Region 4 Winners and Losers

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Explanatory Notes
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Title Best
Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Ultimate Edition=

Image Comparison

Michael D says...

The 3 versions of Terminator 2 compared to date are the original Region 4 Theatrical Cut release, the Region 1 Ultimate Edition release and the Region 4 Ultimate Edition release. It is our aim to also compare the original Region 1 release and the Region 1 Extreme Edition release before finalizing this section of the review.

We chose two specific scenes from Terminator 2 for comparison across versions; the opening scene in the bar with the Terminator acquiring a motorbike, and the helicopter sequence from the point at which the T-1000 gets into the helicopter until the helicopter sequence finishes. These equate with Chapters 5 and 64 of the Ultimate Edition. These scenes were chosen as reasonable samples of the movie which could demonstrate the performance of the transfer in both high key lighting and low key lighting; with vibrant colours and with muted colours; and with high motion versus low motion. We compared these sequences multiple times, with both Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks engaged.

It is important to note that we had to look extremely hard to pick the differences between these transfers, and that is on very revealing equipment. On more modest equipment, I suspect that any differences between these transfers would be negligible.

Region 4 Theatrical Version

This is the brightest of the three transfers examined to date. The bar sequence is brighter and more colourful, and the helicopter sequence is also brighter. On the surface, this would lead to a preference for this transfer, but closer examination shows it to be less detailed and more compressed than the other two versions examined to date. In particular, posterization of a grainy black sequence during the helicopter chase differentiates this transfer from the other two.

Audio is indistinguishable between versions. 'Pitch correction' has been applied to this audio transfer, and it has been done well - I detected none of the tell-tale artefacts of this process.

Region 1 Ultimate Edition

The Region 1 Ultimate Edition transfer is very sharp, but also harsh as a result of some mild edge enhancement that has been applied. Grain is accentuated, and there is occasional ringing around objects. My initial impression of this transfer was that it was sharper than the Region 4 Ultimate Edition transfer, but no additional fine detail is discernable in the image. It is also slightly more jerky in appearance than the Region 4 Ultimate Edition transfer, despite the deinterlacing provided by our review equipment setup. This is most likely due to the fact that this transfer is effectively playing back at 24 frames per second versus 25 frames per second for the PAL versions.

Audio is indistinguishable between versions.

Region 4 Ultimate Edition

This transfer appears softer, smoother and more film-like when compared to the Region 1 Ultimate Edition transfer. The softness of the image is because no edge enhancement has been applied to this transfer, so edges are smoother rather than in the Region 1 Ultimate Edition transfer. Fine detail, on close inspection, is identical between the two Ultimate Editions - the edge enhancement is artificially providing the impression of additional detail in the image. Grain is well controlled in this transfer, far more so than in the R1 Ultimate Edition, and motion is smoother. All-in-all, this is the easiest of the three transfers to watch.

Audio is indistinguishable between versions. 'Pitch correction' has been applied to this audio transfer, and it has been done well - I detected none of the tell-tale artefacts of this process.

Overall (To Date)

There is little to differentiate between these three versions - all are superb transfers. The Region 4 Ultimate Edition is marginally better visually than the other two versions examined, but the great majority of viewers would be quite happy with any of these transfers.

Tony R says...

This is interesting. I came to this with some preconceptions, and some things I'd wanted to check. I've read, as it's hard not to, some nasty comments about edge enhancement on the Region 1 Ultimate Edition, and some less-than-complimentary comments about the original Region 4 disc.

What do I think? Well, for a start, I was surprised at how little was really wrong with these discs. Even the original Region 4 is a rather good transfer. It's a bit over-compressed in places, resulting in reduced resolution (and posterization) in the background (you can see this in the night sky during the helicopter chase). Even so, this disc rates better than quite a few discs I've seen recently.

The Region 1 Ultimate Edition and the Region 4 Ultimate Edition may well have originated from the same hi-def transfer there's a small artefact in the same place on both that leads to that conclusion. However, they've clearly taken different paths after that shared transfer.

The Region 1 Ultimate Edition disc does show signs of edge enhancement, but it's minor. So minor, in fact, that Michael and I didn't agree on it until we compared it to the Region 4 Ultimate Edition (and, for that matter, to the original R4) when there's a dark edge around a face on the R1 and not on the R4, that's probably edge enhancement. It's not as bad as you may have heard, at least on my system, but it is visible. I suspect it would look much worse on any system that had the sharpness turned up. Such a system would love the Region 4 Ultimate Edition disc it's utterly free of visible edge enhancement.

There's another area where the Region 1 Ultimate Edition yields to the Region 4 Ultimate Edition, and that's apparent grain. For example, big Arnie's bare legs, as he strides up to the biker lying on the floor, show noticeable grain on the Region 1 DVD, and somewhat less so on the Region 4 DVD I'm surprised to see this on two versions of what appears to be the same transfer. There are other examples, too, such as apparent low-level noise / film grain on the night sky on the R1, but not on the R4. That particular scene is also one that tripped up the original R4.

I wonder if this is due to the seamless branching that's present on the R1, but not on the R4? Maybe it required a bit more compression of the R1, resulting in the reduced quality? Or maybe this is a more-obvious-than-usual example of the difference in resolution between NTSC and PAL?

Do keep in mind that all three versions of this disc are rather good, and the differences I'm talking about are fairly small. Honestly, you could watch them on a regular TV, and be hard-pressed to see a difference.

However, for the record, my opinion is that the Region 4 Ultimate Edition takes the visual quality award by a head from the original Region 4, which just barely pips the Region 1 Ultimate Edition (close to a dead heat between these two). For audio quality, however, the original R4 is left noticeably behind the two Ultimate Edition discs. I cannot pick the Ultimate Editions apart on audio call that one a dead heat.

Comparison Images

If anything, these comparison images should serve to show how little difference there is between versions compared to date. The thumbnails are compressed JPG images, merely to orient you to where the image has been taken from. The zoomed images are uncompressed, and are designed to highlight the very subtle differences between the respective images. Often the differences we refer to are subtle impressions, and not easy to discern except when the image is blown up on a high definition projector, as was used for this review and the comparisons.

Image 1 - Image Sharpness

R1 Ultimate Edition (6:49)

R4 Theatrical Version (6:47)

R4 Ultimate Edition (6:31)

Appears sharper, but closer inspection does not bear this out.

Lowest in sharpness.

Image 2 - Grain

R1 Ultimate Edition (8:54)

R4 Theatrical Version (8:47)

R4 Ultimate Edition (8:32)

In motion, there is more grain on this surface in comparison to the other two versions.

Image 3 - Edge Enhancement

R1 Ultimate Edition (121:54)

R4 Theatrical Version (102:35)

R4 Ultimate Edition (117:09)

There is a suggestion of a black line separating the facial features from the blue background.

A soft transition between facial features and blue background.

A sharp transition between facial features and blue background, with no hint of a black separating line.

Image 4 - Posterization

R1 Ultimate Edition (122:41)

R4 Theatrical Version (103:20)

R4 Ultimate Edition (117:55)

Not apparent in this screen shot, but the R4 Theatrical Version posterizes in the upper left quadrant of this image when viewed on a projector.

more to come...