I was just watching Robocop on bluray and noticed how some shots look so grainy. Why are some shots clean on remastered movies and others aren't?
Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:07 PM
The grainier shots could be explained in a number of ways -- the high speed stocks when the movie was shot in 1986 were not that fine-grained (Kodak 5294 and 5295, which just came out that year) so underexposed scenes would be visibly grainier than well-exposed scenes. Also, as a negative ages and the base fog rises, the grain can become slightly more pronounced.
But any opticals (fades, dissolves, freeze-frames, speed changes, size changes) done on an optical printer using dupes would be grainier by nature of being dupes, and the final composites sometimes were on dupe stocks have age a bit faster than the camera negative, so shots that matched OK back in the day now look further apart (though I'm speaking more of shots that used CRI stock, which was obsolete by this time). When "Star Wars" was restored optically back in the 1990's, the CRI efx shots (mostly for lightsabers and laser bolts) all had to be redone because the stock had aged so much faster than the rest of the negative. There are probably a number of optically printed efx shots in "Robocop". Back in the day, you could generally spot any duped shot in a movie because of the small jump in grain and contrast, hence why people sometimes shot effect elements on larger negative formats like VistaVision.
Some remastered movies use digital noise reduction (DNR) to reduce graininess; this is somewhat controversial, many would rather see the original grain than something smoothed over and clean-looking; if you overdo it, the movie can look like it was shot digitally. However, it can be done well if used with discretion and a light touch, like to match a shot that has drifted farther away from the quality of the surrounding footage due to different film elements aging at different speeds -- in other words, the grain reduction may help the image look closer to the way it looked in the original release. However, if the original always had different levels of grain visible, then it would be revisionist to now erase those differences just to make the movie look more modern.
As a filmgoer back in the day, visible changes in grain level were a lot more common due to the difference between the 100 ISO and 400 ISO (later 500 ISO) stocks that most movies bounced between, and the increase in grain from duped shots (which were even worse for shots done on the higher speed stock). Plus standard 1.85 movies where generally a bit grainier than 35mm anamorphic movies. And around this time, Super-35 started being used too, and this was visibly grainier than 35mm anamorphic movies.
Posted 26 May 2013 - 02:29 PM
Thats very interesting. I would fall into the category of people who want to see the movie as it was originally shot. That includes soundtrack, I remember the first time i saw "The Terminator" on dvd and noticed some of the sounds like terminator POV shots and gunshots (shootout in police station) had been altered from vhs version. I'm sure 99.9% of the pop. woudn"t care but it bummed me out, still does. Thanks for the reply David.