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Blu-Ray...worth the fuss? 
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Post Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I have been contemplating getting a Blu-Ray player for some time and have really been on the fence for several reasons:

1. Cost
2. Worthiness
3. Some films only came out on HD-DVD [so far, maybe forever] and I cannot find a hybrid for under an arm and a leg
4. Special needs in my DVD player
5. Seeing a 'Wizard of Oz' effect in films converted to BR

I would have to all but mess my pants from viewing to advocate buying one at this point. I'd also have to satisfy three of my five issues/needs and that is unlikely still. I haven't watched anything Blu-Ray as no one I know has one and you cannot go and rent them. Also cannot seem to find anywhere that demos them either; outside of some movie that shows a watch and some grass and such. Trying to get swayed I guess...

P.S. - The 'Wizard of Oz' effect is when a movie is improved to a new format and is destroyed in the process. I termed this after seeing The Wizard of Oz and seeing how absolutely obviously fake everything looked. So bad that I could almost smell the fabric of the Emerald City backdrop...was a waste of money and it ruined the movie for me forever. James' take on Patton also concerned me...


Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:31 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Ultimately, I can't make the decision for you, but I was once in the same position. Finally, I nabbed a ps3 since I play video games as well. James mentioned this in a ReelThoughts a while back; up-converting DVD players come damn close to blu-ray quality. (the ps3 up-converts as well as plays blu-rays). WallE is a perfect example. I've seen both the blu-ray copy and an upconverted regular DVD copy, and both look astounding. It takes a good eye to pick out the differences, but there are few and they are subtle.

If it's the special features you're interested in, there seems to be more stuff on the blu-ray front since it has more space to accommodate those features.

I'd suggest finding an upconverting player (a good Sony one can be found at best buy for under $100), pop in some DVDs you have, and see how they look. If you're a gamer too, definitely pick up a ps3, since it does pretty much everything except file your taxes.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:54 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Sci Fi Wasabi wrote:
I have been contemplating getting a Blu-Ray player for some time and have really been on the fence for several reasons:

1. Cost
2. Worthiness
3. Some films only came out on HD-DVD [so far, maybe forever] and I cannot find a hybrid for under an arm and a leg
4. Special needs in my DVD player
5. Seeing a 'Wizard of Oz' effect in films converted to BR

I would have to all but mess my pants from viewing to advocate buying one at this point. I'd also have to satisfy three of my five issues/needs and that is unlikely still. I haven't watched anything Blu-Ray as no one I know has one and you cannot go and rent them. Also cannot seem to find anywhere that demos them either; outside of some movie that shows a watch and some grass and such. Trying to get swayed I guess...

P.S. - The 'Wizard of Oz' effect is when a movie is improved to a new format and is destroyed in the process. I termed this after seeing The Wizard of Oz and seeing how absolutely obviously fake everything looked. So bad that I could almost smell the fabric of the Emerald City backdrop...was a waste of money and it ruined the movie for me forever. James' take on Patton also concerned me...



Hello again SFW

I'll take each of your points in order

1) The cost issue pertains more to the discs than the players. You can get a player for under $200. However, catalog titles are often more than $25 which is a joke.

2) Worthiness - I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. I assume it's quality. I have a 120" screen and you see a huge difference with 1080p Blu ray over standard 480p DVD. On my son's 32' LCD I still see a difference but it is less pronounced. That said, DVD still looks good. Blu Ray is a nice to have versus need to have. Don't be fooled by all the features they try and sell. They are not needed, merely nice.

3) HD DVD - The studios are rereleasing HD DVD on Blu ray. I'm not sure which films that you think will never reappear?

4) I have no idea what this refers to.

5) WOO effect - The Patton issue is due to digital trickery and have been well discussed. Every new format has initial launch issues and Blu ray is no different. In general releases have been excellent. I have not seen WOO on Blu ray so do not know about this issue. In fact i did not know it had been released and i have never seen a review. Are you sure about this?

I have the PS3 - mainly for games for my sons. I watch Blu Rays from Netflix and having bought over 300 Laserdiscs and 1000 DVDs promised myself I'd never buy another format. So I don't.

Rob


Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:57 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Most blu-rays are absolutely stunning.
Planet Earth on blu-ray is a must-have.

That said, you don't necessarily have to replace your whole DVD collection. The best transfers on DVD are fairly comparable to the worst transfers on blu-ray. I would say read reviews of blu-ray discs before you buy. With the sinking costs of converting your home theater to blu-ray however, it's a must for home theater enthusiasts and film lovers.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:52 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I was contemplating that same question a few months ago, then I upgraded my TV, bought a blu-ray player, and now I'll only buy blu-ray. I do notice a difference between upconverted DVDs and blu-ray but it's not that huge. I'm more impressed with the improvement in sound, it's quite a bit noticeable over standard DVD.

As for the price, I only buy the "special edition" DVDs, I never buy the single disc, bare bones version. This usually makes the blu-ray only $2-$3 dollars more then then regular DVD. On Amazon, the single disc version of Bangkok Dangerous is $19.99, the special edition is $23.99 and the blu-ray is $25.99. So the price isn't a huge difference for me.

I'm surprised you haven't seen a good demo of a blu-ray player. All the Blockbusters near my place have a blu-ray demo, as do the Best Buys. You should go down to the local Best Buy/Circut City and see if you can get a demo.

The best thing I can suggest for you is to buy a blu-ray player, rent some movies, and see if you like it. If you don't, you can always return the player. I've really enjoyed upgrading to blu-ray and would recommend it to anyone who's on the fence.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:16 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I drank the Blu-Ray Kool-Aid this past Christmas, and the results have surprised me. I had owned an upconverting DVD player with HDMI prior to getting the Blu-Ray, but I noticed a significant up-tick in quality with the Blu-Ray player. For lack of a better explanation, everything just seems to "pop" more, and there's a crispness that was missing before.

I don't think you have to worry about updating your catalog much...just upgrade any films for which you treasure the visuals. Standard DVDs look quite well on Blu-Ray, better than the upconverting DVD player, in my opinion. Keep in mind that Blu-Ray has likely pushed standard DVD makers into better quality transfers, but I was surprised by the quality.

Your best bet, though: get the 1080p HDTV you want first...I cannot fathom the people I know who buy Blu-Ray and still have a standard television. The TV is pricier, yes, but there's no point in going for high-definition quality movies without a high-definition set. That's really the true upgrade in quality...everything else is subtle improvements.

Erik


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:29 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I’ve been to enough people’s homes where their photo albums were full of blurry photos and their TV’s were configured to display the wrong aspect ratio to conclude that quality presentation is not that important to everyone. If (when) Blu-ray becomes the new standard and displaces DVD altogether it will be because consumers are technophiles and long to have the newest, best thing regardless of whether they appreciate it or know how to use it. I think this is reflected in James’ Patton Blu-ray experience where the salesperson thought the picture looked terrific while James recognized that it had been overprocessed.

A few months ago I bought a PS3 and have since collected perhaps a dozen Blu-ray titles. They look excellent and I don’t regret the purchase but the difference between DVD image and Blu-ray image is not so staggering (at least on my 50” screen) to justify replacing my entire DVD library (at least at the current pricing). I would recommend a Blu-ray player only to those who are planning a home theatre upgrade anyway.

Also, I know exactly what you are describing with what you’ve called “The Wizard of Oz” effect. There are definitely certain things revealed by the clarity of Hi-definition that were never intended to be seen (this occurred with standard definition DVDs as well). The things I’ve seen most are wires for floating props and the lattice-work of actor’s hairpieces. If these were invisible in the original presentation of the film than the case can be made that the films are being altered from how the filmmakers originally intended their films to be seen.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:49 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Quintaros wrote:
I’ve been to enough people’s homes where their photo albums were full of blurry photos and their TV’s were configured to display the wrong aspect ratio to conclude that quality presentation is not that important to everyone. If (when) Blu-ray becomes the new standard and displaces DVD altogether it will be because consumers are technophiles and long to have the newest, best thing regardless of whether they appreciate it or know how to use it. I think this is reflected in James’ Patton Blu-ray experience where the salesperson thought the picture looked terrific while James recognized that it had been overprocessed.

A few months ago I bought a PS3 and have since collected perhaps a dozen Blu-ray titles. They look excellent and I don’t regret the purchase but the difference between DVD image and Blu-ray image is not so staggering (at least on my 50” screen) to justify replacing my entire DVD library (at least at the current pricing). I would recommend a Blu-ray player only to those who are planning a home theatre upgrade anyway.

Also, I know exactly what you are describing with what you’ve called “The Wizard of Oz” effect. There are definitely certain things revealed by the clarity of Hi-definition that were never intended to be seen (this occurred with standard definition DVDs as well). The things I’ve seen most are wires for floating props and the lattice-work of actor’s hairpieces. If these were invisible in the original presentation of the film than the case can be made that the films are being altered from how the filmmakers originally intended their films to be seen.



Hi Quintaros,

As a keen amateur photographer the point you make about people's pictures is so true. I run a website for my son's sports teams with shots of the games. When I first started five years ago I invited parents to send me their shots as well so we could combine them into one site. Big mistake. After receiving hundreds of dreadful shots that were hard to even ascertain who was the subject, I gave up.

My friends TV looks like the color, brightness, contrast and sharpness are all set to 100%. The thing glows. Yet they bought a Blu Ray player. We all know about the way that TV's are calibrated to make them "pop" in Best Buy". I still hear people complain that they bought a plasma screen and there are black bars above and below some of the movies!

It has to be tough if you work in the world of consumer electronics.

The reality is that with BluRay players being backward compatible and prices heading towards $99 you soon won't be able to find a DVD player anyway.

Rob


Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:15 pm
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I'm always reading about people saying it isn't much difference but personally I was blown away at how much better Blu-Ray was when I finally got a new TV and player a few weeks back, to me it felt every bit as much as going from VHS-DVD in quality (aside from the obvious Widescreen and Sound improvement). Obviously i'm not going to replace a lot of the catalogue titles that I have on DVD with the current pricing unless its a personal favorite of mine but there is no way i'll be renting or purchasing DVD's anymore with the ever growing Blu Ray titles becoming available.

On a side note I will say i'm a little disappointed in people saying they only buy BD for the big special effects/heavy subwoofer event films and while yes it certainly enhances the experience the title I was most blown away with was No Country For Old Men the image just 'popped' from beginning to end.

Quote:
My friends TV looks like the color, brightness, contrast and sharpness are all set to 100%. The thing glows. Yet they bought a Blu Ray player. We all know about the way that TV's are calibrated to make them "pop" in Best Buy". I still hear people complain that they bought a plasma screen and there are black bars above and below some of the movies!


Argh thats horrible (don't get me started on people who discuss the dreaded black bars!!), the factory settings on my TV made Blu Ray and HD look very average but once I spent a while calibrating the set it was almost insane how much better it looked. I'll always recommend a disc like Digital Video Essentials because (most of the time) you'll spend a lot of money purchasing the damn thing so whats an extra $20 to get the most out of it, if people still say no to my recommendation at the very least they should find some settings on the internet or use one of those basic THX optimizer's you find on some DVD's.


Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:06 pm
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
I think that Blu-Ray is certainly worth it. The cost of the player itself isn't too unreasonable, but as Rob pointed out, the discs are way too expensive. Bargain hunters that my family and I are, we look for cheap deals online- you can usually get some good buys off of Amazon... and you never know what you'll find when rummaging about electronics stores.

Obviously, the picture is the biggest part of it. And let me just say as an experienced Blu-Ray user. It's worth it. Period. I do not own that many Blu-Rays, but of the ones that I do own, they all look fantastic. It just brings everything up a level, and makes movies just so much more enjoyable.

So, I definitely recommend it, but of course it is your choice.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:52 am
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Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
A few of random thoughts:

- If you have a small TV (say 37" or smaller), you won't get much benefit out of Blu-Ray. I did an A/B comparison of the Close Encounters Blu-Ray vs. SE DVD on a 37" an didn't notice much difference.

- Blu-Ray versions of older films often don't look much better than their DVD counterparts, but when it comes to newer films... wow. Going forward, it's apparent that Blu-Ray will be the way to go if you care about video quality. But I would not advise anyone to re-buy catalog titles unless it's something you love. For the '80s series, I have been switching back and forth between Blu-Rays and standard DVDs from title-to-title (depending on what I have available) and haven't noticed much difference in quality. But with something like Wall-E, there differences are dramatic.

- Since Blu-Ray players upconvert and play standard DVDs and player prices are plummeting, if you have the disposable income, there's no real downside to buying a Blu-Ray player. Even the most pessimistic analysts agree that Blu-Ray will be around for at least 5 years. Or, if you don't want to spend the money now, when you next need to buy a DVD player, go for the Blu-Ray.

As I have written in the past, Blu-Ray is not a quantum improvement over DVD as DVD was over VHS. In the latter case, there was a fundamental shift from analog to digital; in the former, it's just more digital information being made available.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:10 am
Profile WWW
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Some transfers seem sketchy, and there are just some movies where I don't think there's a discernible difference in quality (based on my few encounters with Blu-Ray). Pixar/possibly Miyazaki movies and Attenborough docs are the biggest reasons that I want one, but I am willing to wait a while before making the format switch.

Planet Earth seems to be the big thing that electronics stores use to entice people to the Blu-Ray format, and hot damn, it has come very close to working on me!


Thu Feb 19, 2009 11:42 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Nick wrote:
Argh thats horrible (don't get me started on people who discuss the dreaded black bars!!), the factory settings on my TV made Blu Ray and HD look very average but once I spent a while calibrating the set it was almost insane how much better it looked. I'll always recommend a disc like Digital Video Essentials because (most of the time) you'll spend a lot of money purchasing the damn thing so whats an extra $20 to get the most out of it, if people still say no to my recommendation at the very least they should find some settings on the internet or use one of those basic THX optimizer's you find on some DVD's.


Digital Video Essentials? What's that all about? Not to sound stupid...but i'm clueless as far as adjusting my plasma tv's settings and whatnot...is it like a "how to" dvd?


Thu Feb 19, 2009 2:36 pm
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Colin wrote:
Digital Video Essentials? What's that all about? ...is it like a "how to" dvd?


Yes.

http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Video-Ess ... B00005PJ70


Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:47 pm
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Blu-ray is simply what you put into it. If you use the right equipment, pick the right settings, and can discriminate between transfer jobs from film to film, you should be able to make a significant and rewarding Blu-ray collection. Otherwise, you're simply throwing out money to be involved in a new craze.


Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:54 pm
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Robert Holloway wrote:
Sci Fi Wasabi wrote:
I have been contemplating getting a Blu-Ray player for some time and have really been on the fence for several reasons:

1. Cost
2. Worthiness
3. Some films only came out on HD-DVD [so far, maybe forever] and I cannot find a hybrid for under an arm and a leg
4. Special needs in my DVD player
5. Seeing a 'Wizard of Oz' effect in films converted to BR

I would have to all but mess my pants from viewing to advocate buying one at this point. I'd also have to satisfy three of my five issues/needs and that is unlikely still. I haven't watched anything Blu-Ray as no one I know has one and you cannot go and rent them. Also cannot seem to find anywhere that demos them either; outside of some movie that shows a watch and some grass and such. Trying to get swayed I guess...

P.S. - The 'Wizard of Oz' effect is when a movie is improved to a new format and is destroyed in the process. I termed this after seeing The Wizard of Oz and seeing how absolutely obviously fake everything looked. So bad that I could almost smell the fabric of the Emerald City backdrop...was a waste of money and it ruined the movie for me forever. James' take on Patton also concerned me...



Hello again SFW

I'll take each of your points in order

1) The cost issue pertains more to the discs than the players. You can get a player for under $200. However, catalog titles are often more than $25 which is a joke.

2) Worthiness - I'm not quite sure what you mean by this. I assume it's quality. I have a 120" screen and you see a huge difference with 1080p Blu ray over standard 480p DVD. On my son's 32' LCD I still see a difference but it is less pronounced. That said, DVD still looks good. Blu Ray is a nice to have versus need to have. Don't be fooled by all the features they try and sell. They are not needed, merely nice.

3) HD DVD - The studios are rereleasing HD DVD on Blu ray. I'm not sure which films that you think will never reappear?

4) I have no idea what this refers to.

5) WOO effect - The Patton issue is due to digital trickery and have been well discussed. Every new format has initial launch issues and Blu ray is no different. In general releases have been excellent. I have not seen WOO on Blu ray so do not know about this issue. In fact i did not know it had been released and i have never seen a review. Are you sure about this?

I have the PS3 - mainly for games for my sons. I watch Blu Rays from Netflix and having bought over 300 Laserdiscs and 1000 DVDs promised myself I'd never buy another format. So I don't.

Rob


I'll go back over this in the same format!! lol Seems easiest.

1. Yeah that is what I was bitching about a bit. The media more than the player.

2. Pretty much what I meant is will I really see a difference or will it be 'some what better'. Like when we all had two head VCRs and got four head VCRs... I never saw that great a change... I have a 32" Vizio that handles 1080i which I think is sufficient to see something in change. I saw it in my Xbox360 for the most part even with component cables and not HDMI. I know it is not true HD I guess, but I am ok with that as it is still technologically viable. But yeah, what you answered was about what I was meaning.

3. Well...I haven't any specifically I am concerned over. But in past trends, I have seen a VHS release to LD and then...vapor. I am almost sure but cannot prove it that something didn't come over in the Beta drop either! I am thinking of it in terms of money; they already spent all that dough to get it to HD-DVD, now it has to be redone all over again...some where someone will say 'Why bother...let them eat HD-DVD' :) But that concern is not a big one.

4. I need a player that will love me back. Actually, what I mean is that I tend to buy a lot of PAL and foreign region releases. I have a Philips that converts PAL and is region free now that was a mere $75, which is fine for anything on DVD, but as for Blu-Ray...I have not seen one that has that capability yet. Well, I may have, at $600...can't remember. But that is what I meant. Again...not a barrier per se.

5. WOO was only released on standard DVD as far as I know, and that is the one that ruined the film for me. I fear that with other older films, that sometimes it is TOO clean for it's own good. That has happened before though, as with The Insider the releasing company 'cleaned' up some darkness in some scenes that was actually intentional as a plot device, i.e. to help illustrate the sinister nature of the tobacco guys and kind of blew the idea a bit. Not as bad as WOO...yikes. But that was a fear of mine in the new Blu-Ray world.

I'll probably get one, and so I don't post like 30 times, I have read and appreciate all of the input from you guys. It helps me get a real world feel for the technology and not just some guy trying to make money.


Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:51 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Goubot wrote:
Some transfers seem sketchy, and there are just some movies where I don't think there's a discernible difference in quality (based on my few encounters with Blu-Ray). Pixar/possibly Miyazaki movies and Attenborough docs are the biggest reasons that I want one, but I am willing to wait a while before making the format switch.

Planet Earth seems to be the big thing that electronics stores use to entice people to the Blu-Ray format, and hot damn, it has come very close to working on me!


Ok now see that is one release I am thinking of diving in for! Seriously...what a great documentary!

I realize too that nothing is perfect. I am not seeking that, just the best I can get for what is out there. I might wait and get an upconverting player for now [I need a new regular DVD player I think and I found one that will UC that has the capability of my old Philips], and let the Blu-Ray library get larger.

Some of the releases are just too much! Not money always, just content. I don't need 5 discs for Blade Runner...I just want the one with the narration and maybe the other one to compare! lol But see what happens is I see all this other stuff...interviews, effects stuff, book to screen comparisons, it bakes, cleans, and washed your laundry, etc. and I get weak... :)

Darn it Goubot!...now you got me wanting to finagle a BR player from my wife and use Planet Earth as bait! lol She loved that series.


Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:57 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
If you truly want to see how great a Blu-Ray can look, go out and stick the blu of Speed Racer in a player on a decent tv. Absolutely stunning. Movie isn't the greatest, but you're too mesmerized to notice.


Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:59 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
James Berardinelli wrote:
A few of random thoughts:

- If you have a small TV (say 37" or smaller), you won't get much benefit out of Blu-Ray. I did an A/B comparison of the Close Encounters Blu-Ray vs. SE DVD on a 37" an didn't notice much difference.

- Blu-Ray versions of older films often don't look much better than their DVD counterparts, but when it comes to newer films... wow. Going forward, it's apparent that Blu-Ray will be the way to go if you care about video quality. But I would not advise anyone to re-buy catalog titles unless it's something you love. For the '80s series, I have been switching back and forth between Blu-Rays and standard DVDs from title-to-title (depending on what I have available) and haven't noticed much difference in quality. But with something like Wall-E, there differences are dramatic.

- Since Blu-Ray players upconvert and play standard DVDs and player prices are plummeting, if you have the disposable income, there's no real downside to buying a Blu-Ray player. Even the most pessimistic analysts agree that Blu-Ray will be around for at least 5 years. Or, if you don't want to spend the money now, when you next need to buy a DVD player, go for the Blu-Ray.

As I have written in the past, Blu-Ray is not a quantum improvement over DVD as DVD was over VHS. In the latter case, there was a fundamental shift from analog to digital; in the former, it's just more digital information being made available.


I have a 32" LCD. I was comfortable with it until you called it 'small' :D But I do get where you are coming from.

I don't mind buying something and having it go cold. I am still trying to get a LD player even so I can round out my media options on older releases that never made it to DVD, or just got a basic release.

I think after reading everything and all the opinions I feel better about Blu-Ray. I will likely get one when I am settled again. Thanks for all the input! All of it was great!!


Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:02 am
Post Re: Blu-Ray...worth the fuss?
Small?

We have a 32' LCD 720p Vizio in my sons bedroom and a 120" screen for 1080P Sony SXRD front projection in the lounge / kitchen

Everything is relative - The projector option is cheaper than everyone expects

As i said and James agreed. On my son's 32" LCD Blu ray looks great but not a quantum of leap in front of DVD

on the 120" it's no contest

Rob


Fri Feb 20, 2009 4:20 am
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