It’s All About the Numbers, Baby

You will never see this in 1080pSorry for the late post today; there still isn’t much news to report, other than that thing where “Avatar” continues to make lots and lots of money. Good for James Cameron, I guess, but not so great for the megaplexes of 2012, which will be stuffed full of mo-cap fantasy cash-ins that won’t be half as well-designed or entertaining. And seventy percent of them will have Robert Zemeckis as an executive producer.

I direct your attention instead to Dave Kehr’s fine video column in yesterday’s New York Times, on the├é┬áchallenge facing studios looking to move their older titles to Blu-ray. It’s a piece I’ve been waiting for someone like Dave to write; my MSN column doesn’t exactly offer me the same platform, you know?

Not complaining, mind you. Just stating a fact …

2 thoughts on “It’s All About the Numbers, Baby”

  1. Hmmm… I wish I could see the value in the Dave Kehr article that you see. It reads like any other furrowed-brow Blu-ray piece.

    1). His assertion that the internet will give Blu-ray a run for its money is a recycled sound-byte from the days of illegal downloads. It hasn’t killed off DVDs/video, nor has Pay-per-view. Nor has rentals halted their sales. They were all just another way to watch movies in the comfort of our home, and the coexistance of Blu-ray, the internet and Netflix will be no different.

    2). I’m wondering which Blu-rays Kehr has watched if he truly believes the improvement of quality is a detriment to older B/W films. Has he tried watching a DVD and a Blu-ray of such a film for comparisons sake? The contrast on a Blu-ray is far less blurry than on a DVD.

    3). Did anyone complain about the DVDs (or videotapes) in general when you could see specks and scratches on older films in those formats? I doubt it. Does Kehr seriously prefer watching consistently blemished films on DVD over the occassional flaws on a Blu-ray?

    4). Regarding the expense in restoration, he makes a good point. But this has always been the case. It’s not like anything has changed with the advent of Blu-ray. They’ll get to the obscure titles once the market for the famous films has saturated.

  2. Hi,Atyl,

    Thanks for your comments, but I don’t think you read my piece very closely. I cant’ find the part where I say “the internet will give Blu-ray a run for its money” — I say that Blu-ray, being marginally harder to download, will probably be pirate resistant for at least a while longer. The whole industry is gearing up for a changeover to VOD downloads, which will happen as soon as the studios can agree on a technology. Not much we can do about that — it’s in everyone’s interest (even for those in search of rare and obscure films) for that to happen, for reasons that should be obvious.

    It’s not that I don’t prefer watching well engineered Blu-rays of classic films over the DVDs — it’s just, as I said in the piece, that you need a high quality source to begin with and then be willing to spend a lot of money (quite a bit in the case of the Warner’s “GWTW” and “Wizard of Oz” discs”) on transferring that material to Blu-ray. Things like misalignments in color registration, which barely showed up on DVD, are glaringly obvious on Blu-ray, and flaws like that are very expensive to correct.

    Personally, I’m not obsessed with image quality, and I’m glad to have rare films available in any form in which they come down to me. My point, which you seem to have missed entirely, is that Blu-ray is raising the standards for releasing older films artificially high, and that fewer and fewer classic films will be released in the format — something that’s already evident on the studio release schedules. There’s no reason to think that “they’ll get to the obscure titles once the market for the famous films has been saturated” — not least because the studios barely got into obscure titles on DVD.

    Norm, thanks for the shout-out and I hope all is well with you and your lovely wife!

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