HD menus, selecting extra features, audio tracks, etc

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by John H Ross, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    I just had my hand slapped (probably rightfully so) for initiating a discussion on the HD-DVD owners forum about menu screens based on Ron's review of the Toshiba HD-DVD player.

    It seems that with Warner's HD-DVD discs you can only select special features, alternate audio tracks (DTS, commentary tracks, etc) from within the actual movie. So to watch a movie in DTS you'd have to actually interrupt the movie to select it! To watch a documentary you'd have to start the movie in order to access it!

    To me this is absolutely outrageous and a terrible artistic decision.

    I was wondering how the Blu-Ray discs out there handle menus etc? Is there a Main Menu from which you can set up your playing options or is everything controlled from within the movie (argh!)?

    John
     
  2. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    With all the regular DVD titles that don't have the buttons locked out, I usually start the movie, then select the audio and subtitles I want, then skip back to the beginning.
     
  3. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    I followed you posts in the other thread, John, and I have to say that your opinion on the matter could not be more different from mine.

    I absolutely love the few DVDs I have that begin by playing the movie instead of going to the menu. If I put a DVD in my player, it's because I want to watch a movie, not because I want to poke around the menus. If I feel like changing the soundtrack or other options, then I'll explicitly bring up the menu and do so. But if I haven't pressed the "menu" key on my remote, then I don't want to see the menu.

    I have a few low-budget DVDs that don't have menus at all, and frankly, I think they're the better for it.

    I don't actually own a Blu-ray player or an HD-DVD player, so I'm not the best person to answer your question. I can tell you, however, that while browsing Circuit City a couple of weeks ago, I happened to see an HDTV playing the Underworld Evolution Blu-ray disc, and it was at a menu screen that appeared to be just like the sort of menu one might find on a DVD. So it looks like Blu-ray might be more your speed with regard to this particular element, though again, my experience in the arena is quite limited.
     
  4. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    Everybody's entitled to their opinion, obviously, but I'm amazed that so many people (well, two so far!) fly off to menus while the film is playing to change the settings. When I watch a movie I want to watch it from the 1st second to the last completely uninterrupted, just the way I would in a theatre, unless it's absolutely necessary to do otherwise. I don't want anything to interrupt it. No video tweaks, no audio tweaks, I don't want to "follow the while rabbit", I don't want to click on the "007" logo, etc etc etc. I want to change my settings before the movie starts (and with the increasing number of DTS mixes, and the occasional superior original mono mix, the need to make changes before the movie is becoming more and more necessary). And if I want to watch the special features I'll do that separately, after the movie or whatever.

    Sure some menus are overly elaborate and take ages to peruse, but the majority are just fine and some are actually quite brilliant. And like I said I'd rather spend 10 seconds or so at a menu than interrupt the movie (after all, current HD-DVD users spend longer than that simply waiting for the player to boot up!)

    The movie comes first. Period.

    John
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    John,
    I don't have a problem with Warner's HD DVD discs. Once the disc is fully loaded into the player, the FBI warning is displayed followed by an HD DVD tutorial that you can skip which then leads straight into the movie. You can change the audio options or subtitle options while the movie plays and can even access any bonus material while the movie is still playing without interrupting the movie until you actually pick a bonus option. Also, you can select each audio or subtitle option without the movie ever stopping.

    The Universal discs are like dvd in which the Universal introduction plays then a menu screen comes up to select your options before playing the movie. Like the Warner discs, you can access your menu options again and change them if you please while the movie is playing without interrupting it.

    The Blu-ray discs are the same as the Universal HD discs.

    Now, you might not like how Warner's discs are setup, but I've read a lot of complaints over the years on this forum about how people wanted the movie to start immediately without going to the menu screen. Warner can't please everybody, so hopefully, they did a marketing study that verified that most of their customers preferred the movie to start playing immediately without going to the menu screen. Who knows? But, based on Warner's record in the video market for the last several years, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they're satisfying the needs of their customers, you notwithstanding.






    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    No menu by default? This sounds like a great way to add pre-movie trailers - and then commercials! I can hear the screaming now! [​IMG]

    What I would like to see is a menu to set up our players for our preferred defaults. This way, you could select DTS as your preference, and every time you put in a movie with a DTS soundtrack, it would automatically default to it.

    Glenn
     
  7. Ryan-G

    Ryan-G Supporting Actor

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    I'm of two opinions.

    First, I've no desire to try to parse a menu while the movie is playing so I can switch to special features. I'd like to be able to easily navigate to them without an overly complicated pull down menu, or have to interrupt the movie to get to them, especially if I'm just going back to watch the features.

    Second, and more importantly to me, many menus today are minor -> major spoilers. Giving away key scenes, lines, or even the occasional plot point. I don't really have any theaters nearby anymore, even though I live in a big city, so the disc is the first time I'm seeing the movie. Now-a-days I just put the disc in and go make myself something to eat, because these menus and the fool intros to the menus are too spoilerish. If that's the way it's going to be, then put me straight into the movie.
     
  8. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    But Robert, this IS interrupting the movie. The fact that the movie doesn't actually stop doesn't change the fact that you're pressing buttons and a big distracting menu is covering a quarter (whatever) of the screen. It's something which doesn't happen in theatres and therefore it IS an interruption. Plus presumably there's a slight audio dropout when switching from DD to DTS or whatever?

    I can't believe any HTF member would condone ANYTHING getting in the way of a pure movie-watching experience. These are not video games we're playing contrary to what the studios seem to thing we want. I even bought a Denon DVD2900 specifically to dispose of noticable layer changes.

    And like I said earlier, most DVDs allow you to change audio and subtitle options without having to stop the movie so that's no great breakthrough. But with DVDs it's an option to do that mid-movie, with Warner HD discs it appears to be compulsory.

    I'm sure that some people do want the movie to just start when you insert the disc, but what's this about a HD-DVD promotional opener that you're forced to skip through. Hardly the film just starting is it?

    I'll be VERY interested to see how these forthcoming Warner Blu-Ray Discs are authored.

    John
     
  9. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    John,
    My last word on this, I don't have a problem with something you obviously do so I don't know what else to tell you. Also, not every HTF member is the same when it comes to personal preferences on this issue which has nothing to do with being an HTF member, so please, do not go there.





    Crawdaddy
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    That's why I start the movie over as soon as I've selected the audio and subtitle settings I want, so that I don't have the first few seconds interrupted by the player display. My older Pioneer lets you set it to default to your preferred settings on some discs, but it only has memory for a limited number of them. It'd be nice to be able to tell it to always default to what you want even on a disc it's never played before (original audio mix and no subtitles in my case).
     
  11. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Supporting Actor

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    I can't believe no one else seems to care about this either. I feel like I just stepped onto some "other" forum. The movie starts, "quick, change the sound option!!!". That is bullshit.

    Like John said, these are not video games. When you go to the movies, do you have to quickly press a bunch of buttons to change the settings? No, the lights go down, the screen is black, and the movie starts. That's the way it should be.

    Please note this is not a knock on the HD-DVD format, but a complaint about a dumb authoring decision.
     
  12. Walter Kittel

    Walter Kittel Producer

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    I was following this discussion over in the other thread so I'll add my comments...

    Sorry guys. It just isn't that big of a deal for me personally. Adjust the settings during the Warner Bros. logo or pause the film or hit the chapter back once you've got it setup and then enjoy the show.

    molehill --> press buttons on remote --> mountain. [​IMG]

    - Walter.
     
  13. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    It's funny that I agree one hundred per cent with John and Scott's "movies are not video games" sentiment, yet I ultimately disagree with them on the issue.

    If movies are not video games, why am I forced to navigate through a menu in order to watch the main feature? When I put a DVD in the player, the movie should start with no compulsory menu-traversing. If I want to fiddle with the options, then I'll call up the menu explicitly.
     
  14. Scott Calvert

    Scott Calvert Supporting Actor

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    I can see your point Carl, and for discs in which there are no other sound options or features that would be fine if the thing just started right up. Unfortunately, for titles that have many different options I can't think of anything outside of a static menu with choices that can be made before the films starts. That's certainly better that having to shuffle and choose while the movie is playing, IMO.
     
  15. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    LaserDiscs have to be spun up before the player can read the disc information and find out, for instance, what the audio options are ; for this reason, you have to switch audio tracks while the disc is playing, although there's usually at least a lead-in of a few seconds when you can do that without it intruding on the film. With the smaller optical discs, though, that kind of information ought to be included on the Table of Contents which is read when the disc is inserted, so that you can make your selection before you start the disc playing, just like you can select the track to start playing on a stopped CD.
     
  16. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    Phew, thanks Scott for backing me up here. I honestly can't believe what I'm reading. Here we are at a forum that promotes the "closest thing to the cinema experience in your own home" and we're talking about leaping up to pause (or not) a movie on the WB logo, flashing up a menu (yes, that's right, a menu!), backing up the movie and starting it again, etc etc etc. Can you imagine doing that every time you want to watch, say, Batman Begins in DTS? It's quite unbelievable to my mind. I wonder if I have to do that when I go see Superman Returns at my local Odeon tomorrow night...?

    All this hassle because setting up the movie the way you want it before it starts (much like a cinema projectionist would I guess) via a simple opening menu is too much trouble?

    Whatever. My problem is not with other member's personal viewing preferences it's with Warner's extremely dodgy authoring choices. I can only honestly and genuinely hope that other studios follow Universal's lead and that WB eventually sees the light like they did with regular DVD. That's my personal opinion obviously (as somebody who appreciates simplicity rather than show-off gadgetry).

    John
     
  17. Paul Anthony

    Paul Anthony Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm explicitly happy with the final product, it sure beats videotape. [​IMG]
     
  18. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    To be perfectly honest I'm starting to be a lot more annoyed by the "intro to HD-DVD" that precedes the movie on Warner titles than I am by the menu system, but that's probably a subject for another thread.
     
  19. Glen C

    Glen C Stunt Coordinator

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    i welcome the movie just playing.

    why is "leaping up" required to press a button on my remote. [​IMG]
     
  20. John H Ross

    John H Ross Screenwriter

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    Well unless you watch movies with the remote on your knee I suspect that some sort of forward motion is required to pick it up and then put it down again :)

    John
     

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