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"Fast Runner" DVD: American vs. Canadian ?

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"Fast Runner" DVD: American vs. Canadian ?

Old 02-16-03, 01:15 AM
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"Fast Runner" DVD: American vs. Canadian ?

I'm interested in purchasing the movie "The Fast Runner", but I'm wondering how the picture and sound quality of the Canadian 2 disc set compares with the newly released American disc. Is it the same transfer? Thanks...

JiM T
Old 02-16-03, 02:00 AM
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Here's the graphics comparison:

dvdbasen comparison

It looks like the US version has a better video but the Canadian version is superior in any other categories.

I saw the US version this morning and the picture quality is stunning. While it's nice to get the extras, I would pick up the US version over the Canadian.
Old 02-16-03, 08:52 AM
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I'll just put in my vote for the Canadian version. I personally thought the video quality was great, even though I only have a 32" TV. Plus I really like the movie and all the extras were very welcomed as well as being top-notch.
Old 02-16-03, 04:52 PM
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Thanks for the replies. Looking at the comparison, I'm more confused than ever which version to buy. I have an HDTV, so the nicer transfer would be awesome, but I know that the extra content on the Canadian DVD set would probably greatly enhance my appreciation for the story content.

Right now, I'm leaning toward the Canadian DVD, since A) it has solid extras, and B) I could begrudgingly justify the lesser transfer by thinking that this may be closer to what people saw in theaters, being a video-to-film transfer and all. No idea how it ACTUALLY looked in theaters, but that little rationalization may help me get less upset while watching the feature.

Still hoping Criterion somehow gets ahold of this, and gives us a definative version.

JiM T
Old 02-16-03, 05:20 PM
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What ARE the extras?
Old 02-16-03, 06:33 PM
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...take a look here...

. . . . . .
Old 02-16-03, 08:12 PM
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The extras (also detailed on that comparison page) do rightly rule on the Canadian version, which I have. The picture quality didn't bother me, but I hadn't seen the American, which judging from the screen captures is clearly a step up.

The missing 6 minutes from the American version sounds much more disturbing, although nobody seems to be able to account for what that is yet.
Old 02-16-03, 08:18 PM
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ooooh! thanks!
Old 03-09-03, 01:54 PM
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Well, I picked up the US version of The Fast Runner and - ARGGHH! They transferred the DVD straight from the digital video masters, which makes the movie look like it was shot on a camcorder. Yes, the image quality is crystal clear, but this is not the epic movie I saw and fell in love with in theatres. The movie looks incredibly amateurish now. No wonder most of the recent reviews of the US DVD have rated the film poorly.

Besides losing that "film" look, on-screen movements seem "hurried". I don't know if that's a byproduct of the video transfer, or if they actually sped up the film, but that would account for the missing six minutes.

Now, I haven't seen the Canadian version - can anyone confirm that it was transferred from the film master instead of the digital video master? Please?

Last edited by ehonauer; 03-09-03 at 01:58 PM.
Old 03-09-03, 03:07 PM
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ehonauer

i meant to comment on this a few weeks earlier and i'm sorry that i didn't in time to save you the purchase.

i own the canadian version and it looks great. beautiful. transfer of the film. in class three weeks ago, we watched a copy of the new american release and it did look awful. it did look like someone with a plain digital camcorder. the canadian version is much more superior in terms of visual quality, flesh tones and all that look great.

plus the supplements are superb.

i was lucky that i couldn't stay for my entire class because I had to go see a play, watching that film for three hours with the way that it looked would have been a horrible experience, and i feel bad for my classmates who's introduction to the award winning film was with that atrocious transfer. i'm sure they were asking, "this thing won awards?"

anyways. i'm sorry that you didn't get what you wanted with the american dvd, but pick up the canadian one and you'll be set right.
Old 03-09-03, 05:08 PM
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TL, the movie WAS shot with a digital camcorder. Look at the dvdbasen link above for a comparison.

I've seen both versions now and the american version has more details compared to the canadian. There's the stark white quality that makes it feel like a documentary sometimes - maybe that's what you mean by looking like shot with plain digicam. In any case, both versions have great PQ. Think about the american release as the superbit version and make your decision that way.
Old 03-09-03, 10:13 PM
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Originally posted by brombie
TL, the movie WAS shot with a digital camcorder. Look at the dvdbasen link above for a comparison.

I've seen both versions now and the american version has more details compared to the canadian. There's the stark white quality that makes it feel like a documentary sometimes - maybe that's what you mean by looking like shot with plain digicam. In any case, both versions have great PQ. Think about the american release as the superbit version and make your decision that way.
for me personally, i was fond of the way it was shown in theaters. i think ehonauer above was talking about that as well, that his or her experience was based on a presentation where the digital was transfered to film. the american release because it is a straight digital copy looks way to sharp, lacking the subtle smoother nature of film. and all the snow and ice looked way too hot and almost overexposed.

i think the film is still great either way you go, but my personal preference is the film based transfer. strange though how everyone fights about OAR and stuff, but no one ever fights about the theatrical transfer of a film (which would only probably affect this and Chuck and Buck)
Old 03-09-03, 11:35 PM
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Originally posted by TLwizard
i think the film is still great either way you go, but my personal preference is the film based transfer. strange though how everyone fights about OAR and stuff, but no one ever fights about the theatrical transfer of a film (which would only probably affect this and Chuck and Buck)
I agree with you, it all comes down to preference. I prefer the american version since it makes me feel closer to being there - which is important for a film about a part of the world that most of us have never or ever will set foot on.

As for theatrical transfer of a film, unless a director publicly insists on certain ways to do it, I would go with whichever is closest to the source. In the case of Aternajuat, it's the digital. I'm not sure they were given a choice on how to show the movies on the theatres. Digital reproductions and DLP-equipped theatres are usually reserved for blockbuster-pedigree movies.
Old 03-10-03, 02:08 AM
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I have to say that I was a tad disappointed with the transfer on the Canadian version - just because there were far too many artifacts that should have been easily removed. And with the constant white backgrounds they are VERY noticable, and I found them distracting - only because I love the film so much and knowing it was shot digitally I was expecting a flawless print. I had considered getting the American release just for the picture, and looking at the comparisons I think i will. Contrary to the opinions above, i agree with the guy at DVDBeaver that the American release looks much more natural. Perhaps it now has a more 'documentary' feel, but I don't personally think that is a bad thing.
Old 03-10-03, 02:56 AM
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I've seen the American version, which does come off looking like a student film shot on DV. I was wondering how it looked in the theaters. I heard some people talking about the spectacular cinematography and I just didn't really see it. Maybe it looked a little more epic on film. I'd be curious to see the Canadian version to see if it changes my feelings on the film. Are the extras worthwhile? I checked out the above 'extras' link and they don't really sound all that exciting. Are there any interviews or are the extras all text and picture based stuff?

Last edited by monkeyboy; 03-10-03 at 03:00 AM.
Old 03-10-03, 08:55 AM
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Thanks, everybody, for the comments. Trust me, it looked way more epic on film in the theatre.

Getting "closer to the source" doesn't necessarily mean a better film experience. Transferring video to film is just another step in the post-production process, no different than adding sound effects, special effects or digital effects (e.g. O Brother Where Art Thou).

The film look of Atanarjuat provided the effect of a hypnotic waking dream. The video version breaks that spell. For me, watching it "as a documentary" minimizes the aesthetic acheivements of the movie. Here's a quote from an article on FilmCritic.com that indicates the filmmakers feel similarly:

After screening Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) before a sold-out crowd at the New York Museum of Modern Art, filmmakers Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn answered an audience member's question with obvious chagrin. While the film had collected six Genie awards (Canada's Oscars), including prizes for Best Film, Best Direction, and Best Screenplay, Cohn noted that not a single cast member had received an acting nomination.

"I guess people think they're not acting," said Cohn ruefully.
I suppose it is a matter of preference, but you can't ignore the heaps of praise and awards the film received for its cinematography during its theatrical tour of the world - including the Camera d'Or at Cannes. Norman Cohn (who was the DP for The Fast Runner) is a big proponent of digital video, so it wouldn't suprise me if he approved of the video transfer.

However, I know that a lot of thought, planning and care went into the transfer from video to film, a complicated NTSC-to-film transfer. It's a shame that the US version robs viewers of the fruits of that accomplishment. It also feels like a bait and switch. Imagine you pop in your new copy of Citizen Kane and - gasp - it's colorized!

I based my decision to get the US version on DVDBeaver's comparison, but the on-line screen shots don't tell the whole story. Video just does not look like film. It would've been really interesting if Columbia had put the theatrical trailer on the disc, then you could compare the two looks. But I'm glad the Canadian version was transferred from the film negative, and I'll be snapping that up soon, artifacts and all.

Last edited by ehonauer; 03-10-03 at 09:11 AM.
Old 03-10-03, 06:25 PM
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Originally posted by ehonauer
Thanks, everybody, for the comments. Trust me, it looked way more epic on film in the theatre.

Getting "closer to the source" doesn't necessarily mean a better film experience.
Right. It's one thing if they specifically wanted the DV "look", it's another thing if they just used DV because they couldn't afford to use film, which I suspect was the case with this project. Lots of people shooting things on DV do so because it's cheap, not because they like the look better than film.

As for the acting, frankly I thought it was mediocre. I can't imagine the director thinking that anyone there deserved awards. I thought the acting was often forced and awkward. This was the first time acting for the majority of the indians and it showed. It looked to me like everyone was trying to act and that's never a good thing.
Old 03-10-03, 08:42 PM
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In an interview I read, Norman Cohn said a conscious decision was made to use video when shooting The Fast Runner. It wasn't out of monetary reasons. They had a lot of experience shooting in video, so they were more comfortable with it. Shipping film from the remote location to get developed so the crew could see daily rushes was impractical, and film has a tendency to freeze in the camera in subzero temperatures anyway.

I thought the acting in The Fast Runner was tremendous, but again, the video version really sours the proceedings. Take any great movie, view it sped up with the video texture of a soap opera, and I'm sure the performances will seem lacking. It's like when you see actors performing a scene on video during a "Making of" documentary - they always look like they're "acting". Video's just a harsher medium.

I agree that it looked like a bad student film in video, but bad student films generally don't take top prizes at numerous film festivals around the world. This really is a beautiful film, one of my top 3 of 2002. It's really unfortunate that so many people's first exposure to it will be in this format.
Old 03-15-03, 12:31 AM
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I just watched the Canadian 2-disc of Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner, and I have to say that the softer transfer of the Canadian release is definitely the way to go. The trailer on the extras cd is a direct dv transfer and has the crispy video look that I find very distracting. By contrast, I found the film transfer of the feature far more immersive.

Great movie, btw. My only comment is that I wish that the spiritual occurences that shape the whole plot were more explicit than implied. One of the special features takes you through the legend point by point, and there really are quite a few more mystical/spiritual happenings than the movie shows, so I think that it missed out on some potential impact.
Old 03-15-03, 12:57 AM
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Why is the U.S. version sped up? Since the movie was shot in NTSC DV a direct digital-to-digital transfer should run at the same speed as the original source material, right? Or is there something else I'm missing?
Old 03-18-03, 04:22 PM
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Originally posted by Dan Average
Why is the U.S. version sped up? Since the movie was shot in NTSC DV a direct digital-to-digital transfer should run at the same speed as the original source material, right? Or is there something else I'm missing?
A good question! I'd guess that the transfer of DV-to-film involved some slowing of the DV frame rate.

If that's true, the answer to your question depends on what you consider the original source. I consider what I saw in the theatre the source, so the video version looks sped up. If you consider the digital master the source, than the film transfer will seem slowed down.
Old 12-16-04, 10:39 AM
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Man, I just can't win. Although I had seen the Canadian Alliance "film" transfer of Atanarjuat and thought it was a lot better than the US Columbia Tri-star "video" transfer, I procrastinated on buying it. Well, I finally purchased it last week, excitedly popped it in my DVD player last night and - WTF?

The Canadian Alliance 2 disc now has the same video transfer as the US version! I don't know when that happened, but if anybody has any info, or can help me locate a copy of the "film" Alliance version with the "film" transfer, I sure would appreciate it.

The UPC on the Alliance disc I have is 0 65935 14388 8. The number on the spine and the disc is 4388.
Old 12-16-04, 10:50 AM
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Unforunately, if they did indeed change the transfer, those numbers aren't going to help you. I have one of the earlier Alliance 2-disc sets, and the upc and spine number are the same.
Old 12-16-04, 12:46 PM
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Damn, I was afraid of that! Ah well, thanks for the quick answer anyway, Nocturnaloner.

I honestly have no idea how I'm going to get a copy of the film transfer. Guess I'll have to randomly purchase copies of the Alliance release and hope I get an old one.

It's a damn shame if the only version of the film available on DVD is now the direct-from-video transfer.

Last edited by ehonauer; 12-16-04 at 01:35 PM.

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