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The Pianist - HD-DVD -First Impressions


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#1 of 18 Roger Mathus

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Posted August 28 2006 - 09:17 AM

The Pianist has been released in Japan on HD DVD. It is a Studio Canal film distributed by Toshiba.

The video is encoded with MPEG-4AVC for the feature and MPEG-2 for the supplements. Feature is 1080i according to the package. Sound is DD Plus with both English and Japanese 5.1 tracks. Like early Warner releases in USA, the sound is at least 10db lower than normal. There are optional Japanese subtitles. Run time is listed as 149 minutes for the feature with total content at 202 minutes.

Toshiba player used has latest 2.0 firmware installed from Toshiba using the LAN connection and DSL.

The picture displays very natural muted colors with the excellent detail expected from HD DVD. When projected onto 8 ft screen using Marantz VP-12S2 progector, I did note what appeared to be minor edge enhancement in many scenes. (Can someone else confirm). Shadow detail is excellent and black level is satisfactory. Interior scenes look very natural with occasional grain noted. In a scene near the end when the piano is played in a cold room one can see the breath vapor from the pianist. I do not recall this detail on the SD DVD. PQ is a big step up from the SD DVD but the apparent EE renders a digital look to distant scenes.

There is no region code marking and it is my understanding that early HD DVDs are not region coded. I also read that if and when codes are established Japan and Korea will be in same region as North America.

Packaging is in standard DVD Keepcase rather than the scaled down size used in USA.

#2 of 18 Sam Davatchi

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Posted August 28 2006 - 08:24 PM

WOW! I didn't know that they have already used AVC. I thought that it's still in development.

#3 of 18 Mark_Wilson

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Posted August 29 2006 - 01:11 AM

Roger, can you comment on any compression artifacts in the picture? Someone over at AVSForum has been knicking this title for having loads of artifacts.

#4 of 18 willyTass

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Posted August 29 2006 - 02:56 AM

Here is the link to one of reviews of The Pianist (HD-DVD) Japanese version

http://www.avsforum.....83#post8295883

That line comparing it to Blu Rays terminator was a crack-up!! Laugh out loud material!

The Studio Canal European release will be VC-1 however

#5 of 18 Mark Zimmer

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Posted August 29 2006 - 03:33 AM

U2:Rattle & Hum also uses AVC.

#6 of 18 Roger Mathus

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Posted August 29 2006 - 11:50 AM

After reading the thread at AVS I went back and took another look at the image. Yes, I can see the compression artifacts especially in the referenced scene but only if I go close to the screen. I do not see them from normal viewing distance unless I concentrate on looking for them. The Marantz projector is 720p so maybe they would be more easily seen on a 1080p display.

The grain is also noted as in my initial observation. From a normal viewing distance it is only visible in dark indoor scenes. A close look at the screen, however, shows grain throughout.

Althought clearly not a reference HD DVD, I still feel that it looks significantly better than the SD DVD, at least on my 8 ft Firehawk using Marantz projector. Later this year I plan to upgrade to the new Marantz 1080p projector.

On this second review I think that I may have some sound issues. The surrounds and LFE seem weaker that I remember from viewing the SD DVD.

#7 of 18 JediFonger

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Posted August 29 2006 - 12:53 PM

so it looks like VC-1 is the winner. it's so funny, when people first heard of Microsoft's interest in propagating VC-1, everyone got leary. they proved everyone wrong with Terminator 2 EE (wmv) and now with HD-DVD's, they're continuing to win.

it's as i expected, H.264 takes 2much processing power, same with MPEG2 1080 res. VC-1 is more efficient.

#8 of 18 JonZ

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Posted September 20 2006 - 03:11 PM

.........

#9 of 18 JonZ

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Posted January 11 2008 - 02:25 AM

For those of you who arent gonna stop buying HDDVD discs I watched this last night and it looks fantastic in HD.

Definitely worth picking up.

HD DVD Review: The Pianist | High-Def Digest

#10 of 18 Paul.S

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Posted January 11 2008 - 02:58 AM

A movie this good about this subject matter really puts the format "war" into perspective, putting the focus back on The Movie.

Had been planning to pick this up and last Friday's announcement doesn't change that--even if Universal does announce BD support, I speculate that it will likely be on a going-forward basis. In other words, new theatricals and "new" catalog releases to high def for the first time. Street dates for the BD (re-)release of everything they've released since April 2006 would be questions marks for, say, 18 months to two years (?).

For other "anal" collectors concerned about what supps did and did not get ported over, Pete does not mention the marginal loss of the SD DVD's soundtrack promo spot, the cast and crew filmographies (limited to Adrien, Harwood and Roman only), the trailer and the production notes.

#11 of 18 Paul.S

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Posted January 11 2008 - 03:55 AM

Jon:

Pete's review says "Story Of Survival" is 28 minutes. It's 38 minutes on the SD DVD. Is he mistaken? Or did it get trimmed (probably in the name of keeping it below that 30-minute length under which this kind of material is still considered "promotional" and therefore doesn't trigger additional compensation to the talent involved).

#12 of 18 JonZ

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Posted January 11 2008 - 04:59 AM

Ill check when I get home.

#13 of 18 loganhunter2002

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Posted January 11 2008 - 05:39 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonZ
For those of you who arent gonna stop buying HDDVD discs I watched this last night and it looks fantastic in HD.

Definitely worth picking up.

HD DVD Review: The Pianist | High-Def Digest

+1. I got it on Tuesday and just saw it.
Sony STR-DG910
Creative Megaworks 650 THX 6.1 (575 Watts RMS)
Toshiba HD-A2
Toshiba HD-XA2
PS3 60 GigXBox 360Sony KDL40S2000 40" Bravia Flat Panel LCD HDTVSamsung 50" Plasma HPS5033

#14 of 18 JediFonger

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Posted January 11 2008 - 06:55 AM

that review site has a lot of typos, no worries.

i'm keeping my universal titles for now, i have no idea what they are going to do yet despite rumors... but i'm not buying anymore, even though i really dig this film.

#15 of 18 Sam Posten

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Posted January 11 2008 - 08:47 AM

I intended to watch the first few minutes of this last night and finish watching it for review tonight. I would up staying up WAY too late and was completely absorbed to the end, what a fantastic, engaging, sad yet inspiring movie. I've been thinking about many parts of it all day today. Solid 4+ on both audio and video too, tho only one 'extra'. Full review soon but GO WATCH THIS FILM.

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#16 of 18 JonZ

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Posted January 11 2008 - 09:17 AM

Story Of Survival is 38 minutes. Just checked.

#17 of 18 Paul.S

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Posted January 11 2008 - 09:40 AM

Excellent--thx, Jon.

#18 of 18 Sam Posten

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Posted January 12 2008 - 06:20 AM

And its well worth watching.

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