Vintage FX: Star Trek vs Lost in Space

Discussion in 'Star Trek - The Original & Animated Series' started by ZapBrannigan, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Was it the "Lord of Light" piece in Cinefantastique (Vol. 15, #2)?
     
  2. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    I'm thinking it was later than that issue, maybe in the 90s, but won't swear to that.

    There's even a slight possibility that it was something he said to me when I did a piece on SW at the end of 95, but if so it didn't make it into print. I've got about 90% of the pages for the original article (only half of which got printed), so I'll skim and see if there is anything in those pages.
     
  3. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I never really minded matt halos. If anything they could be described as force fields, static cling/dust halo's around objects.

    If I were doing freshing up of the films to transfer, I might smooth out matt halos to a more regular shape--like a deflector shield barely visible that kept up with the ship as it moved.

    It is pixelation that makes me want to tear my hair out.
    So help me, I want somebody to combine blue-ray with one of those huge platter laser disks of old and do analog laserdiscs.

    To me video quality seems to be going down in some respects with digital cameras.

    Now I still have a tube television that I swear by--and yes I've heard folks low-rate vinyl lovers and our appreciation of hiss--or how it is a myth that you can only listen to CDs for so long, etc. Still, when movies went from film to videotape, I really didn't notice as many artifacts.

    Film transfers to digital can lend an unusual motion to characters. And my local PBS station can't seem to get the aspect ratio right. At friends houses with widescreen TVs, the made for TV footage widens out to fill the screen (not set up right)

    I love my old tube TV, so different blacks don't bother me like pixelation does
     
  4. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Publiusr, as with people who claim to categorically hate all "digital" or "computer" effects, I say "it all depends." I don't know exactly which artifact you are referring to when you say "pixelation." The simple fact is, there are usually artifacts of one sort or another when transferring between media. Lots of features have been shot on video and then transferred to film for distribution.

    The odd motion of characters you spoke of might be due to several things. For example, cinema film is typically 24 fps, while most video systems are faster. PAL is a single frame faster, while NTSC is (approximately) six frames faster. Thus, some PAL transfers may be speeded up by one frame—which produces its own artifacts in both image and sound—while NTSC is typically interlaced with a "3:2 pulldown." Digital televisions are actually a godsend for the cinephile because one can run the movie at its native frame rate...

    But that doesn't stop avoidable artifacts from showing up, such as end-users who run their HDTVs at a "full screen" mode, which distorts the presentation of SD material. While it is possible that your local PBS station is doing something wrong, professionals typically know what they are doing. And PBS has (our) money to hire capable engineers.

    The garbage mattes show up on analog video because of the latitude limitations. Where the "knee" of the gamma curve is set on the video camera may accent them. Digital video is better, as are the film scanners. Some artifacts might be cleaned up, but that takes time and manpower—despite sophisticated software. Getting rid of the garbage mattes is not a simple task, like eliminating dirt and scratches on the frame, or fixing the exposure caused by "strobing" light sources (such as fluorescent).

    PS—Another artifact that may cause the "odd motion of characters" is deinterlacing, which may be the movie file, or the user settings on the display.

    I assume you know that Laserdisc is analog? The video on LDs is not digital, which is why digital sound, when it finally came along, was greeted with such enthusiasm.
     
  5. SpHeRe31459

    SpHeRe31459 Captain Captain

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    Yes and what's worse it's analog composite video (all video information crammed into one track of information). It's hardly high quality by today's standards. DVDs and newer are proper component video (in effect separate R,G,B information).
     
  6. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    I'd just like to add a wrinkle here that messes up what people see at home. The big cable stations like FX, TBS and TNT are offered in SD and HD versions on my cable dial (Verizon FiOS).

    When they show an "old-style, 20th century" (as Spock would say) program, it looks fine, with black pillars along the sides, on the SD channel that nobody watches. But simultaneously on the HD channel that everybody watches, they stretch the image horizontally to fill the wide screen.

    So you can have your flat screen TV set up correctly and still see absolute junk-- a picture that gives me eyestrain and nausea. If you are unaware of the SD alternate channel and try to fix the picture with your remote, you can get it nearly right, but the people become a little too tall and thin. It's just wrong enough to still be unwatchable.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ohh, you're kidding. That's horrible. I can't understand how anyone can tolerate watching TV that way. Yet apparently a lot of people don't even notice the distortion or don't care.
     
  8. Doomsday

    Doomsday Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Well, chiming in only as an ordinary consumer, and most certainly NOT a video engineer or expert....

    I have to confess that years ago when I first converted from the old tube-TV to a 42" LCD, I always ran my TV in full-screen mode, pretty much all the time.

    Again, as a consumer, and not a video engineer, I wasn't no interested in all these technical details. The reason I switched to a wide-screen TV, was that I was tired of watching wide-screen movies on my old TV and seeing black bars at the top and bottom. I realized that was to preserve the aspect ratio, I get that. But I hated having half my TV screen black when watching a movie.

    So when I made the switch to a wide screen TV I was very excited, so imagine my surprise when many movies STILL showed black bars at the top and bottom! (Granted, smaller than on my old TV but they were still there). That infuriated me, because I still felt like I was paying extra for a TV and still getting empty screen!

    So I ran it in full screen mode. After a while, though, I got tired of that too, because for some reason, the picture would switch back and forth to wide screen mode again for certain scenes. Not sure why, if it some coding on the digital track, or something funky my TV was doing, but that was even more annoying than the black bars, so I stopped. And just learned to live with the black bars.

    But I tell you, even after all these years (and even though I do understand the whole aspect ratio thing), it still bugs me when I see black bars.

    I paid for 42", I want to see all of it! (grouchy old-man mode).
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    If black bars are necessary to preserve the original aspect ratio of the broadcast, then that's fine with me. I want to see every film or video in the aspect ratio it was intended to have. If it was made for 4:3, I want to see it in 4:3, and if it was made for widescreen, I want to see it in widescreen. That's the only thing that makes sense to me. It's bizarre and Procrustean to care more about the shape of the screen you're watching on than the shape that the image was designed to have. You don't see people stretching the Mona Lisa out sideways or slashing off the sides of Guernica to force them to fit an arbitrary frame. The intended proportions of the artwork itself dictate how it's framed and displayed. And the same should be true for any movie or television broadcast. The black bars should just be considered part of the frame, since the TV screen itself can't change its shape to fit the image.
     
  10. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    The bars were a much bigger deal a quarter-century back, when laserdisc was practically the only way to see Original Aspect Ratio. I remember my stepdad going absolutely bugshit when I played BLADE RUNNER for him, he couldn't deal with the bars AT ALL. I think he only started getting his head around it in the last 5 or 7 years, after he got an HD set.

    I've never even seen them as bars myself, because the TV set is like a window on the movie. It only seemed weird to me when there was distortion, like cowboys were stretched out like Giacometti sculptures during credits of old westerns that got squeezed. And the worst is when you see credits letterboxed, but then the movie switched to fullscreen after the credits ended (am looking at you BITE THE BULLET - I know there's a proper edition out there, but it costs!)

    Between messups on aspect ratio stuff and the weird no-blur/ high hz stuff in HD sets, there's still a lot that hurts my eyes ...
     
  11. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    Well, TV's tended to be smaller back in the day, too. Letterboxed versions on a small diagonal TV, of movies intended for the big screen, could approach being unwatchable, because everything was so damn small.
     
  12. Doomsday

    Doomsday Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    This for sure.

    I remember when LOTR:Fellowship first came out on DVD, I still had my 25" diagonal tube tv, and that movie was so "letterboxed", than unless you sat 3 feet from the screen, you almost couldn't see any details. Sometimes you couldn't even discern actor's faces, unless it was a relative close-up. It was almost unwatchable. It was in those days, that I usually tried to buy the full-screen version of a movie, if it was available.
     
  13. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or when the letterboxed titles had fancy decorative borders top and bottom instead of plain black, like they were trying to fool us into thinking the titles were designed that way. NBC used to do that with its broadcasts of Universal widescreen movies and I hated it.
     
  14. Metryq

    Metryq Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Meanwhile, Federation starships span the galaxy meeting up with new races, yet never have any kind of video compatibility issues. Of course, those Japanese starships are always ahead of the curve, sporting 3D viewscreens on their bridges.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    That reminds me of the South Park episode where Cartman is frozen in an avalanche and returns to civilization 500 years later (complete with a Buck Rogers opening credits montage and Gil Gerard hairstyle).

    Cartman wants to play a Nintendo Wii system stolen from a museum.


    Maintenance Guy: Uhh, what kind of output does this have? This is some ancient Super-VHS output or somethin'. I can't connect it to your float screen.

    Cartman: There's gotta be some way to hook it up! It's the freakin' future!

    Maintenance Guy: It may be the future for you, but I can't hook up anything to a float screen without at least a laser-7 output.