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Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Discussion Thread


Angry the Clown
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We've brought up issues regarding Blu-Ray and HD-DVD in a Playstation3 thread and also a thread about Sony buying out MGM recently. I figured, especially with Blu Ray becoming spec as part of the PS3, an actual thread dedicated to the discussion of the format may be of some use.

 

My main reason for starting this thread today as that the Blu Ray Association finally have a decent website which can be found here, and a jolly decent website it is too if you're looking for some hard technical mumbo-jumbo on the format specifications. There are a lot of white papers available to download which cover where the format's spec currently sits in regards to video and audio encoding.

 

Most notable links on the site:

Blu-Ray Disc for Movie Distribution

BD-Rom Physical Format Specifications (pdf)

BD-ROM Audio/Visual Application Format Specifications (pdf)

 

 

Interestingly, DTS is noted as Blu Ray's CORE audio format, and whilst the papers still note they are looking into additional advanced codecs, DTS++ (with DTS Lossless support) and Linear PCM as well as Dolby are amongst the current audio specifications.

 

I hope they replace Linear PCM with MLP. Without a compression scheme that a process like MLP offers (without any change in quality), LPCM on its own I think would still waste too much space needlessly.

 

24p is the only progressive encoding resolution noted in the video aspect. The rest all being 60hz interlaced (except for 720p obviously). I'm honestly a bit confused by the whole video spec side of the white paper.

 

 

Daniel

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Boy do I really think this is coming too soon after the acceptance of the DVD format by the mainstream consumer.

 

The ace in the hole is, of course, the PS3, but I still have my doubts that this will do anything but confuse consumers further. VHS ruled the roost for a looong time and DVD hasn't been widely accepted for anywhere near as long. Telling consumers to swap formats again is not something I see being all that popular.

 

I take it the players will be backwards compatible with DVDs at least?

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Awesome idea for a thread, Dan.

 

I take it the players will be backwards compatible with DVDs at least?

 

Yeah, both Blu-Ray and HD-DVD are scheduled to be backwards compatible with DVD.

 

 

Here are links to other Blu-Ray threads here at LCVG that Dan mentioned above:

 

Sony announces Blu-Ray for PS3

Sony nabs MGM

 

And here's a thread regarding Blu-Ray's comeptitor, HD-DVD:

 

HD-DVD to use WM9 codec

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scei5.jpg

 

Someone linked to this at the AVS forum, it's from a presentation at what the slide shows to be the 'Playstation Business Briefing'... You can spot two PSPs in the lower right too..

 

This slide would seem to indicate that the PS3 in its Blu Ray capabilities will have the same reading device found in dedicated Blu Ray players in that it will be able to read Blu Ray discs, DVDs and CDs. It really doesn't look like the PS3 will skimp on what it is able to play back in relation to the dedicated Blu Ray players that it will be released alongside.

 

Dan

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Well that's the confusing thing really. The main progressive encoding they highlight is 1080/24p which is the dream scenario and I am quite happy with it, but the rest as you say is all interlaced at 50 and 60 Hz. Things may change of course.

 

The fact Sony's flagship 1080p projector out at the moment (for 30,000 of your earth dollars) only accepts 1080i input and likes to work under the 24sf [segmented frame] principal before outputing 1080p seems to indicate to me that the Blu Ray group is looking more toward 1080i encoding and leaving the consumer to deinterlace by their own means be it an outboard unit or the deinterlacing built into some TVs and projectors. This is perfectly ok to a certain degree. Encoding the material progressively from the outset would save a lot of issues and need for studios to tinker with the image during mastering. It doesnt take up any more bandwith either.

 

Dan

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Here's a nice quick article I found at The Bits regarding Sony's takeover of the MGM library:

 

http://www.videostoremag.com/news/html/bre...article_ID=6630

 

 

Here's a quick snippet:

 

Both competing next-gen camps are currently in a race to the market. All the studios except Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, owned by Sony, are still on the fence. If Sony is having a hard time convincing a second studio to line up behind it, what better tactic than to buy one, analysts said ? particularly one with as formidable a library as MGM? After all, according to analyst Adams, in DVD?s first year, catalog sales amounted to more than two-thirds of total sales, underscoring the importance of library titles in the early stages of a format launch.

 

With MGM, Sony will command a library of some 8,000 movie titles ? ripe for the next-generation launch, and a gauntlet thrown down to HD-DVD. Still, the latter?s chief public backer, DVD ?father? Warren Lieberfarb, downplays the significance of the MGM-Sony union, pegging the combined catalog market share at less than 20 percent and insisting ?the combination of Sony and MGM still does not have a significant market share in back catalog to create a de facto standard.?

 

According to Video Store Magazine Market Research, however, the combined MGM-Sony catalog would have had the second-biggest market share in DVD library sales in 2003, behind Warner, with 25 percent.

 

There are plenty of skeptics who question Sony?s wisdom in buying MGM for so much money. The Wall Street Journal touted the fact that some analysts believe DVD growth will slow and that eventually the entire packaged media category will fade ?as more viewers turn to movie-on-demand services and run out of old favorite video flicks to replace.?

 

But Sony isn?t oblivious to any of this ? which is why the company is hedging its bets even further. Sony has said it intends to license its movies for a new video-on- demand service and develop channels with Comcast Corp., America?s biggest cable provider.

 

From Videostore Magazine.

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The fact Sony's flagship 1080p projector out at the moment (for 30,000 of your earth dollars) only accepts 1080i input and likes to work under the 24sf [segmented frame] principal before outputing 1080p seems to indicate to me that the Blu Ray group is looking more toward 1080i encoding and leaving the consumer to deinterlace by their own means be it an outboard unit or the deinterlacing built into some TVs and projectors.

 

I don't necessarily have a huge problem with that as long as the 1080i has not been filtered to reduce line twitter. Make that a player feature, do not compromise the picture detail of the software.

 

But really, all 18 of the ATSC formats should be supported...there are cameras out there that capture in formats like 720x480 24p and they should all be supported natively.

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What both competing formats lack right now is studio support, and I think the most important factor above all is for them to find out which format supports the best copy protection scheme.

 

In a recent article with WMV HD's Amir Majidimehr, he talked a tool I thought would be useful when using WMV HD.

 

WSR Reber: What are the protection mechanisms built in to the codec for copy protection? That?s one of the things that the studios are expressing their concern about with red laser and blue laser as a delivery medium for HD.

 

Majidimehr: The codec has no copy protection system built in. We have anoptional component called Windows Media Digital Rights Management (DRM). Once video is compressed, you can run it through our DRM system and the output is encrypted content that can be delivered to consumers either electronically or on a physical disc. It is up to content owners to A) decide to use the copy protection, and many will, as you mentioned; and then B) decide how they will use it. It could be a rental model, permanent use, or it could be free. For example, they could do a promotional disc that could be free for three months. The DVD promotional material we did with BMW films was that way. I believe there was a 90- day license. You didn?t pay for it, but after 90 days, it disappeared. Without that we would never have gotten the rights to that content because BMW films wanted to just do a promotional release for that length of time.

 

The nice thing about Windows Media DRM is that it is very, very flexible. It is not just play or not play like a current DVD. This enables content owners to fine-tune business models to what the consumer wants. They can experiment. They can see what works, what doesn?t work. Unlike the DVD system where it was broken and sort of stayed broken, Windows Media DRM is very resilient and can be renewed and maintained over time. The key is that it opens up a new way of doing things rather than the current structure of doing business with film, which comes out in a tiered approach: first theatres, then rental, pay-per-view, etc. With Windows Media DRM, you can electronically do these things and measure and alter the rights on a daily basis. So maybe you did a 90-day release and it turns out the customers would like 120 days, fine, you can just change that.

 

On the audio side, imagine if a song was available for a promotional timeframe that expired the day it becomes available in stores. With Windows Media DRM that is possible. It is a very, very flexible system and basically designed to enable new ways of enjoying and consuming content. It isn?t just to protect the content; it is designed to actually facilitate new ways of delivering content that can be optimized for what the consumer wants. And a final point that is sometimes missed, DRM enables content to come to you, especially what we call highvalue content. HD material is not content the studios want to see out there freely distributed, because it is basically original masters. You can go make DVDs out of it. You can make anything out of it. It is very high resolution. So, without effective copy protection, that content will never become available. That?s just the way it works. They just spent $200 million making a movie, how do you make that back if the first copy that comes out is the last copy you sell? Ultimately, it?s a means to an end. You want to enjoy some high-fidelity content. It needs to come with proper safeguards so that what you paid for is what you get.

 

Source: Widescreen Review

 

At the time, HD-DVD was the only format that was supporting WMV HD. Now both formats allow that codec into their respective specs.

 

Both competitors have been talking forever now about how their copy protection is ready to go, but I would like to see more of that (and if it is similar to the method mentioned above, or if they plan to go their own route without DRM).

 

EDIT: fixed the line-breaks in the quoted section

RE: EDIT: Thanks Ed!

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Amir posts frequently at the AVS forum. He's always made it clear Microsoft have no say whatsoever in the copy protection scheme of whatever format uses WM9. Both HD-DVD and Blu Ray look set to use the same kind of copy protection schemes in one sense, both based around the AACS encryption scheme. Small article on it here.

 

 

Also, check out page 27 of this pdf from the Blu Ray website which details the kind of encryption system that will be used alongside AACS (AACS which is mainly for protecting content but allowing for it to be transferred to hard discs or network systems in the home...etc). The encryption method noted in the pdf notes the key checking will be in built in the players, so it'll be localised DRM if you will, so no going online to access the right to watch a movie nonsense.

 

Dan

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Just to update. Dolby is in fact the mandatory audio standard for Blu Ray, which is a sensible choice. The DTS 'core format' note on the Blu Ray site is either a misprint or I misunderstood the wording.

 

Dan

 

PS: Rival format HD-DVD has picked Dolby as mandatory along with MLP (2 channel minimum) and as an optional addition, DTS++ for its audio codecs.

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Latest news, 20th Century Fox has joined the BDA Association. Before we all fall off our seats, this means they've joined the Board of Directors of the BDA in the hope to influence aspects over the specifications of the Blu Ray format.

 

It should be noted Fox did exactly the same with the DVD Forum regarding HD-DVD, however, the DVD Forum rejected Fox's entry onto the actual steering committee board meaning on the board at BDA they would actually have a far greater degree of say in discussion about advances for the format.

 

There?s a small article at Videobusiness Online here. You need to register, but it?s free to do so. Highly recommended site, it?s one I've been going to for industry news for years now.

 

Dan

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Fox's Official press release can be read here.

 

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment President, Mike Dunn, added, "We look forward to the eventual completion of specifications that will result in a high-definition format with an attractive cost structure similar to current DVD production, within a secure environment with value-added features and interactivity well beyond that offered by today's DVD format."

 

With quotes like that, I'd say it's fairly likely the eventual result will be software support. We shall of course have to wait and see.

 

Dan

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Blu-Ray seems to be jumping ahead of HD-DVD every day.

 

I was reading a thread on another forum where some of the members attended a Blu-Ray demo. All of them were extremely impressed.

 

I'm wondering with the timetable release of the PS3 and the initial Blu-Ray price point being around $1000, where will the price of the PS3 fall? Maybe in the $300 range with an expensive add-on to play Blu-Ray movies?

 

Also, my HDTV has analog component only. I think Blu-Ray will be an expensive upgrade for me, if I haven't already done so when the players are launched. (Or they make DVI/HDMI to component converters, something I highly doubt happens).

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I'm wondering with the timetable release of the PS3 and the initial Blu-Ray price point being around $1000, where will the price of the PS3 fall? Maybe in the $300 range with an expensive add-on to play Blu-Ray movies?

 

I?m not sure they could do that you know. The main component is the drive itself, and the laser that is able to read BD-Rom, DVD and CD media. I really think it?s going to be default in the PS3 (the ability to play movie discs may of course be similar to the way Xbox?s demand the remote/dongle purchase mind you), but an add-on of some kind seems rather impossible.

 

Having blu-ray in the PS3 is a rather shocking display of confidence that they can get the technology down to a fairly acceptable price by the time of launch. I?ve very interested to see how it all pans out.

 

Dan

 

 

PS: I'd try not to get too concerned just yet about there being no HD stream over a component output on the hardware. The amount of installed HDTV owners with such inputs, and CRT projector owners are so many that it would be phenomenally stupid to restrict them access. It would defy logic.

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the ability to play movie discs may of course be similar to the way Xbox?s demand the remote/dongle purchase mind you

 

That's what I was thinking they may do (take the XBOX route).

 

It would defy logic.

 

It would. *crosses fingers*

 

Im not too concerned as I might upgrade my display by that time anyway. I would just like to be able to use it on analog component if the need arises. As Im sure all the other millions of "early" adopters (which would be anyone who purchased an HDTV over a year ago) who have no HDMI or DVI inputs!

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  • 2 weeks later...

There's been a whole lot of scare mongering going on in the home theatre press and on various forums regarding DRM and various forms of content protection that will feature on Blu Ray discs.

 

Richard Doherty, who is the managing director of Blu Ray for Panasonic has been posting on the AVS Forum frequently and finally slammed all reports people would have to have their players connected to the internet or dial a number to activate the disc's content:

 

"Let me confirm that we fully intend to preserve the existing DVD model: That you can always put the disc in the slot and watch the movie, even if you never hook your player to the net. Obviously, portable players are a significant product line for us.

 

There may be additional features that might require internet connection, and not all of them involve commerce, such as downloading additional subtitle tracks, and many others."

 

Daniel

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  • 1 month later...

Toshiba today was happy to boast HD-DVD support from no fewer than four major Hollywood studios; Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers and New Line (I don't even need to tell you what titles they can bring to launch the format).

 

There are conflicting reports as to whether these studios are now bound exclusively to HD-DVD however, with some suggesting they are still free to put content to Blu Ray as well. Either way, this is truly about to get worse for the consumer before it gets better.

 

http://olympics.reuters.com/audi/newsArtic...storyID=6940952

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2004/Nov/1096898.htm

 

It is still widely felt Disney is more drawn to HD-DVD as well, though they have yet to say anything on the matter.

 

CES is coming up in January. I think both the HD-DVD and Blu Ray groups are going to have to put on big shows at the event, and HD-DVD REALLY needs to stop messing around and publicly announce whatever its copy protection schemes are (it's audio and video codec support is fine).

 

Daniel

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In a slight update, with supporting studios being more outspoken about their decision, Universal certainly seems to have picked a side without any question of hovering between the two formats:

 

"We will let the consumer be our guide, but right now we do not plan to release product in Blu-ray," Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau said. "Our priority is HD DVD."

-- from Videobusiness Online's article

 

Universal, along with Paramount, have made it clear what won them was the cheap cost. Curiously their comments when asked about why they are supporting HD-DVD right now was a stock response of ?its cheap and with good copy protection.? That?s all well and good, but none took the time to then note how their decision benefits consumers. They really had next to nothing to say about enhanced features of image/sound quality playing a principal role in their decision.

 

An so it goes on?

 

Dan

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They really had next to nothing to say about enhanced features of image/sound quality playing a principal role in their decision.

 

Perhaps because the formats are generally looked at as comparable (not equal) in those areas. Therefore, it isn't a leap to choose the more cost-effective route at this preliminary stage. Should one format take off in the market, I'm sure all studios will hop unless bound legally to not do so.

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