All Studios/Manufacturers-- Don't screw up HD-DVD!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Hitchman, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    DVD, while successful, is a seriously compromised product.
    Currently, you have to choose between decent video or audio and usually the choice on most titles is to sacrifice superior audio (as of right now full bitrate DTS 24/96 or DTS-ES Discrete 6.1) for a little bit better video quality.
    DVD's video is already over compressed with many compromises made to the originally intended look of a film in order for the MPEG-2 format to do its job well. Pixelization and motion artifacts can still pop up on the best of titles. Ringing and/or artifical edge enhancement gives a harsh or gritty quality to many titles as well. The 4:2:0 component video ratio chosen for standard DVD has given rise to chroma upscaling problems in most DVD players while the MPEG-2 decoders are trying to re-create the original professional 4:4:4 signal.
    DVD's audio formats are lossy compressed with a maximum of 5.1 (or in the case of DTS-ES, 6.1) discrete channels. Many of us in this hobby spend thousands of dollars on high quality speakers, processors, and amps to get the 'nth degree of audiophile sound, which is not possible with lossy compressed formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS. Lossy compression is a major step backwards when there are already high resolution uncompressed or lossless compressed formats such as 24/96 and 24/192 LPCM and Direct Stream Digital (DSD) available now, and disc capacities are rapidly increasing.
    DVD's subtitles look about as good as 8-bit ATARI video game text most of the time and they sometimes are placed well into the lower letterbox bar, which make them impossible to see for those with front and rear projection masking systems.
    Pan and scan is still prevalent although we are starting a new century and more and more home theater enthusiasts are getting the message that OAR is the only way to go.
    ------------------
    With all of these problems (and there are many more I could site) I hope you will take the time to develope a truly stunning HD-DVD format free from most (if not all) of these compromises.
    Here is my proposal for the minimum specs. that should be applied to any future HD-DVD format:
    1) 1920x1080i with support for 24 fps and true ~30 fps rates. No high frequency video filtering, which would lead to a loss of fine picture detail! Internal player downconversion for consumers who wish 720p, 480p, or 480i signals as well.
    2) Proper flag encoding for 2:3 pulldown detection for correct de-interlacing to 1920x1080p in the digital domain inside the player.
    3) 4:4:4 professional component video stream ratio.
    4) Lossless or very low lossy compression applied to the video stream. If that means two discs for certain movies then so be it as long as the highest quality video and audio is presented. THAT MEANS NO MPEG-4 OR CURRENT MPEG-2 TECHNOLOGY!
    5) 24 bit, smooth fonts for subtitles, and they must remain inside the picture frame.
    6) Seamless layer changes (if applicable).
    7) Primary language ultra-high resolution soundtrack-- 1.0 up to at least 7.1 discrete channels encoded with lossless compressed (bit for bit recreation mode) 24 bit/96 kHz LPCM (24 bit/192 kHz LPCM if possible) or Sony/Philips' DSD formats. No watermarking on the audio stream itself in order to preserve the utmost quality.
    8) Backwards compatible primary language track and/or supplemental language tracks-- Dolby Digital, or full bitrate DTS 24/96, or half or full bitrate DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 (whichever will fit, on a case by case basis).
    9) Audio commentary tracks-- Dolby Digital 192 kilobits/sec. format.
    10) Original Aspect Ratios must be adhered to. No pan and scan or open-matte transfers. Period. Let's nip this in the bud once and for all.
    Supplemental quality feature:
    2.35:1 anamorphic enhancement (within the standard 1920x1080 1.78:1 HDTV frame) for 2.0:1 and above ratio widescreen movies. This is similar to the 1.78:1 (16x9) enhancement on current DVDs where all or most of the available pixels are used for the picture rather than black bars increasing the resolution of these super-wide movies on high quality digital widescreen front projection systems that utilize constant height/variable width screens and anamorphic lenses. Players could internally downconvert the 2.35:1 enhanced image to a proper geometrically sized 1.78:1 image with player added black bars to create the 2.0:1 and wider framing.
    ----------------
    Obviously, if a disc with enough capacity were to be developed then I would highly recommend moving the video spec. up to true 1920x1080 progressive scan output, but with players that can downconvert internally to 1080i, 720p, and lower for those TVs not able to support 1080p currently. Within a couple of years there will be front and rear projection TVs with true 1080p support, so it would be smart to think ahead.
    For all those concerned I hope a disc with these types of features is produced rather than some of the (yet again) seriously compromised HD-DVD formats being discussed at the DVD Forum meetings. Filmmakers would benefit by seeing their products reproduced as close to their vision as possible as well as all of us home theater hobbiest who only want the best source material for our expensive and hard earned audio and video equipment.
    We should accept no less.
    Thank you.
    With best regards,
    Dan
     
  2. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Doesn't anyone care about this issue?

    Dan
     
  3. Todd H

    Todd H Go Dawgs!

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    I agree wholeheartedly. The solution to HD-DVD isn't more compression, it's more storage space with LESS compression. That means either blu-ray or FMD.
     
  4. John Stockton

    John Stockton Second Unit

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    The one consistent thing in this forum is, whenever Dan speaks, he expects nothing but the best. I do not even have to read his posts to agree with everything he says.

    I sure hope the studios are reading and considering all he has suggested.
     
  5. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Come on guys and gals! Let's get those opinions rolling before HD-DVD specs get cast in stone.

    Now is the time to let our voices be heard, not after the fact.

    I'd be interested to know what you all think. Personally, I think HD-DVD should mean exactly that: high definition for both audio and video. More quality over quantity. Supplements are great, but not at the expense of the resolution and detail of the picture and sound. The movie should come first. Supplements can go on a separate disc.

    Dan
     
  6. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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  7. Daniel L

    Daniel L Stunt Coordinator

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    Brain,

    Warner is a member of the DVDForum.

    They're just bitter since the phrase DVD is no included in the Blu-Ray stadard. Therefore, they wouldn't get paid for every HD-DVD...

    Daniel L
     
  8. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    I agree with you Dan. HD-DVD should be "the best". No compromises should be made.

    If HD-DVD is not a *major* improvement over the current DVD's, I will not upgrade. And I think many people feel the same way.
     
  9. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    Dan, very nicely put. I don't think that I could agree more.
     
  10. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    Hi guys

    Dan, Im with you all the way. I still think that HD DVD is not going to be coming down the pike for another 3-5 years. The Studios feel very uncomfortable about releasing their product in the HD format as it is so close to the quality of the original master. Copy right protection will be required and must be agreed upon. Once this occurs and copy right protection is proven to be successful, then HD DVD will become a reality.

    The first test will be HD tape, and these will be coming out in May. If the copy right protection works then perhaps a more stable medium will be more quickly developed and embraced.

    Gregg
     
  11. Sean Oneil

    Sean Oneil Supporting Actor

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    I agree.
     
  12. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I like it, Dan.
     
  13. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Until FMD technology can be speedily and accurately reproduced in a mass market setting, Blue-Ray may be the best alternative for the time being.

    However, it should be in the dual-layered 50+ GB variety as proposed as part of a future specification.

    If MPEG-2 can be modified to create much more detailed, artifact free video for 1920x1080i (and 1080p, hopefully) HDTV (as MPEG-2 is the proposed video format for Blue-Ray currently) then the extra 20+ Gigabytes of storage could be used to have high resolution audio attached to this MPEG-2 stream instead of again using lossy compressed DTS and Dolby Digital exclusively. If the nine manufacturers of the Blue-Ray technology proposal have allowed PCM (I don't know about DSD) as part of that spec., who's to say it couldn't be 24 bit/192 kHz PCM in stereo mode and up to 7.1 discrete channels of 24 bit/96 kHz PCM (with no audio watermarking, dial. norm, dynamic range compression, or other manipulation of the pure digital audio masters)? Lossless compressed, of course, because of the extra data capacity needed.

    Perhaps to appease the giant Dolby Labs monolith Meridian Lossless Packing (which they now own the licensing rights to) can be modified to allow 7.1 discrete PCM at high resolution to be packed, since this would come at the expense of Dolby Digital being the mandated audio format.

    The question is: will the DVD-Forum see this 50 GB version of Blue-Ray as more data capacity for more movies or longer movies on one disc, or would they be willing to see this more as a boon to add truer audiophile sound but keep the average audio/video length at just over 2 hour running times (placing longer movies on two dual layered discs)? The ol' quantity vs. quality debate all over again.

    We quality conscious consumers of the laserdisc era of home theater know full well that full bitrate DTS and even PCM (as limited as they were with resolution, sampling rates, word-lengths, etc. compared to DVD-Audio and SACD of today) on laserdisc was far better than the audio quality produced today from DVD. Why not regain that lost audio superiority with HD-DVD?

    Thoughts?

    Should we start a petition to the DVD Forum for such a proposal? I would find this compromise more appealing than the idea of non-video/audiophile MPEG-4, more compression and just "adaquate" HDTV quality on standard red laser discs.

    Dan
     
  14. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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  15. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Who would be willing to host such a petition? Any volunteers? What are the sites for placing an official petition with them?

    Time is of the essence.

    Dan
     
  16. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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  17. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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  18. PhilipG

    PhilipG Cinematographer

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    HD-DVD should not store any black bar information. No, I'm not advocating pan/scam. I'm saying that no matter the OAR, only the picture pixels should be stored. This will mean that it is the job of the player to scale and add the black bars on-the-fly (either windowboxed or letterboxed or not at all depending on display hardware).
    Of course, black bars don't take up a lot of encoding space, but the edges between them and the picture do.
    I say, for HD-DVD, do *not* have a standard picture resolution. Support any source resolution, and leave it to the hardware chips to scale (the technology is certainly there for that). If a studio wants to release a TV series on one disc in DVD resolution, let them - and vice versa for say a 90min film with no extras - pump up the resolution way past 1080i.
    Finally, ensure that Pan/Scam on the fly is part of the spec, and fully implemented in software and hardware for those fools who want it.
     
  19. Bob_J_M

    Bob_J_M Agent

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    I agree with PhilipG - a broad range of HDTV resolutions should be supported. Similarly, there should be a variety of audio options, one of which is lossless 24/96 or better.
     
  20. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

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    Agreed.
    I've preached on this before as well [​IMG]
    In addition to cool things like 1080P (or 1080I with no pre-filtering so true 1080P output could be obtained) and 20x9 encoding for 2.0 or higher films, I'd like to emphasize the need for high-resoluiton audio.
    I'd like to see 7 channel DSD or 24/192 auido as an option, with lossless compression.
    PhilipG, although at first glance it may seem cool to alocate *no* wasted area for letterboxing by using the full 1080x1920 pixel array for picture information, the problem is that the math to perform these "infinite" possible aspect ratio conversions will suck in a major way. The cool thing about going from 16x9 to 4x3 and from 20x9 to 16x9 to 4x3 is that they involve even-integer algorithms. 16x9 to 4x3 involves folding every 4 vertical pixels into 3. 20x9 to 16x9 folds every 5 into 4. This math is predictable and realatively clean. To have something that was truly variable would get tricky math wise and result generally in poor downconversion. It makes the most sense IMO to choose several fixed ratios (can be more than these 3) that do a good fit and then let the scalers and projectors work it out. Then again if scaling software gets good enough and cheap enough maybe this wouldn't be a problem either.
    One thing no one talks about is that the HDTV format for broadcast mandates 16x9 aspect ratio. This means that all 1.33:1 films MUST be windowboxed to maintain OAR...thereby sacrificing about 1/4 of their potential resolution. Duh!
    The HD format for DVD should not only incorporate 20x9 encoding (and obviously 16x9) but *also* 4x3 encoding. There's no reason why 1.33:1 films should have to sacrifice resolution to fit inside a widescreen frame.
    If I had my way there should also be rules that mandate that any film up to 1.5 is 4x3 encoded, any aspect ratio from 1.55 to 1.9 is 16x9 encoded, and any aspect ratio 2:1 or higher gets 20x9 encoding. In other words, the aspect ratio of the digital transfer should maximize resolution of the given OAR. PERIOD. There should be no room for alternatives here. Once and for all we shouldn't have to worry whether a transfer has been optimally encoded in the proper frame area. At the very least, no transfer 1.66:1 or wider should be 4x3 encoded!!!
    -dave
    p.s. if someone wants to get together some sort of paper or petition to send to the DVD forum I'm there!!
     

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