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HD-DVD to Blu-Ray
April 24, 2009 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Did you guess wrong about which format would win the high-density disk war? Buy a lot of HD-DVDs? Warner Brothers has a special program now where they'll swap your WB HD-DVDs for Blu-Rays of the same titles for $5 each.

You don't even have to send in the disks. They want the cover art from the package as proof-of-purchase.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (50 comments total)

 
I chose usenet, the winner is me.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:06 PM on April 24, 2009 [20 favorites]


Doesn't seem all that "special". How much is their unit cost per disc? I assume they'll send it out in a Netflix style envelope so packaging costs will be minimal.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:12 PM on April 24, 2009


It's more special than doing nothing. Which was another option.
posted by smackfu at 11:18 PM on April 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


Or, if you're running an HTPC, you could have it both ways without the hassle of spending extra money.
posted by vanadium at 11:29 PM on April 24, 2009


It's more special than doing nothing. Which was another option.

That is so Mr. Rogers.
posted by dirigibleman at 11:57 PM on April 24, 2009


Classy. (Seriously, w/o snark.)
posted by effugas at 12:04 AM on April 25, 2009


smackfu: "It's more special than doing nothing. Which was another option."

dirigibleman: "That is so Mr. Rogers."

Indeed. But the question that I feel needs to be asked is, why are they doing this? Big companies like WB aren't necessarily known for their altruistic attitudes towards the consumer. Anyone know what angle they're playing here, beyond the surface of good ol' fashioned PR?
posted by Effigy2000 at 12:08 AM on April 25, 2009


Physical media? Aw!!! Cute!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:12 AM on April 25, 2009 [10 favorites]


Anyone know what angle they're playing here, beyond the surface of good ol' fashioned PR?

Some consumers bought HD-DVDs and the players to go with them, but they don't have Blu-Ray players. These people now have a reason to buy Blu-Ray players and thus will be purchasing more WB Blu-Ray releases in future.
posted by ODiV at 12:12 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


And if you're sick of paying extra for the Blu-ray license, there's always CH-DVD.
posted by armage at 12:14 AM on April 25, 2009


I'm still holding out for Betamax to gain its rightful lion's share of the market.
posted by clearly at 12:32 AM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm still holding out for Betamax to gain its rightful lion's share of the market.

It did. Mostly in the broadcast video market. Betacam SP was the standard for years. Granted Betacam isn't actually backwards compatible with Betamax because it's a different system. Basically the same tapes, though.

And I just got done looking at Blu-Ray arcana for two hours. I'm going to be looking at even more useless tape physical media formats until dawn, damnit.
posted by loquacious at 1:05 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Loq, it's good to know that I'm not the only one who lurks around that area of Wikipedia - which is how I discovered the French started HD broadcasts in 1949
posted by jtron at 1:15 AM on April 25, 2009


The prettiest dead form so far?


The Videodisc.

They're 12"-plus skinny cartridges with big ol' cover art, inside which are record-sized iridescent black disks. I have a stack, the only one I won't discard the cartridge for is Blade Runner. The disks are gonna be a ginormous light fixture.

Bluray's only real fun feature is if it develops cool interactive ways of moving within the text. Anybody played and DVD-based games on a Bu-Ray disk? Share?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:22 AM on April 25, 2009


I knew Blu-Ray's comparatively larger storage would help win the geeks over.

I'm still waiting for a 50GB archival Blu-Ray recordable disc to come out, though. They're up to 25GB now, and I've been tracking the progress of a group using Te-O-Pd for a film. They think they'll get well over a century with 100GB discs. I'm hoping they can make the ISO 18927:2002 scene. Yeah, I've got some chunkity datasets I'd just like to offload onto matched triads of static discs so I can get them off of spinning platters.

No, it's not that I plan to be around that long (barring some unlikely technology or the vampyres finally taking notice of the quality of my Twilight fanfic EDWARD IF YOU CAN HEAR ME I LOVE YOU!!!!), it's that, if you have a lot of discs, and they last a long time, you've got a better shot at being able to hump them over to the next largest storage format without error than you do with a bunch of cheaper discs which can make ten years, tops.

This is pretty nice of Warner Brothers, but as was mentioned upthread, whatever there is in this for them is not immediately obvious. I don't think brand loyalty is it. Unless it's some hard-won release of a generally unloved horror flick by Anchor Bay, I don't know who made a given disc. I doubt many other consumers do, either.

Now, mind you, I think what came out of high-definition video discs of one stripe or another is failure. In basic American style, we just got MORE. More definition, without some really kick-ass features that could have developed. Here's one off the top of my head: composite audio track. Imagine, if you will, an audio track for your film that was broken down into dialogue, foley, and score. Now, this wouldn't be available for everything, but just think about it. Baby sleeping? Let's notch those explosions down. Hearing going? Dialogue up. You're watching Basic Instinct, and you can hardly bear the level at which they introduced the Jerry Goldsmith score into the mix? Drop that puppy down to tolerable levels. I can think of three or four more features, quickly, and I'm not a particularly creative person.

Instead, what we got was the magical power to see people's pores. Yay.
posted by adipocere at 1:34 AM on April 25, 2009 [17 favorites]


Physical media is so 20th Century.
posted by GavinR at 2:29 AM on April 25, 2009


I want physical copies of my movies, with packaging and stuff. All I really want on them is the best picture and sound quality possible, maybe a commentary track if the director can extemporize in an entertaining or informative way.

Just tonight I brought home a copy of The Wrestler on blu-ray which I snatched up for $20 (Canadian). I spread it out with my other blu-rays and just sort of marvelled at the amount and quality of entertainment spread out before me. I seriously was inspired for a moment thinking about how much art, science, and passion comes together to make a film and what it says about humanity that we've come far enough to have things like blu-ray and the Radeon 4870X2.

/hugs PC
posted by autodidact at 2:40 AM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


If they did the same thing for regular DVDs I'd buy a blu-ray player tomorrow, or more likely a PS3, loves me some Little Big Planet.
posted by minifigs at 2:58 AM on April 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


Did you bring the wrong caliber bullets to your own execution? We have a deal for you!
posted by srboisvert at 3:17 AM on April 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


GavinR: "Physical media is so 20th Century."

It's always physical somewhere. If it's not on a BluRay/DVD/CD then its physically stored on your harddrive. I don't bother buying DVDs anymore since I have netflix but I still like to own the CDs of music that I buy since it's basically an instant backup.
posted by octothorpe at 5:10 AM on April 25, 2009


I can exchange one kind of crap for another kind of crap! Whooppeee.

Can't wait until all these guys go out of business.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:46 AM on April 25, 2009


And if you're way behind the curve you can get a VHS/Blu-ray player.
posted by stavrogin at 6:14 AM on April 25, 2009 [4 favorites]


It's obvious what they get out of this - discs cost nothing to produce, so even $5 a pop is a profit.
posted by saysthis at 6:20 AM on April 25, 2009


I may have guessed incorrectly but I would have never have ever have guessed wrong ever.
posted by tellurian at 6:24 AM on April 25, 2009


People still pay for content?
posted by signal at 6:57 AM on April 25, 2009


I brought home a copy of The Wrestler on blu-ray which I snatched up for $20 (Canadian).

I saw one for C$15 yesterday.

Can't wait until all these guys go out of business.

Movie studios? You can't wait for movie studios to go out of business? Weird. I like movies.

I can't believe people are complaining about this. I don't own a Blu Ray player (or a standard player or tv), but this is a tremendous move on WB's part. Hopefully the other studios will follow suit.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:19 AM on April 25, 2009


Wikipedia's description of CH-DVD is interesting:
There are some similarities between CBHD and the DVD Forum's HD DVD format, however the video compression and copy protection will be different.

In fact, CH-DVD (or CBHD or whatever they're calling it now) is HD-DVD with new software to use non-royalty codecs. In at least one case Toshiba is just reprogramming and repackaging their HD-DVD players as a CH-DVD players. Why? They can keep selling their old players, and Warner Brothers can sell really cheap HD disks in China to compete with the pirates without having to worry about these disks making it to the US where presumably all the HD players will be BluRay.
posted by eye of newt at 7:21 AM on April 25, 2009


I don't see the point of High Def or Blue Ray when it comes to some black and white classics
such as Casablanca or The Beast of Yucca Flats. I watch these films for the love of them. They were always clear to me back then and they still are now. I've watched several of my old classic films in High Def and all it did was point out the flaws in the film.
posted by doctorschlock at 7:22 AM on April 25, 2009


Oh, I see the program is only open to USA'ns.

FUCK WB! I hope you go out of business you capitalist assholes!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:27 AM on April 25, 2009


I've watched several of my old classic films in High Def and all it did was point out the flaws in the film.

Hmm? The original film versions were closer in quality to the high-def version than to the low-res TV version you grew up watching.
posted by smackfu at 7:53 AM on April 25, 2009


"I don't see the point of High Def or Blue Ray when it comes to some black and white classics such as Casablanca..."

Because the amount of information on a well preserved (or well restored) analog film is staggering. As analog film data density isn't easy to calculate, you can look at the digital cinema standards as an indication of what the studios consider minimum standards for substitute of film. The link has more detail, but 2048×1080 and 4096×2160 need to be supported for a compliant projector.
posted by fydfyd at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not actually $5... $4.95 + $6.95 (s&h) = $11.90, still a good deal, but nowhere near AS good.
posted by Huck500 at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2009


And classic films in high def are amazing... I recommend How the West Was Won in the weird Cinerama aspect ratio on a BIG tv... killer.
posted by Huck500 at 8:31 AM on April 25, 2009


DVD is good enough.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 AM on April 25, 2009


HD is a huge improvement over standard DVD. It's not just resolution, but also a marked improvement in color reproduction. Of course, you can't even properly represent film grain on standard DVDs, where it just looks like so much digital noise, but it can look gorgeous on a Blu-ray Disc that hasn't had the life flattened out of it in somebody's de-noising suite.

All this "I watch movies because I love them; therefore DVD is plenty good enough for me" I hear every so often sounds to me like a proclamation from backwards-land. HD is revelatory. I was flipping channels the other day and came across TO CATCH A THIEF on one of the HD movie channels. I had to stop, mouth hanging open, to take in how otherworldly gorgeous this thing looked in my living room. A little later, I came across LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, a film I've never even bothered to look at on TV after seeing a 70mm film restoration many years ago. It didn't look as good as 70mm film, but it looked pretty amazing. And this is bandwidth-starved cable TV. The Blu-rays will look quite a lot better.

I was very happy with a 27-inch TV and a sizable laserdisc collection for quite a few years. But these days, it's a great time to have a big TV. (Also, I'm swapping out my HD DVD of THE SEARCHERS for a Blu-ray post-haste.) Too bad Universal isn't doing the same or I could pick up THE THING and THE FRIGHTENERS in the same batch. Already sold off my HD DVD copy of THE WILD BUNCH. God I love this stuff.
posted by Joey Bagels at 9:18 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joey: That sounds more like the rare sigh of relief that your purchase of an HDTV and the cable package to go with it wasn't a total waste.

It was.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:37 AM on April 25, 2009


I watched 'Lolita' in HD. Same movie, but many shots of boom mikes and casts shadows that I never noticed before. Oh and you tech. purist...I was joking about the clarity of watching Tor Johnson in 'The Beast of Yucca Flats'. Not all classic films were from BIG STUDIOS so the HD standard just sharpens the blurr. What would improve 'Plan 9 from Outer Space'..Blue Ray or HD?
posted by doctorschlock at 10:00 AM on April 25, 2009


composite audio track. Imagine, if you will, an audio track for your film that was broken down into dialogue, foley, and score. Now, this wouldn't be available for everything, but just think about it. Baby sleeping? Let's notch those explosions down. Hearing going? Dialogue up.

I'm a little behind on acquiring new fangled technology like blu-ray, and all that, but I thought the technology already existed to do the above. Can't you increase the volume of the dialogue by just boosting the level of your center channel on a good surround sound receiver? I guess that's dependent on the particular mix of the film you're watching. But dialogue is pretty much always in the center channel, unless it's a Robert Altman film.

As to whether DVD is good enough or not... Has anyone really considered whether Blu-Ray is good enough? I mean sure it looks great and all, but whereas they used to master films in HD to downsample it for DVD, they're now mastering and restoring them in 4K (4096p compared to 1080p I guess) for downsampling to HD. How long will it be before all the HD displays are rendered obsolete by shiny new 4K displays and media players? 10 years? How many more times are you willing to buy The Godfather?
posted by wabbittwax at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


All this "I watch movies because I love them; therefore DVD is plenty good enough for me" I hear every so often sounds to me like a proclamation from backwards-land. HD is revelatory.

My vision sucks (I can't be corrected to 20/20 even with glasses) and so I'm in the "DVD is good enough for me" camp. I honestly just can't -- can't see the difference between DVD and HD. HD looks ... a little brighter, maybe. I was killing time in Best Buy with my husband a few weeks ago as we waited for an oil change to be completed, and he was enthusing over HD TVs ... this one's so sharp, look at the colors, etc.

I just don't see what he's talking about. Obviously its me. But HD isn't all that for everyone.
posted by anastasiav at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2009


How long will it be before all the HD displays are rendered obsolete by shiny new 4K displays and media players?

It's not really that simple. We're already at the point where 720p and 1080p are indistinguishable at smaller screen sizes at typical viewing distances. 4096p has the same problem multiplied. Sure it will look awesome from 2" away, but at 8', you won't be able to even tell a difference. It only really matters when you blow the image up to the size of a movie theater that you might need that much resolution.

My vision sucks (I can't be corrected to 20/20 even with glasses) and so I'm in the "DVD is good enough for me" camp.

The other factor here is that DVD is a lot better than broadcast SD television. You are getting 480p widescreen, compared to broadcast 4:3 that probably is only 360-400p after it's letterboxed.
posted by smackfu at 11:34 AM on April 25, 2009


Playstation 3 + external USB storage + alt.binaries.hdtv.x264 + Matroska to MP4 transcoding software for the win.
posted by porn in the woods at 11:44 AM on April 25, 2009


External USB storage for the PS3 is limited to file sizes 4GB and under, though.

Me, I'd rather have 1920x1080x16 bits per color channel than 4096 x whatever.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on April 25, 2009


It's not really that simple. We're already at the point where 720p and 1080p are indistinguishable at smaller screen sizes at typical viewing distances. 4096p has the same problem multiplied. Sure it will look awesome from 2" away, but at 8', you won't be able to even tell a difference. It only really matters when you blow the image up to the size of a movie theater that you might need that much resolution.

The way to actually think of it is in terms of how much of your field of view is taken up by the screen, rather then size of the screen.
posted by delmoi at 12:22 PM on April 25, 2009


Another issue to think about is framerate. Lots of films are shot at 24 fps, but there isn't really any reason to do so. People who think that 30fps is indistinguishable from anything faster are crazy. A real 120 fps progressive scan display (rather then just interpolated frames) would be much nicer then one that only works with 30 or 60 fps. I don't know how fast they need to get before they become totally indistinguishable from faster rates though.
posted by delmoi at 12:25 PM on April 25, 2009


But dialogue is pretty much always in the center channel, unless it's a Robert Altman film.

I laughed at this. Then I thought about it. Then I laughed again.
posted by rokusan at 7:24 PM on April 25, 2009


How long will it be before all the HD displays are rendered obsolete by shiny new 4K displays and media players? 10 years? How many more times are you willing to buy The Godfather?

Just when I think I'm out...
posted by rokusan at 7:25 PM on April 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


What am I going to do with all these motherfuckiung ZIP Disks??
posted by joelf at 8:42 AM on April 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


That sounds more like the rare sigh of relief that your purchase of an HDTV and the cable package to go with it wasn't a total waste.

Did you see where I mentioned that I have a large laserdisc collection? Movies went for $40-$50 each; $100-$125 for the nice Criterion discs with extras. So I'm not exactly sweating my HDTV investment, though I have put the brakes on my Blu-ray acquisitions now that I have a sizable-enough library of good movies to fuel weekly movie nights with friends. Great movies, sadly, are still few and far between on Blu-ray, though Criterion is going a long way toward improving that with stunning releases like Chungking Express, The Third Man, and Last Year at Marienbad. Well, technically that last one is presumably stunning, since it isn't out yet. But just thinking about the fact that I can walk into the next room at any moment and start watching freaking Chungking Express in fairly stunning quality makes me happy.

(And I still have many of my laserdiscs. I've killed two cheapo players in 17 years, but I just bought a really nice Pioneer CLD-D703 laserdisc player on eBay for $40 (!) to start the long process of digitizing all the stuff that still isn't available on DVD.)
posted by Joey Bagels at 9:15 AM on April 26, 2009


What am I going to do with all these motherfuckiung ZIP Disks??

For my media studies degree in post production I was told I had to aquire a Jaz disk for storing my end of year project on. All the Silicon Graphix workstations at my college had a Jaz drive attached and it wasn't the 1Gb storage space that impressed me, or the rugged durable design, it was when I was told that Jaz discs were invented to hold the interchangeable topographical targeting data necessary for cruise missiles.

(also, I'm a closet laserdisc fan and wish I still had the original remastered Star Wars trilogy on those big ol' discs)
posted by Molesome at 9:10 AM on April 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Freakin' Betamax vs. VHS bullshit. I chose Betamax and lost... so I stayed out of the hd dvd race entirely.
posted by PuppyCat at 10:42 AM on April 27, 2009


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