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Why no SD video on Blu-ray Discs?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by justegofficial, Nov 20, 2019.

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  1. justegofficial

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    Why haven't any studios thought to put SD quality video on blu-ray discs? I know that when people hear blu-ray they immediately associate it with HD video, but there's no reason why blu-ray discs can't also be used to store SD quality video. I mean, blu-rays hold like 5 times the amount of data as a DVD, so you can imagine how cost effective larger series would be if released in SD quality but on blu-ray discs. Think of a show like Law and Order: SVU for instance. 20 seasons (currently in its 21st), 6 DVDs per season, 120 discs total. But if those same SD quality episodes were put on blu-ray discs, it would knock it down to like 24 discs. Plus, blu-ray discs have the added benefit of the protective, scratch-resistant coating. I've brought this idea up to several studios, but none of them have ever done anything about it. I just think it would be an interesting idea, especially in this current binge-watch culture. Imagine sitting down to binge-watch a series like Breaking Bad and only having to change the disc 4 times. Just an idea worth discussing.
     
  2. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    There have been some Blu-ray releases that have presented SD video but used the format to take advantage of higher bitrate audio.

    I don’t think it’s a bad idea, but the market for Blu-ray never quite developed in the way DVD did. After HDTVs started rolling out, studios and manufacturers fought over whether to support Blu-ray or HD-DVD. Many customers adopted a wait-and-see approach to HD on physical media, and when the dust settled and Blu-ray finally won (circa 2008) two things had happened:
    -The country entered a recession, which suddenly made better quality discs not a priority for many, many people
    ..and..
    -Streaming started taking off.

    So by the time consumer electronic spending had rebound, customers were more interested in streaming (especially via subscription rather than a la carte) than adopting another physical media format. While DVD made purchasing physical media cheap, what a lot of people discovered was that they didn’t really want to own most things. They wanted to see them once. They didn’t want to have large collections or store discs and they didn’t revisit them or watch bonus features very often, if at all.

    It turns out for many customers, an even better idea than fewer discs per series was no disc at all. They liked the idea of paying a flat fee for monthly service, binge watching a show, and then moving on to the next thing.

    So in short, streaming won out because it offered a service that was more beneficial to more average consumers than discs were.
     
  3. Robin9

    Robin9 Producer

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    There have been a few Blu-ray discs holding only SD material released in Germany. The main reason this idea has never really taken off is that those hold-outs who are content with Standard Definition don't have Blu-ray players!
     
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  4. Message #4 of 20 Nov 20, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
    LeoA

    LeoA Cinematographer

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    I always wished IndyCar would've done this for season sets of classic races from the 80's and 90's.

    One or two Blu-Ray's would've accommodated an entire year's worth of races. And since the cameras were of course only 480i (Something that held true for motorsports well into the 2000's; Even the pinnacle, F1, only went HD in 2011) and the races were only ever archived on tape formats like U-matic, a true high-definition presentation isn't possible.

    NASCAR as well would've been nice (A sport I loved very much back say around 1990, unlike the often lackluster product today), but with the lengthier schedule and longer average race times that Winston Cup always had, it would've been a bit more problematic with the disc count than IndyCar would've been.

    At least they're slowly giving me my wish with streaming. Some of the tapes have been less than stellar, but IndyCar is regularly uploading classic races to their YouTube channel. Hopefully that doesn't end with the major news that hit a couple of weeks ago about the speedway (and the IndyCar sanctioning body itself) being sold after having been under family ownership since just after WWII.
     
  5. smithbrad

    smithbrad Screenwriter

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    I recall this being discussed long ago, and one reason is that the blu-ray spec specifically states that the main feature of a blu-ray disk must contain HD content for the purpose of not confusing the consumer. Given that they were trying to sell the consumer on a new and improved format at the time, it makes sense.
     
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  6. mBen989

    mBen989 Agent

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    I know Discotek Media has been doing SD BluRay releases for certain series but that's using the format for its storage space and not for quality.
     
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  7. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    Also authoring and replicating blu-ray discs is more expensive than DVD.
     
  8. bigshot

    bigshot Cinematographer

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    I have at least 10 discs that are SD on blu-ray. Classical music, Japanese kids' TV shows, complete TV series on a single disc. It isn't common, but it is done.
     
  9. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    At this point, even a lot of shows that are in HD are only getting DVD releases.
     
  10. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

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    Check out the 80s exploitation movie "Victims!" It's a Blu-Ray made from a worn standard-def analog tape master because that was the best source in existence. It looks like tape, but it's on Blu-Ray. Certainly no excuse for recent material to be issued only on DVD if they were able to put that out.
     
  11. David Wilkins

    David Wilkins Supporting Actor

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    The market for such usage would be very limited, as it defeats a few market realities that are cornerstone to the format's existence. I never cease to be astonished by the number of people who STILL haven't upgraded to Blu-ray, even though the players and discs became competitively priced several years ago. I think surprisingly few people register basics of quality video and audio. In retrospect, I think the leading reasons for adoption of DVD were driven mostly by convenience: no rewinding, easier to carry, etc. Humans are fundamentally lazy, and not particularly geared to pursue various measures of quality and excellence, unless those measures also encompass convenience. Pursuing quality is generally the wheelhouse of collectors, and here we are.
     
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  12. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    I think screen size and viewing distance is an underreported factor.

    It’s often said that you need to sit 1.5 screen widths or closer from your display in order to get the full benefit of whatever the monitor has to offer, and most people simply don’t do that. Go to a non-enthusiast’s house and the TV is often not the focal point of the room. Seating is usually based on the shape of the room, not ideal distance. Many find that ideal distance to be too close.

    Point is, move a few feet back and SD/HD/4K don’t look all that different. And why pay more for something where you can’t see a difference from where you sit?
     
  13. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    Especially when the set is in "dynamic" mode with all the enhancements turned on.
     
  14. Will Krupp

    Will Krupp Cinematographer

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    Blu-ray specs require that non-HD material be presented in 480i. While putting SD material on blu-ray discs saves space, that's about all it will do.

    In virtually every case, SD material looks better when progressively transferred at 24fps on DVD than it does as an interlaced transfer on blu-ray with 3:2 pulldown baked in.
     
  15. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    There have been quite a few Anime series releases with SD on Blu-ray. Honestly, I'm fine with them as it makes it much more convenient for shows with a lot of episodes. I have the Fist of the North Star and Golgo 13 series in this format. I don't agree that it looks worse than DVD. At least that hasn't been my experience with what I've seen. the h.264 compression used on them is far more efficient than MPEG2 and handles colors better. Now, I've also seen a few Blu-rays where they've upscaled old analog masters and they can look pretty terrible depending upon the quality of the master the disc producers had access to. Angel Cop is an example of this. (Yes, for those who know Anime, it's objectively an awful show, but it's one of those that is so over the top that I enjoy it.)

    I honestly wish more western shows that don't have source material in better-than-SD resolution would be released in SD on Blu-ray. As it is, places like Mill Creek end up overcompressing the video in order to fit as many episodes on a DVD as possible and they look awful. If they would simply put them on Blu-ray, they could provide decent encodes and still keep disc count to a minimum. I can't imagine that Blu-ray authoring and pressing is that much more expensive than DVD these days. They could still sell them at a decent price and the consumer would end up with a much-more-satisfying product.
     
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  16. justegofficial

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    Mill Creek is one of the studios I contacted about the idea since their preferred method of release is complete series sets with as few discs as possible. I also thought it would be perfect for them since their packaging of choice has never been that great or protective for standard DVDs. They used to put out DVDs in those giant plastic cases with each DVD in a paper sleeve stacked on top of each other and now they're in a flimsy box that holds individual double-sided cardboard sleeves. I know it's to save money, but it wouldn't be that big of a deal if the discs were blu-rays and had that scratch-resistant coating on them.

    I think I had read several years ago that the cost to manufacture a blu-ray disc is only like double the price of a DVD, but you'd only need a 1/5 of the amount of discs. It would save money for the studio, too, to release SD video on blu-ray discs. Let's say it cost $2 to manufacture a DVD and $4 to manufacture a blu-ray. A DVD set with 20 DVDs would cost $40 to make (not counting packaging). That same set released in SD on blu-ray would fit on 4 blu-ray discs, costing only $16 (and the packaging would be cheaper, too, since you wouldn't need so much of it).
     
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  17. Worth

    Worth Producer

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    But the installed base of players is far less, so they'd be likely to sell far fewer copies.
     
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  18. Josh Steinberg

    Josh Steinberg Executive Producer
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    That’s the big obstacle with this idea in 2019 - the people most interested in standard definition content releases by Mill Creek are also among the people least likely to have a Blu-ray player.
     
  19. SeanSKA

    SeanSKA Stunt Coordinator

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    Several (in fact most) of the Rolling Stones concert blu-rays on Eagle Rock The goal was to take advantage of the DTS-HD codec for the best possible sound on these discs
     
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  20. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Cinematographer
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    I have an ELO Blu-ray with several full-length concerts from their glory days, all on one disc. It sounds great and I got literally hours of entertainment for what I felt was a very reasonable price. I love it.
     

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