Digital film evolution

“Tampopo” Blu-ray on my TV – click for 1920×1080

Previously, I’ve compared an ancient “Tampopo” DVD release with one remastered six years later, and I can now compare those to the Blu-ray release eight years further on. The difference is eye-widening. The comparison here is not completely direct; the Blu-ray screens in this post are photos of my TV because I don’t yet have a BD drive in my PC. I colour-corrected those photos in Photoshop so they appeared identical to what I saw on my TV, then adjusted their perspective and size to 1920×1080. The older ones are unretouched frame stills done with Media Player Classic – Home Cinema. Clicking on any of these will show you the native resolution of the respective discs.


1998 Fox-Lorber DVD


2004 remastered DVD


2012 Blu-ray release (Germany) – click for 1920×1080

Some Blu-ray transfers come across as a little strange, at least at first. For me, “Patton” is a prime example where the Blu-ray release makes the film almost seem like it was shot on video even though I know it was 65mm/Dimension 150. It’s a bit hard to describe, but the transfer seems too crisp, what you might expect if you applied a skosh too much sharpening filter to the entire film. I’ll admit that it’s amazing to see, say, the minute texture of fabrics, but it’s a little off-putting when you clearly see the fronting lace underneath George Scott’s false eyebrows – viz.:


Click to see a larger size


“Ack!” said I

The problem with that particular shot from the opening is that the makeup was simply inadequate for such a close-up – “No, not ready at all, Mr. DeMille!” – but that video feel is there in much of the film. You do get used to it after a time.

I’m happy to report that the “Tampopo” Blu-ray is in the better category of transfer. Rather than turning shot-on-film into shot-on-video, the Blu-ray transfer of “Tampopo” turns it into the equivalent of being front and centre at a stage play. There’s a distinct feeling of being there which I find delightful.


1998 DVD


2004 DVD


2012 Blu-ray

What I said on seeing this in the fourth minute of the film: “Heh heh.”


2012 Blu-ray – click for 1920×1080


Tampopo redux

I’ve been wanting to see the 87-minute documentary on “The Making of Tampopo” ever since I first read of its existence perhaps fifteen years ago. And now – or soon, anyway – I can. A German special edition Blu-ray of “Tampopo” by the fantastic director Jûzô Itami has been released that includes it. I checked to be sure and it does have English subtitles on the disc, not just German. I found out about it while idly reviewing search results for “Tampopo” shortly after I watched it yet again last night.

Here’s the trailer for the film, which was first released 30 years ago in Japan:

I just ordered the new Blu-ray release from a fellow in Germany, but I’ll have to wait a while before viewing it. While my current internationally modified (read: electronics hacked) LG Blu-ray player can play all DVD regions and convert PAL/SECAM to NTSC, it can only play Blu-ray discs for Zone A; this disc is Zone B. I just found a modified Samsung all-region DVD, all-zone Blu-ray player with PAL/SECAM converter; support for DLNA/NAS/Internet play and search; data discs on CD/DVD/BD-R; support for AVI, WMV, MP4, MKV, MP3, and other files; and DivX, Xvid, WM9, and other formats. All for US$20 less than my modified LG player cost four years ago, but I will resist the temptation to use credit and again practice delayed gratification until I have the cash to get it – possibly in the next two to six weeks.

“Tampopo”, the only film I’ve watched more times than “2001: A Space Odyssey” – that equates to ‘a heckuva lot’ – for the first time in full high definition and with dts-HD audio, plus its “making of” documentary…it’s a dream come true.