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DVD demo at Universal...



I was not at the demonstration session at Universal, but on a recent visit
to Los Angeles I spent some time with Brad Hunt of All Post looking at the
DVD mastering process and seeing some examples.

I certainly agree with Bob that the quality is far higher than any other
means of home delivery, giving you close to component digital quality in a
lot of areas. Some things do confuse it - the demonstration disk Brad
showed me included some rostrum camera shots of a Yellow Pages which broke
up completely - but in general variable bit rate reduction MPEG-2 does a
great job.

It is also a fairly flexible format, with the facility for branching within
the video signal. You could have an R-rated movie, for instance, which
could either jump around the "offensive" scenes or switch to alternative
versions, and the format allows for the player to include a "G-rated only"
switch for parental control. There is a 4:3 or 16:9 control bit, too.

There are up to eight independent 5.1 channel audio streams, and space for
so many subtitles and sub-picture elements that it is inconceivable that
you would fill them. An inventive producer could make some very attractive
interactive educational titles. If anyone has some spare cash, I would very
much like to make some music titles: alternative camera angles around an
orchestra, with the audio balance changing to match the shot you choose,
and sub-titles giving cues to the symphony's structure.

As Bob says, provided the owners of the raw material get their licensing
deals sorted soon and Blockbuster puts its muscle behind it, DVD could turn
out to be a big thing.

It could also lead to big business for telecine suites, because the
transfers have to be immaculate. Data compression works by throwing away
redundant information, that is (in the main) stuff that does not change
from one frame to the next. Noise screws that totally, as does any picture
instability. All the current talk of TWiGi and Afterglow and URSA Diamond
has come along at exactly the right moment.

Dick