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Info Wanted: Blade Runner - color timings; which is the most accurate?

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 (Edited)

As I was watching a transfer of my Blade Runner VHS the other day it occurred to me that every release that I have seen of this film has had significantly different color timing.

Now I have never seen the criterion laserdisc so i have no idea what that one looks like but between the Embassy VHS, the '97 Director’s Cut DVD, and the archival cuts included in the box set, the colors vary wildly between each transfer.

I have never seen any version in a theater so I have no point of reference on that front, but as I was watching the VHS transfer I noticed a few scenes that looked significantly different than any subsequent transfer, most notably the scene when Deckard and Bryant were screening the replicants.

in the VHS the coloring was heavily shifted towards brown and the light reflection on Bryant’s head was orange, whereas the colors in all other transfers including the 1992 Director’s Cut (which has more of a red orange shift than any other transfer) lean much more heavily towards blue with the light reflections being white.

What I’d really like to know is which color timing is the most accurate to the original theatrical release. personally i’m kind of partial to the look of the first director’s cut DVD although I know that it is generally regarded as a horrible transfer and is probably nowhere near accurate but it was the first version I saw and is the look I most associate with the film.

My primary computer is down at the moment but when it is back up and running I can do screen captures to demonstrate what I am talking about if anyone is interested.

Other notable differences I spotted in the VHS:

-The Tree in the opening Ladd Company logo is gray rather than green.

-The part at the beginning when Deckard is ordering food, the lights behind the Asian guy are orange rather than white.

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The original Director's Cut DVD is a horrible transfer, and I hope I never ever see it ever again. As far as accuracy goes, I think the closest we have is the "archive versions" disc included in the 4 and 5 disc sets, and at anyrate the color timing is pretty good on those arguably as good as or better than the Final Cut. I wouldn't think it was originally shifted more towards brown than on the disc, but then anything's possible.

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Are you referring to the original Embassy VHS with the International cut? That's what I've still got buried somewhere and I'll pull it out to check if so.

I just picked up the Criterion and DC LDs recently and have given them a once over. The image looks near identical to be honest, with the Criterion being less defined and containing more artifacts due to age (mine is the CLV edition). The DC LD looks stunning and is full CAV. (But has really bad side break locations) In fact it looks much better than the original DVD release, everything seems to flow much more nicely and there aren't those ugly artifacts cropping up. The PCM Dolby Stereo surround on both are fantastic.

Color-wise the Criterion LD may be a tiny bit more saturated. I think the theatrical image would most resemble the DC as shown on the LD, 2006 DVD or the archival versions on the new sets. The DC, Theatrical and International are seamlessly branched so the main portions all use the same transfer.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
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 (Edited)

Yes, The Embassy VHS of the International Cut is the one I'm talking about.

Don't get me wrong, the transfers on the box set are amazing, it's just that the colors on older transfers seem to differ from them greatly so I've been questioning how accurate the colors actually are on that set. It's still an amazing set though and the colder look is probably more appropriate for the film anyway. The original Director's Cut DVD is an awful transfer, but it was the only version I had seen for several years so I always associate the film with alot of oranges and browns.

The International Cut VHS has more in common with the old Director's Cut DVD transfer than any of the newer ones, but it also looks quite different from any other transfer, which is why I'm curious to see what the Criterion laserdisc looks like.

Didn't Embassy put out a laserdisc too? I wonder if it's the same transfer as the VHS.

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Nien Nunb said:

Didn't Embassy put out a laserdisc too? I wonder if it's the same transfer as the VHS.

Embassy did put out a laserdisc, but it's a different transfer than the VHS. For awhile, it was the only way to get the true U.S. Theatrical Cut. I snagged in a couple of months back but never got a chance to watch it. I'll check the palette of that version this weekend for you guys.

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^ Yes, and here.  I'm not completely happy with any of the transfers in terms of color.  The DC and FC are obviously revisionist in their color timing (though I have come to quite like the latter) and the original DVD looks unpleasantly red.

Wasn't this discussed in other thread?

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If the 97 DVD is from a 70mm blowup as stated in the DVDBeaver review, the differences would make sense. It acts color-wise as a point between the 06 and Final Cut. But the artifacting is just awful. The LD trumps it.

To my eyes after seeing numerous copies and the Final Cut in 35mm, is that the 06 and Archival versions are likely the closest thing to what was actually shot. They are straight with little or no tinkering and you can clearly see all of the image onscreen coming across as very naturalistic looking.

The Director's Cut may have had some tweaking, but I think this is more akin to what was actually seen printed on 35mm, due to it being an all-film process and based primarily off the 70mm workprint. These elements were then incorporated into the original film and prints were made. Very few steps done so that there'd be little to no extra processing.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
https://www.youtube.com/c/DamnFoolIdealisticCrusader

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 (Edited)

Aside from the boosted reds, the '92/'97 DC feels more "early 80s color timing" than the Archival transfers. Make no mistake, the Archival versions are obviously better TRANSFERS, and the color is certainly better than the anachronistic Final Cut. However, the color timing and the contrast still seem kind of...off?

Obviously, older video transfers had their own issues with color accuracy. But what I'm trying to say is that to me, it seems like the timing of the film source for '92/'97, and the way the film color was carried over, are more genuinely "early 80s" than the Archival. But maybe that's just me.

As a digression about home video color timing vs. theatrical color timing, I've never seen a completely color-accurate transfer of Ghostbusters, old or new. The 1984 70mm print I saw in 2010 had high contrast, a healthy amount of color saturation, and a sort of subtle yellow-greenish bias (yet with all other colors having very good fidelity and not seeming tinted).

The old transfers were always too bright and/or the contrast was too flat and/or the color was too desaturated; while the modern HDTV and Blu-ray transfers somehow look too flat and too contrasty at the same time. The whole image is too bright, the highlights are horribly clipped, the midtones are dull, and the shadows aren't shadow-y enough (yet the blacks are still crushed!), and while there's a greenish cast, it's a different kind, which makes the image look TOO green when it's not supposed to be. While the Blu-ray has some improvements over the earlier version seen on the 2005 DVD and on HDTV broadcasts, it still has many of the same problems.

The 1999 DVD seems to have more accurate color timing and contrast...or at least the film source did. You can see shadow detail and highlight detail that are clipped out in modern transfers, but the image is too dark and has a sort of red-magenta bias.

You can see differences between the 1999 DVD, 2005 DVD and 2010 Blu-ray here: http://www.theraffon.net/~spookcentral/gb1_homevid_compare.htm

For a general idea of how the theatrical prints looked, watch this footage of an 80s 16mm print: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KnNfwhloWBY This guy's video camera didn't pick up the full luminance of the projected image, so the yellow-green cast looks much more severe than it actually is, but it seems like the color timing on this print matches to the 70mm screening I attended.

Anyway, the point of this digression was to show how sometimes, NO video transfer matches the theatrical color timing, and the only way to know the true original colors is to project an actual film print with intact color.

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^^^^^^that 16mm preview of Ghostbusters is so cool.  Thanks for sharing.

:)

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Before the directors cut was released on blu ray, there was a cable boadcast in hi def.  So people captured it an offered it on a torrent site. I didn't manage to get a copy this was quite a few years ago.

 

The reason I think this would be interesting is that it was around 15 gig in size, so should have less compression than the vesion that was released on blu ray which shared a disc with 2 other cuts.

The final cut I find has a touch of a blue tint much like the star wars blue ray release.  I have no idea why they think that makes it look more modern.. also they framed the final cut slightly smaller?

 

Does anyone have a copy of the pre blu ray Blade Runner directors cut hi def broadcast?

 

 

 

JR
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THEOBOEMAN said:

The reason I think this would be interesting is that it was around 15 gig in size, so should have less compression than the vesion that was released on blu ray which shared a disc with 2 other cuts.

It was done through seamless branching, so it's not like there's 6 hours of film on the disc.

We want you to be aware that we have no plans—now or in the future—to restore the earlier versions. 

Sincerely, Lynne Hale publicity@lucasfilm.com

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I'm pretty sure the HD broadcast in question is the same version that still airs from time to time on HDNet.

It's really nothing special, it looks to me like the same transfer as the Blu-Ray but with compression artifacts.

 

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There's a comparison online that may be of interest. I found it scrolling through old AVSForum threads. It compares the HDTV Broadcast and the HD-DVD, which should be nearly identical to the BD. While the photos are compressed to hell (lots of artifacting), they clearly show a difference in color and contrast. The HDTV seems generally brighter.

Here are the comparisons:

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/1938/brhdnet1lo6.jpg&sd=http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/8493/brhdm1hv2.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img148.imageshack.us/img148/2458/brhdnet2ve8.jpg&sd=http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/1372/brhdm2cb0.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/6307/brhdnet3ta8.jpg&sd=http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/4166/brhdm3kh5.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/2642/brhdnet4wm0.jpg&sd=http://img115.imageshack.us/img115/7615/brhdm4cd3.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/8742/brhdnet5ey1.jpg&sd=http://img230.imageshack.us/img230/3696/brhdm5vn4.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/1170/brhdnet6qe5.jpg&sd=http://img115.imageshack.us/img115/7177/brhdm6sk4.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/8499/brhdnet7bp2.jpg&sd=http://img91.imageshack.us/img91/9525/brhdm7gw8.jpg

http://horn.hdtvtotal.com/hdtvtotal/scripts/waggle/waggle.php?hd=http://img85.imageshack.us/img85/3528/brhdnet8pp4.jpg&sd=http://img91.imageshack.us/img91/2760/brhdm8pp8.jpg

So, what do people think? More or less 80s-esque?

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While it might not always look better, both quality and fidelity wise, that HD broadcast definitely looks more '80s to me. It kind of has that feeling I've gotten from a lot of movies in the period where the colors are kind of drab and uninteresting.

A Goon in a Gaggle of 'em

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 (Edited)

You know, bkev, that's what I think too. The brighter quality reminds me of the old releases more, timing wise. I found a long old ot.com thread about the HDTV Broadcast here: http://originaltrilogy.com/forum/topic.cfm/Blade-Runner-HDTV/topic/3634/

The Broadcast was also the Director's Cut, not the Final Cut. So, does anyone still have this? If so, do they have opinions on it? There is a torrent on TPB that could be feasibly seeded.

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That would make sense. The broadcast has the timing look of the DC, and in turn that look of being an older 90's era telecine base. The DC was completed in 92/93 with the LD master made soon thereafter and released in 94.

All of the older versions/transfers have a definite analog processed look to them that seemingly is closer to the original release presentation. It is very difficult to compare to the new timing of the FC, which is completely different. Digital cold Blue/greens versus the warm analog brown, reds, yellows, and soft blues of the DC and earlier.

What would be very interesting is to see an actual print of the DC to see if other differences come out. The video versions of the domestic, international and DC all look extremely similar if not identical. (DC may be differently timed in a few places)

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
https://www.youtube.com/c/DamnFoolIdealisticCrusader

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That is interesting, I didn't think the HD broadcast looked much different from the Blu-Ray the last time I saw it.

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You'd need to compare the HD broadcast to the archival DC, not the Final Cut.

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Yes, The Director's Cut that is on Disc 3 of the 5 disc Blu-Ray is the one I was thinking of. I've only seen the version on HDNet once but I know they've shown it several times.

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Could the broadcast on HDNet now not be the same as before? The original HD broadcast we're talking about was in 2005. It isn't beyond the realm of possibility that they replaced it with the higher quality BD master. For instance, basic cable channels, like SyFy, shows the Final Cut now.

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Does anyone know what source the footage shown in Dangerous Days comes from? The color timing is certainly radically different from the Final Cut, which is to be expected... however, I don't quite think it's quite the same as what's shown to be this HD broadcast either. I don't know when the documentary itself was made, but it's in widescreen and in the 4-disc DVD set so I can only assume it was made around the same time as the Final Cut.

A Goon in a Gaggle of 'em

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There is going to be a showing of Blade Runner at my local Theater on Friday at midnight, Me and 2 friends are going and I'm curious to see which version it will be and what the source is.

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Definitely go! Even though the Final Cut irks me a bit with the color timing it knocked me to the floor! And hopefully you go somewhere where they aren't afraid to crank the amps.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Blade-Runner-Blu-ray/45541/#Overview

This is the upcoming 30th Anniversary Blu-ray set due in October. Looks like they've squeezed everything onto 3 Blu discs and it is supposed to have all 5 cuts and everything from the UCE. Plus the codec listed is MPEG4 which would be an improvement over the old VC-1 encode of the original discs. I always hated that the BR set was all single layer with TrueHD instead of maximizing the capacity of the disc.

bkev, I'd assume that they simply used whatever master they had readily available. Probably their work master which was a different and improved scan of the DC. Most docs and materials will simply use the most available video master, and quite a few are 4:3 interlaced bits from LD masters.

VADER!? WHERE THE HELL IS MY MOCHA LATTE? -Palpy on a very bad day.
“George didn’t think there was any future in dead Han toys.”-Harrison Ford
YT channel:
https://www.youtube.com/c/DamnFoolIdealisticCrusader