As we discussed on this blog previously, DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS was filmed in Techniscope aka 2-perf, which utilises only half the frame of a standard 35mm film cell in order to create a 2.35:1 image without the expense of anamorphic lenses and by using half the amount of film stock one would use shooting full-frame 35mm.
The center sequence in the opening flashback scene of the film is from the 4-perf negative of DRACULA aka HORROR OF DRACULA. That film was shot on the full 35mm frame and intended to be screened at 1.66:1. To make it all fit together, the filmmakers reduced the size of the flashback scene from DRACULA and added a diamond-shaped smoke-effect mask. The result is that there’s a real issue with the grain: it is very tight and crowded due to the shrinking of the 1.66:1 image. In addition, the overlay of the larger and more exaggerated grain of the 2-perf smoke effect creates all sorts of problems once the image is digitised and compressed. The problem we faced when encoding is that the overall composited picture in this scene had marked white noise and very distracting movement where the MPEG-4 (Blu-ray/HD) encode struggles to keep up with the grain in the film. The DVNR used on this scene (definitely not a blanket filter across the entire film as previously posted) resolved this issue, albeit with some “posterization”. On balance it was felt that this was the lesser of two evils.
However, so many of you have commented about this scene, that we, along with StudioCanal, decided to see if there was another way to filter and encode the picture. We did some research and have found an alternate encoding software package that will enable us better to tweak the opening sequence and create an improved encode. We have already completed several tests, and although it’s not perfect (it never could be, due to the workflow from 2-perf OCN to encoded Blu-ray) we feel that we have obtained a better result with less posterization. StudioCanal will replace this scene on the revised discs (with sound synch corrections) which will be available in April. We hope you like it!