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Welcome Van!

Van Ling

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22 replies to this topic

#1 of 23 Ronald Epstein

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Posted July 16 2008 - 08:48 PM

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Van Ling
to our Insiders Area here at Home Theater Forum.

Van is no stranger to the members of this forum. Most
everyone is aware of his efforts to bring a new level of interactivity
to some of the most popular DVD Special Editions.

If you want say hi to Van and welcome him aboard please use
this thread to do so. If you have any questions, please start a new
thread topic.

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 23 troy evans

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Posted July 16 2008 - 08:51 PM

Welcome sir.
" I think it's time we go to plan B". "What's plan B?" "That's the one where we don't do something stupid".

#3 of 23 oscar_merkx

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Posted July 17 2008 - 08:48 AM

Welcome aboard
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#4 of 23 Van Ling

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Posted July 17 2008 - 09:52 AM

Greetings to all on HTF and thanks for the warm welcome...

I'd be interested to know what your general thoughts are about the BD format, its pros and cons, and what kind of features you'd like to see implemented on future titles.

Remember though, I'm not the studios or a representative thereof... I'm just a film fan who sometimes gets a chance to play in the digital home video sandbox, and I look forward to posting here on the Home Theater Forum...

Thanks,

Van

#5 of 23 oscar_merkx

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Posted July 17 2008 - 10:39 AM

Hi Van

Will you set a standard with BD titles like you did when DVD first came out.

Titles like the Abyss, Terminator or T2.

Looking forward to find out what, when your first BD Title comes out.
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#6 of 23 Van Ling

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Posted July 17 2008 - 11:25 AM

Oscar:

Well, when I am granted a budget, time and support to push the format, I try to do my best to innovate in the format! ;-)

I've actually worked on ten BD titles already, but they were mostly generic catalog titles for Lionsgate back in 2006, along with the first version of T2 on Blu-ray. I was mostly learning the ropes of HDMV graphics on titles like Stargate, Devil's Rejects, Stir of Echoes and Total Recall, but I had fun trying to come up with "generic" menus that were still unique and interesting. Nothing spectacular in any of them, since the mandate at the time was to just have something that PLAYED in the first-gen players... But I did get a chance to try to create some new things for Independence Day on Blu-ray, which came out last March. So that was my first BD-J title and it has some interesting features I created or refined. There are some YouTube videos that Scott Hettrick shot of me demoing some of the ID4 features, in case you want to check it out and don't own the disc (yet!).

V

#7 of 23 TheBat

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Posted July 17 2008 - 09:37 PM

what I like about the bluray.

the picture and sound quality. I like both DTS MA and TRUEHD.
I like being able to view extras when I am in the middle of the film and also being about to use scene selection. I find the BD live a bit lacking and also the games stuff not so interesting.
I have a bunch of bluray titles. I own both the panasonic 30 and the ps3. perhaps you can answer this question..
regarding T2 on bluray.. when I play T2 on my ps3.. I get DTS matrix 7.1 from my onkyo receiver.. however when I play the movie on my panasonic 30, I get DTS matrix 5.1. is there something wrong with this or is this normal?
thanks,

Jacob

#8 of 23 Sam Posten

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Posted July 18 2008 - 07:48 AM

Hi Van, last time we met we were sharing some terrific Brazilian BBQ, don't think I could quite eat that much these days =)

We had discussed how the open endedness of tech like BD Java would potentially hurt producers like yourself by dramatically increasing how much time you have to spend on QC, as these techs do not allow a mapping of every path a consumer might possibly take through the content the way standard DVD authoring tools do. So far, most examples of the HD media I have seen have taken a rather limited chunk of the potential of these formats for a ride, so it seems like that fear has been avoided simply by not really getting to the edges of whats possible. From your perspective is that true? Do you relish the chance to really play with some of the things that are possible but untried at this point? Is budget the real limiting factor?

"Sam, you are the biggest nutter we have here."

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#9 of 23 Sam Posten

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Posted July 18 2008 - 07:50 AM

Also, how do you balance the needs of people like me who HATE content embedded into the feature (ie U-Control) and want these to all be menu selectable, vice those that want really wild interactive elements that are only possible by embracing non-linear content?

"Sam, you are the biggest nutter we have here."

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#10 of 23 Geoff_D

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Posted July 18 2008 - 10:31 AM

Howdy Van. Love your work. Do you think that there's any chance of a 20th Anniversary edition of The Abyss for next year? It's a damn shame that there's been no anamorphic DVD release of Cameron's waterlogged epic.

#11 of 23 Jeff Brooks

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Posted July 18 2008 - 10:39 AM

Welcome, sir!
I have to say I was really thrilled to see your name in the credits for the fantastic HBO miniseries John Adams.
Do you know if we might see that in Blu-ray any time soon?

#12 of 23 Jari K

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Posted July 19 2008 - 09:10 AM

Welcome Van. Posted Image

Since Mr. Cameron is "back" (was he ever really gone?) with the upcoming "Avatar (2009)", are you going to do any DVD/Blu-ray-related work for that?

Thanks!

#13 of 23 oscar_merkx

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Posted July 19 2008 - 10:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Van Ling
Oscar:

Well, when I am granted a budget, time and support to push the format, I try to do my best to innovate in the format! ;-)

I've actually worked on ten BD titles already, but they were mostly generic catalog titles for Lionsgate back in 2006, along with the first version of T2 on Blu-ray. I was mostly learning the ropes of HDMV graphics on titles like Stargate, Devil's Rejects, Stir of Echoes and Total Recall, but I had fun trying to come up with "generic" menus that were still unique and interesting. Nothing spectacular in any of them, since the mandate at the time was to just have something that PLAYED in the first-gen players... But I did get a chance to try to create some new things for Independence Day on Blu-ray, which came out last March. So that was my first BD-J title and it has some interesting features I created or refined. There are some YouTube videos that Scott Hettrick shot of me demoing some of the ID4 features, in case you want to check it out and don't own the disc (yet!).

V

Just got my PS 3 with no BR Titles as yet.

I'll be looking for those You Tube moments.

Thanks for the response.

Yes what about a 20th Anniversary of The Abyss ?

Posted Image
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#14 of 23 Van Ling

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Posted July 19 2008 - 11:47 AM

Thanks for the kind words, guys!

Sam, I think you're right that a lot of the innovation can be stifled by the need to be able to QC the complexities of the format use... I know that the QC guys at Panasonic hated me for putting 432 subchapter points on the menus for ID4 because they had to check every one of them! When you multiply the amount of necessary QC with the number of players (which isn't even that many yet), it gets prohibitive when you have a complex title, but it has to be done as best it can because consumers have a reasonable expectation that the discs should work properly (player problems notwithstanding!). Studios do take into account how much trouble it is to QC a bonus feature in deciding if it is worth the hassle (and attendant cost) to do that feature at all. But I think folks are realizing that Blu-ray discs are less like DVD and more like computer software, which can have an impact on both what's possible AND how it needs to be positioned and perceived.

The bottom line is still about the main movie on the disc, which HAS to play back properly, but I do really want to see how we can push the envelope of the format, since that is really the only thing that distinguishes the format from the now-totally-accepted format of DVD. In a culture where the majority of consumers are very willing to sacrifice image and sound quality for convenience of access (witness YouTube and digital downloads), going the other direction towards high quality presentation just isn't enough to reach critical mass like DVD did. If we can't push the boundaries of the possible in a demonstrable way and engage the viewer, then BD has the potential to join laserdisc as merely a small niche market for the high-end home theatre folks. The cynical and not entirely inaccurate view is that most bonus features are there to tip the scales on someone buying one movie disc over another at the same general price point and interest level. A consumer is more likely to buy a disc with six special features they'll never watch, over a disc with only five special features they'll still never watch! ;-)

And yes, budget is ALWAYS a limiting factor. Some studios throw money at it, while others do the minimum or just wait and see what works on their rivals' products before committing funds. There's going to be --and NEEDS to be-- a lot of research and experimentation over the next few years, as the game keeps changing due to the cross-pollination of media formats (video, computer, games, web).

As for balancing the desires of those who think only presentation quality matters versus the desires of those who want to see a lot of interactive features, I believe it is possible to do both if you can afford to put the time and resources into it. It's like a good digital camera or a good piece of software like Photoshop: it should be usable at a glance for all of the basic features, but have a lot more capabilities under the hood for the die-hard professionals who want to tinker and go deeper. With both The Abyss and T2 on DVD, I tried to design it so that fans would have plenty of depth while the regular viewers could see the basics without getting overwhelmed. With Blu-ray, you now have the opportunity to embed content into the feature in new ways, but you can try to do it so that it's not visible at all if you don't want it, and with nearly 50Gb of disc space you don't necessarily have to lose presentation quality bandwidth to have it.

Of course, there are always hardcore presentation fans who feel that any additional features at all take away from disc space that could be used for the higher bit rates on the image and sound (witness SuperBit), but there is a point of diminishing returns for a mathematical issue of "absolute highest quality". Remember, the talent and skill of a compressionist is NOT just setting the encoder quality on lossless maximum and walking away --anyone can do that-- but using a skilled eye to get the best perceptible quality in the smallest amount of bits.

Geoff and Oscar, we are all hoping to be able to do a new version of The Abyss on BD one of these days... the issue has been that Jim Cameron has been so busy on Avatar that he has not had a chance to review and approve a new HD transfer of the film. We all feel the same way about the lack of an available anamorphic transfer on DVD... but hopefully, we can do something about it one of these days... it may not be until after he finishes Avatar, though!

Jeff, glad you enjoyed John Adams... I got a chance to help out on nine shots and keep my hand in VFX work doing it. I'm sure that a Blu-ray disc is in the works, since the show was broadcast in HD as well. It all comes down to whether HBO --like any other studio-- feels that the sales for such a product would outweigh the costs of manufacturing it at this juncture.

Jacob, I'm not sure why your receiver lists two different DTS settings from two different players using the same content. It may have something to do with how each player flags the streams. T2 was only 5.1, not 7.1, though. There may also be a difference between a player that reads how the stream is flagged on the disc versus one that benchmarks what the actual channel matrix is. If anyone else here is savvy on the home electronics end, please feel free to chime in...

Thanks,

V

#15 of 23 Van Ling

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Posted July 19 2008 - 11:50 AM

Jari, I am not currently working on Avatar for home video. There are a lot of issues related to how that film (and other 3-D stereoscopic films) are going to be released on BD and DVD, and the studios are still trying to work that out. Plus, the movie is still a year and a half away from being released!

Thanks,

V

#16 of 23 Chuck Mayer

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Posted July 19 2008 - 11:56 AM

Thanks for the news, Van. Always a treat to know you are working on the premiere home version.

To answer your inquiry, PQ and lossless audio are #1 with a bullet. Special features are icing. I do like being able to target the special features in whatever manner I choose.

Thanks again. Looking forward to more of your work. I'll assume the answer to a hi-def Titanic is similar to that for The Abyss Posted Image
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#17 of 23 TheBat

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Posted July 19 2008 - 02:22 PM

thanks for the response about the T2. I also vote on the abyss..its my all time favorite movie. .but the really weird thing about that title. is on my panasonic 30.. it doesn't flag the movie as non enhanced. so it looks like it enhanced for widescreen and has letterbox on top and bottom.. same with true lies, 6 days, seven nights, conan the destroyer. the star wars non enhanced original films do show up as non enhanced. I remember the xbox being able to the stretch on those..
if you can have someone look into this.. about the abyss and the panasonic 30.. that would be great. hoepfully others can vouch for it.
I have only seen two really bad transfers on dvd.. die hard 3 and true lies. the bluray of die hard 3 fixed pretty much all of them or most of them.. no true lies on bluray..
Jacob

#18 of 23 TravisR

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Posted July 19 2008 - 02:37 PM

Welcome and thanks for taking the time to post, Van.

Also, I enjoyed your brief acting turn in Titanic. Posted Image

#19 of 23 Sam Posten

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Posted July 19 2008 - 05:31 PM

Thanks for the detailed answers Van!

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#20 of 23 Clinton McClure

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Posted July 21 2008 - 04:15 AM

Welcome to the Forum, Van!