Thread: They Shall Not Grow Old

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  1. #1 They Shall Not Grow Old 
    I watched this last night through the iTunes Movie store and I was wondering what people thought of it. If anyone had seen it in cinema or something because even though the film was quite powerful as a documentary the restoration of the footage didn't work as well as advertised. Now I did watch this as a download instead of the cinema so it's possible there was some poor compression artefacts going on but it definatly felt like there was some good shots and some really bad ones. You had the obvious optical flow artefacts where this warp in weird ways when there isn't enough information to get from one frame to the next and I couldn't tell if they had tried to de noise it or not because some shots would be clean and others would have blotches of blurry patches and bits of grainy areas. I had a look on youtube and no pne seemed to bring any of that stuff up there was wondering if anyone here noticed this stuff.

    I did a brief search and I couldn't see any threads on this documentary.
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  2. #2  
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    Jan 2008
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Saw it in a cinema - looked fantastic.

    That being said of course there were artifacts etc in the retiming - the tools at their disposal aren't sci fi magic - it's the same basic technology that underpins all current workflows (although there was significant roto work involved across the board to compensate - more so than would happen for anything but high end VFX retimes because of all the colourisation that had to go into the shots).

    If you don't see it as a staggering piece of work you really aren't familiar with how bad the original archive would have been.

    If you were expecting it to look like it was shot yesterday or that no shot would have issues - or that the advwrtising around the restoration created expectations that were beyond what you experienced I'd put that down to a mix of being a little too susceptible to hype and watching it on iTunes.

    It definitely would work best on the largest screen with the least compression you could get - because its the nature of the little details that pop up much more than the overall fidelity - along with the incredible sound design - that really make it an astonishing piece of work.

    Ome thing to remember - sometimes they were converting footage that had been cranked at effectively 9 or 10 fps - i.e they were making up more than half the frames.
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  3. #3  
    I watched it on a 41 or 42 inch TV from a really close distance, desktop monitor kind of distance so I wasn't watching it on my iphone or something. I did find scrubbing through the movie that it worked a bit better when I watched it on the built in 15inch display. Maybe I'll have to get a hold of the Blu-Ray and see how that looks.
    One thing that I thought of when I watched it was the excessive use of noise reduction, I was trying to think if they hate noise or if it's just a compromise they had to make to get the motion smoothing to work. It was interesting how they sort of bookended the film with a much less processed black and white footage. I think some of which had some smoothing done to it but only to make it slow motion. I thought the opening shot was really interesting because it was motion smoothed into slow motion and it sort of starts off smaller and grows until it's full frame. I thought this was a really good use of the smoothing.

    I never expected miracles, I certainly wasn't stupid enough to think it would look like it was fresh off an Alexa but there are plenty of shots in the film which represented the quality I did expect and plenty of shots which left me wondering if they'd have been better off putting some noise back into it or perhaps not being so extreme with the DNR. Another result of the DNR being it's need for a whole lot of post sharpening. I don't know if you are fimilar with the original archives but unless it's been used on some other documentary I probably haven't seen any of it. I certainly wouldn't claim to have seen any of it let a lone be fimilar with it.

    The sound design was really good though, I think that sold the picture more than anything.
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  4. #4  
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    Dec 2009
    Hollywood, USA
    Read this story on the massive restoration process at Park Road Post & Weta Digital in New Zealand:

    Real War: How Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old Breathed Life into 100-Year-Old Archival Footage

    I think it's a remarkable story, and my take is that they spent upwards of $30 million-$40 million on the 90-minute documentary (including about half an hour of vintage material), and it was a massive, massive amount of work that took more than 2 years to do. Don't forget they not only had to figure out what speed each hand-cranked piece of film was shot at, they had to remove pieces of dirt, scratches, recreate missing frames, stabilize the frames, and colorize the whole thing and convert it to 3D, plus they had to create a new surround track completely from scratch. I'm in shock at the amount of work this represented.

    Some preservationists and archival people are critical because of the changes Jackson and the crew did to the material (like the colorization and aspect ratio), but I think their intent was completely honorable and they wanted to remind modern audiences of the sacrifices the WWI soldiers did in their lifetimes. That was a really, really terrible war that I think not enough people remember today, and hopefully the documentary will make a positive difference.
    marc wielage, csi colorist/post consultant daVinci Resolve Certified Trainer
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  5. #5  
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    Hollywood, CA
    Quote Originally Posted by Marc Wielage View Post
    ... I think their intent was completely honorable and they wanted to remind modern audiences of the sacrifices the WWI soldiers did in their lifetimes.
    No way can anyone appreciate what Jackson and his team have done without seeing this in a theatre. Caught this at the Arclight Hollywood. I avoid 3D, but there are many posts on this forum praising it's proper execution. This is surely one of it's finest examples. Really takes your breath away at the moment the film transitions from 2D. The film is fine art, and a wonderful example of how engaging 3D can be, providing you have years of time, gobs of money, and hire as many artists as technicians.
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