Impressions from Blu-ray demo at Sony Style

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Jesse Blacklow, Jun 3, 2006.

  1. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    I went over to the Sony Style store in Tyson's Corner (northern Virginia) today to check out their Blu-ray demonstration, and get a chance to meet up with David Boulet and some other HTF/AVS folks, who I'm sure will probably chime in on one or both of the forums.

    The setup was a prototype of the Sony BDP-S1 on a 70" Qualia 006. The player looks better in person than it does in the pictures, but it's obviously too buggy for primetime (and it was only capable of 1080i, for now). Since it's not expected for another 2 1/2 months, I'm hoping they've got time to work out the kinks. The demo disc contained a bunch of ad-style reels, scenes from several movies, a bit on interactivity, and a split-screen clip. The ad-style reels contained footage from (off the top of my head): House of Flying Daggers, Stealth, Hitch, Hellboy, Lawrence of Arabia, Chronicles of Narnia, Sahara (2005), Underworld: Evolution, Lemony Snicket, Fifth Element, Spider-man 2, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Batman Begins, Constantine, Black Hawk Down, Kingdom of Heaven, Moulin Rouge, and Ultraviolet. And--okay, okay, you want to know how it looked, right?

    Frackin' awesome!

    Images are crisp, with eye-popping colors, and are free of motion artifacts or horrible macroblocking, with such minimal EE that (to my eyes) it was essentially gone from 7' away. As I mentioned above, there were short (~3 minute) scenes from movies like Spider-man 2, Chicken Little, Chronicles of Narnia, Ultraviolet, Click, Underworld: Evolution, and Fifth Element. Of special note were the Chicken Little and Click demos. The former is digital animation, and the latter was apparently filmed with Sony digital HD cameras. Both were amazingly detailed, and would easily make you forget about getting them on DVD. The split-scene reel showed the choosing of the swords from Kill Bill, first in SD, then in HD, then split down the middle. The change in detail was amazing. Unfortunately, the Fifth Element clip was jarringly different from everything else. I don't know if it was the master or the clip, but it looked more like an upconvert of the Superbit DVD than HD. But everything else was top-notch.

    From all indication, this was all done in MPEG-2, and with the exception of Fifth Element, looked phenomenal. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the bitrate, but in comparison to the HD DVDs done in VC-1 that I saw later (if you read this, thanks again Jaffrey!), there was virtually no difference. It was pointed out that it made a tiny difference in text (such as subtitles), but if I was watching a movie, I can't rightly say I would notice it. I'll leave that up to the reviewers to harp on if it's still there.

    Overall, I was very impressed, and more impatient than ever*. I'm tempering my impulses by reminding myself that more brands (and cheaper players) are coming down the pike quite soon, but if they bring on the titles, I'm not sure how long I can hold back.


    *Yes, I know that HD DVD is here now, but they've yet to give me anything that I really want, either in brands or titles.

    ETA: I forgot the John Legend and Dido concert demos, which IMO is where a lot of HD broadcasts have problems because of fast cuts, high random motion, and lighting. The video on the JL bit didn't seem to be deinterlacing correctly, and was in 2.0. However, Dido's "White Flag" was flawless. It's the first time I've seen a concert in HD where the lights and audience didn't turn into a blocky blur. Again, motion and compression artifacts simply didn't show up. Concerts on HD disc might be a big draw, which is why I'm guessing one of the "ad" loops made sure to show SonyBMG and Universal Music Group.
     
  2. Craig Sherman

    Craig Sherman Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2002
    Messages:
    176
    Likes Received:
    0
    Shame about Fifth Element. I figured that would be one of the format's preeminent reference discs.

    CS
     
  3. Rob_HD

    Rob_HD Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Jesse - the other posters who saw the Bluray play CLEARLY stated that there was very visible artifacting (from Mpg2) one the demo disks, especially when there was light to dark contrast - as in titles, etc.

    How do you speak to this?...

    Link... http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...9&page=1&pp=30
     
  4. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2000
    Messages:
    2,861
    Likes Received:
    10
    Excellent news, I'm glad to hear that the BD demo was so impressive. Looking forward to getting a player this summer!
     
  5. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wow Rob, I guess your hatred of Blu-ray has literally blinded you to nearly everything that was said here and in your link. I was there, and as you failed to notice, I mentioned what plazman said in my post. His was the only mention, and it really made no big difference to him, especially since this was a demo disc. I was talking to him and got his reaction. He was impressed, and is as excited for Blu-ray as he is for HD DVD. Not only that, he actually repuditates you and rdjam's (if you're different posters) attempts to bash PQ not once, but twice. Why don't we start here:
    Furthermore, I don't know about all those "other posters" you're talking about, because they don't even exist. And you don't have to take my word for it. Everyone's free to check out the entire thread Rob linked, but I believe every impression other than plazman's can be found here, here, and here, and none of them had any misgivings. And now Rob, since you're the guy that is constantly mentioning what we'll see, let me ask you something. Have you seen this demo, and have you compared it HD DVD? Could you say for sure that the sharp eyes on both forums are not up to your Olympian standards? Would you say that this demo disc, in a pre-production player, on a non-1080p native display is as representative of the format as the HD DVD demos in March were (i.e., not totally)? Please, let us know.
     
  6. Ryan-G

    Ryan-G Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Messages:
    621
    Likes Received:
    1

    It's interesting, in reading that thread I see many indications that the artifacting was only on text, was very minimal in fast moving scenes, was comparable to HD-DVD, and wasn't an issue.

    I also see a few people mentioning color banding issues with HD-DVD, a much more important issue that prototype units. Perhaps you'd rather talk about production level HD-DVD units with color banding issues? Perhaps we should start a petition for Warner to abandon HD-DVD because of the clear inferiority of the format as reported by the knowledgable industry veterans on the AVS forum?

    Or perhaps you could quit trying to bash BR every chance you get by exagerrating and skewing everything you can get ahold of?
     
  7. Rob_HD

    Rob_HD Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Jesse - I wasn't launching a war on Bluray. I was merely including Plazman's observations. So it was a simple, accurate statement - not bashing.

    Some of the issues Plazman reported on were clearly because the unit is pre-production, so it's not an issue to be worried about yet. Plazman was careful to point that out. But he gave the PQ award to HD DVD.

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...&&#post7769172

     
  8. Rob_HD

    Rob_HD Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    The BD artifacting was present anywhere that there were sharp, hi contrast lines, per the posts on AVS - text is just the most obvious candidate for this.

    There is no banding on anything I've seen on HD DVD. The single post that said this on AVS was someone who saw a demo on a DLP display, and other posters said it was likely the display causing what he said he saw.
     
  9. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    Again, have you seen this demo? Can you say "BD artifacting was present" (your words) exactly as described? Can you rightly say it was the source and not the display or the player? Because that's how you're portraying it.
     
  10. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2000
    Messages:
    2,861
    Likes Received:
    10

    I didn't know you were present at the demo, Rob.
     
  11. Rob_HD

    Rob_HD Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Plazman was pretty clear it was Mpeg2 artifacting - no display I know of is going to introduce that...
     
  12. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    Observation, Rob. No "s". From a guy comparing fully calibrated equipment of his own to a display run by guys who aren't nearly as anal about this as we are. But of course, you still want to harp on this horrible problem, even though you haven't even seen it. A lot of knowledgable people who actually have seen it just don't notice it, and certainly not to the point that you want them to. If they're having trouble finding it, and the person who does essentially calls it a non-factor, why do you want to keep bringing it up? When the issue of poorly-deinterlaced retail HD DVDs came up, you pooh-poohed it, but gods forbid the appearance of infintesmal flaws on a Blu-ray demo appear. I guess in the absence of the compressed cable TV-esque quality you were hoping for, you just had to settle. I'm real sorry that you have to go unsatisfied. Really, I am.
     
  13. Nils Luehrmann

    Nils Luehrmann Producer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2001
    Messages:
    3,513
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well said Jesse. Thanks for sharing your insights on the demo.

    Do you know who put the demo together and where else this/these demos will be held?

    Thanks.
     
  14. Rob_HD

    Rob_HD Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 9, 2006
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Perhaps these questions should be directed to plazman. Many posts have indicated that the HD DVD players look absolutely pristine on the Sony SRXD displays, certainly one of the best displays. No one has noticed these types of artifacts with HD DVD on those sets. Are you suggesting that these displays are suddenly creating these artifacts because of some unique issue that only happens to the displays when connected to a Bluray player?
     
  15. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

    Joined:
    May 27, 1999
    Messages:
    2,153
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    Georgia
    Real Name:
    Todd
    Congratulations Rob_HD. Because of you I have now decided to go exclusively Blu-ray. Before I came to this decision, I was going to wait until either a dual-format player became available or one of the formats won the format war. But seeing as how much you hate Blu-ray and spend every single day posting pro-HD-DVD and anti-Blu-ray posts (have you even posted in any other forum here?), I figure Blu-ray must be something special. So again, congratulations. Keep this up and you'll alienate quite a number of fence sitters.
     
  16. Rich Allen

    Rich Allen Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    382
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Salisbury MD
    Real Name:
    Rich Allen
    Guys, just ignore the obvious trolls.
     
  17. Austan

    Austan Second Unit

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Messages:
    283
    Likes Received:
    0
    Went the local mall this weekend and walked in the Sony store for the BluRay demo. I was quite impressed with the demo. The SD DVD vs BluRay shot was hokie at best. "Simulated pictures" just dont do it for me, but for the "average consumer", it will be quite effective. Needless to say, I'm still going to be on the waiting list for a PS3. And I'm ready to start my new media collection.
     
  18. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    Excellent choice of "evidence", Rob. If you placed your nose to the screen showing a 4K master, you'd see lines. Of course, I was also talking to longshot, because he was, y'know, there, unlike you. It wasn't apparent from 6'-7' view distance to us. So, still at one observation.
     
  19. John McAdams

    John McAdams Auditioning

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Let me jump in here fellas, I'm Longshot over at AVS Forum and I was there. I'm also good friends with Dave Boulet.

    Let me clarify about the ringing artifacts issue. If you look at my quote closely I said I noticed it only when I placed my nose inches from the screen and only on the text from the menu screen. Now let me ask how many of us are going to be watching with are noses pressed to the screen? It is completely a non-issue.

    There were no other artifacts present that I saw. Both Dave and Jessie agreed with that. It was great to meet Jessie and Plazman as we had a total geek out right there in the middle of the store. After the demo Plazman invited us back to his place to see his HD-XA1. Unfortunately I had my wife and two-year old son and was unable to go.

    I'm a staunch Blu-ray supporter. While what I saw Saturday was only a demo I'm very excited about what BD has to offer. According to a few posters at AVS there will be as many as 9 different BD players to choose from this fall at various price points (this does not include the PS3). If true IMO this will be very difficult for Toshiba to stay viable unless they can convince the rest of the studios to release on HD DVD or some other big name manufacturers (Denon, Onkyo, Arcam) to produce players.

    I don't recall anyone saying MPEG2 is going to be superior to VC1. In fact I have nothing against HD DVD or anyone who has purchased the Toshiba. I say great. Enjoy.

    It is just ridiculous the amount of FUD that is continually spewed form the same individuals. As we get closer to an actual launch I'm afraid it's only going to get worse. Much worse.
     
  20. Jesse Blacklow

    Jesse Blacklow Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2002
    Messages:
    2,049
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's another detailed review of the Sony demo, this time from the Home Expo in LA. The money quotes:
     

Share This Page