Join us for the latest issue of High Def Digest's Reader Mailbag,
where we answer all your questions on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray, industry trends and
our site's news and reviews.
Got questions of your own? Send
them our way
, and we'll try to answer them on the site in future issues
of our Reader Mailbag.
How Old is That HD Transfer in the Window?
"Thanks for your early review of 'Full Metal Jacket.' But as a Stanley
Kubrick fan looking forward to more high-def releases of his movies from Warner,
I was a bit surprised to read that you guys said the new disc utilizes 'the
same master' as the previous standard DVD release of 'Jacket.' What gives?"
Dear Brandon: Very good question, and you're not alone -- we've gotten more
email about our 'Full
' review than any other so far in the (albeit short) history
of High Def Digest.
The information about the masters used for the HD-DVD release came from an interview
our reviewer Peter had conducted three years ago with the DVD producer of all
of the Warner Kubrick titles. All were remastered back in 2002 for a new standard
DVD collection the studio was marketing of all of the director's films. Though
the late Kubrick's wishes were to present all of his films (except '2001: A
Space Odyssey,' which was shot at 2.35:1) in 4:3 "open matte" on home
video, high-def masters in widescreen were also created, including 'Eyes Wide
Shut,' 'Clockwork Orange,' 'Full Metal Jacket,' 'Barry Lyndon' and 'The Shining.'
All were matted to an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (except 'Orange,' which was pillarboxed
at 1.66:1). Many of these HD versions have already been seen over the past three
years on many HD cable networks, and will be utilized again for their upcoming
HD-DVD and Blu-Ray releases.
However, Warner's approach with the Kubrick titles is not an isolated one. The
studios have already been minting high-def masters of their libraries for many
years. Some, such as Sony, even began archiving in HD since the mid-'90s. So
many of these "new" HD-DVD and Blu-Ray releases will indeed utilize
masters created many years ago. As all of us early adopters know only too well,
when it comes to new home video formats, indeed everything old is new again.
Dolby Digital-Plus versus DTS?
"I was curious about your 'Assault on Precinct 13' review. The cover
of the disc lists as an audio option a DTS soundtrack. I was really hoping for
a comparison between the DTS and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks. I know the
DTS isn't one of the new HD DTS formats, but Dolby + is supposed to be very
comparable to DTS, and I was wondering how they compared in practice."
-- Chad R.
Dear Chad: Thanks for the suggestion, and we have added a DTS versus Dolby Digital-Plus
comparison to our 'Assault
on Precinct 13
As 'Assault' is but the first HD-DVD title to feature an optional DTS track,
it is too soon to make any sweeping comparisons between the audio format and
Dolby Digital-Plus. However, the results we found in our review seem to align
with those the general tech press have also found so far in head-to-head comparison
between DD+ and DTS. Given that Dolby Digital-Plus can support bit rates up
to 6 Mbps (3 Mbps on HD-DVD and 1.7 Mbps on Blu-Ray, according to the official
), it is technically superior to DTS's max 1.5 Mbps. Certainly, there
are many other factors that determine the overall quality of a soundtrack than
just raw numbers, but Dolby Digital-Plus certainly closes the spec gap that
had previously left DTS superior to standard Dolby Digital 5.1.
However, we feel the whole Dolby Digital versus DTS argument won't really begin
anew until the next-gen versions of both audio formats begin to appear with
any real frequency on HD-DVD and Blu-Ray discs. Warner has already released
two HD-DVD titles, 'Training Day' and 'Phantom of the Opera,' that contain Dolby
TrueHD soundtracks (which promise up to 7.1 channels of multichannel audio comparable
in quality to the studio masters), though no high-def DVD titles have yet been
announced with an DTS-HD audio option. But it is only a matter of time, and
once more disc titles and A/V receives capable of playing the next-gen audio
formats hit the market, then the real race for the crown of "Best HD Audio
Format" will get underway.
Reviews of EVERY title?
"I stumbled onto your website via some random link in some random forum
and I am glad I did. So far, you are the only website that I have found that
has EVERY HD-DVD titled reviewed. Your release list is easiest to read (and
find), and you seem very open to Toshiba's HD-DVD format. I purchased the HD-A1
on the launch, and have been buying 1 HD-DVD each week to help support the format.
Your reviews help me decide which discs really show off what hi-def movies are
all about. Who would have thought 'Goodfellas'
could look so good? Thanks again." -- Kris
Dear Kris: Thanks for allowing us to end our week with such a nice praise, however
self-serving we are being in printing it!
Indeed, our goal is to review every HD-DVD and Blu-Ray title that gets released.
Certainly, over the coming months, the studios' release schedules for both high-def
formats will be appreciable if not quite the opening of the floodgates, which
makes our job a bit more manageable. But even as more and more studios come
aboard the high-def DVD bandwagon in the coming weeks and months, we will definitely
be doing our darndest to cover every title out there. So thanks again for the
boost of confidence, and stay tuned for all the reviews we can throw at you!