Ach ja! HD DVD ist wunderbar!
Tomorrow sees the release of the HD DVD versions of Silent Hill and Underworld in Germany, and I have extremely high expectations.
These two are fairly high-profile Sony-owned films, and as such are Blu-ray exclusives in the US, but, thanks to the magic of no region coding, viewers from around the world can enjoy these titles, owned in Germany by Concorde Home Entertainment, on HD DVD. Silent Hill was one of the earliest films to be released on Blu-ray in the US, and while it clearly came from an impeccable master, demonstrating eye-popping detail and unmolested film grain, the combination of MPEG2 encoding and a single-layer BD-25 proved to be too much for it to handle, resulting in noticeable compression artefacts in several scenes.
Lyris, returning from the IFA 2007 consumer electronics show, brought back a promotional disc featuring excerpts from several Concorde releases, including these two, and let’s just say that, unless something goes seriously wrong, they could both be 10/10 discs. In particular, Silent Hill appears to be from the same master as the Blu-ray release, demonstrating comparable detail and the same quality of grain reproduction, but, with the added benefit of more efficient VC-1 encoding, should blow away its Sony counterpart. Underworld looks equally incredible, although, not having seen the soon-to-released US Blu-ray version, I’ve no idea how it compares. Luckily, both versions will feature the extended unrated cut.
When Lyris bought the Blu-ray release of Silent Hill earlier this year, we both agreed that, with improved encoding, it would basically have been a perfect transfer. Now, fingers crossed, we’re actually going to get that perfect transfer. Cue cries of “It’s so grainy! I thought this was supposed to be HD!”
Click the images above for larger versions.
Update, September 4th, 2007 10:43 PM: It looks as if these titles may have been delayed. Amazon is now saying that they will be dispatched within “1 to 3 weeks”, while an AV Science Forum member living in Germany is reporting that none of the electronic stores seem to have copies yet.