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DVD demo at Universal...



On January 29th, I took part in a DVD technology demonstration and
discussion put together by Bill Hogan of Sprocket Digital and hosted by
Jerry Pierce of the Universal Digital Compression Center on the Universal
lot.  Quite a number of local people belonging to this list were present.

Jerry had assembled several late beta versions of forthcoming home DVD
players, as well as several domestic and foreign titles.

We were shown split screen (Laserdisk/DVD) versions of The Wizard of Oz, =
as
well as a release versions of the latest Bond movie "Golden Eye" and a =
work
in progress dealing with the compression on "Babe" which we were able to
A-B on hi rez monitors, comparing the original D1 source to the =
compressed
version.  The DVD version of "Oz" looked at least as good as the =
Laserdisk
version, and the compressed version of the "Babe" scenes I saw were
excellent.

In fact, all the DVD images looked outstanding.  Not outstanding like
looking at original neg shot by Allen Daviau on a Spirit feeding a =
properly
set up new Sony monitor in serial mode, but pretty damn good. We're =
talking
about a $500 retail box playing randomly accessible images on a cheap =
disk
you can hold in your hand, after all.  Much, much better than the best =
VHS
or even S-VHS.  AMAZING audio capability as well.

Although there was some small amount of blocky artifacting present on =
large
areas with subtle color gradations (specifically big sky shots), in =
general
the images were FAR better than anything I have seen at DVD demos or =
trade
shows in the past, and much better than any of the small dish satellite
systems I've seen in stores.

I was very surprised and very impressed.  The Bond picture looked
especially good considering that the data rate used was just over 3
megabits due to the length of the film and other considerations.

Jerry mentioned that a deal had been made with Blockbuster for DVD =
rentals,
which means product should be available in volume as soon as the majors
pull their heads out and reach final agreements on copyright, royalties,
copy protection and whatever else is keeping their legal department up
nights.  No one could venture a guess as to what titles might cost, by =
the
way, until the legal issues are cleared.

I'd like to thank Bill Hogan for organizing the session and inviting me =
to
participate, and Jerry Pierce for hosting it and giving straightforward
answers, including "I don't know," to sometimes difficult questions.

As someone who has, in the past, spoken disparagingly of DVD in this very
venue, I felt it only right to speak up about the current state of the
beast.  Sorry it took me three weeks to get to it, Bill.

Perhaps others who were present will voice their thoughts.

Bob Kertesz
BlueScreen LLC

The Ultimate in ULTIMATTE compositing