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Is it a sign of the apocalypse when an MPEG2 encode looks this good?

Blu-ray

My copy of the Blu-ray release of Resident Evil: Apocalypse arrived today from Amazon.com. Slowly but surely, my DVD collection is being replaced with high definition editions!

Anyway, this guilty pleasure looks very impressive indeed in high definition, especially given that it is an MPEG2 encode (although, to be fair, Sony did have 50 GB of disc space to play around with). It’s far from the best HD title I’ve ever seen, and there are a few instances of noticeable compression artefacts (Lyris has a screen grab of the most offensive one), but this is yet another smooth, crispy, grain-filled title that looks as if remarkably little, if any, digital tampering has gone on. There is a minute amount of ringing at the top and bottom of the frame, suggesting some very mild low-pass filtering, but, for the most part, I am very pleased with how this looks. A mid-range 9/10.

On a side note, as Lyris points out in his review, certain reviewers have been critical of the image quality of this release, seemingly confusing aesthetics with cold technical facts. I’ll grant you this: Resident Evil: Apocalypse is not the world’s most visually impressive film. In fact, it looks downright shoddy in some places. However, this has got nothing to do with the quality of the disc itself. Aesthetics are a matter of taste, whereas technical issues are not. No-one in their right mind would seriously say “Well, personally, if it’s all the same to you, I’m not a fan of detailed, untampered transfers that are transparent to the source - I’d prefer something edge enhanced and DVNR’d, with some compression artefacts for good measure.” We all want the best-looking discs possible, I’m sure, but certain reviewers seem to have trouble differentiating between personal preference and actual quality, and reviews criticising discs that correctly represent the source material are, in my opinion, doing damage to home cinema.

 
Posted: Friday, March 16, 2007 at 11:29 PM | Comments: 6
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology

 
Comments

1.

I must admit I have a soft spot (somewhere in my cold dark heart) for the Resident Evil movies. They'll definitely be on my HD shopping list.

I find it fascinating that after years of being "soft" on poor DVD transfers, many reviewers are now being needlessly critical of HD transfers. They really don't seem to get the point that a disc is supposed to represent the way the FILM looked!

Posted by: Philly Q, March 17, 2007 10:30 AM

2.

When given the proper space and bitrate (and competent people, too), MPG2 can look as good as any newer codec - we all know this. If only the industry had known, it would have spared us tons of bad DVDs.

Posted by: MCP, March 17, 2007 11:06 AM

3.

I wouldn't say that's true. You need monstrously high bit-rates to avoid blocking, and even then I think the 8x8 block structure might still be visible.

The only alternative to hiding blocking is to remove details from the picture - no thanks! I'd rather have some compression artefacts than the whole thing blurred.

So I wouldn't say it can look as good as any newer codec (they were developed for reasons other than $$$$), but it can come very close.

Posted by: David Mackenzie, March 17, 2007 3:36 PM

4.

What you say is right, David, MPG2 has intrinsic limits that newer codecs have not: but I was a bit carried on by articles I read on the now almost forgotten D-VHS - although I never had the chance to actually see one those tapes in action.

Just out of curiosity, D-VHS had a 28 mbps video bit rate: could you see which is the actual bit rate for Resident Evil on BR?

Posted by: MCP, March 17, 2007 9:27 PM

5.

It tends to hover at around 18-20 Mbps, although obviously it jumps higher for more complicated shots. All things considered, it’s actually pretty low.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 17, 2007 11:23 PM

6.

PS. For those who aren’t interested in getting into Blu-ray, Constantin Film has the rights to the Resident Evil films in Germany, and they’re pro-HD DVD.

Posted by: Whiggles, March 19, 2007 1:34 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

https://www.landofwhimsy.com

 

 
 
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