Gone Fishing Mastering – BluRay or HD DVD?

Sorry for my recent absence – I had a minor and scheduled operation – nothing serious, and that knocked me out of circulation for a while. Anyway…

One of the things I decided I would do with ‘Gone Fishing’ is to go through the whole consumer HD process – that is, as well as making the full 35mm / HDCam SR master, I would also make a domestic HD disk (this will be useful for some film festivals I am hoping). That means BluRay or HD DVD. And I can’t tell you how annoyed I am at the current ridiculous format war! So right now, it’s chose – BluRay or HD-DVD? And of course, one will not play the other.

There is a huge amount of tech nonsense floating around, but here’s what I think is a rough rundown…

Technically, there isn’t much to separate the two formats. BluRay disks hold more than HD DVD, but it’s not that important to my mind as most films are not Ben Hurr! I have seen both side by side, and I can tell you, to my eye, there is little to nothing in it.

HD DVD was first out of the gate and has a greater disk to player ratio than BluRay – that means fewer players sold than BluRay, but those people who bought HD DVD buy more disks.

Sony fumbled the release of BluRay buy using significantly poorer encoding methods for the disks, which makes some films very poor in comparison to HD DVD (though new releases should not be affected).

Both will handle multiple resolutions up to 1080p. Not that you can really get a TV that cheaply that can handle that resolution (most claim to do so, but actually they down-convert to 720p!).

HD DVD does not appear to have region coding where BluRay does.

Of course, BluRay comes as standard on PS3, and HD DVD can be used with X-Box (with an extra drive). I can’t help but feel BluRay player sales are artificially increased by PS3 sales.

New players will start to emerge in the next year that will handle both formats. At last!

So the question. If I am to master ‘Gone Fishing’ in an HD domestic format so I can go through the process and learn how to do this, which format do I chose? One key thing is that I must be able to play it back at home, or what is the point? I have to take the whole process through to the logical consumer end to have that experience… ‘It looked great when mastering but when I saw it home I noticed… yada yada yada…’ Which now leaves me with a very annoying choice – do I buy a BluRay or HD DVD player?

I could buy a PS3 and use that, selling it in a year or so on eBay when dual format players are around? Blockbuster also carry BluRay (my local does not carry HD DVD for rental). But HD DVD is cheaper, the disk manufacture is cheaper also, and frankly, Blade Runner is being released next week on HD DVD. Hmmmm.

I have really struggled with this one as I hate wasting money and I can’t help but feel that making an investment now into either BluRay or HD DVD is a bad way to spend cash! Grrrrrr! I will make my choice in the next few days and let you know how I get on.

Of course, this may all be rendered moot if I can only find a facility house who will master one format for me (for free I hope!)

Onward and upward!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

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