The source material used for the October 15th UK Double Play release of the restored THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN was an InterPositive (I/P), which was scanned at 4k by Warner Motion Picture Imaging especially for our 2012 restoration. This is the exact same source material used by Warner Bros. for their 1.77:1 DVD release, though that transfer appears to have made use of sharpening filters.
Although this I/P (which was created from the original separation masters and is not an I/P from the film’s original lab process) is the best possible celluloid material available for the film (the original negative is so damaged it cannot be scanned) it is rather “faded”, which accounts for the softness visible in the final BD and DVD encodes.
After scanning, the film was restored and graded in 2k by Deluxe142. During restoration and grading, it became clear that we would have to choose between retaining the grain on the one hand, or, on the other, using sharpening filters to counter the visible softness of the image. We chose to retain the grain and not to use DVNR filters or sharpening filters as these would have moved the picture away from the filmic and organic look at which we were aiming.
After restoration was complete, the film was mastered to HDCamSR 444 at 1080p.
This HDCamSR master was then used to encode both the SD transfer for the DVD9 and the HD transfer for the BD50. There was no additional compression added at the encoding stage, nor were any filters added, nor was the contrast or colour balance altered. All the new extras on the BD were authored SD to ensure enough space for both features to be authored at an average bitrate (“Variable Bit Rate” or “VBR”) of 25Mbps. It has been reported in some reviews that each feature data size is 14.4Gb, which would be correct for an encode of 86 mins. at a VBR of 25Mbps (86 mins. at a consistent bitrate of 25Mbps would render a data size of 15.02Gb).
Some reviewers have commented that the DVD is “better quality” than the BD. As both have been transferred from the same source, this simply cannot be the case, however the DVD may in some circumstances appear to look better due to upscaling if watched on an HD screen, as this may be creating a sharpening effect. The BD clearly shows more grain and edge definition.
In addition, the HD encode, due to its higher resolution, shows more of the artefacts present in the source material, including softness, grain and high contrast. The SD encode may appear to look smoother as these artefacts are less visible. Finally, there are multiple user-defined and screen-specific settings that affect the way a picture displays on any given TV or computer screen.
Overall, the quality of the picture is dictated by the quality of the source material, and by the decisions taken to retain grain and not to apply filters. We are more than happy with the final result and feel that it properly reflects the work and care that went into the restoration process.