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Lawrence of Arabia superbit release

 
 
Raul Bloodworth
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      09-10-2003
Anyone have it? Have tried local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. to no avail.
How's it look/sound?


 
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Douglas Bailey
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      09-10-2003
Raul Bloodworth <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Anyone have it? Have tried local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. to no avail.
> How's it look/sound?


I've just skimmed it so far, but I'm very pleased.

Robert Harris' involvement seems to have helped (unsurprisingly): the
colours are a significant improvement over the previous releases, with
bluer skies and less-pink fleshtones in many of the desert/daylight
scenes. And the scoring error found in the train-walking scene on the
older DVD -- a few bars of music repeat where they shouldn't, pushing
the "march" theme off-sync with the picture -- has thankfully been
corrected.

The image seems sharper and more solid than on the previous release: I
don't know whether that's an improvement from the higher bit-rate or
whether they just a better job on this new transfer.

A member of the Home Theater Forum has put up several comparison
screenshots, which might help convey the visual differences. See this
post:

<http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...postid=1752818
#post1752818>

....for the links.

Columbia did one thing right with the split over two discs: unlike the
older release, the Superbit's second disc just starts from black (no
menu, no Columbia logo, no FBI warning). Excellent: that's how it
should be done.

I *do* wish the disc break could have occurred at the theatrical
intermission, though: as it is, the film breaks partway through
Lawrence's ride from Aqaba back to Cairo. Not the worst interruption
point, but a bit jarring all the same.

I'm holding on to the older release for its excellent DVD-ROM
supplements and because I might -- if I were showing the film to a
first-time viewer -- want to use it to let them experience the first
act uninterrupted. But for my own viewing and reference, the Superbit
edition is clearly superior.

HTH,

doug

--

---------------Douglas Bailey ((E-Mail Removed))---------------
I can't see the lines I used to think I could read between...
--Eno
 
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Dr. Shavers
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      09-11-2003
<snipped>
Thanks for the excellent post Doug. I can't wait to pick this one
up. god bless david Lean.
 
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jayembee
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      09-11-2003
Douglas Bailey <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>I've just skimmed it so far, but I'm very pleased.

[snip]
>I'm holding on to the older release for its excellent DVD-ROM
>supplements and because I might -- if I were showing the film to a
>first-time viewer -- want to use it to let them experience the first
>act uninterrupted. But for my own viewing and reference, the Superbit
>edition is clearly superior.


Thanks for the review. I'd just picked it up this evening, and haven't
had a chance to look at it yet. Up to now, I haven't bought a single
Superbit release (well, except for PANIC ROOM, but that's because it
was the only release), simply because most of the titles aren't ones
that I really care to own in the first place, and for the others, the
original transfers are good enough. LOA is the first time I felt that
I *had* to get the best version possible, no matter what.

-- jayembee
 
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Raul Bloodworth
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      09-11-2003
"Douglas Bailey" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> Raul Bloodworth <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
> > Anyone have it? Have tried local Best Buy, Circuit City, etc. to no

avail.
> > How's it look/sound?

>
> I've just skimmed it so far, but I'm very pleased.
>
> Robert Harris' involvement seems to have helped (unsurprisingly): the
> colours are a significant improvement over the previous releases, with
> bluer skies and less-pink fleshtones in many of the desert/daylight
> scenes. And the scoring error found in the train-walking scene on the
> older DVD -- a few bars of music repeat where they shouldn't, pushing
> the "march" theme off-sync with the picture -- has thankfully been
> corrected.
>
> The image seems sharper and more solid than on the previous release: I
> don't know whether that's an improvement from the higher bit-rate or
> whether they just a better job on this new transfer.
>
> A member of the Home Theater Forum has put up several comparison
> screenshots, which might help convey the visual differences. See this
> post:
>
> <http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...postid=1752818
> #post1752818>
>
> ...for the links.
>
> Columbia did one thing right with the split over two discs: unlike the
> older release, the Superbit's second disc just starts from black (no
> menu, no Columbia logo, no FBI warning). Excellent: that's how it
> should be done.
>
> I *do* wish the disc break could have occurred at the theatrical
> intermission, though: as it is, the film breaks partway through
> Lawrence's ride from Aqaba back to Cairo. Not the worst interruption
> point, but a bit jarring all the same.
>
> I'm holding on to the older release for its excellent DVD-ROM
> supplements and because I might -- if I were showing the film to a
> first-time viewer -- want to use it to let them experience the first
> act uninterrupted. But for my own viewing and reference, the Superbit
> edition is clearly superior.
>
> HTH,
>
> doug


It certainly does help! Thanks.


 
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Doonie
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Posts: n/a
 
      09-11-2003
>Raul Bloodworth wrote:
>
>A member of the Home Theater Forum has put up several comparison
>screenshots, which might help convey the visual differences. See this
>post:
>
><http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...postid=1752818
>#post1752818>


The colour is much more accurate and the detail is better - Too bad
about the extra edge enhancement, though.

 
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Douglas Bailey
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      09-11-2003
jayembee <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Up to now, I haven't bought a single Superbit release (well, except for
> PANIC ROOM, but that's because it was the only release), simply because
> most of the titles aren't ones that I really care to own in the first
> place, and for the others, the original transfers are good enough. LOA
> is the first time I felt that I *had* to get the best version possible,
> no matter what.


I'm in more or less the same boat. I now own three Superbit titles:
_Panic Room_ because it's the only release; _Das Boot_ because the
original release was a very early flipper with some compression
problems; and now _Lawrence_.

But I'd substitute "the version with Robert A. Harris' input" for "the
best version possible" as the reason for this third Superbit purchase.
With Lean gone, Harris -- who restored _Lawrence_ to Lean's demanding
specifications -- is the reigning authority on how the film is meant to
look, and I think it was truly a shame that Columbia were unwilling to
consult him for the original DVD release.

Between his input and the new Columbia regime's willingness to go back
to original elements, this new DVD is probably the most accurately-
coloured version of the film ever released on home video. The Criterion
laserdisc was the only previous edition done with input from Harris,
but even it was limited by the need to work from a magenta-heavy print
(which, AIUI, was all that the contemporary Columbia regime were
willing to provide to Criterion: Columbia's own LD edition featured a
less accurate transfer from a more accurate print).

Of course, Columbia still spelled Harris' name incorrectly on the
Superbit version, too: the small print on the back cover calls him
"Robert A. Harns." Annoying, but an error in the cover doesn't affect
the movie itself one bit.

doug

--

---------------Douglas Bailey ((E-Mail Removed))---------------
I can't see the lines I used to think I could read between...
--Eno
 
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Scot Gardner
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      09-11-2003
"Doonie" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:(E-Mail Removed)...

<<The colour is much more accurate and the detail is better - Too bad
about the extra edge enhancement, though.>>

They made all of those improvements and then added edge enhancement?
Edge enhancement artifacts will be just as hard for me to deal with as
the off-color, less-accurate original DVD.

Did Columbia let Universal do the new _Lawrence of Arabia_ DVD?


 
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Mitchell Kaufman
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      09-11-2003
Douglas Bailey <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> But I'd substitute "the version with Robert A. Harris' input" for "the
> best version possible" as the reason for this third Superbit purchase.
> With Lean gone, Harris -- who restored _Lawrence_ to Lean's demanding
> specifications -- is the reigning authority on how the film is meant to
> look, and I think it was truly a shame that Columbia were unwilling to
> consult him for the original DVD release.


Yes, they should certainly have consulted him, though I can't say I'm a
hundred percent confident about all of Harris' choices (which I suppose
is a knock on Lean himself, to the extent he personally approved Harris'
work). For example, the scene in Feisal's tent always looked off-color
to me in Harris' restoration. Did Lean prefer/approve such odd
fleshtones? Nor has the Omar Sharif entrance/mirage scene at the well
looked quite right in any of the Harris iterations. Very pale and
yellowish. Same with the scene where Lawrence informs Ali that he wants
to cross the Nefud. No doubt some or all of these aberrations may have
been due to limitations in the source material, but color correction is
the objective here, isn't it?

> Between his input and the new Columbia regime's willingness to go back
> to original elements, this new DVD is probably the most accurately-
> coloured version of the film ever released on home video.


The new version is way superior to the first DVD in terms of color, and
certainly is a far better match to the laserdiscs created with Harris'
input, though questions of absolute color fidelity remain, as discussed
above. It also has had some digital cleanup applied, which was missing
in the first DVD, and of course in the laserdiscs. (Take a look, for
example, at the binocular shots in the scene with Lawrence and his guide
early in the film: a lot of dirt/specks have been banished; the opening
title sequence is also improved beyond recognition: much cleaner and
sharper, and the cloudy white flaring of the text is gone.) The result
is much more filmlike and three-dimensional. Even the side-by-side
screenshot comparisons that have been posted at DVD File don't really
convey the degree of improvement: it's one of those things where you
really need to watch the disc straight through to appreciate it (not to
mention some of those screenshots look off-color to me vis-a-vis the new
discs).

> The Criterion laserdisc was the only previous edition done with input from
> Harris, but even it was limited by the need to work from a magenta-heavy
> print (which, AIUI, was all that the contemporary Columbia regime were
> willing to provide to Criterion: Columbia's own LD edition featured a less
> accurate transfer from a more accurate print).


My understanding was that the Columbia and Criterion editions were for
all intents and purposes identical visually. Was this not the case?

> Of course, Columbia still spelled Harris' name incorrectly on the
> Superbit version, too: the small print on the back cover calls him
> "Robert A. Harns." Annoying, but an error in the cover doesn't affect
> the movie itself one bit.


No, it sure doesn't.

The one big boo-boo here is the edge enhancement, in the form of a white
halo around objects, not always visible, but annoying and distracting
when it is. Why, oh why did they feel it necessary to add this to the
otherwise superb visuals?

Incidentally, regarding the sound, although I don't have any kind of
surround set-up, I do note that the soundtrack has been filtered on top,
similar (or identical) to the previous DVD. To my ears, the
best-sounding version of the Lawrence soundtrack has always been that on
the Harris-derived laserdisc editions, which has plenty of hiss, but
also much more air, ambience, high-frequency extension, and
dimensionality than is evident on the later hiss-free versions.

All told, the new disc is easily the best-looking version of the film on
home video to date, though the "halos" are a major fly in the ointment.

If you love the film and have the hardware to appreciate the
improvements, you really do need the new disc.

MK






 
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Douglas Bailey
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      09-11-2003
Mitchell Kaufman <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

[laserdisc editions of _Lawrence_]
> My understanding was that the Columbia and Criterion editions were for
> all intents and purposes identical visually. Was this not the case?


That's not the story I've heard: see the first two paragraphs of the
review at <http://dvdscan.com/loa.htm> for one source. (I own the
Criterion CLV set, but I've never seen the image from the Columbia LD
edition, so my information is secondhand.)


> The one big boo-boo here is the edge enhancement, in the form of a white
> halo around objects, not always visible, but annoying and distracting
> when it is. Why, oh why did they feel it necessary to add this to the
> otherwise superb visuals?


According to RAH's article on The Digital Bits, "It has been confirmed
that there [is] no new electronic sharpening."

<http://www.thedigitalbits.com/articles/robertharris/harris073003.html>

There's been some speculation that the halos are caused by Columbia's
video encoder itself, rather than added in the transfer stage as the
result of edge enhancement or other sharpening processes.

doug

--

---------------Douglas Bailey ((E-Mail Removed))---------------
I can't see the lines I used to think I could read between...
--Eno
 
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