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So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

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So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Old 02-03-17, 07:51 AM
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So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Lately I have been thinking that the extra money to upgrade my pre 1960 DVD collection to HD is just not worth it. I have seen HD vs the DVD and to me I do not think it is worth it.

What do you think?
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Old 02-03-17, 08:01 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

**** films that you would watch over again, for me that is:
Singing in the Rain
Citizen kane
Casablanca
It's a Wonderful Life
Wizard of Oz
Gone with the Wind..

your mileage may vary...
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Old 02-03-17, 08:44 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by mphtrilogy View Post
**** films that you would watch over again, for me that is:
Singing in the Rain
Citizen kane
Casablanca
It's a Wonderful Life
Wizard of Oz
Gone with the Wind..

your mileage may vary...


So you noticed a huge difference in these vs the DVD counterparts?


I did on Oz but some of the others not so much. Maybe it is my TV, not sure
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Old 02-03-17, 08:46 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
So you noticed a huge difference in these vs the DVD counterparts?


I did on Oz but some of the others not so much. Maybe it is my TV, not sure
I have with Casablanca, Citizen Kane and It's Wonderful Life as well as A Christmas Carol (Alistaire Sim version).

For these classic I appreciated the upgrade.
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Old 02-03-17, 10:50 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

It's a common misconception that old movies don't benefit from HD, as if everything used to be shot on VHS or something. Prior to the modern digital age (which began in the early 2000s), all movies were shot on 35mm film, which is inherently superior to either DVD or HD. They were intended to be projected onto 50-foot theater screens and had to look good at that size. Audiences who saw Gone with the Wind in a movie palace in 1939 certainly saw something that looked a lot better than DVD.

In many ways, digital is still playing catch-up with film technology that was invented a hundred years earlier. That's why old movies are continually remastered with new film scans as the scanning equipment gets better (2k, 4k, 8k...) and is able to better resolve picture information that was always present in the source.
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Old 02-03-17, 11:04 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
So you noticed a huge difference in these vs the DVD counterparts?


I did on Oz but some of the others not so much. Maybe it is my TV, not sure
In my HT thru my ISFed PJ, I did a A/B comparison between the SD/BD of "The 3 Worlds of Gulliver," and didn't see much of a difference. But doing the same on my 65" DLP...there was a lot of difference.

The HT is more film like and the TV is more soap opera like...I LOVE MY HT!!!
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Old 02-03-17, 11:14 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Some old B&W stuff definitely looks better in HD.

For example, stuff like:

- Universal Monster movies (ie. Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, etc ...)
- the original Twilight Zone

Compared to the older SD versions on dvd or reruns, there is a definite huge improvement in picture quality in HD in the Universal Monsters and original Twilight Zone on bluray or hd reruns.
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Old 02-03-17, 12:27 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

The short answer is: No. Older upscaled movies look very good on my 60" screen.
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Old 02-03-17, 01:21 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by d2cheer View Post
The short answer is: No. Older upscaled movies look very good on my 60" screen.
Geez, I can't relate to that at all. In fact, I'd put many releases of classic films (Key Largo being a recent example) well above films decades more recently produced.
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Old 02-03-17, 01:41 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post
It's a common misconception that old movies don't benefit from HD, as if everything used to be shot on VHS or something. Prior to the modern digital age (which began in the early 2000s), all movies were shot on 35mm film, which is inherently superior to either DVD or HD. They were intended to be projected onto 50-foot theater screens and had to look good at that size. Audiences who saw Gone with the Wind in a movie palace in 1939 certainly saw something that looked a lot better than DVD.

In many ways, digital is still playing catch-up with film technology that was invented a hundred years earlier. That's why old movies are continually remastered with new film scans as the scanning equipment gets better (2k, 4k, 8k...) and is able to better resolve picture information that was always present in the source.
I remember when High-definition media was first becoming a thing. I read an article that said just that. Earlier stuff won't benefit from HD, the resolution just isn't there, ....

Very quickly as I picked up a few discs of older movies wondered what the hell they were talking about. If they took the time to do the disc right, it looked every bit as good as a current movie. In some cases I think better since they didn't rely on green screen for everything. I think FX are more apparent in HD.
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Old 02-03-17, 02:38 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

As several have said - it depends on the film and just how it was transferred. Just like any "modern" title. I have some that look like they were made yesterday and others that show their age.

The Universal Monster titles on BR are absolutely stunning. The recent Marx Brothers BR set is another sterling example of older films being made to look new again. Christmas in Connecticut is a good looking film in BR - much better than the DVD. It's the same with The Adventures of Robin Hood - much better than the DVD.

One of the things that "gets" some older films is the use of stock footage which *almost always* looks bad. But that doesn't mean the rest of the film looks "bad."

Like with *any* digital release you have to do a bit of research to make sure the film actually received a new transfer and if it got any "clean up" (no, not DNR crap but basic scratch/debris removal). If the same transfer is used for the HD release as was used for the DVD it's likely you'll see a bit of improvement but not much.
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Old 02-03-17, 03:09 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

The only major reason why older movies might not look great in HD is because the original negative (or other high quality film elements) have been lost to time and aren't available for scanning. Otherwise, they can look just as good as anything more recent. Looking at my collection stats, the 1950's are the second most represented decade behind the 1970's. The Powell & Pressburger restorations from Criterion (Red Shoes, Black Narcissus, Life and Death of Colonel Blimp) are among the most visually impressive blu-rays I own, just to name a few. I couldn't fathom not owning those on Blu-ray.
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Old 02-03-17, 05:30 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

I think the studios are being very selective on classic releases. They are going to stick to films that exist in conditions equivalent to the expectations of the format. For the most part.
Occasionally there is a botched BD of a film from good elements.
There is a reason why the market isn't flooded with public domain titles like previous formats.
There are a few public domain titles where, although the BD is a fine hi-def presentation of the print used, the DVD from original elements is the better bet. MGM/UA's DVD of Kansas City Confidential from studio elements is an example.
The public domain film The Terror, with Karloff is available on BD from a public domain print. I have a DVD-R I recorded from Turner Classic Movies which is the official pristine studio print. The DVD-R is the better presentation.

Personally, I see less of a difference between BD and DVD with brand new films, straight from the theaters. The source material is such high quality that less seems to be loss with an SD presentation. Not that BD of a new film isn't noticeably superior to the DVD, it is.

Last edited by rw2516; 02-03-17 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 02-03-17, 06:31 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

I think the challenge for Blu-ray has been trying to manage the expectations of a wide variety of consumers.

With DVD the changes and upgrades from VHS were very clear and obvious.

With Blu-ray, not so much.

Small HDTVs, less than 40" did not increase the picture quality very much from DVD at 7-8 feet away, which is normal for most living rooms. When Blu-ray first came out, most HDTV owners had smaller-screen HDTVs due to the price. The increased quality of Blu-ray didn't really stand-out.

Many people were comparing TV shows shot on HD (sports, news broadcast, nature shows etc) and wondering why a movie like Predator didn't look as sharp and had grain on Blu-ray. The solution? Ultimate Hunter Edition.

It's difficult to explain to the average Joe why a film made in 1984 like Ghostbusters looks grainy on Blu-ray whereas a film made in the 1960s looks immaculate.
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Old 02-03-17, 08:08 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

It's clearly a YMMV situation, and it's not strictly due to the various mastering issues already brought up.

Equipment will have a lot to do with it. Even the size of your set.

I've notice image quality for many DVDs does not look as good on our 70" Sony as they do on our smaller 40" Samsung and Toshiba sets, which are both much older than the Sony. Watching many DVDs on the Sony I get noticeable banding in graduated areas and blocky parts in solid black/color areas.

But it's not strictly the sets, either. All our TVs are hooked up to blu-ray players. The smaller sets though are hooked up to much newer players. The Sony TV is hooked up to our very first blu-ray player (also Sony), bought thru Disney Rewards partly due to a nice discount... but also because it was 3D capable with a firmware update. It's why it's hooked up to the Sony, which is 3D.

That's just DVDs. Classic film Blu's all look great on each set.
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Old 02-05-17, 06:50 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Just did some more tests on my 49" Samsung. Borrowed a buddies BD collection to test with my DVD's

Upon further review some of my fav's

Blow Up, His Friday Girl, What a Way to go all look great, better than DVD but not sure if I would want to spend another 15-20 to grab the blu-ray version

Most noticeable to me was better color but honestly once I get into the movie still to me it is not a huge difference.
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Old 02-05-17, 08:28 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
... better than DVD but not sure if I would want to spend another 15-20 to grab the blu-ray version
Definitely. It is largely a judgement call.

In my case, I didn't bother buying any of the original Twilight Zone blurays in spite of the top notch hd picture quality. (I don't have any original Twilight Zone dvds either). More generally, I only really watch the original Twilight Zone reruns on various basic cable channels. I find it is a show that I don't binge watch at all. I just watch the reruns whenever they're on, where nowadays the reruns are in HD resolution.

In the case of Universal Monsters, I had some of the older dvd releases (from 15+ years ago) which I found at various local dollar stores. The UK bluray version was definitely like a huge difference between night and day (no pun intended), compared to the older 15+ years old dvd versions from the dawn of the dvd era. I watch these bluray versions every now and then.
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Old 02-05-17, 09:30 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
Just did some more tests on my 49" Samsung. Borrowed a buddies BD collection to test with my DVD's

Upon further review some of my fav's

Blow Up, His Friday Girl, What a Way to go all look great, better than DVD but not sure if I would want to spend another 15-20 to grab the blu-ray version

Most noticeable to me was better color but honestly once I get into the movie still to me it is not a huge difference.
But that's going to be true of any movie, no matter the vintage. Either your going to appreciate the difference between DVD and blu-ray, or your not.
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Old 02-05-17, 11:30 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by rocket1312 View Post
But that's going to be true of any movie, no matter the vintage. Either your going to appreciate the difference between DVD and blu-ray, or your not.
I just watched "Carrie" (1976-MGM version) on Blu-ray and, granted, this is not known as a stellar presentation anyways but it pushing out 16-20 mbps. The DVD, presumably struck from the same mediocre source, was pushing out 4-6 mbps.

On a 40" TV the difference was barely visible.

Especially in the early days of HD many naysayers were subjected to a lot of "Are you out of your mind! Blu-ray is six times better!!"

I have 500 Blu-rays myself and I appreciate the format but I fully understand when many consumers are indifferent.

Just because Blu-ray is mathematically six times better, it doesn't mean that difference translates to the screen every time.
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Old 02-05-17, 12:39 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by orangerunner View Post
I just watched "Carrie" (1976-MGM version) on Blu-ray and, granted, this is not known as a stellar presentation anyways but it pushing out 16-20 mbps. The DVD, presumably struck from the same mediocre source, was pushing out 4-6 mbps.

On a 40" TV the difference was barely visible.

Especially in the early days of HD many naysayers were subjected to a lot of "Are you out of your mind! Blu-ray is six times better!!"

I have 500 Blu-rays myself and I appreciate the format but I fully understand when many consumers are indifferent.

Just because Blu-ray is mathematically six times better, it doesn't mean that difference translates to the screen every time.
Of course. My point is that those perceived differences have nothing to do with the year the movie came out.
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Old 02-05-17, 02:14 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Originally Posted by orangerunner View Post
I just watched "Carrie" (1976-MGM version) on Blu-ray and, granted, this is not known as a stellar presentation anyways but it pushing out 16-20 mbps. The DVD, presumably struck from the same mediocre source, was pushing out 4-6 mbps.

On a 40" TV the difference was barely visible.

Especially in the early days of HD many naysayers were subjected to a lot of "Are you out of your mind! Blu-ray is six times better!!"

I have 500 Blu-rays myself and I appreciate the format but I fully understand when many consumers are indifferent.

Just because Blu-ray is mathematically six times better, it doesn't mean that difference translates to the screen every time.
The MGM Carrie is a mediocre Blu-ray and always has been a mediocre Blu-ray. It didn't look good upon release to Blu-ray and time has done nothing but make it look worse since.

Most of MGM's early BDs were sub-standard HD transfers struck while DVD was the intended format.
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Old 02-16-17, 02:05 PM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

Depends on how much you like the movie, wouldn't it?
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Old 02-17-17, 06:00 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

In terms of "upgrading", my rule is that I must first watch my current copy of a movie (usually on DVD, but if I have it on laserdisc or even VHS I'll watch that) on my current equipment. I'll then decide if the quality of what I have is truly lacking (usually overcompression on DVD and/or obvious lack of detail due to the format's low resolution) enough to warrant buying it again on Blu-Ray, but I also consider if I really LIKE the movie enough to want to buy and watch it again on a better format.

When I first got my HDTV I thought most upscaled DVDs looked "good enough" but after a while you notice the limitations of the format. Not all Blu-Rays are perfect either however, as some still use too much compression.
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Old 02-17-17, 06:51 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

There were definitely some clunkers on BR, ie. the first releases of Apollo 13 and The Thing come to mind. And there were certainly some stellar DVD up-converts. My Titanic SE up-converted looked every bit as good as most of my BR's. Now that I've started my fourth iteration of discs, upgrades will be few and far between. New discs will be UHD assuming only a $5 or $6 difference.
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Old 02-17-17, 11:08 AM
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Re: So are all classic films worth the HD upgrade?

I guess my solution for a sub-par picture has always been a simple one; watch on a smaller screen or sit further back.

Even 35mm film, the gold standard of quality, looked grainy when you sat in the front row of the theatre. When you sat several rows back, the picture quality improved.

The rule-of-thumb for a movie theatre was to sit twice as far back as the screen is wide. I think the same applies to an HDTV. If you have a 50" TV, you should be 8 feet 4 inches back for the best quality.
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