Meanwhile, I have an update for you on a title Dennis looked at here at The Bits a couple of weeks ago, specifically the Paramount Presents Blu-ray edition of To Catch a Thief (reviewed here). Many readers complained that Paramount had used extensive Digital Noise Reduction on the title, as—compared to the original 2012 Blu-ray—there was almost no grain visible. But knowing Paramount’s current archive and restoration team, that didn’t seem right—I know they really care about the quality of their catalog Blu-ray work. So I contacted the studio and asked for clarification on the restoration. Paramount’s SVP of Archives, Andrea Kalas, was kind enough to provide this detailed technical statement:
“Paramount undertook a full restoration of To Catch a Thief from a 6K 16-bit scan of the original VistaVision negative, making it the first time the original negative has been directly sourced for a home entertainment release. The 2012 Blu-ray was sourced from an interpositive (IP) that was printed in 2006 from the Vista Vision negative (IN).
“The original negative contained some duplicate negative that was added to replace damaged sections in 1999. For this restoration, those duplicate sections were replaced with original YCM material so that we were sourcing the most original elements available.
“The blue in the original negative was slightly faded in sections so the 35mm yellow separation master was scanned and recombined with the negative to restore the blue channel. An original IB print was used to verify that the color and optical fades matched the look of the original theatrical release. We find IB prints extremely valuable for restorations because they are known for their more stable, permanent dyes.
“For the opening titles, the textless background from the original negative was scanned and the titles were rebuilt and overlaid on the original negative. This allowed us to improve the resolution and quality of the main titles while minimizing issues inherent to the older title creation technology.
“This restoration also includes a new 5.1 audio mix that was created after cleaning up the 2007 mix and we also created UHD HDR-10 files for future use.
“We made every effort to accurately restore this beautifully produced film by referencing the original print throughout the process. In addition, using the original negative allowed us to minimize the need for digital noise reduction. With these facts in mind, we stand by this restoration. We continually endeavor to restore Paramount’s great films using the best technology available alongside every resource we can find to bring the original vision of the filmmakers to audiences.”
So hopefully, that will answer any outstanding questions some of you may have about the new Blu-ray presentation. Note that we’ll be updating the review with the information above accordingly.
All right, speaking of Paramount, we’re very excited to reveal that Via Vision Entertainment’s Imprint Films label (down in Australia) has just announced their second wave of Paramount catalog classic Blu-ray titles, due on August 26. Once again, all of these titles will be REGION FREE and limited editions, featuring new transfers, audio commentaries, and exclusive bonus features. The titles are:
When Worlds Collide (1951) – with an exclusive new audio commentary by film critics Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman, 90 minutes of extended interviews with Gene Roddenberry, Ray Bradbury, Ray Harryhausen, Roy Edward Disney, Wah Chang, Russ Tamblyn and Duke Goldstone (recorded for the 1985 documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal), the theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio, and optional English subtitles.
No Way to Treat a Lady (1968) – with an exclusive new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger (author and co-editor of Diabolique magazine), the theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio, and optional English subtitles.
A Place in the Sun (1951) – mastered from the latest 4K restoration, with audio commentary by George Stevens Jr. and associate producer Ivan Moffat, 2 featurettes (George Stevens and His Place in the Sun and George Stevens: The Filmmakers Who Knew Him), the theatrical trailer, and English 5.1 Dolby Digital audio.
The Carpetbaggers (1964) – with an exclusive new audio commentary by Kat Ellinger (author and co-editor of Diabolique magazine), the theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and optional English subtitles.
Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) – with audio commentary by director Sidney Lumet, a second commentary with actors Andy Garcia and Rob Leibman as well as producers Josh Kramer and Thom Mount, the theatrical trailer, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and optional English subtitles.
And yes, we will be reviewing the first wave of Imprint Films Blu-ray titles as soon as we can get our hands on them (I’m told our review copies are on the way).
Finally today, a quick update on a title I reviewed a decade ago here at The Bits: The acclaimed 1973 British TV documentary series The World at War. When it was first released on Blu-ray back in 2010 (by A&E/New Video), there was widespread criticism for the fact that the series had been cropped to a 1.78:1 aspect ratio from its original 1.33 presentation. Well, Network has apparently re-issued the title in HD on Blu-ray in the UK in its proper 1.33 ratio. The only drawback is that I do believe the series is Region B locked. If anyone out there has it (and can confirm), please let us know. With any luck, some distributor here in the States will pick it up. In the meantime, you can see all the details here at Network on Air.
All right, that’s all for now.