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Didn't see a way to start a new topic here and not sure if we can discuss current films, but I am seeing more and more Blu Rays being released w/out any substantial extra features...Milk and Brokeback Mountain both come to mind. Milk is from Universal, who is once again assuming they can charge $8 more for a Blu Ray w/out offering anything more than piddly little featurettes. I won't be buying either of these dvds until the studios step up their game. In this economy, they should be ashamed of themselves. Univ also tried to charge almost twice the price for the Bourne Collection, and i passed. I hope the studios get the message that we aren't just going to roll out the welcome mat for double and triple dips.

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Hi, Iowa,

 

Agree that a number of titles should have more extras and I'd be even happier if they were in full HD. However, there are some titles that do well for extras. Disney is great with that. (Check out Wall-E and Sleeping Beauty.) Universal is still dragging its feet, being one of the last to switch to Blu. Their Blu King Kong (the more recent film) added the extended film version in addition to the regular version (as opposed to the HD DVD version which only had the regular version), but there are so many extras floating around it would have been nice to see them on there, too.

 

If you do want to see something amazing, check out the 3:10 to Yuma Blu. By setting the special features, you can have the movie going in the main screen and up to 5 other picture-in-picture screens on the side showing behind the scenes, different angles, etc.

 

filmlover

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from Time Magazine

 

*****************************************************

Is Blu-ray Worth Getting?

By Richard Corliss Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

 

They're starting to fill the racks in video stores, in packages that look like the shorter siblings of DVDs. Netflix carries nearly 1,400 of them, along with 100,000 of the old models. They are Blu-ray discs. This Sony video format, having won a staring contest with rival HD DVD, is now officially the next generation in home entertainment. The promise is that movies will look better than ever, duplicating and perhaps surpassing the big-screen experience. Manufacturers and film companies, investing zillions in the process, want you to say, Wow! But first they want you to buy the stuff. A Blu-ray player is about $200 to $700, and the discs cost a few dollars more than DVDs.

 

The producers are pinning their hopes on Blu-ray for a simple reason: the DVD business, which accounts for most of their revenue, is in the doldrums, and a new format might spur a worldwide shopping spree for the latest application of a cool gimmick ? like for PlayStation 3 or Wii, only more so. Yeah, but money's tight these days. Consumers want to know if they have to buy a Blu-ray or whether it's just an incremental improvement that will soon be rendered obsolete when high-quality movie downloads from the Internet become available. (See the top 10 gadgets of 2008.)

 

We wondered too. So we bought a Blu-ray player and watched a couple of dozen current and classic movies on it. Here are some first thoughts from a veteran movie critic (who, trust us, is in no way a techno-whiz).

 

Why to Get It

Pop in some treasured oldie like John Ford's 1956 western *The Searchers* (a frequent entry point for Blu-ray connoisseurs), and voil?! Instant enlightenment. As the '40s film critic Cecilia Ager said when Citizen Kane opened, "It's as though you had never seen a movie before." Colors and textures are richly, plausibly vibrant, with an astonishing depth of field; all those Fordian shots of the Plains as seen from a ranch-house door lend equal clarity to the foreground and the far horizon. Blu-ray gives a 3-D impression, as if the figures in a scene were in your room; you could almost walk among and touch them. The sensation is the same with old black-and-white films like *The Third Man*, where the Vienna streets gleam with an almost erotic palpability. Any movie that looks good in another format ? *Sleeping Beauty, Raging Bull, Chungking Express, The Passion of the Christ* ? will look better on Blu-ray. Different, deeper, better. Realer.

 

Blu-ray also has a practical advantage: DVDs can be played on it. Every other upgrade in home entertainment ? from 16 mm to laser disc to VHS and DVD ? has meant the obsolescence of the previous format. This time you can embrace the new technology without mothballing your DVD collection. No awful separation anxiety. (See the top 10 movie performances of 2008.)

 

As for the next-next generation of digital downloads, that will take a while ? maybe quite a while. Bandwidth is still a problem; visual quality lags behind that of standard DVDs. What Blu-ray offers could be matched or exceeded by the Internet within a decade, but we believe tech maven David Carnoy, who writes on the authoritative website CNET, "Digital downloads will not eliminate the need for discs anytime soon."

 

And Why Not To

DVDs are fine. We thought so before Blu-ray and still do. They were a big advance over videocassettes in clarity and durability; whereas a cassette, like a vinyl record or an eight-track, deteriorated simply by being played, DVDs don't erode with age. The Searchers, The Third Man, The Dark Knight and WALL?E all look terrific on DVD. As terrific as on Blu-ray? Not quite. But what are we, eye doctors?

 

For better or worse, most fans don't want to study a movie; they want to watch it. The images serve the story, not the other way around. Blu-ray's crystal clarity, if people notice it, might actually detract from their involvement in the film. And the majority of movies can't be called visually sumptuous. You could watch a Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler picture on the oldest TV set, with tinfoil on the rabbit ears, and not miss the important stuff: the comic spectacle of men behaving like boys.

 

Even some high-end critics who cherish film as a visual art aren't sold on the format. "I did buy a Blu-ray," says Jim Emerson, whose cogent blog Scanners runs on rogerebert.com "and I feel like a sucker. To me, some DVDs look more like 35 mm than Blu-ray does. In another 10 years, who is going to need a plastic physical disc to store digitized information? I think Blu-ray is a transitional format that won't last long."

 

But 10 years is a lifetime in entertainment technology; it's about as long as the age of DVD. Until the digital millennium arrives, Blu-ray is the best, and best-looking, way to see movies at home. It's less than a revolution but more than a gimmick.

******************************************

 

Good piece, except for the ridiculous quote of Jim Emerson.

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Has anyone here gotten the *Pinocchio* blu-ray yet? I haven't because I'd been worried when I read that Disney was now going to be adding "painted panels" to the sides of this non-anamorphic movie to "fill out" the sides of the wider HDTV screens. I actually had considered passing on this title, but I read today in digitalbits.com that the panels can be switched off.

 

Don't really know how many people will appreciate this dubious feature, but as long as they can be switched off, I guess I won't mind.

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I bought it yesterday, and, yes, the side panels are a choice you get to make on the main menu. They actually don't look bad, changing to fit whatever the scene is. By the way, the picture quality is magnificent. This is a fantastic Blu to own. I will be reviewing it tonight or tomorrow.

 

I think Disney did the side panels to appease that group of people today who freak out at the sight of a picture that doesn't fill their HDTV's screen completely from left to right. If you don't believe there could be such people, check out some of the postings from buyers of the title on www.blu-ray.com and www.highdefdigest.com.

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There is an interesting article about Criterion releases on Blu-ray in the April 2009 Home Theater magazine. The company says that Blu-rays have made up 30%-50% of the titles' total sales.

 

The article mentions that when The Third Man first came out on DVD in 2007 from them, "vendors and online customers pre-ordered 30,000 copies. When The Third man came out on Blu-ray last December, pre-orders amounted to a very respectable 13,000 copies. Within a few weeks, they were all sold out, and the vendors had to order more. (Re-orders also came in rapidly for the Blu-rays of The Last Emperor and Chunking Express.)"

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According to Video Business, Netflix is now boosting the blu-ray surcharge for subscribers who receive blu-ray discs:

 

http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6647771.html

 

*Netflix boosts Blu-ray subscription pricing*

Adoption, selection jump in recent months

 

By Danny King -- Video Business, 3/30/2009

 

MARCH 30 | Netflix will increase the price it's charging subscribers for access to Blu-ray Disc titles next month as both its high-definition disc inventory and adoption of the option has surged in the past few months.

 

Netflix's Blu-ray premium will range between $1 a month for its cheapest plan, which allows customer to rent one DVD at a time with two in a month, to $9 a month for its most expensive plan, which allows customers to keep eight DVDs at a time for an unlimited amount a month, Netflix VP of marketing Jessie Becker wrote on Netflix's Facebook page today. The largest movie-rental service via mail, which will change the prices April 27, will charge an extra $4 a month for the three-DVDs-out-at-a-time, unlimited-rental plan, which is believed to be Netflix's most popular offering.

 

The price increase takes effect as Neflix has widened its Blu-ray inventory as rentals of the high-definition discs have increased. About 1 million Netflix subscribers use the Blu-ray option, up from about 700,000 subscribers at the end of last year. The company's selection of Blu-ray titles has grown by about 60% in the past six months to about 1,300, according to Becker.

 

"We're committed to providing a high quality Blu-ray experience for our members who choose to add Blu-ray access," Becker wrote today. "In order to do that, we need to adjust Blu-ray pricing. As a result, the monthly charge for Blu-ray access is increasing for most plans and will now vary by plan."

 

As Netflix has widened both the selection of digitally delivered titles and the number of components capable of video-streaming them directly to TV sets, the company also has increased revenue from subscribers who rent Blu-ray discs. Late last year, Netflix started testing the Blu-ray subscription option by adding $1 to monthly subscription plans.

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Warner Home Video is running a special promotion for blu-ray buyers:

 

http://warnerbros.eprize.net/goblu/index.tbapp

 

It's basically "buy 5, get 1 free (plus shipping and handling)" and it expires on 4/6/2010.

 

The list of titles elegible is obviously subject to change, but right now it includes the UCE's of "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz", as well as the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy (which is not yet formally announced).

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

> Is Blu-ray Worth Getting?

 

Thank you for posting that....it's a hot debate in this household since I'm a hand-to-mouth arteest with sporratic income.

 

I don't replace anything until the last one truly craps out, and since I'm brand loyal to Sony, meaning even my ancient video tape machine is still going!

 

I was debating whether to invest in a BR machine, since I already have a respectable collection of DVDs. But knowing I can play DVDs on it helps sway me to the dark side.

Especially since the "used" BR section at my local store has quite the selection; only $9.99 for used BR opposed to 7.99 for used DVDs.

 

I can think of several films (like Disney or Bollywood) that would be more spectacular on BR format, but not everything, like my educational film collection which is in rough found condition.

 

I hate when a newer format eliminates the older.

Nice to have a choice!

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If you bought into HD DVD before the format war ended, and still have a number of the Warner Bros. HD DVD discs in your collection, good news is here if you would like to get the Blu-ray version. Warner Bros. has initiated a program for you to send in the HD DVD sleeve art to them on titles they have also produced in Blu-ray and for $4.95 get back the Blu-ray of it. It's a win-win situation if you still want to hang on to your HD DVDs ecause they only ask for the sleeve artwork, not the HD DVD discs (you keep those). You can exchange up to 25 titles [er household and the shipping that is added on to your order is only $6.95 total.

 

Here is a link to the WB site:

 

http://www.red2blu.com/products.html

 

And to the FAQ:

 

http://www.red2blu.com/faq.html

 

People are hoping other studios follow WB's lead.

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Just a quick note: it looks like Toshiba, who were on the other side of the high def format war with their losing HD DVD players, may be finally biting the bullet and accepting the fact that they, too, have to start manufacturing Blu-ray players:

 

Toshiba Chief Hints At Launching Blu-Ray Disc Ops (June 24th Nikkei news)

 

 

TOKYO (Nikkei)--Toshiba Corp. (6502) President Atsutoshi Nishida did not rule out the possibility of selling DVD recorders using the Blu-ray Disc format when addressing shareholders at the firm's general meeting here Wednesday.

 

"It makes no sense to decide not to enter the Blu-Ray market simply because we lost the DVD-format war. We cannot change the fact that we lost, but we would like to keep our options open," he said.

 

Toshiba pushed for global adoption of its HD-DVD format, but failed to gain sufficient support from major U.S. movie studios. This prompted the firm to pull out of its HD-DVD operations in spring 2008, declaring at that time that it would not handle Blu-ray products.

 

But Nishida's latest remark appears to indicate that Toshiba is considering reversing that decision in light of the significant growth in the market for these products.

 

(The Nikkei June 24 evening edition)

http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/e/fr/tnk...24DA4J6246.htm

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If you had been up late last night, you might have seen an item speeding around the internet about a legitimate brick&mortar business called "American TV" back east and an internet order they had for a Sherman Blu-ray player, model number 5003...at $50.09. Let's just say their website was swamped and it looks like those who got their orders in before the chain ran out will get them...even though it seems like a pricing error was made (possibly should have been $250).

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The thing I posted below about the Sherman Blu-ray player for $50.09 deal has just gotten better for those of us who got in on time. It turns out that it has the same basic insides as the Momitsu (not quite as sophisticated as far as audio goes), so somebody tried out the different region codes that work for Momitsu, and they worked. So with these codes this is a region-free player for Blu and DVDs! For $50.09??? WOW!

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Yesteday, I got the Sherwood 5003 Blu-ray player (not Sherman as I mentioned) and it is indeed a multi-region capable player. I can play Blus from different regions of the world and also play all regions for DVDs! What an incredible deal at $50.09 for those who saw the deal online and didn't hesitate in going for it!!!

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Just a small note to let anyone interested know that Toshiba has now applied to become a member of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) in order to manufacture Blu-ray players. This may seem unnoteworthy to some since there are so many manufacturers of Blu-ray players now, but it is actually a major development because Toshiba lost the high def format war with their own HD DVD players a year and a half ago. They have now buried the hatchet because they have accepted they are losing out on a lot of money.

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As an article, it's slightly above the level of advertorial, but it does have information that is useful for those of us considering buying (or renting) these titles.

 

The only thing I'm not sure about after reading the article (and I don't remember it having been mentioned before in the forums) is whether any of the UCEs will have Live BD features. I haven't even bothered to hook up my BD player to the Web because the only Live BD features I'm aware of are all in the new releases only, and I'm not too excited about those. I wonder if there are good Live BD features in any classic title.

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blu-ray.com has highlighted a study that is kind of "good news/bad news" in regards to blu-ray adoption:

 

 

*With Help from PS3, Adoption of Blu-ray Faster than DVD*

 

Blu-ray Disc According to a new study released by Futuresource, adoption of Blu-ray will surpass DVD when comparing year five for each home video medium. In 2002, DVD adoption (including the PS2) was 32.6%, and Futuresource is predicting that in 2010, Blu-ray adoption (including PS3) will be 34.1%. They further predict that in year eight (2013), adoption of Blu-ray will rise to 67.8%.

 

Removing the video game systems from the equation, DVD is predicted to be slightly ahead - possibly showing the a growing acceptance of video game systems as media players rather than just for gaming.

 

The predictions aren't all that flattering, however, with Futuresource predicting that Blu-ray will never catch up to standard DVD presence due to a rise in video-on-demand and web downloads.

 

The complete article can be found here:

http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6700099.html

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Wal-Mart will be selling the Magnavox Blu-ray player for $78 starting this Saturday.

 

http://www.homemediamagazine.com/wal-mart/wal-mart-bringing-back-78-blu-ray-player-17802

 

I was glancing at a magazine the other day and Ithink it mentioned that there are now something like 55 different makes of the Blu-ray player from various manufacturers. Sony, Magnavox, Toshiba, and many more manufacturers are getting into the game. I even saw a Vizio brand at Costco. (Personally, I would only by Sony.)

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Here's an interview with a Kino executive talking about the incredible Blu-ray edition of The General and other projects:

 

 

*Interview: Bret Wood Discusses Keaton?s The General on Blu-ray*

 

 

The General is considered one of the greatest films ever made, ranking in at number 18 on the most recent AFI list. We agree. However, bringing a silent film starring Buster Keaton from 1927 to high definition and Blu-ray posed some challenges, and producer Bret Wood let us in on the process, while offering thoughts on digital noise reduction (DNR), the musical score, and clarifies which film negative was used in the process.

 

Who are you and what do you do?

 

I?m Bret Wood and I produce most of Kino?s silent/classic projects, which entails helping curate the content for DVDs and Blu-rays, supervising film transfers, working with production manager Brian Shirey to obtain musical scores and assemble the finished product. I?m also an independent filmmaker. My third feature as director, The Little Death, will be released in 2010.

 

What specific challenges did this movie present when transferring it to Blu-ray?

 

Preparing silent films for Blu-ray is proving to be a daunting challenge. Even when we are able to locate the best surviving film elements of a particular title, these elements have considerably more grain and printed-in wear than one finds in a studio-preserved negative that is, say, twenty years old.

 

When a film is mastered in HD, the image is sharper than it has previously been, but as a consequence the film grain becomes more pronounced. When we first transferred The General, a minimal amount of digital grain reduction was applied and it is this version that was released on DVD. Upon close inspection of the Blu-ray test discs, we found that even that small amount of digital noise reduction had created visual artifacting, a slight blurring and ghosting of the image. We brought the film element back to the lab (Crawford Communications) and re-transferred it specifically for Blu-ray, without DRS or any artificial grain reduction. So the film was remastered specifically for the Blu-ray release.

 

 

It is Kino?s new policy that films should be released on Blu-ray without digital noise reduction, so that what the viewer gets is an accurate representation of what the 35mm film looks like, grain and all. Hopefully a system will be developed that clarifies the image without reducing the sharpness or creating visual artifacts, but so far we haven?t seen it.

 

The DVNR technology of the DVD era is not subtle enough for the 1080 requirements of the Blu-ray age. In fact, when I look back at some silent films that were released on DVD, heavily treated with digital noise reduction, I cringe. I now recognize the degree to which the film?s natural grain and sharpness have been glossed over for the sake of a smooth image. I worry that this has spoiled the consumer, who will now expect every film to look this way when the actual film never looked that way to begin with!

 

So the big question that is yet to be answered is whether or not Blu-ray users will be satisfied with an HD copy of a film that is not pristine, but looks like an 80-year-old film actually looks.

 

Alternatively, a film can be retouched frame-by-frame without the same kind of motion artifacts that come from applying a filtering device. This method was used for the elaborate restorations of Battleship Potemkin and Metropolis, both of which will be released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber in 2010.

 

Why was Carl Davis?s score chosen to be the one that was uncompressed over the others? What was needed to update the music since it was recorded in 1987?

 

Carl Davis is held in higher regard than any other composer for silent film. His score for The General had never been released on DVD, so when we prepared the DVD/Blu-ray releases of the film, we wanted to give it special attention. In terms of updating the music, we did re-balance the two-channel stereo track for 5.1. We hope to release additional films with Davis? legendary scores in 2010.

 

The DVD trailer states this transfer was pulled from the original camera negative. Why is this sepia/blue tinted?

 

To be exact, the transfer was of a 35mm fine grain master (FGM) that was struck from the original camera negative, but that doesn?t sound as good in promotion. I always phrased it as ?derived from the original camera negative,? since no responsible post house would permit a (highly flammable) nitrate camera neg (with 80-year-old splices) to be put on their Spirit film transfer system. And it would be irresponsible to the original camera neg to run it back and forth through the system and possibly damage it. We tried to use language that made it clear (without being confusing to the consumer with unnecessary detail) that this is the closest that a person could get to working from the camera neg.

 

Regarding tints, we did that digitally, since the camera neg (and the FGM derived from the camera neg) were monochrome. The question of tinting is something we continually wrestle with. For example, we recently mastered Keaton?s Our Hospitality. Historical records are unclear about whether the film was originally tinted. The 35mm film element we worked from had tinting instructions etched on the leader, but there is reason to believe these are not original, but were added at a later date. Preferring to err on the side of caution, we will most likely release Our Hospitality in black-and-white (unless more reliable information turns up).

 

Note: Tim Lanza of Douris Corp. added this about the negative used: In general (no pun), the fine grain came from the nitrate camera neg that had been held at Janice Allen?s Cinema Arts, but is now at the Library of Congress.

 

How much restoration work was done for this master? Compared to some of the public domain versions, this is a clear step-up. What do you believe to the estimated cost to further clean-up the remaining damage, if it?s possible?

 

We were fortunate to obtain a 35mm FGM of The General that was in excellent condition. But, being that the film is more than 80 years old, it wasn?t flawless. The most significant work done was the digital removal of a lot of nitrate damage to the edges of the frame (in the scene in which Johnny goes to Annabelle?s house to woo her). To me, that was all that was required to bring the film to a pleasurable viewing experience in which the film element?s natural signs of age are not a distraction from the story. That is the fine line I try to tread.

 

How difficult is it to work with such early film? I believe (correct me if I?m wrong) this is the currently the oldest film available on the format. What differences exist between the film elements of that era compared to now (besides the obvious age deterioration)?

 

Age deterioration is the biggest difference, and film grain, as previously discussed. Other than that, the issue is the scarcity of film elements to work from. There were a lot of films that existed in fair condition but looked fine on DVD, but do not fare so well in HD. As a result, the pool from which we draw releases is much more shallow. Kino only wants to release a film on Blu-ray if we are convinced that we have the best existing film element.

 

This is true not only of silent films but of more recent titles as well. We have been working for more than a year on preparing a suitable Blu-ray of Andrei Tarkovsky?s The Sacrifice. The 35mm archival elements have flaws that make it unsuitable for Blu-ray release, and we are working with the Swedish Film Institute (which controls the film) to find a solution. Blu-ray poses a lot of challenges and frustrations to a producer such as myself, but when those obstacles are overcome, the payoff is pretty extraordinary.

 

Sometimes I?m surprised by the quality of a film element. I just supervised the transfer of Man?s Genesis (a D.W. Griffith silent short from 1912) and it looks absolutely stunning. Sharp as a tack with minimal grain. You never know what you?ve got until you put it up on the Spirit and have a look.

 

I (and viewers on AVS Forum) noted some form of haloing or edge enhancement at work. I first noted it as Keaton begins knocking on Annabelle Lee?s home. It didn?t appear digital as I watched the disc, but the stills made me question it. Is this part of the source deterioration? You can see it in this screen grab around Keaton?s head/body specifically.

 

You nailed it (see above, regarding restoration work). That?s the problem with digital finishing. No matter how well you do it, it isn?t going to be perfect. Whether a film is ?cleaned? by digital noise reduction or frame-by-frame retouching, it is slightly deviating from the actual content of the existing film. It?s difficult to know how much is too much.

 

This same master was used for the DVD over a year ago. What was the technical process of bringing this to hi-def after DVD?

 

See above (regarding grain reduction) ? it is not the same master. We did use the ?courting? scene from the year-old master, since we had spent so much time and money painting out the nitrate damage. Otherwise, the Blu-ray comes from a new master, virtually identical to the DVD master, but without digital grain reduction.

 

Thanks for your time Bret, and good luck on the future releases!

 

http://www.doblu.com/2009/12/19/interview-bret-wood-discusses-keatons-the-general-on-blu-ray/

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