Scrubbing the grain from HD movies  MAY 21 2008

Possible collateral damage from the ascendence of HD and Blu-ray: people want their movies to look nice and clean and sharp and without film grain, even if the feel of a movie calls for it.

Unfortunately, what seems to happening right now is that the studio marketing folks are conducting focus groups with new Blu-ray consumers, who are saying they want perfect pictures every time. As a result, a few of the Hollywood studios are currently A) using excessive Digital Noise Reduction to completely scrub film grain from their Blu-ray releases, or B) not releasing as many older catalog titles as they might otherwise for fear that people will complain about grain. Some studios are even going so far as to scrub the grain out of NEW releases that have been shot on film. Case in point: New Line's Pan's Labyrinth Blu-ray Disc. When I saw this film in the theaters, it was dark and gritty. The grain was a deliberate stylistic choice -- part of the artistic character of the film. New Line's Blu-ray, on the other hand, is sparkly and glossy -- almost entirely grain-free. So much fine detail has been removed that the faces of characters actually look waxy. Everyone looks like a plastic doll.

(via house next door)

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