After the superb looking Quatermass and the Pit blu-ray, Dracula - Prince of Darkness gets a Don't Look Now™ quality makeover..
Posts like this make DVD/BD producers and distributors absolutely despair.
Can't you at least wait until a review from someone who's actually seen the damn thing in motion before hurling commercially damaging accusations?
What really gets my goat is that this comment is presented as a bald statement of fact, instead of blatant guesswork based entirely on low-resolution JPEGs that were never intended for amateur Sherlocks to use as "evidence'. But all it takes is for someone to superficially skim this thread, cut and paste the phrase "a Don't Look Now™ quality makeover" and circulate it elsewhere, and you've started a rumour that bitter experience tells me is very very hard to rein in even if it turns out to be wholly unjustified.
While I agree that jumping the gun isn't a good thing, there is no way this is going to ever look excellent, and that is at least partly down to the transfer. Maybe the original film would never have been a complete stunner, but it would at least have looked more like a film. As someone involved with video transfer and encoding, it's easy to look at this and see that it's been spatially filtered, which is one of the worst ways (IMHO) possible to reduce noise (or grain) in a film scan. The original film would not look like that. (FWIW, I've been just as critical of some of the transfers that have passed through my hands at points).
Also, the problem isn't that the images posted are "low-res JPEGs" - anyone can analyse them to see that they are full 1920x1080 resolution, and they're not overcompressed either. I agree that it's not a good idea to try to judge Greyscale, colour, gamma or other attributes on an uncalibrated computer monitor, but one of the things they are fine for judging is static resolution (just look around any film restoration environment).
The problem appears to be the use of Spatial (2D) Noise Reduction techniques which were presumably applied to reduce machine noise and/or film grain. When the studio says that "when you see it in motion you'll see plenty of grain", that will be correct, because 2D/spatial filters only work on the single-frame level. However, the grain will likely now be low frequency and more noise like, due to the missing high frequency (fine) details. In this case, seeing the end result in motion won't actually make much of a difference, because of the type of filter used. Pressing PLAY won't bring back the missing details, and it won't alleviate the posterised look that such filtering brings.
however we can state that the DNR used on the restoration was very light indeed, only on a handful of scenes, and only when absolutely necessary. We can also state that there were no blanket noise-reduction filters used at any point during restoration. Any loss of focus and fading on the picture as presented on the Blu-ray is due to the age of the scanned materials rather than DVNR or the use of filters.
Sorry, but I find that hard to believe. Film does not look like that. Again, anyone who's ever used these filters can see it's been spatially filtered - perhaps to reduce coarse telecine noise, or perhaps deliberately to reduce grain (it looks very much like one of the NR filters from PFClean). Spatial filtering gives a slight "watercolour painting" effect which is clearly visible in the grabs. It's not as disastrous as "Don't Look Now", but it's the same technique. Maybe the rest will be better?
Speaking of spatial filters, Disney's Lady and the Tramp has the same problem, although these filters are much better suited to (almost) textureless, opaque content like 2D animation (the cels, at least). The damage is still visible though: http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/screensho ... position=1
Respectfully, I suggest the people doing these restorations investigate the possibility of using different scanning equipment and certainly different noise reduction techniques if they feel that they need to use them. I'd like to know what this was scanned on, can anyone from the studio comment? Was it one of the Cintel machines? My hunch is that whatever they're using is introducing its own video noise, which is why they're resorting to these (damaging) filtering techniques. The fact that they have a blog about this sort of thing to communicate with the public is commendable.