Sunday, March 29, 2015

Screen Shots and Technical Errata

In response to inquiries, we've put up some screenshots from Disc One (of five) which is the worst looking out of the set. What I mean is that it has the highest percentage of material lifted from less-than optimum sources and it serves as the litmus for just how badly some of the footage looks. If you can live with this, then you should be satisfied with the rest of the feature.

Taken from the 1977 NBC Saga broadcast.

199? USA networks Saga

Coppola Restoration

2001 DVD

Coppola Restoration

1997 Laserdisc

AMC Saga broadcast

Trilogy Laserdisc

AMC Saga

German Laserdisc

Trilogy Laserdisc

2001 DVD

VHS Trilogy

Japanese Trilogy Laserdisc

2001 DVD

1977 NBC Saga

2004 DVD Extra

AMC Saga

DVD Extra

Coppola Restoration

2001 DVD

We did all that we could to color correct the footage to make the film as uniform as possible but we were only able to go so far without ruining the scenes.


•Will this be released in single or dual-layer DVD-R format? And that's six discs total?

There will be five h.264 files (plus a bonus disc) which can be burned to your satisfaction. Each disc averages around 2 hours and 20 minutes, so it's really up to you whether you want to stretch them over six discs or do three dual layers. One guy I know wants to burn it to six dual layer discs for as little compression as possible, so whatever floats your boat.

What Day Will It Be Released
yes what day ?, i am losing in it here , i cannot wait !!!! 
What Day Will It Be Released  
yes please! , post it already i don't have the patience to wait :]
are we gonna wait another three years for this?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!!?!??!?!?   

Actually, everybody but you has already downloaded it. It was posted three years ago and you probably just missed it.

Seriously though, I wrote that it would be ready the first week of April, so within the next few days. We put together some disc labels that you can print out over your set plus some DVD case covers and an extensive liner note booklet that you can also print out if you wish. The booklet is in standard PDF format if you just want to read it on your monitor or in a print-ready PDF booklet format. All you have to do is print out the first half of the pages, flip them over and print the second half, then staple it down the middle and presto- DVD booklet. If your printer has double-sided printing capability, then you don't even have to manually flip the pages.

What will the screen resolution be? Is it true high-def or is it upscaled?

We were going to release this as a high-def set, but a couple of things got in the way.

First, 80% of the footage comes from a standard definition source. Very little came from the Blu-ray restoration, so when the film was upscaled it looked pretty rough.

Second, each disc came out to about 15 gigs. Nobody wants to download a 90 gig torrent, much less seed one. We compressed it down to about half that size, but then we asked ourselves if it was better to just release it with a full-resolution DVD quality format or settle for a compressed 720p high def at five times the size of the DVD files? Looking at them side by side, there really wasn't any higher quality between the HD and SD versions, so we encoded it in SD.

One day, and that day may never come, the average download speed in the US will be 50 mbps. Blu-Ray will be an obsolete format. The basic hard drive will hold 100 terabytes of memory. 4320p will be the new standard for home theater. Maybe, just maybe, Paramount will reconstruct the Godfather negatives in 8k UHD and the heavy gold/black color correction of the Coppola Restoration will be ignored in favor of a pallet that matches the original negative.

And when that day arrives, we will attempt The Complete Epic Trilogy version 2.0. We will use the best available video editing software and reconstruct our edit from the ground up. It will be in sparkling Ultra HD and it will be in Dolby Atmos 236.8 Surround Sound. What's that? Don't have a 250-piece home stereo setup? Fine. One of the audio tracks will be in the antique 7.1 Surround (if you want to live like a caveman.)

But until then, plain old DVD quality will have to suffice.

Hi, I was recently visiting Italy and saw on TV a version of the saga called Il Padrino. I noticed some things that weren't in the US saga and was wondering if you have seen this version. Looking forward to the release.

Yes, we have utilized this cut as well. The Greek and Italian 'Il Saga de Il Padrino' has two unique scene extensions. When Vito kills Strollo on the boat, it plays out several frames longer than in any other version. Ditto the scene where Michael gives his blessing to Sonny's daughter in marriage.

• I love these old magazine scans! Want moar! 

Unfortunately it will probably be about another six months before we scan any old articles. One of the guys involved in this project has pretty much every newspaper and magazine article related to the Godfather and was scanning them and sending them to us on disc. He's not been responding to any emails in the last couple of years so if you're reading this DQ we can use some more material.

I have my own little archive but I recently moved and all of that stuff is packed up in storage. When I get a chance, I will fish it out and scan it here.

• I have a question that maybe you can weigh in on. I recently bought a BR player and my wife got me the Restoration set on Blu ray and it looks a little different than the DVD version of the Restoration. Am I imagining things or is it the same exact feature?

I don't think you're imagining anything:





Just for comparison's sake, this came from the first DVD set (2001) ...

... while this one came from the 2008 restoration.



As you can see, there's some pretty startling contrasts between the BD (Blu-ray) and DVD Restoration. In some cases, the DVD looks much better than the BD. In other cases, the Blu-ray beats the DVD. And in a few cases, the original non-restored DVD looks better than both.

What's the cause of such difference? Is it because the films were transferred in 4k and then downsampled to 1080p for BD, then a further 480p? This is why I don't like to weigh in on which version is "best."

The way we constructed the CET was a democratic vote between four (sometimes five) people involved in this project. We took screenshots from each major scene from the Laserdiscs, both DVD sets and the BD. Then we tried to match them up to whatever 35mm footage we had access to. From there we voted on the source that looked the closest to the original film stock. You be the judge!

This question kind of ties in with this discussion:

•What do you know regarding the film to video transfers done in the past prior to the Coppola Restoration?

We have a source at Paramount who tells us this: (my comments are in [brackets])

The first transfers were done in 1980 for VHS, CED, and Laserdisc. The original negatives had been used to strike new prints as Parts 1 and 2 were re-issued several times throughout the 70's and so by the time that they had already been run through the ringer. So even on those first home video releases the print looked like shit. They made a transfer from the negatives onto U-Matic tape.

In the mid-80's Sony and Zenith were putting out higher resolution TV sets and Paramount was reissuing most of their catalog and Part I and II needed a new transfer and the U-Matic master was toast. All the first gen Paramount and MGM transfers were on U-Matic because it was cheaper. But around 1985-ish most everyone used Telecine which was a way better format. So they tried to make a telecine master from the original negative but it kept breaking up in the gate. They couldn't find the interpositive [a first-gen dupe of the original negative] so they glued the negative back together with chewing gum and scotch tape. Only a slight exaggeration. And they complete fucking ruined the negative in the process. 

You were asking why the fade outs and dissolves are different in the first gen releases vs the second gen. Well I will tell you. These geniuses, when they were putting the negative back together, tore off the original dissolves. I don't know how much you know about negative dissolves but basically if you want a soft dissolve like in the Godfather and especially Part II, you take a smaller piece of film like from 8mm or 16mm and splice it over the 35mm. Instead of a quick wipe like in the Star Wars films, you get a gradual, slow dissolve. So when they tore the smaller film off of the 35mm, they just patched it up with a 35mm dissolve, which obscures everything instead of gradually dissolving into the next scene. So that's why you have more visual information in the first-gen releases, simply put the dissolve doesn't completely mask the image like it does in the second gen transfer. I would guesstimate that for every scene with a dissolve, you're missing about three feet of footage [about 2 seconds of runtime]. That footage is gone. For good. And the Restoration edition comes from those same botched negatives. They're only preserved on those first gen home video releases. [And now, finally, in our edit.]

So aside from that, the 2nd gen releases which came in I think 1986 looked a lot better than the first gen. And then in 1990 they made new prints for rerelease and they made an interpositive duplicate from the negative. The new prints were struck off of the interpositive. 

For the 25th rerelease in 97 they sent the IP [interpositive] over to Skywalker Ranch to get a new THX digital Telecine master. Actually they did two masters: a pan and scan and a letterboxed master. Note that I didn't write full-frame, I wrote Pan and Scan. They actually panned a few shots instead of just doing a full blowup in the middle. That's why the non-widescreen '97 release looks so terrible in spots, because they blew up and panned so deeply in certain sections that it brought out all kinds of grain and mar that you couldn't see in the widescreen version. That version is absolute garbage. It looks even worse on laserdisc since there's more detail.

 Lucasfilm did a hell of a job cleaning up some of the artifacts but they fucked up the color. If you look at a lot of THX lasers from that era you'll see that there's way too much blue and red. The reason is because they were struck off of an interpositve. Back then interpositives were on a yellowish-orange masked stock. You had to crank up the blues in order to get a nice tone. But in dark scenes, which is like 90% of the Godfather, you get no blue to play with, so the yellow masking gives flesh colors a dull reddish-brown look. I'm thinking either Robocop or Star Wars where the blues, greens and greys were beautiful but the flesh colors were shit. But I guess the new masters looked good enough for Paramount because after they struck new prints for the rerelease they (wait for it) lost the interpositive. That's right. The lab that struck the new prints went out of business and sold off all of their assets, including the Godfather interpositives. It's possible that someone out there has the interpositive in their possession but who knows. 

So when the time came for the DVD in 2000 they for whatever reason decided not to use the THX telecine and instead located some prints owned by private collectors. These prints came from an interpositive that was struck from the original negative, so these DVD telecines were in effect third generation dupes. But they still looked better than the THX versions and I think with a little more time they could have really done something special with them. 

Then came the actual restoration. I've got mixed feelings about it because I know Robert Harris and some of the guys that worked on it and they put in so much work to bring the negative to life. But they had guys like Gordon Willis standing over them saying "no no, this scene was supposed to be more golden. I need more warmth etc" and you've seen what the original looked like. So they color corrected it to Gordon's liking. But the films Never. Fucking. Looked. Like that. Except maybe Part III. So on the one hand you have a beautiful transfer but the color is off. Badly. And it's not going to be corrected in this lifetime. [We did our best!]

That's it till next time!