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TCM Presents Vertigo (badly)


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It was disappointing to go to my first TCM Presents event (Vertigo at the Regal Lloyd Center Theatre in Portland,OR) and see a print that sadly looked very color faded. I expected to see a sparkling print that looked as Vertigo looked when first released (or in that major rerelease of several Hitchcock films) I have seen beautiful, new prints of Vertigo in theatres in the past (the best being a 70mm print at the Chinese in Hollywood over 15 years ago.), so I fail to understand why new prints weren't struck for what the  TCM intro to the film  (which was enjoyable - though a little more on why the tilm has become so esteemed over time would have been nice)  reminded us that in the last international critics' poll, Vertigo passed Citizen Kane as number one in its ranking of the best films ever made. The film's presntation earned more respect. Unfortunately, Hitchcock would have been unhapoy that his masterpiece was shown with such a poor print - the iconic Saul Bass ooening titles were dark, the actors faces all looked uniformly pink, darker scenes such as the bell tower scenes, the post death inquiry scene - almost looked like black and white. Midge's apt looked dim, Stewart's bright blue eyes a pale blue/green, the  photography of San Francisco unimpressive.etc.  At least I was able to go home and watch my Blu-Ray DVD copy  and see the visually beautiful film that Vertigo is. If this is the approach used for these TCM "presentations" I am not eager to try again. Anyone have better experiences at this or other TCM events?

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Thanks for the update.  I was considering going. I'll pass. I did see the film on the big screen when it was rereleased in the 80s (though it wasnt the recent restored version) I've seen it enough.........

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Hmm.  I also live in the Portland area and went to the viewing at the Century 16 in Beaverton.  The print I watched was colorful and vibrant.  I don't recall having any issues with the quality.

I've been to multiple TCM events and have never experienced any problems with the quality of presentation. 

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12 hours ago, Fedya said:

Did they even show a print?  I'd assume it was digital.

That would be both an understandable yet also presumptuous assumption( isn't there a Catholic Church with that name? ;)  ).

Whenever Detroit's Fox Theater would show a classic film (like on an anniversary presentation) they'd find as clean an original print as possible. ie:  A 35mm FILM, or 70mm, whichever aspect it was originally shot with. 

Sepiatone

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3 hours ago, Fedya said:

If this was a Fathom event, did they ship out a whole bunch of prints?

I also assumed that all Fathom event showings were digital, as are most other theatrical showings of new movies these days.

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From fathomevents.com:

How are Fathom Events broadcast in movie theaters? 

  • Currently, Fathom Events has access to more than 17,000 screens and more than 750 live broadcast theaters in the top 50 markets in the United States. Fathom Events beams live and pre-recorded events via satellite to audiences in cinemas via our digital broadcast network.
So I suspect the same digital projectors that are used to show regular movies are being connected essentially to a streaming source instead.  The quality that we see in the theaters would then be dependent on the quality of the digital stream and how good the projectors are and how well they are operated.  A good Blu-Ray may actually look better at home depending on how the streaming data was created.
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2 minutes ago, Vertigo3 said:

If it was digital, it was a disappointment. Maybe I should have gone to Beaverton though. Were previous TCM presentations satisfactory?

Unfortunately I can't speak from experience as they've never had one around here. But from what others have posted on here in the past, there have not been any complaints about picture or sound quality.

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The Toronto International Film Festival had a special presentation of Vertigo in September, 2015.

What made it special was that the audience only heard dialogue and sound effects from the soundtrack while Bernard Herrmann's musical score was played live by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

What also made the presentation special was that Kim Novak was in attendance, answering questions about the making of Vertigo afterward. The way she spoke I gathered that she had never seen the film presented this way before. Almost her first word after the screening, "WOW!" A few audience members even had the chance to briefly meet Novak, as well.

The film's image on the big screen looked fine to me. The acoustics in Albert Hall were wonderful. It was a truly classy presentation of a film classic. Even the tickets to the show were free. You just had to pick them up in advance.

My only complaint was a minor one - at times the performance of the live orchestra was so loud that it drowned out some of the dialogue.

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7 hours ago, Vertigo3 said:

If it was digital, it was a disappointment. Maybe I should have gone to Beaverton though. Were previous TCM presentations satisfactory? I watched my Blu-Ray cooy at home the next day. Beautiful.

I’ve never had an issue seeing the Fathom events at the Century 16 in Beaverton. Plus they have reclining seats or “Luxury Loungers” as they’re called and seats are reservable. I also find that Cinemark is a little cheaper than Regal as well. 

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Only have a Regal multiplex in my little burg, and no Fathom events.  I think I'd have to drive over an hour away to Albany for the nearest one.

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Well this is exactly why I don't attend these "events". Not every theater has the best digital projecting equipment, it's variable from venue to venue. I've seen familiar movies digitally projected that look dull and muddy if in color and too contrasty when B&W. I've experienced muffled or shrill sound, too. Sometimes these movies look like bad photocopies and the worst was a DVD shown in the wrong aspect ratio!

Anyone who thinks they're seeing new film struck from the negative needs to read the program first. (because sometimes, rarely, they are)

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9 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Well this is exactly why I don't attend these "events". Not every theater has the best digital projecting equipment, it's variable from venue to venue. I've seen familiar movies digitally projected that look dull and muddy if in color and too contrasty when B&W. I've experienced muffled or shrill sound, too. Sometimes these movies look like bad photocopies and the worst was a DVD shown in the wrong aspect ratio!

Anyone who thinks they're seeing new film struck from the negative needs to read the program first. (because sometimes, rarely, they are)

In addition, more adjustments and calibrations can be made with digital (or analog)...let's just say "electronic" projection gear, than with film.  There are simply more opportunities to get it wrong.  Since the concepts are familiar to many, you end up with all kinds of "experts" (i.e. DIY Radio Shack or Geek Squad types who feel compelled to jump in but really don't have a clue or know which questions to ask).  Projector-wise, with commercial-grade digital cinema projector installations, it can be like having a Bugatti Veyron in front of them and then tinkering with it as if it were a Honda Civic.  

With film basically all the adjustments are made by industry experts during exposure, editing or printing.  Fewer variables for the end user to manage to screw up, other than "is the lamp going to need replacing soon" or "is the projector set up correctly and properly maintained so it won't chew up the film".  With digital cinema there are parts that can be adjusted by the end user (but shouldn't), they should only be adjusted/maintained by the qualified installer/calibration technician.  It is not a difficult problem to solve.

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  • 1 month later...

According to Fathom Events:

"The content for [the film] was broadcast to all participating locations [approximately one week prior to the first event] via our Fathom Events Digital Broadcast system.  Though not all TCM titles are distributed this way - some are distributed to theatres on individual hard drives, depending on the film studio that we are partnering with."

So it sounds like a digital download ahead of time, or a hard drive delivered to the studio. Which means that if a film has never been made available on DVD or Blu-ray, it most likely won't get a Fathom / TCM showing.

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