Microsoft's Corona codec HD demo on T2 Extreme Edition? Let's discuss!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Dan Hitchman, Apr 6, 2003.

  1. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    As some have been discussing over at AVS Forum, there is a strong possibility that at least the T2 Extreme Edition will feature a demo of low bitrate Corona HD compression in the form of Terminator 2's theatrical cut w/ 5.1 audio.

    Obviously, since there are no red laser HD players on the market this will be packed as a Windows Media Player 9 file and reportedly either 720p or 1080p resolution. It will take a fairly fast Pentium (in the 2 Gigahertz range) or equivalent processor and a lot of RAM in order for the film's file to work properly. The 5.1 audio is also PC-only too.

    Now, my question is this: do you guys/gals feel that this is to test the water for a low bitrate HD disc solution (using Microsoft's Corona codec), or do you think this is just a cool extra and that nothing should be read into this demo?

    Some people have stated that the small HD clips from Microsoft showing the ability of WM9 to present super-compressed HD movies at around 6 Megabits/sec were "not all that and a bag of potato chips," and showed heavy pixelization and other compression anomalies.

    If this is really a sly way of some of the DVD Forum members to gauge the response of consumers to low bitrate HD-DVD using Corona (vs. MPEG-4), then wouldn't those less than stellar clips of Microsoft's turn people off, or do you think they think we wouldn't really care just so long as the two buzz words "High Definition" were attached to it?

    I'd still rather see what either Blu-Ray or the other blue disc format can offer in terms of superior 1080p video and audiophile-like multichannel audio. Why put down an investment in yet another interim red laser solution (with unproven HD performance and only DTS or Dolby Digital audio again), when we could be getting something much better?

    Hope this can be a lively discussion.

    Dan
     
  2. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    I can't claim to understand much of any of the above or below, however on the topic of compression, from what I understand there is competition over who will be able to stream movies down to people's computers (Microsoft wanting to become in essence your cable tv provider/video-rental-store replacement), and a range of other applications. From one of the father figures in the industry, whose identity is shrouded in mystery, there was this incredible post about the NAB show. It's a big quote but he's so sincerely excited I just had to share it:

     
  3. Ricardo C

    Ricardo C Producer

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    I believe they are indeed testing the waters. If the demo is included in the package, I'll be picking it up in order to evaluate it for myself. I have little faith in the concept of low-bitrate HD, but it's worth taking a look. I'll test it on my PC, and on a friend's projector.
     
  4. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt Cinematographer

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    I don't know whether we should read anything into it, but it's certainly an interesting experiment if it comes to fruition. I am very interested to see it, but I suspect the number of enthusiasts with the equipment necessary to exploit the technology is very small (especially the audio component).

    At the very least it should give us some sort of idea of what is possible with low bit-rate/high compression HD media on DVD. What sort of copy protection does WM9 use? I imagine it's quite robust if Artisan are willing to sell (possibly) a 1080P version of one of their crown jewels.

    I'm also curious how this material will be presented. Even heavily compressed the film would still require a DVD9. Are Artisan including this disc as standard? If they are, I imagine 99% will end up as coasters and there will be the same percentage of annoyed customers with discs they can't use for anything.

    If this rumour is true, Artisan would be a logical source considering they were the first to exploit both DVD9 and DVD18. It may be a marketing gimmick, but at least it's a genuinely intriguing one!

    Adam
     
  5. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    I just hope this isn't the future, especially if the PQ is only average.

    Whatever happens to pre-recorded HD content, I'd want it to at least meet D-Theater qualities, and at best beat the crap out of it. However, it's gotta be true 1080p in a variety of frame rates (24, 30, 60, etc.) for whatever source they use (film or video based). I understand D-Theater can do at least 1080p/24 recording and playback if it has a 1080p source.

    A high quality, efficient video codec coupled with MLP PCM at 24/96 resolution with at the very least 6.1 channel discrete capabilities, and at best 8 or more discrete channels on Blu-Ray or other high capacity disc medium would be ideal.

    Dan
     
  6. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    I downloaded the "Stepping Into Liquid" 5mbps 720p demo from Microsoft's web site this weekend (sorry, don't have the link now), and on my 21" PC monitor it looked suspect. The resolution was nice, but the artifacting was noticeable even on such a small display.

    Since I also have a Sharp Z10000 DLP projector (1280x720, perfect for testing a 720p recording) hooked up to a PC in my living room, I tried it out on that as well. My screen size is 92" diagonal. Compared to the HD material I'm seeing on HBO and Showtime via Comcast cable, the MS demo looked awful. Lots of MPEG blocking and dancing pixels.

    I think the relatively quick introduction of BluRay by Sony will prompt other manufacturers to follow suit. Hopefully enough hardware will get out there to convince the studios that BluRay is the new standard, whether they want it to be or not.
     
  7. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    That sure doesn't sound promising. Heck even MPEG-2 doesn't look that bad at 5 Mbps. Granted, that's only 480i, but still...

    Dan
     
  8. wally

    wally Second Unit

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    Just on principle, I’d rather not see Microsoft hegemony in television. My computer is enough.
     
  9. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    wally,

    My sentiment exactly! [​IMG]

    Dan
     
  10. Chris Purvis

    Chris Purvis Stunt Coordinator

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    Step Into Liquid is encoded at 5.5 and also at 6.9 Mbps. The 6.9 Mbps version is a slight improvement, but still has very heavy artifacting and is not what I would consider an improvement over a well-encoded MPEG-2 dvd. I have a CRT front projector and I've been using the Step Into Liquid trailer as my projector warmup material for a couple of months now (MP9 will loop it indefinately which is why I use it). A scaled-up but originally great looking DVD (extended LOTR, Blade II) is definately better looking video than these examples are, even though they are natively 1280x720.

    Anyhow, the demos are definately not bad, but if this is what HD-DVD becomes it would be unacceptable to just about everyone. A caveat I should note is that lots of people use WM9 to archive broadcast HDTV with very good results, however at what bitrate they use is not exactly clear. Either way I don't see how this T2 file can be much more than about 8-9Mbps and still fit on one disc.

    Here's a link to microsoft's download page. You must have Media Player 9 installed to view these. And you must do the multichannel audio decoding inside your PC to get back more than 2 channels of audio.

    http://windowsmedia.com/9series/Demo...p=VideoQuality
     
  11. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    If that's one of the codecs the DVD Forum is considering handing to consumers for HD content, they've got some screws loose.

    HD with heavy compression artifacts is going to look no better (if not worse) than MPEG-2 for 480i! Disappointing to say the least.

    If people buy into HD-DVD and it looks like what I just saw, my faith in savvy home theater consumers will have eroded.

    Dan
     
  12. Mark_TS

    Mark_TS Screenwriter

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    Quote:
    "Just on principle, I'd rather not see Microsoft hegemony in television. My computer is enough."
    -----
    agreed, plus who would want to deal with their now standard once-a-week PC virus/security flaw/technical updates on your future Video system...
     
  13. Jay Sylvester

    Jay Sylvester Supporting Actor

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    Politics and money will keep Microsoft out of the running for HD-DVD codecs. No studio or hardware manufacturer wants to be associated with or dependent upon Microsoft for their software and hardware to work properly, nor will they want to pay MS the royalties for using their codec.

    The Toshiba/NEC blue laser format or the Sony BluRay format will most likely be the standard. Sony is already out of the gate with their first HD-DVD recorder, bypassing the playback-only "rule" for new optical media decks. It won't be long before Sony starts releasing Columbia/TriStar titles to the format (Superbit HD-DVD anyone?). Warner might be stubborn and push their own red laser format so they can avoid retooling their factories, but if they're the only studio behind it, not even their considerable back catalog of titles will be enough to get manufacturers on board.

    The DVD Forum was supposed to make a final decision last month, but did they? They're making themselves irrelevant by delaying. Time and technology both march on whether the Forum approves of equipment or not.
     
  14. Dave F

    Dave F Cinematographer

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  15. Chris Purvis

    Chris Purvis Stunt Coordinator

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    I think Microsoft's real motivation behind Corona is its use as an efficient codec for PC-based PVR for HDTV. Microsoft has had a long-term goal of moving the PC out of the home office and into the living room as a set-top box - they've stated this many times in the past. For that purpose it seems quite capable. Have you seen Windows XP Media Center edition yet? It's exactly the kind of thing that OS is geared for.
     
  16. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

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  17. Gregory Pauswinski

    Gregory Pauswinski Supporting Actor

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    Doesn't "Standing In the Shadows of Motown" also have the DVD-ROM Corona HD version of the film? Are there any reviews of that yet?

    I'm in the "cool extra" camp I guess. I kind of like the idea of getting the HD version of a film today. [​IMG]
     
  18. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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  19. Aaron Reynolds

    Aaron Reynolds Screenwriter

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    What are the minimum specs to play these thingies? I'm curious to try one of 'em out on my work computers here.

    Has anyone tried 'em on Macs?
     
  20. Declan

    Declan Second Unit

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    it seems that this HD T2 demo would/could only be for people with high-end front projectors able to connect to the (high spec PC's). Because could you really see the extra resolution on a normal PC screen. Could you see a difference between the HD T2 and the normal MPEG-2 version?
     

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