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  1. #1
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    Quick question about buying DVDs, coding, & different versions

    Im in the process of building up my stereo system, building myself a subwoofer, and the like. I want to buy a few movies to show off the system to friends later. Blockbuster is selling off a bunch of the modern movies at $25 for 3, movies I hear are good for bass, surround sound, etc. (Master and Commander, Blackhawk Down, Flight of the Phoenix, etc.). These arent really the type of movies I watch, but hey, might be fun with the new sound system. Before I buy a stack of these DVDs, Im wondering if there are various versions of these DVDs I need to watch out for. I gather that, sometimes, a given movie can have various DVD versions with the sound (and video) mastered (or not) in various ways. So, for these recent movies, can I just buy any of the DVDs I find? Or do I need to watch out for certain versions. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Da Dragonball Kid L.J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    I?m in the process of building up my stereo system, building myself a subwoofer, and the like. I want to buy a few movies to show off the system to friends later. Blockbuster is selling off a bunch of the modern movies at $25 for 3, movies I hear are good for bass, surround sound, etc. (Master and Commander, Blackhawk Down, Flight of the Phoenix, etc.). These aren?t really the type of movies I watch, but hey, might be fun with the new sound system. Before I buy a stack of these DVD?s, I?m wondering if there are various versions of these DVD?s I need to watch out for. I gather that, sometimes, a given movie can have various DVD versions with the sound (and video) mastered (or not) in various ways. So, for these recent movies, can I just buy any of the DVD?s I find? Or do I need to watch out for certain versions. Thanks.
    I always make sure it's the widescreen version and check for Dolby Digital or DTS. Even when I was using a 4:3 TV, I still purchased widescreen only. I don't care about extras, so if I find a movie with various versions(special edition, collectors edition) I usually buy the cheaper version as long as it's widescreen and DD or DTS. Have fun shopping. I'm addicted to DVD's.

    If you don't own it already, you may want to check out U-571.

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    Thanks for the tips. I don't care about extras either- just show me a good movie.

    Yeah, I saw U-571 back when it was in theaters. I recall it to be a pretty weak movie. BUt Ihave heard people say it's good for a sub workout at home. So maybe I'll pick up a copy.

  4. #4
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Thanks for the tips. I don't care about extras either- just show me a good movie.

    Yeah, I saw U-571 back when it was in theaters. I recall it to be a pretty weak movie. BUt Ihave heard people say it's good for a sub workout at home. So maybe I'll pick up a copy.
    If you want to give your sub a workout look for some of these:

    Jurassic Park III
    Star wars episodes I, II, & III (I liked the pod races in EP I best)
    The 5th element
    Star Gate (the movie or the Sci-Fi series)
    Smallville (the TV series)
    Serenity (the new Sci-Fi series)
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  5. #5
    Da Dragonball Kid L.J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    If you want to give your sub a workout look for some of these:

    Jurassic Park III
    Star wars episodes I, II, & III (I liked the pod races in EP I best)
    The 5th element
    Star Gate (the movie or the Sci-Fi series)
    Smallville (the TV series)
    Serenity (the new Sci-Fi series)
    I just watched Jurassic Park III a couple of days ago and wow. Since I got my new speakers and sub everything sounds so much different. I think I've watched a movie every night for the past month.

    Another movie with tons of explosions and bass is XXX state of the union. Not the best movie in the world, but if you love explosions

  6. #6
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    You really need to be careful about the DVD versions that you see in stores. DVDs not only get special edition upgrades with new pristine remasters, remixed soundtracks, and a pile of new bonus features, but they get downgraded and decontented as well.

    Perfect example is Gladiator which came out as a two-disc special edition with great documentary content and a fantastic DTS ES soundtrack. The rereleased DVD eliminated most of the bonus extras, and removed the DTS soundtrack. The Fast and the Furious and The Bourne Identity are even worse. They were released as "tricked out" or "all new" special editions, when in fact, all they did was remove the DTS soundtracks from the original DVD releases, and use that freed up disc space to stick in new previews for the sequels!

    In general, the versions that you should really avoid are the early movie-only releases, particularly ones that were crammed onto a single-layer disc. Those generally use low bitrates with very compressed video, and might not even use anamorphic enhancement for widescreen TVs. Also, chances are pretty good that they use the lower bitrate 384k version of DD rather than the higher bitrate 448k version. (The difference between the two versions is in the frequency where they start to channel-join the high frequencies -- with the lower bitrate DD tracks, the channel joining starts at 10kHz, which is clearly in the audible range, while the higher bitrate DD tracks channel-join at frequencies higher than 15kHz, which means a lot more high frequency information discrete) Fortunately, newer releases go with anamorphic enhancement and dual-layer discs, and most of them use a 448k bitrate DD soundtrack.

    DVD review sites such as DVD Talk, DVD File, and The Digital Bits will often mention the changes that new DVD editions make over previous versions.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    If you want to give your sub a workout look for some of these:

    Jurassic Park III
    Star wars episodes I, II, & III (I liked the pod races in EP I best)
    The 5th element
    Star Gate (the movie or the Sci-Fi series)
    Smallville (the TV series)
    Serenity (the new Sci-Fi series)
    Thanks for the tips. I'll have a look at those- once I get my sub built.

    (I have to admit that The 5th Element was one of the few movies I've seen in my lifetime where I thought the lead female actress was so attractive that it was actually distracting to the movie. )

    I don't watch much TV, so I would never have thought to look at those show.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by L.J.
    I just watched Jurassic Park III a couple of days ago and wow. Since I got my new speakers and sub everything sounds so much different. I think I've watched a movie every night for the past month.

    Another movie with tons of explosions and bass is XXX state of the union. Not the best movie in the world, but if you love explosions
    OK, XXX is not my kind of film, but if I make the sub and start looking for any movie with good explosions...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    You really need to be careful about the DVD versions that you see in stores. DVDs not only get special edition upgrades with new pristine remasters, remixed soundtracks, and a pile of new bonus features, but they get downgraded and decontented as well.

    Perfect example is Gladiator which came out as a two-disc special edition with great documentary content and a fantastic DTS ES soundtrack. The rereleased DVD eliminated most of the bonus extras, and removed the DTS soundtrack. The Fast and the Furious and The Bourne Identity are even worse. They were released as "tricked out" or "all new" special editions, when in fact, all they did was remove the DTS soundtracks from the original DVD releases, and use that freed up disc space to stick in new previews for the sequels!

    In general, the versions that you should really avoid are the early movie-only releases, particularly ones that were crammed onto a single-layer disc. Those generally use low bitrates with very compressed video, and might not even use anamorphic enhancement for widescreen TVs. Also, chances are pretty good that they use the lower bitrate 384k version of DD rather than the higher bitrate 448k version. (The difference between the two versions is in the frequency where they start to channel-join the high frequencies -- with the lower bitrate DD tracks, the channel joining starts at 10kHz, which is clearly in the audible range, while the higher bitrate DD tracks channel-join at frequencies higher than 15kHz, which means a lot more high frequency information discrete) Fortunately, newer releases go with anamorphic enhancement and dual-layer discs, and most of them use a 448k bitrate DD soundtrack.

    DVD review sites such as DVD Talk, DVD File, and The Digital Bits will often mention the changes that new DVD editions make over previous versions.
    Thanks for the great education! I didn't know any of that. I would never have guessed that the video or audio quality would ever be LESS in a subsequent offering. I'll have a look at those site you mentioned.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    Thanks for the great education! I didn't know any of that. I would never have guessed that the video or audio quality would ever be LESS in a subsequent offering. I'll have a look at those site you mentioned.
    A lot of these decisions come down to cost reduction. The studios have to figure out whether they can make more money by lowering the price in order to boost sales on a title that's been out for a while. In order to cut costs, they also decontent and eliminate the bonus discs.

    When Gladiator got reissued, they reduced it down from two discs to one. It was done this way because the list price got cut in half when Dreamworks reissued the title. Columbia did the same thing when they reissued Lawrence of Arabia as a decontented movie-only disc that bumped down the video bitrates and eliminated the bonus features. The tradeoff again is that the list price got cut by more than half.

    Other studios go with the movie-only release first, and then reissue the titles as full blown two-disc special editions later on. Fox has been doing this with a lot of their recent big budget movies -- release a bare bones version first and then issue the two-disc version only a few months later. Warner has also put out some excellent two-disc special edition reissues as of late, but partly because many of these titles were previously released as poorly done movie-only editions.

    There is no consensus or consistency with how studios issue their DVD titles, which means that the consumer needs to stay vigilant with the versions that have already come out, and any rumored reissues that will come out soon. The key point to consider is that a reissue does not always improve upon an existing edition.

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    Thanks. On one hand, that's all odd. On another, I'm not surprised to hear that it works that way.

    I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and hung out with some Hollywood folks (no one famous). I was pretty disappointed as I found out what movies are made and why. And the formulaic nature of how a premise is sometimes built up into a movie. Almost depressing. I listened to conversations where a writer and producer would be picking 2 phenomena that were popular in culture at the time and trying to mold these 2 concepts into a movie. To me, that was sad. No “art” or “passion,” rather just a quick way to boxoffice success. There are still some very good movies being made these days (amidst a lot of junk). And the good ones all have some real art behind them.

    This whole business of different DVD's, with the sound and video not necessarily improving on subsequent issues, is somewhat reminiscent, at least to me, of the whole move from video tapes to DVD's. Business motivated, not necessarily the technology. No question that DVD is a better technology than VHS- better sound, better video, smaller package, etc. But I'd guess that with the TV and stereo that 99.9% of the population watch their DVD's on, there is no noticeable difference between a VHS and DVD. So I was kind of upset at being forced to buy a DVD player when, for my purposes, my VCR is just fine. But when Blockbuster was 99% DVD’s, I couldn’t find tapes to rent and my hand was forced, I bought a DVD player. No big deal because they’re cheap. But I didn’t like being forced into it, when there’s nothing wrong with my VCR. And now the zillions of VCR’s all go to the trash heap. For what benefit? None that significant, near as I can tell, for 99.9% of people.

    That said, I’m in the middle of putting together a $10,000 stereo system. Mostly for music, but it will make movies much more fun- even on DVD.

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    I lived in Los Angeles for a few years and hung out with some Hollywood folks (no one famous). I was pretty disappointed as I found out what movies are made and why. And the formulaic nature of how a premise is sometimes built up into a movie. Almost depressing. I listened to conversations where a writer and producer would be picking 2 phenomena that were popular in culture at the time and trying to mold these 2 concepts into a movie. To me, that was sad. No “art” or “passion,” rather just a quick way to boxoffice success. There are still some very good movies being made these days (amidst a lot of junk). And the good ones all have some real art behind them.
    When I was in L.A., I knew a lot of people who worked in the music industry, and the same thing happens there. With the A&R reps at the record companies, their shelf life was only as long as they could keep finding artists that sell. Typically, that was less than two years. In the case of the musicians, their artistic passions were often in different areas, but they also had to support themselves, so they would take gigs playing music that they freely acknowledged was pedestrian and boring. These gigs would keep them afloat and establish enough credibility so that they could work on more interesting projects. Whether or not that material ever saw the light of day with an audience is an entirely different question.

    Quote Originally Posted by JonW
    This whole business of different DVD's, with the sound and video not necessarily improving on subsequent issues, is somewhat reminiscent, at least to me, of the whole move from video tapes to DVD's. Business motivated, not necessarily the technology. No question that DVD is a better technology than VHS- better sound, better video, smaller package, etc. But I'd guess that with the TV and stereo that 99.9% of the population watch their DVD's on, there is no noticeable difference between a VHS and DVD. So I was kind of upset at being forced to buy a DVD player when, for my purposes, my VCR is just fine. But when Blockbuster was 99% DVD’s, I couldn’t find tapes to rent and my hand was forced, I bought a DVD player. No big deal because they’re cheap. But I didn’t like being forced into it, when there’s nothing wrong with my VCR. And now the zillions of VCR’s all go to the trash heap. For what benefit? None that significant, near as I can tell, for 99.9% of people.
    On this point, I totally disagree with you. Even on a non-HD 4:3 TV, the video quality improvement with DVD over VHS is very evident, and if anything, I feel that your 99.9% figure is inversed -- that should the proportion of people who CAN see a tangible improvement by upgrading to DVD. If there truly was no difference for 99.9% of consumers, then why would virtually the entire market have shifted over to DVD within six years?

    And even without the picture quality improvement, consider the other benefits that DVD brings to the table:

    - no tapes that wear down with each play
    - random chapter access
    - interactive features
    - multichannel 5.1 audio
    - vast majority of titles are in the original widescreen aspect ratio, whereas VHS was almost all in the butchered pan & scan versions
    - purchase pricing at the time of release, whereas VHS used a "rental pricing" model with new releases going for $90 list
    - can play on PCs and PC-based media centers

    The multichannel audio and widescreen aspect ratio alone bring the DVD experience far closer to how we watch movies in theaters. That alone makes the DVD upgrade worthwhile in my view. And for people who never bought into the Laserdisc format (which already had plenty of the advantages of DVD, albeit in a more expensive and bulky package), the interactive bonus features that come with a lot of DVDs are also a revelation. IMO, the bonus features are another very strong motivation to make the DVD upgrade. For my favorite movies, I take in all of the documentaries, commentaries, and production notes, because I want to learn about what went into the movie and how it all came together.
    Last edited by Woochifer; 09-19-2005 at 07:51 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    When I was in L.A., I knew a lot of people who worked in the music industry, and the same thing happens there. With the A&R reps at the record companies, their shelf life was only as long as they could keep finding artists that sell. Typically, that was less than two years. In the case of the musicians, their artistic passions were often in different areas, but they also had to support themselves, so they would take gigs playing music that they freely acknowledged was pedestrian and boring. These gigs would keep them afloat and establish enough credibility so that they could work on more interesting projects. Whether or not that material ever saw the light of day with an audience is an entirely different question.
    Right. That's how I've always understood the music industry. I guess I was just rather surprised to see how blatant it was for movies. For example, this producer and writer were talking about 2 popular movies. If a recall, one movie was something about gays and the other about basketball. So they said they'll make a movie about gay basketball players. The catch phrase for advertising will be "they can't even shoot straight." It was disappointing. I think that might be the equivalent, in the music world, to manufacturing a band based on a concept, not the passion of some musicians. Ummm... not that it's never happened in music. (ahem )



    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    On this point, I totally disagree with you. Even on a non-HD 4:3 TV, the video quality improvement with DVD over VHS is very evident, and if anything, I feel that your 99.9% figure is inversed -- that should the proportion of people who CAN see a tangible improvement by upgrading to DVD.
    Very interesting. I agree with you about all the benefits of DVD's over VHS you listed, of course. I'm just surprised to hear that the video quality difference is easy to notice on even the regular TV's that most people have. I don't claim to know anything about this sort of thing. I was figuring it was the other way around.



    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    If there truly was no difference for 99.9% of consumers, then why would virtually the entire market have shifted over to DVD within six years?
    I thought maybe it was all financial based, independent of the real benefits that, say, an audiophile might care about. People will buy more DVD's than tapes if there is that extra content, which means more money for the studios. Because the DVD's are cheaper to produce, the DVD's will cost less than a tape to produce, so maybe make movies just a little bit cheaper- enough for people to start buying them in addition to (or instead of) renting, thereby increasing revenue for the studios. And it's all cheaper, longer lasting per movie for Blockbuster et. al. So some pressure from the rental places, some pressure from the studios. But maybe it being a better technology really did have a strong role here.

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