Originally posted by Steve_in_L.A.
After 6 months with VOOM and now a month with Dish, my gestalt feeling is exactly the opposite of Jerry's. What's become clear to me is the studios have NOT gained any comfort over the HD piracy issue and consequently a large majority of mainstream movies we are seeing on "HD" channels are essentially anamorphic DVDs. JFK on HDNET the past several nights is a good case in point. It is the rare exception that is actually HD, and the most prominent example of that rare exception was the VOOM movie channels. Most of their old prints were astonishing, the detail pulled you right in, like you were standing on the set with the actors even though it was half a century old. If you're not getting that effect, it seems clear to me it's not HD.
The common thread seems to be the age and perceived value of the films. Not a hard and fast rule, but in general newer properties that still have life in them are simply not being released in true HD. Older films in which no studio currently has a major interest are the ones that are showing up in true HD.
For anyone who's ever wondered, why does Discovery HD seem so much more startling in terms of PQ than HBO HD movies or HDnet movies, that I think is the answer.
Ninety-nine percent of the world simply cannot tell the difference between the broadcast of what is essentially DVD quality and what is HD. Most people don't even have HD monitors, many who do have direct-view CRTs that are simply too small to show these differences, and most of the rest of the HDTV users are not analytical like the members of this board, they're thrilled enough with DVD not to know or care. Since very, VERY few people were privileged to see VOOM's real HD, it is now becoming clear to me that very few people know what real HD is except from the HD video in Discovery and the like. My 2 cents.
There is some mis-information here!
DVD's are not used for broadcast period. First, there are numerous technical problems with trying to feed a DVD player into a broadcast plant. Show me a "professional" DVD player made for broadcast use. You won't find one! Second, there are licensing issues. DVD's are not licensed for distribution. Doesn't matter if you have leased a showing of JFK on your network. You just can't run a DVD. That's a different version in legal terms. You would be supplied with a video tape in one of a few popular broadcast formats. I do know radio stations use CD's extensivily. There are many professional CD players for that purpose. But Radio is a different business.
As an employee with 20+ years of technical expereince at no less than five different Hollywood transfer facilities, I can tell you there is no mandate from the studios for down rezzed HDTV transfers. An HDTV transfer is just that. If the studio doesn't want something released in HDTV, it simply won't be. They don't need to play games like you suggest, it's their material. They don't have to realease it at all if they choose not to. There are many films in this catagory. An optimum transfer is from an IP. You can't always have that. Next is a new print. You don't always get that either. Somestimes yoiu are stuck with a faded projection print. So you do the best you can. Furthermore a colorist is a subjective task. Some are better than others. Some facilities have better equipment and engineering capabilities than others.
Most of the films being complained about here are older titles, many from the 1970s. This is exactly where you get substandard prints from the studio vaults. The cost of an HD transfer alone is $80,000 no matter what the element. To strike a new print from an IP (if there still is one) is another $20,000. Go back to the cut negative? Out of the question cost wise for a B film title. The only time this is ever done is high value re-releases such as Disney does. There you have the payback to justify it. But GOM or JFK on HD net does not justify those numbers.
And FWEIW, I have seen just as many "soft" HD films on Voom as with HDnet, HBO, and Showtime. If you understand the qualities of film, you cane easily see GOM was HD. Just because the overall image is soft, there are still attributes that stand out in HD that won't in DVD. Look at closeups for example. HD looks smooth. DVD will look crisp and enhanced because there simply aren't enough pixels to smooth out the image. As an owner of a 135in screen I can tell you even at 720P, there is a big difference between so called "soft HD" and DVD. HD still wins. Now on a 32in screen, that difference is much less.
Comparing Discovery HD to creativily shot film is like comparing Rap music in a Honda with 15in woofers to a symphony concert in a classic hall. The Honda "thumper" has a lot more deep bass so I guess that the better source of music. It's more than just sharpness when judging the quality of an image.