"Total HD" from Warners (re: Blu-ray/HD-DVD hybrid disc)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Chris S, Jan 4, 2007.

  1. Douglas Monce

    Douglas Monce Producer

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    As far as I know Warners already uses the same exact content for both BD and HD-DVD including the same actual VC-1 coded file for the movie.

    The only bonus features that I know of that have been on one format and not the other was the Enhanced commentary on Mission Impossible 3. For some reason they couldn't make it work on the BD in time for the discs to be pressed. I think this was an issue that has been corrected now, so future BD releases can include this kind of content.

    Frankly other than capacity (which MAY have been rectified on the HD-DVD side) I'm not aware of anything that one format can do that the other cannot.

    Doug
     
  2. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    Seems Warner is not just talking about this, but has made a complete commitment to the THD disks.

     
  3. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Whatever we think about the product as such, and whatever the end-result will be (including price, etc.), they seem determined to contribute their part to ending the format war.

    For that alone I give them a big [​IMG] !


    Cees
     
  4. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Meanwhile three Chinese player makers as well as Onkyo plan to introduce lower-priced HD-DVD players later this year, the triple-layer, 51GB HD-DVD is being tested (there goes that vaunted capacity advantage) and Blu Ray is still trying to work out that whole interactivity thing. With Warner TotalHD discs available as a way for consumers to hedge their bets against future developments in the format war, I suspect that lots of cheap HD-DVD players are going to sell to homes new to HD, not serious cinephiles and home theater junkies, just regular folks who happen to have bought an HDTV, are dazzled by their OTA or satellite or cable HD experience and want the same from DVD. And a big installed base of HD players that can't buy or play their movies on Blu Ray only discs, but could buy them on HD or TotalHD, is going to be a big incentive for the exclusive studios to change their tune.

    Total HD would actually buy them time (and help them sell discs) to make a case for Blu Ray's superiority to consumers in a market where many have already experienced hi-def DVD, instead of making converts and partisans of consumers before they've bought a machine. They could invite them to bring their favorite TotalHD movie down to the local Best Buy and play it on a BD player.

    That strikes me as a better strategy than simply repeating "we have exclusive studios because of our better copy protection" (DIVX) and "you should buy our product because we have better technology" (Beta and every failed consumer format ever introduced by Sony) while your overpriced players get outsold by the competition and your market share dwindles away. (Beta had 100% market share in the home video recorder market. Apple once had a lock on home and small office computers capable of graphics and desktop publishing - the original "killer app" for the Mac. It doesn't matter who takes the early lead. It matters who has racked up the most points by the time the final whistle blows. At this point either side could "win" or - uniquely - we could end up with both formats staying around for awhile. But anybody who thinks one format or the other is already the "inevitable" winner at this point is simply ignoring all of history and most of current reality.)

    Let the games begin!

    Joe
    (Who just might consider one of these cheap HD-DVD players and some TotalHD discs come Christmastime, since there will be so much less to lose if HD doesn't make it in the long-run.)
     
  5. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I'll be interested when I see what a Total-HD disc goes for. If putting an SD-DVD on the other side of a HD-DVD drives the price from $20 to $28, what's one of these going to cost?
     
  6. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    First let me say....I WILL NOT BUY ANY COMBO HD DVD. I don't care if it's HD with DVD or HD with Blu-ray. I'll rent them from BB or Netflix but NEVER buy. Warner's defection to Blu-ray will mean companies will not be able to tell which format the person supports even if HD DVD is why it was bought. This is especially critical if/when HD DVD enjoys a extreme edge in the install base of players. Companies will not be able to tell that Blu-ray is the unprofitable useless format on the disc. Therefore, propting up blu-ray when it should otherwise vanish, ala betamax. HD DVD owners would be unwittingly contibuting to an extended format war at greater expense than necessary.
     
  7. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    As much as that's true, I honestly don't see any point in denying myself a movie I like in HD because of how it might effect keeping score.
     
  8. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    WB you can keep it! Your DualDiscs were an abomination and now this. Boycott this crap now!

    Here's the problem with the format war now: the so-called "neutral" studios develope encodes with HD-DVD in mind: the lowest common denominator. BD-50's are quickly becoming the defacto Blu-Ray disc, especially in '07. HD-DVD, with its lower bitrate and lower capacity, will continue to drag on the potential of Blu-Ray.

    TotalHD does not end the format war, just continues it. Plus, compatibility, pricing, and QC issues will crop up. Just like with the crappy DualDiscs by WB.

    Dan
     
  9. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    Hang on... how does prolonging the existance of two formats in the marketplace end the format war?

    If anything they just make things a whole lot worse :-( The best we can hope for now is a stalemate.
     
  10. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Warner Brothers doesn't care. They want to hang on to their HD-DVD royalty streams for as long as possible. I just hope no other studio falls for this.

    You are right John, this does not end the format war. It would become indefinite.
     
  11. Shawn Perron

    Shawn Perron Supporting Actor

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    If nothing else, many "I will NEVER buy a Blu-Ray disc" people will look at thier collection in a year going "wow, I own 50 Blu-Ray movies".
     
  12. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    Ending the format war does not mean the demise of either system. Both HD and BD may survive very well together, in which case Warner is making a very smart, cost effective move. This is no different than the XM vrs. Sirius or DirecTv vrs. Dish competition. The competition drives each other to add channels, improve quality and improve pricing. Works for me.
     
  13. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    Except for the price, there's nothing at all "crappy" about Warner's combo discs. The picture and sound quality are stellar.
     
  14. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Except that TotalHD is somewhat analagous to being able to get either DirecTV or Dish hardware and being able to switch to the other service later. Again, it removes the fear of obsolecense that is holding a lot of people back from checking out hi-def DVD in either format.

    And the continued "bitrate is everything" attitude really puzzles me. Bitrate and capacity aren't everything.

    The "best" system depends on what you want from a format. If video quality is the top of your list, you'll spend big bucks to get it. If price is the most important factor to you, the "best" system is the cheapest regardless of quality. In the broader market, the "best" system is the one delivers that best balance of picture quality, feature set (what most people actually want, not every possible feature) and price.

    Beta lost the format war because Sony's initial attitude was "Who wants to watch movies on videotape? There is no reason to have a tape that holds more than an hour's worth of programming." They were charging more for a product the delivered less and whose superior quality was a) not as superior as some people like to remember* and b) not perceptible on the TVs in most peoples' homes, which were not big screens and were not carefully adjusted by video geeks. VHS offered longer recording times for both time-shifting and home movies (the VCR's original primary purpose) and it unexpectedly proved ideal for movies. And it cost less. It soon ate Beta's lunch.

    (*Sony's Beta decks were better, often visibly so, than first generation JVC VHS machines, but the quality gap was soon narrowed. It the cheaper, licensed VHS decks built to looser standards that created the "Beta is better" perception in the marketplace. But, given the generally crappy OTA video signals of the time and the quality of most TVs, there still wasn't that much of a difference between the two in the average home. Until you looked at the price tag. [​IMG] And please don't cite the pro version or digital version of Beta as proof of anything. They share little other than a name with the original consumer format and had no influence on the format war, so they are irrelevant to this discussion.)

    The total market is going to decide what happens to these two formats. And the total market is going to consider a whole lot of factors in choosing a hi-def format. It isn't make up of spec-obsessed technogeeks like ourselves. It isn't made up of people who think nothing of dropping $10,000 on a primary display and $5,000 on a receiver.

    I'm not saying that HD-DVD is going to win. I have no idea which, if either, format it going to. I'm just suggesting that the Blu Ray zealots who think their magic bitrate is going to beat the competition all by itself take a look at a little history, The folks who bought their first HDTV at Wal-Mart this Christmas don't know from bitrate. And the reason they're shopping at Wal-Mart is that they need to stretch their dollars as far as they can to meet their budgets. (One reaason I sometimes shop at Wal-Mart is to save money in category "A" that I can spend on category "B" - home theater. [​IMG])

    TotalHD suggests a model in which an "elite" format and a more "plebian" one can go exist. Blu Ray supporters should welcome this. Because history suggests that without such a mechanism for co-existance the plebian format will win every time. (Although history also suggests that the plebian format will eventually improve to the point where it overtakes the "elite" format in any event. [​IMG])

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  15. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Again, it's worth repeating [​IMG]....I think this is good for the HD formats. Even the LG dual player is good. Will I buy the LG player at that price? Hell no...but it does add another company into the mix and along with Warner's Total HD gets more people on board doing SOMETHING in HD. The great studios like New Line all of a sudden are prepping LOTR for God's sakes because of these total HD discs. For that....I'm grateful.

    All of us early adopters knew the risks involved with adopting a format of choice or if fortunate, able to do both. We had to know this would be a somewhat "developing as we go" thing....At this point in the game, both formats need to get the HD name out there.

    Probably 90% of people, if not more, have never heard of the HD-DVDs or Blu Ray stuff.

    I'm all for broadening the market and I think these total HD discs seem like a good way to bring more studios on board. [​IMG]
     
  16. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    Joe,

    I agree with what you are saying. I was pointing out that competion is not necessarily bad. In fact IMHO it is HD's presence that has pushed Sony into correcting their early quality issues. It will also help drive down the cost of hardware. I am all for it.
     
  17. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Does anyone here know about DualDiscs? They're a hybrid CD/DVD sandwiched together. Because of poor planning and the wanting to "go it alone" so they wouldn't have to pay Sony/Philips' patent royalties for the CD side they made the pits at a non standard spacing, which has caused problems with some players and reduced the capacity of the CD side. Then on the DVD side, they had to reduce the capacity there too for some reason. That forced some content providers to drop high resolution audio (so they weren't DVD-Audio as WB originally promised), or lower the resolution to make the data fit. Then, they ended up being at a non-standard thickness. Slot loading systems in particular have had issues with this thickness and many CD player manufacturers put out advisories recommending consumers to not use DualDiscs in their players. For this poorly conceived format, you have to pay a premium to this day.

    When I see Warner Brothers basically going down the same path again, this time with Blu-Ray and HD-DVD (wanting their cake and wanting to eat it... and then get yet another cake too), the red flags pop up.

    Plus, the price for these discs goes up, not down. WB has stated that people won't mind paying $5 more per disc for this "feature." The hell we won't! They're already too expensive.

    Plus, HD-DVD isn't good enough. It's already starting to hit the capacity cap of dual layered 30 GB discs on some movies. When you start adding even more "extras" the A/V suffers. Universal had to drop the TrueHD track on King Kong because of this. BD-50's have started to become a standard for Blu-Ray. You will find that this capacity will be needed. How often will BD-50 layers be placed on these TotalHD discs?

    What about the yields? Everyone has been up in arms about that for so long. This is far more complicated than just a BD-50 disc being stamped.

    Now, if WB doesn't have room on the HD-DVD side to have advanced audio and higher bitrates, will they put a BD-50 side on board and re-encode and add these features for the Blu-Ray side? Microsoft would cry bloody murder!

    Dan
     
  18. Tim Glover

    Tim Glover Lead Actor

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    Dan I know you are passionate about all of this, but I don't agree with you regarding HD-DVD not being good enough. But I respect your opinion. [​IMG]
     
  19. ppltd

    ppltd Producer

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    This argument has been played to death, and is factually inacurate. Universal doesn't use TrueHD as a decision. With the exception of maybe 'King Kong', and that is a big maybe, capacity has not been a issue with either format. I would like someone to point out one HD-DVD disk that had PQ effected by the inclusion of extra features.

    With the advancments in VC1 encoding, they become even less likely.
     
  20. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    I was in the process of editing my post when you replied. Yes, King Kong was a great example of HD-30 discs not being enough.

    When you start looking at studios like Disney who like to stuff and cram their animated classics discs full of extras at the expensive of the A/V quality of the feature, HD-30 discs are again not going to cut it. If you look at studios that like to put multiple language tracks on their discs, Blu-Ray's higher bitrate cap will be put into play too.

    Look at The Lord of the Rings. What if you want a high resolution lossless, 8 channel track for the soundtrack and another isolated lossless high resolution track for the score (and I don't mean 16/48 resolution)? For such a long running set of movies with tons of extras, very difficult to encode scenes, etc. you want the higher capacities and bitrates Blu-Ray 50 GB discs afford.

    Face it guys, we've only scratched the surface of what the studios want to do with these discs, and 30 GB discs aren't going to be enough unless you want lesser quality.
     

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