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Impressions of the WSR DTheater Festival  

post #1 of 163
Thread Starter 
Well, it is June 8. I know that some AVS forum people were planning on attending the WSR DTheater festival so lets hear what you thought.
post #2 of 163
Now what I really want to hear is if these D-theater tapes in front of all these corp big wigs had any glitches in the video or audio. If so, since I hear the JVC japan person is there, I sure hope they put there feet to the fire and get an answer!!!

Dave "The half full guy" ;)

post #3 of 163
I'm with you Dave, I'm really curious as to how those tapes played. I just got back tonight and decided to make myself miserable. I played the second half of the demo tape and counted 22 video glitches. It's like a cancer in the way it spreads. I can't wait for Monday (probably the first time I've ever looked forward to a Monday!) to see if this tape does the same thing on another JVC.

Dave, here's another thought. If I get the same results on another JVC deck, is it STILL possible that my deck is somehow causing these glitches by stressing the tape in some way??
post #4 of 163
Ken, you are starting to want me to watch my demo tape all the way through. Hye, if you send me yours, I could try it on the 3 decks I have and see what happens if you want some more data.

post #5 of 163
Here are my initial impressions.

First, I noticed not 1 breakup of video at all in any of the footage we watched. This included about 15 minutes for each film (T-2, X-Men, Independence Day, Galaxy Force, U-571). I did notice an occasional audio glitch (sounded like a 'skip' rather than a couple second drop out) on T-2 and Independence Day.

Joe Kane also was showing Digital Video Essentials (both a 720p and 1080p version will be available) and the JVC could "lock in" to the video. Had to be reset by playing another D-VHS tape first. And, the Digital Video Essentials had a lot of edge enhancement. Also, during pans, the video was a little "stuttery" like pans on DVDs using a HTPC are. If you were looking for it, you noticed it. Otherwise, not very noticeable, but was present.

The prefaced each D-VHS clip with interlaced DVD upconverted to 840p (all footage shown on their 'reference' 9" CRTs which appeared to have some burn in). The differences were noticeable, but not "night and day" as you would think. In fact, most participants in my session liked the DVD version of Independence Day over D-Theater citing that the D-Theater was softer and paler in comparison. The differences would have been substantially different if they didn't scale DVD up so close to 1080i I think.

U571 was really sharp and detailed, T-2 was next but not quite as sharp and rich as U-571. Independence Day and Galaxy Force (as day went on, clips looked less and less stunning) were a bit on the soft side. X-Men was as good as U-571.

Also shown was last nights "Tonight Show" which was recorded on the JVC using Samsungs new set-top box with IEEE-1394. Quality was excellent, and this (and Joe Kanes tape) were shown on a double stack of Runco VX-3s. I think they should have showed all the demos or a lot of them on this set up. The seating (someone else have an opinion) was cramped, tight, uncomfortable (metal chairs for most) and you had to strain to see the 78" screen of the CRT unit, while the screen for the VX-3s appeared to be at least 120".

T-2 was the only tape you could take home that day (although X-Men was given out to someone, but not available to take home and watch). Joe Kane's tape will be D-Theater only (piracy was his concern). We viewed the 720p version because the 1080p version isn't supported yet on the JVC (firmware update).

A nice event, nice people, and the WSR staff was very friendly and gracious (despite the impresion they are snobs) and I would like to hang with them again. Their Holosonic theater is great for picking apart the technical aspects of review pieces (video/audio) but is not a theater I'd want to watch a movie in.
post #6 of 163
Oh in case it wasn't clear in my write-up, I wasn't blown away that I ran right out and bought a U.S. JVC deck. Pictures looked good, but they didn't "blow me away" like the demo tape JVC ships with their unit. Another member will bring over his U.S. unit and T-2 next week and we'll look at it on my system and form another opinion.

Nice, but I don't feel the need to run out and get D-Theater like I thought I would.
post #7 of 163
Thanks for the details. Concerning Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials in 1080P, are you indicating that a new FW revision is required to play this tape? It sure would have been nice if JVC would have engineered a comm port on the 30K so field FW upgrades could be performed.
post #8 of 163
Originally posted by bwiklem
Pictures looked good, but they didn't "blow me away" like the demo tape JVC ships with their unit. Another member will bring over his U.S. unit and T-2 next week and we'll look at it on my system and form another opinion.
Thanks for the first comments. :-)

They didn't show the demo tape? So it might have been the display device which didn't show all the details. IMO with the small screen they used even a 9'' CRT can't resolve 1920X1080.

Do I understand You correctly that the Runco devices had better picture quality than the CRT? And that you feel that the movie tapes would have looked better on the Runco?

I'm looking forward for your private shootout. :-)

Did the representatives say a bit more about the roadmap for releasing other titles? 'Later this year' could mean 31st of December.

Did JVC mention the release of a new D-Theater unit, maybe an upgraded 35000er?

Thank's again.
post #9 of 163
Also shown was last nights "Tonight Show" which was
recorded on the JVC using Samsungs new set-top box with
That's what I like to hear, 1394 compatibilty success

post #10 of 163
Originally posted by bwiklem
In fact, most participants in my session liked the DVD version of Independence Day over D-Theater citing that the D-Theater was softer and paler in comparison. The differences would have been substantially different if they didn't scale DVD up so close to 1080i I think.

That's a bit concerning. I'm trying to understand how the DVD could have appeared sharper than the D-Theater version under almost any circumstances. Even a beautifully scaled up DVD shouldn't look sharper than it's D-Theater equivilent. At least I wouldn't think so. Do you think that WSR was over-hyping the differences with their reviews? Certainly the demo tape that comes with the JVC shows what D-Theater is capable of, and that's quite alot (video glitches aside).
post #11 of 163
The main reason that the DVD version even looked close to the D-Theater was because they were upconverting the DVD to 840p, as Brian said. I did notice quite a difference between two. I though the D-Theater version of ID4 was much better that the DVD but I was not "blown away" either.

WRT the display devices. The Runcos were a set of stacked VX-1000C's. They were brighter that the 9" DTV setup and displayed on a huge screen which made for better viewing in the cramped room. Brians review summed things up pretty well.

Oh yeah, anybody want to buy a D-Theater release of The Peacemaker? I didn't think so. (I won it in a raffle).

post #12 of 163
I attended the evening session and didn't get to see the X-Men footage.

But of the movies I saw, only U-571 was sharp enough for me to 'win me over'. All of the other movies shown were soft, compared to the DVD version. I don't see how I can buy any of them especially if I've already possibly better version off HBO/Showtime HD channels.

I was very disappointed with T-2 and Indepedence Day.. the only two movies on the release schedule that I would possibly want to buy.
Don't get me wrong. They look fine but the difference between the DVD and D-Theatre version just wasn't very obvious to make it worthwhile.

More importantly, I got to talk with JVC rep and their engineers. They basically claimed that firmware upgrade fixed everything... EXCEPT tapes recorded on the Panasonic. Since they are tapes made by another VCR brand, basically there's nothing they can do about it.

The Samsung STB will be available next month. The JVC DISH PVC 9000 is still scheduled for the Fall. It will NOT have an over-the-air turner and recording ability. So you basically need to have the JVC VCR, Samsung STB AND the 9000 to record both satellite and local channels.
post #13 of 163
I'm still confused on what sounds like not a major difference between the DVD & the D-Theater. If you consider horizontal resolution, we're talking DVD 500 lines vs. D-Theater 1920 lines (theoretical, but maybe close). If we're talking bit rates, we're talking D-Theater 28 mbps vs. DVD 5-10 mbps (not sure of the exact number)? That's why I say even with perfect scaling there should be major difference is favor of D-Theater IF the tape was done properly. That's probably a BIG "if". You would certainly think the first batch of releases would have been done with some care to show off the format.

I'm really beginning to wonder if this wasn't over-hyped by WSR!
post #14 of 163
I saw a clear difference between the two. On U-571 you could count the beads of sweat on peoples faces and the clarity was pretty amazing. BUT, again, I was not blown away. There was definitely more information being displayed due to the higher bit rate but the picture defintely varied with the different productions.
post #15 of 163
So we may have a case here like we did with DVD at the beginning (and to some extent, still today), with huge variations in quality as the mastering & copying process is in its infancy. You would think though that great care would be taken initially to show off this formats' great potential. I don't know if you ever saw the JVC demo, but that certainly shows you what this format is capable of, and it's pretty miraculous.

These reviews also make me wonder what would have happened if the D-Theater versions were compared with say, the HBO HD versions! Granted the OAR would be preserved in D-Theater, but what about the overall PQ?
post #16 of 163
Yup. That is how Gary opened up the session. He pointed out that the D-Theater product would only be as good as the orginal production. So, yes, we are back in the same boat as we are with DVD's. You would think that they would have great source material initially but I got the impression that (JVC) is having a hard time selling this to the studios, just look at the initial releases for an indication of that.

I still think it has promise and I think people would have been much more impressed if it were compared to DVD at 480p. With all of the gear in WSR's holosonic theater they are really able to pull everything out of a DVD so maybe it was not a fair comparison based on what people really use at home.

The most impressive stuff was the recorded HDTV stuff off Leno from the night before. It looked incredible.

post #17 of 163
Wow, a lot of comments, don't know where to start.

First, I think if anything, HD shows the quality not of a transfer (sorry, if you don't have access to the original source, you can't determine what a good transfer is), but the quality of film elements used. If the film had a lot of soft shots, even digitally enhancing these (sharpening) isn't going to improve it that much. Not going in with that understanding, I can see where a lot of the films looked disappointing.

After the demo tape, I went in expecting to see movies that looked as sharp as the demo tape. U-571 was about the only one that did (and so did X-Men). But where I *think* I saw the 28.8mbs being used is very little 'film grain' effect. Many movies on HBO to me are either noisy or grainy (not all, just a few) whereas none of the films I watched at WSR looked this way.

I think the demo facility at WSR was part of the problem. I think the differences would have been more notable on the VX1000s vs. the CRT which was on a smaller screen, and farther away (the first row of seats I estimated to be 12 feet away, followed by 3 more rows of crammed in seating). That far away, sure, a DVD will look as good as the HD versions or close to it. I think it was bad scaling up to 840p. They should have left it at 480p for a more "realistic" comparison. And, it should have been on the bigger screen so people could clearly see the differences.

One other idea I had was they should have shown the HD version first, then the DVD version. But on a 78" screen 12-18 feet away, of course the differences will look negligible.

Yes, a new FW will be required for 1080p. Hey, did Joe Kane basically go over his lust for perfection and how the editing systems for every studio and tv station suck, and his will be revolutionary?

No mention of a 35000er, and no roadmap for more movies. They said the plan was 4 movies per month (2 from Fox every month). The JVC rep said other studios were going to join on board perhaps by the end of the year, but none wanted to be first.

I also asked about D-Theater in Japan, and what about all those people that have units now (basically, installed base of all D-VHS according to Japanese JVC rep is 100,000 units). He said there is interest, but., like Panny/Mitsubishi owners here, the japanese will be out of luck and have to replace their units. There are no plans to release unencrypted prerecorded movies.

Ken, most of us were pretty far away from the screen to see the quality differences. that's why I'll be doing a comparison with another member later this week. I know he's watching T-2 at his place and I'll hear his impressions soon enough. It's been a while since I have seen Independence Day, so don't remember what the DVD looked like.

I don't think WSR overhyped it. They probably spent a lot of time comparing to see the differences. I applaud WSR for not only hosting an event like this, but their hospitality. Great people. I think where it fell apart is the upconversion of DVD, the small screen of the CRT, and the seating arrangements. Their Holosonic theater is small (crammed with equipment) and would have been better suited for a smaller # of people. Having said that, the weakness was using the 78" screen and CRT.
post #18 of 163
Not exactly the reaction to d-theater that I was hoping for. I have no way to scale dvds at the moment, so for me at least these tapes will be a marked improvement (I hope)..

Looking at the schedule for yesterday the fox rep was supposed to be on hand. Did anybody ask him what are the chances for getting any SW flicks on d-theater?

P.S. Thanks for the updates BW

post #19 of 163

Your post on the JVC Hidef PVR says no ATSC OTA tuner, but the following was a quote from JVC:

As it did during CES, JVC showed a prototype HDTV tuner with built-in hard drive. Al Levene, who handles set-top box marketing for JVC, said model TU-9000 could be available as early as September, although pricing has not been announced. JVC continues to keep open final specs for the HDTV PVR, but the completed version is expected to include a 120GB hard disk drive and an ATSC over-the-air tuner, in addition to dual-tuner standard/high-definition decoding for EchoStar's DISH Network services. Levene said the unit will only stream one high-definition channel at a time, however.
End quote

I do hope there is an OTA tuner
post #20 of 163
No studio reps presetn at the 2-5pm event.

Don't get me wrong, D-Theater looks great. Just their comparison shots and choice of equipment to do it on wasn't ideal (IMHO).
post #21 of 163
>> The most impressive stuff was the recorded HDTV stuff off Leno from the night before.
>> It looked incredible.

And as most know that is because it was a direct-digital recording using native HDcam.
30fps native, not 24fps film convert.

>> But where I *think* I saw the 28.8mbs being used is very little 'film grain' effect.

If there was inherent "film grain" captured by the telecine machine, having more
bitrate (e.g.: 28.8 vs 19.3) wouldn't help at all. The main benefit to more bitrate
is to avoid "blocky" artifacts during fast motion scenes or complex scene changes.
Scenes which tend to have blocky motion artifacts at lower bitrates tend
to have much small detail particularly with sharp edges. One example would be
when a camera follows a football across a field and they are panning past rows
of grandstands filled with people. Another would be a camera trying to follow
polynesian dancers on a stage. Things like fire and palm trees (blowing in the wind)
have small details that are tricky for the encoders to track properly. If a scene is
sitting still or has large regions of similar color then it can encode well even at low
bitrate. Another thing that uses up a lot of encoder bandwidth are quick scene changes
(the "American Fighter Pilot" show sufferred due to MTV style editing) or big
changes in scene brightness (flash cameras caused problems for some HD basketball
game broadcasts).
post #22 of 163
"Terminator II" and "The PeaceMaker" were disappointing, while U-571 was good especially when compared to the DVD. The best example was the detail in the fire bomb when the destroyer exploded. The clip from "The Haunting" didn't impress me either, and that was the one I was hoping would be really hot.

The fact that the video tape will be able to send a flag to the player to downrezz the analog output, TO INCLUDE THIS MODEL JVC 30K, has drastically curtailed my thoughts of buying this or the next generation player.

At least until I find out if FireWire will be an acceptable mode of transmission in the future. I have a 65" Mits., and if the Promise Module only ends up with FireWire capability, then that tells that story (though I still don't think Mits will ignore DVI/HDCP if ultimatly it's the winner). So I'd buy now, if I knew the analog outputs couldn't be downrezzed, but otherwise I have to wait out what the hell Hollywood and the politicians DECIDE FOR US!

But then again, if I win the JVC 30K in the raffle....well that's a different deal. ;)

What a good, and informative, time I had Saturday morning. Thanks to Gary Reber and all the sponsers for a great presentation. It was well worth the 14-1/2 hours the round trip drive took.
post #23 of 163
Ken, the first thing that caught my eye was the DVD up upconverted to 840P. I dont know how many folks have the equipment to either up convert to this, let along display it. So I dont think we are talking about apples and apples. For me the test is you take an average home theater setup with the D-Theater out of the box, and then take a DVD with a progessive player out of the box. This is the A/B comparsion that I believe is worth talking about. Anything else doesnt make sense because for people where money is not an issue, you can upconvert a DVD to probably 1080P and blow away a D-THeater tape.

post #24 of 163
You can't compare HD video shot image (like D-Theater Demo tape) with film transfer. HD video will alway blow away film transfer. I know there are freaks out there who think, that film is great but native HD Video has up to 4 times more pixels per frame than film. Also the best 35mm film stock will equal about 50db signal to noise ratio compared to HD Video which can easily obtain 70db.
post #25 of 163
Is HDnet using HD video? Are those bikini shows HD video?
If not, they sure look real ;)

post #26 of 163
Your recent posts made me feel better about the whole thing. I think your explanations about what people were seeing and why made alot of sense. I think most people will see a very large difference in their HT setups with D-Theater. Making the leap from DVD to HD isn't just about resolution. It's also color quality, color differentiation, lack of artifacts etc. One of the most encouraging things is that nobody reported seeing video glitches on any of the movies. I've seen many of these on the demo tape.

I still think that even a DVD perfectly scaled to 1080p would not equal a good quality D-Theater tape at 1080i. There is SO much more picture information in the D-Theater format compared to the DVD. Interpolation will never substitute for the actual information that is missing.
post #27 of 163
So they announced that the 30k WOULD allow the studios to downrezz the analogs? Again more bad news. What was the attendee reaction when this was announced?? I hope somebody got all over them..

Was there ANY good news at the festival?
post #28 of 163
I didn't see anybody say that the down-rezing was announced. I think this may have been from prior information we already knew. Anybody that was there, any comments?
post #29 of 163

Checkout Dave Duvalls post.
post #30 of 163
Thread Starter 
I had really hoped for some comments about how DTheater would compare to film shown at a commercial theater. I would also like to hear about any comparisons between DTheater and what we see on HBO HD. In my HT, I run my DVDs scaled to 720p and some films like The Matrix, for example, don't look all that much better even in the front row ( ten feet from a nine foot screen) but my understanding is that HBO doesn't let the bits flow like Dtheater was supposed to.
It certainly doesn't sound like the wow I thought I would be hearing. What is disappointing is if this had been me I would have come loaded for bear in a presentation like this. At least if it takes off it sounds like WSR will have more to do than they thought (giving technical reviews) since it sounds like there will be just as much inconsistency as we see in the quality of DVD.
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