New York Times: Fiddling With Formats While DVD Burns

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Roberto Carlo, Dec 25, 2005.

  1. Roberto Carlo

    Roberto Carlo Second Unit

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    Here's the lede:



    Here's the link
     
  2. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    I find the piece typical for the mainstream press on this tech subject. It's a wee bit behind in its coverage of the issue. Specifically, without being a Smurf cheerleader, even I'd argue that the article doesn't give enough attention to the significance of every major studio except for Universal having announced (non-exclusive) Blu-ray support.
    I agree.

    But I'd disagree with the fundamental orientation of the article, which is the premise that interest in the hi def DVD formats is basically evaporating while the the standard is hashed out. Some of us--especially those with HD-capable sets--are still very interested.

    The article doesn't mention copy protection issues at all.

    -p
     
  3. rich_d

    rich_d Cinematographer

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    I don't think the article was meant to be an all-encompassing think piece - but to touch based on some of the key points. However, I agree with Paul, glossing over copyright protection ...? That's a bit sloppy.

    I thought this was the quote of the article.

    Except it doesn't go far enough. Microsoft sells software for profit. What's to stop Google for selling it for free? Or Apple? While Sony does sit on one side of the equation there are some major players on the other side. My guess is that that side will be the one more aggressive in figuring out what customers want and delivering it. $ony seems to GM to me. Big but a bit asleep. My guess is they get passed by when its all said and done.

    Remember over a year ago when people thought that Fall 2005 would be significant starting point in the HD format? One could make a case for it being when Playstation 3 comes out or Fall 2006. The article does have a good point ... what a mess.
     
  4. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    I'm not following this whole thing very closely, but I'm not jumping on any new DVD format until it's clear it will replace DVD.
     
  5. FrancisP

    FrancisP Screenwriter

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    There will be some who buy the PS3 to get a blu-ray player early. But as soon as the more sophisticated stand-alone players come out, they will move on. It doesn't increase the number of users just re-shuffles them. The average person is not going to buy a PS3 to watch blu-ray movies.
     
  6. Brent M

    Brent M Producer

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    I thought the PS3 was coming out in the 4th Qtr. of 2006, not the 2nd Qtr. Am I mistaken?
     
  7. Aaron_Brez

    Aaron_Brez Supporting Actor

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    I think the PS3 is still slated for a Spring '06 release in Japan. Signs have been pointing to later in '06 for the North American market.

    It's possible we'll see non-PS3 players before then. Pioneer claims it's ready to ship it's BD-ROM/R/RE drives (with single-layer only writing) at the end of January; if that happens, there's reason to suspect that set-top-boxes would be forthcoming fairly soon afterward.
     
  8. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    Unsurprisingly given my responses to your posts on the subject of hi def DVD in recent months, I still find your perspective on the subject problematic, Francis.

    I disagree with your position that it's "not significant" that 5 of the 6 major studios have announced non-exclusive Blu-ray support. I understand your point is that it doesn't matter how many studios support whichever HD format if "consumers" aren't interested in 're-buying' titles they already own. But I disagree with that point also insofar as I think it's an oversimplification.

    It's not a matter of studios "winning." It's a 'win' for discerning consumers to finally be perhaps getting their hands on a consumer HD media format. It's something we've never had before, so I'd take issue with the notion that it's a re-purchase to finally get Braveheart in HD on disc. Never had it before in HD. Hasn't been available.

    And I'd argue that the broad, amorphous category of consumers you refer to that doesn't understand or agree with that distinction isn't the market for HD. Those folks don't know any better and I'm not interested in my access to HD movies on disc being predicated on their acceptance or understanding of how significant this is. I'd be happy with a robust niche absent mass market acceptance.

    Which brings me back to the significance of 5 of the 6 majors having announced (non-exclusive) BD support.

    Here's hoping we get some release slate announcements at CES next week.

    -p
     
  9. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    Personally, I would predict that HD-DVD and Blu-Ray will meet roughly the same amount of consumer enthusiasm that DVD-A and SACD did. Namely, not that much. The market penetration of HD displays is relatively small, and the penetration of HD displays large enough to show a substantial difference between DVD and HD content is even smaller. It is arguable that a 40" HDTV, while it will show some difference between DVD and HD content, won't produce the same WOW factor that DVD produced over VHS. Even on a nice big front projection setup the difference between a good and bad transfer will still be far more noticeable than the difference between HD and DVD versions of the same transfer. Ergo, we will almost certainly encounter HD-DVD's that look *worse* than DVD's due to transfer issues. That certainly won't help public reception of the new formats either.

    There are other factors that will affect how fast HD-DVD and/or Blu-Ray are adopted as well. Both formats feature stronger DRM than DVD's, although it's naive to expect them to be unbreakable. Obviously, this makes the formats more attractive to studios even though there will be only very limited real world benefits. (Pirated movies are currently distributed primarily via a pyramid-like structure with release groups and industry-insiders at the top. Even if stronger DRM stops 99.999% of the ripping that goes on, movies will still be widely available on P2P sharing networks, etc.) Studios may offer HD-DVD's or Blu-Ray at the same price-point as DVD's to encourage adoption of the format and allow DVD's to be phased out at an earlier date. (i.e. DVD may not be around in 15 years like VHS still is, if this is the case) However, if the DRM used is highly restrictive or inconvenient to customers, there may be a significant backlash against the new formats. If most people initially don't have the equipment to see a noticeable difference, but face noticeable added inconvenience, the new formats will be non-starters. Guaranteed.

    I suppose a good question to ask is, to what extent has the competition between DVD-A and SACD helped or hindered the adoption of high quality audio formats in the last few years? It looks like we're about to repeat history with this conflict between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. The uncertainty over which format will win in audio circles has quite probably hindered the adoption of both formats even in audiophile circles, just as it's quite likely many people won't want to commit to either Blu-Ray or HD-DVD until one format "wins". However, if history is repeated, both formats could be around for years.

    Quality and DRM issues aside, DVD also presented a significant improvement over VHS in many other areas. No rewinding, no tape-eating decks, slimmer, sexier packaging... Just like SACD and DVD-A didn't have any of those advantages over CD's, neither do HD-DVD or Blu-Ray have any such advantages over DVD's. Bottom line, I doubt HD-DVD or Blu-Ray will be rapidly or widely adopted, and as a result, the titles available on both formats will probably be few and far between. We're not going to see the same explosive growth that characterized DVD's. This format war is being waged over what will probably be a relatively small and slow-growing market, and one which may very well be made even smaller by the format war itself. Things don't look good in HD-land. [​IMG]
     
  10. PaulP

    PaulP Producer

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    Terry, I echoed the same sentiments you so eloquently elaborated upon above. I wholly agree that no HD format will be widely accepted any time soon. I know people who've only this year gotten a DVD player. One such person finally received one this Christmas. She's not gonna switch next year suddenly to a whole new format. The average person is more than pleased with standard DVD.
     
  11. Ray Chuang

    Ray Chuang Screenwriter

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    In my humble opinion, the biggest issue for HD-DVD and Blu-Ray is will they display 1080-line progressive scan video natively, plus built-in clean conversion to 1080-line interlaced scan and 720-line progressive scan formats for older rear-projection TV's.

    If they offer 1080p support natively, then I think the new format will succeed, and I'm putting my money on Blu-Ray because of its higher storage capacity (50 GB dual-layer for Blu-Ray) and the fact more movie studios support Blu-Ray over HD-DVD.

    I've seen demos of a Mitsubishi 1080p DLP RPTV playing back a 1080p format video and the quality will literally knock your socks off--it's so sharp that you can clearly see individual beads of sweat on a winded athlete and text from the screen credits for a movie--even in very small font sizes--are crystal-clear.
     
  12. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    As someone who would jump into a BETTER format
    at a second's notice....

    I'm not buying anything until a clear winner
    appears out of the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war.

    You can imagine if that's the way someone like
    myself feels -- how do you think the average
    consumer feels?

    Besides, there have been a few articles saying
    initial studio product releases will be bare-boned.

    It almost exactly resembles buying into the DVD format
    circa 1997 when machines cost 10 times what they do
    now and all that was offered were bare-boned releases
    in "snapper" cases.

    Same thing -- just 9 years later.

    Those who waited a year or two got better players
    at cheaper prices and had the opportunity to buy
    better studio product without having to double-dip.

    I think too many of us who know know how this
    industry works and how easy it is to get burned
    jumping into a new format too early are happy enough
    with standard DVD that we can patiently sit this out
    a bit.


     
  13. Paul.S

    Paul.S Producer

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    And again, I don't think the people who are probably most interested in/aware of/anxious for hi def DVD (for instance, many of the people who bought D-VHS and who have HDTVs) are "average" consumers. "[A]verage" HD consumers perhaps.

    And I've said this many times before so I won't expound at length here, but I think the situation with hi rez aud makes for a problematic analogy. Swing by the Music Area. People interested in hi rez music have simply bought both formats. Larger than the issue of the existence of both SACD and DVD-A has been the poor marketing/merchandising and lack of title support for both.

    Above and beyond people consuming movies and music differently, there has also been a market/cultural/technological shift towards greater portability/convenience as opposed to higher resolution (the iPod/MP3/downloading revolution).

    I'm hardly an early adopter generally speaking, but the only reason I'll be perhaps holding off on a BD player purchase is for player (and, less likely, disc) prices to drop to something I personally find affordable.

    -p
     
  14. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    Terry perfectly expresses all of my sentiments.

    The only thing I would add is that SACD could have succeeded, if the record industry had adopted dual layer SACDs as the standard (with a mandatory redbook layer for backward compatibility) for the same prices as CDs, and simply replaced CDs with SACDs.

    The same thing is theoretically possible with the Hi Def format of the future -- a mandatory DVD compatibility layer, same price points, so that it will be transparent to the consumers who don't care, and will spur buying from the HT fanatics.

    Otherwise just as Terry said -- a SACD/DVD-A like fate awaits Blu-ray & HD DVD.

    Ted
     
  15. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The problem is that there is no provision for hi-def anything for older TVs, unless something radical has changed since I last looked at the formats. If it doesn't have an HDMI connection, you are getting DVD quality - so why even bother buying a new player or software? I bought into DVD the day it was available. My HD capable set is incompatable with either new format. I have no intention to buy anything HD for the foreseeable future. Perhaps in five or six years the market will have matured enough that niche titles I care about - and already own on DVD - will be available, but until then, I don't need HD. If it were compatable with my existing equipment, it might be a different story.
     
  16. Aaron_Brez

    Aaron_Brez Supporting Actor

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    This is complicated by the fact that, according to some manufacturers like Samsung, current HDMI implementations (v1.1) are insufficient in bandwidth to transmit encrypted 1080p. v1.3 is supposed to rectify this situation, but as of now, 1080p transmission seems to be without an appropriate connector.

    While it's certainly possible for "current" HD disk formats to put out 1080i and have the TV deinterlace this for 1080p, I wouldn't expect the first set of devices out the door next year to support 1080p over HDMI. In this, it will be much like the first DVD players-- they didn't support 480p.
     
  17. Dick Knisely

    Dick Knisely Second Unit

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    And unless that happens really fast, it will be another nail in the coffin.

    The hidef DVD format will succeed eventually and quickly for niche purposes (mostly PC-oriented) but, right now, the signs of quick, mass-market success aren't there.
     
  18. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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  19. FrancisP

    FrancisP Screenwriter

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    That sounds a little arrogant. Everybody has their priorities and there's nothing wrong with wanting a decent
    picture at a reasonable price. But how much will a classic
    movie be helped with hi-def? Will Tall In the Saddle look that much better in hi-def than not?

    I do think that portability is the hot market not hi-def.
    The success of the i-pod and UMD shows that is what the market is heading towards.
     
  20. Joe Schwartz

    Joe Schwartz Second Unit

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    I don't think that's true -- HDMI has more than enough bandwidth to handle 1080p. Can you provide a link to that source?
     

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