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Old 11-07-2019, 12:31 AM   #96
Geoff D Geoff D is online now
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Apollo 11 (2019) HDR10 review. HDR metadata: BT.2020 primaries (not P3). 1000/0.005 max/min mastering level. MaxCLL 1000 nits, MaxFALL 300 nits.

Oh boy. As soon as the opening studio logos had finished and the first shot of the crawler faded up I said to myself 'holy SHIT that looks pink'. I shouldn't speak out of turn when it comes to professionals as I'm just an Armchair Expert™ but whoever graded this deserves a smack in the mouth because the colour is, quite frankly, awful in several parts of this presentation. That pinky hue skews colour badly, skin tones often take on this deeply pinky/magenta tinge and even red begins to look more like maroon, like on the various nation flags being flown from the bleachers as the assembled dignitaries watch the launch. Some shots look fine with perfectly normal skin tones but then it'll cut back to another lobsterised shot, and so on. Some of the more picturesque wide shots of the launch vehicle or the recovery zone have been given a vastly different grade which makes them look so much more colourful but most of the time it feels like an intern has been let loose at the controls.

HDR usage itself is very effective, making bright speculars really zing and pulling down some sizeable amounts of range in the brightest shots, but when it comes at the expense of such a fugly grade I'm not sure the trade-off is worth it, and it also reveals more artefacts in the restoration which were virtually hidden in the SDR version, like these bunches of vertical lines that live in the bright highlights in several shots. They've also wrecked the shadow detail too in several interior shots in Mission Control, for while it's easy to think "ah well, it's not like it was a movie, they were shooting it on the fly" so they couldn't expose it properly - but the shadow detail often looks FAR better in the SDR version!

Something else that I liked about the colour in the SDR version (having first seen it a couple months back) is that it *looks* like something shot in the late '60s, with more of that typical orangier hue to skin and nice bold primaries with blue skies that look like blue skies etc, but the HDR feels like an attempt to distance itself from that "old-fashioned" SDR grade. (Although ironically enough it now looks more like a faded print with the cyan and yellow layers failing!) It takes a very different tack in some scenes, the HDR dialling out a lot more of the green push of the fluorescent lighting while the SDR is content to leave more of it in. Speaking purely for myself it just doesn't work, it doesn't NEED to have the HDR blazing away and the colour pumping out like mad in order to sell it - it's about Apollo 11 for ****'s sake, how much more jazzed up does it need to be?

For spatial detail then the 4K version naturally looks incredible, the 65mm shots (of which there are very, very few) are insanely detailed and the rest of the footage in 35 and 16 is superb as well, the 35 showing lots of detail too and even the 16 benefits from how sharp the grain now is in 4K. In these respects the 4K version is excellent and the 100GB disc helps as well, the bitrate on this thing is insanely high. But even then I'm not sure it's worth it in order to put up with the often-terrible colour grade. Oh, and the end title with 'Apollo' then the names of the astronauts, NASA people etc forming the '11' looks appalling on the UHD, it's been very badly scaled so it seems to 'shimmer' like mad while it looks perfect on the regular BD. (It might even be a differently rendered set of titles altogether as the names take more frames to fade in on the SDR than they do on the HDR. If this is one of those attempts to "redo the credits in 4K" then they failed, badly.)

On this evidence I would've been very happy with a 4K SDR rendition (end titles aside) but then if that'd been the case, would I be writing this review pining for an HDR version? Be careful what you wish for, as they say...

I couldn't help but snap a few photos, and as always THESE IMAGES ARE NOT INTENDED TO CONVEY THE ENTIRETY OF EITHER SDR OR HDR WITH 100% ACCURACY BUT ONLY SPECIFIC ASPECTS. THEY CAN ALSO BE MUCH DARKER THAN THE CONTENT ACTUALLY APPEARS OWING TO THE EXPOSURE NECESSARY TO CAPTURE THE DYNAMIC RANGE.


Dat pinkiness. I know what people are thinking, "you only spotted it because you do these stupid comparisons" etc, but I'll say it again: from literally the opening shot of the UHD I could see how pink it was. Yikes.

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Launch control I think? This one's not bad, just different: SDR has a yellower tone while the HDR is more neutral.

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The launch vehicle. Much more of a pinky tone on the HDR. Looks quite nice in itself.

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The flags, and the skin tones for that matter. Nice and bold on the SDR, more of a ruddier maroon shade on the HDR (ignore the clipping in the white on the HDR photo, that's just the exposure as I wanted to get the same brightness in each shot)

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A beautiful change-up for the 4K HDR here, but at what cost to the rest of the movie? (The sun is clearly visible in the HDR shot, it's just clipped in the photo due to the exposure because I didnt want to make it too dark, it's already much darker than the actual UHD is.) As best as I can tell I've got the same frame and yet the caption down at the bottom is in a different place than in the SDR, the framing is also slightly different. Looks to me like this 4K HDR version was put together after the fact, hence those awful redone end titles.

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One of the split-screen Mission Control shots, I picked this because in the SDR the fella's shirt on the right there is grey while on the HDR it's a bright blue! In many of these MC insert shots the HDR is actually much better at making them look livelier without making them all look like lobsters, but then it'll cut to a wide shot that's pink AF and the cycle will repeat itself.

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Spotted some fubar artefacts in this shot, this is one of those I mentioned where the HDR really shows up the vertical lines in the brighter portions of the image once the chopper moves out of the way of the sky in the background, I'm not showing that though as I noticed something far worse on the chopper itself. Look at how the lens flare on the SDR is just a nice normal lens flare while the HDR shits itself, that's NOT dodgy compression in my opinion but the HDR 'breaking' the colour in the actual grading itself as the bit depth can't cope. Like I said, it's what gives the grade this feeling of amateur hour.

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One more inside MC, this is to show how the green tinge of the fluorescents is toned down in HDR but they wreck the shadow detail with it. No, it doesn't look perfectly exposed in SDR either but at least you can tell that the guy on the right leaning on the console has a head, for example. And in the next shot (not shown) of someone pointing a pencil at a monitor you can see them perfectly fine in the SDR but the HDR looks gloomy as ****.

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Last edited by Geoff D; 11-07-2019 at 06:37 PM.
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