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Answerman - Why Do Colors Look Different In Remastered Classic Anime?


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TarsTarkas



Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:10 am Reply with quote
Very informative and interesting piece. Thanks.
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FlamingFirewire



Joined: 03 Jun 2013
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:27 am Reply with quote
I never realized there was that much of a difference between what was originally on the negative and what eventually makes it to the final edit on a blu ray.

The first print run of the US Serial Experiments Lain blu ray was very interesting as it was poured over by some of the original staff trying to get it to look as close to the original intention as possible, but even they mentioned that it was incredibly challenging to reproduce whatever the "original intent" was (this was all explained in their notes in one of the included booklets).
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prime_pm



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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:37 am Reply with quote
What, you didn't know that the Smurfs were actually green?
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melmouth



Joined: 19 May 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:57 am Reply with quote
Whenever the Answerman goes into technical matters the answers get most interesting to me. Particularly because he seems to be hands-on familiar with the analog era and the current digital era.

Thanks!
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:38 pm Reply with quote
Excellent article!!

Anyone who was into video back in the day probably knew a lot of the issues with NTSC despite not knowing that hilarious "backronym" the engineers supposedly gave it. I vividly remember watching the original AD Police Files on a rental VHS and deciding I loved it despite the "washed out color", which I had assumed was a stylistic choice on the part of the director. I bought the laserdiscs shortly thereafter and when I sat down to watch them I was shocked by the fact that the color was not washed out in the slightest, and often used to great dramatic effect with the stark contrast between the bright red blood and the dingy bladerunner-esque cityscapes. Eye opening for certain!

And this sort of thing still exists today. Digital video might be able to define specific colors, but that doesn't mean a whole lot given that the brand, age, and settings of one's TV or monitor can change it after the fact. Many people are probably familiar with the different settings on modern TVs like "Cinema", or "Game mode", these play around with the image's color, contrast, and intensity just like the same sort of controls on a PC monitor does. Even with digital there is no way to know that what you are seeing is "correct" without color-calibrating one's display.
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Moonsaber



Joined: 16 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:43 pm Reply with quote
Thank you for this one Justin, it was awesome to read! Also, thank you for remembering the old joke about NTSC!

Going beyond the color I have found at times that my Laserdisc version of a show is easier to watch than the DVD, or the VHS seems nicer than the DVD. This is due mostly to color and the fact the image is 'fuzzier', which can be to a shows benefit. A well done Blu Ray transfer can really blow your mind with vibrancy and milking every last bit of resolution from the source.

Examples:
LD vs DVD - Oh My Goddess (Animeigo) - LD wins (For me)
DVD vs Blu - Haibane Renmei - The Blu ray is finally as sharp as this show deserves.
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I_Drive_DSM



Joined: 11 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:53 pm Reply with quote
Broadcast TV shows during the analog era were, for the most part, not susceptible to these issues because of SMPTE bars and tone. When a production company would produce a TV series or similar programming they would apply SMPTE to it that would allow a station to sync up their equipment to whatever was sent to them. For the most part unless someone was asleep at their job - possibly not surprising if you had to work the late shift prior to AIR programming going off the air to bars and tone for the night - the major discrepancies were in the TV set & cables themselves the viewer possessed. It's for the most part that if you ask someone how they viewed Cheers or Different Strokes or The Facts of Life it was probably very similar because there was a defined "standard" being sent out by the stations.

Anime in Japan also being NTSC likely had some sort of similar standards to sync to when syndicated at home, however for the US market most all anime productions were never in their original pass or generation. A good deal of anime appeared on the West coast on local stations prior to blocks like Cartoon Network and the syndications & stations used to be doc'ed in the early 90s in Animerica (if I dug out my old boxes of Animerica I could probably jot down exactly what was shown...). Those stations likely couldn't rely on SMPTE for the programs because they already received a pass through a color timer. Most of what those stations were showing were probably already available copies of various anime.

Even some recent anime has it's own pass issues. Prior to the era of modern streaming services and simulcasts many fan sub groups pulled their video direct from Japanese TV broadcasts and would subsequently time, subtitle, and then re-encoded. Even in HD formats incoming anime roughly ~10 years ago was susceptible to grain and issues with color. If you watched a ripped version of say Bakuman or KissXSis (trying to think of circa 2010 shows...) then they would likely have noticeable variances even in a DVD release. Nowadays with digital signals most everything is 100% produced and sent out digitally so discrepancies are only going to exist when the subsequent BD release is touched up and altered (a whole different topic entirely).

Working with older SMPTE is pretty nice though and interesting if anything from a time capsule perspective [I get paid to work with older historical analog formats and put them into digital forms. Literally all eight hours a work day I have some old analog format playing and being encoded to something modern].
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:17 pm Reply with quote
Moonsaber wrote:

Going beyond the color I have found at times that my Laserdisc version of a show is easier to watch than the DVD, or the VHS seems nicer than the DVD. This is due mostly to color and the fact the image is 'fuzzier', which can be to a shows benefit. A well done Blu Ray transfer can really blow your mind with vibrancy and milking every last bit of resolution from the source.


A lot of the problem, IMHO, was that many of the early DVD releases were poorly compressed. It was especially a problem for anime because the compression techniques were optimized for "real life" video where the natural variations in color and texture of objects obscured a lot of the error. But when applied to anime--with it's large areas of exactly the same color and lots of clearly defined lines--any sort of compression errors (blockiness, jaggies, etc.) became very clear. In the early days of anime on DVD the Laserdisc was usually superior, and for many titles remains superior to this day despite the fact that DVD has a slightly higher resolution.

Of course LDs have their own issues--since they are an analog medium the quality of your player and the rest of the equipment had a huge effect on the picture, whereas in the world of DVD the difference in image quality between a cheapo player and a high end one is far less significant.

I still own hundreds of laserdiscs and continue to watch them. For most shows I haven't seen much of a reason to upgrade. Plus the nice thing about LD is that it avoids the problems with converting to the modern aspect ratio. There's nothing cut from the frame and there is no weirdly distorted stretching going on either--both are problems with many remasters of old shows.
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Triltaison



Joined: 03 Jul 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:19 pm Reply with quote
Now I'm curious what sort of wrinkles related to color could come up after converting into PAL.
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Moonsaber



Joined: 16 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:37 pm Reply with quote
Shiflan wrote:

A lot of the problem, IMHO, was that many of the early DVD releases were poorly compressed. <snip>


Exactly! It is not just that one, either. I far prefer my LD of the Miyu OAV as well.

Shiflan wrote:

Of course LDs have their own issues--since they are an analog medium the quality of your player and the rest of the equipment had a huge effect on the picture, whereas in the world of DVD the difference in image quality between a cheapo player and a high end one is far less significant.


I know. It's a big deal to use S-Video on LD. Have you found a decent way to upconvert Svideo to HDMI yet? I have heard of some success.

Shiflan wrote:

I still own hundreds of laserdiscs and continue to watch them. For most shows I haven't seen much of a reason to upgrade. Plus the nice thing about LD is that it avoids the problems with converting to the modern aspect ratio. There's nothing cut from the frame and there is no weirdly distorted stretching going on either--both are problems with many remasters of old shows.


I have... I donno.. 70 or so. Usually the Blu Ray blows away all other versions if done right. For instance the recent Blu Ray release of Bubblegum Crisis by AnimEigo is nothing short of amazing.

Dude, we are going to have the kids scratching their heads about our "defunct media" collection, but some of this stuff was never re-released to even DVD. Stuff like Genesis Surviver Gaiarth and most of the titles in Rumic World (One Pound Gospel, Fire Tripper, Laughing Target, Maris the Chojo).
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:53 pm Reply with quote
Moonsaber wrote:

I know. It's a big deal to use S-Video on LD. Have you found a decent way to upconvert Svideo to HDMI yet? I have heard of some success.


I use the DVDO IScan Plus, which outputs YPbPr component video (analog), and a TV which has those inputs. I have not researched a solution for HDMI, though I need to start looking soon!

Quote:
Dude, we are going to have the kids scratching their heads about our "defunct media" collection, but some of this stuff was never re-released to even DVD. Stuff like Genesis Surviver Gaiarth and most of the titles in Rumic World (One Pound Gospel, Fire Tripper, Laughing Target, Maris the Chojo).

Yeah, there are tons of older shows which simply aren't available anywhere else.

You're right that a well-done remaster looks amazing but sadly a lot of releases are not done that way. For example, my collector's edition Bubblegum Crisis LD box set looks a lot better than by buddy's set on DVD, and it contains ALL the music videos whereas several are missing on the DVD. No doubt the Bluray looks better though since it's actually a proper remaster and not just the DVD version.
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Moonsaber



Joined: 16 Jan 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 1:59 pm Reply with quote
Shiflan wrote:

I use the DVDO IScan Plus, which outputs YPbPr component video (analog), and a TV which has those inputs. I have not researched a solution for HDMI, though I need to start looking soon!


Wow... out of production and not cheap. I will have to look for a solution soon as my HD tv with Svideo and such in is in the process of dying. Thanks for the tip!

Shiflan wrote:

You're right that a well-done remaster looks amazing but sadly a lot of releases are not done that way. For example, my collector's edition Bubblegum Crisis LD box set looks a lot better than by buddy's set on DVD, and it contains ALL the music videos whereas several are missing on the DVD. No doubt the Bluray looks better though since it's actually a proper remaster and not just the DVD version.


I will have to check when I get home, but I am pretty sure all the content from the LDs is on the Blu Ray box, and it adds even more! AnimEigo's BD releases are top notch.
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Zin5ki
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Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:02 pm Reply with quote
Triltaison wrote:
Now I'm curious what sort of wrinkles related to color could come up after converting into PAL.

Once a low-quality NTSC-to-PAL conversion has taken place, any effects of colour distortion are likely to be the least of the viewer's worries...
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:03 pm Reply with quote
When i got Outlaw Star a couple of years ago on Blu-Ray, i was surprised at how much brighter the colours are compared to the DVD version.
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Shiflan



Joined: 29 Jul 2015
Posts: 346
PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2018 2:04 pm Reply with quote
Moonsaber wrote:

Wow... out of production and not cheap. I will have to look for a solution soon as my HD tv with Svideo and such in is in the process of dying. Thanks for the tip!

Shop around. You can often find used ones on Ebay or similar fairly inexpensively. It was a very hot item years ago, but it does not have an HDMI output so I don't know how useful it will be in the future.

Quote:
I will have to check when I get home, but I am pretty sure all the content from the LDs is on the Blu Ray box, and it adds even more! AnimEigo's BD releases are top notch.

Sounds great. Personally I don't care if the "Holiday in Bali" stuff is on there, but I like the music videos a lot.
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