12 November 2017
Hary Potter is more clearer, crisper and totally worth it now in spectacular 4k UHD. A must own for every harry potter film fan and otherwise.
To accompany the Blu-ray and 4K releases of the latest chapter in J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Warner Brothers has begun remastering all eight Harry Potter films for UHD, adding yet another version to the series' plethora of existing editions. Harry's odyssey is being issued in two parts, with the last four installments appearing first. The reverse order is dictated by technical considerations, as the earliest chapters in the franchise were not completed on digital intermediates, which means that the negatives have to be rescanned and regraded for 4K and HDR.
All eight films were shot on film with post-production on digital intermediates at 2K. Accordingly, all of them arrive on UHD as up-conversions, with visual benefits principally derived from HDR encoding (as well as some subtle, and not so subtle, tweaking of the palette). As a sweetener, Warner has remixed all four soundtracks from the original PCM, Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA 5.1 to the object-based DTS:X, providing an audio upgrade for those who have the appropriate hardware. Included with each UHD disc are two standard Blu-rays comprising the so-called "Ultimate Editions" of the Potter films that Warner began releasing in 2009. A digital copy completes each package.
According to the best available information, Warner's 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded UHD presentation of Harry Potter series has been sourced from a 2K digital intermediate, which limits the prospect that the format's superior resolution will reveal additional detail. Still, the HDR encoding provides subtle but noticeable improvements over the standard Blu-ray, courtesy of enhanced contrast, black levels and highlights. You can see the difference immediately in the opening overhead shots of the films. With the benefits of HDR, the figures on the ground are distinct and separate even at a distance, whereas on the Blu-ray they blur into the background. Similar improvements are visible in any large expanse, e.g., the dining hall at Hogwarts, where the receding tables and enchanted chandeliers seem to extend even further back, or the climactic sequence in the Department of Mysteries, with its endless aisles and towering shelves of mystical objects.
The palette of the Harry Potter Film Series on UHD reflects a trend that affects all four of these new versions, albeit to varying degrees. The creators of the UHDs seem to have taken their cue from Yates's preference for darkness, because to the extent the film's palette has been changed, color intensity has actually been dialed down.
Previous releases of the Harry Potter Film Series contained a 5.1 soundtrack (in either PCM or DTS-HD MA), but the UHD arrives with a DTS:X soundtrack that, on audio systems not yet equipped to decode that format, should play as DTS-HD MA 7.1. As Greg Maltz noted in his original review, the 5.1 mix was already superb, featuring "excellent use of surrounds, . . . prodigious LFE content [and] great attention to detail". The DTS:X encoding refines the mix and expands the listening space even further.
It should be noted that "object-based" sound formats are designed to be adaptive, and DTS:X in particular touts its ability to adjust to a wide variety of speaker configurations. Still, the degree to which the new mix produces audible benefits in the home theater will no doubt vary depending on individual sound systems and speaker arrays. For reference, I listened to film sesries on a 7.1.2 speaker configuration, consisting of front left, right and center, and two each of side, rear and "height" speakers, plus subwoofer.