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Grainy Picture on BluRays

StuPitt
01-06-2013, 09:51 PM
Hi, I've been trying to evaluate my tvs performance, but notice very grainy picture on some BluRays. I went to the place where I bought my tv with a copy of Spiderman 3. Ironically the same Spiderman 3 Bluray was playing on really their most expensive Samsung TV and ironically it was very grainy even there. Obviously there is a problem with the BluRay. The salesman said not all Blu Rays are of the same quality. I also have the same issue with my X-Men Fist Class BluRay. Why is this so? I thought we are supposed to get "Crystal clear" definition. It is far from Crystal Clear. Is there a way to determine which BluRays are better than the others? Is it really worth upgrading from DVD to BluRay? Why do BluRays have grainy picutres in this day and age when HD Tvs are so popular. The tv picture looks better than the blurays.

Ray Von Geezer
01-07-2013, 04:34 AM
Though artifacts can be due to poor transfers, real "grain" is usually left in the transfer because it's supposed to be there, it's an accurate representation of the original film. This has been the cause of much debate between those who want the closest resemblence to the original movie, and those who just want a shiny clean image. Things can get quite heated, especially when the studios over use digital processing techniques (like DNR) to remove grain for a more "consumer friendly" image.

You'll usually find in most serious reviews that grain=good, over-use of DNR=very very bad.

*edit* - couple of pieces you might want to check out -

DVDTalk Spider-man 3 review (http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/31121/spider-man-3/) - "The encoding is remarkably adept as well, something I'd imagine would have to have been a challenge considering that one of its main characters consists of millions of fine particles that must've been a nightmare to compress. There's no trace of edge enhancement, and although film grain remains tight and unintrusive throughout, I didn't spot any sign that its grain had been digitally smoothened away either. Spider-Man 3 has a consistently film-like appearance to it from start to finish."

Blu-Ray Myths: Grain is a flaw (http://www.filmjunk.com/2010/07/12/blu-ray-myths-grain-is-a-flaw/)

Ray Von

quad4.0
01-07-2013, 07:16 AM
nice aticle about grain. Having lots of exper. with film,I see the need for a true transfer from film. When you go to the movies, you see it. I would expect to have it on home video also. I missed it with VHS and dvd. Now with 24 FPS we can enjoy in our homes what the director intended. Sadly, as the PO many are unaware of this aspect that is only on older films going away with digital transfers.

StuPitt
01-07-2013, 08:50 AM
nice aticle about grain. Having lots of exper. with film,I see the need for a true transfer from film. When you go to the movies, you see it. I would expect to have it on home video also. I missed it with VHS and dvd. Now with 24 FPS we can enjoy in our homes what the director intended. Sadly, as the PO many are unaware of this aspect that is only on older films going away with digital transfers.

As someone who just likes to watch movies. Yes, I would rather have the grain removed. I expect as marketed for BluRays to have Crystal Clear Definition. With HD tvs the grain shows up much more than it does in the theater or lesser quality tvs. I honestly thought my tv was starting to have issue with it's picture.

bruceames
01-07-2013, 10:00 AM
As someone who just likes to watch movies. Yes, I would rather have the grain removed. I expect as marketed for BluRays to have Crystal Clear Definition. With HD tvs the grain shows up much more than it does in the theater or lesser quality tvs. I honestly thought my tv was starting to have issue with it's picture.

If the trade off of having more grain isn't worth the increased resolution, then I would recommend sticking with DVD on those movies that have excessive grain. Most of the new, popular releases come with both the Blu-ray and DVD version.

I also think it's possible to crank up the sharpness setting on your tv to reduce the grain, but as said, if the movie was shot on film, then grain IS the picture. Blu-ray just brings it out more. You can see pores on people's faces and embarrassing skin blemishes that you never saw before. So the price for greater detail is you get to see the warts as well in all their glory. In other words, you'll end up seeing even the things that you don't want to see.

Studios do use DNR to reduce or eliminate the grain, but doing so removes the fine detail. So instead of seeing all the little rocks on a gravel road, you get one blended blob. The grain can't be removed with destroying fine detail. Faces become waxy and polished, texture on clothes go away, etc.

It's the nature of the beast. Even my wife prefers the DVD version of a few movies I have on both formats. She doesn't like the grain either and just wants to "watch the movie". However most of us on these HD forum are detail freaks who want to see as much detail as possible. Most of the time the extra detail enhances the picture and gives it that extra "pop" and depth. Colors look richer and more accurate as well. But on some movies grain will intrude and for some, be more of distraction than the extra detail is worth. That's why there's so much debate on the issue. Although I'm a "grain junkie", I can't certainly understand your point of view and accept that it probably represents the vast majority of opinion.

ImRizzo
01-07-2013, 10:07 AM
Agreed, with HD viewing you get HD everything that includes HD poor quality disc.
Don't associate poor quality with graininess, sometimes the graininess is the directors choice of expression.

Ray Von Geezer
01-07-2013, 10:19 AM
As someone who just likes to watch movies. Yes, I would rather have the grain removed. I expect as marketed for BluRays to have Crystal Clear Definition. With HD tvs the grain shows up much more than it does in the theater or lesser quality tvs. I honestly thought my tv was starting to have issue with it's picture.Well, bad transfers aside, they usually have got "Crystal Clear Definition" - what you're seeing is far closer to the original film, complete with everything that's been "lost" when you've seen it on inferior sources like DVD and TV.

What you're asking for is the original movie to be doctored, as it's more pleasing to your eye. The problem is (ignoring the "purist" argument that what you're asking is like wanting arms on the Venus De Milo or lipstick on the Mona Lisa :) ) that when you remove that grain, you also remove a lot of the detail, and in the worst cases it results in a very artificial looking image. Google grain and DNR comparisons and you'll find any number of examples that show just how bad that "doctoring" can be.

It'll become less of a "problem" for you as more and more movies are shot with digital cameras and CGI, or you can always stick to watching Cars 2 and Toy Story :)

Ray Von

bruceames
01-07-2013, 10:51 AM
Well, bad transfers aside, they usually have got "Crystal Clear Definition" - what you're seeing is far closer to the original film, complete with everything that's been "lost" when you've seen it on inferior sources like DVD and TV.

What you're asking for is the original movie to be doctored, as it's more pleasing to your eye. The problem is (ignoring the "purist" argument that what you're asking is like wanting arms on the Venus De Milo or lipstick on the Mona Lisa :) ) that when you remove that grain, you also remove a lot of the detail, and in the worst cases it results in a very artificial looking image. Google grain and DNR comparisons and you'll find any number of examples that show just how bad that "doctoring" can be.

It'll become less of a "problem" for you as more and more movies are shot with digital cameras and CGI, or you can always stick to watching Cars 2 and Toy Story :)

Ray Von

I think their is some debate whether the resulting level of grain on some movies is truly what the filmmaker intended. Blu-ray makes movies look sharper than even what they were even in the theaters (and of course, even more so than on DVD). You didn't see that much grain (if any) because it was "lost" in the projection. So although subtle fine grain should be OK for most, a lot of transfers show a lot more grain that most people would like and I don't think that's how the filmmakers intended it to look.

There are movies where the filmmakers want the grain to be visible, but most of them were shot on film just because that's what was available at the time and their intent was definitely not to have the grain become intrusive in any way.

quad4.0
01-07-2013, 11:52 AM
It was my understanding that if the 1080p/24fps is shut off, the PQ will not be as sharp as with it engaged? (1080p/24fps.) that is industry standard. Now, new movies that are done w/o film will be as you expect. As the article states: The grain is the directors choice. There are different grades of film, and the grain provides an effect to make it gritty, real, that's why you see people for what thety really are-imperfect, with skin imperfections and all. Very realistic.
Newer movies done w/o film you will get what you want. LIke a model in a mag. all airbrushed and perfect. I had a real issue with Avatar. I kept thinking the characters in human form were digitally placed, as they did not look real. (to me) Thats what you get w/o film.

morriscroy
01-07-2013, 02:23 PM
Newer movies done w/o film you will get what you want. LIke a model in a mag. all airbrushed and perfect. I had a real issue with Avatar. I kept thinking the characters in human form were digitally placed, as they did not look real. (to me) Thats what you get w/o film.

One tv show which did this to the extreme, is Sanctuary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_%28TV_series%29).

Allegedly almost all the footage was digitally recorded without any film at 4096 x 2304 resolution, in front of a "green screen (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroma_key)" set.

(ie. All the backgrounds were added in digitally afterwards, and are not "real" at all).

morriscroy
01-07-2013, 05:10 PM
Even worse than film grain on a bluray movie, is film grain being upscaled from a lower resolution source (such as dvd).

For example, it looks really awful when upscaled dvd footage starts to resemble "pixelation" in dark grainy areas.

Yesterday I was watching some older episodes of "Criminal Minds", recorded from an hd cable channel. Watching the screen close up, I noticed a lot of pixelation in the dark areas and also in scenes with smoke. Though if I had to guess, the guys producing "Criminal Minds" and other police procedural programs, aren't going to bend over backwards at doing everything right at 1080p resolution.

jkkyler
01-08-2013, 07:30 AM
Even worse than film grain on a bluray movie, is film grain being upscaled from a lower resolution source (such as dvd).

For example, it looks really awful when upscaled dvd footage starts to resemble "pixelation" in dark grainy areas.

Yesterday I was watching some older episodes of "Criminal Minds", recorded from an hd cable channel. Watching the screen close up, I noticed a lot of pixelation in the dark areas and also in scenes with smoke. Though if I had to guess, the guys producing "Criminal Minds" and other police procedural programs, aren't going to bend over backwards at doing everything right at 1080p resolution.
If it was from a HD source then that could be your tv clipping at below black level or 'crushing blacks' - possibly a brightness setting adjustment can fix that.

morriscroy
01-08-2013, 07:49 AM
If it was from a HD source then that could be your tv clipping at below black level or 'crushing blacks' - possibly a brightness setting adjustment can fix that.

I've tried just about everything, and this pixelation doesn't disappear at all whatsoever. On a second big screen tv, the pixelation is still there.

The only conclusion is that the original source of these "Criminal Minds" episodes is either not HD, or it is upscaled from a 720p source.

(Since I don't have any of the Criminal Minds seasons on dvd, I don't have a direct way of doing any comparisons).


I have compared similar style dark scenes from bluray footage of a similar age. This "pixelation" is completely absent from dark scenes on bluray titles like CSI season 9, Fringe seasons 1 to 4, etc ...

jkkyler
01-08-2013, 07:50 AM
Then it most certainly sounds like a program source issue.

morriscroy
01-08-2013, 08:21 AM
I took a closer look at these "Criminal Minds" episodes.

I strongly suspect they are upscaled from either dvd or 720p resolution.

When watching the intro credits (and also the end of show credits), the letters have some significant "haloing" around them. This type of haloing around letters is commonly seen when dvd footage is upscaled to 1920x1080 resolution.


These episodes were from an HD cable channel, which does off-network daily reruns of "Criminal Minds".

Ray Von Geezer
01-08-2013, 08:28 AM
I think their is some debate whether the resulting level of grain on some movies is truly what the filmmaker intended. Blu-ray makes movies look sharper than even what they were even in the theaters (and of course, even more so than on DVD). You didn't see that much grain (if any) because it was "lost" in the projection. So although subtle fine grain should be OK for most, a lot of transfers show a lot more grain that most people would like and I don't think that's how the filmmakers intended it to look.

There are movies where the filmmakers want the grain to be visible, but most of them were shot on film just because that's what was available at the time and their intent was definitely not to have the grain become intrusive in any way.I'm not against techniques like noise reduction as part of the restoration process, when done with care, but I'd much rather have a less messed with version than the sloppy-handed digital meddling applied to Patton, that version Terminator 2 (I forget which), Gladiator etc, or the version of Predator in the link above (I don't have it personally). I believe grain was lessened in the Godfather and Ben Hur restorations, but they still look fantastic. On the other hand Blade Runner is fairly grainy but for me it's still an amazing looking movie, I wouldn't condemn it because of the grain.

I'm not saying grain should never be doctored, but if the alternative is loss of detail, strange halo-y effects and such, it's by far the lesser of two evils for me.

I also don't think that it's as simple as saying the filmmaker probably would have chosen not to have grain if they'd had a choice, it's a byproduct of the medium. The same could easily be said of colourising B&W, but I'm not a fan of that either.

That's all just me though :) The problem here is that viewers like the OP think that seeing any grain means there's something wrong. I don't think Spiderman 3 is obtrusively grainy, I'm pretty sure I may have read Raimi makes a conscious effort to apply grain to CGI sections in his movies to give a consistent feel.

Ray Von

morriscroy
01-08-2013, 08:49 AM
(Tried something different, which I didn't think of previously).

Even manually forcing my DVR to play at lower resolutions, this haloing around letters is still very prominent and noticeable at 720p resolution. But forcing the DVR to 480p resolution, this "haloing" isn't that prominent.

In conclusion, these "Criminal Minds" episode are either really crappy 720p copies, or they are upscaled from 480p dvd resolution.
:banghead:


EDIT: I guess I'll have to record this week's episode of "Criminal Minds" on CBS, to determine whether the original first-run episodes are a genuine 720p or 1080i source.

bruceames
01-08-2013, 09:30 AM
I'm not against techniques like noise reduction as part of the restoration process, when done with care, but I'd much rather have a less messed with version than the sloppy-handed digital meddling applied to Patton, that version Terminator 2 (I forget which), Gladiator etc, or the version of Predator in the link above (I don't have it personally). I believe grain was lessened in the Godfather and Ben Hur restorations, but they still look fantastic. On the other hand Blade Runner is fairly grainy but for me it's still an amazing looking movie, I wouldn't condemn it because of the grain.

I'm not saying grain should never be doctored, but if the alternative is loss of detail, strange halo-y effects and such, it's by far the lesser of two evils for me.

I also don't think that it's as simple as saying the filmmaker probably would have chosen not to have grain if they'd had a choice, it's a byproduct of the medium. The same could easily be said of colourising B&W, but I'm not a fan of that either.

That's all just me though :) The problem here is that viewers like the OP think that seeing any grain means there's something wrong. I don't think Spiderman 3 is obtrusively grainy, I'm pretty sure I may have read Raimi makes a conscious effort to apply grain to CGI sections in his movies to give a consistent feel.

Ray Von

It's definitely an art, applying the "right amount" of DNR in order to strike a happy medium of visible grain and fine detail. Purists would love to see none applied in order to maximize the detail. I actually lean in that direction, but not to the extent that the un-DNR'd transfer reveals so much grain that it alters the original look intended by the filmmaker. Remember, these guys didn't know that Blu-ray would come around many years later with the capacity to expose detail they assumed would be hidden forever.

So I think a certain amount of DNR should be applied in order to reign in the grain enough to where it would look no more prominent than it did when it was shown in the theaters. Of course this costs detail, but that's a price that must be paid.

Look at Warner Bros. releases of old movies, like Gone With the Wind, Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz. Those transfers basically have no grain at all (although the reissue of Casablanca does have some grain, which is good IMO), yet they (of course) were shot on film. I've always been curious as to exactly how much extra detail was there before they scrubbed it out to get rid of the grain. Many other releases from them and other studios show older movies in a "clean" state, and many reviews of them make no mention of DNR used at all (some even say that none was used). However it was used on all of them, because they were shot on film and 1080p is going to reveal that grain. But they used the right amount, that's all.

Echo13
01-08-2013, 03:16 PM
Hi, I've been trying to evaluate my tvs performance, but notice very grainy picture on some BluRays. I went to the place where I bought my tv with a copy of Spiderman 3. Ironically the same Spiderman 3 Bluray was playing on really their most expensive Samsung TV and ironically it was very grainy even there. Obviously there is a problem with the BluRay. The salesman said not all Blu Rays are of the same quality. I also have the same issue with my X-Men Fist Class BluRay. Why is this so? I thought we are supposed to get "Crystal clear" definition. It is far from Crystal Clear. Is there a way to determine which BluRays are better than the others? Is it really worth upgrading from DVD to BluRay? Why do BluRays have grainy picutres in this day and age when HD Tvs are so popular. The tv picture looks better than the blurays.Film is grainy. You can see it in a digital theater too if you sit near the front. Its just that blu ray is so sharp that it can be more pronounced when you watch it at home. Even when they arent shooting in film directors will often ADD grain to digital video for artistic purposes.
http://i.imgur.com/y5ksX.jpg<--Film

The sharpness setting may also be too high on your tv, and if you really hate grain you can turn on the 'noise reduction' features that most tvs have.

morriscroy
01-09-2013, 12:09 AM
Just watched this week's episode of "Criminal Minds". (It turns out it was a rerun of an episode from late November 2012).

I didn't notice the pixelation when I first watched this episode back in November. But watching the footage more closely, the dark scenes had a significant amount of pixelation, as well as in the scenes with diffuse light reflecting off the walls.

The haloing around letters in the show's intro credits, is still significant even when I force the DVR to play at 720p resolution.

Most likely this source is not native 1080i resolution at all.


I also found an old episode from season 1 of "Person of Interest", which I haven't deleted from my DVR yet. So I was able to compare it with the bluray and dvd versions. It turned out the video quality of this DVR recorded episode, looks almost identical to the upscaled dvd version.

The haloing around letters in the show's intro credits, is still present even when I force the DVR to play at 720p resolution. (This particular POI episode didn't have much pixelation).

There is no way that this DVR recorded episode is native 1080i resolution, especially when compared to the picture quality of the 1080p bluray version.


If these two shows ("Criminal Minds" and "Person of Interest") appear to be native 480p or native 720p video upscaled to 1080i, then I wonder whether it is the cable company that is downscaling these original broadcast feeds, and/or if the tv network is just being cheap and lazy with their hd broadcast signals.

:banghead: :banghead:

morriscroy
01-09-2013, 09:16 AM
Even more weird is that during these DVR recorded episodes of "Criminal Minds" I've been watching recently, quite a few of the tv commercials have better picture quality than the episode itself!

For the tv commercials which appeared to be in HD resolution (ie. not in a 4:3 screen ratio and no "SD fullscreen black bars" at the top and bottom of the screen), the letters on the screen had very little to no "haloing" and there was no pixelation/blocking.

If I had to guess, the original source resolution of this season's "Criminal Minds" episodes may at best possibly be 720p. (It would be shocking and a complete travesty if ongoing tv shows like "Criminal Minds" and "Person of Interest" were done first-run only at 480p source resolution, with CBS just doing a dumb upscaling from 480p source to 1080i broadcast resolution).

:what: