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Million Dollar Baby HD DVD impressions

HD DVD

The HD DVD of Million Dollar Baby was the first high definition disc I ever purchased, way back in the summer of 2006, and I remember being a little underwhelmed by both the film and the image quality at the time. I watched it again the other night for the first time since then, and while my opinion on the image quality remains largely unchanged, the film definitely went up a couple of notches in my book. I still think that Clint Eastwood’s recent Changeling is a far better display of his directorial talents, but there’s a lot to be said for this understated and rather grubby tale. Mark Kermode calls Eastwood an “unfussy” director, in that he learned the craft working in low budget cinema and has a very workmanlike, “let’s get this done” approach to what he does, which I think works extremely well for films such as this.

Picture-wise, this isn’t exactly an overwhelming-looking disc, and the problems are mainly related to the degree of grain reduction that has been applied. Detail is reasonable but nothing special, and the grain has basically been turned to mush, and there is some pretty noticeable smearing on textures. Take a look at the brick wall of the gym at the start of Chapter 3 - it’s not pleasant. The BD of Changeling was similarly affected, which does give me pause to wonder if Eastwood is a fan of the grain-free look. (I’ll be very interested to see how Gran Torino looks when the BD comes out in June.) Some shots show prominent ringing (see, for instance, Example 4), but I’m tempted to attribute this to the optical process. There seems to be some degree of disagreement as to whether or not the film received a digital intermediate (DI), but regardless the master used for the HD DVD (and presumably BD) came from a print source. There’s also a heck of a lot of artefacting in the shadows, something that becomes very noticeable when watching on a projection setup in a darkened room (VC-1 encoding, I’m told, has come a long way in this respect since the early days). I’m genuinely curious as to how the MPEG-2 BD version compares, and will be renting it for comparative purposes. 7/10

Million Dollar Baby
studio: Warner; country: USA; region code: N/A; codec: VC-1;
file size: 15.3 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 15.76 Mbit/sec

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Posted: Monday, May 04, 2009 at 4:23 PM | Comments: 3
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | HD DVD | Technology

 
Comments

1.

Not sure about this film as i have only ever seen it on DVD but if you get the chance to watch the upcoming release of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly i would love to hear your views on possible grain reduction done to that film and also the Trek movies.

Posted by: FoxyMulder, May 5, 2009 7:12 PM

2.

Quick question:

Is this the computer monitor you used to have.

http://www.shop.bt.com/products/samsung-23--wide-sm2333sw-5ms-dvi-tft-gloss-black-5FNF.html

Looks pretty good for the price and if it is the one you used to have is it any good ?

Posted by: FoxyMulder, May 5, 2009 7:41 PM

3.

I saw the screen capture from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly at DVD Beaver and immediately said to myself “Nope, I’m going to sit this one out.”

That monitor, by the way, isn’t the one I’ve got. I’ve got this one.

At that price, the Samsung you linked to is almost certainly a TN panel and thus will have the poor viewing angle and uneven backlight associated with that technology. The native 1920x1080 (versus the more widely used 1920x1200 for computer monitors) would be nice in theory for watching movies, although in practice a TN panel just isn’t going to lend itself to that sort of use anyway (weak blacks, uneven backlight, etc.). I’d hazard a guess and say it probably compares quite well to the 23” Fujitsu monitor that I use upstairs with my secondary system. It gets the job done, but I doubt I’d use it for anything visually intensive. For word processing and the odd bit of web surfing, though, it’s fine.

Posted by: Michael Mackenzie, May 5, 2009 9:45 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 31st 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

http://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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