'Jurassic Park': How Does the 4K Blu-ray Compare to 35mm?

Credit: Paramount Pictures
Jurassic Park has changed a lot since its release. 

We have seen so many movies get processed in different ways for DVD, digital, and Blu-ray releases. Have we lost the way the movie originally looked? And is that a good or bad thing? 

Dean Cundey, ASC had just finished shooting Hook for Steven Spielberg when the director asked if he was interested in working on Jurassic Park. He jumped at the chance to work with such scale and imagination. 

But does the movie look the same now as when it came out? 

I stumbled across this YouTube video where CNXToonami compares the original 35mm of Jurassic Park to what it looks like now on Blu-ray. There is a warning before watching: "Ignore the slight frame mismatch; was a bit of trouble converting the UHD with the right SDR tonemapping to import to my editing program."

Check it out, and let's talk after the jump. 

Jurassic Park: 4K Blu-ray vs. 35mm 

When Jurassic Park was brought to Blu-ray, they actually scanned the negatives of the film and used the raw data to get it to the digitized version. One of the big differences is in the color of the 35mm, which seems bluer, as compared to the slightly more yellow 4K. 

Over the years, Jurassic Park has undergone many transfers, and while 4K is regarded as the best one, it cannot hold a candle to seeing the original movie on film.  

Even great conversations can only imitate what we saw, and if you were not alive in 1993 to see the movie in theaters, it's hard to put into terms the way the movie should look. And it's something we're always chasing. 

Original Jurassic Park Shooting Details 

  • Color: Color (Eastmancolor)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1 (negative ratio) and 1.85 : 1 (theatrical ratio)
  • Camera: Panavision Panaflex Gold, Panavision Primo, and Slant Focus Lenses, Panavision Panaflex Platinum, Panavision Primo, and Slant Focus Lenses
  • Laboratory: DeLuxe, Hollywood (CA), USA (color)
  • Negative Format: 35 mm (also horizontal) (Eastman EXR 50D 5245, EXR 100T 5248, EXR 500T 5296)
  • Cinematographic Process: Spherical, VistaVision (visual effects)
  • Printed Film Format: 35 mm (Eastman 5384), 70 mm (horizontal) (IMAX DMR blow-up) (dual-strip 3-D) (Kodak Vision 2383) (2013 re-release), D-Cinema (also 3-D version) (2013 re-release)

What's the Verdict? 

It's always fun to watch these comparisons. As more and more films are transferred to 4K, it's important to look back at the original 35mm prints to see what they got right, and what needs to be fixed. I am all for the preservation and updating of films, but I think we need to make sure every artist's intention can be found on the screen. 

Let me know what you think in the comments.      

Your Comment

6 Comments

Colors are so much better in the original 35mm -- not that pinkish tone, and not stark enough. Bummer.

May 3, 2021 at 7:54AM

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Dean
358

The skintones from the print scan are very similar to the print shown in the New Beverly. Definitely different tone curve compared to the blurays. But I will say the print was more similar in color to the bluray, just more punchy in contrast. Not as flat as the vhs, bluray, and 4k bluray.

May 3, 2021 at 3:46PM

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uhm.. mah mah mah...
i was so lucky to be in the theather where Spielberg present JP at Venice, Italy, i saw it many times at theather, i had all realease in vhs, laserdisk, dvd, BD...
i understand very well the difference between different media and i had a good experience about different media, i'm also a filmaker and do and teach color correction with Resolve, but too often today i see release that are too much enhanced for a tv/mobile/old videogame (newer are astonish) audience, especially for a movie born for theather. The strong power of JP when go out, and today after over twenty years is color palette natural, not enhanced, like a documentary, that allow to digital and mechanical dinos to be beleiveable. Think to the last JP with enhanced color with Orange and teal, seems a Tranformer episode, and dinos seems less credible than old work on JP.
I understand that is Matter of taste, but a movie born for theather was developed like color, contrast, color saturation around light reflected screen, pump up contrast/midtones, color to force an HDR version (also when is not HDR) transform it in a bad videogame from 2000'...
I remember to read an article where someone decide to do a HDR version of Sicario, and recover all HIghlights of windows in a scene where Deakins to burn it to add drama to scene, and obviously the mood of scene change and reduce the drama of scene.
I had many version of old B movie called Cat'sEyes, story based on Stephen King stories, and BD version had a completely different color, night scene that originally are dim reduced now are bluish desatured scene, flat be cause someone put only a blue gradient on it and not work to build a real blue developing (not builded originally), change color to add orange and teal in many scene, changing mood, changed a green which was a modern mood where hoor should have acid green every where.
Colorist decide to change the work of Dop, the work fo dress maker, of set designer...
like filmaker i'm against this kind of operation, be cause often betray the original work of these artist... only for a modern mood.
Anyway i know is a matter of taste :-P

May 4, 2021 at 4:35AM

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Carlo Macchiavello
Director (with strong tech knowledge)
871

I don't think this is quite a fair comparison. The 35mm scan seems to be unprocessed to some extent and is likely not indicative of the grade on the final print that made it to theaters. In modern terms, this would be like comparing Red raw footage to the final graded cut of a film. It's cool to see the difference, but I doubt this is what the film looked like in theaters and so this article is a touch misleading. Of course restorations don't always match the original film, usually because they're sourced from the negative which is several generations away from a theatrical print. That will affect the clarity and contrast and is only natural. Judging by the common themes in the grading from all the mentioned home releases, what we're seeing in the 4K release is likely pretty close, but I'm not very familiar with the material. Also, holy cow, what was up with that 3D blu-ray?

May 7, 2021 at 2:31PM

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I find these comparisons are always subjective and have a slant to the baken in artistic result of film due to the birth of the moving image being film based. The versions above look different as they were retimed/regraded. The results are some ones artistic intent. Not a factor of the medium.

Film can definitely look better then general digital projection of today if care is taken in the production of the print (number of interpos/interneg copies etc). Digital has a worse black level. But in general, going digital has greatly lifted the quality of cinema across the board.

In terms of next generation digital, sorry film has no chance in competing with the black levels and peak luminance. Or the control of how the directors intent can manipulate the pixels if desired.

This is a vinyl vs CD all over again. Which, by now in numerous blind test vinyl has admitted defeat. But again subjectively, many people still think vinyl is better.

May 7, 2021 at 4:43PM

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James Gardiner
CineTechGeek
177

Thank you so much for the great share.

May 8, 2021 at 7:26AM

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