The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Movie Discussion: The Lord of the Rings:
4K vs Blu-ray differences & reviews


Aug 31 2021, 9:51am

Views: 2457
4K vs Blu-ray differences & reviews

There are a number of these comparison videos online showing the differences between the 4K and Blu-ray versions of the films. Do be aware that without a 4K HDR display the colours in these videos may not be accurate...

The Hobbit
AUJ - DoS - BotFA -

The Lord of the Rings
FotR - TTT - RotK -

Overall, the colours seem much more natural and less filtered, especially when compared to the awful green-tinted FotR EE. DoS seems to get the biggest adjustment, particularly the Smaug scenes, and there's a very strange choice to turn one sequence black-and-white in TTT, which is clearly a creative decision and will be personal preference.

But there's also some fairly bad news here. First, they have applied noise-reduction to remove the natural film-grain on LotR. This could be to create a consistency with The Hobbit's digital look, but I have a theory that it was actually done in order to better blend the green-screened and CGI elements to their environments.

Some might prefer the cleaner, grain-free look. But the removal process can soften the image and make things look less detailed and less textured or tactile, or less nostalgic.

What I really want to talk about

Here's the problem I really want to bring to people's attention -

It seems that due to the DNR, or some other process, the 4K versions have some strange artefacts and issues, such as Gandalf's staff disappearing for a few frames and Shadowfax's ear floating from his head.

This is concerning as it implies that the process was done somewhat automatically, rather than by eye (as a human wouldn't make these mistakes), and we don't know what other tiny problems like this might exist. They are strange occurrences that I've not seen before and would usually associate with motion-interpolation (creating fake frames to smooth out the 24fps) I don't see why they would do that here, though?

I wonder if the person responsible for there screen-grabs was using some sort of motion-interpolation and these issues don't actually exist on the discs? If anyone's able to confirm them that would be great.

Despite the issues, these are by far the best-looking versions available to date. No format is perfect, and the problems mentioned here are relatively minor. For those on the fence - the HDR alone is more than worth the upgrade and the many benefits of 4K do outweigh these little nit-picks by a significant amount.

(This post was edited by AshNazg on Aug 31 2021, 9:54am)


Aug 31 2021, 2:01pm

Views: 2416

I've been able to confirm those artifact issues exist on disc. I prefer the Blu-ray releases for LOTR and couldn't care less about their continuity with the Hobbit.

There are bigger fish to fry in the world and nobody will care about this, but the new waxy, artificially saturated, and grain-free LOTR is something I'm not particularly interested in revisiting.

The FotR EE color issues is definitely something to weigh when deciding which versions to watch. But at the end of the day, I'll prefer the grain and sharper image and take the slight green tint over DNR, noise reduction, and artificial saturation.


Aug 31 2021, 11:57pm

Views: 2379
What about the Theatrical cuts?

Are there any visual differences between the Theatrical and Extended cuts? Do these artefacts exist on both versions?


Sep 2 2021, 12:02am

Views: 2331
So it turns out the Extended Editions are NOT native 4K!

Around 30% of the Theatrical Edition of FotR has been re-scanned at 4K, with the rest being digitally sharpened from the 2K DI.

100% of TTT and RotK have been Digitally sharpened as have all three of the Extended Editions.

I'm uncertain about The Hobbit. But from my own analysis it looks as if they are mostly or entirely digitally sharpened too. I'll try to get confirmation on those.


Sep 2 2021, 3:23am

Views: 2318

What are our sources for this?


Sep 2 2021, 8:36am

Views: 2300
Some emails to Park Road Post

Hi *******

We unfortunately donít have any press materials that we can share, but understand why you asked. What I can confirm is that you were right in that non-filmed out 2K VFX were upscaled to 4K to create a new 4K Digital Intermediate. Most of the source data come from 2K data while some of the FOTR theatrical was a 4K scan.

Have a wonderful remainder of your day, thanks again for your kind words!

All the best,

The Shire

Sep 2 2021, 9:10am

Views: 2301
Just to be sure I understand this...

About these new 4K versions, are these on the extended edition or on the theatrical version?


Sep 2 2021, 9:32am

Views: 2297
Extended, I believe

I'm not wholly sure about the state of the 4k Theatrical Editions. All footage, images and info seems to come from the Extended Editions exclusively. It would be interesting to compare.


Sep 2 2021, 11:05am

Views: 2284
It's my understanding

that visuals are completely consistent between the two versions.

Thanks for the email.