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"Home Theater" Magazine Article



Something recently came across my desk which might be of interest to TIG
members.  It's an article in the October 97 issue of "Home Theater" magazine
called "Taking Film Into The Next Century" by Steve Guttenberg.  What it's
about is John Dowdell and his Spirit at The Tape House, and why Spirit
transfers are superior to those from flying spot telecines for DVD mastering.

I would prefer not to re-ignite the Spirit vs. Cintel ruckus of the past, so
please forgive me if I tend to skate around those issues a bit.  My first
impression of the author is that he must be a newbie, or certainly writes
like one: "Film and video [ ... ] started out completely ignoring each other,
but over the last 20 years or so they've become fierce competitors."  Gee, I
don't suppose this guy ever heard of DuMont's "Electronicam," or RCA's TK-28
film chain, or all the old Ranks that have been in service in this country
for 10 or 15 years!

The flying spot defects cited, which allegedly cause the MPEG-2 encoders used
to produce DVDs to have fits, include tube texture, gate weave, and reading
the film's "tooth."  Tube texture is supposed to be what happens when the
"individual phosphor granules in the flying spot CRT become apparent."
  (Sorry, TWiGi!) Gate weave is described as a general fault of Rank gates
but not a problem for the Spirit, or that's what one conludes from the text.
 Film "tooth" is supposed to be "a texture on interpositive stock that keeps
it from making too intimate a contact with another film stock when copying;"
flying spot scanners are claimed to be sensitive to this texture.  (Huh?)

Two other things were mentioned that I found noteworthy.  DVD is claimed to
be free from the "Chroma Police" in that it can accomodate chroma levels
higher than those found in NTSC or laserdisk.  Now DVD is still too new to
draw any general conclusions about it, but from what I've personally seen,
far stricter adherence to levels is necessary to make successful DVD masters.
 All those delightful chroma over- and undershoots we didn't worry too much
about in NTSC now become a big problem; some colorists I know have told me
they find they have to work in a color space that is about 30% smaller in
order to avoid having their jobs rejected.  This has been noticed by
consumers watching DVDs as well; at least two people I know have bought DVD
players and then returned them because the pictures were "too flat."

The other thing is that it is mentioned at the end of the article that
Philips is working to create an icon to identify Spirit-mastered DVDs, and
some organization called the "Imaging Science Foundation" might even get into
the business of setting minimum standards for transfers! (SMPTE, where are
you now that we need you ?!?)

Christopher Bacon

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