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First BD titles under scrutiny: The Fifth Element and others


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#1 of 169 Larry Sutliff

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Posted June 16 2006 - 11:59 AM

Sony has so much invested in making Blu-Ray a success, I can't believe they would issue an inferior product. It must be this title, as reviews indicate that other films such as TERMINATOR look much better.

#2 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 17 2006 - 01:40 AM

Quote:
Sony has so much invested in making Blu-Ray a success, I can't believe they would issue an inferior product. It must be this title
But "this title" IS a Sony product.

The film is owned by Sony.

The film to video transfer was done by Sony.

The video mastering was done by Sony.

The disc replication was done by Sony.

So how is this inferior product not a Sony product?

#3 of 169 Larry Sutliff

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Posted June 17 2006 - 04:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR
But "this title" IS a Sony product.

The film is owned by Sony.

The film to video transfer was done by Sony.

The video mastering was done by Sony.

The disc replication was done by Sony.

So how is this inferior product not a Sony product?



Sigh...

I wasn't saying that the T5E disc wasn't an inferior product,or not a Sony product, I was merely wondering why Sony would release such a botched transfer when they have so much riding on the success of Blu-Ray.

#4 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 17 2006 - 04:11 AM

Quote:
I was merely wondering why Sony would release such a botched transfer when they have so much riding on the success of Blu-Ray.
Ok. Posted Image

It looks like another example of Sony botching up things with a format they have a lot riding on.

#5 of 169 Larry Sutliff

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Posted June 17 2006 - 05:51 AM

Quote:

It looks like another example of Sony botching up things with a format they have a lot riding on.

Hopefully this is an isolated instance. Most of the other movies reviewed sound like they look very nice.

PS The sigh was for myself, not for you, Robert. My ramblings on these message boards are fairly stream of conscious and I know I'm not always expressing myself very well. Posted Image

#6 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 17 2006 - 07:35 AM

No problem, Larry. Posted Image And yes, we all hope Sony does better. My attitude is that the format war is what tells them that they'd damn well BETTER do better...or else.

#7 of 169 Rob_HD

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Posted June 17 2006 - 07:36 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Sutliff
Sigh...

I wasn't saying that the T5E disc wasn't an inferior product,or not a Sony product, I was merely wondering why Sony would release such a botched transfer when they have so much riding on the success of Blu-Ray.
I don't think they had any choice at all.

Consider that they've boxed themselves into the following situation:

1) Production of 50 Gig dual-layer discs is not working out - they say it'll be worked out by end of summer, but no proof that this will happen yet. As a result they were forced to launch the format on Single-Layer discs which, at best, are 254 Gigs, but according to insider gossip are being crippled to 20 Gigs to help production.

2) They didn't embrace VC1 (for obvious competitor reasons, no doubt) and they weren't ready to author in AVC either, as their tools couldn't support it in time. So they were forced to launch with Mpeg 2.

3) The players at launch are not able to decode the advanced audio compression formats - DD+, TruHD or DTS-HD - so since regular DVD-era DD and DTS would have been received unfavourably, they were also forced to include L-PCM uncompressed 5.1 tracks (albeit at only 48/16) which take a lot of space.

So... It looks like all these factors combined to force them to take a big hit on PQ by over-filtering the video before encoding to Mpeg 2, to save space.

Also, it is reported that they have dropped some bonus features from the titles because they still couldn't fit them on the discs.

In Summary:

IMHO - Bluray was NOT ready to launch, as a format. They should have waited until all of these things were fixed and launched it properly.

Instead, people are going to be making some pretty rigorous comparisons between the formats - and the most honest folks are going to report the obvious...

When I predicted that Mpeg 2 on 25 Gig discs with L-PCM audio was going to hurt the quality, I was roundly beaten by BD fans. I hope this post doesn't happen again here, as it's very much looking like this is what has actually happened now...

#8 of 169 Dave Mack

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Posted June 17 2006 - 07:46 AM

Ok, not too sound like an ass, (difficult for me) but if Sony are going to release some, (maybe many) titles like this, why effing bother? They are trying to compete against another format that costs 1/2 the $$$ to get into with the equipment and they are offering inferior PQ? Isn't the WHOLE point of these newer HD formats to look as good as possible? wtf?!?!
Who in their right mind is going to spend twice the $$$ for PQ that at BEST can match Hddvd and at worst look like upconverted SD?!?!
I might have been born at night but NOT last night.
Sony, with all due respect, you are doing everything in your power to lose this war before it has really begun IMHO.
Like others have said, TFE should've been a grandslam. And now excessive filtering? And only 25gb discs when HDdvd has 30?
I'm a little dense, someone clue me in as to why this format was considered "superior". And awesome PQ on a BR demo disc means absolutely nothing if the full movie releases are compromised because of bit space.
Seems like BR should be 1/2 the price of HDdvd and not the other way around... unless their plan is to release BR "superbit" down the line. Knowing Sony's track record, wouldn't surprise me at all.

D

#9 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 17 2006 - 08:04 AM

Agreed, Dave. IMO, the ENTIRE future of BD hinges on their ability to get BD50 production at reasonable cost going DAMN QUICK, along with ending the love affair with MPEG2 NOW. The way it is now with MPEG2, they NEED BD50 just to get PQ up to where it was supposed to be in the FIRST PLACE. That wasn't the way it was supposed to be.

#10 of 169 Rob_HD

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Posted June 17 2006 - 08:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Mack
Ok, not too sound like an ass, (difficult for me) but if Sony are going to release some, (maybe many) titles like this, why effing bother? They are trying to compete against another format that costs 1/2 the $$$ to get into with the equipment and they are offering inferior PQ? Isn't the WHOLE point of these newer HD formats to look as good as possible? wtf?!?!
Who in their right mind is going to spend twice the $$$ for PQ that at BEST can match Hddvd and at worst look like upconverted SD?!?!
I might have been born at night but NOT last night.
Sony, with all due respect, you are doing everything in your power to lose this war before it has really begun IMHO.
Like others have said, TFE should've been a grandslam. And now excessive filtering? And only 25gb discs when HDdvd has 30?
I'm a little dense, someone clue me in as to why this format was considered "superior". And awesome PQ on a BR demo disc means absolutely nothing if the full movie releases are compromised because of bit space.
Seems like BR should be 1/2 the price of HDdvd and not the other way around... unless their plan is to release BR "superbit" down the line. Knowing Sony's track record, wouldn't surprise me at all.

D
All good points, Dave.

What they are saying now is that BD "will" be the greatest someday Posted Image

But the key issue is that there is no reason to buy into the format at all right now.

1) The launch discs suffer from the problems noted (Mpeg2, single-layer, etc)

2) No advanced audio in the mandatory specs meant none of the announced players can decode these new formats, and has forced the use of L-PCM tracks which are huge and compounded the space issues.

"But wait" say some - "you should buy the player and the later movies wil be fixed.

1) If you buy the current players, you still will never get the advanced audio, so why not wait for players that can, anyway.

2) If Sony or Samsung do indeed sell a PILE of these first players, then the BD format will always be hobbled by having to support a large base of these first Gen players, and forced to continue taking piles of space for L-PCM tracks.

Even when the 2nd Gen BD players ship next year, how many of the movies on the shelves will already be Single Layer releases, even if some of them do, in fact, start to come out with VC1 encoding??

Even if they get the full 25 Gigs on Single-Layer Bluray, how much of this space will be taken up by the L-PCM tracks??

So even if they get Mpeg 2 out of the frame (pun intended) by the end of this year - Single-Layer discs and L-PCM support will still potentially hobble VC1 or AVC releases on Bluray.

How many titles available to buy next spring will be 50 Gig, 2 layer BD ROM, with TruHD or DTS-HD-MA tracks. IMO, it must be the MAJORITY of the BD titles, or the format is not worth buying into... even when the 2nd or 3rd Gen BD players come along with better features...

#11 of 169 DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 17 2006 - 04:51 PM

Quote:
When I predicted that Mpeg 2 on 25 Gig discs with L-PCM audio was going to hurt the quality, I was roundly beaten by BD fans. I hope this post doesn't happen again here, as it's very much looking like this is what has actually happened now...

We don't know why the 5th Element looks the way it does. We're only *guessing* right now.

Terminator is another BD that maintains natural film grain and has fantastic image quality right up there with the best HD DVDs.

I'm all for more gigs and I'm all for VC1 because obviously it affords an easier job of compression and more possibilities without compromises. But we just don't know yet what went wrong with the 5th Element. For all we know it could be the same thing that went wrong with the Fugitive!

-dave Posted Image
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#12 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 17 2006 - 05:12 PM

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Terminator is another BD that maintains natural film grain
Is that really true, David? What about this thread?

I think your earlier speculation that these early BD releases might look "stunningly transparent" has gone poof.

Quote:
I'm all for more gigs and I'm all for VC1 because obviously it affords an easier job of compression and more possibilities without compromises.
It's more than that. I think the entire future of BD DEPENDS on it. Right now BD is at a technical disadvantage, and there's no reason to favor it from that standpoint.

#13 of 169 Nils Luehrmann

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Posted June 18 2006 - 02:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR
Is that really true, David? What about this thread?

I think your earlier speculation that these early BD releases might look "stunningly transparent" has gone poof.
Based on what exactly? A single thread from a relatively unknown member with only four responses, most of whom have expressed negative remarks on Blu-ray long before its release even.

For your statement to be remotely accurate you would have had to have compared an HD DVD title and BD title that were both made from the exact same master. The HD DVD version compressed using VC1 and the BD version compressed using MPEG2.

The fact that this has not yet happened means any suggestion that David's theory went "poof" is completely without merit.

On the other hand, considering how there are several threads here and on AVS glowing over the quality of some of the other titles suggests something entirely different. Because if the problem with a transfer like Fifth Element was due to the use of MPEG2, then ALL current BD titles would show similar degradation in quality when compared to HD titles. Instead many are saying, even from those who have been strongly in support of HD DVD, with the exception of TFE, the BD demo and titles they have seen all shared the same level of PQ as HD DVD - which is of course what David's (and many other people's) theory suggested would happen.

I am all for more advanced compression, especially for space saving. Perhaps this is your way of trying to encourage studios to use VC1 or MPEG4 over MPEG2 - which I am completely in favor of as well. However, to suggest that this theory went poof on the basis of that thread, and without any comparisons available of the same films from the same masters, with the only difference being the codec used... is at the very best premature, at worst, absurd.

#14 of 169 DaViD Boulet

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Posted June 18 2006 - 02:30 AM

RobertR,

I've read several reviews of Terminator, some of which praised the title for preseving natural film grain. Who knows!

In any case... I'll be screening this Blu-ray title myself at 3pm this afternoon along with HD DVD titles on my friend's JVC HD2K (1080p) projector. I'll let you know first-hand how it all looks. Posted Image

BTW, Yes, *OF COURSE* the future of BD depends on VC1, AVC, and 50 gig authoring along with advanced audio codecs.

Naturally. If it wasn't in pipeline I wouldn't support the format. An MPEG2-only format at 25 gigs wouldn't hold a candle to HD DVD.

I'm not supporting BD for it's encoding/authoring at launch. I'm supporting it for the codecs that should be availble in a few months and hopefully 50 gig in that same time-frame.
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#15 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 18 2006 - 02:50 AM

Quote:
For your statement to be remotely accurate you would have to have compared an HD DVD title and a BD titles that were both made from the exact same master. The HD DVD version compressed using VC1 and the BD version compressed with MPEG2.
Why? Obviously the phrase “stunningly transparent” refers to a comparison with the master, not HDDVD or VC1 or both. Reviews of early BD titles don’t suggest that’s the case. Far from it (and using the “demo” to prove otherwise isn’t valid, because the “stunningly transparent” comment referred to actual release discs, NOT a “demo”). So no, the “poof” comment is NOT “completely without merit”.

Quote:
Because if the problem with a transfer like Fifth Element was due to the use of MPEG2, then ALL current BD titles would show similar degradation
Movies have different running times (Terminator is 18 minutes shorter than 5E), so that’s not an apples to apples comparison. In addition, the link I posted talks about how Terminator was heavily DVNR’d to remove film grain, which further reduces demands on the encoding.

Quote:
Perhaps this is your way of trying to encourage studios to use VC1 or MPEG4 over MPEG2 - which I am completely in favor of as well.
It’s more than “perhaps”, and it’s more than “encourage”. The fact is that BD using MPEG2 with the 25 gb limitation is technically inferior to HDDVD, and they’d better rectify the situation FAST, else there is NO technical reason to favor BD.

Quote:
Naturally. If it wasn't in pipeline I wouldn't support the format. An MPEG2-only format at 25 gigs wouldn't hold a candle to HD DVD.

I'm not supporting BD for it's encoding/authoring at launch. I'm supporting it for the codecs that should be availble in a few months and hopefully 50 gig in that same time-frame.
Agreed, David. Posted Image

#16 of 169 Nils Luehrmann

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Posted June 18 2006 - 02:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR
Why? Obviously the phrase “stunningly transparent” refers to a comparison with the master, not HDDVD or VC1 or both. Reviews of early BD titles don’t suggest that’s the case.
Please provide a link of a "reviewer" that has compared these BD titles to their master tapes, that has led you to come to the conclusion that they are not transparent to the master… or more importantly, would look any differently had they been compressed using VC1 and recorded on to HD DVD.

And yes, without it and without these comparisons your statement WAS completely without merit.

#17 of 169 Johannes S

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Posted June 18 2006 - 04:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_HD
Even when the 2nd Gen BD players ship next year, how many of the movies on the shelves will already be Single Layer releases, even if some of them do, in fact, start to come out with VC1 encoding??

Even if they get the full 25 Gigs on Single-Layer Bluray, how much of this space will be taken up by the L-PCM tracks??

So even if they get Mpeg 2 out of the frame (pun intended) by the end of this year - Single-Layer discs and L-PCM support will still potentially hobble VC1 or AVC releases on Bluray.

How many titles available to buy next spring will be 50 Gig, 2 layer BD ROM, with TruHD or DTS-HD-MA tracks. IMO, it must be the MAJORITY of the BD titles, or the format is not worth buying into... even when the 2nd or 3rd Gen BD players come along with better features...


That's a point.

IMHO the launch of the Blu Ray format is a TOTAL DISASTER, even before it started officially. Not that the format is inferior per se. It just isn't ready for marketing now without the implementation of efficient codecs and 50 GB DL discs.

IMHO Sony screwed up everything they could. The biggest name behind Blu-Ray not being able to provide their own high quality player at launchtime of "their" new format simply is embarrassing.

IMHO Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Benjamin Feingold has selected launch titles that -with some exceptions- are not "must-haves" in any HD format. Come on, titles like "Flying Daggers", "Kung Fu Hustle", "Stealth", "S.W.A.T." just don't even make the "early adopter" crazy enough to quickly spend 1K for a mediocre Samsung player with less features than the Toshiba competitor for twice the price. Where are the "killer" titles for the kids, the 30+ and at least one or two classic titles??? Not even PQ is near HD-DVD with the momentary limitations of disc space and the old MPEG-2 codec (est. in 1994)

At the CES in January, Ben Feingold admitted, they wanted to release "Black Hawk Down" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" but disc space of 25 GB on the single layer wouldn't be enough. Posted Image

http://www.heise.de/...r/meldung/67949


Now, everybody wants to wait for the Sony and the Pioneer players in August and see, if they deliver better PQ. How could they, with the same space- and codec-restricted software titles? The format's next disappointing step.

For me, there is just one question unanswered: How can such a disaster happen with all the highly-paid "marketing consultors" and "experts" behind the combined force of the Blu-Ray association?

#18 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 18 2006 - 04:12 AM

Quote:
Please provide a link of a "reviewer" that has compared these BD titles to their master tapes, that has led you to come to the conclusion that they are not transparent to the master… or more importantly, would look any differently had they been compressed using VC1 and recorded on to HD DVD.
I haven’t been reading glowing reviews of House of Flying Daggers or Underworld, and it simply doesn’t wash to attribute ALL such problems to the source. The current problems with BD are a matter of simple mathematics. MPEG2 REQUIRES higher bitrates to achieve transparency than VC1. That, in combination with the fact that BD currently offers LESS space than HDDVD makes the conclusion mathematically obvious. Is it really your contention that the BDS status quo doesn’t need to change, that MPEG2 and BD25 are just fine? What is your basis for saying that 25 gb and MPEG2 are PREFERABLE to VC1 and 30 gb?

#19 of 169 Nils Luehrmann

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Posted June 18 2006 - 05:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by RobertR
I haven’t been reading glowing reviews of House of Flying Daggers or Underworld, and it simply doesn’t wash to attribute ALL such problems to the source. The current problems with BD are a matter of simple mathematics. MPEG2 REQUIRES higher bitrates to achieve transparency than VC1. That, in combination with the fact that BD currently offers LESS space than HDDVD makes the conclusion mathematically obvious. Is it really your contention that the BDS status quo doesn’t need to change, that MPEG2 and BD25 are just fine? What is your basis for saying that 25 gb and MPEG2 are PREFERABLE to VC1 and 30 gb?
Where have I EVER said that???? Geez... even in my post I specifically point out that using a newer compression codec would be superior such that there is more space made available...

The point I was making and the one that you have conveniently danced around without addressing is that you have jumped to the conclusion that it is the use of MPEG2 that causes a degradation in the PQ, and yet without having seen them yourself, and most importantly, without seeing the masters, or how the exact same master would look compressed using VC1... your statement is in fact without merit. Period.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time you and a couple others have used 100% speculation and FUD to draw conclusions presented as a matter of fact to paint these formats in as ugly a light as possible.

As I have said countless times before, and in fact was verbally against Blu-ray two years ago when they did not support VC1, I am 100% in favor of either VC1 or MPEG4.

VC1 & MPEG4 are fantastic codecs that should be used in order to offer the maximum amount of space, which could then be used for any number of reasons. However, as to the PQ, there is NO PROOF whatsoever that a film compressed using MPEG2 will look inferior to one compressed with VC1… only that perhaps, with more space and higher bit rates it can achieve similar results. To suggest otherwise is completely misleading.

#20 of 169 RobertR

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Posted June 18 2006 - 05:33 AM

Quote:
even in my post I specifically point out that using a newer compression codec would be superior such that there is more space made available...in fact was verbally against Blu-ray two years ago when they did not support VC1, I am 100% in favor of either VC1 or MPEG4.
You sound rather contradictory. You admit that newer codecs would be superior, but simultaneously claim that an OLDER codec on a SMALLER disc is somehow just as good. Which is it? And again, what is the basis for PREFERING a SMALLER disc and an OLDER codec (which you admit is inferior)?


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