Re: [Frameworks] The Digital Video Exhibition Problem: And An Offer To Address It

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Sun Dec 05 2010 - 15:18:43 PST

I'm not talking about Blu-Ray.

> David - that does indeed work, assuming a dead-compatible player. Before folks get too over the moon though, it's NOT blu-ray quality, though it is a BD spec. I can't remember the bandwidth limitation, but I think significantly below the max for Blu-Ray (though still way beyond, say, AppleTV and many time over any current streaming spec.). Think about the motion and shadow artifacting that you see on commercial Blu-Rays (it's far better than DVDs, yes, but still a problem with challenging material) - it's visibly worse with the HD-on-DVDR workflow. Though still better than the equivalents on an SD DVD.

I have no idea what you mean by "NOT blu-ray quality, though it is a BD spec." There is no fixed 'Blu-Ray quality'. Blu-Ray discs can be authored with different resolutions (e.g. 720P or 1080P), different bit-rates, even different codecs (MPEG-2). Within any specific set of these parameters, different technologies used to achieve them will yield different results. 'Bandwidth' (by which I assume you mean bit-rate) is only indicative of quality if all other things are constant, which they aren't, and besides, there's a point of diminishing returns and the maximum rates are defined to provide cushion for the future and so are impractically high. E.g. if you set your DVD to encode at the maximum bit-rate available within the DVD spec, it will almost certainly skip in any common player. If you check the presets in Compressor or iDVD or any other software package that generally produces acceptable results, you'll see they're quite conservative.

If you put a limited amount of HD on a DVD-5, and it looks noticeably worse than a commercial Blu-Ray, that is due either to the fact that the commercial disk started with a better quality source, or you made the DVD-5 the wrong way. For example, you can create a Blu-Ray on DVD-5 disc from pretty much any HD Quicktime file in Toast, but it is likely to have lots of artifacts. This is a product of the method Toast employs, not the limits of the Blu-Ray format, or the max data rates of recordable DVD5s.

Now, a thorough understanding of all this tech stuff is going to be beyond many makers, programmers, etc. But the process CAN be simplified if someone figures out practical methods that work, tests them out, and turns them into "do exactly this" prescriptions in common language.

> I'll end my anti-round-disc diatribe with this and then fall silent: in multi-maker exhibition situations i've found DVDs (and by extension Blu-Ray) incredibly awkward on a physical level (cueing, loading, unloading, etc.) as well as the previously stated objections.
I agree that optical discs are physically awkward when several are involved in a single program. But then so is 16mm film. The point is that a) exhibitors ought to offer makers several options, b) optical discs ought to be one of these because they're relatively cheap to make and easy to mail c) if something better than SD-DVD is available in that media (and it is) it ought to be employed. And just because something gets sent to you on an optical disc doesn't mean you have to play it back from that piece of physical media. 
The kind of comprehensive solution I would propose would include the HD-on-DVD5 thing, but that would only be one part of it.
> And my experience does not bear out the claim of reliability for a well-authored DVD even on the best media (though it's just as often the players or drives that prove wonky).
Uh, I said it makes no sense to trash DVD sui generis for problems created by bad encoding, bad media, bad burning and bad players. If you are going to screen 16mm prints, you need to know whether your projector is working properly or not. If you are going to screen DVD+/-R discs, you need to know if your player can handle properly prepared discs. But, again, here is something people don't know. If they have some device that plays commercial DVDs, they figure they should be able to pop any old disc they get sent in there and have it play. It doesn't work that way.
In acknowledging that HD video can be written to standard DVD blanks, you added the caveat, "assuming a dead-compatible player". Well, why would any screening venue have anything BUT a "dead-compatible player"? Because they don't know the difference. Because no one has ever told them exactly what they need. Because they've never asked. (Or maybe they asked someone who didn't really know...)
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