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Warner to the HD Rescue?


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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Mikya

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Posted September 19 2006 - 12:39 PM

This New Scientist piece reports on a patent application filed by three people (including two Warner Bros. employees) for a disc that will contain standard dvd in one layer, HD-DVD in a second layer and Blu-ray in yet a third. Finally, a disc to resolve the HD format war . . . or make it worse. I know I'd be more likely to upgrade to HD if there was (forgive me) one disc to rule them all.

http://www.newscient....ndard-dvd.html

#2 of 26 OFFLINE   BrettGallman

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Posted September 19 2006 - 01:23 PM

This really doesn't solve the problem unless every studio decides to release titles on discs like these. I can see the appeal from a studio standpoint, as it'd be a lot easier to prep one disc rather than three, but from a consumer standpoint, it doesn't resolve much because the main problem, in my opinion, is the partisan stance on the part of studios like Fox and Universal who won't release titles on both formats and let consumers decide which is the better format.
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#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Swindoll

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Posted September 19 2006 - 03:26 PM

My question would be that if they start doing this will these new discs play in my old player or only work in the new HD ones?? In other words, would the old players be able to understand to ignore the other layers and play the standard one??

What would this mean for special features, enough room on there for them???
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#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 19 2006 - 03:39 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Swindoll
My question would be that if they start doing this will these new discs play in my old player or only work in the new HD ones???

Obviously the discs would be able to play the standard def layer in an SD player. What would be the point of including a standard layer that would only play in Blu-Ray or HD-DVD players? So that the guy with the hi-def DVD player and the HD TV can watch the SD version if he feels llike it? Posted Image

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#5 of 26 OFFLINE   Tiago_J

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Posted September 20 2006 - 12:57 AM

I wonder if they could stick dual layered HD-DVD/BD on these. Posted Image
Really, I'm curious about the price of these since, in principle, you'll basically be paying for both formats. It may be cheaper to produce one of these instead of 3 different discs, but the same doesn't apply for the consumer.

#6 of 26 OFFLINE   Mike_G

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Posted September 20 2006 - 05:10 AM

We're already strapped for space because of extras. Now it's going to be used for a competing format? Unless I'm missing something, a sextuple-layered DVD ain't gonna happen soon.

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Mikya

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Posted September 20 2006 - 05:44 AM

My original post was a bit inaccurate. The still-hypothetical disc would contain both HD formats on one two-layered side and the standard dvd format on the flip side (which, presumably, could be dual-layered as well). The more I ponder the tri-format disc, though, I too am left struggling to find much of an advantage to the consumer. Although it sounded like a good idea at first blush, I agree it appears to hold out the prospect of higher prices without adding any significant value.

#8 of 26 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted September 20 2006 - 08:03 AM

Maybe I'm missing something here, but this doesn't sound like it addresses the problem at all, at least not from a consumer point of view. From a studio point of view, it is probably a lot easier to have to make one version of a release instead of three (standard DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray). Easier to advertise a single product and the added bonus that if one of the hi-def formats were to die out, they wouldn't have a ton of obsolete discs lying around. That said..

What difference does it make to me and the tons of others who feel the way I do - the people who are not willing to purchase a player for either new format until this is settled? This doesn't affect my decision to purchase at all.

I guess if they go through with this new triple-format disc, it would be of use to high-end consumers who might have regular DVD players in other spots of their house (the bedroom, perhaps) who want to watch the movie not on their main system. I'd say it would be helpful for new consumers who aren't sure which format will play on their player, but I find it unlikely that someone would spend $500-1000 on an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player and not know what it is. Maybe it'll help confused relatives buying discs - "Get [title X] from Warner, it'll play on every machine so you never need to worry about buying the wrong thing!" And I guess if you have one of the formats, and want to hang out at a friend's house who has a different format, there you go.

Maybe this appeals to the consumer who plans to upgrade to a new format in the not too distant future, still wants to enjoy their current standard DVD setup, and wants to rebuy as few things as possible. Maybe there's a little logic there - I don't have an HD player yet, I don't know which of the two formats I want, so I get this new disc and I can watch it now, and whatever format I decide on a year from now will be fine too. But I haven't been interested in the HD-DVD/regular DVD dual-format discs, and I don't think a triple-format disc is going to hold that much interest to me. And I think we're all a little wary anytime someone announces something with dual sides and dual layers and different formats... we've seen the problems with regular DVD-18s, imagine the potential problems with a disc that is double sided and double layered like a DVD-18, *and* has three different formats on it as well.

But I agree that this doesn't appear to add any significant value to consumers. The idea isn't bad, but it should be applied to the hardware, not the software. A player that can read Blu-ray, HD-DVD and regular DVD would be a lot more helpful at this point than a disc that can play on all three.

#9 of 26 OFFLINE   David_P

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Posted September 20 2006 - 09:17 AM

One HD and BR layer? When HD is already at two layers and BR is struggling to get to two?

Sounds like HD-lite to me...

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#10 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 20 2006 - 09:23 AM

Quote:
What difference does it make to me and the tons of others who feel the way I do - the people who are not willing to purchase a player for either new format until this is settled? This doesn't affect my decision to purchase at all.

Doesn't affect your deicsion to purchase what? A player or a disc? If there's only a slight premium to pay, I might well buy a triple format disc that I can play now on my SD players, secure in the knowledge that I'll be able to play the same disc in a couple of years on whichever hi-def player I happen to end up with. I'm sure it would also be nice (if all studios support the hybrid discs) for a Blu-Ray owner to be able to lend discs to his buddy with the HD-DVD player and vice versa. (OK, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD owners seem morely like to be exchanging gunfire at the moment, but you get the idea. Posted Image)

It would make holiday shopping easy, since I would no longer have to remember what kind of player my nephew in Georgia has, and it would make stocking, transport and industry much easier for distributors, retailers and rental houses - B&M and virtual. In fact, such a disc would pretty much take the curse off the format war since there would no longer be such a thing as an "incompatible disc" and I suspect both formats would flourish in different market niches. (BD for data applications and videophile HT, HD-DVD for the more "mainstream" HD crowd that will gradually emerge - the Wal*Mart buyer, if you like.)

I'm not sure the industry will go for it, the economics will work out or that the technical issues can all be resolved, but this concept actually has a heck of a lot going for it. It could be as much a savior for Blu-Ray (which I think is going to price itself out of existence, otherwise) as for HD-DVD.

Regards,

Joe

#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 21 2006 - 03:08 AM

BTW, shouldn't this be in HD Software? Posted Image

Regards,

Joe

#12 of 26 OFFLINE   Josh Steinberg

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Posted September 21 2006 - 03:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph DeMartino
Doesn't affect your deicsion to purchase what? A player or a disc?

A player, I meant. Excellent points....I was trying to express similar sentiments about who might benefit from the disc, and it didn't come out quite as clear as I had thought.

I agree that a disc playable on all sorts of machines might make sense for consumer ease, but if the studio continues to release the same title on individually formatted discs, how will these be priced by comparison? If the audience for this is the consumer who worries they may be buying the wrong thing, or wants to make sure whatever disc they get will work anywhere, is that audience willing to pay a substantial premium over the cost of a regular, standard DVD release of the same title? As an example, I just checked on Amazon.. you can get the standard DVD version of "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" for $14.99, or the combo regular DVD/HD-DVD disc for $27.95. Obviously we can't know for sure how a triple format disc would be priced before it's even on the market, but if the pricing difference was similar to the example I've given, I'm not interested, and I think the average consumer would likely agree. I know at some point I'll be upgrading to a hi-def format, but in all likelihood that's at least a year away... so I'm not prepared to start spending almost double on my DVDs now with the idea that one day I'll have a different player. But that's just me.

Maybe I'm just wary of multi-format discs from bad experiences with the DualDisc format.

Does anyone know how the combo SD/HD-DVDs have been selling, compared to standard DVD releases of the same title, or HD only releases of that title?

#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted September 21 2006 - 07:55 AM

The solution is to make a PLAYER that can play both formats, and use the disc space to put more material on it instead of 2 copies of the same movie.
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#14 of 26 OFFLINE   dpippel

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Posted September 21 2006 - 08:04 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Steinberg
Does anyone know how the combo SD/HD-DVDs have been selling, compared to standard DVD releases of the same title, or HD only releases of that title?
There are no HD-only releases of combo disc titles. They're either an HD-DVD/SD DVD combo or SD DVD only.

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#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Jeff Ulmer

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Posted September 21 2006 - 09:12 AM

This sounds nice from a marketing perspective, but given the number of DVDs I have seen fail, if they can't even make DVDs that have longevity, I don't believe that a triple format disc is going to last any length of time before it is unplayable.

#16 of 26 OFFLINE   ppltd

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Posted September 21 2006 - 01:29 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikya
My original post was a bit inaccurate. The still-hypothetical disc would contain both HD formats on one two-layered side and the standard dvd format on the flip side (which, presumably, could be dual-layered as well). The more I ponder the tri-format disc, though, I too am left struggling to find much of an advantage to the consumer. Although it sounded like a good idea at first blush, I agree it appears to hold out the prospect of higher prices without adding any significant value.

I suppose it could be of benefit to the consumer if:
1: It is cheaper to produce an all in one DVD instead of three versions,
2: If the retailers, already pressed for space, give the consumer back the savings they recieve from not having to stock all three versions of a movie and,
3: If the Studios dropped their ego's a bit and supported it.Posted Image

Just a thought.

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#17 of 26 OFFLINE   ppltd

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Posted September 21 2006 - 01:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Ulmer
This sounds nice from a marketing perspective, but given the number of DVDs I have seen fail, if they can't even make DVDs that have longevity, I don't believe that a triple format disc is going to last any length of time before it is unplayable.

I know many of my Laserdisks, with time, became unwatchable. But I don't think I have ever had a DVD that has degraded. Even my copy of A Boy and His Dog, which I bought a few months after the release of DVD's, still plays fine (Even if it was a terrible pressing).

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#18 of 26 OFFLINE   Ryan Wong

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Posted September 21 2006 - 02:06 PM

Why they even waste time to develope this? Please put more effort on universal player. Consumers would rather buy more expensive universal player than lots of more expensive multi-format disc.

This is a very bad idea. We pay more, we get less (in term of single layer content).
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#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Joseph DeMartino

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Posted September 22 2006 - 01:36 AM

Quote:
Why they even waste time to develope this?

1. Warner Bros. is a studio, not a hardware manufacturer. They don't make players.

2. Everybody is talking about how expensive these new discs are going to be based on - well, nothing. Guesses based on the cost of BD and HD-DVD discs don't count because the economics are totally different. A BD or HD-D disc is selling into a potential market of what? A few tens of thousands of players, tops? A hypothetical B/H/S disc would be selling to an installed base of hundreds of millions of machines. The major costs of DVD production have almost nothing to do with the discs themselves. Digitizing, clean-up, mastering, production of extras, menu design and programming, authoring, design, packaging and distribution all cost far more than popping out discs, and most of those things only have to be done once per film. The final product can then be output as either BD, HD- or SD-DVD. There is no added cost for a studio like Warner Bros., which is already producing all three versions of new films. There may be slightly lower yields at the replication stage, and more releases might need to have a 2nd disc for extras, but, again, replication is the cheap part. I strongly suspect that the cost-savings of not having to maintain separate production lines, inventory, packaging, etc. would more than off-set the possible slight increase in wastage at the replication stage. And, as noted, retailers would similarly benefit from streamlined ordering, inventory and decreased display space that could be devoted to other items.

3. The mythical "universal player" would require two companies that are trying to put one another's format out of business to agree to cross license their technology to one another and a bunch of third parties. Yeah, that's gonna happen. Posted Image You all remember the combo Beta/VHS decks that were so popular in the videotape days, don't you? Posted Image

If everyone got along that well we wouldn't have a format war. Also no "solution" that forces everybody to buy new hardware is a good one. The nice thing about WB's idea (as also noted above) is that it simplifies everybody's lives. Regardless of what you currently own or what you might buy tomorrow, their disc would let you go into a store today and buy a disc that would deliver the best possible picture on whatever equipment you play it on. So the disc that looks good on your 100" HD-FP system and BD player will also look good when you lend it to your Aunt Joan next week to watch on her 19" CRT with the SD DVD player she bought at Wal*Mart for $30. How would this be a bad thing?

Again, I think there are a lot of open questions in terms of technology, marketing, studio support, etc., (which there are bound to be at the patent application stage) but I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with the underlying concept and I think it is the first idea I've seen that points a practical way out of the current format war short of waiting for one side to give up or disappear from the market a la DiVX and consumer Beta.

Regards,

Joe

#20 of 26 OFFLINE   BrettB

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Posted September 22 2006 - 01:52 AM

Hate this idea. Die, die, die!


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