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Studios start to weigh in on high-def DVD

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Andy_MT, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Well-Known Member

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    not really new news, just signs that hd-dvd is being pushed forward.
    although the bit at the end about those working on red-laser compression algorithms saying "we can get a pretty good picture at a bit rate of 5MB" is a worry. looks like DVHS has got a chance afterall.
    article can be found at :
    http://www.videobusiness.com/article...8&catType=NEWS

    Warner pushes for launch by late 2003

    AUGUST 2 | In a scene somewhat reminiscent of the DVD format's tumultuous adoption by content providers in the mid-'90s, top executives at the major studios met quietly last week in Los Angeles to discuss the opportunities and challenges for a high-definition version of DVD.
    The ultimate outcome of the meeting could mean that consumers could have access to HD-capable DVD players and packaged media as soon as the fourth quarter of 2003, according to several sources.
    However, the decision of which technology is used and how quickly it comes to market might once again become a battleground over issues that have more to do with politics and patents than choosing the best technology.
    The first reconvening in some time of the Hollywood Advisory Council, which was formed in 1994 relative to the creation of DVD, was described as a first unofficial step toward a unified approach in making sure the needs and desires of content providers are made clear to technology developers from the earliest stage.
    The HAC includes executives from virtually every major studio's home video division but has no organizational structure and therefore no official spokesperson. Some of those involved call it a "loose, ad hoc committee," a term that some say was adopted by the group to avoid arousing the suspicions of government antitrust officials.
    The July 31 HAC meeting at the Walt Disney Co. compound in Burbank will be followed by a smaller sub-committee gathering within the next several months. The notes will be passed onto the DVD Forum, the industry consortium that develops and maintains official DVD specifications.
    Last week's gathering "was really a kick-off meeting to discuss what we'd like to see," said one studio official who attended. "Warren [Lieberfarb, president of Warner Home Video,] gave a lecture, but not a lot was discussed or agreed to."
    Indeed, while the meeting lacked the discord surrounding the adoption of DVD, consumer electronics analysts said Warner has once again taken a leadership position for the sooner-than-later introduction of a new home entertainment format.
    Although HDTV has been slow to take off--only 3 million homes currently have sets--the Consumer Electronics Association reports record-high consumer satisfaction levels for HDTV and estimates 30% market penetration by 2006. There's consensus among the big studios that development of some form of HD-capable packaged media is a good thing.
    There's also agreement that copy-protection standards must be much more stringent than they were the last time everyone got together to work out a new format. "The copy protection on DVD is a joke," said one studio official. "Looking at a high-definition disc, if there's no meaningful protection, we're not going to put our vaults in the public domain."
    Warner also believes time is of the essence in getting an optical-disc HD format to market since HD-capable Digital VHS, which is embraced by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, is already in the hands of a small number of consumers.
    Of course, with several HD-capable packaged media formats in development, patents and other self-interests could prove to be divisive in deciding which one to choose.
    Warner is said to be pushing for the adoption of what is essentially a soupped-up version of the traditional red-laser-based DVD technology. Based on powerful compression algorithms being co-developed by Microsoft Corp.--a participant that seems to deliver a "what are they up to?" chill down the spines of some studio officials--red-laser HD DVD uses what is essentially a DVD-9 disc.
    Since it uses existing manufacturing technologies, red laser could be employed into the consumer market by the end of 2003, according to Richard Doherty, director of research for the Envisioneering Group, a consumer electronics consulting firm based in Seaford, N.Y.
    That would be beneficial to Warner, which owns not only a huge DVD manufacturing operation, but also numerous patents related to that industrial process.
    "Warner is clearly the biggest advocate of red laser," said Doherty. "Warner has a proprietary interest in the existing DVD machinery continuing for decades."
    According to Doherty, unlike those talks surrounding the adoption of DVD, early discussions between the studios about an HD disc have been civil. "They're all trying to not make this as oppositional as the DVD wars," he said. However, although it hasn't encountered harsh opposition yet, he said Warner could face a tough road in getting all of its competitors on board specifically with red laser.
    Fox, for example, has already indicated its support for D-VHS. However, sources said the studio is showing early signs of supporting Warner's leanings, at least verbally.
    Meanwhile, Doherty said, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is likely to support the Blu-ray Disc standard, an entirely new optical media technology endorsed by the supplier's parent company, Sony Corp. Sony, along with Philips Electronics, was a fierce early competitor in the DVD format wars with Toshiba Corp. and a consortium of other consumer electronics companies backed by Warner before all sides eventually worked out a hard-fought hybrid platform that is the current DVD.
    Indeed, Blu-ray, which requires an entirely new manufacturing process, is the optical-disc technology favored by the majority of the consumer electronics companies that occupy the DVD Forum.
    Able to hold six times the data of a traditional DVD, Blu-ray is capable of well beyond the 19.3 MB-per-second bit rate the Federal Communications Commission has established as the minimum for HD broadcast; a benchmark red laser falls well below.
    "Clearly, the Warner argument is that we can get red laser to the market faster," Doherty said. "But some of the other studios have wondered if using this approach could result in a loss of picture quality that would upset artists and directors. Those developing the red-laser compression algorithms say, 'We can get a pretty good picture with a bit rate of 5 MB.' Well, the question is, how good is 'pretty good?'"
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Well-Known Member

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    My personaly opinion is that no one is in a real hurry to start HD-DVD (except WB/Fox) and that it's going to take till 2004-5 for everyone to find a disc format to agree on, then another few years to nail down copy protection
     
  3. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Well-Known Member

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    that sounds like a more realistic timeframe Jeff. the problem is, as always seems to be the case, money. people like it quite a lot apparently [not that i blame them]. i have this feeling warner are going to rush HD-DVD (for obvious financial benefits). then we all get stuck with a second rate product.
    this is how i have always felt about DVD. especially at the beginning. quality was poor, inadequate space (still a problem), manufacturing defects, copy protection etc. i wonder what DVD would have been like today had everyone slowed down and choosen the best technology for the job. it probably would have saved them more money in the long term. but hey, what do i know ? [​IMG]
     
  4. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Well-Known Member

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    Given none of our TVs here in the UK can take the HD signal, Andy, I wouldn't worry yourself over it. [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I don't think anyone jumped the gun as far as the DVD spec went. It's been a huge success and will continue to be so for many many years to come. Recorable DVD players are becoming disgustingly cheap compared to what they cost some twelve months ago. DVD R players will mark one of the final nails in the VHS/VCR coffin.
    I am sure many tire of my always saying this, but the biggest problem I see in HD DVD happening anytime soon is the fact that UK/Europe have no intention of going HD. They're happy with DVB which is nothing more than standard PAL resolution (thats the limit our TVs can take anyway, even if you want to import HD DVD or DVHS software you'd need a decent CRT projector to output 1080i). I'm always going on about this as it frustrates me that England typically took a quick route into digital broadcasting that will ultimately put us in the slow lane as usual.
    It's true that DVD had two years of solid sailing in the US before it properly reached UK shores, and one could argue that the same could happen for HD DVD, that it'd just be a delay in reaching other countries... but, given how popular 16:9 TVs are here, and how popular the likes of Sky Digital have been, the entire country would have to embrace purchasing new 16:9 TVs that would take the HD signal, and thats going to be one tough job.
    If studios want it to be a product launched with outright intent to appeal to the mass market, it's got a big hurdle to cross if a majority as big as Europe has no wish to adopt Hi Def. It pains me to say it, but it's fine that the studios are discussing it now, but I've always felt a global HD standard needs to be set before anything else, that way we can put PAL/NTSC behind us the world over.
    The best way to promote HD DVD early is to promote it like Laserdisc, but I am not sure the studios would want to go back to $30+ MSRPs...etc. HD DVD starting as a niche thing sooner would help interest grow, but I don't even want to see it start sooner as a niche format if they are going to go with a questionable encoding format.
    Dan
     
  5. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    I'm not entierly sure of the facts here, so i hope you'll excuse me if this is inacurate, but i seem to remember readng 5-6 years ago (maybe more), that when the standards for HD were nailed down, some people were very dissappointed because they (whoever lays down the law in this area) were'nt going with the best technical specs that were/are capable, it was more of a compromise solution.
    i believe the computer side was petioning for greater resolution than we eventaully got.
    it was the concerns of broadcasters ( i guess over how much bandwidth a 'really good' hdtv signal would take) that led to the 'watered down' version of HDTV we have today, and will use for quite a while, once it gets up to speed.


    so isn't HD already a compromised format.
    it may be better than current NTSC,
    but from what little i understand, it sounds like it could have already been soooo much more.

    if i'm wrong on this, i hope someone will set me straight.
     
  6. Thomas Newton

    Thomas Newton Well-Known Member

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    They want to use high compression, so they can continue to use red laser technology. ("Those developing the algorithms say 'We can get a pretty good picture with a bit rate of 5 MB'.)

    What's in this for DVD customers? Doesn't sound like a whole lot. Especially when you consider how people here have pointed out the advantages of using multi-hundred-GB flourescent discs. Those include:

    1. Room to use low compression for better picture quality.

    2. Room for uncompressed surround sound that is similar in quality to the sound on a non-watermarked DVD-Audio disc.

    3. Room to include better-than-HDTV-quality video. (1080p as a minimum, with the default being to output 1080i video or 720p video for the benefit of non-enhanced HDTVs.)

    On another topic, I found this studio quote amusing:

     
  7. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Well-Known Member

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    I'm all for the studios pushing towards HD-DVD, but not this....

     
  8. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Well-Known Member

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    The thing is, if a Hi-Def DVD format is released which runs on a 5Mbps bit stream and delivers 'pretty good' quality that is still sub par to D-VHS, the majority of people will not care.

    They will still buy the HD DVD over D-VHS because it is on a shiny little randomly accessable 5" optical disc.

    Everyone beating up on D-VHS only sends the message to the studios and electronics manufacturers that quality is not the most important thing to most people, and that convenience, durability, and 'cool' factor are.
     
  9. Michael St. Clair

    Michael St. Clair Well-Known Member

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    Some of us predicted a couple of months ago that HD-DVD would either probably be a long time coming and/or would be watered down and look noticably worse than D-VHS.

    Of course, a gang of posters responded, basically taking the position that we could not possibly know what we were talking about and that we should expect an HD-DVD format within a couple of years that would meet or exceed D-VHS quality.

    I assume that these posters are closely related to those who (a couple of years ago) jeered and derided the opinions of those who predicted that, if DVD became a mainstream format, pan-and-scan would increase.

    Whoever these folks are, it is funny how at times like these they become very quiet.

    Anyhow, this is what I expected. If you can stick the media in your computer (despite encryption), Hollywood is going to reduce the picture quality. Bank on it.
     
  10. Terrell

    Terrell Well-Known Member

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  11. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Well-Known Member

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  12. Jeffrey Gray

    Jeffrey Gray Well-Known Member

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    We need to get them to delay the release of HD-DVD for at least 5 years, to 2008, to allow for extensive research and development.
     
  13. Terrell

    Terrell Well-Known Member

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    Yeah Sean. That's what I meant. Not really interested in D-VHS at all.

    As for Blu-Ray, I think that could succeed. But if there's something even better than that, they need to develop it and skip Blu-Ray. But at least Blu-Ray meets the specs for hi-def pciture, and would provide a significant jump in picture quality over what we have now. I'm not so sure the red laser format Warner is proposing wouldn't be worse, because they want to compress it even more. At least that's how I interpreted it. Idiots.
     
  14. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Well-Known Member

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    Warner can release their own format using DVD-9s

    It will fail

    Who has HDTVs right now? People like us

    What do people like us want? OAR and a great picture

    What will an HD signal on a DVD-9 deliver? Crap

    DVHS delivers that great picture, despite the inherent problems in a tape format

    I seriously believe that if Warner tries it, they may get some studios onboard, but the format will ultimatly fold, the CED of HD, and will seriously delay introduction of what will be HD-DVD
     
  15. Dave H

    Dave H Well-Known Member

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  16. Eric F

    Eric F Well-Known Member

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    Well, if it can play on a current PC I wouldn't be averse to a little increase in quality for a small investment, like a new DVD-Rom drive. This is of course because I use an HTPC set-up.

    That said, I think this announcement is purely spin (no-pun-int) to keep folks from jumping on to the D-VHS format. This has become old hat in the consumer electronics market. I don't see HD-DVD coming out any time soon irregardless of what they say.
     
  17. Terrell

    Terrell Well-Known Member

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  18. Dan Ramer

    Dan Ramer Active Member

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    There are two critical and fundamental issues here. As already stated, the first is quality. It is highly unlikely that high definition images can be delivered with adequate quality at 5 Mb/sec, regardless of the CODEC. The second and more insidious issue is the draconian means the MPAA would like to see implemented to “close the analog hole.” If the film industry forces the exclusion of component video outputs on HD-DVD players or forces image constraint (reducing resolution from 1080i or 720p to 480i or 480p) when such component video outputs are present on those players, virtually every one of the four million (the aggregate estimate for the end of 2002 by the CEA) existing digital displays will be rendered useless for viewing HD-DVD in high definition. Over eight billion dollars will have been spent in good faith on those displays by early adaptors (many of whom are participants at this forum). For our investments to be destroyed by studio paranoia is inexcusable.
    But as we complain to one another, we are essentially preaching to the choir. What is needed is a proactive effort - a groundswell of voices - to let the product manufacturers (and the members of the DVD Forum in particular) know precisely how we feel. Please send polite but firm letters to express your opposition to low bit rate HD-DVD. Encourage the adoption of high bit rate technology, Blu-Ray Discs being but one example. State in the strongest possible terms your displeasure at the prospect of losing your investment in your HD-ready display should component analog outputs be excluded or image constraint imposed. Encourage the inclusion of unconstrained component video outputs on all HD-DVD players for at least fifteen years from date of introduction of the HD-DVD format to allow existing HD-ready displays to reach the end of their useful lifetimes.
    Only if we fight together can we ensure our ability to enjoy high definition optical discs when they are introduced.
    Dan
     
  19. Eric F

    Eric F Well-Known Member

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    Even if DVD-HD only offered firewire output or some other propriatary output, I'm sure they wouldn't be as stupid to prevent firewire-componenent converters. Of course they would have to be lisceneced, with encryption, have some type of limitation and probably end up costing a fortune.

    But this seems the way things are going. The MPAA is paranoid. Even though we all know that any type of copy-protection is just a stop-gap measure, eventually they will all be overcome. Funny how everyone else sees this and not then. It's all politics. I hate to get into it here, the only thing that remains to be seen is how far the current administration will let the MPAA go...
     
  20. Andy_MT

    Andy_MT Well-Known Member

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    i have an overly simplistic view of this situation. we, home theatre enthusiasts, are the ones who push the buttons, not the studios. they can't push a new technology onto the general public without going through us first. we're the ones who are crazy enough about films in the first place to pay the exorbitant amounts of cash for the new technology. joe public aren't, they have a marginal interest in films, but not enough to buy into into something that is expensive and offers very limited software.

    if a good percentage of us like red laser enough to invest in it, it's got a fighting chance of moving into mainstream. if not, it'll fail. is that too simple ?

    if warner really believes the quality is high enough to appease us, i wish them all the best. but if quality is only reasonable as the article suggests, they're going to be wasting a lot of money.
     

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