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Blu-Ray for Dummies


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33 replies to this topic

#1 of 34 ONLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted December 23 2008 - 05:30 AM

Rather than take the "On the Waterfront" thread off-topic, I started a new one. I hope the subject isn't too off topic for this forum, but I have a question regarding watching Academy ratio films on an Academy ratio SD TV set using a Blu-Ray player.

I have a 35" Mitsubishi 4:3 TV set from 1994 which still gives an excellent picture. Given the state of the economy and the fact that I seldom watch widescreen movies (my favorite era is 1920s-1950s) I have no plans to buy a 16:9 set anytime soon.

But it's clear that I may want to get a Blu-Ray player within the year, since that's the direction things seem to be headed for deluxe releases such as "The Robe." And if Blu-Ray is the future, I might as well start buying BD discs of my favorite films from the classic era as they come available.

But how will Academy ratio films such as The Wizard of Oz play on my 4:3 television? Will it be window-boxed within a 16:9 window? How about "The Robe?" I assume it would look exactly the same on my set as an SD version would?

Please enlighten those of us who would appreciate the improved sound of BD but who have no plans to jettison their $2500 Academy-ratio TVs anytime soon.

#2 of 34 OFFLINE   Eric Huffstutler

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Posted December 23 2008 - 06:10 AM

Rob_Ray... you couldn't take "On The Waterfront" too much off topic as it is now Posted Image

On a similar note, I still concern myself that old transfers with dirt, scratches, blemishes, etc... will look even more horrible in BluRay. If the format enhances the picture, it will also enhance the warts and all in the transfer hence why no better SD releases of some of the classics, especially those that won Academy Awards.

#3 of 34 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted December 23 2008 - 07:09 AM

HD has an aspect ratio of 16:9, so if you'd watch it on a 4:3 television, you'd have black bars on all sides.
And most films will need new transfers, and if they're done correctly will look absolutely amazing. Check the BD of Casablanca and The Day The Earth Stood Still for example.
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#4 of 34 ONLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted December 23 2008 - 08:16 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Borst
HD has an aspect ratio of 16:9, so if you'd watch it on a 4:3 television, you'd have black bars on all sides.

That's what I thought. Which is why many of us will drag our feet as long as we can before moving over to Blu-Ray.

#5 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeff Gatie

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Posted December 23 2008 - 08:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_Ray
That's what I thought. Which is why many of us will drag our feet as long as we can before moving over to Blu-Ray.

Well, isn't this putting the cart before the horse? You can't really expect to benefit from Blu-ray until you have a display that will actually display Blu-ray, can you? In my humble opinion, it's like saying surround sound won't really take off until they find a way to reproduce it properly over stereo speakers.

#6 of 34 ONLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted December 23 2008 - 08:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Gatie
Well, isn't this putting the cart before the horse? You can't really expect to benefit from Blu-ray until you have a display that will actually display Blu-ray, can you? In my humble opinion, it's like saying surround sound won't really take off until they find a way to reproduce it properly over stereo speakers.

I don't want to "benefit" from Blu-Ray. I just want the extras that are becoming exclusive to Blu-Ray without the film itself suffering on my 4:3 television. And you guys are telling me that the film itself will now be windowboxed on all four sides.

#7 of 34 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 23 2008 - 08:44 AM

What kind of connection are you using to this TV, Rob? I'm assuming it's either S-video or component, and since those are analog connections, wouldn't a Blu-ray player treat a disc the same way an SD player would? In other words, since you're going to be getting a downconverted 480i/p picture anyway, wouldn't it letterbox (not picturebox) widescreen films like THE ROBE and throw 4:3 films up as full screen? I don't know for sure, of course, I'm only spitballing here.

#8 of 34 ONLINE   Russell G

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Posted December 23 2008 - 09:05 AM

What I'm finding with my Blu-ray (sony 350) hooked up to a 16:9 television with HDMI is that 4:3 ratio's old films (Quo Vadis, and popeye cartoons in SD) take up the full screen in a stretched capacity, and the Sharp TV wont let you change the ratio. Not sure how to get it to display right :S

#9 of 34 ONLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted December 23 2008 - 09:25 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MattH.
What kind of connection are you using to this TV, Rob? I'm assuming it's either S-video or component, and since those are analog connections, wouldn't a Blu-ray player treat a disc the same way an SD player would? In other words, since you're going to be getting a downconverted 480i/p picture anyway, wouldn't it letterbox (not picturebox) widescreen films like THE ROBE and throw 4:3 films up as full screen? I don't know for sure, of course, I'm only spitballing here.

I'm not using any connections yet. I'm trying to find out if I should start upgrading to Blu-Ray now to get the bonus extras that are exclusive to Blu-Ray (like the smile-box version of HTWWW and the "Robe" bonus extras) even though I have no intention of buying a new TV.

#10 of 34 ONLINE   Russell G

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Posted December 23 2008 - 09:28 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_Ray
I'm not using any connections yet. I'm trying to find out if I should start upgrading to Blu-Ray now to get the bonus extras that are exclusive to Blu-Ray (like the smile-box version of HTWWW and the "Robe" bonus extras) even though I have no intention of buying a new TV.

If that's the case, then I'd say "You might as well", since you clearly like the extras and sadly, BD is muscling in on them. Posted Image

Other thing you can do is hold off and buy yhr BR cheap when they go on the 2/$50 racks and such, and pick them up prior to the player if your not in a panic to see the films. You can probably flip the SD versions pretty cheap anyways (I usually get about $5-$8 a title at the used book stores)

#11 of 34 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted December 23 2008 - 09:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob_Ray
That's what I thought. Which is why many of us will drag our feet as long as we can before moving over to Blu-Ray.

I had a Sony 36" 4:3 set, and then I bought a LCD 46" HDTV.
Yes, the 4x3 films now have the bars on the sides, but I discovered that the actual square image is BIGGER than it was on my 36" standard set. And there are no "windowboxed" bars on the top and bottom; just the sides. It's not a distraction in the least.

I understand your wanting to hang onto your present TV set, but eventually when the need arises to buy a new one, it'll have to be an HDTV anyway, more than likely.

#12 of 34 ONLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted December 23 2008 - 02:19 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
I had a Sony 36" 4:3 set, and then I bought a LCD 46" HDTV.
Yes, the 4x3 films now have the bars on the sides, but I discovered that the actual square image is BIGGER than it was on my 36" standard set. And there are no "windowboxed" bars on the top and bottom; just the sides. It's not a distraction in the least.

I understand your wanting to hang onto your present TV set, but eventually when the need arises to buy a new one, it'll have to be an HDTV anyway, more than likely.

I know my next set will be a 46" HDTV, which will generate the same size 4:3 image I currently enjoy. But I'm hoping to get another 4-5 years out of my current 4:3 set unless the price on 46" sets comes down dramatically before then.

Thanks for all the information, guys.

#13 of 34 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

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Posted December 23 2008 - 04:56 PM

i wold also like to buy a cheap blue ray player just for the extras. Will a blue ray player play back a regular tv signal on my non hi def set?
Is there a way to do this?

#14 of 34 OFFLINE   Simon Howson

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Posted December 23 2008 - 07:58 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Caps
i wold also like to buy a cheap blue ray player just for the extras. Will a blue ray player play back a regular tv signal on my non hi def set?
Is there a way to do this?
At minimum you'll need component connection.

If you are just getting it for extras, why not just get a Blu-ray drive for your computer?

Here's a Sony drive for US$85
Newegg.com - SONY Black 2X Blu-ray DVD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 24X CD-ROM SATA Internal 2X Blu-ray DVD ROM Model BR-5100S - Blu-Ray Drives

NOTE: This is an OEM drive that may not come with Blu-ray playback software.

#15 of 34 OFFLINE   Chuck Pennington

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Posted December 23 2008 - 08:18 PM

The two Blu-Ray players I have had have composite and S-Video outputs for standard definition, and there has also been a "TV Aspect Ratio" option just like regular DVD players for 4x3 or 16x9. If you select 16x9 then not only will widescreen movies be squeezed on a 4x3 set but so will 4x3 films with bars on the sides. Why not just select 4x3 in the Blu-Ray player setup menu? That'll take care of things on a 4x3 set just like it does for an anamorphic DVD on a regular DVD player.

However, I find it hilarious people want to spend at least $150 for a mediocre Blu-Ray player to use it on an SDTV. Sort of like demanding a 5.1 stereo surround remix on a movie and then watching it on a mono television.

But to answer the original question - From the two Blu-Ray players I have had (Sony models - the newer BDP-350 is FANTASTIC!) give the option of 4x3 output, so no black bars on the sides of 4x3 movies. And there are SD outputs. I can't vouch for other brands or models.

#16 of 34 OFFLINE   Charles Ellis

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Posted December 24 2008 - 12:37 AM

To tell you the truth, I'm waiting for Blu-ray multi-disc players to come out- why hasn't this happened yet? Well? Any explainations?
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#17 of 34 OFFLINE   Jeff Willis

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Posted December 24 2008 - 12:43 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Karlosi
I had a Sony 36" 4:3 set, and then I bought a LCD 46" HDTV.
Yes, the 4x3 films now have the bars on the sides, but I discovered that the actual square image is BIGGER than it was on my 36" standard set. And there are no "windowboxed" bars on the top and bottom; just the sides. It's not a distraction in the least.

I understand your wanting to hang onto your present TV set, but eventually when the need arises to buy a new one, it'll have to be an HDTV anyway, more than likely.

I agree with Joe. Before I bought my 50" Plasma set, I had the Sony "Wega" 36" 4:3 set. I never thought I'd give that one up Posted Image But I found, after demo'ing some of my own DVD's at a local store, my 4:3 TV/DVD's looked great on the WS sets at the stores. The way I looked at it is that you get the "best of both worlds" with these WS HD sets. Once someone sees an anamorphic DVD of a film that they know well and have owned in either 4:3 or LB DVD, there's no going back Posted Image I upgraded my DTV service to HD at the same time I bought the Plasma set. The other reason I entered the HD market is watching Sports on DTV. Watching NFL, NHL, MLB etc games in HD on a WS set is awesome Posted Image

Joe also mentioned a point that some shoppers may not be aware of or possibly overlook when shopping for a WS set. If budget allows, my opinion is to get a min of 46" in size for your WS set. Before I bought the 50" Plasma, I measured the actual 4:3 picture sizes on some sets at the stores since I wanted to get a WS set with at least the same size vertical picture as was on my 36" Sony Wega. I found that to do that, you need the 46" WS size as a min size. I went with a 50" given my viewing room size & viewing distance from the screen. I had leaned toward the LCD's before deciding on the Plasma set.

As for Blu-Ray, I've been reading that "On the Waterfront" thread. Interesting posts on Blu-Ray. I've not yet entered the BR market for 2 reasons: 1) I'm mainly a TV/DVD and older films DVD collector and since the BR format is still young the available catalog of titles is not large enough for me to invest in the format. 2) I own a region-free Std Upconvert DVD Player and being region-free is important to me. I know that the early BR players were not 100% R-free but I've been hearing that the recent players are completly R-free. I might look at getting one in another year or so depending on where the BR catalog is at that time and the state of the Std DVD market.

Since I was a Laserdisc buyer, I don't necessarily oppose BR but I would prefer that the same "extras" appear on both Std & BR releases of the same products. Extras aren't usually a big selling point for me but I know that they are important to a lot of members here.

The only thing that I wonder about with BR is that it may impact the Std DVD market sooner than some have suggested. As most here, I have a collecton of Std DVD's and would like the Std format to stick around a while, although my collection is "small potatoes" compared to you all Posted Image I have about 210 movie & 180 TV/DVD sets.

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#18 of 34 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted December 24 2008 - 01:23 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Pennington
The two Blu-Ray players I have had have composite and S-Video outputs for standard definition, and there has also been a "TV Aspect Ratio" option just like regular DVD players for 4x3 or 16x9. If you select 16x9 then not only will widescreen movies be squeezed on a 4x3 set but so will 4x3 films with bars on the sides. Why not just select 4x3 in the Blu-Ray player setup menu? That'll take care of things on a 4x3 set just like it does for an anamorphic DVD on a regular DVD player.

However, I find it hilarious people want to spend at least $150 for a mediocre Blu-Ray player to use it on an SDTV. Sort of like demanding a 5.1 stereo surround remix on a movie and then watching it on a mono television.

But to answer the original question - From the two Blu-Ray players I have had (Sony models - the newer BDP-350 is FANTASTIC!) give the option of 4x3 output, so no black bars on the sides of 4x3 movies. And there are SD outputs. I can't vouch for other brands or models.

Thank you, Chuck! You made the point I was so clumsily trying to make in my post above. Both Blu-ray players that I own have a set-up menu that asks what kind of TV they're going to be used with, so once the person selects 4 X 3, the player will adjust whatever you put in it to play properly on that kind of set. Thus, a 4:3 movie like ROBIN HOOD will not be windowboxed and a widescreen movie like THE ROBE will be letterboxed just as a standard DVD player will do.

#19 of 34 OFFLINE   Vern Dias

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Posted December 24 2008 - 01:58 AM

Quote:
and the Sharp TV wont let you change the ratio. Not sure how to get it to display right
Simple: Find the "View Mode" button on your remote. Select "Dot for Dot".

BTW for anyone who doesn't already know this, on a Sharp LCD, Dot for Dot" is the only selection that will preserve all the detail in the original 1080 image.

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#20 of 34 ONLINE   David_B_K

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Posted December 24 2008 - 02:13 AM

Rob, I would invest in the HDTV before getting the Blu-ray player. You would see such an improvement on your SD DVDs it will look to you as if you already have Blu-ray. SD TVs are not capable of reproducing SD DVDs properly IMO.

For example, as you seem to like epics, look at Ben-Hur on SD DVD. Watch the scene where Quintus Arrius and Ben-Hur make their triumphal return to Rome, and Arrius approaches the emperor Tiberius. Tiberius is sitting at the top of a very long staircase. On a SD TV, the steps will appear jittery and jumpy. This is because the horizontal lines of the staircase are conflicting with the paltry number of horizontal lines on the SD TV display, so it causes an effect known as alaising.

Watch the movie on a HD display and those steps will be rock steady. Look at movies where someone is wearing a herringbone tweed jacket or a houndstooth pattern, or a brocaded fabric. It jumps all over the place on a SD TV display, but will be steady on an HD TV regardless of whether the player is SD or Blu-ray.

I realize you spent a lot on you SD TV, but it is now old technology. I spent a lot on my first computer in 1997, but my current one runs rings around it for less than half the price. I spent a lot on laserdisc players and laserdiscs, but there is newer and better stuff available now for less. Sometimes, you have to forget about what you paid for something if is technologically outpaced by something better. I am not saying not to get a Blu-ray player. I will get one when I have a little more spare $ to spend on it. But you will see huge improvements with the HD display right off the bat.

As to black bars, you will have to live with them regardless of what you watch, until they invent a TV that physically changes shape to match the movie. On your current set, 4:3 movies fill up the screen, but widescreen movies have bars on top and bottom. On a 16:9 display, yes you will have bars on the sides of a 4:3 movie, but widescreen movies will fit the display better. As Joe Karlosi said, the 4:3 movies will actually have a smidgen more information on the sides than they do on a 4:3 set, where some information is lost to overscan. But make sure you do not get a set like Russel G's, in which you can only watch 4:3 movies in stretched mode. I never strertch anything on my HDTV.


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