Why Can't We Get Standard Def TV series on Blu-ray?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cinescott, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. JoeDoakes

    JoeDoakes Cinematographer
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    Back in the 1990s, someone at Best Buy told me that CDs were on the way out and the future was the Sony minidisk. Best Buy was even devoting floor space to them. It didn't happen. If you had something like the I-pod where you could store 10,000 television episodes, that would be a space saving alternative that would really appeal to a lot of people. A lot of older tvshows are already being marketed in smaller boxes (remember how Dr. Quinn was originally put out in a box set with 1 standard DVD case per disk)? Like the minidisk, blu ray doesn't offer enough of an advantage on space considerations alone to convince people to switch.
     
  2. jcroy

    jcroy Screenwriter

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    A similar device already exists: a 4 terabyte computer hard drive. (It can hold around 1000+ 45-minute tv episodes in dvd quality).

    Unfortunately the movie studios have not signed up at all, to sell tv episodes in this manner.
     
  3. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    No one's asking anyone to sacrifice picture quality. These are programs whose source material is standard definition. Therefore, these titles would be distinctly different from feature films. In fact SD material would have the potential to look even better on Blu-ray compared with DVD, granted only marginally.
    So, by that rationale, if 25 discs can fit in smaller boxes, that's just as good as 5?
     
  4. smithbrad

    smithbrad Screenwriter

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    No, but good enough for many. Newer releases on DVD are coming out in more compact packaging, and older releases can easily be converted. It costs me less than $10 to replace a typical multi-season show with newer more compact cases and cover art. And for many Blu-ray isn't as portable since most people still have more DVD playing devices than Blu-ray.

    Technical speaking, everything you are saying is true, but many that have large collections have worked around the storage issue by now and it is less of a concern, and not worth double dipping for.
     
  5. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    Not sure if this has been mentioned.

    The BBC released the very excellent Life on Mars on Blu-ray Disc.

    It was shot on 16mm, then (I am led to believe) scanned in SD and SD video material (sfx, etc) added.

    The Blu-ray Disc is, apparently, an upscale.

    Steve W
     
  6. Worth

    Worth Screenwriter

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    The first few seasons of (the new) Doctor Who were also SD, I believe.
     
  7. smithbrad

    smithbrad Screenwriter

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    Yes, they have been up-converted. However, being PAL sourced they are originally 576i vs. NTSC 480i. So for region 1 they had to be downgraded to 480 to be on an NTSC DVD. While the Blu-ray release up-converts from the 576 to 1080, which is an improvement in resolution for many.

    However, if you picked up the R2 release on DVD and can output native PAL you've had 576i from the beginning. Similar circumstance as Farscape, and possible "Life on Mars" since it is BBC.
     
  8. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    How are these possible given the BRDA's "HD only" policy on main features? 1080 upscales may sound nice, but they're not HD.
    Also, the BBC is hardly a boutique label or an organization that would likely fall under the radar.
    Seems like there's some wiggle room in the policy.
     
  9. smithbrad

    smithbrad Screenwriter

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    I believe from a technical perspective anything 720 and up is considered high definition. So that would include up-converted material. Now that doesn't mean anything 720 and up will meet the expectations of what most would perceive as HD, but that gets very subjective quickly. So I would think the BR spec is just based on the technical merits alone.
     
  10. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    If Dr. Who's first couple of seasons were at 576i PAL, they'll never get any better than that. It doesn't matter if they're encoded at 8K, they'll never be "high definition," so that's a "technical merit" with a major flaw. You can't upscale information that was never there in the first place. 576i by definition is SD. No way around that.

    If I'm not mistaken, the SD concert Blu-rays which include the Bee Gees were originally 480i, so that's even more pronounced.

    That fact that these titles would likely look just as good at their native resolutions, yet were encoded at 1080 strikes me as odd.
     
  11. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    What I'm wondering...

    Since the BDA and the "powers that be" have nixed the ability to upscale 480P now...is there a reason to even have 480P DVD anymore?

    Except...of course, for those of us with legacy players made before the restriction went into place.
     
  12. AndyMcKinney

    AndyMcKinney Cinematographer

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    Yes, those are upscales, and also, unfortunately (like the blu-ray upscales of Seasons 1-4 of Doctor Who) they were slowed-down to 24p just for the sake of being progressive format (if they'd released them 1080i, the sound would have been at the proper speed). This means that for these releases, we get the opposite problem of the dreaded PAL-speedup: 24p slowdown, meaning the audio plays too slow.

    Thankfully, I have the Region 2 DVDs for both Mars and Doctor Who, and have been letting my Oppo upscale them. I'm sure I'm getting just as good results picture-wise on my multi-system TV and at least the sound will be played at the correct speed!
     
  13. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    Seems like some producers have their Blu-ray encoding settings on automatic at 1080p24, which would be a mistake.
     
  14. Yorkshire

    Yorkshire Screenwriter

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    A quick question for our technical people.

    If I stick an SD copy of the DVD of Life on Mars in my Blu-ray Disc player and upscale it, the upscaling is being done live/in real time by a piece of kit costing maybe a few hundred pounds, tops.

    If the BBC upscales it for a Blu-ray Disc they can do this at leisure with kit presumably costing many tens of thousands of pounds.

    Should there not be a difference?

    Steve W
     
  15. jcroy

    jcroy Screenwriter

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    Depends on what algorithm is being used and how fast the chip (or computer) doing the upscaling is.

    How much "better" some upscaling algorithms are, may be quite subjective.


    As for the BBC (or anybody else) doing the upscaling at a leisurely pace, it will be highly dependent on whether the individuals doing the work actually give a damn or not. (Both management and technical people).
     
  16. David Weicker

    David Weicker Cinematographer

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    The other thing to consider is the progress of technology.An upscaled Blu-Ray may be the best at the time it was done. But as time goes on, upscale algorithms and technology could improve. Future upscale players might do a better job against the original 480/576 source than what is possible today.So, while it is probably true that you wouldn't see a difference between a Blu-Ray that has upscaled data vs. the original upscaled by a device today, years from now, the Blu-Ray would still be the same, but a device produce picture could be better.
     
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  17. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    You would think. I have never encountered an occasion where I couldn't do it better. There are multiple things that need to be done, including de-interlacing and perhaps even adjusting to 24fps (don't underestimate this for filmed content, when done well). You really have to set the whole thing up to suit your display too as they're all over the map. Obviously a studio can't do this, they do a general purpose upscale. I don't recall any that I thought looked that great, I'd rather have the DVD so that's what I buy when I know something is upscaled. Commercial quality gear does not necessarily mean technically really good either, there are many other factors that make it "expensive".
     
  18. jcroy

    jcroy Screenwriter

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    Such as salaries? :)
     
  19. KMR

    KMR Stunt Coordinator

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    But the new player upscaling older "original" SD material is going to be upscaling something that has been compressed into MPEG-2. I can't imagine that a studio (media producer) would be using an MPEG-2 source to prepare a Blu-ray upscale. They'd be going to the SD master that was used to create the MPEG-2 file, which should theoretically afford a better upscale.
     
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  20. Cinescott

    Cinescott Supporting Actor

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    You may be right, but I'm not sure I'd make this assumption. What would prevent a producer from going to an MPEG-2 source and using that for the basis of the Blu-ray upscale? I would hazard a guess that the majority of SD Blu-ray titles are not harvested from the original source. Too expensive.

    If they can port it using the files that were created for the DVD, which may have been done originally in a resolution higher than 480, they might.

    If the DVD master looks even marginally better in SD on Blu-ray, it could make the decision even easier.

    This would be a caveat I would use for my "TV Series on Blu-ray" wish: only if the original videotaped masters were used. DVD ports would not yield anything much better than what I have now.
     

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