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post #1 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 08:48 AM - Thread Starter
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attachment.php?attachmentid=117109&d=1219051006
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

94






Studio and Year: Paramount - 2007
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 143 Minutes
Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, English/French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Starring:Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Bernie Mac, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Rachael Taylor, Anthony Anderson, Jon Voight, John Turturro, Michael O'Neill, Kevin Dunn, Julie White, Amaury Nolasco, Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Mark Ryan, Jess Harnell, Robert Foxworth
Directed by: Michael Bay
Music by: Steve Jablonsky
Written by: Robert Orci & Alex Kurtzman
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 2, 2008







"More than meets the eye"



Film Synopsis:

From director Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg comes a thrilling battle between the heroic Autobots® and the evil Decepticons®. When their epic struggle comes to Earth, all that stands between the Decepticons® and ultimate power is a clue held by young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf). Unaware that he is mankind’s last chance for survival, Sam and Bumblebee, his robot disguised as a car, are in a heart-pounding race against an enemy unlike anything anyone has seen before.



My Take:

attachment.php?attachmentid=117104&d=1219050806

I was a teenager when Transformers were all the rage among young kids in the eighties. I honestly never once watched the cartoon but I can recall the theme pretty well. When this film was released last year I just didn’t have any interest in seeing it in the theater. I mean come on, a movie about Hasbro toys from the eighties? Well there was so much hype surrounding it after release and then its impending release on high definition HD DVD I figured I better get in on it. Well I am glad that I did. Let’s be honest this is not great cinema or award winning acting, but does it really need to be? This is an entertaining film that features cool special effects, great action, decent characters, and just the right amount of imagination to bring us all back to a time when we believed in things that were not possible. A prime example is during the battle on the freeway in chapter 19 when Optimus is battling the Decepticon and the little boy and his mother almost collide with them. The kid sees two giant toys rumbling in the middle of the freeway and his first reaction isn’t fear but is simply “Cool Mom!” Character development is good enough that we get a feel for the varying sets of individuals, which includes the alien robots (to a lesser degree), from each perspective. The main players, LaBeouf and Fox have good onscreen appeal and chemistry that works. The rest of the cast are divided up into groups who are working to deal with the alien robot threat. This is a big budget production that features solid casting and a director who is no stranger to action/adventure films. Like him or not Michael Bay knows how to make action flicks that deliver plenty of high octane. This film has some incredible action based sequences that are just so much fun to watch. The special effects are dazzling and include some of the best CGI that I have seen. For me this film is the kind that I like to revisit from time to time. It doesn‘t have a higher purpose or require strict attention to detail. All you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.







Parental Guide:

The rating is for intense sequences of sci-fi action, violence, brief sexual humor and language.






AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

Audio: 96



  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699



Video: 92


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Transformers comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 4.1 mbps.


attachment.php?attachmentid=117106&d=1219050829

Both the audio and video are relatively high bitrate encodings which translate positively to this presentation. When Transformers was released last year on HD DVD it was easily Paramount’s most ambitious home video release. Fans were somewhat baffled by Paramount’s decision to go with lossy Dolby Digital Plus audio rather than lossless Dolby TrueHD. The end result was quite impressive but many were still left wondering about the inherent potential in lossless’ high fidelity. The other issue was that many felt the low frequency effects channel in the mix was not reproducing bass that was consistent with the dynamic characteristics in the remainder of the soundtrack. I was and still am a member of that group. My feeling was never that the bass sounded thin but it didn’t have the weighty impact and dynamic presence to keep pace with the soundtrack’s explosive elements. When Paramount announced that Transformers was being released on Blu-ray with a TrueHD sound mix I looked forward to checking it out.

The mix is an aggressive one that utilizes the system to its full potential. Dynamic range is extensive as there are transient peaks that could be potentially threatening to some systems at reference levels. The audio bombards the senses with a plethora of hard hitting and detail rich sound effects. Surround activity is abundant with purposeful near field and broad atmospheric placement that creates a sound field that is immersive and engaging. Balance between the front and rear soundstages is spot on so that sounds that pass between the speakers going in either direction is done so in a seamless fashion. Steve Jablonsky’s music sounded elegant with succulent detail and comprehensive instrumentation. Low frequencies are rendered cleanly with authoritative depth, and room filling resonance that increased in intensity where appropriate. Here are a few of my favorite scenes for checking out the dynamic potential on this soundtrack: Chap 2 - The opening fade in, The EMP blast at the base. Chap 8 - The Skorponok Decepticon attack in the desert/village. Chap 9 - The attack by the Decepticon police vehicle. Chap 10 - The chase by the Decepticon police vehicle and battle with Bumble Bee. Chap - 19 The highway battle. Chap 21 - Take your pick.Dialogue was well articulated throughout and exhibited excellent tonal distinction. I would have preferred for its output to have been just a hair higher which would make dialogue a bit more prominent. This is an aurally stimulating sound design that is truly capable of creating a thrilling home theater experience.

The video presentation was on par with the audio and looked superb. Images exhibited high level detail, razor sharpness and resolute definition that brought out the lifelike textures captured by the camera. Dimensional perspective had an infinite appeal that was visually arresting at times. I never saw any softening or ill effects from mixing CGI content with real people or objects. Colors were deeply saturated with wide variable textures and eye catching quality that was accentuated by the video’s higher contrast. Whites were on the hot side but maintained good delineation so that details were visible during brightly lit scenes. Flesh tones were mildly affected by this, especially those with lighter complexions, but overall the balance was acceptable. There were a few exceptions where faces had a golden glow to them which was obvious but didn’t seem out of place. Blacks were rich, deep and dynamic which enhanced sequences containing mixed content that had both light and dark elements. Shadow detail was very good but not among the best that I have seen. Grain was visible in fine layers and looked excellent overall.

This is a reference quality audio/video presentation that can be used to demonstrate the potential of your home theater system.

attachment.php?attachmentid=117110&d=1219051006

I ran a few comparisons between the Blu-ray Disc and the HD DVD. Upon comparing the quality of the video I saw no discernible difference between the two. I compared the lossy Dolby Digital Plus and Lossless Dolby TrueHD sound tracks. After level matching I ran all of the aforementioned sequences. I powered up both players and cued up the beginning of each sequence. I watched them one at a time switching back and forth. There have been reports (two from writers whose opinions I respect) of a 6 to 10 decibel increase in volume on the TrueHD mix. I did not experience that in my evaluation/comparison. What I did notice was an improvement in low frequency reproduction. It seems as though the minor attenuation (for lack of a better word) of the bass present on the HD DVD is no longer present. The bass has better tactility and improved depth which can be felt not just in the room but within the body as well. The improvement here seems to be related to the deeper bass frequencies and is most appreciable in the scenes in the film that contain lower bass content. That is not strictly the case though. An example would be in chapter 18 where the cryogenic freezing apparatus where Megatron is being held has begun to fail. There is an alarm that begins to sound and the scene switches the control room. There is a low bass tone that accompanies that transition before the scene switches again. It was detectable on the HD DVD but on the Blu-ray Disc it could be felt as wave of punchy low bass energy. The beginning of chapter 2 (mentioned earlier) definitely had a more distinct and powerful low bass presence than on the HD DVD. I ran these scenes along with the others mentioned earlier in this review 3 times each and double checked to ensure that output levels were the same. I also ran these same scenes using the PS3 rather than bit streaming the audio from my Panasonic and Samsung players and the results were the same. I am satisfied that the Blu-ray version of Transformers does in fact offer an improvement in this area over the HD DVD. I want to be clear that the low frequency effects on the HD DVD are quite good and the difference here is not night and day but is certainly noticeable. As far as any appreciable differences in the overall sound quality I would say that if present they are minimal.



Bonus Features:

attachment.php?attachmentid=117103&d=1219050806

The bonus content is abundant and is all offered in high definition. The numerous featurette style documentaries and short segments offers viewers a 360 degree look at the production from concept to implementation to filming. You can go as deep or as shallow as you like. This is essentially the same content that was available on the HD DVD. I was unable to access the BD-Live features and kept getting an error when I tried. I tried several other BD-Live enabled discs that I had on hand and they worked just fine. I can only assume that the features have not yet been enabled or there is a sever issue. Either way I am sure that all will be well by release day. Enjoy !









Disc 1:


  • Commentary by Director Michael Bay

  • Transformers H.U.D.

  • BD-Live Access/Features


Disc 2:
  • Our World:

  1. The story sparks
  2. Human allies
  3. I fight giant robots
  4. Battleground

  • Their War:

  1. Rise of the robots
  2. Autobots roll out
  3. Decepticons strike
  4. Inside the All Spark
  5. Transformer Tech Inspector

  • More Than Meets The Eye

  1. From script to sand: The Skorponok desert attack
  2. Concepts
  3. 3 Trailers
attachment.php?attachmentid=117108&d=1219050900






Final Thoughts:



Transformers is an action packed adventure that appeals to viewers at various levels. It contains memorable characters, great action/special effects, and thanks to high definition Blu-ray disc, superlative audio/video quality and a host of special features that fans can spend hours enjoying. This two disc set has found a home in my collection and has been added to my list of recommended Blu-ray Discs.







attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
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post #2 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:20 AM
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Thanks Ralph for the thorough review. Been looking forward to this one for a long time.
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post #3 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:25 AM
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Great review! I'll probably stick with my HD-DVD copy since I don't have a sub(live in an apartment) and there doesn't appear to be any noticeable improvement in PQ on the BD.

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post #4 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:28 AM
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Quote:


As far as any appreciable differences in the overall sound quality I would say that if present they are minimal.

Exactly how I feel, Ralph. Once again, another fine review!
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post #5 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:30 AM
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Great review as always Ralph, I'm truly content, and at the moment don't feel the need to go out a purchase the blu ray version.
I'm one of those who didn't feel the bass was lacking when the initial release of the Hd version came out which at the time I was using an Onkyo 885 with JL sub.
Watching this movies several time in the theater, including an Imax presentation I felt the bass was on par, especially in the first base attack.

Thank you again for an amazing unbiased review and your efforts on bring us a real world look.

Bravo, I'm looking forward to any other future review especially the Godfather with the same excitement!


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post #6 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:34 AM
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I will probably get the BD in addition to the HD-DVD which I already have.
Werent there some who predicted that the increased capacity & bitrate on BD would blow the HD-DVD away, especially the PQ. Didnt Bay say something to this effect also???? As many said "time will/did tell". I guess the blow was just a mild breeze instead of a typhoon as predicted!
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post #7 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:54 AM
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So does the blu ray version have proper bass at the beginning with the shockwave?? There was a huge discussion about the hd dvd version lacking bass and was encoded wrong last year.
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post #8 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 09:58 AM
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Very, very interesting.......
I was close to purchasing a used copy of "Transformers" in HD DVD since it is considered by many to be a reference disc, but when news of its release on Blu-ray was announced I thought it best to wait to see if there would be any appreciable differences.
Well its good to know that my wait was not in vain (I do like my bass).

Interesting that the AVC encode showed no appreciable difference to VC-1 (since VC-1 is supposedly a more efficient encoding algorithm)...... also I've read that Paramount tried VC-1 but felt that MP4 looked best........ Who knows.
I'm just going to buy the Blu-ray disc now and enjoy.

Thanks for the review.

Reece
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post #9 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:00 AM
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Ralph,

Wouldn't turning up the sub level a bit when listening to the HD DVD in essence give the same affect?

Thanks,
Tom

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post #10 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goatse View Post

So does the blu ray version have proper bass at the beginning with the shockwave?? There was a huge discussion about the hd dvd version lacking bass and was encoded wrong last year.

Greetings,

There would be no way to determine if the bass was proper unless we knew what it was intended to sound like. The HD DVD had ample bass response during that scene. The Blu-ray improves upon that in my opinion.

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post #11 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:05 AM
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Great review!

My mom works for Sony, and she brought home a copy of "Starhawk BETA"
I quickly slipped it into my trusty PS3, and started playing.


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post #12 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Monahan View Post

Ralph,

Wouldn't turning up the sub level a bit when listening to the HD DVD in essence give the same affect?

Thanks,
Tom

Greetings,

Tom, the only problem with that would be that it would increase subwoofer output across the board and make it too prominent. The improvement I see is not so much in volume but is in depth/response.

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post #13 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nysteelo View Post

Interesting that the AVC encode showed no appreciable difference to VC-1 (since VC-1 is supposedly a more efficient encoding algorithm)...... also I've read that Paramount tried VC-1 but felt that MP4 looked best........ Who knows.

Where you can you find a disc that has a VC-1 encode of Transformers?

The HD-DVD was MPEG4 as well.

Ralph - there's a scene at the end where Shia and Megan are talking about 'aren't you glad you got in the car' or something like that. And some of Megans lines have this weird 'MP3 sound quality to them' did you notice that? I think Jon Voight's endind monologue does the same thing.

Those low bass differences were exactly what I was expecting in the difference between the TrueHD and DD+. The audio was strong to begin with, that would have to be the only place it could be improved.

Ridiculous codec tier sig gone. Still AVC/24bit lossless fanboy.

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post #14 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:28 AM
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Ralph

I haven't made a point of reading your reviews before now but will be doing so from now on. I actually still own an EP30 (UK) but sold off my 40+ HD DVDs, all apart from my favourite disc....yup, Transformers.

I've not even seen the Blu-Ray yet, but yours sounds like an honest appraisal of what I would have expected to find, having seen the film many times on HD DVD ie practically identical video, and very little difference in audio too.

During the war I was pro HD DVD and felt that any compromises necessary due to storage and bandwidth limitations, such as DD+ on Transformers, if handled with care should make next to zero difference to the end product.

Since the end of the war I've embraced Blu-Ray fully (I already had many discs being a PS3 owner) and must admit that the fact that the format can handle high bitrate encodes with 24bit lossless, all without breaking sweat, is actually a real attraction. I look forward to eventually getting this on Blu-Ray.

Also, a fine appraisal of the film itself. Too many people feel the need to jump in where this film is concerned and start calling it garbage. For me, it was a fairly original and fast paced blockbuster, that just happened to have incredible sound design and unquestionably the greatest special effects to date. Owning a home format that can reproduce this in a superior fashion to most commercial movie theatres is a real boon.....long live Blu-Ray!!
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post #15 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Greetings,

Quote:


Ralph - there's a scene at the end where Shia and Megan are talking about 'aren't you glad you got in the car' or something like that. And some of Megans lines have this weird 'MP3 sound quality to them' did you notice that? I think Jon Voight's endind monologue does the same thing.

SR, I didn't notice that but will go back and double check.

Quote:


Owning a home format that can reproduce this in a superior fashion to most commercial movie theatres is a real boon.....long live Blu-Ray!!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Stuart and I couldn't agree more..


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post #16 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 11:11 AM
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A very useful review, thanks. I recorded the movie from HBO over the weekend but have not yet watched it. Now, thanks to Ralph's review, I am looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately, HBO crops all 2.35:1 films to 16:9 but I'll live with that as this seems to be an entertaining film that looks good, too.
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post #17 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 11:31 AM
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Thanks Ralph,

great review if I didn't already own the HD-DVD (Christmas gift from my Grandmother) I would buy the Blu-ray version but I can't see getting it just for the different bass levels you described.

though I have an HD-DVD player (360 add-on is why) I have to admit I am so happy I got PS3, between HD and BR I can tell a difference and like stuart said "long live blu-ray"
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post #18 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 11:36 AM
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I had problems with the BD-LIVE features as well. Funny that highdefdigest didn't. Makes me seriously question their validity.

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post #19 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:05 PM
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Ralph... thanks for the review...

It look forward to checking this disc out... One thing I'll be curious about is the appearent increase in LFE.... the .1 channel is the one that should be equal between lossy and lossless codecs regardless of the bitrate of the lossy encode... it is the one part of the track that takes almost no spece, is very easy to encode due to it's limited frequency response, and is not "lumped" in with the other channels in the encoder for percuptual analysis...

Can't wait to hear it... thanks again.
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post #20 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post

Ralph... thanks for the review...

It look forward to checking this disc out... One thing I'll be curious about is the appearent increase in LFE.... the .1 channel is the one that should be equal between lossy and lossless codecs regardless of the bitrate of the lossy encode... it is the one part of the track that takes almost no spece, is very easy to encode due to it's limited frequency response, and is not "lumped" in with the other channels in the encoder for percuptual analysis...

Can't wait to hear it... thanks again.

Greetings,

Thanks FM. I respect your opinion and look forward to your impressions.

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post #21 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qz3fwd View Post

I will probably get the BD in addition to the HD-DVD which I already have.
Werent there some who predicted that the increased capacity & bitrate on BD would blow the HD-DVD away, especially the PQ. Didnt Bay say something to this effect also???? As many said "time will/did tell". I guess the blow was just a mild breeze instead of a typhoon as predicted!

its the same video encode is it not, so i guess we wont know.

Dustin
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post #22 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:46 PM
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been waiting for this, great review, thank you!
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post #23 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:48 PM
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It's not the same video encode...the peaks are too high for HD DVD.

Ralph,

I did some double checking on the volume and it's closer to 4-6dB difference...the strange thing is that it fluctuates throughout the movie, depending on the scene. I'm wondering if the same audio master was used for DD+ and TrueHD or if one audio master was used for the HD DVD and another for the BD and that's the difference in sound that we are hearing. Both of these discs were prepared in July of last year for the October release (or so I've been told by a reliable source).

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post #24 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gandley View Post

its the same video encode is it not, so i guess we wont know.

This encode is optimized for BD bitrates, supposedly supervised by Bay himself, so I guess we do know...

Quote:
Originally Posted by qz3fwd View Post

I guess the blow was just a mild breeze instead of a typhoon as predicted!

I think that "mild breeze" is just the air escaping from between Mr. Bay's ears as his head deflates...

Peace... Vader
 

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One sub to rumble them all. One sub to shake them. One sub to humble them all. And in the darkness break them....

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post #25 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:05 PM
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As a follow-up, chapter 2 is a good point to test the sound levels. When the marines are in the chopper, I used their dialog as a reference point. On the BD, it peaked at +2 on my RS SPL meter, on the HD DVD, it peaked at -2. On chapter three, when Sam is speaking to the class, it peaked at +3 (actually..in between 2 and 4) on the BD, and on the HD DVD, it peaked at -3 (between 2 and 4...there is no "3" on the meter). When the bass kicks in, the BD is much stronger for sure, but the HD DVD isn't lacking in bass. I think it is pure volume level...Just my $.02.

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post #26 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Vaughn View Post

As a follow-up, chapter 2 is a good point to test the sound levels. When the marines are in the chopper, I used their dialog as a reference point. On the BD, it peaked at +2 on my RS SPL meter, on the HD DVD, it peaked at -2. On chapter three, when Sam is speaking to the class, it peaked at +3 (actually..in between 2 and 4) on the BD, and on the HD DVD, it peaked at -3 (between 2 and 4...there is no "3" on the meter). When the bass kicks in, the BD is much stronger for sure, but the HD DVD isn't lacking in bass. I think it is pure volume level...Just my $.02.

Greetings,

Thanks for your input Dave.. Talk to you later about this.

Cheers,

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post #27 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vader424242 View Post

This encode is optimized for BD bitrates, supposedly supervised by Bay himself, so I guess we do know...


Ah thats cool. the Hidef digest review kinda says its the same encode hence my confussion.

finally can replace my HDDVD version which i already sold. love this popcorn movie.

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post #28 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowrage View Post

Where you can you find a disc that has a VC-1 encode of Transformers?

The HD-DVD was MPEG4 as well.

Your right. I completely glossed over that in the review.
I don't know what made me naturally assume that the HD-DVD disc was VC-1.
I guess I shouldn't have been comparing a bunch of VC-1 encoded HD-DVD images before posting.

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post #29 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:53 PM
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I thought the HD DVD was VC-1. The Toshiba A35 (and other) firmware upgrade has a bug that shows up when doing 24fps on VC-1 titles, like Transformers. At least I think it's VC-1. Anyway, whatever Transformers is, it produces the bug with the newer firmware in 24fps, which is why a lot of people did not upgrade.
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post #30 of 152 Old 08-18-2008, 01:55 PM
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This disc seems to prove that there is a limit to what increasing bitrate can do to picture quality since no reviews I have seen indicate any noticiable differences in video quality despite the BR having a higher bitrate.
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