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Is Blu-Ray Really an Improvement?

 
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Jack Sommersby
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:23 pm    Post subject: Is Blu-Ray Really an Improvement? Reply with quote

I spend a lot of time reading DVD reviews from numerous sites, and recently I've been noticing a lot of cases where the Blu-Ray disc's visual quality is either the same as non-Blu-Ray or inferior. For such a hyped product, you'd think it'd be bettering its competition a lot more than it actually does.

Thoughts?
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Rob Gonsalves
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends. Some Blu-ray transfers (judging by the screenshots in reviews) look unnaturally vivid and sharp. I was looking at one of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies on an HD tv in Best Buy and it didn't look like a movie — it looked disconcertingly real, like I was looking in a window watching this shit actually happen. Some people dig that; I like a movie to look like a movie.

Other transfers, though, can take an older movie and really shine it like a penny, to the point where you see details that probably were never noticeable before even in theaters. The best example is probably Life of Brian; the Criterion transfer looks drab and muddy, the Sony Blu-ray presents a film that looks like it was filmed this year. Now, I know a movie like Life of Brian might lose its scrappy charm for some fans when cleaned up, but I doubt it was meant to look that dingy. In this case, the Blu-ray is a revelation.

And then there's the controversy surrounding various director-approved transfers. There was a lot of bitching about the overly dark new transfer of Bram Stoker's Dracula, apparently approved by Coppola (which makes one wary of the upcoming "Coppola editions" of the Godfather flicks) — enough so that I bypassed the Blu-ray and stayed with my old Superbit DVD, which offers more detail, along with the original-font subtitles (in the scenes when Romanian is spoken) instead of the generic new font they inexplicably went with for the new disc. Yes, Bram Stoker's Dracula is supposed to be dark, but not to the extent of obscuring things we're supposed to see.

Now, if Coppola genuinely approved of this, so be it, but George Lucas also approved of Greedo shooting first — to what extent do we bend over and take it if a director significantly messes with a film many people loved the way it was?
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Jack Sommersby
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess the best way to look at it is that it's not going to be like VHS to DVD. Still, I have no urge to upgrade, especially since I watch every DVD on my widescreen laptop and get spectacular visual clarity. I mostly go by the reviews at Film Freak Central because I think Bill Chambers is king of the home-video review, with Doug Pratt a close second.
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JaySeaver
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

See, I found DVD to Blu-ray (well, HD DVD initially, but they were basically the same) a much bigger improvement than going from VHS to DVD. Technically, that's the case for everyone - VHS was 640ishx240, DVD about 720x480 with better color and sound, BD 1920x1080 with better color and sound still. One thing that absolutely must be kept in mind when considering upgrading is that the better your system, the bigger the improvement you'll see. For a laptop with headphones, the perceived jump in quality may not be that high. If you've got a 1080p television and surround sound, it's a big deal.

I think a lot of the discussion in reviews comes down to just how much BD can do, since there isn't a general consensus yet as to how a movie in that format should look. In many cases, the format is high resolution enough to actually show film grain, which some love and some think makes it look inferior to the DVD. Some people want everything to look like the Discovery Channel documentaries used to demo HDTVs in the store. I will say that I, personally, have yet to be disappointed with an HD DVD or Blu-ray disc on my rig to the point where I thought I should have just went for the DVD.
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Rob Gonsalves
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I should also state for the record that:

(A) At this point I only own two Blu-ray discs (Across the Universe and 2001, with the other Kubricks to follow gradually, because I will buy a bag of dog shit if it's a Kubrick bag) and do not own an HD tv (yet);

(B) With the majority of my DVD collection, I'll be fine with watching them nicely upconverted on my PS3, and am in no hurry to upgrade. I mean, you want 2001 in HD; you don't necessarily want My Dinner with Andre.

I'll be curious to see what happens when Criterion throws their hat into the Blu-ray ring with their upcoming titles. God knows a lot of their early transfers, while decent at the time in terms of "Boy, this beats the shit out of that old pan-and-scan VHS," now pale in comparison to later transfers from other companies (cf. the Life of Brian comparison linked above) and could use a bit more shine.
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Rob Gonsalves
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JaySeaver wrote:
Some people want everything to look like the Discovery Channel documentaries used to demo HDTVs in the store.


See, that was the problem I had with POTC playing as a demo. Were the later POTC flicks shot on HD cameras? I imagine if a movie was shot in HD, it's going to have that Whales: Fat, Handless Creatures of the Deep look to it on an HD set-up.
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JaySeaver
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't think the POTC movies were shot digitally, although there's so much CGI in the latter two that they might as well have been. I don't know if I've got a great disc in my library for comparison. I saw The Bank Job in a digital theater, so I don't really know what it looks like on film, for instance, and I'm not spending money on Superman Returns. It'll be interesting to see what The Weinstein Company does with Grindhouse; they removed the crappification effects for DVD, if I remember correctly.

Also, the Best Buy may turn the sharpness way up on their floor models, and the transfer on demo disk clips may be different from the actual movie (although I've heard the first POTC is something of a problem transfer). The Colorful Landscapes with Slow Pans look probably sells TVs better than expecting salespeople to explain film grain to the customer.
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Jason Whyte
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

All three Pirates films were shot in Super 35. When I've seen the Blu Ray discs projected at places like Future Shop and London Drugs, the demo disc almost looks like it is from a PAL source; the image has an unnatural look to it, especially on an image pan. I don't know why that is, really, but I have also seen some properly projected 1080p Blu Ray transfers and they are stunning beyond belief.

Fellow Jay, The Bank Job was shot in HD, so you saw a digital to JPEG2k transfer, which should look quite interesting. I watched a bit of the DVD recently and it does have a trace of video look to it. And all of the stylistic choices and dirt was kept on the Grindhouse DVD releases; the only change was Planet Terror's aspect ratio to 1.85:1.

I agree with Rob; it really depends on title to title and the studios putting them out, just like all other home video formats. It's always good to look over reviews and screen shots (dvdbeaver.com, people!) and especially if the title is on a proper, dual layered BD-50.
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JaySeaver
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2008 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I knew The Bank Job was HD, in part because it had a rather digital-video look to it when I saw it in the theater so I checked the credits at the end. I haven't popped the BD in to get an idea of how much it looks like video versus film. I've kind of got no idea what it's supposed to look like, if you get my meaning - maybe it's supposed to be that slick.

As I said, I think a big issue with Blu-ray is that people don't realize/agree on/know how a given movie is "supposed" to look. Is grain an integral part of the picture or a technological limitation to be cleaned up the same way audio is? Hell, it can be a real pain in the neck convincing people that pre-1980 films will benefit from HD treatment, as most have only seen these movies on TV/video and that's how they are "supposed" to look in their heads. If I'm at home, I can whip out the Adventures of Robin Hood HD DVD and correct that belief quickly, but sometimes I'm not sure that there right answers.
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kira123



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blue Ray is newer but not be advanced in every side.

http://www.buydvdezy.com
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Kand El
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, you can't even sound informed or intelligent whilst hocking your own product. No T-shirt for you whore.
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CharlesTatum



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kira123 wrote:
Blue Ray is newer but not be advanced in every side.


Ironically, a disc does not have any sides!
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Rob Gonsalves
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 03, 2009 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My Klimt DVD does.
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But I wish the public could, in the midst of its pleasures, see how blatantly it is being spoon-fed, and ask for slightly better dreams.

- Iris Barry, Let's Go to the Movies, 1926
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Jack Sommersby
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 20, 2009 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another example, from DVD Verdict's today's review of Blu-ray of Bruce Almighty":

You'd expect that with its debut on Blu-ray, consumers would be treated to a new hi-def transfer of Bruce Almighty and an assortment of fresh HD features, but you'd be wrong. Apparently Universal is just fine with rehashing content from format to format without any consideration of quality in either the a/v presentation or the extra features. If this were a standard DVD presentation, I'd easily be gushing over how clear and unblemished the image is here, but considering this is the debut of the film on Blu-ray, it's pretty weak…the color palette is washed out and there's very little depth or sharpness to the image. The audio presentation is above average and nicely balanced while also managing to be almost totally unmemorable.
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