Support Blue-Ray HD discs, not MPEG-4 discs or D-VHS!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Hitchman, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Having read studio comments about their support of D-VHS in the newest edition of Widescreen Review, I would have to say that they have seriously under estimated the power of interactivity and durability... and reasonable prices.
    Though I too champion a format that gives us superior HD playback, it still leaves us with subpar audio (compared to the state-of-the-art in LPCM and Direct Stream Digital technology), an inability to add discrete audio channels as needed to grow the surround experience, linear access, tape wear, and possible tape destruction due to the tendency of tape players to eat tapes at the most unopportune moments... and laserdisc like prices for players and software that are not state-of-the-art delivery systems.
    As much as I would like FMD to be developed for prime time usage, I see that BlueRay technology is the next best thing and easier to manufacture. However, data storage is at best 50+ Gigabytes on a dual layered Blue Ray disc leaving superior audio out of the question.
    I propose that TWO dual layer Blue Ray discs with the movie split across both discs to be one good solution. Sure you get a pause in the action, but properly placed it isn't as jarring as it seems (the specs would include seamless layer changes on each dual layered disc). For you math wizzes that's 100+ Gigabytes for one movie!! Enough data capacity to have higher quality HD 1.78:1 video (OAR only!!!) than D-VHS and space to include 7.1 channel discrete Direct Stream Digital (Sony and others now make 8 channel mixing, editing, and mastering stations using 100% DSD support) or 7.1 channel discrete 24 bit/192 kHz LPCM (with no audio watermarking!!) for the primary soundtrack. Either of these high resolution audio tracks could be either delivered as uncompressed, untouched files or 100% bit-for-bit lossless compressed files depending on the space requirements on a title-by-title basis.
    I chose 7.1 channel support because that is the current THX and Lexicon recommendations for speaker arrangement, but with full bandwidth, fully discrete stereo back channels (instead of the unsophisticated split matrixed mono sound we get now from consumer THX EX and other variants, with all the problems associated with matrix derived channels). Plus it gives an avenue that up to now was denied music producers and engineers by being limited to 5.1 surround (an issue discussed in a recent edition of The Absolute Sound magazine): the ability to have true side wall and back wall imaging or hard-panning sound placement. This added sound dimension would only benefit movie soundtracks too.
    Yes, I know 7.1 surround formats as discussed here are not currently in theaters, however that has not stopped disc producers from creating brand new, near field mixes for up to currently 6.1 discrete (DTS-ES Discrete) for the home theater environment in the past. Also, it would now allow for pioneering sound engineers like Gary Rydstrom, Shawn Murphy, Tomlinson Holman, and Ben Burtt (who seem to want more discrete channels to work with, but are limited right now) to create archive mixes for 7.1 discrete surround to begin with and then they could downmix to 6.1 matrix for the theatrical release.
    The true 7.1 surround mix could then be released to home theater via the proposed 7.1 discrete DSD or 7.1 discrete 24 bit/192 kHz PCM track. Obviously, an engineer could so choose to use any number of channels from 1.0 (center channel only) up to the full 7.1 discrete channel limit. However, the highest resolution possible would be allowed for all channel configuration choices (as is not the case now with DVD-Audio with its cap of 24 bit/96 kHz on surround mixes).
    There would be no dynamic range compression, volume limiting, dialog normalization, bass limiting, or any other attempt to downgrade the original full intensity soundtrack as is the case now with Dolby Digital home theater mixes. This is to be audiophile quality folks... real high definition audio.
    Dolby Digital and/or DTS tracks for backwards compatibility would be included.
    As for the dual disc aspect proposed here it could be solved in a number of ways: dual disc and 6 or more disc players with instructions given to the player to continue on to the second disc if so selected by the consumer (both discs would be serial numbered so that they could be identified in the player as belonging to one movie-- so the player doesn't move on to a second disc not pertaining to the first) keeping the video and audio settings first chosen in the menu of the first disc. The menu choices would still be available if the person wanted to start with the second disc. However, if the "play both discs uninterrupted" is selected in the menu of the first disc then the second disc starts playing without first bringing up a menu. That's always been a buggaboo with dual disc or dual sided DVD movies such as The Ten Commandments, Lawrence of Arabia, Das Boot, etc.
    On the video side there would be full support for 24 fps and 30 fps rates at 1920x1080 true progressive and interlaced resolutions. The player could be set to display 1080p material at 1080i, 720p, and below, and 1080i material could be set for 720p and below via a high quality digital scaler chip.
    There is much more to discuss, however I feel that this is the best way currently available to deliver ultra high resolution video and audio to the home for sell through.
    D-VHS could be used for the rental market due to disc based medias inability to survive rough handling.
    MPEG-4 red laser, pseudo-HD discs would only slow the growth of HDTV as there would then be very limited choices for high quality pre-recorded HD programming. It's about quality over quantity this time around... please don't screw things up.
    Dan
     
  2. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Why don't you wait and see how they look before you start complaining? MPEG-2 is a quantum leap over MPEG-1. Why couldn't MPEG-4 be the same?

    Any good compressionist will tell you, it's NOT the bitrate that matters after a certain miniumu, it's what you DO with it
     
  3. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Jeff,

    I'm not complaining per se, but from what I've read it doesn't look like MPEG-4 is being chosen for its utter brilliance at being a great compression codec. It just makes it easier to make one file for online streaming and disc replication at the same time.

    I would rather them hold the fort right now before these red laser MPEG-4 discs hit the streets. It would be too late. Do you really think the DVD Forum would simply roll over after the fact? They'd say "here's your precious "HDTV" [snicker] discs, now shut up and take it."

    Besides, there still wouldn't be enough room for a really high quality soundtrack as I think many of us would like.

    Dan
     

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