Industry Insiders Master Q&A thread III: ONLY Questions to Insiders - Page 16 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #451 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 07:32 AM
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Hi Insiders
Any comments on this "blow" for the HD DVD camp?

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/sh...00+_Stores/707

Regards Martin Lynge
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post #452 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by TheLion View Post

Dear paidgeek,

I just finished watching "your" recent Blu-Ray release of "Seven Years in Tibet" and all I can think of right now is : "That's it, I just have to ask paidgeek about it"...

So here it goes...

Let me start my question by "admitting" that I have never been really impressed (to put it polite) by your company's performance regarding DVD picture quality. IMHO it is a fair statement to claim that Sony never was a top tier DVD studio - even the PQ of high profile releases like Spiderman left much to be desired (especially for those among us who are brave enough to actually watch it on huge and revealing front projection setups...very bad mistake indeed).

So I sure wasn't all that surprised to find the initial batch of Sony Blu-Ray releases to be anywhere from mediocre to "what where they thinking ".

Now on to my question...And I actually think you are really going to enjoy answering this one:

To put a long story short - something about Sonys performance changed significantly. Sony developed from being the common enthusiast's problem child of DVD/Blu-Ray PQ to arguably the most consistent (together with Disney/Buena Vista) studio when it comes to putting out true reference quality releases/"transfers" lately.

When I look at recent Sony releases I purchased - 7 Years in Tibet, Hellboy, Curse of the Golden Flower, Donnie Brasco, Identity, Volver, The Pursuit of Happyness, Rocky Balboa, Casino Royale...... - I have to say: EACH AND EVERYONE of them are excellent, most even outstanding, some of them pure reference encodings.

Contrary to common belief and marketing ( ) I guess the video codec (switch to high-bitrate AVC in this case) is just one pretty minor part of the story/"quality revolution" we have witnessed lately.

My question is - What has "Sony" done/changed that results in such outstanding quality lately?

Even relatively low profile catalog releases like Donnie Brasco receive spectacular transfers.

To be more specific: Is Sony remastering most of these movies prior of considering them for release - in contrast to the quite "common practice" of just "recycling" telecines which were intended and used for DVD releases years ago (Yes, Universal, I'm talking about you...). What's the magic behind the quality?


Let my conclude my post by publicly thanking and complimenting you on such staggering performance. I know - the avsforum has become a pretty tough place and kind and appreciative words are spare - BUT rest assured all your hard work and Sony's "quality comeback" in general certainly have not gone unnoticed by the open minded enthusiast crowd. We appreciate it very much!

KUDOS for using state of the art source material, high-bitrate encodings in combination with "advanced codecs" and lossless audio on each and every title. You are even going the extra mile by providing things like HD extra features (on occasion) and lavishly animated menu designs (the menu of Seven Years in Tibet is a work of art).

btw I thought long and hard in order to come up with somekind of request and/or criticism (my post just seemed overly positive and enthusiastic without it ) - I sincerely hope Sony follows Disney's prime example and uses the upcoming slow transition to TrueHD to finally provide "true lossless" audio tracks - 16bit/20bit/24bit depending on the source material.

Thank you for taking the time to provide this feedback.

Reading posts like your and those of other members, gives the content companies a more balanced view (good and bad) than what we often get from the typical review sites. You can't learn too much when the vast majority of reviews have the same 4/5 stars....

In answer to your question, what we are doing differently at SPE since last year really comes down to communication. Like any large company, we are a collection of departments, each of which has its own budget and policies. Instead of choosing, preparing, compressing and authoring titles with each department doing its part and making a hand-off to the next, we are looking at each title with everyone in the room and making a group decision for what works best for the product. It is a time consuming process, but it is driving positive changes throughout our company and even with the vendors we do business with.

This forum gets a bit wild and there are certainly agendas at work here, but any and all feedback is useful when it is reasonably objective.

So a special thanks to those individuals who continue to take their valuable time to help make Blu-ray better.

Sony Pictures BD Insider
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post #453 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Phloyd View Post

This is a disaster! What percentage of Blu-ray movies are affected by this oversight?

A disaster? The answer to your questions is....none. Movies are progressive sources and encoded as progressive. One player may have better interlace to progressive conversion than another, but in many cases you may prefer to let your $3,000 monitor make the upconversion rather than your player.

Sony Pictures BD Insider
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post #454 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 09:10 AM
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Amir, you note above that "Our job here is to provide transparency to the source." How do you evaluate whether you have achieved such transparency? And what compromises, if any, might need to be made during a transfer?

Thanks,

Mark

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post #455 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paidgeek View Post

A disaster? The answer to your questions is....none. Movies are progressive sources and encoded as progressive. One player may have better interlace to progressive conversion than another, but in many cases you may prefer to let your $3,000 monitor make the upconversion rather than your player.

paidgeek,

I think Phloyd just forgot the after his statement...
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post #456 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 09:42 AM
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paidgeek-

Any word on Groundhog Day? Any updates on Meatballs? I'm jonesing for some Bill Murray HD.

Thanks,
Chris
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post #457 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 10:13 AM
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This forum gets a bit wild and there are certainly agendas at work here, but any and all feedback is useful when it is reasonably objective.

So a special thanks to those individuals who continue to take their valuable time to help make Blu-ray better.

Your company certainly did an oustanding job with 7 Years in Tibet. Possibly the best-looking HD title (regardless of format) I've seen to date. Utterly "film like" in every way: looks like a pristine 35mm print projected right in my living room (nothing "digital" or "electronic" about the image in any way. Just stunning, pristine film-like perfection).

Looking forward to the new 5E release!

1080p and lossless audio. EVERY BD should have them both.
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post #458 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 10:50 AM
 
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Originally Posted by MBL View Post

Hi Insiders
Any comments on this "blow" for the HD DVD camp?

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/sh...00+_Stores/707

Regards Martin Lynge

Would be happy to comment . Let's start with pointing out the specifics that are in front of us:

1. All the tools we had to bring HD DVD to our customers yesterday, we have today and tomorrow. BB has and will continue to offer HD DVD to its customers in the 250 stores and online. Nothing has changed in this. Nothing. Note that the great pains they took in their press sub-heading to confirm their commitment to HD DVD: http://blockbuster.mediaroom.com/ind...eases&item=727

Company will continue to offer HD DVD titles online and in select number of stores

They would not go out of their way to confirm their intention in such a clear way to support HD DVD if they did not believe in viability of HD DVD.

2. Yes, they are expanding their offering to other stores. One would think though, that the core stores that carry both formats, were picked because they were closer to where potential customers are (e.g. higher income, higher probability of owning HDTVs, larger metropolitan areas, etc.). As such, the fact that those stores continue to carry HD DVD is very substantial aspect of this story.

3. Please read BB's own press release - they clearly state that they cannot and are not stating a winner. And that they are very open to changing their distribution strategy in the future. Given the fact that they already carry HD DVD in such a broad basis already, making adjustments to that plan comes easily.

4. Both formats right now are niche products. As such, expansion to large set of stores is not that significant in itself. The key to expanding the market is to make the players more affordable. I can have 1000 Ferrari showrooms, but that doesn't mean people will go and buy them in droves . The key is to bring the cost of that Ferrari to the level of a Honda and then you have it available in all the stores. Until then, the cart is being put before the horse. But still, I applaud BB for wanting to make HD more mainstream. And as soon as they do, we will be ready with HD DVD .

Please note that I am not saying this is not a positive development for BDA. It is. They have had a long drought wrt to getting more companies on board while we have been making progress in reverse (e.g. Circuit City carrying HD DVDs). But as you can imagine, by now we are used to press releases from companies in support of their format. Yet, BD remains a niche product as does ours frankly. The cost of products is simply too high, and the value too limited to consumer in relation to it, leading to small sales (and rentals). As such, our focus remains as I stated: getting the cost down, and making it more affordable for people to own the sockets which will eventually drive rental business. We have that advantage on the replication, and better interactivity to differentiate our product from DVD, but the playback devices still have room to come down in price to gain wider adoption.
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post #459 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:01 AM
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Hi Amir,

Over and over we've all read about how HD-DVDs are cheaper to produce, yet my experience has consistently been they are either more expensive than their BD counterparts (combo discs) or equally priced.

I've yet to walk into my local store and see an HD-DVD disc priced lower than it's BD counterpart.

If they are truely cheaper to produce, then this means the studios are taking the opportunity to rake in a higher profit.

While I cannot fault them for this, it seems like perhaps they should forego the extra profit to try to secure a larger footprint with the public (so that people walk into a store and see that HD-DVD is truely cheaper.)

If the average person walks in and see's the HD-DVD version of something is $5 more expensive, they won't be thinking "oh, maybe it's a combo disc", they'll just think "same movie, and the one in the blue case is cheaper".

Along the lines of your Honda/Ferrarri analogy, it's like the gas for the Honda is more expensive...

Thoughts? Any word of this "cheaper" thing ever becoming a reality?

Thanks in advance,
Stuart
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post #460 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:07 AM
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paidgeek, any chance of the film "Fortress" starring Christopher Lambert coming to blu-ray? The DVD is so poor it has reel change marks!
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post #461 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:28 AM
 
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Originally Posted by stpat View Post

Hi Amir,
I've yet to walk into my local store and see an HD-DVD disc priced lower than it's BD counterpart.
If they are truely cheaper to produce, then this means the studios are taking the opportunity to rake in a higher profit.

While I cannot fault them for this, it seems like perhaps they should forego the extra profit to try to secure a larger footprint with the public (so that people walk into a store and see that HD-DVD is truely cheaper.)

If the average person walks in and see's the HD-DVD version of something is $5 more expensive, they won't be thinking "oh, maybe it's a combo disc", they'll just think "same movie, and the one in the blue case is cheaper".

Thoughts? Any word of this "cheaper" thing ever becoming a reality?

Thanks in advance,
Stuart

Fair points Stuart . If you want to take this thinking further, you have to wonder why the discs are not even more expensive than they are (in both formats) since studios don't make money on hardly any titles in HD!

So what we have is not a proper economic system yet so we can't judge it that way. You have companies subsidizing production of discs and not passing on the true cost to their consumers. You have small market where companies are investing strategically instead of economically. You have consumers not being price sensitive, buying $80 HD DVD/BD packages, etc. pushing a documentary and HD DVD test disc ahead of Hollywood titles in Amazon DVD rankings.

But as we look at this market, I think we all care about the time the format becomes mainstream. At that moment, you have to think of big numbers. I think I heard Warner alone stamps out close to half a billion DVDs a year! On that day, competition will be fierce forcing lower retail prices and cost of production will be a key factor.

On top of that, you have to look at where the supply comes from. HD DVD is not cheaper to produce because its plastics cost less than the same plastic used in BD . It costs less because it is possible to deploy it in existing DVD lines and as a result, just about any DVD line purchased in the last two years or so can, and many are making HD DVDs. This volume availability will invariably lead to lower cost due to higher level of competition for the business. You know, the old supply and demand rule in economics .

In addition, a typical BD line is $1.5M to $3M. Someone has to go and buy this line and dedicate it to making BD discs. And that cost will be passed on to people. Companies will not subsidize this business forever and certainly not through their competitors (i.e. one replicator helping the other). This is different again from HD DVD where the same line is already bought and being amortized on the backs of DVD business. So every day, we get more HD DVD capacity online, without having to lift a finger, or write a check.

Net, net, when we step out of the niche/artificial environment we live in, the strength of HD DVD comes into play strongly and result in lower cost to consumers. And yes, higher profits for some companies if the consumer/competition allows it.

Finally, on combo pricing, that has not hurt the sales of the discs as compared to other HD offerings in the eyes of studios. In the grand scheme of few titles making money, it is hard to argue the point strongly to the studios when a disc sells as well as non-combos. But again, once the market expands and true economics set in, the studios will get a better picture of whether they should charge the premium. But one thing is for sure. Combo discs are an incredible technical accomplishment and solve key consumer adoption problems. If we ever have hope of making these formats mainstream, we have to deal with the other format war: that of DVD and HD. The combo is the true universal format in that sense. So while like you, I am not happy that a premium is charged for it sometimes, I salivate at the thought of seeing DVDs being replaced one day with combo HD DVDs and consumers not even blinking. Connecting this with the BlockBuster discussion, combo HD DVDs can be shipped to them as DVDs and wind up in all of their stores, whether they make a conscious decision about carrying HD DVD or not. See how powerful of a card this is?

Oops, this became kind of long. Hopefully you didn't expect a short answer .
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post #462 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Amirm View Post

Yet, BD remains a niche product as does ours frankly.

So, are you saying that HD DVD belongs to Microsoft now, Amir?
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post #463 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:38 AM
 
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So, are you saying that HD DVD belongs to Microsoft now, Amir?

Yes, we bought it yesterday. The CE industry gave us a two for one offer. We got an option to buy BD in the future real cheap so we couldn't refuse....

Not sure this needs clarification but "our" was shorthand for "our format of choice, HD DVD."
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post #464 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Would be happy to comment . (...) And as soon as they do, we will be ready with HD DVD .

Amir... you may pause and think a little before answering this one...

It seems that Blu-ray's studio support and recent release of a string of blockbusters have played an important role in the format's battle against HD DVD.

So, when I think about the next few years (HD DVD/Blu-ray, Apple TV, Windows Media Center, etc, etc, etc) it seems to me that content has some strategic importance - and Sony knows that (being a major content producer/distributor today of both music and audiovisual).

Now comes the question:
Do you see Microsoft buying a studio someday? Is it crazy to consider the chance of Microsoft buying... say... Disney or News Corporation? GE has Universal/NBC. AOL is together with Warner. Sony has Columbia... Would Msft get Disney someday? (just an example)

Thanks.
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post #465 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:48 AM
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Amir,

Wouldn't it be safe to say that the advantages of HD DVD might never fruition if HD DVD doesn't get out of niche status? If HD DVD fails, then the replicators don't even blink as their investment is protected by the mass demands of DVD replication.

The best way to ram it into mainstream as you referenced is to replace DVD's with Combo's. New DVD's come out at $19.99 already (close right?). If street price for Combo's could be around $24.99, I can see consumers shifting esp. if there isn't much choice. Even if they buy it for the DVD side, fascination will eventually take it's toll and drive them towards a HD DVD player.

I'm sure convincing a studio to make such a dramatic jump is virtually impossible at this time at the fear of lost revenue but it's certainly a huge advantage of HD DVD that is not being exploited.

As far as I'm concerned all the cost saving scenarios don't come into play until mass production levels. However, surviving and reaching that level is proving to be the biggest hurdle so I certainly hope the HD DVD group has some interim advantages they can bank on in order to eventually reach the mass production levels.
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post #466 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

I salivate at the thought of seeing DVDs being replaced one day with combo HD DVDs and consumers not even blinking. Connecting this with the BlockBuster discussion, combo HD DVDs can be shipped to them as DVDs and wind up in all of their stores, whether they make a conscious decision about carrying HD DVD or not. See how powerful of a card this is?

Amir, I think that idea should be put into action very soon. That would truly show some firepower from the HD DVD camp.

What would be the problem (economic/logistic/etc) to start doing it in a month or so?
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post #467 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Would be happy to comment . Let's start with pointing out the specifics that are in front of us:

1. All the tools we had to bring HD DVD to our customers yesterday, we have today and tomorrow. BB has and will continue to offer HD DVD to its customers in the 250 stores and online. Nothing has changed in this. Nothing. Note that the great pains they took in their press sub-heading to confirm their commitment to HD DVD: http://blockbuster.mediaroom.com/ind...eases&item=727

Company will continue to offer HD DVD titles online and in select number of stores

They would not go out of their way to confirm their intention in such a clear way to support HD DVD if they did not believe in viability of HD DVD.

2. Yes, they are expanding their offering to other stores. One would think though, that the core stores that carry both formats, were picked because they were closer to where potential customers are (e.g. higher income, higher probability of owning HDTVs, larger metropolitan areas, etc.). As such, the fact that those stores continue to carry HD DVD is very substantial aspect of this story.

3. Please read BB's own press release - they clearly state that they cannot and are not stating a winner. And that they are very open to changing their distribution strategy in the future. Given the fact that they already carry HD DVD in such a broad basis already, making adjustments to that plan comes easily.

4. Both formats right now are niche products. As such, expansion to large set of stores is not that significant in itself. The key to expanding the market is to make the players more affordable. I can have 1000 Ferrari showrooms, but that doesn't mean people will go and buy them in droves . The key is to bring the cost of that Ferrari to the level of a Honda and then you have it available in all the stores. Until then, the cart is being put before the horse. But still, I applaud BB for wanting to make HD more mainstream. And as soon as they do, we will be ready with HD DVD .

Please note that I am not saying this is not a positive development for BDA. It is. They have had a long drought wrt to getting more companies on board while we have been making progress in reverse (e.g. Circuit City carrying HD DVDs). But as you can imagine, by now we are used to press releases from companies in support of their format. Yet, BD remains a niche product as does ours frankly. The cost of products is simply too high, and the value too limited to consumer in relation to it, leading to small sales (and rentals). As such, our focus remains as I stated: getting the cost down, and making it more affordable for people to own the sockets which will eventually drive rental business. We have that advantage on the replication, and better interactivity to differentiate our product from DVD, but the playback devices still have room to come down in price to gain wider adoption.

HD-DVD might want to think about putting their own spin-doctors to work. You mention reading the press release, etc, to get the facts. Well, I just watched a local news report on TV(with some video of a BB store) and the main points were BB going exclusively BD, and that it may signal an end to the format war.

Obviously the news report did not tell the whole story, but, it's those news stories that the general public, the group that is needed to make either/both formats a strong success, see and "believe". If I'm Joe Average and my favorite newscaster tells me that BB is not carrying HD-DVD anymore, and that it signals an end to the format war, then I'm certainly focusing on BD as my next optical player format.

Just a thought.

BTW, I'm not a conspiracy nut, but, it was an ABC station(in the San Francisco market) where I saw the report.
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post #468 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Technicolor View Post


Now comes the question:
Do you see Microsoft buying a studio someday? Is it crazy to consider the chance of Microsoft buying... say... Disney or News Corporation? GE has Universal/NBC. AOL is together with Warner. Sony has Columbia... Would Msft get Disney someday? (just an example)

Thanks.

NBC/Uni would be the natural fit, they're floundering currently and I can't imagine GE will put up with much more 4th place results(TV), and, they are already in the HD-DVD camp.
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post #469 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by paidgeek View Post

Thank you for taking the time to provide this feedback.

Reading posts like your and those of other members, gives the content companies a more balanced view (good and bad) than what we often get from the typical review sites. You can't learn too much when the vast majority of reviews have the same 4/5 stars....

In answer to your question, what we are doing differently at SPE since last year really comes down to communication. Like any large company, we are a collection of departments, each of which has its own budget and policies. Instead of choosing, preparing, compressing and authoring titles with each department doing its part and making a hand-off to the next, we are looking at each title with everyone in the room and making a group decision for what works best for the product. It is a time consuming process, but it is driving positive changes throughout our company and even with the vendors we do business with.

This forum gets a bit wild and there are certainly agendas at work here, but any and all feedback is useful when it is reasonably objective.

So a special thanks to those individuals who continue to take their valuable time to help make Blu-ray better.

I want to make a point and say something that I sometimes mention in passing, but these comments made me want to throw in my .02.

Sony Pictures spends more money, time and care in remastering their audio for DVD/BR than any other studio out there. Period.

Some of the studios spend money hiring outside vendors to remaster their tracks, and it is usually without any kind of contact what so ever with the mixers and film makers. I have been called on more than one occasion to re-supervise the remastering due to such companies getting a little too creative... and a film I mixed that came out on BR recently is actually missing a music cue that was done by thrid parties!

Sony spends A LOT of money getting back on the original dub stage, with the original mixers, and spends days making uncompressed masters for VHS, DVD and now Blu Ray. Even the foreign M and E masters. We check it with and with out bass re direction, encoded, decoded, on a tv, etc... and it ain't cheap.

They are to be commended... and I wish other studios tooks as much initiative consistently when it comes to audio.
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post #470 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:24 PM
 
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Originally Posted by RobertR1 View Post

Amir,

Wouldn't it be safe to say that the advantages of HD DVD might never fruition if HD DVD doesn't get out of niche status? If HD DVD fails, then the replicators don't even blink as their investment is protected by the mass demands of DVD replication.

But that is the point. HD DVD never goes away as a replication option because it is a feature of DVD lines. BD on the other hand, needs strong push and any setback, could be pretty nasty. More importantly, we don't need to fund the development of HD DVD lines, so dollars saved there, can go elsewhere.

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The best way to ram it into mainstream as you referenced is to replace DVD's with Combo's. New DVD's come out at $19.99 already (close right?). If street price for Combo's could be around $24.99, I can see consumers shifting esp. if there isn't much choice. Even if they buy it for the DVD side, fascination will eventually take it's toll and drive them towards a HD DVD player.

I'm sure convincing a studio to make such a dramatic jump is virtually impossible at this time at the fear of lost revenue but it's certainly a huge advantage of HD DVD that is not being exploited.

As far as I'm concerned all the cost saving scenarios don't come into play until mass production levels. However, surviving and reaching that level is proving to be the biggest hurdle so I certainly hope the HD DVD group has some interim advantages they can bank on in order to eventually reach the mass production levels.

All good points and yes, we have our game plan for the interim as much as long term.
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post #471 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:31 PM
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An addendum to my previous post.

Just saw another report on the FOX station parroting the one I saw on ABC, BB focusing on BD and possible end to format war. No doubt it will be on the nightly news for all the networks.

I guess the question is, how soon can HD-DVD initiate some damage control?
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post #472 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Technicolor View Post

Amir... you may pause and think a little before answering this one...

I did. But didn't need long to think about it. See more below.

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So, when I think about the next few years (HD DVD/Blu-ray, Apple TV, Windows Media Center, etc, etc, etc) it seems to me that content has some strategic importance - and Sony knows that (being a major content producer/distributor today of both music and audiovisual).

Now comes the question:
Do you see Microsoft buying a studio someday? Is it crazy to consider the chance of Microsoft buying... say... Disney or News Corporation? GE has Universal/NBC. AOL is together with Warner. Sony has Columbia... Would Msft get Disney someday? (just an example)

Thanks.

The reason I didn't have to think about it too long is because I have been there, and done that. I left Sony because of it as a matter of fact. Not because I didn't like my job - I loved it as a matter of fact. Reason was that management went and bought Columbia Pictures, because they thought DAT, Betamax, etc. were getting killed because they couldn't force the content owners to use it. Fast forward a year later, and the company lost $2B, and showed red ink for the first time in its 54 year history (Last Action Hero anyone?). I was asked to let my team go, which I had worked so hard to recruit. They asked me to stay on and ironically, do research for them on Video on Demand and gaming platforms! I did that for 6 months before getting bored and leaving for a "real job." This was in 1994 btw, so for people who say Sony doesn't care about non-optical content, they should think again. But we digress.

Yes, there was a lot of mismanagement of the deal to purchase Columbia. But the real problem was that they synergy between the software and hardware side were hard to come by, the people worked and thought differently, etc. As I recall, Matsu****a also suffered the same way. And you list the failed AOL merger.

Of course, it is possible that we would be smarter than Sony in managing such a transaction. And that we could be buying them as I type this, and I said all of this as to not tell show our hand to our Sony partners here.

P.S. I want to make sure no one gets the wrong picture here and repeat again that I loved my job at Sony and left on excellent terms. I cherish my relationship with some of the top Sony execs and work collaboratively with them on many projects. The HD DVD/BD is just one area that we don't see eye to eye. That's all. Big companies are that way sometimes.
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post #473 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

An addendum to my previous post.

Just saw another report on the FOX station parroting the one I saw on ABC, BB focusing on BD and possible end to format war. No doubt it will be on the nightly news for all the networks.

I guess the question is, how soon can HD-DVD initiate some damage control?

Appreciate the information and concern. Alas, in front of Sony, I can't say what we are or are not doing. But rest assured, when facts are different than the reporting coming out, our job is easier than it would be otherwise
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post #474 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 12:53 PM
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Any Microsoft guys care to comment on the IPTV MediaRoom announcement?

http://www.microsoftmediaroom.com/
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post #475 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 01:08 PM
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Hi Amir
First I want to thank you for your contribution to this thread (which I find very informative)
I have a question regarding the future of HD DVD. As a format neutral(because of content); I enjoy HD DVD as much as BD (to me they are equal).
it seems that BD camp is getting a lot positive news recently (which I think is great for HD media) and they have been working hard to make effective changes.
My question is about the plans that HD DVD camp has for the future. Are you guys working on big announcement as well? (Matrix was a nice surprise )
It sounds like a silly question but somehow I feel like HD DVD is not trying hard enough!(both on the content and hardware sides)
Any thoughts?
Thank you

A Home Theater Enthusiast!
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post #476 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by MovieSwede View Post

Amir, I think that idea should be put into action very soon. That would truly show some firepower from the HD DVD camp.

What would be the problem (economic/logistic/etc) to start doing it in a month or so?

I am not sure about combo only in a month... that seems impossible since dvd's are often in production a good month or more before release, but I too have been wondering a lot about this.

Amir, what are the logistics for the studios to completely go with combo HD DVD / DVD's to replace DVD's? To what extent has such a thing been discussed? And how soon can you see that happening?


I am assuming that the purchasing power for DVD's would help compensate for the cost of HD DVD production in that case, which makes sense as a natural course of action.

Proud to always support Blu-Ray studios through Xbox Video Marketplace.
The "High Road" is a pretty boring place.
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post #477 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 01:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post

I want to make a point and say something that I sometimes mention in passing, but these comments made me want to throw in my .02.

Sony Pictures spends more money, time and care in remastering their audio for DVD/BR than any other studio out there. Period.

Some of the studios spend money hiring outside vendors to remaster their tracks, and it is usually without any kind of contact what so ever with the mixers and film makers. I have been called on more than one occasion to re-supervise the remastering due to such companies getting a little too creative... and a film I mixed that came out on BR recently is actually missing a music cue that was done by thrid parties!

Sony spends A LOT of money getting back on the original dub stage, with the original mixers, and spends days making uncompressed masters for VHS, DVD and now Blu Ray. Even the foreign M and E masters. We check it with and with out bass re direction, encoded, decoded, on a tv, etc... and it ain't cheap.

They are to be commended... and I wish other studios tooks as much initiative consistently when it comes to audio.

I can second that wish. Where such things become painfully obvious is when a top level band become involved in a soundtrack. Take Queen as an example, two films, Highlander and Flash Gordon, both have received poor initial DVD transfers and not much better remasters. Picture quality improves but even with DTS tracks on the re-releases SQ is dire. Now I know the music tracks are superb quality because the group album releases are of the usual very high standard, and Queen spent a fortune at the time mixing the music for Highlander....

What chance is there of either of these films receiving decent audio treatment?? Would the film audio be of such poor quality compared to the music tapes that such a restoration would be impossible?

Two other films that I'd love to see on HD with full lossless tracks would be 'The Jazz Singer' and 'The Commitments'. I have higher hopes for the latter as a recent DVD re-release has a cracking DTS track. It will be interesting to see how Purple Rain from Prince fares as again, the CD of the music from the film is not that shabby. I guess the question as above is, was film audio recording at that time miles away from the quality of music recording in studios hence the soundtrack sound so thin and lame in comparison? And does anyone know whether any of the films aside from PR are likely to make it to HD? Wouldn't such films with restored lossless audio be a great advert for either format?
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post #478 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 02:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FilmMixer View Post

I want to make a point and say something that I sometimes mention in passing, but these comments made me want to throw in my .02.

Sony Pictures spends more money, time and care in remastering their audio for DVD/BR than any other studio out there. Period.

Some of the studios spend money hiring outside vendors to remaster their tracks, and it is usually without any kind of contact what so ever with the mixers and film makers. I have been called on more than one occasion to re-supervise the remastering due to such companies getting a little too creative... and a film I mixed that came out on BR recently is actually missing a music cue that was done by thrid parties!

Sony spends A LOT of money getting back on the original dub stage, with the original mixers, and spends days making uncompressed masters for VHS, DVD and now Blu Ray. Even the foreign M and E masters. We check it with and with out bass re direction, encoded, decoded, on a tv, etc... and it ain't cheap.

They are to be commended... and I wish other studios tooks as much initiative consistently when it comes to audio.

This brings to mind a question: If Sony is remixing film soundtracks for near-field home theater, could that account for much of the perception that PCM audio (which Sony obviously favors on all of their Blu-rays) is "superior" to lossless TrueHD on movies from other studios?

People think they're hearing a difference between uncompressed and lossless, which are meant to be bit-for-bit identical, but what they're really hearing is the extra effort Sony puts into remastering their audio for the home environment.

Josh Z
Home Theater Writer/Editor, High-Def Digest

My opinions are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my employers.
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post #479 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 02:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian_S View Post

I can second that wish. Where such things become painfully obvious is when a top level band become involved in a soundtrack. Take Queen as an example, two films, Highlander and Flash Gordon, both have received poor initial DVD transfers and not much better remasters. Picture quality improves but even with DTS tracks on the re-releases SQ is dire. Now I know the music tracks are superb quality because the group album releases are of the usual very high standard, and Queen spent a fortune at the time mixing the music for Highlander....

What chance is there of either of these films receiving decent audio treatment?? Would the film audio be of such poor quality compared to the music tapes that such a restoration would be impossible?

Two other films that I'd love to see on HD with full lossless tracks would be 'The Jazz Singer' and 'The Commitments'. I have higher hopes for the latter as a recent DVD re-release has a cracking DTS track. It will be interesting to see how Purple Rain from Prince fares as again, the CD of the music from the film is not that shabby. I guess the question as above is, was film audio recording at that time miles away from the quality of music recording in studios hence the soundtrack sound so thin and lame in comparison? And does anyone know whether any of the films aside from PR are likely to make it to HD? Wouldn't such films with restored lossless audio be a great advert for either format?

Ian.. there are so many factors into what can be done for a track, but obviously the quality of the original masters are paramount.

When we mix, we create what are called stems. Each stem consists of a like food group, i.e. all the dialog is mixed into the dialog stem, the music into the music stem, etc... If you have access to those elements, you can treat each one with seperate care, and have a better chance of working with the music and dialog to get them into a modern sounding state (i.e. the re-issue of "Sixteen Candles" where they were able to go back to the masters and remix most of the music.)

But having those stems available, and in good shape, is a crap shoot... our company just finished the Official Cut of "Blade Runner." Guess what? The only audio element available for most of the track was the printmaster, which is the final combined soundtrack. You have to remeber that although in hindsight it seems foolish, many of these recent (i.e. before 1990 lets say) films' audio elements weren't kept in great shape, and it can be even more of a restoration nightmare than picture... who thought that they needed to keep the stems around for any of these films before the advent of DVD and now lossless audio?

Also, the songs you hear in the film aren;t always the same one's that exist on the CD's... ususlly they are remastered for us, or are a special version, or I get splits with the vocals seperate so I have more control... not to mention any tricky editing or orchestral sweetening that is common to do with songs in a soundtrack. So even if we have the music seperate, it isn't a guarantee that we have any kind of access to that specific cut and version of a song.

It's a shame, but there is only so much you can do.

As far as the quality of recorded sountracks back then, there were some great sounding tracks, but even into the late 80's there were a lot of films still being mixed in mono, and sometimes all that exists are the optical soundtrack negatives, which sound thin and tinny. And for some of the lower budget films, they didn't have the time to mix, so they might've rushed through and overprocessed the dialog or music just to get through..

There are so many variables, but usually with the studio efforts, what you are hearing is going to be the best quality they had access to.
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post #480 of 3651 Old 06-18-2007, 02:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by javayoda View Post

A few years back I did a fair amount of WMV and XVID HD encoding. I found I could get excellent results and save on the bit budget and playback requirements by reducing horizontal resolution and forcing the aspect ratio in the encoder (an anamorphic encode).

Do any of the HD codecs on Blu-Ray or HD-DVD offer this support? I'm thinking it's real usefulness there would be in reverse. For instance, encoding a 2.4:1 movie using all 1920x1080 pixels (no black bars encoded) and then having the player enforce the aspect ratio with non-square pixels. You would have more bits devoted to the image and greater vertical resolution for the day when we have 4k displays in the home

Just curious. This also seems like an excellent way to deliver low-bandwidth HD since vertical resolution is more important to perceived sharpness than horizontal. I know Microsoft had a whole tutorial on their website about this process.

Sure. In HD DVD you can encode at 1440x1080 anamorphic. That said, I'm not aware of any titles using this - there's plenty of bits on a HD DVD 30.

Where anamorphic would be more interesting is for contnet sourced on an anamoprhic format like HDCAM, DVCPROHD, or HDV, or for content taregeting red-laser media. Mainly prosumer and industrial scenarios.
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