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Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's the transfer

As I hear a few rumblings about 3D Blu-ray coming down the pike, I'm not making any plans to replace any titles I already have if and when it comes to fruition. As for Blu-ray itself, I'm still quite happy with the format and still choose to buy copies of new movies or reissues. I have replaced a couple of DVDs with BDs, but not many.

If I've learned anything in my two years as the owner of BD player and a high definition television, it's the transfer that's most important, and not necessarily the disc itself.

I recently watched the standard Criterion DVD version of Videodrome and I found the transfer pretty stunning. The Blu-ray version is due to come out in a couple of weeks, but I'm not going to double-dip on this one. I'm perfectly satisfied with the version that I have. (Plus, all the standard DVD's supplements have been imported with no new, high-def features.)

A couple of months ago, Diana and I watched The Sure Thing, an 80s road movie that is only available on standard DVD. Frankly, the movie looked incredible in widescreen with my player upconverting to 1080p to the best of its ability. That got me thinking about how stunning, amazing, and blah blah blah I hear about Blu-ray over standard.

Maybe it's how I view movies on my television, but I prefer to not watch movies on the "vivid" setting. The first movie I ever watched on my television was The Host, which has a lot of hot yellow throughout. The result was a set of bugged-out eyes and a minor headache for the rest of the night. I've opted for slightly darker screen lightness, usually "cinema" or "standard." On those settings, everything looks fine . . . including standard DVDs.

My last example is when I recently watched Clerks on BD. Here's a film made years before high definition was even a whisper and I can't say it looks astonishingly different from its previous incarnations on DVD. I'm glad I own the BD edition because of the extra supplements, but I must say that I'm not really somebody who could review modern DVDs and go gangbusters how well the thing looks or sounds.

As I've said before, I'll say again: if you want to see a dramatic improvement in a home viewing experience, dust off an old VHS tape with a movie in pan-and-scan. Then compare the experience to watching the movie on DVD.

In all my years of watching movies, the biggest leap I've seen in quality and enjoyment of a film was when I saw Kentucky Fried Movie for the first time on DVD. Visual and audio gags that I had never caught (because the transfer was too dark or the pan-and-scan cut things) were caught. And I loved the movie even more.

I still keep that in my mind as I watch movies at home. Younger generations will probably never understand what pan-and-scan lopped off for older generations. It's just nice to see the whole movie . . . and with a great transfer to boot.

1 comment:

Richard of DM said...

I am resisting Blu-ray until I have a home theater or something. I don't really need that level of detail.

All Blu-ray means now is that there is less selection when I go DVD shopping.