Quick Thoughts: The death of HD DVD and the future Blu-Ray+anime love-child

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“Eh!? Blue screen of death!? But this is the PS7 not that crappy xbox1440. And I was so close that save point in Final Fantasy XXII.”

whitehatazn-48.jpgSo one of the big news stories that came about from the past few days in the technology and business world is Toshiba’s decision to end production and development of HD DVD technology; effectively handing the trophy for next gen video disc format to Sony’s Blu-Ray Disc. There are tons of news articles on the topic over the past few weeks and I really don’t wanna go into why HD DVD is down for the count.

I will say a few things about a few items involving the recent developments involving high definition technologies. Personally, I really wanted HD DVD to go down. First, Blu-Ray is the superior technology in a number of ways and as a engineer, it would be disappointing that we don’t utilize the latest and greatest technology in this area. Second, and even more personal, I hate Microsoft. So anytime we can stick it to the them, its a good day (even if it really is to the greater expense to Toshiba).

So enough about the loser and more about possible winner… Blu-Ray has seemingly become the format of choice for high definition media and now that more and more companies are following their lead, anime companies seem to be following suit as well. Will we see more anime on Blu-Ray? Most likely. Will it take off like DVD did for over the VHS? Probably not. There are a few things to consider.

First, technology has gotten to the point were DVD is a solid developed media format as is. This idea was brought up to me from Adam over at the Anime Roundtable Podcast. The key selling point of visual quality for Blu-Ray is not that much in comparison with DVD for most people. Those who have the visual acuity and are willing to shell out the money for the equipment to notice the difference (like me), they will be the ones who buy into the new technology. However, for most of us, cheaper DVD still seems to be the way to go. And with development of upconverting DVD players, it seems most of us can get our visual fix without breaking the bank.

Add to this the growing nature of digital downloads and Blu-Ray has another issue to deal with as a solid physical media technology. But that can be analyzed on a future day.

There is one thing I would be very interested in as anime companies begin to utilize Blu-Ray: episode counts. Blu-Ray is one of the first optical disc mediums to have the options for advanced video codecs such as MPEG4-H.264 or Microsoft’s (*cough*hate, hate, hate*cough*) VC-1. If companies just utilize the traditional MPEG2 codec currently used in DVDs, they should be able to place 2hrs of high definition video content on a single-layer Blu-Ray disc. Use H.264 and it is projected that 4hrs of high definition video can be placed on a single-layer Blu-Ray disc, 8hrs on the newer dual-layer discs. I would love it if I see 13-episode anime on one disc or 26-episode anime on two discs in high definition with all the extras. I know it would be expensive but I will definitely go out and get those if it is an anime I like.

I’ve always viewed anime on optical media of any sort as a collector’s item. The reason why I own anime on DVD even though I’ve seen it all ahead of time is because I really like the series I own. I always believe in the policy of making the effort to own something you enjoy over owning because it supports the industry. The anime industry needs to address the issue of exposing anime on a greater scale by a cost-effective means. When they solve that, then I can see more justifications for buying anime DVDs. Next gen optical media alone is definitely not going to be the anime industry’s saving grace.

So yeah, I wanted to just get that out there. Finally, a blog article that actually highlights my formal education to some degree (yay for computer engineering). Of course, I could’ve easily attempted to relate Fidel Castro’s resignation to say the downfall of Lelouch in Code Geass… I’ll save that one for later maybe…

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3 Responses to Quick Thoughts: The death of HD DVD and the future Blu-Ray+anime love-child

  1. IcyStorm says:

    What exactly does MS have to do with HD DVD besides the HD DVD addon? The only reason Microsoft backed HD DVD was for the format war to last; if consumers are frustrated with the division of movies on HD DVD and Blu-ray, it gives opportunity Microsoft (and other companies as well, such as Apple and Amazon) to step in with digital distribution.

    MS doesn’t care much about which one wins; we can see that with the rumors of a 360 Blu-ray addon coming as soon as May. Blu-ray won’t be the quickest to catch on, but once Sony and Microsoft start pushing Blu-ray as a major selling factor (for the PS3 and possible 360 Blu-ray addon, respectively), consumers will pay attention. DVDs were a major reason for the PS2’s success, and there is no doubt the PS3 will succeed because of Blu-ray. I know many people that do not understand why their DVDs don’t look as good as they do on standard 4:3 TVs, and that’s precisely because they’re not watching high definition content.

    Of course, some people don’t care, but then what’s the point of HDTVs? HDTV sales are rising, and as more and more households get them, people will start taking notice, especially if future digital broadcasts feature better picture quality than DVDs. When they notice that their DVDs don’t look as good as their HD channels on satellite, cable, or even basic antenna television, consumers will seek answers. The tech industry and media will point at Blu-ray.

    The main thing to deal with here is digital distribution, but that’s limited by hard drive size and possible future bandwidth caps by ISPs. Also the simple fact that many people like to own hard-copies.

  2. koneko-chan says:

    Agreed. Microsoft’s backing of HD DVD is equivalent of slapping their logo down on a Daytona 500 race car and claiming their help in race development. Even if they miss estimates or were to actually lose money in the HD DVD pullout, Microsoft still has plenty of free cash to get around it. As you can probably tell, I’m still quite bitter about not being hired by them.

    I dunno about addons or the PS3 affecting the success of Blu-Ray. Remember, the visual quality gap between VHS (analog) to DVD (pseudo-digital: media is digital, but viewing equipment and cables at the time were not) is huge. Whereas the visual quality gap between DVD and Blu-Ray is only really noticeable to the trained eye. Considering that the equipment to notice the difference is at least $600 (tv and player) on a good deal, I see no value yet of getting Blu-Ray on visual need argument. Even with analog TV shut off in the US within a year and your local Best Buy guy pushing it, I think the total costs are still way too high for most especially now that the big ‘R’ word of recession continues to creep its ugly head.

    What I think will give Blu-Ray a solid push is its capacities. 25gb vs. 4.7gb is a solid difference and with development in line for possible tri- and quad-layer technologies, it’s selling point that I think Blu-Ray should really hammer. With the commercialization of more affordable Blu-Ray PC drives in both desktops and laptops, I can see Blu-Ray as a solid archival storage solution.

  3. IcyStorm says:

    Eh, most people that I talk to do notice the difference between 480i/480p and HD (1080p especially). This is especially noticeable in games (although they just notice that the quality and resolution is higher; they don’t exactly know what 720p, 1080i, and 1080p mean, and would never notice that many 360 games do not run at even 720p natively), but the few of my friends that do have Blu-ray players sometimes say, “How was I able to watch DVDs before?!”

    But perhaps, yes, Blu-ray’s capacities will be the main driving factor… but that is directly related to the resolution of the content. More space = more HD content. However, Blu-ray still needs to head down in costs (in terms of discs, not the players) before it truly takes off.

    Remember that the government will be offering discounts for digital-to-analog converters, so people will not necessarily need HDTVs just yet. But heck, even if it takes 10 years, there’s nothing wrong with getting Blu-ray into our homes now. Nothing will replace this format for at least another 15 or so years, I’ll bet.

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