30 / BD 150 Buster Keaton: Complete Short Films 1917-1923

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Bleddyn Williams
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#101 Post by Bleddyn Williams » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:02 pm

That looks very nice - thanks so much, souvenir! :D

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HerrSchreck
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#102 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Dec 01, 2006 5:29 pm

God bless Christmas! God do I love that fucking little maniac's shorts.

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What A Disgrace
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#103 Post by What A Disgrace » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:07 pm

I have to agree with everyone else, fortunately. This is a fabulous, beautiful set, and an essential DVD release. Easily the best release Nick and co. have put out.

A deliciously attractive set, too. Cardboard casing is niiiice and sturdy, and the book is simply exhausting. And you gotta love that new-DVD smell.

Well worth the wait. I'm sure the Naruse set will be equally amazing.

I do have one question: is Sherlock, Jr. generally not considered a short film? For the longest time, a friend of mine and myself have always referred to it as the greatest short film of all time. Its not included in this set, needless to say, but I don't know of anywhere else that does consider it as such.

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CSM126
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#104 Post by CSM126 » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:41 pm

Sherlock Jr. is a short for sure. It's only 44 minutes long, no?

I think the reason it isn't here is that this is a 1917-1923 collection, and Sherlock Jr. came out in 1924.

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MichaelB
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#105 Post by MichaelB » Fri Dec 01, 2006 6:50 pm

44 minutes is a feature according to the original definition of the term (i.e. longer than three reels, or approx. 33 minutes). Certainly, Sherlock Jr has always been regarded as one as far as I'm aware.

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tryavna
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#106 Post by tryavna » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:14 pm

MichaelB wrote:44 minutes is a feature according to the original definition of the term (i.e. longer than three reels, or approx. 33 minutes). Certainly, Sherlock Jr has always been regarded as one as far as I'm aware.
This has always been my sense as well. I don't think it's written down in law or anything like that. But like the man says, anything with four reels or more has generally been considered a feature.

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CSM126
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#107 Post by CSM126 » Fri Dec 01, 2006 8:57 pm

Funny, I've always defined a short film as simply a film that is short, and less than an hour is pretty darn short. Might just be me. :wink:

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HerrSchreck
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#108 Post by HerrSchreck » Fri Dec 01, 2006 9:30 pm

Naw... in the silent era, which is what we're talking about here (moreso the early silent era) full features regularly ran under an hour. For stellar examples of just how full of a melodramatic narrative arc can be fit into 45-55 minutes watch the films of Yevgeni Bauer, or the 1912 RICHARD III.

Even in the modern era, you have films in the B genra... the 30's exploitation masterpieces by Dwain Esper NARCOTIC, MANIAC, & MARIHUANA (sic) along with so many others, running between 50-59 minutes. DEMENTIA a.k.a. DAUGHTER OF HORROR are approx 57 & 55 min, respectively (the latter slightly truncated due to edits).

Don't break Nick's balls for nitpicking. The set is glorious I'm sure without the neccessity of short features to be throw in. If any set doesn't need padding it's this one...

bufordsharkley
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#109 Post by bufordsharkley » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:22 pm

My personal definition of a feature film is one that's 44 minutes or longer.

...A direct result of Sherlock Jr...

djali999
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#110 Post by djali999 » Fri Dec 01, 2006 11:55 pm

The 40 minute "rule" also applies to most festivals. 30 minutes or less? You made a short film! 40 minutes or more? You made a feature! I know this because I made a 34 minute film a year ago and I had to cut it down to 30 to make it an acceptable entry for a festival.

Doesn't the AFI also have the 40 minute thing as some kind of rule?

Regardless Sherlock, Jr. ought to qualify as feature length anyway, if not so much on the basis of time as quality. One of the greatest films ever. Nick, I can't wait for this one... and I thought there was no way for anyone to beat Faust!

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daniel p
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#111 Post by daniel p » Tue Dec 05, 2006 4:37 am


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peerpee
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#112 Post by peerpee » Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:56 am

After writing a piece in the book explaining exactly the situation with materials, and spending the last 3 months on this project doing everything possible to make it as good as it could be, it's very disheartening to read comments like: "I believe that they could have done a much better job on the technical side of this project than they did."

Because -- short of receiving a seventy-million dinar grant from a Saudi Arabian sultanate to chemically restore and wet-gate 32 individual films, which exist in fragments across hundreds of locations worldwide -- we did everything physically possible with the masters we had. Masters which had taken years to put together.

Our choice was basically to do interlaced transfers (which Arte had already done), to deinterlace and make a progressive transfer (which is what we did), or not to release anything at all. Keen to know about this "much better job" we could have done, Gregg?

Narshty
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#113 Post by Narshty » Tue Dec 05, 2006 9:32 am

I don't get it either - from those grabs it's clear that MoC's encoding of the restored masters is a significant improvement (less chroma noise, blockiness, etc) than the Arte, despite the lower bitrate.

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Steven H
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#114 Post by Steven H » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:04 am

peerpee wrote:After writing a piece in the book explaining exactly the situation with materials...
This should be brought up in the review.

greggster59
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#115 Post by greggster59 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:44 am

peerpee wrote:Our choice was basically to do interlaced transfers (which Arte had already done), to deinterlace and make a progressive transfer (which is what we did), or not to release anything at all. Keen to know about this "much better job" we could have done, Gregg?
There is significant loss of detail in many of the MOC transfers compared to the interlaced set from Arte. This was true viewing it both on a PC monitor and 50 inch HDTV. The one clear exception was Cops. It is also true that the MOC average bit rate was lower. I suspect this is the cause.

So much work was put in to this set and it shows. When I express disappointment with the technical work done for this release, I am referring to the low bit rate transfer process. I have a hunch that a higher bit rate might have addressed this issue. This has nothing to do with the source material.

Best,
GF

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vogler
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#116 Post by vogler » Tue Dec 05, 2006 10:47 am

peerpee wrote:After writing a piece in the book explaining exactly the situation with materials, and spending the last 3 months on this project doing everything possible to make it as good as it could be, it's very disheartening to read comments like: "I believe that they could have done a much better job on the technical side of this project than they did."
I just read the review and to be honest this is the typical kind of review I expect from Beaver when reviewing silents. I feel 100% certain that you did the best you could given the available materials, especially since it is obvious that these are films that you care about and the set is obviously very important to you. The screen captures look great to me. Beaver always seems to judge dvds on the same technical criteria but it seems unfair to expect a dvd set of extremely old and rare Keaton shorts to even begin to approach the quality of all the well known and loved 'art-house' classics that companies such as Criterion regularly release.

The Rediscover Jacques Feyder set comes to mind also. The beaver review proclaims 'I think there are some valid reasons to shake our collective fists at Image Entertainment on this one.' but I think if you ask the opinion of any real fan of silent film you will get a very different response. For example see Schreck's comments on the Feyder thread here and a number of the comments after that. My response would be something like 'there are many valid reasons for silent fans to be eternally grateful for this wonderful set of French classics'. In addition the Feyder set wasn't even progressive and this Keaton set is. I can't wait to get my copy.

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colinr0380
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#117 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:23 pm

vogler wrote:I just read the review and to be honest this is the typical kind of review I expect from Beaver when reviewing silents.
I would sadly say this is typical of the Beaver reviews as a whole. They do an excellent job of showing menu screens, providing links to other information and doing frame grabs. They are also invaluable for their comparisons. However they do get bogged down in hyperbole when it comes to the review side of things, and do seem to get a bit petty with some of the comments, and recently I just don't bother to read the reviews at all.

I would say again though that their comparisons showing us exactly what will be on the DVD we'll be paying out for are what make the site extremely important, not the views expressed on what they think of the film, or even some of the extreme nitpicking that occurs that perhaps very few other people would notice (without a projector or other expensive equipment). It is great they point these things out but again the over the top pronouncements or petitions or boycotts do seem a bit extreme.

Plus, as politics show, a strong 'belief' in something doesn't necessarily make it true!

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vogler
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#118 Post by vogler » Tue Dec 05, 2006 2:41 pm

colinr0380 wrote:I would say again though that their comparisons showing us exactly what will be on the DVD we'll be paying out for are what make the site extremely important, not the views expressed on what they think of the film, or even some of the extreme nitpicking that occurs that perhaps very few other people would notice
I totally agree with this and I find DVDbeaver to be a very valuable resource in this respect. I don't really have any interest in criticising DVDbeaver, I just feel that MOC deserve more credit for the huge amount of time and effort they put into projects like this rather than having their efforts dismissed with comments such as the aforementioned 'I believe that they could have done a much better job on the technical side of this project than they did.'

Bleddyn Williams
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#119 Post by Bleddyn Williams » Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:56 pm

To lose yourself in a collection of films you've never seen, and enjoy a good long read about them... this is the definition of a great Xmas present for me, so I've asked for it.

I understand that the set might not be technically perfect, but it just looks like it has too much to enjoy to miss out on! :D

greggster59
Joined: Mon Sep 25, 2006 1:37 pm

#120 Post by greggster59 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:08 pm

vogler wrote: I don't really have any interest in criticising DVDbeaver, I just feel that MOC deserve more credit for the huge amount of time and effort they put into projects like this rather than having their efforts dismissed with comments such as the aforementioned 'I believe that they could have done a much better job on the technical side of this project than they did.'


My comment was not a dismissal. It was a criticism. The transfers in the MOC release were deinterlaced but were also compressed more then the Arte interlaced set. This higher compression rate, IMO, was at least partly responsible for my conclusion. I have no complaints with regards to the source material.

Check out "The Bellboy" from 1918 on disc one of the MOC set. I did not use captures from this short in the review. The bit rate here is very high at an average of 6.26mb/s. Even through the print damage, the image looks pretty good thanks to less video compression. By comparison, look at 'The Playhouse' from 1921 on disc three. Even though the print of this short is superior to the one used in 'The Bellboy' the comparatively high compression applied to 'The Playhouse's" video transfer (4.19mb/s average) overly softens the image and obscures some fine detail.

My criticism is directed at the decision to use so much compression in the progressive transfer. If the bit rate for the entire set averaged around 6mb/s, I think it would have been a noticeable improvement over the Arte release all around. Our goal at DVDBeaver is to critique DVD transfers of films and artists that we are enthusiastic about. If I wasn't prepared to nitpick, I would have no reason to do the review. The evidence is presented in the form of still captures to help readers decide for themselves if they agree with the reviewer or not.

That said, I feel that the MOC release of the Buster Keaton shorts is a very important archival set. Do not hesitate to buy it if you are at all interested in Buster Keaton. But I stand by my critique.

Best,
GF

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Arn777
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#121 Post by Arn777 » Tue Dec 05, 2006 6:53 pm

I personaly prefer a slight loss in details but get a progressive transfer. Interlaced transfers create very distracting effects and give me headaches.

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peerpee
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#122 Post by peerpee » Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:40 pm

greggster59 wrote:My comment was not a dismissal. It was a criticism. The transfers in the MOC release were deinterlaced but were also compressed more then the Arte interlaced set. This higher compression rate, IMO, was at least partly responsible for my conclusion. I have no complaints with regards to the source material.
"Lower bitrate" does not necessarily equal a "more visually destructive compression". Especially in this case, as Arte's encodes were done over 5 years ago, and ours utilise excellent new Cinemacraft multi-pass software.

My criticism is directed at the decision to use so much compression in the progressive transfer. If the bit rate for the entire set averaged around 6mb/s, I think it would have been a noticeable improvement over the Arte release all around. Our goal at DVDBeaver is to critique DVD transfers of films and artists that we are enthusiastic about. If I wasn't prepared to nitpick, I would have no reason to do the review. The evidence is presented in the form of still captures to help readers decide for themselves if they agree with the reviewer or not.
Nothing wrong with nitpicking if it's based on facts, rather than speculation! We tested higher bitrates and it didn't noticeably affect the sharpness. We had to encode the material in advance and keep the bitrates as they were in case new material or extras arose throughout the production process. The slight sharpness differences you're seeing on some films are overwhelmingly caused by the fact that the MoC set was encoded progressively.

The Arte is interlaced, and is prone to looking slightly sharper *when paused* if you get a non-combed grab. For the MoC release, the masters had pulldown removed, were deinterlaced, and encoded progressively. This results in the slightly less sharp *still* grabs.

What is very important in such comparisons, but hardly ever discussed in DVD reviews, is what the DVD looks like in *motion* and how the encoding affects this. Interlaced discs can look sharp when paused, but have motion issues on certain displays which result in a blurring of motion as the interlaced frames are displayed. Progressive discs in motion usually look far more normal and smooth to the eye, and are far more pleasing across a wide range of different display technologies -- which is why we encoded this set progressively.

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david hare
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#123 Post by david hare » Tue Dec 05, 2006 7:56 pm

I'm glad to hear this from Nick because it confirms my own viewing experience, even though I don't have his technical experience or knowledge, apart from always finding Progressive transfers "smoother" and generally more film-like.

This is definitely the case with the Gaumont Pandora for instance. I don't have (and won't double dip for) the Criterion. But the Gaumont looks wonderfully smooth and detailed. Even allowing for the shrinkage based occasional "defocussing" inherent in the negative.

And anyone who's ever posted caps here will know that interlaced frames can often look apparently sharper than a progressive frame, yet the viewing experience of the disc in motion is entirely more pleasing.

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Andre Jurieu
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#124 Post by Andre Jurieu » Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:37 am

peerpee wrote: Nothing wrong with nitpicking if it's based on facts, rather than speculation!
When has that ever stopped us before? It would be fantastic though.

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david hare
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#125 Post by david hare » Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:50 am

peerpee wrote:Nothing wrong with nitpicking if it's based on facts, rather than speculation!

When has that ever stopped us before? It would be fantastic though.
But bear in mind the nitpicking is originating from the Beaver site. I find some irony in this as I have nitpicked them more than a few times about incorrect or sloppy accreditation or research.

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