I was familiar with the character from looking at DC Comic Books (they were called books, but they were really just magazines). Our TV screen was probably about 17” in diameter, and of course, it was black & white. Much of the series (1952 – 1958) was filmed in color, I suppose in anticipation of color TV, which was imminent. The first commercial color TV (mechanical) was on the market in 1951, priced at $500, which was a lot of money in those days (about $7,500 in today’s money). In 1954, the first electronic color TV was available, at $1,000. However, I never got to see any episodes in color in those years. It wasn’t until many years later that I saw them in color.
There were Superman cartoons that followed, and there was another animated Superman series of half-hour episodes in 2015 – 2017, and from 1993 to 1997, there was a TV series, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
In 1978, a landmark Superman movie was released. It was big budget, compared to previous TV and movie entertainment.
It starred Christopher Reeve. It is an interesting coincident that George and Christopher had very similar last names. I thought maybe Reeve was not his real name, but it was.
The 1978 movie (there were sequels, of course, as the movie was very successful) had several big names as co-stars, including Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Jackie Cooper, Glen Ford, and Terrance Stamp.
We all know the story, so I won’t waste your reading time with the details.
You may have a DVD or Blu-ray copy of the 1978 movie, and the 4K version is now being released. It lists for $41.99, but it is available on Amazon for $24.99.
Back in 1978, we had basic surround sound. In 2018, we have 13.2-channel, including Dolby Atmos. The 4K release has Dolby Atmos encoding, but it also has the standard 5.1-channel surround if you have an “old” surround sound processor or receiver.
(1978), 2160p, Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos True HD, Dolby Digital 5.1, (Blu-ray DTS-HD MA), Rated PG, 2 Hours 23 Minutes.
2.4:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Margo Kidder
Directed by Richard Donner
4K, if you don’t already know, has 4X the resolution of HD. Instead of 1080p, it is 2160p. On the surface, this appears to be 2X, but you have to remember that the resolution is Height x Width, and if the height and width are 2X, then height x width is 4X.
Although most movies shot on film (as compared to today’s technique of shooting them with high definition – 4K, 8K – video cameras) were transferred to the release prints by contact-printing the camera negative, thereby eliminating resolution loss that would occur if transferred by projecting through a lens, converting an old movie on film to 4K digital (or any digital format) requires projecting the camera negative or release print through a lens. The 4K releases do not say how the 4K transfer was made. All we can do is look at the results.
Superman, in 4K (2160p), is definitely sharper than HD (1080p). It also has HDR (High Dynamic Range), which brings out detail in highlights as well as shadows. HDR is, in my opinion, as valuable as the increase in resolution. It gives the image more visual “punch”.
To view a 4K movie, you need a 4K player, an HDMI 2.0 cable, and a 4K TV. There are 4K players that are really inexpensive, and I don’t know how good they are. You get what you pay for. I use an OPPO UDP-205 player and a Sony 75” UHD TV.
I am a huge fan of Superman in all forms, as I grew up with this hero, so having the 4K version of the 1978 film is a no-brainer for me. It’s a very good movie, having been nominated for several academy awards. I hope the sequels are also eventually made available in 4K.