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Things can get a little hazy in the Bayou


For a catalogue title from Universal, The Skeleton Key actually looks pretty decent, probably due to the fact that it was taken from a Digital Intermediate rather than Telecine source. It does look a little soft at times, but I’m inclined to attribute at least some of this to the way in which it was shot: it certainly has the “Panavision look”, where things tend to appear smooth rather than pin-sharp. Certainly I don’t see any of the ringing that normally shows up in Universal’s filtered titles. Unfortunately, the image has at some stage been subjected to a fairly intensive noise reduction pass, sucking out the grain and resulting in some trailing artefacts. Still, as far as catalogue releases go, this is a pretty reasonable one, and one that I’m inclined to look upon more favourably in light of recent developments regarding Universal’s Blu-ray ports.

The Skeleton Key
(Universal, USA, VC-1, 16.7 GB)

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Posted: Monday, August 25, 2008 at 9:10 PM | Comments: 5
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology



I dunno. Looks not too far away from DNRk City territory.

Posted by: Kram Sacul, August 26, 2008 8:09 AM


I’d say it’s several steps better than Dark City, personally. The noise reduction, while annoying, hasn’t turned the actors’ faces to wax, there isn’t any noticeable ringing, and the overall level of detail is considerably higher. I’ve lent my copy of Dark City to someone, but when I get it back I’ll post some captures of it to provide a point of comparison.

Posted by: Whiggles, August 26, 2008 10:46 AM


So would you say it's selective DNR like Sweeney Todd?

Posted by: Kram Sacul, August 26, 2008 12:17 PM


No, probably not. It definitely looks to me like a DNR pass has been applied to the entire film, whether at the master stage or the encoding stage, but it has been set to a far lower level than something like Dark City. If you look at the close-ups of the actors in my screen captures of The Skeleton Key, facial features like pores and wrinkles haven’t been sucked out - it’s just that the image as a whole is less crisply defined than something razor-sharp like King Kong or Silent Hill.

What we’re seeing in films like Sweeney Todd and Resident Evil: Extinction is a different form of noise reduction which is selectively applied to specific parts of the image (usually an actor’s face) to remove physical imperfections rather than to remove grain. There’s probably a better official name for it, but I’ve seen this technique described as “digital spot removal”, with the “spots” in question being things like acne or freckles. It was also done on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire specifically because many of the teenage actors had noticeable skin problems at the time of filming.

Posted by: Whiggles, August 26, 2008 12:29 PM


The Island and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory used the same kind of postprocessing for skin textures. Hopefully in the future the effect will be a lot more subtle.

Posted by: Kram Sacul, August 26, 2008 12:48 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:


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