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The Dark Knight - EE Reduction and Original Color Timing

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The Dark Knight is probably the ugliest and most poorly transferred film in my collection, which is a shame seeing as it is my all-time favorite movie. With that being said, I was wondering if anyone could help in restoring this film to better reflect the theatrical version. I plan to reduce the EE present on the disk as best I can and then go over and correct the colors of each scene.

So far I have reduced the EE on the Blu-Ray using AE.

Blu-Ray
Blu-Ray
Blu-Ray with EE Reduction
EE Reduction

The next step is fixing the colors. For a reference I am using the screener DVD. However, I am not sure what method to use to fix the colors.

Using the luma from the Blu-Ray with the screener colors produces accurate results, but the matte on both is different and cropping would need to be done. Not to mention IMAX scenes and portions that are watermarked can’t be used.

Screener
Screener
Blu-Ray Luma with Screener Chroma
Screener Chroma

A manual grade seems to only fix one area (e.g. skin tones, sky, sidewalk) and leave the rest of the image even more inaccurate.

I have also tried Dr. Dre’s color correction tool. It seems to produce overly magenta skin tones and produce some ugly artifacts in the shadows and highlights.

Lastly, I am an infant in knowledge when it comes to this sort of technical work. I have never embarked on something like this before. Batman has always been an inspiration to me and the Dark Knight quickly became my favorite film of all time. I’m running on passion more than technical-know-how. That being said, any wisdom and guidance from those more experienced in this sort of thing is greatly appreciated. If you can help, wonderful, if not, thank you for simply taking the time to read this.

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I cannot see the images you have posted for comparison. Is there any external link to them?
Also, I think this a good project to undertake. The DVD Screener is the best source for colour as I believe it has the same look as most photochemically colour timed prints have. The DVD screener was, I believe, sourced from an HD Telecine. So it’s accurate to the 35mm print, more or less. In any case, the colours look far more richer as well as pleasing to the eyes than the Blu-ray.

Like you, I also have the passion but lack the technical knowhow of undertaking such a project. I have tried fixing the colours of Jurassic Park, based on the various 35mm cinema print stills floating in the internet (as well as the colour-corrected 3D BD). But I have only been able to produce results which are closer, but still very far off the actual timing.

There is a reason for this. Though I myself know only Adobe Premiere, I believe that digital grading and photo-chemical finish are entirely different techniques and you cannot produce the same results. Often times, while trying, I ended up having grossly wrong tones at different parts of the frame. Photoshop gives much more accurate results, but it’s abilities are limited to stills, I believe. Unless you were to colour-correct each individual frame of a movie, which would be madness.

The variables of digital are entirely different and will never reproduce the beauty of an organic/analog medium. This is why most digitally graded movies look fake, even those that are shot on actual celluloid film. The digital grading never feels “natural” to my eyes. It feels “tacked on.” Digital footages in addition to digital grading has robbed the life from films. Both give an image a very synthetic, sterile and flat look. It does not feel lively or natural. because it is “not” natural.

You can get close, but that’s it.

However, I should cheer you on to try and find things for yourself. And use a better software. Let us know the progress. Thanks.

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I know there was a project that was being worked on some time ago that was to create a version of the entire trilogy, without the shifting aspect ratio, with the theatrical color timing, and with the Cinema DTS track… But it has been a while since I have read anything about it.

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The images should hopefully be showing up now.

Papai2013, What exactly would be “better software”? For manual grade attempts I have been using DaVinci Resolve.

Nafroe, I did stumble across that thread a while back. I’m still keeping up with any progress being done there. I haven’t heard anything new since January though.

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They look good, but still feel much sharper than the anamorphic source (because of the baked EE). By better software I did not mean anything specific. I left it to your better judgement because I don’t have much knowledge regarding editing software except premiere.

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Unfortunately, not much more reduction can be done without causing any nasty hazing. I might go back eventually though and reduce EE on a scene by scene basis, which should maximize the effect.

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After I watched the BB intro I thought the same thing. I just haven’t shelled out for the Collector’s Edition yet.

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TheDarkestKnight said:

After I watched the BB intro I thought the same thing. I just haven’t shelled out for the Collector’s Edition yet.

There was a recent re-release of the the whole trilogy… The Dark Knight Trilogy Special Edition… which does have the complete IMAX sequences… And it’s cheaper than the Collector’s Edition!

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I caved and got it since it was on sale and has the exclusive bonus disc release. Target has it for $23. Warner will likely never redo these until a 4K reissue and I wanted to upgrade my DVD of Begins.

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Papai2013 said:

The Full IMAX scenes are available both on the TDK Ultimate Collector’s Edition BD set and the TDK Full Screen DVD.

The IMAX scenes are also included on TDK’s W/S 2-disc DVD.

Recent captures…

*The Hunger Games HDTV 1080p (UK theatrical alternate version: not on Blu-ray)

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Yes but only the longer scenes. The single isolated shots of rooftops and aerial shots done with the IMAX camera, which are a few seconds long but look great in the large format, are left out in the 2-Disc Widescreen dvd.

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Thanks for the information. I wonder why they didn’t bother to include them on the W/S set?

Recent captures…

*The Hunger Games HDTV 1080p (UK theatrical alternate version: not on Blu-ray)

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I’ve been traveling the past week so I’ve been doing more research than experimenting lately. I read a few other threads and projects that focused on color correction and came across ColourMatch. Could someone explain exactly what it is? My understanding is it’s an AviSynth script but I’m not sure and can’t find the script. I have no experience with the program and I’m running OS X, so what I can do with AviSynth is limited to say the least. I’m curious to see how ColourMatch would work with the screener. If ColourMatch works it might be the best option, especially for correcting IMAX scenes where screener chroma isn’t an option.

I plan on replacing all of the opening sequence with the one on the BB Blu-Ray since it has no baked EE. For the other IMAX scenes, I will look at both the screener and the additional shots on the BB Blu-Ray (if a matching shot is present) and decide which to match the Blu-Ray to. The screener and BB shots seem to be close, so I will might stick with BB for most shots since more information is present.

Lastly, would anyone be interested in a cropped version with the framing of the IMAX scenes matched to the screener?

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The TDKL IMAX opening in the BB Bluray is cropped to 1.66:1. In the special Edition TDK trilogy Blu-ray, that scene is uncropped and in 1.44:1.
I personally would love to see a version which re-creates the actual IMAX experience by combining the 1.44:1 and 2.40:1 sequences. You have to have a common width framing. 1920*1400 (approx) would be the resolution.

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Once I get my hands on the special edition I hope to use that for the IMAX scenes. Do the scenes in the special edition still have all the nasty EE and color timing of the Blu-ray? Right now I’m using the BB prologue simply because even if I corrected the Blu-Ray, it would have traces of EE and not as much dynamic range.

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The problem with using the BB prologue is, as I said, it’s cropped. The 1.44:1 scenes on the Special Edition are direct scans from the IMAX 15/70 source. There is no need for the home video to apply edge enhancement on the most detailed film format at all. The 35mm scenes have EE because of the IMAX DMR process which remasters movies to make them look good (subjectively) on their IMAX screens. The IMAX shots do not have EE.

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Thanks for the info. Do the special edition scenes also have the original color timing?

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I doubt any home video version has the original colour timing because that would require an expensive scanning of the 35mm and 70mm film sources. I think it will be the same version for the film.
For the 1.44:1 sequences though, they are from the actual IMAX source, so those scenes should be close to the print.

Regarding the original timing, I think they will release a 10th, 15th or 20th anniversary version when they may re-scan the film elements. Also, it’s ultimately what Nolan wants. if he is happy with the TDK Blu-ray, then there will be no re-scans done.

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A question about the common width framing. While I agree a resolution of 1920*1400 would be ideal, would it work on a 16:9 screen? Wouldn’t the tv letterbox the left the right of the whole film?

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There are two more options with common width. People can choose how to watch it (full frame or cropped to 16:9/2.39:1), they can beam it on the wall with a projector and simulate a theatrical experience at home, with the IMAX framing and third, many who still possess the good old 4:3 CRT TVs, can burn it into a DVDR (formatted to fit 4:3 aspect ratio) and watch it in Full Screen without black bars at the sides.

Common width is the way the film was intended to be viewed. We already have the Blu-ray, it’d be great to have the actual IMAX version.

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Bought the Special Edition a few hours ago. It looks like it’s same scan used for the Blu-Ray without the matte. The colors are still way off from the screener and the dynamic range is crushed compared to the BB disk. There also seem to be a couple of IMAX shots that aren’t on the disk. Mostly establishing shots (Wayne Enterprises, Fox getting off the copter, the Batsignal going off). At least that I didn’t notice in the five minutes I’ve had with it yet.

The shots for Rises are superb. If it turns out to be quick and easy, I may go ahead and add those shots to the movie for a true IMAX version.

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Now the problem is Blurg is gone, Spleen mostly won’t allow such stuff. So, even if you finish, how and where do you plan to share your work? It’s like how Rufus Scrimgeour says in Deathly Hallows Part 1 “These are dark times, there is no denying.”

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Papai2013 said:

I doubt any home video version has the original colour timing because that would require an expensive scanning of the 35mm and 70mm film sources. I think it will be the same version for the film.
For the 1.44:1 sequences though, they are from the actual IMAX source, so those scenes should be close to the print.

Regarding the original timing, I think they will release a 10th, 15th or 20th anniversary version when they may re-scan the film elements. Also, it’s ultimately what Nolan wants. if he is happy with the TDK Blu-ray, then there will be no re-scans done.

They will certainly do new scans of at least Begins and TDK at some point in the next couple years when they inevitably put out the trilogy on 4k ultra hd blu-ray. It’s possible that Rises has been ready to go with a 4k variable aspect ratio master since it was released. The blu-ray screenshots for that one are very detailed and it doesn’t look like they simply used the Imax DMR master like they did for TDK.

I remember seeing an infographic that basically laid out the very complicated production pipeline for Rises. Nolan is probably the last big budget filmmaker who still insists on finishing his films photochemically and not as a DI, adding yet another step to the process.

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