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Customer Review

94 of 98 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pin sharp, gritty transfer, as it should be, 28 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Bullitt [Blu-ray] [1968] [Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Okay, lets talk about the difference between grain....and sharpness. The Blu ray transfer of this film is pin sharp,thats because the focus puller and camera man on the original film crew did a very good job and got everything in perfect focus!! The Blu Ray transfer does exemplify the characteristics of the film stock used in 1968....remember this is a film shot entirely on location in an almost semi/documentary style using film stock suited to low light levels and with a minimum use of suplementary lighting, by nature the film stock can be slightly grainy in places but that is no accident and can be considered a creative choice by the director to convey the gritty on the spot realism required. Actually in many ways this film set a trend, not just because of the car chase but the visual style and realistic/ urgent nature of the camera work spawned a slew of gritty action thrillers, (see French Connection/Blu Ray). There is no point in trying to compare the visual quality of a Blu Ray film like "Bullit" to a Blu Ray Bond film, for one thing the visual styles are so disparate as to be incomparable, Bond films present a saturated hyper reality, a high gloss to go with the high fantasy, "Bullitt" is a gritty cop thriller, it doesn't need cleaned up or made glossy like a modern film, watch it as it was intended to be, this Blu ray is good, its sharp, its clear, its grainy in places, its how it should be. I have the DVD and the Blu Ray is far superior...enjoy.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Feb 2012 12:51:57 GMT
chipmonk says:
This Review is "SPOT ON".. most people genuinely mistake Shapness/Clarity with issues of Grain. The Grain is a feature of all Film stock to a greater or lesser degree. Many studios often make the mistake also of using Digital techniques to Remove the Grain effect- at the cost of robbing the film of its sharpness and detail in the process.
Films shot in "Digital" don't have the grain, but all the wonderful films shot in the pre-digital era will look generally better in 1080p Hi Definiion than not..ESPECIALLY when modern larger screen flat panels are used.. which is a growing trend.
This film look REMARKABLE on Both Blu-ray and the former HD-DVD (now the defunct successor to DVD), and use the same Master. The picture was shot with a strong eye for detail, so the clarity and sharpness ARE apparent and shine on the HD format discs. Yes the remasetered DVD issue looked stunning- but on a larger HD Panel, this will LOOK EVEN Sharper with far more detail resolved!
Now at bargain prices- I recommend strongly this is a worthy UPGRADE for one of the Finest Movies of its genre... and be Thankful Warners DID NOT use any GRAIN removal techniques which would have meant a LOSS of that Fine Detail. Make no mistake, in its cinematic presenation, which I saw upon Uk release, it would have also shown the Grain, and likely less sharp than we have here on the Blu-ray/HD-DVD issues.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Aug 2012 03:51:15 BDT
Jeff Pipsey says:
"... in its cinematic presenation, which I saw upon Uk release, it would have also shown the Grain, and likely less sharp than we have here on the Blu-ray/HD-DVD issues. "

Does digital scanning 'pick up' the grain 'more' though chipmonk, as opposed to how the film reel would have shown it through the projector on original release? Was the decrease in sharpness better looking for the grain?

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Aug 2012 04:51:27 BDT
chipmonk says:
I am sure the "sharpness" we get now for Home Video presentation is indeed sharper-lloking than we would have seen in the cinema... and soft focus of the lens would deal with grain... somehow, I can't ever recall being bothered by garin on cinematic showings of this or any other film! What I do know is ...that for close up and personal viewing at home on your TV screen, using DNR to get rid of grain is always at the expense of sharpness.. and in any event, most people prefer to see a sharper crisper image at home than they would expect to see on the cinema screen.. hence many Blu-ray tramsfers being criticized, even tho they are sharper than the original cinema releases.. and where heavy use of DNR is used by some releasing studios, those appear far too soft, even if they consider it to BE more accurate!!
Far better see th natural grain AND have the true sharpness than have little grain but a softer image...This is why many THINK their issues on DVD "appear" sharper.. than the Blu-ray ....and maybe they ARE!! DVD of course woul mask some of that grain thru lack of definbition..
I personally prefer "at home" for my 65" Pro Plasma 65VX100 Panasonic screen seeing a sharper image.. even though I know full well that the cinema release would never have appeared quite as good! Bullit is a good example!!

grain was often chosen by a Director to give the movie a Gritty Look.. as you might find in "Get Carter" (Original UK 19971).. or Ipcress File...any Spy thriller!! Use of soft focus for the Cinema Screen appears to work in cinema theatres...but at home on High Tech Digital TVs, softness renders a blurry effect..less "liked" by the Public at Large??
I conclude there is a difference when watching movies at HOME on a TV screen over that of a Cinema screen via a Projector in Near Pitch-Black conditions...
I DO THINK studios are learning now and appreciate this MORE now, that heavy judicious use of DNR robs the Blu-ray of detailand leaves us THINKING the DVD copy we have is sharper..which upscaled it probably IS !!
Most Early Bl;u-ray releases for the first couple of years or so looked very weak and lacking in detail.. siingkle layer discs did not help, nor did heavy use of DNR to clean up a print for Blu-ray! In fact side by side comaprisons at the time with HD-DVD showed the now defunct system appeared much sharper than the Blu-ray release.. probably because Toshiba had some very clever upscaling tricks up its sleeve.. so theoir releases always looked much sharper...that was "in-built" into the system.. and made them LOOK much crisper than the early BD equivalent disc...
I recall, the Manager on the Sales floor at Selfridges, London (A/V Dept.) agreed with me on that... they felt Blu-ray (at version 1.0 time) looked very weak compared to HD-DVD.. but Toshiba did have several years more behind them than Sony did in its "Catch Up Quick" attempt to stop HD-DVD spoling Sony's plans for HD and PS3...which was still a couple more years away...so Sony werew foreced into the arena much earlier than they wanted..and results of all those early players and discs was pretty poor... compared to newer 50GB discs with LATER CODECS than the MPEG 2 transfers..

So, some psychological preferences kick in when viewing on a Home TV.. on digital screens..the soft focus prints if left unsharpened appear to BE poor transfers..even tho they may BE what is actually there on the print!!
Common sense in the remastering stage is called upon..because you cannot really use the Marleting Man's Selling PHRASE..."As the Director Intended!" for a screening on your home television !!! which is a compltetely different method of showing it, with contrast level cranked UP to the Nine's, and Brightness too.. and relatively few have projectors...and even then...they are DIGITAL and not using celluloid FILM prints as a "real" traditional projector..
I suppose it is a VERY emotive subject... but what most forget is the differences in Format/Home screens we view on today.. so it is MEANINGLESS "what the Director Intended"...because Kubrick and Others were shooting for the Cinema before TV/Video had any bearing on the subject at all!! Kubrick was a soft focus man... but the effect in cinemas looked RIGHT in the cinema!
Many wrongly assumed Kubrick "preffered" 4:3 prints of his films for Home release on Video.. the fact is that Kubrick once saw a video of one of his films on a VHS played on a standard 4:3 screen...and with a 1:2.35 ratio on a square TV the reslults were ROTTEN!!! I REMEMBER THEM SO WELL,, THE BLACK BARS FILLED HALF THE ENTIRE SCREEN SURFACE, and the 240 line definition of VHS made this ULTRA narrow viewing envelope LOOK ridiculous on a square TV !!!
He then "preferred" 4:3 ratio for Home Releases of his movies SIMPLY BECAUSE the technology of the 80s and 90s did NOT make it a pleasant expereince seeing an image that was TINY...and made NO sense to him !! Had their been sharper DVDs and bigger screens, of course his views would have been different !! so we cannot ONLY rely upon what a Director intended or Not.. because it was based on completely different parameters!! If that makes any sense?
Can't WAIT TO SEE HOW THE MURKY SCENES IN jAWS APPEAR on Blu-ray... a prime example where DNR can be tempting for a studio to use heavily in remastering.. but hopefully have now learnt NOT TO !!! Seeing grain and having the sharper detail is preferable to killing Grain and robbing all detail...for Home Viewing. IMO..

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Aug 2012 16:17:03 BDT
Jeff Pipsey says:
Wasn't expecting an answer that long, but thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Aug 2012 16:52:39 BDT
chipmonk says:
was the wee hours when i replied LOL!!! easasily carried away-but hope the points are worthwhile to help better understand this very complex issue.. what looks GOOD on a huge cinema screen will LOOK very different at HOME on a TV/home projector set up.. and the digital tranfer process picks up/highlights grain more forcefully that soft focus projection..
Regards Michael, Camden in London, UK (formerly in the A/V Industry)...

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Nov 2012 01:44:50 GMT
GranO says:
Thanks Chipmonk! I had heard criticism of the Bullitt blu-ray for quality of picture and cropped aspect ratio. After reading your excellent review and commentary, I am sold.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2014 10:23:40 BDT
blueskies says:
Thanks Chipmonk, cleared up some points very well for me. The historical perspective and HD / BD comparings were very illuminating as part of that [perspective]. There is a studio /commercial consideration that we have to be aware of too, so reviews and informed opinions are vital, thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2014 12:36:36 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 Aug 2014 12:39:16 BDT
chipmonk says:
@blueskies.. funnily enough, I was watching my HD-DVD copy of Bullitt just a few days ago ( watched perhaps 4 times per year! I love the soundtrack and gritty style of the movie).. and this is essentially the same print as on the Blu-ray, an early transfer by Warners.. The natural grain is very noticebale, but as Chris Mac "Mac" explains, this is what was intended, being shot on film stock used for Low Lighting "On Location" natural light ...as opposed to heavy studio lighting as used in a "blockbuster" style movie, like Bond.. and the film stock itself produces grain.. so many varieties, that it becomes like an Artist chosing his canvas for texture/effect..
The film on disc IS razor-sharp, and the HD looks stunning.. but in dark scenes, we will always have a degree of murkiness on the disc.. unless you WASH IT AWAY by DNR, which will also kill off any detail of what was there sharply before being tinkered heavily with!

TV Panels are MUCH BETTER Today than they were in the mid 2000's..MANY low to mid-range flat screen TVs could NOT tell the difference between natural GRAIN (WANTED!) and DIGITAL PICTURE NOISE (UNWANTED!).. so the sets's own Noise Reduction cicruits (and the player's too, I suspect) would smear the picture even further.. because it could not differentitate between the 2 situations.. and wouldn't KNOW what to DO with it...

Bullit on HD-DVD or Blu-ray is a pleasure to watch, BECAUSE of its style, being so intentionally different from The Bond movies with all their Dazzling Colour and Glitz! Bullet gives us a 'down to earth' gritty take ... and therein lies the beauty... I couldn't imagine it being made and shown in Digital, looking squeeky clean, but with no character... as opposed to analog film stock.. you'd have lost the very essence, heart and soul of a griity movie looking how it should.. not one that is made up of pixels, which in cinemas looks like you're watching an LCD/LED (large) home TV screen and NOT a projected 35mm film! The difference is (IMO) still a huge gulf between the 2 technologies.. but of course, new technology means lower costs for the studios, but thankfully, some Directors still insist on shooting with REAL FILM...

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2014 15:56:23 BDT
blueskies says:
Thanks chipmonk, plenty to think about. It guides me to more tolerance than previously.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Aug 2014 18:43:20 BDT
chipmonk says:
@ blueskies. I am more toleerant too! Once you SEE how judicious use of DNR etc looks like- ie. detail and texture of skin bleached away- flat- maybe also looking orange.. 'waxy' looking more like a comic book than how film looks like.. we end up tending to prefer less tinkering and accepeting the natural grain.. with the fine detail INTACT rather than having the living life squeezed out of the Blu-ray, so it ends up looking like a poor VHS quality (low rez) transfer than the much better (but grainy) HD master they started with! They can use the tools very sparingly.. but most end up being over-worked and looking all the worse for it! Yes, it took me a long time to think and conclude all this.. but the less they tinker- the more fimic it will look!
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