Pinocchio BD impressions
Pinocchio is one of my all-time favourite Disney features. I’m not sure whether or not I’d call it the best, but it’s definitely in the running. I watched the new BD release tonight - it’s high definition debut - and am largely pretty pleased with how it looks. Like every Disney feature to get a new master since the Masterpiece Edition DVD of Alice in Wonderland in 2004, Pinocchio has essentially been completely scrubbed of grain, a process which, oddly enough, many enthusiasts don’t have a problem with, despite the resoundingly negative reactions whenever the same is done to live action titles like Patton or Dark City. I can understand why this is: given the comparative simplicity of even the lushest animation when compared to live action, the results of grain removal being applied to this medium is considerably less destructive than when applied to the complex textures of real people’s faces, fabric and so on. However, it’s safe to say that Pinocchio on BD looks nothing like how it originally did in cinemas, and I personally have severe problems with this. The image tends to look unnaturally static, with held shots in particularly taking on the feel of having been freeze-framed. Grain is aesthetically pleasing and is part of the character of these films, and in my opinion the sooner Disney realise this the better. There is one instance, where a bolt of lightning illuminates the screen, which briefly shows what the film could have looked like had its natural grain structure been left intact (see Example 11, which feels like a tantalising glimpse into something altogether more organic.)
Having accepted that the film now looks more like a product of 2009 than of 1940, we ultimately have a very nice presentation. It’s not as crisp-looking as the BD of Sleeping Beauty, and we can only speculate as to why this is. Less inherent detail to begin with? More grain being scrubbed out and taking detail away with it? Either way, it’s pleasing to look at provided you don’t mind the overly static appearance. Additionally, whereas Sleeping Beauty features some occasional nasty-looking digital screw-ups, I could detect nothing of the sort on Pinocchio. (Prior to viewing the disc for myself, I did see in some captures that had appeared online what looked like DVNR artefacts, but in actual fact these turned out simply to be the result of the underwater effect applied to the film’s third act; see Example 15.) There’s the occasional bit of weirdness where the colours are concerned, though: for example, during Stromboli’s puppet show, for a number of shots Pinocchio’s shirt inexplicably turns white instead of yellow, despite this not occurring on the previous DVD release (the 2003 UK special edition):
Otherwise, though, I tend to lean towards the feeling that the colours of this new master are more authentic than those of the previous release. I’m well aware that Disney now routinely refer to the original cels in order to determine the colour timing for their HD masters (a process that, as I previously outlined, is not as good an idea in practice as it is in theory), so I would suggest that there’s still a strong chance that the colours on this release are not a good match for those of the original theatrical exhibitions, but even so I would take these over the yellowy-looking 2003 DVD any day. I’m ultimately not disappointed by how the disc looks, although I maintain that, had Disney treated the film with more respect towards maintaining its integrity, it would have been considerably better. 8/10
studio: Buena Vista; country: USA; region code: A; codec: AVC;
file size: 22.2 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 36.31 Mbit/sec
Oh, and a big “thank you” to Chuck for pointing out that there is a missing vocal effect on both the 7.1 remix and the supposedly “original theatrical soundtrack” (restored mono): Jiminy Cricket’s “Right!” just before “Take the straight and narrow path/And if you start to slide” is completely absent. Additionally, when watching the disc tonight, my brother also immediately noticed that Jiminy’s line “Look out, Pinoke!” at the end of the song, as Pinocchio falls over, has also disappeared into the ether. Both these lines were present and correct on the previous DVD, and on the earlier Gold Collection release. Quite how this happened is a mystery to me, and, while these two omissions don’t ultimately ruin the experience, it’s a disappointing degree of sloppiness on what Disney quite rightly considers one of its flagship titles.
At the end of the day, I’m giving this disc my recommendation, but it definitely falls a couple of notches shy of perfection. Oh well, there’s always the 80th anniversary in ten years’ time…
Posted: Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 10:24 PM
| Comments: 11
| BD Impressions
>> Pinocchio has essentially been completely scrubbed of grain, a process which, oddly enough, many enthusiasts don't have a problem with, despite the resoundingly negative reactions whenever the same is done to live action titles like Patton or Dark City.
It's likely because, before the drawings hit film, they'd be devoid of grain. Only because film was used as a medium did Pinocchio have grain. But that's still a good enough reason to leave it alone in my book.
Also, most NR algorithms do much more damage on real people's hairy, cratery faces than they do on opaque drawings, which might explain why they don't mind as much.
But the grainless look is just plain distracting when it's projected.
The missing dialogue is just baffling. It's especially easy to spot when it's missing from a song, too.
Posted by: David Mackenzie
, March 12, 2009 10:54 PM
“It’s likely because, before the drawings hit film, they’d be devoid of grain. Only because film was used as a medium did Pinocchio have grain.”
That’s the argument, certainly, but surely you could say exactly the same about live action? The sky, people’s faces, etc., didn’t have grain until they hit film.
Posted by: Michael Mackenzie
, March 12, 2009 11:43 PM
Posted by: Chuck Pennington
, March 13, 2009 1:23 PM
WHIGGLES: "Having accepted that the film now looks more like a product of 2009 than of 1940, we ultimately have a very nice presentation. It's not as crisp-looking as the BD of Sleeping Beauty, and we can only speculate as to why this is..."
SLEEPING BEAUTY looks crisper likely because it was filmed in Technirama- i.e., VistaVision with an anamorphic squeeze. There's a resultant double the negative area of standard 4-perf 35mm, plus it was made a couple decades after PINOCCHIO so the filmstocks themselves were likely improved as well.
Posted by: Vincent Pereira, March 14, 2009 4:47 PM
Michael, if you don't mind, I'm going to provide a link to this evaluation of yours in my review for DVD Times. One thing that I can't seem to find mentioned here or anywhere else is what appears to be artifacting in Honest John's fur. Do you see this at all or am I mistaking the use of drybrush for a digital shortcoming?
Posted by: clydefro
, March 14, 2009 10:14 PM
Thanks for the clarification. That makes a great deal of sense.
Absolutely, by all means go ahead. As for artefacting on Honest John’s fur, I can’t say I noticed anything when I watched it, but if you could provide me with an example of a time code, I’d be happy to take a look and see if I can spot anything.
Posted by: Michael Mackenzie
, March 16, 2009 3:01 PM
I can see something swirling in Honest John's face and tail most every time he's on screen. An example I just paused on is when he's looking at Stromboli's poster at 29:12. He's the only character I see these artifacts in, which makes me question my own eyes!
Posted by: clydefro, March 16, 2009 4:01 PM
Hmm… I’ve had a good look at it now - actually, I watched everything from Honest John’s introduction up to Stromboli’s puppet show - and I can’t say I noticed anything untoward. It’s indeed possible that you’re just seeing the dry brush effect around the edges of his fur, which is the same as the effect that it applied to Gideon and Figaro. I’m afraid that’s the only explanation I can think of, but I’m fairly confident that nothing untoward is occurring.
Posted by: Michael Mackenzie
, March 16, 2009 4:33 PM
Are the Bluray versions on region A or B of Pinoch' identical? (24p and all?)
In other words, is there any valid reason to buy the doubledisc - USA version or the European one?
Posted by: Emil, April 9, 2009 11:00 PM
The Region B releases are missing the original mono mix, making them a no-go for me. Otherwise, I believe they are identical to the Region A version and are certainly 24p.
Posted by: Michael Mackenzie
, April 10, 2009 9:53 AM
Thanks very much!
Keep up your good work,
Posted by: Emil, April 11, 2009 11:58 AM
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