!!!! The OFFICIAL Home Theater Forum National Meet 2001 member report !!!!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 6, 2001.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Ronald Epstein (pronounced like the English "Ronald Epstein")
    Circa 2000
    Home Theater Forum Administrator
    All forum questions & to get on our private forum mailing list (new members)... Email: [email protected]
    Problems with the webpage or site? Contact WEBMASTER
    Email Packy [email protected]
  2. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
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    Real Name:
    John Steffens
    First day was DREAMWORKS
    we arrived and waited int the lobby area where we were served a mini breakfast(I wasn't expecting that) a nice surprise.
    We then went into there screening room where they showed us the Shrek DVD.
    We got to see menus, extras, games, and of course the ultra cool animated voice workshop!
    The menus alone made we want this DVD!
    Still can't believe its only priced at $19.99 [​IMG]
    We then viewed a VERY funny deleted scene of Almost Famous Bootleg edition. The scene they showed us is enough to buy the disc.
    Some questions were answered about how they come up with such great DVD's.
    Technicolor was at the end of the night.
    It was really cool to see all the work that goes into the pressing and packaging of DVD's.
    We got to see alot of copies of Final Fantasy laying around.
    We then got treated to a dinner and a free DVD at random. Basically a closing your eyes and picking one out. It was fun!
    A very educational trip to Technicolor.
    I'll be bcak with more reports on the other places.
    [Edited last by JohnS on October 06, 2001 at 05:57 PM]
  3. Jean Weitzmann

    Jean Weitzmann Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 24, 1999
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    your report represents very well what we experienced.
    The whole meet was great, despite the changes due to security. You guys (Ron, Packy, Gregg) must be commended for your hard work!
    Also, thanks again to all the sponsors for the "icing on the cake".
    My admiration goes to all the members who flew from UK or Sweden, or drove from far away (from/to New York in a Chevy!), to attend. That was well worth it.
    I didn't attend all events, but those that I had the chance to join were a wonderful experience.
    The highlights, for me, were:
    * Dreamworks
    The Sherk DVD looks awesome!
    I guess that the "Pick Me" thing is going to generate a lot of quotes (and maybe the "Eat me" thing too [​IMG] ).
    It's interesting to see that a studio can accommodate the big chain stores requests and the DVD enthusiasts at the same time with a 2-disc set ("Family" Disc 1 Full Frame transfer/games/DW Kids features, and "HT" Disc 2 Widescreen anamorphic/DTS audio/tech stuff features) at an affordable price ($19.99).
    The Bootleg edition of "Almost Famous" looks like a real treat too.
    And both titles happen to be great movies too.
    Well done DreamWorks!
    Oh, and thanks for the fresh "croissants"; they tasted just like in France.
    * Technicolor
    I was really impressed by this manufacturing plant (and I have seen many). I had no idea how DVDs were manufactured from scratch. We had a chance to get very detailed and technical explanations on the whole process. Very informative!
    Let's not forget to thank the people at Lion's Gate (Zachary) for entertaining us. These guys bring to DVD something different from the Hollywood blockbusters with great titles such as "Amores Perros", "The Widow of St Pierre",...
    * FOX: what more can I say?
    A million thanks to Peter for EVERYTHING. You're one of a kind!
    Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes" DVD is gorgeous. Impressive transfer!
    And I am now looking forward to the theatrical release of "Ice Age" after seeing that trailer. The whole group was laughing out loud, and at the end, everyone went "What was THAT?". Big surprise from FOX Animation!
    For the Farelli Bros. fans, "Shallow Hal" looks like another hit (after Cameron and Renée: Gwyneth!!!)
    * IVC: another very informative tour for the "techies" among us (I'm one of them), on a Saturday afternoon!
    Can't wait another 2 years!!!
    P.S.: Thanks also to Adam & Anette Gregorich for the carpool!
  4. rbirk

    rbirk Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 26, 1998
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    To summarize it in one sentence: What an amazing week!
    Two days before the week we all were scared because of new security requirements and cancellations of many major events. I and others did not really know what to exepect now, but as it later turned out, you just make it a great week and that was what it became.
    Monday: Dreamworks - One of my favorite studios. It was great to see what a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere they have. The campus is very beautiful. They really made us feel great. The demos of Shrek and the new version of Almost Famous were bad to my budget. Now I have to buy two more movies. They both looked great and the extras alone might be incentive enough. Shrek have some really cool stuff, like editing your own version with your own sounds etc. They also took us for breakfast, lunch and to the studio shop. This even though most studios were all pretty much closed because of security.
    Technicolor - A very interesting place were they manufactur the DVDs, CDs, VHS (oops I said it...) and packaging too. To see Finaly Fantasy, Shrek etc all get printed in front of your eyes was hard. They took us around the whole place and talked about every part of the chain, from raw ingridients to printing and packaging. Too bad their security on the way out was pretty good. Many of us wanted to have very deep pockets. A great tour!
    Tuesday: Will and Grace - A tour of CBS Studios with sets of different TV shows. Later on gag reels from Will and Grace and then the real thing, to see the live taping of the episode that was played this week. Very interesting to see the different takes and version. They also really entertained you througout the four hours it took.
    Wednesday: QSC - A tour of the manufacturing plant. They make amplifiers etc. A real treat to see the hardware we love and how it is designed, manufactured and serviced. Very nice people there and we got to see and go pretty much anywhere we wanted. They also demoed their new speakers and ampliphiers. A very nice tour!
    Widescreen Review - A magazine we all might read. They also treated us really nice with a trip to the local vineyard and later demoed many things in their reference demo room. What a demo room. The speakers alone was a treat and WSR really gave us everything we could ask for. 2 channel demo, 6 channel Audio DVD, classic music, pop and did I say movies? Phantom Menace, Holy Grail, Super Bit demonstration and Austin Power on High Definition. They answered all our questions and also described in detail how they built the place. Great afternoon.
    Thursday: Paramount - Because of security they came to us instead and presented Godfather, Tomb Raider, Star Trek etc. Look like some nice realeases with tons of extras. And did I say that they "made us an offer we could not refuse"... I just have to buy Godfather!
    Dolby - The afternon we went to Dolby. Got a tour of their LA facilities and especially of their theater. An outstanding place where we got to see behind the scenes on where studios can get help with their sound to all their movies. Also got great demos from 35mm film to digital projectors. Great people and good demos.
    Friday: Fox! Do I need to say anything else? They really treated us like royalties, VIP and everything above. The shuttled us to their studio (even though there was heavy security) and got us three very nice meals during a whole day of treats. They screened Phantom Menace and the new Ape movie. They both looked and sounded amazing. They both also contain really nice extras. They also showed us restoration demos from MASH and All That Jazz and they also look like winners. And if that was not enough, Moulin Rouge might be hard to avoid. I have to buy that one too after seeing what they added to the DVD. Then they even took us for a tour around the lot and to the studio store! All this in the middle of all that security.
    Saturday: Dave's Laser - An opportunity to talk to most studios. This was very nice. For example, I asked Disney about the new pressing of Dinosaur and he did not know the answer. Two hours later he found me (and I did not even expect to even hear from them again) and told me he just heard that the new pressing was recently done. Sounds great. New Line did not impress me much, as they do not understand why anybody wants Engligh subtitles (or even subtitles in any language).
    It continued with the DVD panel monitored by Bill Hunt with many DVD producers. They together probably made more than 90% of all the really cool DVDs you can mention. This was very interesting to listen to and you could ask them questions etc. Dave's Laser is a really nice place and they even gave out a lot of good stuff in a lottery during the day.
    IVC - The afternoon was spend at IVC that does post production. We got a demo of color correction of The Road to El Dorado (Dreamworks) and this was very interesting. They do post production there to many major studios and they took us around everywhere, really spend time with us and answering any question you can imagine (okay, almost any question). The tour ended with demos of how to remove scratches and dirt and clean up the movies. Nice people and great place. This was a real treat.
    Joe Kane - At night we got a very nice presentation from Joe Kane about high definition (TVs, DVDs etc). He also talked about the new Video Essential he was working on. A very interesting presentation and great to listen to. Too bad only it was very late and the last thing of the week so some of us were tired. However I enjoyed what we got to see. And that new Video Essential would be nice to have already today...
    Again, THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!! It was a fantastic week and will be hard to beat. I really liked that we had a lot of areas to tour, like everthing from hardware to software, from manufacturing to taping etc. And did I say great people I met? Look forward seeing everybody again!
    Ron Birk
    [Edited last by rbirk on October 06, 2001 at 07:35 PM]
  5. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

    Jul 3, 1997
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    What can I add to the reports already posted? They are very accurate, very comprehensive accounts of what took place out in L.A. There is very little I can say except to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in pulling this off and offering a bit of personal perspective.
    How much did I like it?
    Well, when things began to get dicey here in NY I made the decision to DRIVE to Los Angeles.
    By myself.
    In a car with almost 100,000 miles on it.
    I've made the cross country trip many many times in the past (~ 30 times over the years) but this was to be my first solo effort. I paced myself (retirement gives the luxury of time) and decided to give it a go.
    Let me also add that this was no "ordinary" car, it was my 1995 Impala SS which, how shall I put it, is "modified" to be able to handle just about any strain put on it, regardless of the mileage. Besides, I welcomed the opportunity to "seat the valves" and see how it handled the "open road."
    What a pleasurable trip! Not only did I finally complete a personal goal of traveling to all fifty states during my lifetime, but the car was unbelievable not only for the round trip, but, as some other attendees can attest who rode with me to some events, during the meet. Who ever thought a 300+ horsepower, 4200+ pound V8 car would get over 24 mpg?!? It did, without any effort at all.
    And not a drop of oil was burned during the entire trip.
    This baby is just getting warmed up!
    And the point of all this "car" discussion, and how is it related to the HTF? Let me state, without reservation, that the HTF Meet 2001 was well worth the drive!! Not only was the day at FOX (thank you, Peter Staddon) worth it by itself, but everything described here added to my conclusion that this was something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Some people thought I was crazy to take 5 days in each direction to drive out there and back in a relaxed fashion. They just don't get it.
    A few personal observations that you will probably not get from some of the others who post here.
    First, here's a picture of my "baby:"
    This was taken in front of my brother's house in Hancock Park (LA) right after I had treated the car to a "celebrity wash" to remove the bugs and grime from the trip across the desert. (For those interested, my "ALCHEMY" license plate goes back to the days I was a Chemistry Teacher but is now very appropriate since one of the meanings of "Alchemy" is "Black Magic" - a very apt description of this vehicle.)
    Also, the street where my brother lives has been used very often for movies. Perhaps you'll recognize it a bit better from the following shot:
    It was featured in the movie "Bugsy" and other films that come to mind include "War of the Roses" and "The Winds of War." In fact, hardly a day goes by when this street -- one of the remaining streets in L.A. with that "classic" palm tree look -- isn't being used to film a movie or a commercial or similar.
    Interesting sidelight: On the Saturday before the HTF meet I heard a commotion outside the house and when I looked out I noticed a group of people hovering around my vehicle, checking it out and examining the license plate (NY is very popular right now as I experienced during my travels for obvious reasons.) Looking closer at the group, which also included about 3 or 4 motorcycles and many cars parked on the block I recognized George Clooney, Heather Locklear and, standing taller than the rest, Barry Bostwick! It turns out that Richard Kind ("Paul Thomas Lassiter" from Spin City) lives across the street and was having a party. George Clooney was his best man at his wedding. I was kind of hoping we ran into George Clooney once again on one of the lots as we did during a former HTF meet so I could comment that I hoped he didn't scratch my car!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    But I digress.
    Bringing this whole discussion back full cycle to the theme of this thread, some of us took the long trek out to the desert to visit Gary Reber at Widescreen Review. Those who are long time subscribers may remember that Gary also owns an Impala SS that he has thrown tens of thousands of dollars into on both performance and audio modifications. He even devoted a substantial portion of one issue of Widescreen Review to the car and the modifications - Issue #24, I believe. What a treat to be part of a caravan to the wineries with two SS'es leading the way. (Gary's SS has the licence plate "WSR SS")
    In conclusion, like I said, this event was worth the trip, even if you had to drive over 6000 miles to get to it (or as some of our members did, travel from overseas to be here on long, sometimes delayed flights.)
    It was definitely that good.
    And, along with all the justifiable kudos being extended to the many supporters of this adventure, I must single out Ron Epstein who kept this all together (although he is too modest to say this) under unbelieveably stressful conditions. Just about everything that could go wrong when planning one of these events (which are never easy even when running smoothly) seemed to crop up and Ronbo handled it like a champ! True, he probably took a few years off of his life worrying, or lost a little more hair, or watched his watch a little too closely (inside joke!), but the net result was, without a doubt, the best HTF National Meet ever! And I've attended them all!
    To those of you who did not attend when you could, you missed out on something that will not, unfortunately, be duplicated. The world changed on September 11th and this type of event will become more difficult to organize in the future. I think I speak for just about everyone who participated when I say that this was an experience for the ages. We saw the things that dreams are made of, and met the dreamweavers, and I, for one, will cherish the memories as I take home a lot of new knowledge from the interactions.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    WAY up!!
    [Demented Video Dude since 1997]
    [Computer Maven since 1956]
    ["PITA" since 1942]
    My HT (latest update 02/05/01)
  6. Dave Whipps

    Dave Whipps Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 16, 1999
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    Ellicott City Maryland
    Real Name:
    Dave Whipps
    This was a great week. It was truly a one of a kind vacation. Big, big THANKS to Ron, Steve, Parker and Greg for making this happen. Thanks to all of the studio and company hosts that treated us so well.
    Since Ron has done a great job posting all the trip details above, I just want to add my thoughts about the HTF attendees and our hosts at the various venues.
    This was one super group of HTF enthusiasts: knowledgeable, passionate and tons of fun. Just as Ron had mentioned so many times, it’s the people make the group and it’s the people that made this trip so worthwhile.
    As for our hosts for the week, they all demonstrate a common level of creativity, professionalism and pride in their work. They all went out of their way to share their enthusiasm and passion with our group. These folks really love what they do, and from what I saw it really shows in their efforts. It was a pleasure to get the opportunity to see the great DVD work being done at Fox, Dreamworks and Paramount, to see the extensive quality control and automation at the Technicolor and QSC factories, to watch the post production activities at IVC and Dolby Digital, and to spend time with the folks at Widescreen Review in their wonderful home theater.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Dave Whipps
  7. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.

    Nov 9, 1999
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    New England
    Real Name:
    Gregg Loewen
    I just wanted to make a quick mention and offer a heart felt THANK YOU to the many sponsors and advertisers that helped to make this event special. I am sure others will be writing with more specifics.
    Outlaw Audio. Peter and Scott. Scott flew in for the Fox Day and stayed for the banquet. He brought with him a 1050 Receiver as a give away. Also 2 $100 gift certificates for give away. In addition Outlaw Audio provided a coupon for their new 950 Preamp which was auctioned off to benefit the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. We raised $777 for them. The preamp will be shipping by Thanksgiving.
    SVS Subwoofers. Ron was supposed to attend the meet but due to work commitments (from his real job [​IMG] ) had to bow out at the last minute. Ron arranged to a 20-39 PC to be demoed at Dave's Studio Day and at the Banquet. SVS also gave away a sub as a door prize.
    QSC Audio's John Gordon and Barry Ferrell. These guys are great. John was planning on attending some of the functions and when they found out we had some studios cancelling tours they invited us out to their state of the art manufacturing facility. It was kewl!! They can custom build any amp to your specifications and can even ship the same day if necessary. Many dont know just how big QSC is. They have 400 employees and are the #1 supplier of theater amplifiers in the world. John also hung with us at Fox. Barry came to the Banquet and was kind enough to not only bring cables, but the new QSC Loudspeakers and DCA amps to power them for the demo room. This gear mated will with Outlaw's receiver and ICBM unit [​IMG]
    BetterCables, Brad. Brad gave mouse pads and pens to everybody. In addition, Bettercables supplied 5 $100 gift certificates as door prizes. The analogue interconnects in the demo room were also supplied by Bettercables. Thanks again Brad!
    Laser's Edge. Thanks Mark!! Laser's Edge, another of HTFs official sponsor's supplied many DVDs as give aways at the Banquet.
    Showoffdisplays.com Rick and Shari. Rick and Shari set up a nice demo table at the Banquet. They have a great new SVS plaque that will be available very soon. Use the code HTF to get 10% off your order during the month of October. Showoffdisplays also provided many give aways at the banquet.
    One last thank you to Joe Kane, of Video Essentials fame! Joe gave an excellent presentation on HD at the banquet. Joe even won a bettercable gift certificate and then donated it to the raffle for the American Red Cross. Mr Kane, you are one classy guy. Thank you.
    The Sonodome
    The Newest Sonotube
    Gregg's DVDs
    The Family Units
  8. Matt Butler

    Matt Butler Screenwriter

    Jun 23, 2001
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    I wasnt there for the first few days so I dont have anything to report. On Friday when I met up with the group after I talked to Ron on Thursday night.
    Ive been on studio tours before on my own with Paramount and WB but nothing compared to Fox. I dont need to report anything that hasnt been said by Ron or above posts. It was a blast!! THANKS PETER!!
    Studio Day and IVC were quite informative. My jaw dropped at IVC with what I saw. They were cleaning up a print of Hombre. It was kewl!
    The final dinner was fun. I talked with Joes assistant quite a while and Peter Bracke of DVDFile was at my table and we BS'D about dvds and movies in general. I met him briefly before and didnt get to talk much. Hes a real laid back nice guy. Oh and I won a X-men hat and a POTA Evolution box set. (Im still watching it).
    Thanks to Ron, Peter Straddon and everyone else for making my trip so much fun. Cant wait for the next one.
  9. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

    Jan 8, 1999
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    Well where to begin...
    I took a flight out on Sept 22nd. It disturbed me somewhat the extent of major security at Heathrow was some chap asking me if I had any sharp objects on me, but what can you do...
    I flew out with fellow HTF'er Mike Deakin on Virgin Atlantic. A flight of some 11 hours, we departed late, yet arrived early...go figure that one out. Apart from a woman fainting on board causing a distress call to go out over the cabin speaker system ("ALERT ALPHA THREE!") putting the minute fear of death into me, the flight was fine. I managed to watched Shrek and Moulin Rouge on a seatback 4" screen if you can imagine such a thing. At 35,000 feet, you make the sacrifice...
    A bunch of early arrivals on the Saturday all grouped together for a nice meal over at (what is now becoming a regular eating haunt on these LA meets) Steak Joynt. They managed to cram us in there, giving us the last few seats and putting tables together.
    On the Sunday a load of us went off to Universal Studios. They'd got serious on security there at the gates to the park, metal detectors, bag checks and the occasional pad down. We had a decent day there, it was fairly busy, but not so busy that the wait inline for rides was any longer then five or ten minutes. Our day ended with those brave enough going on Jurassic Park.
    We managed to get back to the hotel in time to clean up and dry off from JP before heading back to Universal for the Hard Rock dinner which saw the arrival of the majority of HTF'ers (who'd decided to make it out for the meet) and the odd local member... Oh yeah, that Staddon guy was there too. [​IMG]
    Monday was an early start, but a good one as it was off to Dreamworks, a studio which graciously accepted our presence despite high security issues. After being treated to breakfast in the lobby of the Animation studo where we could sit and marvel at original protuction artwork and models from the likes of Prince of Egypt, we were taken into the screening room for a preview of the Shrek DVD.
    I think a lot of us left convinced Shrek WILL be the number 1 selling disc this fall/winter. The stuff that is on this thing, it's style, it's presentation and it's price of $19.99 make it a true force to be reckoned with come time of it's release. We were taken through the menus and a number of the title's vast supplements, even the extras aimed at younger viewers (the majority of stuff on disc 1) we thought to be incredible fun! It's amazing how the menus still had us laughing upon repeat viewings.
    Above all, supplements wise, the extra in which the viewer is alowed to dub their voice into a scene (via a PC with a DVD Rom and a mic) is an absolute hoot!
    A brief look at a deleted scene from the upcoming Almost Famous special edition relese provided extra laughs thanks to an act of pure genius on Crowe's behalf. I shant spoil it...
    Lunch, a goodie bag and a the spending of much money at the Dreamworks studio store soon followed.
    So later, thanks to Zachary at Lions Gate, we atteneded a private tour of the Technicolor facility. This was incredible, fascinating in more ways then one. We went through every stage of DVD production from the creation of a disk, right through to titles being boxed and shrink wrapped. Among others, we were there to see the likes of Final Fantasy and Bridget Jones being pressed and boxed up before our very eyes. Any night that ends with free fried chicken is a good night in my book!
    Tuesday night saw a trip to see the filming of an episode of Will & Grace, made possible thanks to the HTFs very own David Tolsky. After a private showing of gag reels from David, we got to take a technical peek at the cameras before being seated for the show. It was a good episode with guest stars Adam Goldberg and Woody Harrelson (or "Cocksucker" as some like to now call him). The atmosphere amongst the crowd was electric, there was a good buzz in the studio despite the hours we spent in our seats.
    Whilst Wednesday saw some head off to Widescreen Review, a few of us took a trip out to Disneyland (a location I'd be seeing a lot of later that week). Despite our faliure to get Ron on anything remotely exciting ( [​IMG] ) we all had a great time, and the park was incredibly quiet which allowed for wait times of literally no more then five minutes.
    In making up for our not being able to walk onto the Paramount lot due to security issues, Martin Blythe graciously came to us. While we tried our best to set up a screening facility, the fantastic Panasonic RP91 hooked up to a crappy hotel TV set in fact turned out to be a good display at least of the evils of Macrovision encoding. [​IMG] Despite some visual problems, we were treated to advance looks at various aspects of the Godfather Trilogy box set, as well as a look at the fantastic menus and supplements on the upcoming release of Tomb Raider and last, but by no means least, a look at the upcoming Star Trek The Motion Picture DVD release which is looking like a truly exceptional release.
    Later that day we went off to Dolby where we toured numerous work rooms, in one of which I was delighted so see the processor that powers my HT, Tag Mclaren's AV32R, sat. We were later taken through to their impressive screening room for a discussion and demos (DLP sourced). I can't really compete with Peter Yee's write up of our visit which can be found http://www.hometheaterforum.com/cal2001/report.html
    We returned to the Little Theatre for advance peaks at various upcoming Fox releases, the most pleasing of these looking to be the movie Ice Age.
    Our second screening was Planet of the Apes, a screening of the very first check disc which had been sent to the studio that very day. While I have my reservations about the movie, I have no fears in praising the disc. Again blown up to some insaine size via the DLP projector, the transfer on Apes was flawless. I remember turning to Vince Maskeeper, the both of us thinking that it should just not be possible that DVD be blown up so big and look so good. I am sorry Mr Lucas but Apes floors the Phantom Menace DVD in more ways then one, and to think, disc one alone is filled with numerous audio tracks, 2.0 tracks, multiple commentaries and DD and DTS (Superbit, smuhperbit). It was incredible to look at, a movie with such dark complex cinmetography should not have looked so good, but it did!
    Soon after we got to explore disc 2. You have to applaud the likes of David Prior who managed to complete such a jam packed DVD release so quickly. The ammount of preassure upon those involved with this release in getting it completed so soon must have been astronomical, but all the hard work shines in the mass of supplements on offer and the impressive overal presentation of not only the discs video and audio, but the detailed menu design. It's been a while since I've bought a disc of a movie I didn't like on merits of its A/V and supplements alone, Apes may break that trend of mine, we shall see. Fans of the movie are going to go (ahem) "ape" over this release...
    A restoration seminar followed the screening. I greatly enjoyed the one we had last November on the meet, and I did again this year, especially as the first title under discussion was M*A*S*H. It was great to hear Shawn's stories of how Altman reacted to this restoration. We'd later get a glimpse at the upcoming 5-Star DVD release and to say a number of us were pleased at what we saw is an understaement. A look at the restoration on a movie Ron absolutely hates ( [​IMG] ) followed. All That Jazz was said to be in awful condition at the time of recovering its elemements, disturbing since the movie really isn't that old at all. What followed was impressive to say the least, with the movie looking as if it were shot yesterday. It drew much deserved applause.
    After, Peter treated us to brief looks at more upcoming titles. As said we got to take a look at thr upcoming DVD of M*A*S*H, as well as Willow (which looked GREAT!) and others. We also got to see a presentation of one of the extended scenes you will be allowed to access via a branching feature on the DVD of Moulin Rouge, a disc which really sounds like it could be the highlight of titles under the Christmas tree for me.
    Our evening at Fox drew to a close with dinner, a wonderful quiz which played host to many laughs (Crawdaddy and that copy of Monkeybone spring to mind) and smiles. As we departed we were treated to posters and goodie bags housing a neat fuzzy Planet of the Apes Pin, a Dude Where's my Care Rubik's Cube and copies of season 1 of The Simpsons and the 5-star edition of The French Connection. An overwhelming end to a great day!
    ... but the day was not over. No sooner had we returned to the hotel to rop off our things, we were suddenly back on the road again to Dave's Laser where we got to meet wirh director John Landis and make up genius Rick Baker who were signing copies of the American Warewolf in London DVDs. In anticipation of the signing, at Fox earlier that night we were sure to grab Planet of the Apes posters for Baker to sign, which he kindly did, soon wondering why so many of us had the poster. We could do little but point over to Peter. [​IMG]
    As Vince Maskeeper so perfectly put it, dressed like Smurfs we took ourselves off to Daves Studio Day on Saturday morning. A number took to chatting with various studio reps, I myself was more partial to viewings of disc 2 of Phantom Menace, a look at Thumb Wars, Snow White, Monty Pytyon and the Holy Grail SE and Final Fantasy. These were all running on various monitors throughout the day.
    Later that day, Larry Yore welcomed us on a private tour of IVC. You may know his voice from being one of the chaps commenting on butchering Die Hard before our very eyes on disc 2 of the Die Hard 5 star edition's little why widescreen featurette. A stunning 1080i DLP presentation of Dreamwork's Road to El Dorado was used to demo various aspects of color correction. I can think of a number of people who would freak out over such a process undertaken at establishments like IVC, one's ability to alter an manipulate the image here is really somewhat endless. We soon moved on through different parts of the facility, the most interesting was sitting (er, standing) in on the frame by frame process of minute dirt removal.
    Saturday ended with a nice dinner at our hotel. We'd set up an HT demo in the opposite room (which would later play host to a screening of Thumb Wars) and Joe Kane was kind enough to attend the dinner, giving a talk on the future of all things HD as well as talking briefly about aspects of his upcoming Digital Video Essentials disc, which is due around Feb 2002.
    A number of studios and companies graciously donated prizes to be given out throught the evening.
    Sunday was somewhat depressing, goodbyes on this trips always are. I got up early to say goodbye to a number of folks, and through out the day I'd occasionaly catch others heading off home. It was fair to say come the time of most peoples departure on sunday I was getting very homesick.
    Between sunday and Tuesday (the day of my departure) I, along with a few letovers from the meet took to visiting Disney's California Adventure theme park on the Sunday. On the monday a number of us returned to Disneyland for the day and during the day on Tuesday John, Mike Deakin and I managed to get some shopping at Best Buy done before heading out for a filling lunch.
    I arrived home wednesday. It's four days later now and I'm still trying to figure out what DVDs to watch. [​IMG]
    We had a great time this year, I loved being in the company of old faces and new, either way you already knew everyone by name. The atmosphere amongst the people on these trips can not be beat, it's why you do them. The events are only memorable years later when you remember who you were with at the time of what you saw.
    It was great folks!
    Dan (UK)
  10. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    John Steffens
    I 'm back to give thanks to the many places that gave us tours. And a big thanks to Fox and Dreamworks for not cancelling out on us at the last minute.
    It was really great to go to these places.
    We sure did eat up alot of time at the Fox Studio store.
    But how can you go wrong, when all of their DVD's were 50-60% off.
    Also, A BIG THANKS goes out to Widescreen Review, for putting up with us all afternoon, and a little bit into the night. It was VERY NICE of Gary not to charge us for the lunch at the winery.
    It was also VERY COOL to drive around in Bill/Andy's Mustang Convertable down Hollywood and Sunset Blvd.
    My pics should be up soon at Dana's Directory!!
  11. Jay Mitchosky

    Jay Mitchosky Producer

    Sep 6, 1998
    Likes Received:
    Another year, another meet. This one was even better than the last. It was great seeing old friends and seeing new faces. I think a great time was had by all.
    First off, some quick thanks...
    Gregg Loewen and Ron Epstein, who made this event possible despite the events of the past few weeks. Without their efforts it would never have happened.
    Peter Staddon at Fox Studios. This is a man who continues to impress at every turn. He truly understands his market, and as such has become somewhat of a hero to the enthusiast community. I've referred to the Fox timeline as BPS and APS (Before and After Peter Staddon). We can look forward to an ongoing stream of fantastic product from this studio. Peter went out of his way yet again to make us feel welcome.
    The folks at Paramount and DreamWorks for sticking with us during these troubled times.
    Everyone at QSC Audio, Technicolor, Widescreen Review, Dolby Labs, and IVC for unbeatable technical tours and exposure to the finer things in the world of HT.
    Joe Kane - the video legend himself - for speaking at our banquet on Saturday night and discussing the future of television, DVD, and the new Digital Video Essentials disc.
    The week officially started Sunday night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Universal Studios City Walk. It was great to see a bunch of familiar faces and meet some new members. The Voglers and the Loewens are terrific people, and it was my pleasure to act as their sidekick (aka. Fifth Wheel) throughout the week. Another standout performer (whom I had not met before) was Michael Cucka (pronounced "cuke-uh") - a lot of fun and a great sense of humor. Being an orthopedic surgeon he was quick to set up a complimentary Hip 'n Knee Replacement booth. [​IMG] It was also a pleasure to see Peter Staddon and his new bride join us.
    Monday started off with a trip to DreamWorks. They welcomed us with open arms - literally as we had to pass through a security check. We were treated to a fantastic continental breakfast (the fruit was unbelievable) and then an advanced screening of the video and features of the upcoming Shrek DVD. Make absolutely sure you mark this under your "Must Buy" list as it is a complete winner. Hakan Powers demonstrated his hidden voiceover talent with the amazing Revoice Studio feature from the disc. It was hysterical. Also previewed was the upcoming Almost Famous "Untitled" Director's Cut. I enjoyed this movie but not enough to buy the original release - I'll definitely be adding the DC to my collection when it comes out. What studio tour would be complete without a goodie bag and a trip to the store? DreamWorks again came through. A great start to tours!
    Monday evening at Technicolor was a blast. I never knew how DVDs were created, and this tour showed us the complete process. I found it quite amazing that the discs are physically pressed. Not having put much thought into it prior I had just assumed a DVD burner type of application was used. Not so. Technicolor processes the disc right down to silkscreening and packaging. You know those insidious security stickers we all love? They are absolutely here to stay, and they ARE in fact engineered to come off in multiple pieces!
    Tuesday night Peter Staddon was kind enough to provide four tickets to the premier screening of the new Michael Douglas movie Don't Say a Word. The audience was composed of the technical people responsible for the film and their guests. Aside from being the best theater I have attended, the crowd was perfect: when a group respects the work they are absolutely quiet, they don't kick the chairs, they don't have cel phones or pagers going off. I saw actress Robin Tunney (sp?) make her way past us - she looks much better in person. I found out later that movie legend Sidney Poitier was there as well! We also saw producer Richard Zanuck while eating dinner on Rodeo Drive. This was a solid thriller that I would definitely recommend.
    Wednesday started out as an adventure. Ron Birk's reference above to "most people were up on time" refers to me. I woke up and stared at my alarm clock in horror to read 6:20 - and we were supposed to meet at the front and leave at 6:00. Needless to say I hauled ass to shower and leave - was on the road by 6:45 driving like a madman towards Costa Mesa to join the group for a tour of QSC Audio (arranged at the last minute by Gregg Loewen). Despite some nasty traffic on the little stretch of I-405 South that I took I made it just in time to join everyone in the parking lot. John and Barry at QSC were gracious hosts and gave a fantastic tour of their manufacturing facilities. These guys know how to build quality amps using a state of the art operation. It was amazing to see multiple units being assembled on the same lines - testament to the abilities of their tracking system. The demo of some finished product, including their new speaker line, was impressive. Sound was clean, clear, and totally uncompressed at very high volume levels - all in basically a large warehouse style room, and acoustic nightmare. We learned that each channel was using their DSP attachment that, through a computer connection, was able to resolve much of the room's acoustic anomalies. I would have loved to hear that setup in a more controlled environment. I've never followed pro-level amps from a home theater perspective, but after this tour I will definitely keep this company in mind.
    The next part of our trip (one the highlights for me) was the offices of Widescreen Review in Temecula. Greg Pauswinski did a fantastic job of navigating - I would probably be driving through Mexico right now if it weren't for him. WSR's Gary Reber and Perry Sun (et al) gave us a brief tour of the office and the Reference Home Theater Lab. What a fantastic room. An acoustically perfect environment with world class audio/video components - what more could you want?!! For those who have been following the room's development in WSR you should know that the photos simply do not do the room justice. In person it is absolutely beautiful and elegant, in contrast to the much more utilitarian perspective offered in the magazine. I gathered many new ideas as to how a room should be built. WSR also treated us to lunch and wine tasting at the nearby Callaway winery. For those interested I would encourage you to check the range of reds from Callaway - they are excellent. I just hope Hakan made it home with his bottles intact!
    Late that afternoon (too late, actually) Greg and I screamed home from Temecula to make our respective dinner engagements for the evening. I had the distinct pleasure (along with Ron, Parker, Susan, Crawdaddy, and Steve) to dine with noted producer, visual effects artist, and DVD menu designer Van Ling at a unique restaurant in Marina Del Rey. Van shared some of his thoughts on the industry, DVD, menu design, and his particular motivations as the night wore on. I joked that we should have let him find the restaurant on his own. [​IMG]
    On Thursday Paramount's Martin Blythe was kind enough to come to our hotel and discuss new and pending releases, and to show portions of the amazing Godfather set (also under the "Must Buy" list) and new ST: TMP release. It was great to see this extra effort - we all really appreciated it. And I finally saw what Macrovision does! Thursday afteroon we went to Dolby Labs to see their L.A. offices, discuss some of the technical aspects of their production, and listen to some demo material in the theater. This theater uses some very unique acoustic treatment ideas and sounded very crisp and clear. A suggestion to those currently planning a dedicated theater: pre-wire for a height speaker and an extra two speakers up front for future technologies.
    Thursday night was our annual Admin Dinner - a great time had by all at Micheli's Restaurant. Peter Staddon joined us, and came back to the hotel to enjoy drinks and fine cigars (the latter courtesy of the extremely generous Steve Simon). Afterwards some of us retired to Gregg and Heather Loewen's room for (a few) nightcaps and more cigars. You would be amazed at how resilient a Fuente Fuente Opus X cigar is when dropped seven stories!!!
    Friday. And then there was Fox... This is the highlight of the trip, both for previous attendees who know what to expect, and for first timers who have heard all the stories. Breakfast, lunch, dinner - courtesy of Peter Staddon and Fox. Screenings of unreleased DVDs (Episode I and Planet of the Apes). By the way, POA is another title that prior to this meet I was not planning on buying - but based on the quality of the A/V (fantastic on both counts) and the extra I'll be adding it to the list. Goody bags with The Simpsons Season I and The French Connection. Advanced screenings of movie trailers. A tour bus to get us there and back. Restoration updates (M*A*S*H, All That Jazz). Lots of giveaways. And a trip to the excellent Fox Studio Store - where DVD prices were out of this world (even after that nasty Canadian exchange rate)! Aaron Silverman was presented a Fox leather jacket by Peter in recognition of buying the most product. Personal thanks again goes out to Peter for making this a great day, for going way beyond the call with his hospitality and gifts, and for the Fox jackets that were presented to the Admin team.
    Saturday took us to Dave's Studio Day - lots of giveaways yet again, celebrity sightings (Quentin Tarantino), advanced DVD previews, and a panel of industry experts who participated in an open discussion. In the afternoon we went to IVC (as I already outlined above) which was a thoroughly interesting tour. The trip there was punctuated with some exceedingly funny adult humour shared amongst the Loewens, the Voglers, Mike Cucka, Ken Claunch, and myself. Oh, and a trip to Fatburger. Still working that one off.
    The trip ended with a banquet at the hotel. Gregg Loewen did an amazing job organizing this. Equipment demos courtesy of Outlaw Audio, QSC Audio, and SVS Subwoofers, as well as product shown by Show Off Displays. Impressive all the way. Outlaw's ICBM is a brilliant solution to the lack of proper bass management provided by current DVD-A and SACD players. The QSC amps and speakers filled the room without strain or compression, and the SVS 20-39 - well, you know the story with that badboy. It rocked. And I calibrated to reference +2dB, less than what is recommended by SVS. Show Off's products are great - beautiful poster frames, signs, and laser disc frames that will spruce up any home theater. I've dealt with these guys in the past and they offer consistently excellent service, product, and pricing.
    Video guru Joe Kane presented our keynote speech. It was my personal pleasure to introduce him - he has done so much to make video better for we the enthusiasts - and watch him at work calibrating the new Yamaha DLP projector. He offered some unique insights into where digital technology is going and equipment considerations. He also previewed some of his upcoming Digital Video Essentials DVD. Any self-respecting videophile MUST add this to their collection when it is released (tentatively) in February.
    And then it was over. Another great trip, with great friends, and unparalleled industry support. To those who have not attended in the past keep the next trip in mind. You will NEVER regret it.
    "No one can hear when you're screaming in digital."
    My Home Theatre Pictures...
    "You're no messiah. You're, you're a movie of the week. You're a ... t-shirt, at best."
    [Edited last by Jay Mitchosky on October 15, 2001 at 11:23 AM]
  12. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
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    I'll do my best to inject some new info into my post, since much of the finer points have already been covered...
    First and foremost, gigantic thanks to all the people who worked to make this trip happen.
    Gregg, Ron and Parker worked hard on our end to make everything happen, and no amount of thank yous could ever really say how much everyone appreciated all their work. In a word: WOW.
    Thanks of course to:
    David Gray and Brent Butterworth for having us at Dolby, Mark, Mark, Cheryl, and Missy at Dreamworks,
    Zachary Hunchar for geting us into technicolor,
    Martin Blythe for coming to the Hotel to talk DVD,
    Everyone at Dave's and the man Bill Hunt for all the studio day fun,
    Peter and Scott from Outlaw, Ron and Tom at SVS, John Gordon and Barry Ferrell from QSC, Brad from Bettercables, Mark at Lasersedge, Rick and Shari from showoffdisplays-- all for their donation of prizes for the final night,
    and of course Joe Kane for taking the time to chat with us at the farewell banquet.
    But the biggest thanks goes to Peter Staddon at Fox. Although it has been said above, I want to make it very very clear that Peter is really a unique guy. This was my first time meeting Peter in person and it is simply impossible to explain what a kind, generous and really completely genuine guy Peter is. I wouldn't care if he was selling DVDs or selling Soap- the man is simply good people and it is a pleasure to be able to say I know him.
    My take on events in LA
    The greatest hits
    (Meeting the Crew)
    • I got to make Ron a bit uncomfortable by greeting him by saying "Hello Handsome". [​IMG]
    (Hard Rock Cafe)
    • Meeting Peter for the first time, and getting to hang out with Dan Brecher over dinner were the highlights for me.
    • I got a serious laugh watching half the HTF eyes follow the various HardRock waitresses around the room.
    • I'm still puzzled as to why many of the guitars were hung upside-down.
    • One quick intro note: the Dreamworks campus is beautiful. They don't have any real sets, stages or lots on the grounds- so it has more of a "campus" atmosphere than a studio atmoshpere. Designed with a small town feel in mind- it is complete with a center square comeplete with fountain, benches and well kept gardens.
    • Boy oh boy these kids certainly don't mess around when it comes to DVD. Luckily they have a rather small output of titles, and no real catalog to worry about- so they can dedicate obscene amounts of time and effort into their discs - and it certainly shows.
    They're really pushing the envelope for DVD-Rom content (actually including interesting and worthwhile Rom features, what a concept!) This Shrek disc looks stellar- honestly at $20 MAP (and $18 street prices) there is absolutely no reason not to own this disc! I really wish there would have been more of the Almost Famous disc to check out-- but what we saw was great.
    • On a side note, one of the other real treats for Dreamworks was the one and only Cheryl Glenn who is, quite possibly, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful women I have seen in my lifetime. I was tempted to ask her if she would show me the sites of LA-- but I reconsidered realizing my girlfriend would probably have disapproved. So Cheryl, if you're reading this, feel free to drop me an email ( [​IMG] just kidding!, or am I?)
    • Another interesting side-note of our trip to Dreamworks was the youth level of the staff. I don't know if it's just a case that the older people don't eat in the commissary-- but I felt like I was on Lunch back at home at Kest State University. The average age of the people I saw at Dreamworks was probably around 25- I doubt I saw more than 5 people over 30. Interesting.
    • This tour was right up my alley-- I'm more interested in the technical nature of production than anything else.
    • Let me say right off that our tour guide (unfortunately I forgot her name) was top notch. She was very well versed in their product and production methods and very receptive to questions on all levels. Just a very nice lady.
    • A lot of the master prep was old news for me- coming from an audio background I've done a few plant tours for CD replication- and the processes are essentially the same. I find it really cool, however, to see some of my fellow HTF members become familiar with the process as I watched. I was just interested to see what they found interesting!
    • I did get to ask our guide (who wasn't just a tourguide- she was a manager of the facility) about the concept of DVD rot and how reliable she thought the DVD glue layer is. She was very optimistic about the logevity of DVD, saying she thought the glue layer would hold up for many many years to come. She also said she had yet to encounter any true discs that had "rotted"-- rather any disc she'd gotten with claims of rot were either warped due to bad storage (in heated conditions) or were simply scratched up ("looked like it was used as a hockey puck" she said")
    • Also interesting was that technicolor didn't currently have a good way to automatically insert covers into double wide DVD cases- so any orders for those through Technicolor actually were assembled, essentially, by hand (with some help from machines traditionally used for VHS covers).
    • On a side note, they also are manufacturing CDs and Software there (saw copies of Office XP being replicated)-- and also are doing replication for X-box games (which our guide described as an odd modified DVD-9).
    (Sorta Free Day...)
    • Columbia and Warner were both scheduled for Tuesday
    but were cancelled due to security issues at the studios.
    • I'm actually really glad this stuff was cancelled because the trip was so packed that we just didn't have time to hang out with the other HTF folks- which was my favorite part.
    • JohnS and Dana and I hit Hollywood and did the touristy stuff like the walk of stars and checked out Mann's. We also went on an adventure to find a good spot to take a picture of the Hollywood sign- but we completely failed and ended up frazzling John's nerves to the point that I thought he was going to throw us out of the car! [​IMG]
    [[to be continued, I have to go to class... will return and edit later]]
    AIM: VinceMaskeeper
    Interested in moving into FRONT PROJECTION with huge 6-10 foot widescreen? Buy my whole HDTV-ready CRT based front projection system delivered, cheap! Click here
    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 08, 2001 at 01:56 PM]
  13. Rob Willey

    Rob Willey Screenwriter

    Apr 10, 2000
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    Real Name:
    "The trip we made to Hollywood is etched upon my mind."
    Steely Dan
    Reelin' In The Years
    In one of his early emails a few months ago, Ron pledged "this may be one of the best vacations you'll ever take." Last week after we got back, I sent him a reply saying, "Damn, you were right, it was one of the best vacations I ever took!"
    In the days leading up to the trip, the agenda went a little haywire as you've read, but even if every event had been canceled, it still would've been worth the trip. Just getting the chance to hang with a few dozen HTF'ers for a week in sunny L.A. was worth every penny. Everything else was gravy.
    I'll just share a few anecdotes to add to the comprehensive reports by Ron and subsequent posters.
    Sunday: This was my first national meet. It's a weird sensation meeting a bunch of people you feel you know well but have never met face to face. I started out by trying hook up with a group at Universal Studios Sunday afternoon. In a crowded place like that, it's impossible to find a bunch of people when you don't know what they look like.
    I came up there on the hotel shuttle and was prepared to head back on the 4:00 shuttle after giving up on finding my group. As I was sitting waiting for the shuttle, this motley-looking group of guys (about ten of them) walks past, but I don't pay much attention. They gather around a bench in the shade about 15-20 feet behind me. Maybe ten minutes later, I swear I hear the name "Bill Hunt" mentioned by somebody in the group, but I'm not sure. A few minutes later I distinctly hear the word "Criterion" followed shortly therafter by "Fifth Element".
    OK, now I'm curious so I grab my bag and walk up to them. I see several are sporting HTF name tags (at this point I don't have mine yet). So I ask, "Can we all agree that OAR sucks and Pan and Scan rules?" I'm met with looks like, "WTF is this guy and WTF is he talking about?" So, I smile and introduce myself and their looks change, slightly, to "OK, he's just kidding. We don't have to kill him." So I meet Ron, Crawdaddy, and several others and my week is off and running.
    Later that night we head to the Hard Rock where we expect to have the entire upstairs to ourselves. When we arrive, the upstairs is empty and dark. Ron goes to check on things and is told they don't have sufficient servers to serve us upstairs so we stake out an area to ourselves downstairs. Strange, they had enough servers for us down there! As Vince said, a couple of them were very easy on the eyes.
    Monday at Dreamworks was a blast. The Shrek menus and features were great and the phrase "Ooh, pick me, pick me!" became the unofficial catch phrase of the rest of the trip. You'll see why when you buy the disc (you are planning to buy it, aren't you?).
    The voice-over feature is way cool. Typical HTF attitude, while Hakan is voicing John Lithgow's part, somebody near me in the audience observes, "Too bad they didn't introduce this feature on the Gladiator disc. (In best Mickey Mouse voice), 'On my command, unleash hell!'"
    The Almost Famous disc looks great and I'm glad I held off buying the first one since the theatrical version is included on the new one. Although technically, I suppose we shouldn't be talking about this release since it contains the word "Bootleg". [​IMG]
    Monday night was the long drive out to Technicolor for a very cool tour of their production facility. They proved they knew their audience by quickly hustling us past the VHS production area to the disc production area. Mostly we looked at DVD, but also CD and CD-ROM (Microsoft Office 2001 and a Zoolander title which I'm guessing was the soundtrack CD). DVD's being worked on included Snow White and Final Fantasy.
    After a great buffet as we were leaving, we were treated to a blind DVD selection by Zachary, the rep from Lions Gate. A few got prized titles like Amores Perros and The Widow of St. Pierre. The rest of us got titles like the one I got, William Hurt in Contaminated Man (don't ask).
    Tuesday: I was one of the lucky 20 to view the Will & Grace taping. Special thanks to member David Tolsky for making this happpen.
    Surprisingly, it takes four hours to film a half hour episode. To make sure the audience stays "up" for the entire duration of the filming, there is an M.C. who goes for maximum audience participation whenever the cameras aren't rolling. It's like a whole separate show for the price of admission. Personally, I found the goings-on between takes on the set much more interesting. The M.C. and his shenanigans (except for the chocolate) were just an annoyance.
    During filming, director James Burrows tends to pace around listening to the dialog. The producers and writers are planted in front of monitors showing all four camera views at once. A legion of makeup artists ("the Mary Kay commandos") waits just off camera listening for the word "Cut" as their cue to rush in and do touch ups. A supremely organized effort.
    We were told it usually takes five to six weeks to turn around a show until it airs. The show we saw aired nine days later (this past Thursday). Trust me when I say the best lines were "left on the cutting room floor." The best one of all was immediately nixed by "the joke police."
    Wednesday was our pre-planned free day. Many went to QSC and Widescreen Review as you've read. Being the adrenaline junkie that I am, I couldn't pass up a chance to go to Magic Mountain with Michael Deakin, Patrick Schneider, and the Gregorich's, Annette and Adam. Special thanks to them for providing my ride to Magic Mountain and Technicolor.
    The place was nearly deserted when we arrived 15 minutes before opening. Annette observed "Wally World." Fortunately, they weren't closed, just not many customers on a Wednesday in late Sept. We walked onto rides all day long. The longest wait might have been sitting on one roller coaster waiting for the minimum number of riders to show up. It was about 95 degrees that day and by the end of the day my feet were killing me from all the walking but I had a blast!
    That night, about ten of us went to dinner at Black Angus which was "only about eight blocks away". Tell that to Patrick Schneider who rode in the cargo area behind the seats of our van while we drove around for about half an hour trying to find it. For future reference, the steak house near the hotel is The Smokehouse and is only a couple of blocks away.
    As everyone has said, Friday at Fox was a wonderment. Exceptional hospitality by Peter Staddon and everyone at Fox. We hit the Studio Store in groups like swarms of locust. It's amazing how many titles you've previously passed on that you grab when they're $9.99 or $11.99. Unfortunately, no Zardoz, but I did pick up Porky's. Gregg Loewen pointed out that I could get the disc of Porky's and Porky's II for the same price. I was reminded of the words of Mr. Spock, "Logical. Faultlessly logical.", and made the switch.
    Regarding the trailers we saw in Fox' Little Theater, be on the lookout for Ice Age next March. It looks like it could be a winner.
    Saturday: The demo at IVC of color correction was very cool, but the demo we saw by Robert (sorry, didn't catch his last name) of digital restoration was truly fascinating. He was working on Paul Newman's Hombre which really got Crawdaddy's attention. He gave us the lowdown on removing scratches, blemishes and the like. While he was talking, I noticed a framed poster above his workspace of American Beauty autographed by cinematographer Conrad Hall. It said, "Robert, Thanks for making it look so beautiful. Conrad." High praise indeed!
    In closing, I want to thank four people: Ron and Parker for making the HTF and this wonderful trip possible. Ron for all his work setting up the trip and rearranging things right up to the last minute. Gregg for ably assisting him in that effort. And Heather for putting up with Gregg. [​IMG]
    I can't wait for the next one!
    "That suits me down to the ground."
    [Edited last by Rob Willey on October 08, 2001 at 06:10 PM]
  14. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

    Jan 17, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    John Steffens
    I would like to mention something NO ONE probally got to do but me. On my last day I went up to Griffith Observatory.
    Great view of the city, if you don't mind the smog.
    The view would be so much better at night!
    The observatory has alot of cool museum type of stuff inside. Plus they also play laser light shows and star shows at night.
    I want to make a comment about the trip in general.
    The trip kind of ran like a double edge sword.
    Even tho, it seemed like some of the studios cancelled out on us, and left us with nothing to do.
    It gave us plenty of time to visit and do EXTRA stuff with some of the HTF peeps.
    I for one was kind of glad we got EXTRA time to do stuff.
    I had a blast hanging out with Vince, Danna F., Bill Slack, Andy Farra.
    So in turn, I think it worked out for the better!!
    So, if this situation ever arises again, don't think that there will be nothing to do, because the HTF people make it exciting!
  15. Peter Yee

    Peter Yee Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 31, 1998
    Likes Received:
    I'm the guy who spent most of his time scribbling notes in a DreamWorks portfolio. And I've finally gotten around to putting them up on my website. You can read my notes at:
    A major thank you to all of the studios and studio reps who came through to make this an awesome trip. I had a blast meeting many of the HTF members and hope to meet more folks at the next national HTF meet.
    PS Yes, typographical corrections are welcome, as are other questions.
    PPS Yes, I love to put in hyperlinks in my notes.
    [Edited last by Peter Yee on October 09, 2001 at 10:37 AM]
  16. Peter Yee

    Peter Yee Stunt Coordinator

    Aug 31, 1998
    Likes Received:
    I didn't get up to the Griffith Observatory this time around, but I've been up there before. You're right, it has a great view of the city (particularly when there's no smog). Plus you get a nice view of the Hollywood sign.
    I spent some of the down time wandering around Hollywood and also went to see the La Brea Tar Pits for the first time. They've got a fascinating museum there where you can feel how hard it would be to get out of the tar (no, no, you don't have to get your feet in the tar [​IMG] ).
    Being a fan of LA Confidential, I took in a dinner at the Formosa Cafe. The food was all right, but the cafe was cool. Pictures of movie stars (many autographed and some shot in the cafe itself) festoon the place. It's like sitting inside a bit of movie making history.
    What a trip. What a week. What a long wait until the next one. [​IMG]
  17. Gregory Pauswinski

    Gregory Pauswinski Supporting Actor

    Dec 2, 1998
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    I think most of the details have been covered so I'm just going to thank everybody. [​IMG]
    I want to give a big Thank You to Ron Epstein and Gregg Loewen for all of their hard work in putting this trip together. There's no question that a Home Theater Forum trip is one of the best vacations ever and I feel very fortunate to have been to all three national meets. Thank you also to Gary Rominger for putting together the really cool nametags!
    Peter Staddon - Thank you for bending over backwards to make this trip so worthwhile. When tours were being cancelled at other studios, you tried even harder to ensure our trip went well. I went to the screening of Don't Say a Word and it was a great time. I couldn't believe they had free Popcorn and sodas and was amused when Crawdaddy snagged two sodas to ensure that all of his popcorn was washed down. [​IMG] The day we spent at Fox was the highlight of the trip. It took some guts to show us the 1st test disc "hot off the presses" for Planet of the Apes, but it looked and sounded fantastic! The film restoration demonstration was very interesting and it's nice to see such commitment to restoring the actual film elements rather than just making the DVD look good. Also thank you for all of the gourmet food. The work you and the rest of the team at Fox do is very much appreciated.
    Dreamworks - The Shrek DVD looks awesome and I can hardly wait to pick it up. I hate DVD-Rom content because I have no interest in watching a DVD movie on my computer, but the voiceover program is just so cool that I may actually stick the Shrek DVD into my computer. Eat Me!
    Zachary Hunchar - Thanks for arranging the tour of Technicolor for us again this year. It was really cool watching DVDs get made and it's nice to see how much their DVD production has increased over the last trip. It was also great to hear your perspective on the DVD industry right now. Thanks for the DVD too! I got Guardian but somehow Jay Michosky gave me his copy of The Widow of St. Pierre also.
    QSC Audio - I was very impressed by your production facility.
    Widescreen Review - Big thanks to Gary Reber for not only inviting us out there, but also treating us to wine and lunch! The "holosonic" theater is the most amazing Home Theater that a mere mortal like myself will ever experience. My turn in the sweet spot was simply the best sound I've ever heard in my entire life. Thanks to Perry Sun also for showing us around your facility. I've been a subscriber for a few years now and it's nice to see where the magic happens.
    Martin Blythe - I know you tried your hardest to get us into the studio and thank you for that. It was really gracious of you to drive out to speak with us at the hotel. I bought the Godfather collection today and will definitely be getting Star Trek: The Motion Picture too!
    Dolby Digital - Thanks for showing us around your office and letting us experience the theater!
    Dave and Linda Lukas - Studio Day is always a treat and a great excuse to buy entirely too many DVDs!
    IVC - Thanks for the demonstration on color timing and dirt removal. It was really cool seeing an actual Telecine machine.
    Really the highlight of a Home Theater Forum trip is the people. It was great seeing the old faces again and nice to finally meet everyone else. I hope everyone can make it on the cruise next year because I'd love to see everybody again.
    [Edited last by Gregory Pauswinski on October 09, 2001 at 06:19 PM]
    [Edited last by Gregory Pauswinski on October 09, 2001 at 06:20 PM]
  18. Gregory Pauswinski

    Gregory Pauswinski Supporting Actor

    Dec 2, 1998
    Likes Received:
    I can't believe I forgot Joe Kane from my list of Thank You's above. Your talk on HDTV, HD DVD, and Digital Video Essentials was excellent. You inspired me to get serious about looking into an HDTV decoder box for my HD Ready TV. Digital Video Essentials is also a Must Buy DVD with those new test patterns designed to test the performance of DVD Players and audio equipment as well as additional tests for TVs.
  19. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor

    Apr 9, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Chicago, IL
    Real Name:
    Bill Buklis
    Although the FOX day was wonderful and the studio visits/demos were great, I'd have to say the best part for me was touring the Technicolor plant, QSC Audio, and IVC Productions. These were the places that gave us extensive tours. Unfortunately the studios (due to security concerns) couldn't really show us around. Seeing the scoring stage at FOX was neat.
    At Technicolor, I was rather fascinated to see how few machines were involved in the replication/manufacturing of DVD's. Admittedly the most complicated part was the creation of the DVD master. This involved several machines inside a "clean room" where they created a "master" disc (actual size was much larger than a DVD) and created "stamper" copies from the master.
    It is from these stampers that the actual DVD's are made through basically two machines. The first one pumps liquid plastic into a mold which is then pressed into the shape of a disc with the impressions of the data pits in place. In the second machine, a reflective sealer is spun onto the disc and then the two layers are then bonded together. They use the same process for both CD's (including ROMs) and DVD's - the only exception is bonding the two layers.
    After this the only thing is applying the silk screen and packaging.
    We even talked to the Technicolor guide about some of the common replication mistakes. Apparently this plant (which serves only distribution west of the rockies) was responsible for the Toy Story/High Fidelity mixup. They now have much better quality control testing procedures, including playing sample discs in a DVD player that indicates which layer is in use. He demonstrated the technique by putting Final Fantasy in and making sure that each layer played on the player (both were Final Fantasy).
    At QSC Audio, we saw their rather impressive process of building pro-quality amplifiers. Their process was so streamlined that it keeps costs and subsequently the price down considerably. I was rather surprised to find out it was much cheaper to get a set of professional amps than to get a Sunfire consumer amp.
    The manufacturing of amplifiers was about 50% machine and 50% by hand. There is only one production line for all models and different models can essentially randomly go through the line. There's a component machine that reads a bar code on the board, determines which model it is, and inserts (rather quickly) resistors, capacitors, microchips, etc. into the appropriate spots. Every amplifier is thoroughly tested for quality control.
    IVC Production was excellent because not only did we get to tour the facility, but they demonstrated the equipment in action. They gave us a color correction demo using a deleted scene clip from The Road to El Derado. But, especially interesting was the post video transfer process. After the telecine transfer, someone painstakingly examines every frame of the movie and using a rather sophisticated software package removes scratches, dirt specks, film stains, and other blemishes. This process we witnessed during actual production. They were currently fixing up a western (sorry I forgot which one; Crawdaddy should remember). I was rather surprised to see just how many blemishes there were to fix.
    And to sum up: although the tours, screenings, etc. were well worth the trip alone, I was rather delighted to come home with a few extra DVDs, T-shirts, and other goodies I hadn't expected. Many thanks to the studios and companies for everything (especially the tours, not just the free stuff).
    One rather surprising item I should mention was the FOX Castaway box I won in the good-bye dinner drawing. It was a "Fed-ex" package a-la Castaway that looked beaten up and dirty. In reality it was just expertly painted to look that way. It can easily fool you at first. Inside was a minature version of the "Wilson" volleyball.
    Once again, thanks all, and I look forward to hopefully doing this again.
  20. Bill Buklis

    Bill Buklis Supporting Actor

    Apr 9, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Chicago, IL
    Real Name:
    Bill Buklis
    The only down point of the trip is that it's going to cost me some in purchasing some great upcoming DVDs (as if that's really a down point). Thanks to FOX's studio store, not only did I purchase more discs out there than I expected, I now have so many to look forward too. Unfortunately (or is that fortunately [​IMG]) Dreamworks didn't have a DVD section with prices like FOX, or I would've come back with a few more titles.
    Of upcoming DVD's my most anticipated title has to be Shrek. I was already considering this before, but now there's no way I'm not getting this one. This release looks absolutely fantastic.
    I admit I had some trepidation when I found out we were going to screen Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes at FOX. Most people I talked too didn't like it for some reason or other. I missed this one in the theatre, so this was my first ever viewing. Surprisingly, I was quite impressed. It was a lot better than I expected. There was definitely the Tim Burton feel of overally dark and stylized photography, but it worked much better than in Sleepy Hollow. Combined with the outstanding transfer and great special features, this disc has moved from not a chance to strong consideration on my buy list.
    It's too bad we didn't get to visit Warner Bros. But, instead I used our new free day to visit Universal Studios Theme park which included the studio tour.

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