Weekend Roundtable: Favorite Blu-ray Demo Scenes

The random tangents we tend to stray down here in the blog aside, High-Def Digest is primarily a Blu-ray focused site. As Blu-ray reviewers (most of us), and more importantly as home theater junkies like most of you, we have a battery of favorite demo scenes we like to bring out to show off our Blu-ray and home theater gear to family and friends. In this week’s Roundtable, we offer up some of our suggestions.

This week, our Blu-ray reviewer M. Enois Duarte (we call him “E.”) joins us for the Roundtable.

Josh Zyber

You’re going to see a lot of science fiction on this list. That’s only natural. Demo scenes aren’t about story, dialogue or performances. They’re all about eye and ear candy, and it stands to reason that big budget sci-fi flicks often make the best use of sparkly high-definition video and slamming multi-channel audio. My favorite demo is perhaps a touch obvious. It’s a classic chestnut, but one that never fails to please. Of course, it’s the Leeloo-jumps-off-a-building scene in ‘The Fifth Element‘. The scene’s candy-colored photography, elaborate CGI cityscapes, and whizzing surround sound make for a fantastic Blu-ray demo every time. And Milla Jovovich in a dress made out of Ace bandages isn’t too hard on the eyes either. Just be sure you get the remastered edition, which is an order of magnitude better than the disastrous first Blu-ray released as one the format’s earliest titles.

Luke Hickman

This one is easy. I use the opening sequence to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 ‘Star Trek‘. Everything about it resonates the reason why we love high definition. The extraordinary detail of the special effects in that sequence is exquisite in HD. You can see light reflect off the tiniest, insignificant pieces of debris โ€“ and there are thousands of them, each uniquely textured and detailed. The perfectly mixed sound (and sometimes lack of sound) is well used. It starts off loud and chaotic, but slowly fades out until all we hear is Michael Giacchino’s iconic score while intense images flash on screen. The score-induced silence draws a strong emotional response during a wildly intense action scene. Every HD pessimist has been silenced upon seeing that sequence in high definition. Cutting back and forth between two simultaneously running video inputs on Blu-ray and DVD truly shows off vast difference between standard and high definition.

M. Enois Duarte

I’m a little hard-pressed deciding on only one demo disc, and have been mulling over the question for a while. If there’s one thing HT hobbyists with projectors love to do, it’s show off their equipment to any willing participant. Personally, I use a large variety of scenes from many different movies. Being really big on audio, I tend to stick with sequences that have the best surround sound and bass. My immediate choices are arguably obvious. ‘War of the Worlds‘ takes top spot because without question, there’s nothing out there on Blu-ray with such authoritative and frightening low-frequency effects. But in the end, I’m going to have to go with ‘Pearl Harbor‘.

That’s right, the infamously horrible blockbuster disaster from Michael Bay is the one movie I find myself using over and over again to demo my system. With the awful Ben Affleck and a mawkishly whiny Josh Hartnett as two feuding brothers embarrassingly pining over a gorgeous “Why is she in this mess?” Kate Beckinsale, the historical romance drama has one โ€“ and only one as far as I’m concern โ€“ redeeming quality. That would be the bombing of Pearl Harbor. While the visuals are also nice for viewers, the real show is the audio, starting with the Japanese planes flying low through the Hawaiian mountains and ending, of course, with the amazing (much of it CGI) fire display. The whole thing lasts close to 20 minutes of ear-bleeding fun. From rear activity to a deep, powerful low-end, the entire spectacle is incredibly immersive and exhilarating. I despise the movie, but love the BD as a demo disc that leaves guests wanting an HD system of their own.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Not that I need an excuse to put on ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World‘, but my current demo scene of choice is the lead-in to the climax, as Scott storms into a underground nightclub where he’s quickly swarmed by legions of kung-fu hipsters. Everything about that sequence looks and sounds perfect: the waves of thugs bursting into change from every direction as Scott attacks, the blip-punk soundtrack blaring behind it all, such remarkable visual clarity that I feel as if I can make out the writing on those loony coins that are spilling all over, and just the hyperkinetic energy to it all that makes it such an infectious blast to watch.

Aaron Peck

One of my favorite demo scenes comes from Pixar’s ‘WALL-E‘. It isn’t the scene that you’re probably thinking of, though, even though the flight in space with WALL-E and EVE is definitely demo-worthy. My favorite scene comes at the beginning of the movie as we zoom in from space to see the world covered in piles of trash. There’s something beautiful about all those piles of trash. Tiny, intricate spaces in the trash can be seen perfectly. I remember pointing out to my dad (before he knew exactly what Blu-ray was capable of) the tiny papers and other particles floating in the wind. So much detail went into this scene, but it’s easy to just dismiss it as garbage. On the contrary, if you really watch the scene, soak it in. It has some of the most detailed visuals you will ever see in high definition.

Nate Boss

While I’m not a fan of demoing scenes out of context, there is one scene on Blu-ray 3D that stands out above the rest: a 3D prison shower scene with two gals in it. No, it’s not softcore porn; it’s ‘Resident Evil: Afterlife‘, and I swear there’s a difference! Anyways, the film was designed to maximize the 3D cameras employed for the entire shoot, and shots were based around the technology, to add a wow factor, even if it comes at the expense of coherency. The battle featuring the Executioner zombie and two of the survivor gals in the shower right as they exit the prison is sheer 3D brilliance. Broken pipes spew water throughout the room while characters run through layers at each other. A few gimmick shots (the thrown axe, the shotgunned quarters) are thrown in for good effect. It’s in-your-face while at the same time amazingly deep, and the cascades of water make an otherwise ridiculous scene amazingly cool.

We know that you must have some favorite Blu-ray demo scenes of your own. Tell us about them in the Comments.

75 comments

  1. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Oh Hell! Where do I begin. Multiple scenes in Tron: Legacy — for both video and audio — The IMAX scenes in The Dark Knight and Transformers 2 — for video only — Hmmm, what else?

    For 3D: Tron (again), the Tangled floating lantern sequence, the flight sequences in How To Train Your Dragon, many of the action sequences in Avatar and Resident Evil: Afterlife.

    For audio only: All of Tron: Legacy (yes I know, again), many of the suspenseful scenes from Drag Me to Hell…

    • The lightcycle sequence in Tron: Legacy was my kneejerk reaction, I have to admit. I’m just so indifferent about the movie itself that I couldn’t motivate myself to actually write about it.

      • Glad to hear someone’s a fan of Scott Pilgrim! Way too few dig the pure awesomeness of that flick. It’s extremely quotable, too. “Chicken’s not vegan?”, “He knocked the highlights out of her hair!”, “Huh, that’s actually hilarious”, “I said lesbians”, “Going to stalk my hetero crush”, “Are you the Pac-Man guy?” etc.

  2. YAY YAY YAY for this roundtable discussion! I have been waiting for this one for a while.

    The number one scene I show people is the opening sequence of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It gets played LOUD! The subwoofer is dancing across the floor, walls are rattling, bombs are going off in every single speaker, people yelling. Then we get to the train station, and, WOW, talk about ambient sound! Brilliant use of surround to bring you into the movie!

    The second I show is Wizard of Oz. You should see people’s eyes pop when they see that for the first time in HD. I’ve seen grown men squeal for joy at seeing Oz for the first time in color. And the Emerald City scene gets requested a lot, as does the “guy hanging himself”, which is very clear in the Blu-Ray that its a peacock.

    Viva Las Vegas usually gets shown, as an example of how an older movie can look amazing. People usually moan when I go to stick it in, but then their eyes pop when they see it.

    Superman: The Movie – the opening scene, will get shown.

    I then finish up with Poltergeists. I don’t think I need to explain which scenes, I think its pretty obvious if you have seen the movie, what I show people.

    Then I take requests. Animes are normally requested, so I will show Evangelion 1.11 or 2.22, and a scene from Dragonball Z.

    Planet Earth is normally requested, as is Discovery Atlas China.

    Lastly, Stargate, T2 and Phantom of the Opera get requested. I wish they were better transfers and had losssless audio, but people are impressed with them anyways.

    Oh, and people usually ask to see Star Trek 2, but I usually turn them down on that one.

    • Forgot that people also usually ask to see The Matrix and Transformers. I am usually fine on The Matrix, but I have both those movies on HD-DVD, and Transformers only has a DD+ soundtrack. Still, DD+ is not bad, and people are usually impressed by it.

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      Wait. Why is your T2 not lossless? I’m guessing you don’t have the most recent “Skynet edition.” If that’s the case, you should definitely upgrade! The newest version of T2 can be found new for about $10 bucks, and the new lossless 6.1 DTS-HD track is a HUGE upgrade. It’s worth the $10 alone!

      I have The Phantom of the Opera on HD-DVD. It also has a lossless track. It’s a pretty significant upgrade from the lossy track on the blu-ray. If you find Phantom on HD-DVD for a few bucks, you might want to pick it up.

      • I’ve been debating on picking up Phantom on HD-DVD. I’ll check Amazon and see if I can get a good price on it. Don’t want to spend much more than $5 as I already have it on Blu (I bought my Blu-Ray player about a year before I got my HD-DVD player)

        No, I do not have the Skynet Edition – it was the original that was released back in 2006. I nearly picked up Skynet at Walmart yesterday, but they wanted $15 for it. As I already own it, I want the Skynet Edition to be under $10 when I do pick it up. Didn’t even occure to me yesterday about the audio – I was just thinking of the extended edition

        • Found Phantom for $3.98 new on HD-DVD, so I ordered that, and I found the Skynet Edition of T2 for $11, so I went ahead and ordered that. Going to be a big week for me, as I also have DragonballZ Kai and LOTR EE coming in

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            Nice! You will really appreciate the audio track improvements! Especially on the new T2 disc! It’s like night and day compared to the previous blu-ray.

          • Should probably point out that the old DTS-ES track and Dolby Digital EX track were not BAD, which is one reason I put off buying the Skynet Edition for so long. The DD track on Phantom, though…. I can’t believe that, five years after its introduction, I am STILL picking up movies on HD-DVD because they have superior audio tracks. I honestly find it hard to believe that they haven’t rereleased Phantom yet.

  3. It’s hard to pick just one! But lately, TRON: Legacy has been taking that cake. The Lightcycle sequence is amazing, and the 7.1 track is just… wow.

  4. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Ooh just thought of one for blu-ray 3D. Many of the surfing scenes in Ultimate Wave: Tahiti. There are 3D scenes in that film that are on par with any other 3D I have ever seen in the theater or at home.

  5. Jane Morgan

    ‘Baraka,’ the scene with the sad hot tub monkeys.

    It shows how the clarity of high definition can amplify emotion by orders of magnitude.

  6. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Thought of another one for audio only. Many of the battle sequences in 300 rival anything else I’ve ever heard on the format (with the exception of Tron: Legacy of course).

  7. vihdeeohfieuhl

    The computer generated ballroom dance scene in Beauty and the Beast. It’s absolutely flawless, magnificent, brilliant, mesmerizing, and downright stunning! I always use that one to try to sway a family member/friend naysayer, that is stuck in the standard definition era.

    • I agree with you on this one. Even though you can tell that the animation is from the earlier days of computer animation, it’s still a demo-worthy scene through and through.

  8. Jason

    while not a powerful soundtrack I have found that the discreteness of The Orphanage is excellent demo material for audio. some of the best sound design imho.

  9. vihdeeohfieuhl

    The chase through Paris in Ratatouille for both audio and video.

    The video quality of the entire film is flawless, and the audio quality is damn near perfect as well. But during this scene everything comes together into one perfect little package of high-def video/lossless audio nirvana.

    The surround dynamics and LFE present during this scene are phenomenal, and visually, it is probably the single most gorgeous scene in the entire film. If anybody could watch that scene and not be convinced of the dramatic improvement of blu-ray, they might just be certifiably insane.

  10. Jason

    if I want something with a little more oomph I go with The Watchmen.

    and for visuals I usually show the casino scene from James Bond Dr. No because it really throws people that such an old film can look so good. and everyone likes James.

  11. For video, I have to use Speed Racer. I don’t think a Blu-ray’s video has ever impressed me(not even Avatar) as much as that, or ever will.

    For audio, Tron: Legacy, obviously.

  12. vihdeeohfieuhl

    How could I forget my “go to” scene for any family member or friend that is an action film lover?!

    The opening car chase scene in Quantum of Solace!

    My God!

    Channel prioritization, surround use, dynamic range, and can you say LFE! I get chills just thinking about that scene! This doesn’t even mention the sheer perfection of the video quality during that scene. It is the absolute perfect one-two punch for a scene in an action film!

    It might not be the best Bond film, but you simply will not find another scene in any other Bond film — or 99% of any other action films — that come close to rivaling the opening car chase in Quantum of Solace.

    • I’m going to have to watch this again as I havent seen it since the theaters, but all I recall is not being able to see a damn thing during most of this movie, it was horribly filmed with the most jerky camera work I’ve seen since The Bourne Supremacy, does HD make ANY difference in being able to see what the hell is going on? If it does I’ll gladly watch this one again just for the FX and Sound

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        It makes a vast difference. I remember feeling similar to you when viewing that film theatrically. However, it is one of the best sounding, and best looking blu-rays out there. If you haven’t seen it since it was in the theatre (Especially if you happened to see it at a theatre that wasn’t using digital projection, such as a dollar theatre), I would highly recommend picking it up and giving it another shot.

        It’s an average Bond film, but the video, and especially the audio, are stellar. As soon as you start the opening car chase scene that I refer to, your mouth will hit the floor! I would even wager you will probably replay that scene a time or two immediately!

        • Sounds good, yeah I saw it in a regular theater at the time and everything was awful to look at, it made quite a few of us feel sick trying to keep up with the camera cuts, I didnt mind the movie otherwise so I’ll have to check this out again, thanks for the info ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Alex

    I remember that my wife was unconvinced by HD until I popped in “Sleeping Beauty.” The opening scenes, where the three fairies first appear, her jaw literally dropped and she said, “That’s what color they are? I had no idea!”

    After that, I showed her the song and dance number in Central Park in “Enchanted”, one of her favorites. When the brightly colored balloons lifted into the air, all she could say was, “Wow!”

    • Totally agree on Sleeping Beauty! I normally don’t show it off, as many people just are not that impressed by it, but it has got to be the finest example of any animated movie on Blu-Ray in my opinion. I love the depth in the movie! I only had it on VHS before, and the movie was rather flat!

    • EM

      The beauty (no pun intended) of using Sleeping Beauty is that the disc also has the live-action โ€œGrand Canyonโ€, a feast for the eyes in its own right.

      • Oh yeah, forgot about that! I must admit that some discs, I almost enjoy the extras more than the movie. Disney’s Alice In Wonderland is one such example, but most of the stuff on there is SD. Grand Canyon though…. MAN!

  14. vihdeeohfieuhl

    While I can’t believe that E. ultimately ended up going with Pearl Harbor as his demo choice, — I found the dynamic range and surround use inconsistent, dialogue prioritization in the center channel was hit and miss, and I was underwhelmed overall by the audio track — I do wholeheartedly agree with his mention of the LFE in War of the Worlds.

    As a matter of fact, until Tron: Legacy was released, I don’t think a single other blu-ray audio track could touch the thundering LFE present in WOTW. If I really want to impress someone with primarily the audio superiority of blu-ray, War of the Worlds is a great demo disc to pop in. Especially if you’re showing it off to people that don’t know anything about audio quality and only care about it being loud and full of bass. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • WOTW definately has a WONDERFUL audio track! If I were to demo an entire movie for audio, that would be it! However, as I usually just show scenes, I feel that the opening sequence of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe are more impressive – but I think this is partly to do with the fact that people just are not expecting a heavy soundtrack from that movie. With any action movie, people set their expectations high. With Narnia, people have their expectations set low, and I just totally blow them away.

      As for Pearl Harbor, I wouldn’t even admit to owning that movie! Absolutely refuse to see it on Blu – I saw it once at the theater, and that was plenty for me!

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        Haha! I watched it (Pearl Harbor) once on blu-ray. I hadn’t seen it since I almost walked out of the theatre the one and only other time I had seen it. I decided to take a chance and give it another shot on blu-ray. I guess I was hoping that it was one of those films that isn’t as bad as you remember it, and that the brilliance of blu-ray would greatly improve it’s shortcomings. Well, let’s just say I wasn’t impressed with the audio quality — even the particular scene that E. mentions — the movie was just as bad as I remembered it, and even the video quality left a little to be desired.

        I love your selection of that opening scene from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I guess I’ve never been as impressed with it as you are, but thinking back on it, I do remember not expecting to hear that kind of stellar audio coming from that film. Then I remembered that scene from watching it in the theatre, and also recognized that it was a Disney blu-ray, and I was no longer impressed. It was everything I have come to expect from Disney. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • You know, its funny, Disney embraced VHS and Laserdisc rather quickly, but their early DVD releases left a lot to be desired. I am thinking that Fantasia was proabbly the first DVD that Disney actually put some effort into, and within a couple of years, they were like the king of the DVD format. I had similar expectations from their Blu-Rays, but it looks like they learned their lesson from DVD. You can pull pretty much ANY Disney movie off the shelf and use it as a demo disc.

    • M. Enois Duarte

      Yeah, I’m just trying to be a little different with my selection. Like Josh wrote, sci-fi with lots of action is obvious go-to material, as is anything Pixar. I like using the first two chapters of ‘Cars,’ and chapter five of ‘WotW’ is always at the top. Ultimately, I like using so many different scenes that I’ve made my own demo discs with a large variety of selections, including trailers.

      I agree ‘Pearl Harbor’ is somewhat inconsistent and dialogue is rather average, but the bombing of Pearl Harbor is the best part of the whole movie and the lossless mix. The combination of planes flying through the sky and the Hawaiian visuals followed by discrete explosions and deep bass is a lot of fun.

      Other good ones are the first chapter of ‘Master and Commander,’ the plane crash in ‘Flight of the Phoenix’ and the pod race in ‘Star Wars I’ is fun.

      • Making my own demo disc is probably a good idea. I got a Blu-Ray burner, and some half-way decent authoring software. My only thought about this is I have to find a way to rip the movie (haven’t really looked into how to do that yet), then cut it down to just the scene I want, which exporting would mean another layer of processing, and my editing software doesn’t support lossless audio (my authoring software does, though) You have any suggestions?

        • M. Enois Duarte

          The only drawback with making a demo disc is that it’s time-consuming using different authoring tools and programs, but fun nonetheless if you enjoy editing your own scenes together. Best thing to do is visit this website { http://www.videohelp.com/ } with a collection of how-to guides and articles.

          I’m a big fan of Nero products (perfectly legal too), and their latest is the Nero 10 line. Although the PQ is full 1080p/24fps, the audio unfortunately is limited to DTS at 1.5mbps, which isn’t bad just not lossless. To do that, you’ll need separate demultiplexing programs. Again, it’s fun when you have plenty of time on your hands.

        • M. Enois Duarte

          Oh, and make sure you have a large, external hdd with clearly labeled files because this will eat up space and memory like no one’s business.

          I have a 2TB myself, but I’m also planning and preparing to possible go HTPC sometime at the end of this year or next. So I’m ripping stuff quite often.

        • JeremyR

          If you have a HTPC you could rip to MKV and trim the movie so you’re left with just your demo scenes. They will start out as 30 to 40 GB files before trimming though. As MKV is a container that supports the codecs used by bluray there is no need to reencode and lose quality. You’ll be left with a 1:1 of the original audio and video. Play these back in TMT or any other advanced media player, even the simple but powerful MPC-HD works amazingly.

          • MKV files is a great suggestion. I also understand that the latest ffdshow now does lossless audio. I haven’t played with it yet, but if it’s true, it is a very cool feature.

          • Ripping to MKV is a great suggestion, but still left with the fact that all of the editing tools I know of limit you to DTS or DD. I know in VirtualDub you can trim without reencoding, but I don’t think it supports MPEG4 formats.

  15. One of my favorite demo scenes is in Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds, with Tom Cruise. When the tripod first exits the ground and starts zapping people. The low bass in that scene is exquisite, along with the sound of the rays that turn people to ash in an instant. Great cgi too.

  16. vihdeeohfieuhl

    I’m really suprised that we haven’t had more posts about the IMAX scenes from The Dark Knight, Transformers, and Tron: Legacy. In terms reference level video quality, and go to demo material, nothing on blu-ray can touch those scenes. It makes me wish that The Dark Knight Rises was being filmed entirely with IMAX cameras. Can you even imagine watching an entire action film with 100% of it in IMAX!

    Here’s hoping we see it one day!

    • Luke Hickman

      I turn into a giddy little kid when ‘The Dark Knight’ jumps into IMAX and fills the screen!

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        Giddy is a great word to describe the feeling! Man! Just imagine if the entire film looked like that!

      • Jane Morgan

        It won’t be long before Red has a next generation Epic camera that can kick IMAX’s ass. Then all our blu-rays will look like this.

        • REDs are good cameras, but seriously, kick Imax’s ass? I know that resolution on film is kind of hard to translate, but I heard that Imax is anywhere from 18k-40k depending on who you ask and how its measured. Even if a digital camera was that high, you would have to tug around an array of hard drives in some sort of striped array, because no media by itself is going to be able to keep up with that sort of bit-rate.

          • Jane Morgan

            Red One came out in 2007, it can shoot 4K.

            Red Epic came out in 2011, it can shoot 28K.

            Apply Moore’s Law until it dies, then compare Digital vs Film.

            IMAX is a Canadian corporation. RED is American.

            The ass kicking will be televised, on blu-ray, by 2017.

          • Regardless of what cameras can take in, the fact is that Blu-Ray as a format is locked in at 1080p and as far as I’m aware doesn’t have the capability of going above that. I would love to hear I’m wrong about that as anybody creating a new format should have built in some sort of future proofing but I know already that they have broken the format with the new disc sizes they formalized a year or so back. If you want to take advantage of a 100GB disc which would be required (to maintain quality) for anything above 2K, you would have to purchase an entirely new player.

            I love showing off blu-ray as it is the best video format you can get on physical media, but by the time that these 4K and higher formats are ready for any kind of consumer commercialization, bandwidth will already be high enough that you’ll be streaming whatever becomes the next de facto standard.

            Unfortunately the only thing worse than the double dipping on DVD/Blu-Ray etc is the lack of information about transfers on online services. Here’s hoping Netflix steps up and tries to create some kind of standard with regards to their streaming offerings. And if they stay limited to just straight 5.1 audio then someone like VUDU will come along and hopefully fix that. Because I want high bit-rate audio with my streaming.

            But for now the movies I really want to watch over and over, a la Dark Knight, Pixar Films, will all be on Blu-Ray for the foreseeable future.

          • I had not heard of the Red Epic, but according to their website, its a 5k camera – http://www.red.com/products/epic (Check out Tech specs – ACQUISITION FORMATS 5K RAW (Full Frame, 2:1, 2.4:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
            4.5K RAW (2.4:1)
            4K RAW (16:9, HD, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
            3K RAW (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
            2K RAW (16:9, 2:1 and Anamorphic 2:1)
            1080p RGB (16:9)
            720p RGB (16:9)

            As far as consumer formats that will support higher than 1080p, I do not know of any consumer products that will handle it, although I do not think the MKV format has a resolution limit. I imagine that if / when it comes to consumer formats, it will be a variation of AVCHD. Most Blu-Ray players already support this, and the AVCHD format allows for support of formats outside of the BDMV standard (mainly, support for 1080 25p/30p/50p/60p). It would be a simple firmware upgrade to support higher resolutions, but you would have to remember that higher resolutions and higher bitrates means more processing power, and its possible that current generation players wouldn’t be able to cut it.

            That being said, while we will probably see these higher res formats coming to theaters and such, I do not see that this will be a high demand for home users in the near future. A lot of people cannot tell the difference between SD and HD as it is. Going from 2k to 4k is only going to be noticable for the most maticulate of videophiles, and even then on extreamely large screens. I honestly do not see us getting 4k in the home in the near future. Even if the technology does become available, a new format would (or upgrade to an existing format) would have to come out. You would have to ask both consumers and studios to support yet another format, asking studios to remaster films yet again, for a format that is going to have an extreamely small niche market. I honestly do not see this happening in the foreseeable future.

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            Tim Tringle,

            You missed the point. It doesn’t matter if blu-ray tops out at 1080P resolution. The fact is that the higher native resolution something is filmed at, the better it will look when it is mastered for blu-ray. This is why the true IMAX scenes from Tron: Legacy, Transformers 2, and The Dark Knight look so much better than practially anything else we have on the format. The higher the native quality of the print, the higher the quality of the digital master used for blu-ray.

            Moreover, it’s interesting to hear you talk about how physical media is not going to stick around and we are going to be streaming something of higher quality than blu-ray. We actually just had an in-depth discussion about this on a recent HDD Bonus View blog about some recent Netflix problems. In a nut shell, we talked about how the quality of streaming — even in HD — is dog shit! There’s absolutely no way that blu-ray — or whichever format comes out next — is going to be replaced by streaming. It will be 3-5 years — if it ever happens — before streaming services will even be able to stream lossless 7.1 channel audio. Even then, streaming is still subject to interruption and other degradation. It always will be. It doesn’t matter how high the bandwidth, as you put it, is. Streaming is never going to be capable of giving us the same quality as physical media. Streaming will always be a step behind no matter what. The inherent nature of streaming will always have cons and drawbacks compared to physical media.

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            @vihdeeohfieuhl, a couple of nit-picks. No part of Tron Legacy was photographed in true IMAX format. The entire movie was photographed digitally. Most of the movie was masked to 2.35:1, but during certain scenes the frame was opened up to 16:9 for a taller presentation in IMAX theaters. Other than the aspect ratio, there is no difference in picture quality.

            A big part of the reason that the IMAX scenes in The Dark Knight look so much better than the rest of the movie is that the 35mm scenes were transferred from the IMAX DMR upconversion print, which is heavily DNR’ed and edge enhanced. The 35mm scenes could look at lot better than they do if they’d been mastered from the original 35mm source.

          • Jane Morgan

            The buzz on the video quality shot by Red Epic for the new Spider-Man is that it’s already better than IMAX by several orders of magnitude.

            Red Epic S35 is 5K.
            Red Epic 617 is 28K.

            I don’t know which Epic Peter Jackson bought 30 of for The Hobbit.

            4320p will launch, in TVs, home projectors, discs, etc… within ten years.

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            @Josh Zyber

            Good to know. I actually thought I had read that certain scenes in Tron: Legacy had been shot using IMAX cameras. I appreciate the information.

            I know that a major reason that the IMAX scenes on The Dark Knight blu-ray look so much better is due to the fact that the 35mm scenes were transferred from the IMAX DMR upconversion print, but my believe the main theme of my post still rings accurate. The better/higher quality the native print, the better/higher quality available to the digital master used for blu-ray.

            If you want an example, just look at the Transformers 2 disc. On that particular disc, the 35mm scenes were not mastered from the IMAX DMR upconversion print, and yet, the IMAX scenes still blow their non-IMAX counterparts out of the water!

          • @vihdeoo…

            Do I have to look at Transformers 2 again? Once was painful enough.

            @Jane – Thanks for the info. It looks like the camera is so new, they only have a press release for it on the red site. I did find info on it at Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Digital_Cinema_Camera_Company#Epic

            While I like the idea that we can shoot digitally and then transfer to IMAX, I just wonder what that means for effects houses suddenly having to go from rendering CGI at 2k to rendering it at 28k. I was also concerned about the bitrate at first, but then I realized I misread it – its not 225 Mbps, its 225 MBps – HUGE difference. This does go back to my original argument – I don’t think there is anything that can actually write this fast, which means you are tugging around an array of Harddrives with you. Although this may be preferable to Imax film.

            If the Red Epic 617 is indeed 28k, and with a price per camera of only 53 grand, it is possible that we could see an end in site to shooting on film. Not quite sure how I feel about that.

          • vihdeeohfieuhl

            @William,

            Haha! Well if you want to see the marked improvement, you’ll have to at least watch the IMAX scenes and compare them to the non-IMAX ones. I can’t even believe I own that movie sometimes! I have a young son, so that’s my excuse. He loves it!

  17. i have always felt the best way to show off a system is to put on a movie that people have seen than a new title as it heightens the experience. i love putting in big trouble in little china and just hearing it in lossless. it’s not going to rock your world base wise , but it’s so clear and sounds so shinny.

  18. BLU:
    – Cars : the opening, with Lightning McQueen’s inner monologue. Looks just like a real, shiny car.
    – Spider-Man 3 : I don’t like the movie, but I love the extreme close-up on the grains of sand.
    – Springsteen live in London : like he’s standing in your living room. Awesome.

    LASERDISC:
    – ‘Meet Joe Black’ has great picture quality.
    – ‘Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell II Picture Show’ looks and sounds stunning, even on an HDTV. Didn’t expect that!

    DVD:
    – Treasure Planet : still my favourite animated DVD. The opening scene (“There are nights …”) is breathtaking, even in standard definition.

  19. I always use the Bastogne episode of Band of Brothers. I mean any of those episodes would be great but that battle scene in the woods is about the best ear candy I’ve ever heard.

  20. Scott H

    How about the audio in Dark City when the city is moving and changing, it almost feels like your on the street when that’s happening. Also will agree with everyone about WOTW and Tron Legacy with that Daft Punk Score. Suprised no one has mentioned Se7en for visual clarity. And then you can’t forget the opening Omaha Beach scene and closing battle of Saving Private Ryan. While speaking of war movies I also have to mention The Thin Red Line where the soldiers are moving through the grass and all you hear is the grass blowing in the wind, no music and then that mortar round goes off and then chaos. And then it is not on blu yet but the movie The Others, really creepy audio and eerie visuals.

  21. Wyatt

    I always demoed The Dark Knight when friends are over and recently I picked up Tron: Legacy, it’s now my favorite disc to show off to people. DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is just incredible.

  22. besch64

    Coraline and The Red Shoes. I wrote up this whole thing about why I love both of them as demo material, but then it got deleted when it failed to post.

    They’re just awe-inspiring-ly beautiful in totally different ways.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      I just cleaned out our spam filter. I found a couple of posts in there that weren’t really spam and that I’ve reinstated, but nothing from you. Looks like it didn’t make it through. Sorry.

  23. Kevin

    2007’s “TMNT”. The rooftop fight between Leonardo and Raphael.

    Otherwise, pretty much anything from 2009’s “Star Trek”.

  24. After viewing The Island last night, I think this might be a new one to show people, the detail is amazing in this movie, dust in the sunlight, facial craters, the image to me is one of the better movies I’ve seen in a while, I was hoping that it would be as I’m a big Bay fan (and I really liked this movie a lot), but the sound is awesome too and nothing is as cool looking and sounds as nice as that highway chase where all the giant metal rolls are dropping off the truck, smashing other cars, trucks, pieces of everything are flying everywhere, no one but Bay can make action scenes like that ๐Ÿ™‚ Definitely demo material!

    • vihdeeohfieuhl

      Gotta agree here, there are definitely some demo worthy scenes on The Island blu-ray.

  25. Marc krachunis

    Well, I like the I Am Legend helicopter right before it takes off after he drops off his family and gets the dog. If you forgot about that part, find it and play it! It sounds like it’s in your livingroom. 3:10 to Yuma, when the train arrives near the very end, OMG. Get ready for that train to end up on your lap. Amazing. The big gun fight in desperado, lots of surround going on in that scene!

  26. First, two remarks regarding audio and video.

    Audio: as it turns out, the majority of my/our guests are not audiophiles. Thus, we do not have to necessarily pick the state of the art lossless audio to be able to impress them.

    Video: experience has shown to me that many people find a image “good” when it has little or no grain (I must admit I am not a big fan of grainy images even when this was the director intent). For non-initiated, usually a image is considered good when it has a lot of detail and little grainy.

    That being said, I like to play:
    – The Social Network, when I know my guest wants to see a good image. This movie actually has one of the clearest images in my opinion, probably due to its digital shooting (for instance, take a look at the scene where Mark leaves the class when he gets a note and the teacher defy him).

    – Mission Impossible III. Yes, I know I must improve here because this is not even lossless, but like I said when you leave this loud people like it anyway, and after all this movie has many great, amazing action scenes.

    • Completely agree, newbies HATE grain! My pastor called me up right after setting up his Blu-Ray player, stating he must of set it up wrong, because the picture was not in HD and there was snow in the picutre. Turns out he was watching Taken, the “Snow” was film-grain, and his “not in HD” comment came from the black bars at the top and bottom of the picture. He gets it now, though, he still hates grain.

      I just remembered a great audio movie – reason I forgot is that I do not own it. Behind Enemy Lines is a great movie to show off a surround soundscape!

  27. Scott H

    Hey I forgot to add The Fall for pure visual splendor, the locations seen in that movie look awesome on our favorite format and it has great audio too.

  28. Also Lord of the Rings Fellowship of the Ring, the new extended cut has amazing picture now, the beginning when Gandalf is coming into the Shire is absolutely beautiful, definitely gonna have to play this for some people now ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nice to hear someone not complaining about the color timing! My copy should be in today, although I don’t know if I am going to watch that or Dragonball Z Kai first. Either will take me several days to watch, and I don’t want to start one until I finish the other. Decisions!

  29. Criterion’s Night of the Hunter & Last Year at Marienbad to show that blu tech isn’t wasted on B&W films. Baraka is my hands down fave tho.