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Talking Images Podcast: Episode 82 released September 15th: Image Quality: Is Anything Under 4K Trash? [TALKING IMAGES]?!
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Image Quality: Is Anything Under 4K Trash? [TALKING IMAGES]

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St. Gloede
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Image Quality: Is Anything Under 4K Trash? [TALKING IMAGES]

#1

Post by St. Gloede »

Image

How spoiled have we become by Blu-rays and 4k? Are our old VHSs and DVDs trash now? How low can the image quality get before the viewing experience is damaged, and when do we say: Hell no, I'm not watching that!

In this episode, which somehow descends into death threats, Tom will admit that he refuses to watch a long list of Satyajit Ray films in their current condition, while Sol reveals he doesn't mind bad visuals as he watches a ton of films on his iPad.

We will also all admit to watching bad VHS transfers and corroded silent films on YouTube (YES, INCLUDING TOM).

Join us as we dissect just how important crisp visuals actually are, whether we can still stand DVD and VHS quality and reveal the worst-looking films we have ever sat through. We will also discuss whether less than crisp and even damaged visuals can be positive, with a brief look at Dogme 95 and Guy Maddin.

We also invite you to assess just how genuine Lauren's death threats are and if her potential victim has it coming.

You Can Listen Here:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/5JpQDLgymNQGfZ2GIq04ZY

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/i ... 0628017169

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CPh0ZoTe3_s

Participants:
  • Adam / AdamH
  • Lauren / MightySparks
  • Tom / Filmbantha
  • Sol / Sol
  • Chris / Gloede
Join the conversation

So, what about you? Do you watch damaged silents and bad VHS transfers on YouTube?

What was the last one and how did you feel about it?

Do you feel like you have become spoiled by blu-rays and 4k?

Is VHS quality just not good enough anymore?

If yes: Does that mean that people watching home video in the 80s, 90s, and 00s just didn't experience the film properly?

Is DVD quality outdated too?

Do you still watch your old VHSs or DVDs?

What is the lowest quality where you feel like you can still enjoy the film? Is it possible for you to actually enjoy a VHS tape?

What is the lowest quality where you feel like you feel that you can't even judge the film properly?

Let's see who just likes to check off films from their list no matter how bad they look: What is the lowest quality a film can have ... but you would still watch?

How do you feel about films that choose to be in poor quality as an aesthetic choice? Perhaps even adding scratches, pixels, glitches, etc.?

Favourite films with bad or even terrible image quality?

Bonus question: Do you agree with Sol that iPads provide a great, personal viewing experience?

Bonus Question 2: Should Sol watch his back?
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#2

Post by OldAle1 »

I haven't listened yet - I'll wait till the YT version is up - but this is right up my alley! And it's another one where an older viewer like me who actually grew up in the VHS era (and before) is bound to have a somewhat different view.


So, what about you? Do you watch damaged silents and bad VHS transfers on YouTube?

Sure. More often though I watch equally-crappy copies that are downloaded, especially from the Internet Archive.

What was the last one and how did you feel about it?

The last low-grade film I watched looks to be The Green Cockatoo which was the first film I watched for the UK challenge and you can see my review there. The quality was indeed rather poor, but even with a fairly amazing group of talents involved, as I mentioned in my review, it really doesn't seem like the kind of film likely to show up in any better quality soon - or ever.

Do you feel like you have become spoiled by blu-rays and 4k?

To some extent, but usually only when I know that something is, or should be, available to me in high-def. Here's an example: I'm going through Star Trek (TOS) right now and I have a beautiful BD set and the definition and colors are fantastic. But the first disc of season 2 won't play - I don't think it's the disc's fault, my player is very old and it's gotten wonky with some newer BDs over the past year - so what to do? I don't feel like buying a new player now, want to wait until I upgrade. So I got out the DVDs from the library - and they look OK but the difference is pretty significant. And unfortunately they won't play beyond the first 5 minutes either! Though that is because, like most popular and older library DVDs, they're too scratched. So I downloaded 720p copies of the episodes and will watch them but I'm not going to be happy about it.

On the other hand, when something is fairly rare, and maybe was low-budget to begin with, I really don't get at all fussed about the quality being low; I'm just usually happy to be able to see it at all.

Is VHS quality just not good enough anymore?

Basically, see my last answer.

If yes: Does that mean that people watching home video in the 80s, 90s, and 00s just didn't experience the film properly?

I guess in a way - but then from my purist standpoint, if you didn't see a film the way it was meant to be seen in the first place (let's say in a cinema with a particular soundmix and 35mm) you didn't see it "properly". I felt pretty strongly about this back in the 90s and even into the 00s when my choices were more limited, and still deep down I sometimes feel it - but I've made my peace with it. You take what you can get to a great extent. I mean, I can't really read anything of any length or difficulty that's not in English - am I not experiencing a work originally in French "properly"? No, but we all have limitations with every experience we have, we just have to learn to live with them.

Is DVD quality outdated too?

Not to me, but then I don't have that large a TV. And I watch plenty of films that aren't available in HD so I don't think about it too often.

Do you still watch your old VHSs or DVDs?

Don't have a working VHS player. DVDs, definitely.

What is the lowest quality where you feel like you can still enjoy the film? Is it possible for you to actually enjoy a VHS tape?

If it's a film I really, really want to see, and it seems highly unlikely that it will ever be available in higher quality - or I just can't wait because, say, it's the only film from a favorite filmmaker that I haven't seen or something, then there really is no bottom limit to the quality I'll watch, though "enjoy" is a tough word in such cases. Still I remember being knocked out on my first viewing of Ordet in a VERY poor VHS back in the late 80s.

What is the lowest quality where you feel like you feel that you can't even judge the film properly?

That's hard to answer. If I really felt it wasn't something I could evaluate at all I'd probably turn it off; I virtually never stop watching something, but abysmal quality is one exception that I've made a few times.

Let's see who just likes to check off films from their list no matter how bad they look: What is the lowest quality a film can have ... but you would still watch?

Much like my answer to the question before last - it depends. It certainly doesn't for me depend on getting an official check, but if it's something I just HAVE to see because it checks a bunch of my personal boxes... pretty low. I dunno, 150x200 pixels? Really, really washed out? Sound that's almost inaudible? Barely readable subs half the time and none the rest of the time? I once watched a film that had THREE large watermarks throughout, one in each of three corners of the frame, nearly unreadable subs, and blurred, pinkish picture. But I had to see it and it was NEVER going to be available in any better way. (HA! It's actually playing at the London Film Fest, so obviously I was wrong. But 4 1/2 years ago I had no way of knowing).

How do you feel about films that choose to be in poor quality as an aesthetic choice? Perhaps even adding scratches, pixels, glitches, etc.?

Eh, it's a sort of fun gimmick I suppose - I definitely don't mind it for trailers or shorts, but for features I dunno. I mean, all those "grindhouse" films were INTENDED to be shown in good quality prints to begin with - and there a great many of them that have shown up in recent years in HD restorations and I don't think anybody is saying "gee I wish the color was all washed out, the sound un-synched, frames dropped like it was when I saw it on 42nd street in 1971".

Favourite films with bad or even terrible image quality?

Do you mean, terrible as in the way it was actually made, or terrible as in, that's the only way it can be seen (or was seen by me)? There are plenty of very low-budget or experimental films that have "poor" image quality that I love, too many to count. There is a great deal of experimental work - Mekas, Kuchar, Brakhage, etc, that is transferred from 16 mm or even 8mm for example - it's grainy and low resolution and that's just the way it is. It can never look like something shot in 35 or HD.

If on the other hand you mean something that just looks terrible because there hasn't thus far been any way to see a good copy, geez I dunno. Maybe Raul Ruiz' Mammame which AFAIK is only available in a really poor transfer either from VHS or French TV back in the 80s. EDIT: Ha, foiled again. I just looked and the YT copy linked to from icm is definitely better than what I remember. Still not great by any means but def better than what I remember seeing. So... I dunno. Maybe all the great movies I watched in terrible quality 5 or 10 or 20 years ago are now available in decent transfers? Probably not but I don't feel like going through all the possibilities right now.

Bonus question: Do you agree with Sol that iPads provide a great, personal viewing experience?

I have never had an iPad so I can't comment.

Bonus Question 2: Should Sol watch his back?

I don't know what this refers to so I'll just say "Of course, always."
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
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#3

Post by blocho »

Is this the first Talking Images episode with a death threat? That's an exciting new frontier in the history of this podcast.

What is the lowest quality where you feel like you can still enjoy the film?
It depends. In recent years, I have developed a certain threshold of image quality below which I will not watch a movie. But that threshold is mobile. For more modern movies it's pretty high. For older ones, it's lower. Unfortunately, this means that I simply don't watch certain movies because the best version that exists is below my threshold. I've made my peace with this, and I'm content to hope and wait for a restoration that improves the quality.

Bonus question: Do you agree with Sol that iPads provide a great, personal viewing experience?
I haven't listened to the episode yet, so I don't know what Sol's argument is. I'm sure it's reasonable. I do have a friend who argued for years he didn't need a TV because he had an iPad. He said watching an IPad from two feet away was the equivalent of watching a TV from 10 feet away. I told him his reasoning was poor. When he eventually got a TV, he immediately agreed that it was much better.
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#4

Post by OldAle1 »

blocho wrote: September 15th, 2023, 5:04 pm
What is the lowest quality where you feel like you can still enjoy the film?

It depends. In recent years, I have developed a certain threshold of image quality below which I will not watch a movie. But that threshold is mobile. For more modern movies it's pretty high. For older ones, it's lower. Unfortunately, this means that I simply don't watch certain movies because the best version that exists is below my threshold. I've made my peace with this, and I'm content to hope and wait for a restoration that improves the quality.
Yeah, forgot to mention that - it definitely depends on the date of the film. I didn't really intellectualize it for a long time but I eventually realized that it boils down to a couple of big divides: between the pre-video era (say up to 1977 or so), the VHS era (let's just say 1978-1999 for convenience' sake) and the digital era (2000 on). I have little patience for poor quality from the current era, though I'll admit I used to watch some pretty low-grade rips of newer films back in the late 00s and early 10s - but that was also before I had good broadband, before I had a good state library system that can get a whole lot of stuff on DVD/BD, and before streaming took hold. Stuff from the 80s-90s is the trickiest because so much of it was on video but maybe has never had a digital upgrade and it's sometimes hard to know without a bit of research. Earlier films, especially low-rent ones - eh, if I can't find an HD copy quickly and I want to see it anyway, I'll usually just go ahead, especially if it's on Youtube, Vimeo, etc. This is especially true of a lot of low-rent film noir and westerns from the likes of PRC and Monogram; I mean, yeah, more of that stuff does get put out in higher quality all the time but there are endless numbers of films and if it's something with no-name stars and director I just kind of assume I should take what I can get. And I love a lot of that stuff so I just don't care.
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#5

Post by Ivan0716 »

I think my answer to most of those questions would be "If there are no other options available and I must watch that film right now, then yes", but I'm definitely more reluctant now than a decade or so ago about watching "unwatchable" film copies online with all the great restoration work that's being released at festivals every year. I mean, look at Chess of the Wind, I'm so glad I never watched the crappy version, it wouldn't have been the same film.

Image

On the flip side, I've also experienced cases where the poor quality of the print did the film some favours, one example is Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. I saw a pretty bad copy before it was restored, and the blurry images actually gave the film some sort of dreamlike quality that suited it, watching it again years later on blu-ray removed some of the mystique for me and highlighted how bad the makeup and colour grading was.
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#6

Post by St. Gloede »

OldAle1 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 4:25 pm I haven't listened yet - I'll wait till the YT version is up - but this is right up my alley! And it's another one where an older viewer like me who actually grew up in the VHS era (and before) is bound to have a somewhat different view.
Happy to hear it and hope you enjoy it!
So, what about you? Do you watch damaged silents and bad VHS transfers on YouTube?

Sure. More often though I watch equally-crappy copies that are downloaded, especially from the Internet Archive.
Not at all immune to this either, though as I mentioned in the podcast recent restorations have made me a bit more discriminatory, and if it is a film in the "maybe I should watch it" category in bad condition I'm far more likely to wait now thsn before. I just can't believe the number of fairly obscure films have gotten great treatment.
Do you feel like you have become spoiled by blu-rays and 4k?

To some extent, but usually only when I know that something is, or should be, available to me in high-def. Here's an example: I'm going through Star Trek (TOS) right now and I have a beautiful BD set and the definition and colors are fantastic. But the first disc of season 2 won't play - I don't think it's the disc's fault, my player is very old and it's gotten wonky with some newer BDs over the past year - so what to do? I don't feel like buying a new player now, want to wait until I upgrade. So I got out the DVDs from the library - and they look OK but the difference is pretty significant. And unfortunately they won't play beyond the first 5 minutes either! Though that is because, like most popular and older library DVDs, they're too scratched. So I downloaded 720p copies of the episodes and will watch them but I'm not going to be happy about it.
Looks ok, but pretty significant difference is about my feeling on the matter too.
On the other hand, when something is fairly rare, and maybe was low-budget to begin with, I really don't get at all fussed about the quality being low; I'm just usually happy to be able to see it at all.
Very true, some of those grungier looking films are made for DVD, or even the VHS look. Hell, I enjoy video art, being on video is the whole point.
If yes: Does that mean that people watching home video in the 80s, 90s, and 00s just didn't experience the film properly?

I guess in a way - but then from my purist standpoint, if you didn't see a film the way it was meant to be seen in the first place (let's say in a cinema with a particular soundmix and 35mm) you didn't see it "properly". I felt pretty strongly about this back in the 90s and even into the 00s when my choices were more limited, and still deep down I sometimes feel it - but I've made my peace with it. You take what you can get to a great extent. I mean, I can't really read anything of any length or difficulty that's not in English - am I not experiencing a work originally in French "properly"? No, but we all have limitations with every experience we have, we just have to learn to live with them.
I can see Tom nodding along non-stop while reading this paragraph. :lol:

(and true)
What is the lowest quality where you feel like you can still enjoy the film? Is it possible for you to actually enjoy a VHS tape?

If it's a film I really, really want to see, and it seems highly unlikely that it will ever be available in higher quality - or I just can't wait because, say, it's the only film from a favorite filmmaker that I haven't seen or something, then there really is no bottom limit to the quality I'll watch, though "enjoy" is a tough word in such cases. Still I remember being knocked out on my first viewing of Ordet in a VERY poor VHS back in the late 80s.
Interesting pick. Can see it working very well on VHS as it is quite dialogue driven, and some of the aesthetics can even lend itself to VHS. Vampyr, perhaps even more so.
What is the lowest quality where you feel like you feel that you can't even judge the film properly?

That's hard to answer. If I really felt it wasn't something I could evaluate at all I'd probably turn it off; I virtually never stop watching something, but abysmal quality is one exception that I've made a few times.
You know, I don't think I've ever made that exception if I've started the film properly, but the flipside of that is that there are some films I'll just drift away from. I won't see films in that kind of quality anymore though, and as I mentioned on the podcast I'm glad I managed to restrain myself and not see your favourite, A Brighter Summer Say before the restoration was out. How was the print you first saw. We're you lucky enough to see it on release in great quality and if so, did you ever go through the weak print that was circulating fir tyears as well?
How do you feel about films that choose to be in poor quality as an aesthetic choice? Perhaps even adding scratches, pixels, glitches, etc.?

Eh, it's a sort of fun gimmick I suppose - I definitely don't mind it for trailers or shorts, but for features I dunno. I mean, all those "grindhouse" films were INTENDED to be shown in good quality prints to begin with - and there a great many of them that have shown up in recent years in HD restorations and I don't think anybody is saying "gee I wish the color was all washed out, the sound un-synched, frames dropped like it was when I saw it on 42nd street in 1971".
:lol: :lol: :lol:
Favourite films with bad or even terrible image quality?

Do you mean, terrible as in the way it was actually made, or terrible as in, that's the only way it can be seen (or was seen by me)? There are plenty of very low-budget or experimental films that have "poor" image quality that I love, too many to count. There is a great deal of experimental work - Mekas, Kuchar, Brakhage, etc, that is transferred from 16 mm or even 8mm for example - it's grainy and low resolution and that's just the way it is. It can never look like something shot in 35 or HD.

If on the other hand you mean something that just looks terrible because there hasn't thus far been any way to see a good copy, geez I dunno. Maybe Raul Ruiz' Mammame which AFAIK is only available in a really poor transfer either from VHS or French TV back in the 80s. EDIT: Ha, foiled again. I just looked and the YT copy linked to from icm is definitely better than what I remember. Still not great by any means but def better than what I remember seeing. So... I dunno. Maybe all the great movies I watched in terrible quality 5 or 10 or 20 years ago are now available in decent transfers? Probably not but I don't feel like going through all the possibilities right now.
You can I terpret it however you want, and Mammane is an excellent choice!

Honestly, the quality even fits it.

One favourite of mine that I forgot to mention in thr podcast, though it does not look terrible (probably why) is Oswald's Lucrezia Borgia (1922). I'd love to see it in HD. The same us the case for many of my silent favourites, which are clearly very much visual:

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#7

Post by St. Gloede »

Ivan0716 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 6:02 pm I think my answer to most of those questions would be "If there are no other options available and I must watch that film right now, then yes", but I'm definitely more reluctant now than a decade or so ago about watching "unwatchable" film copies online with all the great restoration work that's being released at festivals every year. I mean, look at Chess of the Wind, I'm so glad I never watched the crappy version, it wouldn't have been the same film.

Image
This is one of those utterly ridiculous and downrifht unbelievable upgrades I can barely believe happened. It looks wonderful. I did not end up loving the film, but I'm so glad I waited.
On the flip side, I've also experienced cases where the poor quality of the print did the film some favours, one example is Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. I saw a pretty bad copy before it was restored, and the blurry images actually gave the film some sort of dreamlike quality that suited it, watching it again years later on blu-ray removed some of the mystique for me and highlighted how bad the makeup and colour grading was.
You know what, my first thought hear was that Valerie is do visually beautiful I found the comment odd, but then I remembered I saw the film 15 years ago, and probably on DVD, and it may indeed have aided my experience. I certainly remember the visuals as being dreamlike.
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#8

Post by St. Gloede »

blocho wrote: September 15th, 2023, 5:04 pm Is this the first Talking Images episode with a death threat? That's an exciting new frontier in the history of this podcast.
I believe so! What a milestone.
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#9

Post by mightysparks »

St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:17 pm
Ivan0716 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 6:02 pm I think my answer to most of those questions would be "If there are no other options available and I must watch that film right now, then yes", but I'm definitely more reluctant now than a decade or so ago about watching "unwatchable" film copies online with all the great restoration work that's being released at festivals every year. I mean, look at Chess of the Wind, I'm so glad I never watched the crappy version, it wouldn't have been the same film.

Image
This is one of those utterly ridiculous and downrifht unbelievable upgrades I can barely believe happened. It looks wonderful. I did not end up loving the film, but I'm so glad I waited.
Haven't seen this film but yeah wow that upgrade is insane.
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Post by St. Gloede »

mightysparks wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:19 pm
St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:17 pm
Ivan0716 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 6:02 pm I think my answer to most of those questions would be "If there are no other options available and I must watch that film right now, then yes", but I'm definitely more reluctant now than a decade or so ago about watching "unwatchable" film copies online with all the great restoration work that's being released at festivals every year. I mean, look at Chess of the Wind, I'm so glad I never watched the crappy version, it wouldn't have been the same film.

Image
This is one of those utterly ridiculous and downrifht unbelievable upgrades I can barely believe happened. It looks wonderful. I did not end up loving the film, but I'm so glad I waited.
Haven't seen this film but yeah wow that upgrade is insane.
It was courtesy of The World Cinema Project, founded by Scorsese. They have done some incredible remasters.

(Of course, in many of these cases, the bad versions circulating are often deteriorated home media, while there is still a (possibly) damaged original print still around).

Overview of the films they have restored: https://www.film-foundation.org/world-cinema
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#11

Post by blocho »

St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:18 pm
blocho wrote: September 15th, 2023, 5:04 pm Is this the first Talking Images episode with a death threat? That's an exciting new frontier in the history of this podcast.
I believe so! What a milestone.
Maybe it can become an ongoing joke. Someone threatens to kill sol in every episode. Not sure how sol feels about all of this.
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#12

Post by OldAle1 »

St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:14 pm
You know, I don't think I've ever made that exception if I've started the film properly, but the flipside of that is that there are some films I'll just drift away from. I won't see films in that kind of quality anymore though, and as I mentioned on the podcast I'm glad I managed to restrain myself and not see your favourite, A Brighter Summer Say before the restoration was out. How was the print you first saw. We're you lucky enough to see it on release in great quality and if so, did you ever go through the weak print that was circulating fir tyears as well?
I've actually only seen BSD in the cinema in 35mm. But I saw it 4x between 1997-2000, because the Film Center in Chicago had it's own non-circulating print; there was some weird bureaucratic mix-up where they had this copy, sent it back, and then were sent it again, and for some reason were told to just keep it at the time, which they did. Something like that anyway. So they got to play it several times, and once I saw it just with a group of a few buddies because I was friends with the house manager who wanted to watch it again and just invited some of his friends for a private screening. Pretty cool, can't say I've had many experiences like that, at least not with that great a film. But the first time I saw it Yang introduced it and that was obviously really great as well; as I recall he mostly talked about basketball - he was tall and quite an enthusiast and at one time dreamed of being a pro, and this was when Michael Jordan was huge and of course we were in Chicago - and Werner Herzog, who was a huge influence on him. I don't think any early death among film people has saddened me more than his, he seemed like such a nice guy and was such a great filmmaker, and his films bespeak such humanity.

Of course after all this time I can't say exactly how the print looked but I believe it was pretty nice. I keep meaning to sit down and watch the Criterion finally but, y'know, so much else to see, and 4 hours and all. I've said it before but it remains true for me - much easier for me to watch a long film in the cinema because I can't be distracted there.
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#13

Post by Torgo »

St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 2:46 pm while Sol reveals he doesn't mind bad visuals as he watches a ton of films on his iPad.
Excuse me, I had to leave the thread after this line
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Post by sol »

It depends how we define bad visuals. I don't mind 480p but in the age of 4K and 1080p, that's considered "bad" by some.

And interestingly, if I recall correctly, it wasn't even this that led to the death threats being launched against me. :huh:
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Post by magnusbernhardsen »

I got into films for real after I bought an HD DVD-player and a bunch of films in the post-format war firesales. The incredible picture quality of 1080p blew me away, and the hunt for more cheap discs propelled me into film forums and loads of orders of cheap films. I then started to buy more DVDs and eventually Blu-rays. I had a lull in watrching films for some years, and then I got a 4K TV and a 4K player, and the increased picture quality of all media got me heavily into watching films again. So, for me image quality has been part of the pleasure of watching films.

But ... many films I'd like to watch are only available in 240p VHS-rips with atrocious sound. So I do watch them from time to time. Also, when it comes to downloading I struggle with playing the largest files, and also HDD space is always an issue, so I have come to love the 576p rips found here and there.

I do put off watching stuff if I know there will be a better version coming out.

The worst thing I watched recently was a rip of the Swiss Foudre which was screen-recorded by someone who only watched it in a window covering 3/4 of their screen, and had constant notifications from Discord and Messenger pinging througout.
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#17

Post by matthewscott8 »

I still have a VHS player and VHSs to watch. I don't necessarily go along with the idea that quality has a linear progression. I don't tend to ever get irked by a VHS, however I can get irked that digital often struggles with fire, water and black. A dvd can technically have a higher resolution than a VHS but VHS blur is far less annoying to me than digital pixellation. I have at time stopped watching dvds midway through on the grounds that the visual is so bad it spoils things, never with a VHS.

It also depends what type of film we're talking, Bogie can talk good via any format, but experimental movies are unwatchable without high resolution.
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#18

Post by cinewest »

My love of movies began in my childhood with network screenings on rather smallish tube TVs, often with interruptions from TV ads, and all I saw until I reached my mid teens were Hollywood movies (pre-70's- mostly Westerns, crime dramas and musicals) apart from what I increasingly began to see at movie theaters in my teens (a great era for American cinema).
Even my "great awakening" at 16 occurred on a tv (while at home sick from school) when I watched quite a few films from the janus collection (uninterrupted) that were part of a movie marathon on public television during their annual pledge drive.

After that, though, I pretty much saw everything in the cinema for the next 10-15 years (including older films) until the revival houses were almost all wiped out (at one time there were at least 15 operating in SF, alone) by VHS rentals, and fairly soon afterward DVDs. And I am still of the opinion that there is no better place to watch a movie than on the big screen, though certainly not all movie theaters are created equal, nor are all movie prints. And a large majority of my most memorable watches continue to be in theaters, even though I have gone less and less in the past 10 years (which could very well be the main reason I prize films from the 2000's over those from the 2010's).

Nothing like a good movie theater for creating the optimum conditions to get swept up in a film and lose track of everything else which renders a film experience in its full glory (I value quality over quantity).
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#19

Post by St. Gloede »

sol wrote: September 16th, 2023, 1:43 am And interestingly, if I recall correctly, it wasn't even this that led to the death threats being launched against me. :huh:
Correct.

Dear listeners, do toon in to discover just why Sol ends up receiving death threats.
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#20

Post by matthewscott8 »

Ivan0716 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 6:02 pm I think my answer to most of those questions would be "If there are no other options available and I must watch that film right now, then yes", but I'm definitely more reluctant now than a decade or so ago about watching "unwatchable" film copies online with all the great restoration work that's being released at festivals every year. I mean, look at Chess of the Wind, I'm so glad I never watched the crappy version, it wouldn't have been the same film.

Image

On the flip side, I've also experienced cases where the poor quality of the print did the film some favours, one example is Valerie and Her Week of Wonders. I saw a pretty bad copy before it was restored, and the blurry images actually gave the film some sort of dreamlike quality that suited it, watching it again years later on blu-ray removed some of the mystique for me and highlighted how bad the makeup and colour grading was.
Lower picture has a somewhat magical quality to it. I didn't actually like this film when I saw it restored in the cinema, the added atmospherics from the below deterioration might add something for me.
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#21

Post by matthewscott8 »

Ice by Robert Kramer is one of my favourite movies, and the only way I've seen it is absolutely beaten all to hell, with all sorts of weird numbers on the screen and VHS minus quality. However because of the subject matter of the film, it feels like it adds more than it takes away. Like it's an genuine artefact of a revolution. I actually have an HD copy now but am scared to watch it nicely.

Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine is another favourite of mine, and it's shot to looks like VHS, we can celebrate that aesthetic.
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#22

Post by St. Gloede »

matthewscott8 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:15 am Ice by Robert Kramer is one of my favourite movies, and the only way I've seen it is absolutely beaten all to hell, with all sorts of weird numbers on the screen and VHS minus quality. However because of the subject matter of the film, it feels like it adds more than it takes away. Like it's an genuine artefact of a revolution. I actually have an HD copy now but am scared to watch it nicely.

Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine is another favourite of mine, and it's shot to looks like VHS, we can celebrate that aesthetic.
I can actually see that helping it! (or at least not harming it too much).

I was lucky enough to see it like this:

Image
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#23

Post by matthewscott8 »

St. Gloede wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:47 am
matthewscott8 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:15 am Ice by Robert Kramer is one of my favourite movies, and the only way I've seen it is absolutely beaten all to hell, with all sorts of weird numbers on the screen and VHS minus quality. However because of the subject matter of the film, it feels like it adds more than it takes away. Like it's an genuine artefact of a revolution. I actually have an HD copy now but am scared to watch it nicely.

Trash Humpers by Harmony Korine is another favourite of mine, and it's shot to looks like VHS, we can celebrate that aesthetic.
I can actually see that helping it! (or at least not harming it too much).

I was lucky enough to see it like this:

Image
That looks horrible hehe. Mine looks like it was smuggled out of a warzone hehe.
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#24

Post by Torgo »

matthewscott8 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:10 am
Ivan0716 wrote: September 15th, 2023, 6:02 pm
Spoiler
Image
Lower picture has a somewhat magical quality to it. I didn't actually like this film when I saw it restored in the cinema, the added atmospherics from the below deterioration might add something for me.

People like you shouldn't be allowed to roam freely in society.
matthewscott8 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:57 am That looks horrible hehe. Mine looks like it was smuggled out of a warzone hehe.
:D Nice
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#25

Post by OldAle1 »

So I listened to this today - that's two podcasts in one day for me, a record I think. Anyway, it was much fun, as much fun as the quiz show one and that's saying something. Some more thoughts -

* the comments on subtitles were valuable. One thing I've found is that I am willing, very occasionaly, to struggle through something with really bad subs if it's in one of the three languages that I just sort of understand, German Spanish or French (in descending order of ability) -spmetimes I may have to go back and re-watch a scene, or look up dialogue online, which is a big hassle and detracts from the experience but... it's been worth it a few times. And I think watching a film in German with Spanish subs, or vice versa, would be an interesting exercise for me. I have watched at least one film in another language with German subs and found it a pretty decent experience, but then it didn't have huge amounts of dialogue and was fairly easy to follow regardless. So the quality of subs is going to matter in proportion to some other elements in the film I think.

* when I answered the question about films shot with deliberately poor quality I was really thinking just of Grindhouse and the trailers that accompanied it, and a few other films of that sort. For some reason found footage stuff didn't occur to me, nor did some of the more artsty stuff mentioned. I'd have to amend my answer - for those kinds of things, I think deliberately evoking a different aesthetic quality can be of some value - even if I'm not that into the found footage genre myself overall, I get it, and things like Bill Morrison's work, or other experimental stuff from the likes of Martin Arnold or Peter Tscherkassky I really do dig. The Dogme stuff... I tend to agree with Lauren (I think it was her) that films like Festen don't really look bad or anything - early digital is just an aesthetic choice and while not my favorite it works for some films. And I'm with sol in spirit in not bothering to watch certain highly regarded or top-list-heavy films just because. There are certainly a number of films that I "should have" seen in 40 years or so of cinephilia but just haven't, and don't really care to - regardless of quality issues. But that's really another topic isn't it.

* good brief point about BD "enhancements" to films. Interesting that you bring up Terminator; I don't remember hearing anything about that one and as I remember I thought the BD I have looked fine - and I saw that 2-3 times in the cinema, at least. The one I HAVE heard a lot about, in terms of excessive DNR and softening of the image, is another Arnie film, Predator, and it's one reason why I never bought it - I should look and see what's available now, actually. And when I watched John Badham's Dracula one thing I noticed was how washed out and drained of color it looked - and it turned out this was deliberate, Badham himself wanted the transfer to look that way, though the original film had a more more typical 70s-80s color scheme. Can't always trust the directors and their second thoughts (see George Lucas, etc).

* Yes, sol absolutely needs to watch his back. With his enormous multi-gazillion-dollar palace that he lives in and his hundreds of iPads and BD players and 120" TVs in every room, I'm tempted to head on down there myself and ransack his place, whether he's home or not. I didn't realize that Chess of the Wind was filmed in his palazzo until now, but it's all starting to make sense.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
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#26

Post by matthewscott8 »

Sol was stepping on so many landmines I wondered if it was scripted :) just randomly, in full flow, and from nowhere dismissing Guy Maddin's filmography.
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#27

Post by sol »

OldAle1 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 10:01 pm I'm with sol in spirit in not bothering to watch certain highly regarded or top-list-heavy films just because. There are certainly a number of films that I "should have" seen in 40 years or so of cinephilia but just haven't, and don't really care to - regardless of quality issues. But that's really another topic isn't it.
Yeah, we covered it in a previous episode (three years ago) on films that we have avoided. I am glad though to find a kindred sprit in this regard! :hug: You have been watching films for much longer than me, but even so I feel like I have reached the point where I know what my taste in film is like and what I am likely to be drawn to or not. So I am not going to (to use the abovementioned example) seek out every acclaimed Guy Maddin film that I haven't yet when the ones that I have seen have done so little for me so far. But as we have discovered in other podcast episodes, I am the least completist of all of regular hosts, so yeah it definitely seems to be a minority approach to film watching on the forum, but I am glad to be in the minority with you!
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#28

Post by St. Gloede »

matthewscott8 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 11:43 pm Sol was stepping on so many landmines I wondered if it was scripted :) just randomly, in full flow, and from nowhere dismissing Guy Maddin's filmography.
:lol: :lol: :lol:

Maybe he was trying to see just how far he could go before someone snapped.
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#29

Post by OldAle1 »

sol wrote: September 18th, 2023, 11:52 am
OldAle1 wrote: September 17th, 2023, 10:01 pm I'm with sol in spirit in not bothering to watch certain highly regarded or top-list-heavy films just because. There are certainly a number of films that I "should have" seen in 40 years or so of cinephilia but just haven't, and don't really care to - regardless of quality issues. But that's really another topic isn't it.
Yeah, we covered it in a previous episode (three years ago) on films that we have avoided. I am glad though to find a kindred sprit in this regard! :hug: You have been watching films for much longer than me, but even so I feel like I have reached the point where I know what my taste in film is like and what I am likely to be drawn to or not. So I am not going to (to use the abovementioned example) seek out every acclaimed Guy Maddin film that I haven't yet when the ones that I have seen have done so little for me so far. But as we have discovered in other podcast episodes, I am the least completist of all of regular hosts, so yeah it definitely seems to be a minority approach to film watching on the forum, but I am glad to be in the minority with you!
To be fair, there aren't too many films on lots of lists (say, 8 or more) that I've disliked, not even that many that I thought were merely average - for the most part I tend to get what critics in general get about most of these films. So there really haven't been a whole lot of those "established classics" that I've been reluctant to see. But there are priorities. The other day I watched Accatone, which I liked but... didn't really see the greatness in. I have overall liked Pasolini but he's definitely somebody who doesn't hit me the same way he hits many, and I don't guess I'm going to work hard on his filmography anytime soon, though several of the ones I haven't seen are quite well regarded. There was a brief period when I started here where I kind of got into the whole official-list-obsession thing but I got over it fairly quickly; I still don't really get why so many people work so hard on it, when the vast majority of people seem to like far fewer of these films that they "have to" see than I do. I mean, there's almost nothing on TSPDT out of the 950 or so I've seen that I don't like; if I was disliking half of what I saw, I would pay the list no mind whatsoever. It's a life's-too-short thing for me, but I guess for many people the pleasure of competition outweighs the pleasure of, well, pleasure. Something like that. I'll never understand it.

And yeah, not a completist at all list-wise myself. Well, more than you I guess - I AM actively working on the big noir list and will get a platinum on that someday. And the Marshall Julius action list, haha. But I love noir (even bad noir) and I love schlocky action films, so why not? Watching dozens more films with JCVD or Don the Dragon Wilson, and a couple hundred more mostly forgotten shadowy noir films in poor transfers brings me infinitely more pleasure than having to force myself through a 3-hour Andy Warhol film to complete the TSP list, or some random recent Bollywood film or two to complete the IMDb Top 250.
It was the truth, vivid and monstrous, that all the while he had waited the wait was itself his portion..
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#30

Post by prodigalgodson »

OldAle1 wrote: September 18th, 2023, 1:07 pmI guess for many people the pleasure of competition outweighs the pleasure of, well, pleasure.
Lol
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#31

Post by shugs »

So, what about you? Do you watch damaged silents and bad VHS transfers on YouTube?
No, only if that's the only quality available and the movie is on a World Cup on the forum, or if I'm really desperate to complete a filmography or something. There's a bajilion movies I want to watch, so if one's available only in bad quality, there's plenty of others to choose from. But I agree with you that certain types of movies benefited from lo-fi quality, especially in the horror genre.

What was the last one and how did you feel about it?
Enchanted Desna for the WC. Liked it enough, but damn, did I wish the whole way through that it was available in a higher quality.

Do you feel like you have become spoiled by blu-rays and 4k?
Perhaps.

Is VHS quality just not good enough anymore?
It isn't.

If yes: Does that mean that people watching home video in the 80s, 90s, and 00s just didn't experience the film properly?
Depends on the movie and the relationship one has with it. Question reminded of a reaction Josh from RLM had on rewatching Suspiria on different formats.

Is DVD quality outdated too?
Yes, but infinitely more watchable than VHS tapes.

Do you still watch your old VHSs or DVDs?
I don't have any VHS tapes. Any DVDs I watch tend to be on my desktop monitor, or a laptop, since the quality difference is less noticeable than on a big TV.

How do you feel about films that choose to be in poor quality as an aesthetic choice? Perhaps even adding scratches, pixels, glitches, etc.?
Depends on the movie and how forced that decision feels.

Bonus question: Do you agree with Sol that iPads provide a great, personal viewing experience?
Yes. :sarcasm:

Bonus Question 2: Should Sol watch his back?
Pretty hard to watch your back in such a big mansion. :D But yeah. :ph43r:
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#32

Post by brokenface »

St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:37 pm It was courtesy of The World Cinema Project, founded by Scorsese. They have done some incredible remasters.

(Of course, in many of these cases, the bad versions circulating are often deteriorated home media, while there is still a (possibly) damaged original print still around).

Overview of the films they have restored: https://www.film-foundation.org/world-cinema
There's also an icm list some excellent user maintains :whistling:
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/worl ... rokenface/

On the general topic, probably gotten more and more used to watching majority on hd streams/ blu-ray. I don't have such a big tv that dvd/sd is unwatchable but I'm not digging into obscurities only available on horrible vhs rips with unreadable burnt-on subs any more.

I did some of that in the past to complete tspdt and some filmographies but now I'd rather wait and there's quite a few things i owe rewatches in the much better versions out there now.

With the remasters and boutique labels, the level of obscurity you can access in very nice condition now is pretty vast even if unfortunately some directors/eras stil poorly served due to rights
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#33

Post by St. Gloede »

brokenface wrote: September 18th, 2023, 5:52 pm
St. Gloede wrote: September 15th, 2023, 8:37 pm It was courtesy of The World Cinema Project, founded by Scorsese. They have done some incredible remasters.

(Of course, in many of these cases, the bad versions circulating are often deteriorated home media, while there is still a (possibly) damaged original print still around).

Overview of the films they have restored: https://www.film-foundation.org/world-cinema
There's also an icm list some excellent user maintains :whistling:
https://www.icheckmovies.com/lists/worl ... rokenface/

On the general topic, probably gotten more and more used to watching majority on hd streams/ blu-ray. I don't have such a big tv that dvd/sd is unwatchable but I'm not digging into obscurities only available on horrible vhs rips with unreadable burnt-on subs any more.

I did some of that in the past to complete tspdt and some filmographies but now I'd rather wait and there's quite a few things i owe rewatches in the much better versions out there now.

With the remasters and boutique labels, the level of obscurity you can access in very nice condition now is pretty vast even if unfortunately some directors/eras stil poorly served due to rights
Thank you for your service. :ICM:
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