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#1 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 02:10 AM

I just watched the good shepard.
Great movie. really good performances by matt damon, john turoturo, i even liked angilina jolie.
Cinematography was great, Robert Richardson at his best,hot top lighting with diffusion, not quite as extream as casino or jfk.but it was used very well. hot table tops that glow,lots of silloettes.
He must of shot wide open most of the time lots of shallow depth of field, but the wide shots extreamly sharp with excellent composition.
Im not sure what film stocks he used probly a slow stock like 200, I cant wait to read the up coming asc magazine.
There must of been a DI,because theres alot of scenes that start out as black and white than fade into color.
the whole movie also had a real bleak desaturated tone to it.
go see this movie.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 24 December 2006 - 08:13 PM

You should edit the title of your post to "Shepherd" not "Shepard"...

I just saw this in Culver City.

It's one of the best photographed films of the year, no doubt. The diffusion was pretty mild -- it looks like Richardson dropped the nets and went back to something ProMist-like, but light grades.

I'm a little disappointed that Richardson has gone to the Super-35 plus D.I. approach considering how rich his anamorphic movies were, not that I can blame him since so much of this movie takes place at night in low light levels. The depth of field was pretty shallow as is, with spherical lenses -- he must have been shooting in the T/2.0 to T/2.8 range mostly, on longer lenses.

My main problem with the D.I., which I assume was TDI (Technicolor) again, seems to be TDI's trademark use of overly aggressive noise/grain reduction, which creates a somewhat "laggy" color, almost like a compression artifact. Otherwise, it looked pretty good, slightly desaturated in general, fitting the story.

The lighting was fantastic.

The movie itself is a little dull considering the subject matter. When paranoia is sort of a given state of things, surprising revelations manage to be somewhat yawn-inducing. Hate to say this, but the movie needed a little touch of Oliver Stone to juice things up.
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 12:32 AM

My main problem with the D.I., which I assume was TDI (Technicolor) again, seems to be TDI's trademark use of overly aggressive noise/grain reduction, which creates a somewhat "laggy" color, almost like a compression artifact. Otherwise, it looked pretty good, slightly desaturated in general, fitting the story.


What on Earth do you mean by laggy color David?

~Karl

My main problem with the D.I., which I assume was TDI (Technicolor) again, seems to be TDI's trademark use of overly aggressive noise/grain reduction, which creates a somewhat "laggy" color, almost like a compression artifact. Otherwise, it looked pretty good, slightly desaturated in general, fitting the story.


What on Earth do you mean by laggy color David?

~Karl
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#4 Alex Taylor

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 12:41 AM

I noticed that "laggy colour" effect as well, David. I assumed it had something to do with the DI. And indeed, what a beautiful movie. The closeups just blew me away.

Something can be said for director Robert DeNiro as well. Yes, it was pretty slow and boring in places (I found I was much more compelled with the first and third acts than with the third) but his use of closeups is so refreshing. It took me a while to realize that the reason I enjoyed them so much in this movie was because of the lack of closeups in general - he only punched in when he really needed to.

Partial spoiler alert: I loved the wedding gown/plane shot! What a great example of visual storytelling.
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#5 Daniel Carruthers

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 12:48 AM

You should edit the title of your post to "Shepherd" not "Shepard"...

OOPS!
I should look into a spell check before i post a topic, and I cant seem to edit it since I already posted it.
Oh well.


The movie itself is a little dull considering the subject matter. When paranoia is sort of a given state of things, surprising revelations manage to be somewhat yawn-inducing. Hate to say this, but the movie needed a little touch of Oliver Stone to juice things up.


I enjoyed this movie alot, Im surprised! because most 3 hour talking head movies I get bored.
I would like to see richardson and oliver stone make another movie together, cause I found stones movies went down hill lately. all though I still havent seen world trade center.
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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 01:03 AM

What on Earth do you mean by laggy color David?


It reminds me of broadcast digital TV compression. See the movie and judge for yourself. When a face is sort of smooth, featureless, and front-lit in a low-key environment, it looks sort of degrained and when it moves, the solid block of skintone seems to lag behind itself. It's subtle though, not as bad as TV compression, but I've seen it in other TDI D.I.'s ("Seabiscuit", "Aviator", "Kill Bill" -- but I'm only guessing that Technicolor did this D.I., I didn't sit through the credits). Rougher skin with a lot of pores & lines doesn't seem to have that problem -- it's more visible when it's a more solid patch of skintone.

Some engineer-types have told me that it's just noise reduction set too aggressively.

Like a lot of movies shot by Richardson, there's both a mix of very tight ("choker") long-lens C.U.'s and great wide shots beautifully-lit -- some directors cut to the tight shots more often than others. At times in "Four Feathers" it made the geography of those desert battle scenes confused and dreamlike, probably intentionally, but sometimes "Four Feathers" got too abstracted by all the dreamy, slo-mo ECU's. The mix in "The Good Shepherd" between the tight and wide shots was pretty good, although there was probably one-too-many focus racks to the back/ raking side-angle of Matt Damon's impassive face.
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#7 Charles Haine

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Posted 25 December 2006 - 01:06 PM

I thought it was a fantastically shot film, but I found myself noticeably distracted by the firelight (or gaslamp?) effect on Gambon and Damon as they walked through London together the night where Damon has to decide if he is going to tie his shoe or not.

I kept waiting to see the source motivating the firelight flicker on their faces, and when a source finally did slip into frame, it was just a streetlight, which might've had flicker to it (where they running gaslamps in london during the blitz to save electricity?), but certainly wasn't as severe as the flicker on the faces.

This is the sort of ridiculous objection you get when you've just finished shooting a movie set in the 1890s, so you've spent all your time worried about lighting flicker; the scene was gourgeous nonetheless, and I'm sure no one else was bothered by it.

My only objection to the film was when Ulysses, sitting in the hotel room with Damon towards the end of film, re-iterates the choice that the whole scene has already been spent laying out. It's laid out so elegantly, and then, bam, end of the scene, re-iterated in such a simplistic way it ruined the moment for me. In a film so unafraid of not fully explaining little details (the shoe tying, for instance, which the audience is expected to figure out), it felt very off-tone, like a studio note that DeNiro was forced to follow.

Actors who turns directors (DeNiro, Clooney, Gibson) are always hiring DPs they worked with an as actor, which makes sense (you hire who you know), but must make for an interesting transition, from where you interact constantly but don't really collaborate (star-DP, sure, collaborate, but not like a director with the actors or a DP with the director), to one of the most intense interactions on set. Must be interesting.

Anybody been hired by an actor who was in something they previously shot?

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#8 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 02:11 AM

You should edit the title of your post to "Shepherd" not "Shepard"...

I just saw this in Culver City.

It's one of the best photographed films of the year, no doubt. The diffusion was pretty mild -- it looks like Richardson dropped the nets and went back to something ProMist-like, but light grades.

I'm a little disappointed that Richardson has gone to the Super-35 plus D.I. approach considering how rich his anamorphic movies were, not that I can blame him since so much of this movie takes place at night in low light levels. The depth of field was pretty shallow as is, with spherical lenses -- he must have been shooting in the T/2.0 to T/2.8 range mostly, on longer lenses.

My main problem with the D.I., which I assume was TDI (Technicolor) again, seems to be TDI's trademark use of overly aggressive noise/grain reduction, which creates a somewhat "laggy" color, almost like a compression artifact. Otherwise, it looked pretty good, slightly desaturated in general, fitting the story.

The lighting was fantastic.

The movie itself is a little dull considering the subject matter. When paranoia is sort of a given state of things, surprising revelations manage to be somewhat yawn-inducing. Hate to say this, but the movie needed a little touch of Oliver Stone to juice things up.


That's a great critique of the movie. There were several beautifully lit and subdued scenes.

What kind of kept bugging me was the over intense red of Jolie's lips. I presume it was supposed to be part of Jolie's over the top character, but I gotta wonder if between Jolie on the actors side probably wanting to make a splash, and De Niro on directors side being an actors actor and probably trusting what he saw more than what was best visually, if they overruled the D.P. on how much red to use on her lips. It was just so over the top. They could have easily softened her lipstick by a third and it still would have given her that larger than life feel, it's about as close to comic book lipsticks as one would want. Whether or not Jolie stole any scenes, her red red red lips in the first half of the movie certainly did and it's a shame because the rest of the frame is usually spectacular looking.

The laggy look. I didn't notice any lag until they went to the Congo and father and son have a scene together. I was shocked at the lag. I noticed it for several scenes, and then near the end of the movie, it seemed to disappear again.

Is it possible some of the movie was shot in HD, like the Congo location shoots where I first noticed the lag? Either that or my other theory would be that maybe some scenes were rushed, or maybe D.I.'d more than once, and they ended up being laggy? While most people probably don't notice lag, I cannot stand lag. If the lag I saw towards the end of the movie had been at the beginning of the movie, I would have walked out and asked for a refund, but as David said, the movie is really well crafted and worth seeing.

I'd love to know what happened that suddenly I see lag whereas for the first 1/2 to 2/3's of the movie I noticed no lag at all.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 02:52 AM

A switch to HD would have been a lot more noticeable and besides, there's no motivation for such a switch so it's an unlikely explanation.

The "lagginess" is not necessarily a camera shutter effect, but probably some sort of digital noise reduction where some frame blending has taken place to sample grain from adjoining frames. It's not constant through which is why you only notice it in certain situations, possibly in shots where more grain reduction was needed for whatever reasons (underexposure, for example) plus the amount of movement in the frame would affect how noticeable it was, and even the scene contrast might make it more or less noticeable. I first started noticing it in the night interior scene in the college flashback where Michael Gambon crosses a crowded room during a party.

Like I said, I've seen this artifact in other D.I.'s.

If you're in a telecine bay sometime, have the colorist crank up the DVNR (Digital Video Noise Reduction) to some insane level -- 16mm footage becomes hyper-clean and smooth, grainless, but the motion just streaks and stretches. I once turned it up to max on some nighttime POV shots made from a motorcycle and the streaking streetlamps & headlamps made it look like the Stargate sequence from "2001"...

I'm not sure why any motion lagginess/smearing would make me leave a movie anymore than the opposite artifact would, which is strobing motion from too short of a shutter speed combined with fast movement.
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#10 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 01:26 PM

A switch to HD would have been a lot more noticeable and besides, there's no motivation for such a switch so it's an unlikely explanation.

The "lagginess" is not necessarily a camera shutter effect, but probably some sort of digital noise reduction where some frame blending has taken place to sample grain from adjoining frames. It's not constant through which is why you only notice it in certain situations, possibly in shots where more grain reduction was needed for whatever reasons (underexposure, for example) plus the amount of movement in the frame would affect how noticeable it was, and even the scene contrast might make it more or less noticeable. I first started noticing it in the night interior scene in the college flashback where Michael Gambon crosses a crowded room during a party.

Like I said, I've seen this artifact in other D.I.'s.

If you're in a telecine bay sometime, have the colorist crank up the DVNR (Digital Video Noise Reduction) to some insane level -- 16mm footage becomes hyper-clean and smooth, grainless, but the motion just streaks and stretches. I once turned it up to max on some nighttime POV shots made from a motorcycle and the streaking streetlamps & headlamps made it look like the Stargate sequence from "2001"...

I'm not sure why any motion lagginess/smearing would make me leave a movie anymore than the opposite artifact would, which is strobing motion from too short of a shutter speed combined with fast movement.


Where I really noticed the lagging was on the facial close-ups in the Congo sequence. Hey, maybe the film got X-Rayed and that made it grainier, (just a wild theory). What's interesting about the lagging effect is that I can create that exact same effect in my editing studio with my JVC-BRS series of S-VHS decks. If the optional DNR board is installed, there is an adjustable pot that allows one to select from zero (off) all the way up 16 positions of DNR. I thought I might use it someday as a crazy effect for some film.

I offered this grain reduction service in the past for grainy 16mm film to video transfers because I found I could actually take a Betacam SP grainy video master that came from 16mm, dump it to S-VHS, add the bare minimum of D.N.R. needed to reduce grain without causing any noticeble smearing, and then bump it back up to betacam sp. The result was a reductioin in the grain level without really adding any noticeable smear. The D.N.R. function actually works better on film material transferred to video versus video orgination material because the A & B fields of a film transfer are taken from the exact same film frame so the AB judder isn't anywhere near as pronounced as it can be on AB fields of a video frame, also film is comprised of 24 frames per second whereas video is comprised of 60 fields per second, which I guess means that the video can't masquerade the D.N.R. as well as a film original can.

Is it possible that the DNR options available for this film were limited? Rather than 16 options, perhaps there was a "low, medium, and high option only, and that wasn't enough choice. Over the years I've had occasion to use virtually all sixteen positions of DNR, depending on the situation. When I do use the D.N.R. function, I try to keep it on the very low numbers.

The problem with using this type of grain reduction technique is that it really should only be done once. But if it's being done to the original master, the film is doomed once it's goes to television because it's pretty much inevitable there will be even more DNR'ing done during the transmission and recompression stages which will only magnify the lagging.

It's kind of ironic that some of these lagging issues are so similar to technology that was available in the early 90's and perhaps even before.
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#11 Vincent Spanier

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Posted 26 December 2006 - 03:23 PM

I just watched the good shepard.
Great movie. really good performances by matt damon, john turoturo, i even liked angilina jolie.
Cinematography was great, Robert Richardson at his best,hot top lighting with diffusion, not quite as extream as casino or jfk.but it was used very well. hot table tops that glow,lots of silloettes.
He must of shot wide open most of the time lots of shallow depth of field, but the wide shots extreamly sharp with excellent composition.
Im not sure what film stocks he used probly a slow stock like 200, I cant wait to read the up coming asc magazine.
There must of been a DI,because theres alot of scenes that start out as black and white than fade into color.
the whole movie also had a real bleak desaturated tone to it.
go see this movie.


I agree that the cinematography was fantastic! The warm tones used in many of the shots set the moods quite nicely.

However, I disagree that overall it was a great movie. The story was very bloated. We left the theater feeling unsatisfied. I will admit, the plane scene was kind of cool!

I suggest waiting for it to come out on DVD.
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#12 David Leugers

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Posted 29 December 2006 - 01:38 AM

I think David Mullen's assessment was dead on. The only thing I can add is the distracting lack of credibility in the aging of Matt Damon. He affected no discernable difference in his voice, mannerisms, or walk. His change to his looks basically consisted of some slight greying of his temples. He even wore the same glasses it seemed. Alec Baldwin, for instance, definitely looks different and comes off as being the age he is playing depending on the year. Minor flaw to a good film. Could have been better with more of an "edge" to it. The film print looked fabulous on the big screen - worth seeing it there instead of on your TV.



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#13 Christian Appelt

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 10:14 AM

I saw the film yesterday, and on a 60 ft. screen, it looked pretty horrible.
I noticed the digital artifacts and the "smearing", but what bothered by most was the general lack of sharpness and resolution.

Virtually EVERY long shot without detail, only close ups looking in focus. I suspect that the problems of Technicolor's DI were made worse by dupe printing for international release, but to me, watching such a long film in pseudo-video resolution and with what David described as compressed TV look was really a pain in the a**.

Personally, I hate this shallow DOF approach, especially in closeups (of handwriting and printed text, even 3-strip-Technicolor films had more depth). It's not all a matter of style and taste, for example in the shot with the hat on the left side of the screen, characters appear from the background and move up to the camera. To me, this is just plain bad storytelling because the viewer's eyes try to focus upon the blurry clouds of grain (or digital artifacts...) on the right. Or take the exterior shot close to the end of the movie when a flesh-toned cloud of fuzzy grain fills the right section of the screen. Does anybody expect us to be surprised when focus is pulled and the fuzz becomes Matt Damon?

Great actors, but I'd like to see their reaction. When the camera favors an actor talking, this doesn't mean the other actor remains immobile, he is listening and reacting, and as a spectator, I want to see him - which is impossible because the filmmakers in their creative freedom have decided to render him out of focus.
Won't bother me on TV or DVD, but on a huge screen, it hurts my eyes and make it a lesser movie.

(Not that every film has to have deep focus - but some filmmakers really should brush up their vocabulary and look at some Kubrick movies. In BARRY LYNDON, which has scenes with extremely small DOF, there is NEVER a single second where you try to focus on something that's out of focus. That's what I call respecting the audience.)

The good thing about this film is that it reminded me of DeNiro's first film A BRONX TALE which is a great movie and has great cinematography too - I think I'll go and buy the DVD right now.

Edited by Christian Appelt, 07 March 2007 - 10:18 AM.

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#14 Max Jacoby

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Posted 07 March 2007 - 11:38 AM

Where I really noticed the lagging was on the facial close-ups in the Congo sequence. Hey, maybe the film got X-Rayed and that made it grainier, (just a wild theory).

There is no evidence to support this theory. I saw the film last week and it definitely was an overuse of grain-reduction, courtesy of our NR-happy friends at TDI.

Another disturbing side effect of the NR beside the laggy color was that whenever a face in CU was static, it was sharp, but as soon as there was a tiny bit of movement, it looked immediately soft. I am not talking about motion-blur, but noise reduction obviously works best (or least worst should I say) when there is no movement. As soon as there is even the slightest movement it redices the overall sharpness of the image.
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#15 J Bernstein

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 08:16 PM

[Is it possible some of the movie was shot in HD, like the Congo location shoots where I first noticed the lag?]

I strongly believe that the final scenes in the Congo (though not the aeroplane scene) must have been shot on HD. I know there is no clear motivation for this. Perhaps they were given funding from Sony to carry out an experiment. Although why experiment with final scenes of a film? The lag/DI effect is far, far more obvious in these final scenes. They looked completely different to the rest of the film projected on the big screen.

Any further thoughts?
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#16 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 12 March 2007 - 09:38 PM

Where I really noticed the lagging was on the facial close-ups in the Congo sequence. Hey, maybe the film got X-Rayed and that made it grainier, (just a wild theory).


There is no evidence to support this theory. I saw the film last week and it definitely was an overuse of grain-reduction, courtesy of our NR-happy friends at TDI.

Another disturbing side effect of the NR beside the laggy color was that whenever a face in CU was static, it was sharp, but as soon as there was a tiny bit of movement, it looked immediately soft. I am not talking about motion-blur, but noise reduction obviously works best (or least worst should I say) when there is no movement. As soon as there is even the slightest movement it redices the overall sharpness of the image.


I'm not quite sure why you chose to cherry pick my prior response when I then contributed information about noise reduction as well. By excluding the other part of my response (reposted below), you attempted to paint me a certain way. Get a different brush.

What's interesting about the lagging effect is that I can create that exact same effect in my editing studio with my JVC-BRS series of S-VHS decks. If the optional DNR board is installed, there is an adjustable pot that allows one to select from zero (off) all the way up 16 positions of DNR. I thought I might use it someday as a crazy effect for some film.

I offered this grain reduction service in the past for grainy 16mm film to video transfers because I found I could actually take a Betacam SP grainy video master that came from 16mm, dump it to S-VHS, add the bare minimum of D.N.R. needed to reduce grain without causing any noticeble smearing, and then bump it back up to betacam sp. The result was a reductioin in the grain level without really adding any noticeable smear. The D.N.R. function actually works better on film material transferred to video versus video orgination material because the A & B fields of a film transfer are taken from the exact same film frame so the AB judder isn't anywhere near as pronounced as it can be on AB fields of a video frame, also film is comprised of 24 frames per second whereas video is comprised of 60 fields per second, which I guess means that the video can't masquerade the D.N.R. as well as a film original can.

Is it possible that the DNR options available for this film were limited? Rather than 16 options, perhaps there was a "low, medium, and high option only, and that wasn't enough choice. Over the years I've had occasion to use virtually all sixteen positions of DNR, depending on the situation. When I do use the D.N.R. function, I try to keep it on the very low numbers.

The problem with using this type of grain reduction technique is that it really should only be done once. But if it's being done to the original master, the film is doomed once it's goes to television because it's pretty much inevitable there will be even more DNR'ing done during the transmission and recompression stages which will only magnify the lagging.

It's kind of ironic that some of these lagging issues are so similar to technology that was available in the early 90's and perhaps even before.


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#17 Max Jacoby

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 04:16 AM

Thanks Alessandro for clogging up the board with a post that's already available...

I did not quote your whole post because I was only adressing parts of it.

I strongly believe that the final scenes in the Congo (though not the aeroplane scene) must have been shot on HD. I know there is no clear motivation for this. Perhaps they were given funding from Sony to carry out an experiment. Although why experiment with final scenes of a film? The lag/DI effect is far, far more obvious in these final scenes. They looked completely different to the rest of the film projected on the big screen.

If they had shot on HD then they would arguably have used the Panavision Genesis, not some imaginary Sony camera. But, and I'm afraid this in an argument against your theory again, in the Genesis ads that PV put up in American Cinematographer and ICG there NEVER was a mention of 'The Good Shepard', when for instance they listed ALL the films shot with that camera, even 'Casino Royale', which only used the Genesis for some night background plates.

Of course if you really want to go to the bottom of it, why not call up Woodland Hills, I am sure they can clear the HD thing up for good.
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#18 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 11:28 AM

Thanks Alessandro for clogging up the board with a post that's already available...


Just do a better job when you respond to a quote.
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#19 Joseph Winchester

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:47 PM

I sent an email to my step-brother who is one of the head guys in the rental dept at Woodland hills. He will clear it up for us once and for all...

I will post his response
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#20 John Holland

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Posted 13 March 2007 - 12:56 PM

Saw film on sunday , no way HD congo scenes just another bad DI by Technicolor .
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