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Old 06-02-07, 09:42 AM   #13
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Default Re: DVDTalk: Terminator 2 HD DVD beats T2 Blu-Ray


Originally Posted by Robert George/Obi @ Hometheaterforum.com
Okay, here's my comments on the new Studio Canal HD DVD edition of Terminator 2...

The background is this. Lionsgate has US distribution for this film. T2 was a fairly early Blu-ray release for them. Lionsgate's BD is a BD25 with MPEG-2 encoding. For whatever reason, Lionsgate has elected to release only the 137 min. theatrical version of the film in the US. Studio Canal, a French company, was one of the co-production companies of the film, and holds international distribution rights.

Studio Canal also supports the HD DVD format. For the French HD DVD release, Studio Canal has released T2 as a 2-disc set using the VC-1 codec. Disc 1 is the theatrical version of the film intended solely for the French market which means the disc has been authored with French subtitles that cannot be turned off if English language audio is selected. That's Studio Canal's policy for France-only releases. The second disc is the 152 min. "Director's Cut" version of the film that was previously released on the "Ultimate Edition" DVD in the US. Note this is not the 156 min. "extended" version also available on the "Ultimate Edition" DVD which has the tacked on Coda ending with an aged Sarah Connor in a park with a voiceover. This is what I consider the best version of the film as it includes several scenes and extensions of scenes that I find enhances the story yet it leaves off the "Coda" ending which becomes illogical with the release of Terminator 3.

It is this Director's Cut disc that is of interest so me, and I expect, quite a few other fans of the film. While the theatrical version has the "forced" subtitles, the Director's Cut disc will be released by Studio Canal in the UK. Because of this, there are no forced subtitles, and indeed, the default playback of the disc is English audio (the only track available) with no subtitles. This disc also contains what is to my eye, the finest video presentation of this film to date.

Having been a fan of this film since its original theatrical run in 1991, I have seen what I believe to be every video release except VHS. This of course includes the several laserdisc and DVD incarnations. I even had the D-Theater hi-def digital VHS edition of this film. It is this background that I base my observations of this new HD DVD edition on. Compared to all that came before, this new HD DVD edition is clearly the finest presentation of Terminator 2 to date (no pun intended).

The most immediate comparison is to Lionsgate's Blu-ray edition, as well as the theatrical version included in the HD DVD set. beginning with the theatrical edition, it appears that the HD DVD and Blu-ray came from the same master, a master that looks to have ben "pushed" to increase the visible contrast. This leads to blown out whites and some crushing of detail in blacks, as well as what some would describe as "edge enhancement". Colors are a bit overstaurated compared to the Director's Cut disc.

Although both these discs appear to be sourced from the same master, the MPEG-2 and VC-1 encodes show some fairly noticeable differences. The MPEG encode on Blu-ray is visibly softer with a bit less fine detail. There is also visible blocking where film grain is present. The VC-1 encode is both smoother and sharper with greater detail and less artifacting associated with the film grain. Even so, the master that was struck for the Director's Cut is quite obviously superior to the master used for the theatrical version.

The transfer for the Director's Cut has a more natural appearance with greater detail in both very dark and very bright areas and a more even color balance. The image is also a bit sharper than even the VC-1 encode of the theatrical version. This encoding also preserves the grain structure of the film element without overt compression artifacts.

With the somewhat limited time I have had to compare these discs I cannot comment on a comparison of audio tracks except to say I found the DTS-HD audio track on the Director's Cut version to convey all the impact and subtlety that I remember from any other version with, perhaps, a bit more authority in the lower octave and a bit more smoothness in the upper frequencies. Certainly nothing lacking in the sound department.

Rarely do the planets line up perfectly in the universe, but for fans of the Director's Cut version of Terminator 2, it seems we have a gift in the form of this French HD DVD release. Combine what I consider the best version of the film with a HD DVD authored without hindrances of any sort, and mastered and encoded as the finest visual quality this film has seen since release day 16 years ago, and you get a true treat for the film enthusiast. Although it feels more like an accident that everything worked out as it has for this disc, it is a very happy accident indeed.
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Old 06-02-07, 09:57 AM   #14
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Default Re: DVDTalk: Terminator 2 HD DVD beats T2 Blu-Ray

Originally Posted by AlphaWolf_HK
Just as an example, manufacturers are allowed to make blu-ray players that don't support dolby truehd at all, and content producers are allowed to make discs that don't include truehd tracks. HD-DVD on the other hand, all discs are required to have a truehd soundtrack, and all device manufacturers are required to include truehd playback support.
It's not mandatory for discs to have a True HD soundtrack. I've got plenty that only have DD, DD+ and/or DTS.

But every player has to support decoding of True HD. Hell, even the 360 will decode it, but it converts it to either DD or DTS before it gets output to the receiver.
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Old 06-07-07, 07:27 PM   #15
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Default Re: DVDTalk: Terminator 2 HD DVD beats T2 Blu-Ray

Originally Posted by AlphaWolf_HK
Mmmm...not necessarily. I can see where HD-DVD has an advantage, namely they are a bit more strict as far as quality control goes in that they set higher minimum standards than the Blu-Ray camp has set.

Blu-Ray indeed has the physical capability of going further than HD-DVD does, by quite a long shot. However, both content producers and hardware manufacturers are allowed to be a lot more lazy when it comes to making blu-ray products.

Just as an example, manufacturers are allowed to make blu-ray players that don't support dolby truehd at all, and content producers are allowed to make discs that don't include truehd tracks. HD-DVD on the other hand, all discs are required to have a truehd soundtrack, and all device manufacturers are required to include truehd playback support.

Again, that is just an example, as there are many other bits and pieces specifying color accuracy, encoding quality and other technical bits that I for the most part have little understanding of, where HD-DVD sets a higher minimum standard than blu-ray from what I have heard.

But remember that in spite of that, it is still physically possible for blu-ray content to go further than HD-DVD, just not required.

Personally I have little to no interest in investing in either format right now.

EDIT: Oh, I see you were being sarcastic Well, what I said still stands. I really don't favor either format, so you effectively have my objective opinion anyways.

A lot of incorrect or exaggerated information in here.

1) Stricter quality? Tell that to the owners of the HD-A1 (Here's a hint, I own one) that could never watch a movie without an audio/video sync problem cropping up. A poll on AVSFORUM pegged the number of users who suffered from this at 50%. Say what you like about Blu-ray, its players are rock solid stable when compared to that. The A2 and XA2 had numerous problems, including incompatibilities and bass management issues (still do). Go do a search for the movies Hollywoodland or Children of Men, error message, and XA2 on AVSFORUM and tell me what you find. Ha, stable indeed. My PS3 has been far superior to either the XA2 I bought in Feb or the A1 I bought last April a week before the official launch of HD DVD.
2) One could say the same about HD DVD and lossless audio. Blu-ray has lossless audio (LPCM, Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD MA) on most of its discs. HD DVD has lossless audio on some of its releases (every one of which is WB (excepting Universal's only foray into lossless: End of Days), Dolby TrueHD with dialogue normalization which degrades sound quality). DD+ is just DD with the ability to go as high as 1.5 mbits, not that it actually has to. All WB discs come out with 640k tracks just like their 640k Blu-ray releases. At the same bitrates, DD and DD+ are identical. Laziness is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I find the PS3 upgrading to 1080p24, excellent DVD upconversion, SACD playback capability, and having Dolby TrueHD in addition to LPCM (uncompressed audio) makes it far more capable than the toshiba HD-XA2 that has been promising to add 1080p24 for six months and still promises to take a few months more to add it. Yes, that same feature Sony added in the time it took Toshiba to fix disc incompatibilities with its player. Ironic, given that Toshiba is the only manufacturer of HD DVD players available today. Yes, even the 360 add-on was developed by toshiba.
3) Dolby TrueHD. I can't tell if you're lying and hoping no one will notice or if you're just that ignorant. Dolby TrueHD is required on every HD DVD player, true enough. Dolby TrueHD 2.0 is required to be decoded on every HD DVD player. Yes, that's right. Not 5.1. Not surround. Just Dolby TrueHD stereo. That's part of the spec. Why do you think all those DD+ tracks aren't Dolby TrueHD tracks? Because WB and Paramount and Universal (the only major companies even supporting HD DVD) know that at any moment a player could come out that doesn't support but TrueHD 2.0 and then SUDDENLY their discs would be stereo-only. Thus, they have to support for now and all time because Toshiba was too shortsighted to require a truly lossless 5.1 format be universally compatible with its players. Meanwhile, Blu-ray supported LPCM from day 1 at 5.1. HD DVD couldn't afford to do the same because it simplyd oesn't have the space. And about discs... well, it's been said above and it bears repeating. No, the HD DVD discs do not require TrueHD. That's just wrong (or it's a lie). Anyone with even one Paramount HD DVD would know better. Don't own the format you're espousing, eh?
4) It's all where you put your focus. If you think watching a PiP is cool and whizz-bang for that all of once you watch it, then yes HD DVD is superior (for now). If you think lossless audio and higher bit-rate encoded discs with all the same codec choices as the competition (but again at higher rates improving quality for us with large screens and projectors) are more important than extra advanced features you'll use once, then guess what? Blu-ray's superior. Were some of the early discs ...early? Sure. Blu-ray launched 5 months too early. By the time of their real launch (whent he PS3 came out), their titles had matured, their encoding processes had matured, and their encoders had matured to the point they are at today. Where Disney/BVHE and Sony are releasing some of the best high def movies today and many of the same WB encodes that were being lauded as cutting edge are now dismissed for having low-bitrates that are totally unnecessary on discs with the appropriate amount of space.

Take a look at Crank, Apocalypto, POTC 1 or 2, and see it for yourself. Blu-ray's surpassed HD DVD's quality. Anyone with both knows this is true and anyone who tells you otherwise has an agenda. And that's the truth.
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