Gravity: iTunes versus Vudu versus Blu-ray - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 141 Old 03-03-2014, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, just won seven Oscars, including the coveted Best Director award for Alfonso Cuarón. The movie did especially well when it came to awards for technical achievements, including Best Visual Effects, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Cinematography. There's no doubt about it—Gravity is a technical tour de force that deserves a proper viewing, and it rewards any effort to get as close as possible to what the director intended. Now that Gravity is available on Blu-ray as well iTunes HD and Vudu HDX, I figured this is a perfect title to compare the three formats.

 

Let's get this out of the way up front: Gravity is one of the best movies to see in 3D. While viewing it in 3D, I experienced a sensation of floating in space that I did not get from the 2D version. Unfortunately for fans of 3D, iTunes HD and Vudu HDX do not offer that viewing option for Gravity. This is a terrible omission, considering how much 3D improves the viewing experience. Therefore, I recommend that you watch Gravity in 3D on Blu-ray if at all possible. It's still a great movie in 2D, but in 3D, it is an elevated experience.

 

Even if you don't have a 3D display, I strongly recommend watching Gravity on Blu-ray. I've compared a number of movies in this manner; sometimes the online-delivery formats come very close to Blu-ray, other times they don't come close. Gravity is one of those movies with a significant quality gap between Blu-ray and the cloud formats. With Blu-ray, there was a lot more detail in just about every scene—it simply outclassed both iTunes HD and Vudu HDX.

 

It's not just the visual aspect of Gravity that was superior—Blu-ray also beat both iTunes HD and Vudu HDX in the audio department. Gravity won the Oscar for Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Score. Furthermore, Ralph Potts awarded it a perfect score of 100 for sound quality in his Blu-ray review. Clearly, Gravity is a movie that you want to hear at its best.

 

Played from Blu-ray, the bass was more intense, highs were crisper, and every sound effect was more distinct. This is not a huge surprise, considering how much more bandwidth is available on Blu-ray for audio versus movies in the cloud. However, since Gravity makes such good use of sound, the difference between Blu-ray and online delivery is more obvious than usual.

 

It's no great revelation that Blu-ray beats iTunes and Vudu for both sound and video quality. In past comparisons, Blu-ray beat the cloud formats every time, but the margin of victory varied from one release to another. With Gravity, there is absolutely no contest if you include 3D in the mix—Blu-ray reigns supreme. However, even when viewing Gravity in 2D, there is a significant loss of quality with iTunes HD or Vudu HDX when compared to Blu-ray. Check out the following examples to see the differences between the formats.

 


 

00:06:29 

 

Check out the reflections in the helmet glass, that's where Blu-ray stands out

 

Artificially brightened in Photoshop


 

00:47:30

 

Blu-ray preserves more detail in the spaghetti-like tangle of cables

 

Artificially brightened in Photoshop

 


 

01:19:39

 

Subtle gradations pose a challenge that only Blu-ray can meet—Vudu and iTunes look flat

 


 

00:17:18

 

With Blu-ray you see more stars, more clouds, more facial features

 

Artificially brightened (in Photoshop) to bring out shadow artifacts

 


 

00:01:59

 

Blu-ray has the most detail, whereas Vudu HDX exhibits incorrect colors

 


 

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post #2 of 141 Old 03-03-2014, 07:44 PM
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Looks like Blu Ray is sharper through and through. I recently just learned about Blu Ray, this one title I will have to invest in. Ive actually never even watched a Blu Ray. I told the GF, if its not a Blu Ray from now on, I don't want it.:o

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post #3 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 11:41 AM
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It would be nice to see how 4k would fit it.
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post #4 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 11:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoPro700 View Post

Looks like Blu Ray is sharper through and through. I recently just learned about Blu Ray, this one title I will have to invest in. Ive actually never even watched a Blu Ray. I told the GF, if its not a Blu Ray from now on, I don't want it.redface.gif


What?????? And you were allowed to join AVS?wink.gif

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post #5 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoPro700 View Post
 

Looks like Blu Ray is sharper through and through. I recently just learned about Blu Ray, this one title I will have to invest in. Ive actually never even watched a Blu Ray. I told the GF, if its not a Blu Ray from now on, I don't want it.:o

WOW! I am not trying to be rude at all, but that really surprises me. I wonder why its been so hidden from you for so long. Yeah, once you go Blu ray, you never go back. I never really thought there would be a day where I thought DVD would look bad. That day came about 5 years ago. 

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post #6 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 12:59 PM
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Yea, blu's been pretty mainstream and affordable for several years now. I want to choke all the ignoramuses I know who own big flat screens and only buy dvd's because they swear there's no difference.
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post #7 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:04 PM
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Greetings,

Thanks for a thorough and informative comparative Mark! smile.gif


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post #8 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BNestico View Post

Yea, blu's been pretty mainstream and affordable for several years now. I want to choke all the ignoramuses I know who own big flat screens and only buy dvd's because they swear there's no difference.

 

I guess that I can concede that some people really cannot hear the difference in different sound quality, but the difference between BRD and DVD is monumental. You must be half blind to not see it. 

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post #9 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:06 PM
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I agree with you 100% about the 3D BD presentation Mark.

A friend recently asked me if I thought he should buy the Gravity BD. He has a fairly standard ~46" 1080P LCD display, no 3D, and no surround sound of any sort. I said yes, as I really believe that it's a good movie even if you can't experience all it has to offer, but there is no question that the A/V quality it absolutely outstanding in this BD release. It makes it sound like I have additional speakers that I don't have, for me a sure mark of excellent audio mixing and production. The detail of the panning Earth shots, spacecraft, stars, it's really amazing stuff. With all that said, the 3D is absolutely among the best I've ever seen, in that it tells the story so well and really makes you feel like you are out there stranded in space right along with the characters. If every 3D presentation was like this, I think 3D would be in a different state of acceptance than it currently is.

I haven't watched the 2D version of it yet, but I've watched the 3D version twice within a week. Virtually unheard of for me, I normally watch a movie on release day and it's at least a few months before I watch it again.

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post #10 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:48 PM
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I've been noticing that typically a few months (sometimes a year) after release the price of the blu-ray drops to below the iTunes or Vudu price. I've been drifting into the pattern of just waiting for the price drop and buying the blu-ray, which often comes with an UV digital copy anyway. In the rare occasions I succumb to impatience I may rent the movie once earlier on iTunes for a movie night with friends/family wink.gif
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post #11 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Blaque Flag View Post

I guess that I can concede that some people really cannot hear the difference in different sound quality, but the difference between BRD and DVD is monumental. You must be half blind to not see it. 

That would depend on if you still have a CRT or not, I guess eek.gif
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post #12 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 01:59 PM
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Well, there is that I guess. Ha ha, my in-laws were still CRT a couple years back. 

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post #13 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 02:02 PM
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Regarding sound, I've read enough about PCM vs. bitstream and decided to set my Sony BDP-S590 to bitstream to allow the Yamaha RX-V473 receiver to decode. Agreed? The AVR reads out DTS Master, DD, etc.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I'm just making sure that the director held true to "sound not carrying in space" when the shuttle is being ripped to shreds?.?.? Though it may not be accurate, I would have loved some more sound effects there. It did create a realistic & eerie atmosphere, but I'd like to hear it being ripped apart through my Energy Take Classic 5.1.

Unfortunately, I've got 2 kids under 6 years old upstairs so I can't let the sound loose but so much.

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post #14 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BNestico View Post

Yea, blu's been pretty mainstream and affordable for several years now. I want to choke all the ignoramuses I know who own big flat screens and only buy dvd's because they swear there's no difference.

Our AV Production Specialist insists that Blu-Ray players cannot play DVDs, that images from VGA connections to PCs are sharper than HDMI, and that a VGA projector is sufficient for our 200-seat auditorium. He doesn't even own a TV.
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Maybe it's me but iTunes here looks impressive. My monitor is not calibrated here but I can barely tell the difference. Older posts on these three comparisons I would be able to identify a noticeable variation between the mediums.
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post #16 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 02:44 PM
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Thanks much for doing these comparisons. I always find them interesting and appreciate the nuances and differences between the output offerings. Question - Any major differences when there is a high action scene in blurring/sharpness? It seems that I do notice in some films quite a difference in very high action scenes on various movies between Blu Ray, Netflix streaming and Vudu. Films like Gravity that are heavily effects dependent seem like an interesting topic unto itself for the differences of "action" or high motion scenes.
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post #17 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Rudy1 View Post


Our AV Production Specialist insists that Blu-Ray players cannot play DVDs, that images from VGA connections to PCs are sharper than HDMI, and that a VGA projector is sufficient for our 200-seat auditorium. He doesn't even own a TV.

I'll do his job twice as well for half as much. 

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post #18 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:03 PM
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Does the bluray 3d version include a non 3d version as well? I have a 3d TV but have never purchased a 3d DB. Gravity is a movie that I would like to watch again in 3D.
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Originally Posted by NUPE009 View Post

Does the bluray 3d version include a non 3d version as well? I have a 3d TV but have never purchased a 3d DB. Gravity is a movie that I would like to watch again in 3D.
I bought the 3D version, and there is also a separate 2D disc included, that also has all the extras on it.

This film is the first film I have ever watched, and then sat and watched virtually the entire set of extras. As an artist, the whole process was fantastic to watch.
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post #20 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:09 PM
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Thanks so much for the nice comparison!

This is a bit off-topic but I'd like to see this movie in the best possible way in a theater. In my area there are several types of IMAX I believe. Once I saw an IMAX movie on a dome like the type you use to see star shows. Looking on wikipedia I recognized it as "Omnimax" but now I see that was renamed IMAX Dome. There is also IMAX 3D and IMAX HD. Anybody out there know about these things? What would be the best way to see Gravity among these??

Thanks! Pixelswim
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I think the bigger difference is the compression artifacts in fast, dynamic action shots. Compression schemes do OK when the frame-to-frame changes are more limited. Get a flock of thousands of birds, a debris-filled explosion, or a frame full of dynamically moving and expanding space debris, and compression artifacts become SO obvious. This is always when I cringe watching streaming content. Slow-paced dramas are typically fine on streaming, or not worth the higher price of blu. But any movie with dynamic action, such as The Avengers, the new Superman, Transformers and Gravity, to name a few, are always a blu-ray purchase. And 3D, which I love, is always blu. And these are artifacts that can't really be compared with a pause and photo of the screen unfortunately. Good comparison images! Thanks.
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post #22 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Espnetboy3 View Post

Maybe it's me but iTunes here looks impressive. My monitor is not calibrated here but I can barely tell the difference. Older posts on these three comparisons I would be able to identify a noticeable variation between the mediums.
I agree. To me this is more a contest of iTunes and Blu-ray, as Vudu is very noticeably inferior to the two. It was hard to spot the difference between iTunes and BD in some of the screenshots. I could always see it after a while but it wasn't always very obvious.
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post #23 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:18 PM
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I picked up Gravity 3D and yes, I agree it's stunning. However, as good as the cinematography was, the fact the the 3D was not natively shot did soften the experience for me. As a conversion, it was breathtaking and I don't know if it would have been possible to shoot it in true stereoscopic 3D but the outward depth was missing. However, it was certainly very nice to look at and I'd never want to see it in 2D since it was so well done.

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It's quite amusing seeing this comparison actually, not because it is funny, but because of a recent discussion I had. I had a debate with a representative from Sainsbury's here in the UK. They have stopped selling Blu Rays online, and in their reply to my questioning why, they said this:-

"The titles available on the website will be streamed or available up to full HD 1080p resolution which means that customers can enjoy the same high quality standard that they would see on a Blu-Ray or DVD."

If you look on their website, the one thing they don't disclose, is the specifications of their streaming service. When I questioned them on this, they decided not to provide an answer. If iTunes or Vudu can't manage to match the quality of a Blu Ray, I can't see any way at all, that a supermarket chain is going to have the technology to do so. If deficiencies are visible at this size (i.e. PC monitor size), viewing them on a 95" (or bigger) screen, is going to make it pretty bad to watch.

I'll stick with Blu Rays, even if they are more expensive... quality costs, I think any serious movie watcher already appreciates that.
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post #25 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:29 PM
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And then there are those who buy a Blu-ray player because they heard it's the best quality, and hook it up with composite cables to a 480 TV.
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And then there are those who buy a Blu-ray player because they heard it's the best quality, and hook it up with composite cables to a 480 TV.
Thank god they didn't fit RF outputs on them. biggrin.gif
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Originally Posted by LeeC22 View Post

It's quite amusing seeing this comparison actually, not because it is funny, but because of a recent discussion I had. I had a debate with a representative from Sainsbury's here in the UK. They have stopped selling Blu Rays online, and in their reply to my questioning why, they said this:-

"The titles available on the website will be streamed or available up to full HD 1080p resolution which means that customers can enjoy the same high quality standard that they would see on a Blu-Ray or DVD."

If you look on their website, the one thing they don't disclose, is the specifications of their streaming service. When I questioned them on this, they decided not to provide an answer. If iTunes or Vudu can't manage to match the quality of a Blu Ray, I can't see any way at all, that a supermarket chain is going to have the technology to do so. If deficiencies are visible at this size (i.e. PC monitor size), viewing them on a 95" (or bigger) screen, is going to make it pretty bad to watch.

I'll stick with Blu Rays, even if they are more expensive... quality costs, I think any serious movie watcher already appreciates that.

Sounds like one brick & mortar retailer that deserves to be buried by Amazon.co.uk. tongue.gif
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post #28 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:35 PM
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Thanks for the post and information on this! I like physical media it will be interesting where 4K takes us, as if one doesn't have stealer download speeds I can't see 4K doing well, unless they come up with another physical format. Lets face it, it creates more jobs for the most part, hard drives fail etc.. I am downloading less now and expanding my Blu-Ray library and this is one of the reasons why. Problem is the masses could care less and would rather push a button and watch a movie on their computer screen or iPad. lol There trying to do the same thing they did with audio, water it down make it more convenient and take away the quality in the process! Why so they have more control over it! wink.gif Steve, never saw it in 3D, yet but some friends of mine did see it via Imax 3D and a few got nauseous. eek.gif
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post #29 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:41 PM
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I'll give the Gravity BluRay a try!! I'm not sure how good it'll look scaled to my 1440p monitor frown.gif I'm sure it'd scale better to my 4k display but the colour quality just doesn't compare.

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post #30 of 141 Old 03-04-2014, 03:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garman View Post

Thanks for the post and information on this! I like physical media it will be interesting where 4K takes us, as if one doesn't have stealer download speeds I can't see 4K doing well, unless they come up with another physical format. Lets face it, it creates more jobs for the most part, hard drives fail etc.. I am downloading less now and expanding my Blu-Ray library and this is one of the reasons why. Problem is the masses could care less and would rather push a button and watch a movie on their computer screen or iPad. lol There trying to do the same thing they did with audio, water it down make it more convenient and take away the quality in the process! Why so they have more control over it! wink.gif Steve, never saw it in 3D, yet but some friends of mine did see it via Imax 3D and a few got nauseous. eek.gif
I think what they rely on, is average Joe public looks at the back of a Blu Ray case, and sees 1080p. They then look on these streaming services, and see 1080p, so they assume they are identical. If they never see a comparison, they'll never realise there's a difference.

I watched it in 3D, and the biggest thing I found, was I could feel myself tensing when they were about to smash into things... very convincing sensation of high speed.
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