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Toy Story on 35mm, and other early Pixar films for that matter

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Just how different did Toy Story and Pixar’s other earlier films look on 35mm? I’d assume a great deal, but it’s been ages since I’ve seen Toy Story in theaters.

My hunch is based off of a comparison between the 2009 BD, and a 1995 View-Master. Obviously these colors aren’t as trustworthy as an actual 35mm print, but despite some obvious weird tints and a general cooler grade than what I’d assume should be, the filmic presentation just seems…“right”, for lack of a better word. The striking difference in contrast, the way the grain complements the computer imagery, I just can’t remember if it was always this way in theaters.

I’d love to fiddle around and make a theatrical regrade for TS, just for the fun of it, maybe even restore the original Disney logo to boot. But first I’d like to know if I ain’t wasting my time, you know. What do you remember? Are there any good/better theatrical references ?

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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The Laserdisc release came from a 35mm source.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Well it depends, I have in on Laserdisc and it looks the same as the DVD/BD. Anyway Swazzy, you should take a look at some trailers on YouTube, they come from 35mm prints and share basically the same colours as your View-Master.

“English, motherf***er! Do you speak it!?”

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I know that for recent Toy Story releases, they have altered the opening studio title cards (new Disney logo and an addition of the Pixar jumping lamp). The original VHS I know had an old Disney title card which faded into the sky blue wallpaper of Andy’s room… I don’t remember if the 35mm had that opening as it’s been 20 years since I saw it, haha.

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Here are a few basic attempts at a regrade I whipped up, assuming the View-Master colors were 100% accurate:








Which, obviously they aren’t, but this is just a proof of concept I suppose. For an actual grade, I’d probably use a 35mm sourced LaserDisc like SilverWook suggested.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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I never heard of any 35mm sourced Toy Story Laserdisc. Are you sure that it actually does exist?

“English, motherf***er! Do you speak it!?”

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There was much hype with the first DVD release in 2001 being straight off of Pixar’s animation files, so I presumed previous formats took the standard mastering route of all feature films. The LD jackets don’t say what the source is though.

If someone around here has the Laserdisc, they could tell us if there’s gate weave, or other telltale signs of it being mastered from film.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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I have a Laserdisc, I don’t know if it uses the same master as all the other ones but it doesn’t look like an film transfer and the colours basically match the DVD.

“English, motherf***er! Do you speak it!?”

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No visible grain at all?

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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Ok, apparently I was wrong. It doesn’t really match the Blu-ray…
I’ve made a little comparison with the LD on top and the BD at the bottom: https://vimeo.com/148044522
Pass: OT

“English, motherf***er! Do you speak it!?”

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Thanks for taking the time to do that. Interesting that the LD image is zoomed in a bit compared to the BD.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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You’re quite welcome guys. Yes indeed the picture is cropped like a bunch of other LDs…

“English, motherf***er! Do you speak it!?”

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eBay had an auction for a Toy Story 35mm trailer printed in 1995 on Eastman color print film #16, with (what looks like scanned, not screener) samples from the reel. The first (Woody & Buzz) looks mis-captured with high contrast and blow-out. Of the rest, only the final sample (crowd of toys) looks like a properly balanced capture.

eBay - 35mm Cartoon Animated Walt Disney Preview “TOY STORY”


“Your love of the halflings’ leaf has clearly slowed your mind”

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ilovewaterslides said:

You’re quite welcome guys. Yes indeed the picture is cropped like a bunch of other LDs…

That would’ve been normal for transfers of this type if they simply wanted to avoid any frame-lines from appearing and all that.

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While I’m not really confident on saturation levels, I think the View-Master is a handy source to get just the right contrast out of the BD footage. I did this a while ago, but looking back it strikingly fits right in with the 35mm frame from the eBay listing:

View-Master:

BD:

Correction + slight grain :

Given my input and output were both fairly low resolution, I’d be interested to see what kind of results I could get out of the actual BD instead of just an online reference image

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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What about the Toy Box set of Toy Story 1 & 2 DVD’s? Aside from the bonus material is there any reason to believe they’d be of any assistance?

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― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

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― Socrates

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No. The Ultimate Toy Box was also direct from computer files; I remember that it was definitely publicized at the time that it was straight from the files, while previous video releases had been from film.

AFAIK, A Bug’s Life was the first Pixar transfer to come straight from the animation files and bypass film (I also remember that publicity). So the highest-quality film-transferred version of Toy Story would be the laserdisc.

If you look at that comparison video, find a scene where the camera is static and focus on some stationary object in the background. I detect just a bit of wobble in the LD. So yes, 100% sure it’s film. That doesn’t mean that’s how it looked in theaters, video transfers always come from low-contrast elements, but still.

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TServo2049 said:

No. The Ultimate Toy Box was also direct from computer files; I remember that it was definitely publicized at the time that it was straight from the files, while previous video releases had been from film.

So the highest-quality film-transferred version would be the laserdisc.

Gotchya

“Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”
― Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”

― Socrates

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I’m pretty alright with the Blu-ray release of Toy Story, my only minor complain being the logo plastering, really. This movie was made digitally… so, what’s the point of wanting it to look like film, with the then obvious faults of film, like, grain and the contrast? Does it really help or fit the movie at all? It doesn’t fit the clean, digitalized look the picture should have.

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It’s how most people experienced the movie when it was originally released. Pixar didn’t just dump the digital files into a film recorder, anymore than Disney did with their films made with digitally painted cels.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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IMO, any film will look better with theatrical grain, color, and contrast. Grain and contrast are not faults, also. I would say that digital artifacts are faults.

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I can’t find it at the moment, but a certain documentary on Toy Story from '99 spends a great deal of time explaining the tedious process of how the computer animation was processed in layers onto the negative. While it’s true that the digital master is a generation above any print that was struck, the Toy Story archived in the National Film Registry is the one we saw in the theaters in '95. It’s the version that still had that lengthy filmic rendering process retained, but in all releases past the VHS that achievement is, for all intents and purposes, cut out of the film.

Not to say there’s anything wrong with the new master; a digital render of a completely digital movie isn’t the worse thing that could happen to a film.

Seeking only the most natural looking colors for Star Wars '77

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I think the first DVD of Toy Story is also transferred from film. I remember the special features from “A Bug’s Life” making a big deal that the DVD is the first to be directly transferred from the digital files. I think it’s the 2nd DVD that’s a purely digital render.