this is being too picky, but when you see companies like Warner and Criterion doing it correctly, it makes you wonder what idiocy is prevailing over at MGM/Sony....
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Old 02-23-06, 02:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Ambassador
If you have a tube tv, then a non-progressive transfer isn't that noticeable. But if you have a more advanced system -- or even just try to watch the DVD on your computer monitor -- then it can be a major problem.

I wanted to buy this DVD, but I can't now. I'm not all that picky about DVD picture quality, but I know from experience from the poorly transferred "The Meaning of Life," that a DVD with significant combing, as identified in the DVDBeaver review, is unwatchable on my system. It's a shame too, because otherwise, the picture quality looks like an improvement. I'll buy the old DVD now. I'd rather have a non-anamorphic version than a new 2006 version with combing.
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Old 02-23-06, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Ambassador
JM1, I understand your point, but this has nothing to do with the vintage of the movie so much as it has to do with whether or not MGM (or any other company, for that matter) creates a transfer that is suitable for current technology. Basically, it boils down to progressive vs. non-progressive transfers, as Josh Z has correctly corrected me. If you have a tube tv, then a non-progressive transfer isn't that noticeable. But if you have a more advanced system -- or even just try to watch the DVD on your computer monitor -- then it can be a major problem.
All DVDs are interlaced. There is no such thing as a "progressive" or "non-progressive" transfer. However, when the discs are authored they are encoded with a series of flags that instruct the display how to assemble the progressive frames. If the disc is mis-flagged as "Video" when it is actually a film-based source, a flag-reading deinterlacing chip will construct the frames wrong and you'll wind up with serious combing artifacts.

Since the vast majority of DVDs contain at least some bad flagging, a good motion adaptive deinterlacer will disregard the flags and analyze the cadence of the video signal instead. This makes the whole issue of how the disc is flagged irrelevant.

I say all this having not seen the Midnight Cowboy DVD, and have no idea what's really the source of the problem.
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Old 02-23-06, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
All DVDs are interlaced. There is no such thing as a "progressive" or "non-progressive" transfer. However, when the discs are authored they are encoded with a series of flags that instruct the display how to assemble the progressive frames. If the disc is mis-flagged as "Video" when it is actually a film-based source, a flag-reading deinterlacing chip will construct the frames wrong and you'll wind up with serious combing artifacts.

Since the vast majority of DVDs contain at least some bad flagging, a good motion adaptive deinterlacer will disregard the flags and analyze the cadence of the video signal instead. This makes the whole issue of how the disc is flagged irrelevant.

I say all this having not seen the Midnight Cowboy DVD, and have no idea what's really the source of the problem.
Well, your level of technical expertise here goes beyond my own, so I'll bow to it. But I'd always assumed that "progressive" and "non-progressive" were just handy ways of indicating precisely what you describe: whether the encoding was flagged as film-based ("progressive") or flagged as video ("non-progressive"). I had never realized that the terms themselves were meaningless -- or, indeed, that bad transfers were the result of something so simple. I had always assumed that encoding from a film-based source was rather more complicated, since I had thought that it would involve "capturing" (or whatever word you use) each of the 24 frames per second individually. Or am I way off base here?

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Old 02-23-06, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
I say all this having not seen the Midnight Cowboy DVD, and have no idea what's really the source of the problem.
Technically speaking your terminology describes some of the issues with the new disc. However the manner in which the terms "progressive" and "non-progressive" are used implies proper transfer of the film material. In this specific case the source for the SE has been treated poorly resulting in mild "ghosting" (the frame-by-frame process is indeed something that I tend to agree with DVDBEAVER). Which leads us back to the issue of (im)proper-flagging which this disc certainly shows. All in all, as mentioned above, while I am fairly disapointed with the presentation on this SE edition it is clearly not the "disgrace of the year" as DVDBEAVER claims. Sounds fancy and attracts plenty of attention but there are other films that received some terrible treatment (thus far).

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Old 02-24-06, 11:15 AM
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I hesitate to bring up an issue that I'm not well-versed in, but it may be that your DVD player is capable of ignoring the flags and properly playing back the video. If I understand the Secrets Of Home Theater bench tests of DVD players correctly (and I'm not certain I do!), this ability is tested for and the better players on the market can playback misflagged discs properly.

Which doesn't mean that the DVD isn't improperly transfered, but your player may be able to "fix" it.
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Old 02-24-06, 12:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Ambassador
Well, your level of technical expertise here goes beyond my own, so I'll bow to it. But I'd always assumed that "progressive" and "non-progressive" were just handy ways of indicating precisely what you describe: whether the encoding was flagged as film-based ("progressive") or flagged as video ("non-progressive").
Those terms are indeed often used as shorthand to describe the type of flagging on the disc. However, they are inaccurate and misleading since they imply that some DVDs are natively progressive scan, when in fact none are.

Originally Posted by Richard Malloy
I hesitate to bring up an issue that I'm not well-versed in, but it may be that your DVD player is capable of ignoring the flags and properly playing back the video. If I understand the Secrets Of Home Theater bench tests of DVD players correctly (and I'm not certain I do!), this ability is tested for and the better players on the market can playback misflagged discs properly.

Which doesn't mean that the DVD isn't improperly transfered, but your player may be able to "fix" it.
Richard, your understanding is correct. I would only add that because almost all DVDs have some bad flagging, the flags should never be relied on. A motion-adaptive deinterlacer should be the base standard for progressive scan DVD players, with flag-reading models considered substandard. It's really not fair to judge one DVD as inadequate because it has bad flagging when 99% of other DVDs do as well (though perhaps not to the same degree). Now, if the disc has other issues in addition to its flagging, that's another matter.

Last edited by Josh Z; 02-24-06 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 02-24-06, 01:31 PM
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So another question, Josh: What do you make of DVD Beaver's reviews then? Do you find that most of his complaints about bad transfers are irrelevant to you? I'm thinking specifically about some of Kino's and New Yorker's releases in 2005, like Kino's Scarlet Street and New Yorker's Signs of Life. Both of those films exhibit combing/ghosting even on my computer monitor. Are you saying that it's likely that a motion-adaptive deinterlacer would render those problems moot?
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Old 02-24-06, 02:06 PM
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Try this site for info!
HTML Code:
http://www.dvdscan.com/progress.htm
As far as I know film sources are transferred differently than video.
A very knowldegable friend of mine described it this way...
"...It's really a debate about semantics.
In essence, DVD can be both an interlaced or progressively-encoded format. However in both cases the video "packets" are stored as separated odd/even-line fields--which is why some people argue that DVD is inherently "interlaced". This field-packing method makes the MPEG2 encoding easy for the MPEG decoder to output in traditional 480I form because the video can be decoded directly to 480I without much extra ado. That was the original idea...to make standard 480I DVD players affordable in 1997.

But IMO film based DVDs really can be thought of as "Progressive" for a few reasons:

* Even with this 'field' packing method, film-based DVDs don't employ the 3-2 repitition...they just store 48 fields per second (2 x 24 frames) and the MPEG decoder produces the 3-2 pulldown for 60 Hz playback.

* The DVD is *compressed* progressively to more efficiently use bit-space...compression is much easier on a progressive signal than on an interlaced one. After compression the frames are "split" into fields for packing on the DVD.



Actually a film-based DVD flagged as "video" would NOT produce combing because the deinterlacing for video doesn't involve frame-pairing...just interpolating. So the artifact from a film based DVD marked as "video" would just be a slightly softer image (and this happens) for DVD players with 480P processing that uses flags.

The real problem with combing is:

A video DVD mis-marked as progressive so that the decoder tries to pair-up frames that don't form pairs

or

a film-based DVD that has the WRONG fields marked as progressive "pairs" so the wrong ones get paired up for progressive frame reconstruction..."


Last edited by Davy Mack; 02-24-06 at 04:21 PM.
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Old 02-24-06, 05:31 PM
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I wonder if you dont have a point, Josh-the first intended release for this was what-6-8 months ago in the UK-and it kept getting delayed, delayed, then canceled.
So it may have already been done in PAL-then shipped here-and as you state-is a PAL to NTSC conversion. BAD SONY. CHEAP SONY.
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Old 02-24-06, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Ambassador
So another question, Josh: What do you make of DVD Beaver's reviews then? Do you find that most of his complaints about bad transfers are irrelevant to you?
I find the site useful, but I take some of their comments with a grain of salt.

Both of those films exhibit combing/ghosting even on my computer monitor.
Computers almost exclusively use flag-reading deinterlacers.

Here is a much more thorough explanation of how progressive scan works than I am able to provide myself:

http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...e-10-2000.html
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Old 02-25-06, 01:30 PM
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Many thanks for the link. That should prove helpful.
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Old 02-27-06, 03:18 PM
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If you are concerned about the latest release and you are a DirecTV subscriber, watch the film on HDNet Movies. It was on last night, not sure of the next showing, but it looked fantastic!
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Old 03-16-06, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Josh Z
All DVDs are interlaced. There is no such thing as a "progressive" or "non-progressive" transfer. However, when the discs are authored they are encoded with a series of flags that instruct the display how to assemble the progressive frames. If the disc is mis-flagged as "Video" when it is actually a film-based source, a flag-reading deinterlacing chip will construct the frames wrong and you'll wind up with serious combing artifacts.

Since the vast majority of DVDs contain at least some bad flagging, a good motion adaptive deinterlacer will disregard the flags and analyze the cadence of the video signal instead. This makes the whole issue of how the disc is flagged irrelevant.
I see most current Criterion releases claiming "High Definition Digital Transfer". Is this basically what you have specified above - i.e., flagging of frames - or is it something else?
Can you briefly describe what it does (if not above), and what enhancement in picture quality it will provide with different DVD players, such as upconverting ones with Faroujda deinterlacers and ordinary progressive scan players. Did I misunderstand you to mean that HD transfer (if it same as progressive flagging) will notmake a difference if you have a good DVD player with a good de-interlacer?
Sorry if this has been discussed elsewhere; in that case I would appreciate a pointer.
Thanks.
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Old 03-16-06, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by aup
I see most current Criterion releases claiming "High Definition Digital Transfer". Is this basically what you have specified above - i.e., flagging of frames - or is it something else?
Not exactly the same thing. All it means is that Criterion is mastering their films to a High Definition storage format, which is then downcoverted to standard DVD resolution. By doing this they are ready to re-release the movie in a future HD media.

Almost all major studio releases are mastering in High Definition these days.
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