Editor's Note: Each Friday, High-Def Digest's own HD Advisor will answer a new round of questions from our readers. If you have home theater questions you need answered, send an email to HDanswers@gmail.com.
Answers by Joshua Zyber
Restoring Older Movies
Q: I recently bought the Blu-ray for one of my favorite monster movies, 'Gojira'. I'd seen the original Japanese version on DVD and really loved it, so I was excited when I saw the movie at Best Buy for $12.99 and I snatched it up. Now, I understand the damage the original print suffered during post production, but it looked like the new transfer wasn't much of an improvement at all. I'm glad I bought it, because I didn't have a copy before, but it doesn't look like a lot was done to the new -- if it was new -- print. My question is if a movie with as much damage as 'Gojira' can be cleaned up for a Blu-ray release, or would it just be cost prohibitive to do a restoration of a film with this much original damage? Or was Classic Media just lazy and greedy in releasing this transfer?
A: The answer is most likely some combination of all those options. Unfortunately, the film elements for many older movies, especially foreign movies of a certain age, were often not stored or treated as well as they should have been. Any damage those elements have suffered over the years may be permanently ingrained into the movie. A full-blown restoration would require the rights-holders to compile the best bits and pieces from the camera negative and surviving prints to assemble a copy with the least amount of damage. Photochemical processes and digital clean-up may then be performed to correct any imperfections.
This is typically a time-consuming and expensive process. How far the studio is willing to go with this is usually determined by what resources they have at their disposal and how high their sales expectations may be. For example, a major studio like Warner Bros. can afford to pull out all the stops for a sure-fire seller like 'The Wizard of Oz'. However, a smaller studio like Classic Media may not necessarily be guaranteed that a perfect restoration of 'Gojira' would ever recoup their investment. As such, they try to make the best with what they've got.
Further, Classic Media is just the license holder for 'Gojira' in the United States. They do not own the film elements. Those are held by the original production studio, Toho Co., Ltd. Classic Media is forced to work with whatever quality of source that Toho provides them. In most cases like this, the original foreign studio strikes the video master and simply gives it to the American licensee, who will author it onto a disc with English menus and subtitles. The licensee may not have any control over the film-to-video transfer at all.
Squeaking Noise from TV Speakers
Q: I have a bit of an issue with my home theater set up. I have a Samsung LN-46A650 television, a Sony STR-DG720 receiver, a Sony BPD-S560 Blu-ray player, and a Philips DVP5960 Region-Free up-converting DVD Player for my main hookups. My issue is that whenever I switch components on my receiver (i.e. Blu-ray to DVD player), my television's speakers let out a loud intermittent squeak every few seconds. The problem fixes itself once I have a disc playing or I shut my receiver off and then turn it back on. I have tried switching inputs on the TV and receiver and also trying different HDMI cables and there is no change. Is this an issue with my TV or my receiver?
A: I'm going to assume that you have everything connected by HDMI. It also sounds like you have your disc players connected first to the receiver, and then out from the receiver to the TV (which is generally the best option). Does your TV have a setting that will disable audio on the HDMI input? Does this still happen if you mute the volume on your receiver before switching from one source to another?
When all else fails, your best bet is the process of elimination. Disconnect everything and then reconnect one component at a time until you discover exactly what combination of elements is causing the issue.
Q: I've been thinking about buying a projector for my home-theater, but I have a doubt that really concerns me. How do I know what the projection area will be? In others words, how big will my screen be? As far as I know, there is a rule for projectors that, once the distance between the projector and the screen has been determined, one could not adjust the size of the projection, because the picture would get correctly focused on screen. How can I know if, for example, putting my projector 15 feet away from the screen, will I get a 50', 60' or 90' screen?
A: Most modern home theater projectors have separate zoom and focus controls. Once you've mounted the projector, you can zoom to make the image larger or smaller. The lens should allow you to dial in proper focus at any size within the zoom range.
In order to determine how large an image you can project, you need to know the projector's throw range and zoom ratio. Most manufacturers provide projection calculators on their web sites. If you can't find that, try looking up the model at Projector Central. Using the projection calculator, you can enter your distance from screen and determine how large an image you will project at any zoom setting.
Some questions that the HD Advisor receives are best answered with a consensus of opinions from our readers. If you can help to answer the following question, please post your response in our forum thread linked at the end of this article. Your advice and opinions matter too!
Q: I recently re-did my family room into a multi-purpose media room, and I've come across an issue that I cannot seem to solve. When I am listening to anything, be it audio or film, when I am adjusting the volume I get feedback. I have an Onkyo TX-SR 875 and when adjusting the volume I get a "bump" sound through the sub-woofer, on every .5 increment. So imagine the volume rapidly increasing or decreasing, there is a rapid thump. Now I'm not sure if this is worth mentioning, but I ran dedicated power (20 amp circuit) for the Onkyo thinking that I would not get issues like this, but alas it was not to be. All cables were custom made and buzzed to ensure there would be no shorts in the cables. My speaker system consists of Athena Technologies (an API Company) S3 and P3 Series of speakers. Not sure if you are familiar with these speakers but they are modular. The S3 and P3 can be attached (via Ni-Cad railings) and run in full range, or be separated and run as, well, separates. Which means that I am running 2 subs. Now the Onkyo only having the one sub output makes me wonder if splitting it may in fact be the issue. I have tried bypassing cables, running the cables away from line voltage cables, I just cannot solve this and I hope you will be able to offer a solution.
Check back soon for another round of answers. Keep those questions coming.
Joshua Zyber's opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of this site, its owners or employees.