Oct 302013

Disney animation and DNR is a problem that has been ongoing since their very first blu ray release, DNR stands for digital noise reduction, i have a DNR guide you can read by clicking here. It seems that Disney wants to make all their classic animated film titles look super smooth, the issue i have with all this is that to achieve this aim they need to remove the film grain, when you remove this you remove fine detail and end up blurring the image, the degrain tool when overused defocuses everything, what was once sharp and detailed becomes soft and blurry, background textures are lost.

Walt Disney would not approve of what they are doing to these animated classics, it's not just DNR that is the problem, the animators painstaking work is being altered, some of the movies are being recoloured and the original painted pastel look is gone, backgrounds now look flatter where as before they stood out as being bold and unique, the original animation has been lost on these new blu ray releases, this is revisionism at work, alterations of original artwork, the suits at Disney are to blame, the original optical effects work is also no longer visible on the blu ray editions, for example the ripple water effect in Alice In Wonderland, it's gone, eradicated, very few people seem to notice or care.

Disney Animation and DNR - DNR on The Sword In The StoneThe Diamond edition releases are treated better than some of the secondary animated titles but even those ones get treated to a dose of DNR and they get the brighter overcooked look that Disney thinks the new generation brought up on CGI want, many titles also contain aliasing, ringing, sharpening issues, artifacting and the loss of original sketched art lines which are erased or smudged, motion on more than a few titles is smeared and blurry due to overuse of the aforementioned DNR, despite all of these issues some review sites give top marks, it makes me think that Disney is paying for these reviews, it's either that or the reviewers are absolutely clueless and think that a super smooth clean image represents a flawless release.

Click the above image for a larger one to see the damage DNR does, the blu ray is the right image.  I stopped buying Disney animated films after the release of Bambi, they have a before and after trailer on one of their discs, the before looks better to me than the dull, flat and lifeless looking after footage, i think their best release is The Lion King, it's near perfect, as it should be for a CAPS release, i cannot say the same for Beauty And The Beast, that one contains ringing issues and seems to have had a brightness boost and colour shift to some scenes, i have the 3D edition and it actually seems better with regards brightness and colour and it contains none of the ringing issues seen on the 2D version.

I am glad that people are coming around to the fact that Disney animation and DNR is a problem, it has taken time, there are more negative reviews at some top sites, not all but some, it's also pleasing to note that Disney have the originals preserved and can at some future date give us back the original animators look, and that includes the film grain, i am hopeful it might happen one day, until that day comes i recommend a boycott of Disney animated titles on blu ray.

A poster with some knowledge over at Home Theater Forum thinks Disney do not use DNR on their animated releases, i will link to his post and copy the relevant words here, it's something to consider and perhaps he is right, whatever the case may be, there can be no argument that Disney are not doing things right with their animated blu ray releases.

From bigshot aka animation expert Stephen Worth, link to full post below.


Disney does not use DNR. They matte the characters out of the scene and clean them up by repainting them frame by frame. Then they re-composite the characters back into the scene with a cleaned up still frame of the background. This is entirely different than DNR and causes totally different sorts of artifacts. Instead of grain smoothing and blurring in fast motion, like you might expect with DNR, you should be looking to color accuracy, messed up optical effects (like ripple glass) and line degradation. It is much harder to matte a xerox line than it is an ink line, because xerox doesn't have a hard, clean edge. I think the problem here is that their restoration process compromises the lines, so they are forced to beef them up to black and shave off all the "hairiness" of the xerox to be able to composite them cleanly.


They are the only studio that uses this process. And the films they rework this way have completely reworked color palettes, missing optical effects, glow effects underneath the character instead of on top of it, mistakes in painting areas on the character, degraded lines and a complete lack of film grain. Based on previous films, I don't hesitate to call this process a "massacre". I'll see what they did to the animated sequences in Mary Poppins when my disk arrives.