December 9, 2012

Blu-ray discs are a scam!

With dual layer Blu-ray discs being the industry standard for feature-length videos why isn't the 50 GB storage space used more efficiently?

50 GB is around 12 times the storage space of standard DVD discs with 4.3 GB yet still entire seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", for example, don't come on a single Blu-ray disc. What the Hell? Why?

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" isn't even on Blu-ray, but the seasons do already exist in 6 disc DVD packs. Theoretically, that means that 6 seasons should fit on 3 Blu-ray discs. Give or take a few pointless extras and maybe adding the original 1992 movie to a boxset, the maximum number of Blu-ray discs needed would be 4. How much do you want to bet that when "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" does come out on Blu-ray, there'll still be 6 Blu-ray discs to every pack and the price will be doubled?

What's the reason for this? Do you think that the original 4:3 ratioed, standard television format shows will be magically enhanced somehow to make them clearer or the stories will become any better because of it? You can't save the final season of "Buffy" from being crap anyway no matter how much you polish the turd, but I digressed. No, the truth is that Blu-ray is a scam.

No matter what the media and the nerd blogs tell you, there's no huge difference between the transfers of movies available on DVD and Blu-ray in the same way that DVD was a huge technological upgrade from VHS. The movie industry simply needed something else to get money out of people. If there is any benefit at all, it's that the plastic which covers the label where the information is really stored is a little bit harder to scratch. It's still not impossible though. Errors in duplication are just as frequent too.

I've seen Blu-ray discs which look absolutely no different to the DVD versions of the same movie. I've also seen transfers to Blu-ray which are a lot worse so it's become obvious that it's all a con. Unless you have a huge HDTV with at least a 70 inch screen, you aren't going to notice much difference either way. On my 3 year old 42 inch television, there's no difference at all.

Blu-ray players, on the other hand, aren't a scam. If they'd been used the right way in the beginning to play multi-featured discs back then they'd be a fantastic upgrade for those of us who always wanted a DVD jukebox from Sony which actually worked properly. The bonus features which allow Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming services through the same boxes are also commendable additions.

But is it worth upgrading everything to Blu-ray when you already have a huge DVD collection already? The answer is no. You aren't going to get any benefit out of it. The DVDs you own will automatically be up-scaled by the Blu-ray player to the resolution of your new HDTV, but most HDTVs should do that with a standard DVD player anyway. That's also the same process used by most of the Blu-ray manufacturers who claim to have "remastered" the movies. What did they do? They enlarged the picture and burnt it back onto Blu-ray, that's all. Give me a break! Only a movie filmed in HD specifically for the Blu-ray format is ever going to look "better" (and without letterboxing) because your old beloved '80s slashers probably don't even exist on a better format originally than VHS or Beta (if you are lucky).

So the process might be more intricate in the case of transferring 35mm prints to Blu-ray than merely up-scaling low-budget horror DVDs, but the principle remains the same. If the original source material is crap, the result of the transfer will be too. It's not some kind of magic that turns fuzzy into non-fuzzy at the press of a button. In some cases, it nearly is, but not really. But do you really believe that anyone is going to invest the time or money into rescanning movies when a few digital enhancements are all that it will take to satisfy the masses? Of course, not. 99.9% of "remastered" Blu-ray movies are the same as the DVD except up-scaled and re-burnt onto new media.

Does one movie really require the whole 50 GB of space for the resulting image to be stored on? Hell, no! You could fit 10 remastered movies on each Blu-ray disc if you wanted to, but obviously the movie studios don't want to do that. They want you to buy everything again individually apart from the movies which didn't sell well in the first place. They don't care about those at all which is why there are so many DVD multi-feature bargains to be found.

While the majority of people would rather buy multipacks of two or three movies per side of a flipper disc, the single feature scam continues to entice the cash from the wallets of those people with more money than sense.

Do yourself a favour this Christmas. Just say no to Blu-ray until the movie distributors start using the format properly.

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