Just forget the words and sing along

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

First, the important news. I've sat by in patience, not wanting to go into debt buying any more DVD boxed sets. But, my desire to not go into hock has also meant that I've missed out on the wonderful DVD boxed sets of The Transformers and G.I. Joe. Well, coming out on July 6, is one of the most demanded boxed sets ever for a cartoon. This one I'll just have to break down and buy:

Batman: the Animated Series - Volume 1

This boxed set has the first 27 episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which is pretty much the first half of season one. You'll also get a few featurettes and running commentaries on certain episodes.

My God, it'd be so easy to go into debt....

Speaking of DVD, there's an interesting article on the future of the format at The Digital Bits. Let me cut and paste it for your convenience:

"Also today, Fred Kaplan over at The New York Times has revealed a fascinating new project the folks at Lowry Digital have been working on in secret for the last few months (the story was in the Sunday issue - a free subscription is required to access the online article). As you know, John Lowry and his team specialize in the digital restoration of classic films, and have recently worked on such films as Once Upon a Time in the West, Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Star Wars trilogy for their respective DVD releases. The project that Lowry has just revealed is nothing less than an attempt to create "digital negatives" of films.

A little background is in order - current DVD carries 525 lines of picture resolution, while full HDTV carries 1,080 lines of resolution (this is the same resolution of the forthcoming Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats). However, in order to duplicate the full resolution of 35mm film in digital video, you'd need to scan the prints at a whopping 4,000 lines (also known as 4K resolution). That's exactly what Lowry is attempting. By scanning entire films at full 4K resolution, they're creating digital copies of films that are every bit as good as the original optical camera negatives. These digital files can then be digitally cleaned of dust, scratches and other impurities, and can also be color corrected by the original director or D.P. (if they're still with us) to ensure that the resulting image is exactly as the filmmakers intended it to look. This 4K file is then of high enough resolution that perfect quality film prints can be made from it for future theater screenings. What's more, a 4K resolution master is more than good enough for HDTV, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc uses. They're of high enough resolution, in fact, that they're likely to be good for future (as yet undreamed of) home video formats as well. Best of all, these "digital negatives" will never fade or deteriorate over time, as long as the data drives are properly stored and cared for.

The process is absolutely fascinating, and could have a HUGE impact on the preservation of our film heritage for future generations. You should know that MGM recently commissioned the 4K scanning of 6 of its classic James Bond films. These 4K masters could be used to generate new DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases. Even if they're just released on standard DVD at 525 lines, because the source is of such high resolution, these new DVD copies should look far superior to MGM's previous DVD releases of the films. We'll have to keep a close eye on this. Fascinating, no?"

Next Issue...Fascinating Yes

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