Archive for the ‘High Definition (Blu-ray/HD DVD/4K)’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (October 27, 2019)

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Never have so many people so disinterested in the NFL watch Monday Night Football with such anticipation before. That’s right, the whole synergy things between Disney and Disney owned ESPN meant that the new Star Wars trailer was shown during half-time on MNF.

I myself took part in the craziness by trying to get a really good quality 4K upscaled trailer to the masses as soon as possible, even live-tweeting the entire process.

And I guess I got caught up in the madness (and yes, I’ve already pre-booked my movie ticket), and subsequently uploaded a French/Canadian version of the trailer, a dialogue-free music version of the trailer, and just yesterday, the original studio released 4K version of the trailer.

No more The Rise of Skywalker uploads, I promise.

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While big-budget Hollywood blockbusters are usually the ones that get all the attention, the video streaming industry has quietly overtaken Hollywood in terms of revenue just this year, globally.

And this is why every other media conglomerate is launching their own streaming platform these days, and so it makes total sense that the two rather large non-Disney ones, Warner Media and NBC Universal, would be launching their own as well.

NBC Universal’s Peacock won’t be taking on Netflix, not directly anyway

Nobody really wants to directly take on the behemoth that’s Netflix though. Amazon has long said that Prime Video is really just a way to sell Prime memberships and get people addicted to shopping on Amazon. Hulu has focused more on TV and catch-up content, although it’s starting to take Netflix head-on. And Warner’s HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock will also be avoiding direct conflict with Netflix by going after cable subscribers, with both offering free subscriptions to this demographic (and perhaps the most likely to not have a Netflix subscription), providing a transition from cable to streaming without people having to spend their hard-earned.

It’s a good strategy because asking people to spend money on yet another subscription service is going to be hard, especially when any one of these services would have more than enough content to keep you entertained (although not necessarily *all* the content you may want to watch).

But that also points to another problem. Is there such a thing as too much content? Too many new original shows and movies from too many platforms, even if some of them are “free”, that you just don’t have time to watch it all? I myself am still catching up on shows that I first added to my watch list three years ago, so I guess things are only going to get worse.

And this whole Golden Age of Television™️ thing isn’t helping! Why does everything have to be so good?!

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Well, the only solution I can think of is to spend more time watching stuff, which is what I’m going to do right now. See you next time!

Weekly News Roundup (October 20, 2019)

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

So the Rise of Skywalker trailer didn’t materialise last week, but I promise that it’s coming this (U.S.) Monday. I’m sure this time because ESPN, of all people, actually posted a video announcing the release of the trailer, which will be shown for the first time during Monday Night Football.

Well, if ESPN can post a video promoting a Star Wars trailer, I can certainly do the same!

Still not a huge amount of news, but we do have some (and by some, I mean one story), so here we are …

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It’s not a great time to be Netflix right now. They’ve largely managed to see to the threat of Amazon and Hulu, despite the latter spending more and more on content. But they now have to contend with new offerings from Apple and Disney, namely Apple TV+ and Disney+.

To make things worse, two new players have announced they’ll enter the market, with Warner Media’s HBO Max and NBC Universal’s Peacock, both trying to tap into the lucrative streaming scene.

NBC Universal’s Peacock joins HBO Max, Disney+, CBS All Access, Apple TV+, Amazon and Hulu in competing with Netflix

But is Netflix worried? Nah, say the company’s bosses. CEO Reed Hastings was a bit too casual with his statement last month that November, when Apple TV+/Disney+ launches, will usher in a “whole new world” for streaming – and the market interpreted this as a suggestion that things are going to change (and not for the better) for Netflix. Never mind that Hastings was clearly trying to use an “Aladdin” reference to have some fun with the whole Disney+ thing, but the truth is, Netflix perhaps should be worried.

With Warner, Universal, Disney, three of the largest studios, going their own way and taking their content with them, it leaves Netflix increasing dependent on their original productions. Productions that, without a theatrical and home video sales run, are almost never profitable in any meaningful direct way. Our sister site Streambly has been monitoring the binge-watching bahaviour of Netflix subscribers and the most popular shows on Netflix are not the ones you think. They are shows like ‘Friends’ (NBC), ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (NBC), ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (CBS) and ‘The Office’ (NBC). Shows that, in time, will probably no longer be allowed to have a home on Netflix. And that’s not to mention all the blockbuster movies that will no longer be made available on Netflix.

So while Hastings may have been just joking around with the “whole new world” statement, what he says is actually quite true. We are entering a whole new, fragmented world of streaming that won’t be a friendly one for Netflix. For the consumer, we will have access to more streaming content than ever before, but only if we’re willing to pay the price, and when combined, the price won’t be cheap. Some of these offerings will probably fail to impress and will die away naturally and we will see some consolidation again, but before then, things will be more complicated (and more expensive) than they need to be.

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That’s it for this week. Come back on Monday night (Tuesday afternoon, Australian time) for the Rise of Skywalker trailer, one of the biggest trailers this year. And maybe I’ll see you this time next week again, assuming we have something interesting to talk about. Until then …

Weekly News Roundup (October 13, 2019)

Sunday, October 13th, 2019

Okay. So “weekly” news roundup has somehow turned into a “monthly” one, and that, I can assure you, is not a permanent change. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy making 4K trailers, some Star Wars stuff, and even this music video for ‘Joker’ (highly recommended). As always, check our Twitter feed for updates, happenings, and going-ons.

And yes, I promise I will start writing a bit more news (a bit more as in more than nothing), which is why I’m here today. But don’t get your hopes up, there’s only one thing to talk about this week.

Gaming

After months of no news, we suddenly have lots of it about Sony’s next game console, unofficially dubbed the PS5.

First of all, it now has an official name: PS5. Not much of a surprise there. Slightly surprising, given the lack of it on any incarnations of the PS4, is the including of 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray playback. Finally, I hear you say. And you’d be right, because Sony gambled that 4K discs wouldn’t take off and they were wrong. While 4K UHD Blu-ray hasn’t replaced standard Blu-ray, but it’s built itself a nice niche and sales have been relatively strong for such a new format. 4K streaming has been doing well too, but it seems most people still prefer to get 4K from discs.

A photo of two PS4 controllers
More details about the PS5 has been released by Sony

The problem is that high-quality 4K takes a long time to download, or a very fast connection to stream. And I’m not even counting Netflix 4K as high-quality 4K, because compared to 4K discs and on a large high-quality screen, you can easily see the difference (same with YouTube – the 4K trailers I upload are nowhere near as nice when played back there, compared to my original MKV versions – you can download some of these 4K trailers for yourself and compare). The same problem is happening with games that are getting bigger and bigger, which is why Sony has opted to include a BD-XL drive in the PS5 that will allow game developers to put more on a single disc (100GB vs 50GB). Gamers can still download games, but Sony is introducing a new feature where they only need to download a part of the game to get started, with other parts downloading when needed.

Also announced are some important changes to the new DualShock controller for the PS5 (DualShock 5?), including haptic feedback, haptic trigger buttons and, finally, a USB-C charging port.

Sony also confirmed that ray-tracing support will be in hardware form as opposed to software. Interesting ammunition for the next console wars (assuming the next Xbox doesn’t also do hardware ray-tracing), and for those that are completely invested in gaming graphics.

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And that’s it for the week. Hopefully, there will be more news next week. For Star Wars geeks like myself, you might be interested to know that there’s a good chance the new Rise of Skywalker trailer might be coming on Monday during Monday Night Football. If not this Monday, then the next one for sure. Excited!

Weekly News Roundup (September 1, 2019)

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

And we’re back! Quite a few things have happened since the last WNR, and I know I promised to keep this thing regular, but sometimes everything else seems to just get in the way. No more promises though, but I will try my best in the future.

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If you’re an Aussie and you like the sort of things I like, then you would have been ecstatic about the news of Disney+ coming down under, and for the really good price of $8.99 (that translates to less than the US pricing of $6.99).

What’s more, with Disney’s fan event, the D23 Expo, happening just a short while after the pricing announcement, Disney used the event to give fans even more information about the service.

We got trailers for the new Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian (and the trailer looked fantastic – if the show if half as good, it will be epic), original films Lady and the Tramp and Noelle. There was also a bunch of announcement for new Marvel shows, and a big one, Ewan McGregor coming back as Obi-Wan in a new TV series.

From a technical standpoint, there was also some exciting news that all Disney+ accounts will have access to 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. This makes Disney+ by far the cheapest streaming plan to included these advanced features, $9 per month cheaper than the Netflix plan with the equivalent feature.

Those in the U.S. can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for only $12.99 per month, saving almost $5.

A screenshot showing the Disney+ Interface
Disney+ will be worth having

With so much enticing content, a great price and unexpected feature-set, it looks like Disney is very very serious about going head to head with Netflix. All the talk about Disney+ not being a competitor for Netflix (and most of that talk is coming from Disney, which is telling) is technically correct, but with Hulu under its wings, there’s no reason, from a content point of view, that Disney can’t take on Netflix.

It will be good news for us consumers, not so much Netflix shareholders, I think.


And in the near future, when you’re watching a 4K Disney+ stream on your new TV, you might notice that there might be a new mode on your TV called ‘Filmmaker Mode’. If you see it, you should enable it.

Announced this week by the UHD Alliance, along with CE partners Panasonic, LG and VIZIO and along with the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation, Filmmaker Mode will be a shortcut that turns off all the post-processing features on the TV that distracts from the film-watching experience. You know the ones – motion smoothing, the over-sharpening and unnatural colour corrections, and when combined, makes movies look more like daytime soap operas.

The logo for Filmmaker Mode
Filmmaker Mode will make it easy to see films the way they are supposed to be seen

But now, with just one setting, you can watch the film as the filmmakers intended, with the right colour reproduction, and more importantly, the right framerate.

The new mode seems to be made for UHD Blu-ray discs, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for streaming as well. So there won’t be any more excuses for films to be played back with the soap opera effect turned on. No excuses!!


That’s it for the week. Back to making trailers for me. Until next time!

Weekly News Roundup (August 11, 2019)

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Welcome back to the WNR. Sorry for the long break, but we finally have some worthy news stories to talk about, and so here we are.

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Regular readers will know how we big up streaming here, and not just because we also run an Australian news site that’s dedicated to the topic of streaming.

But you have to be living under a rock to not notice that streaming is taking over everything, but sometimes some solid stats go a long way to paint a full picture of what’s happening.

That data has been recently provided by analytics firm Conviva, and it shows that streaming media consumption has double over the last year in the United States.

The consumption was led by Roku users, who helped to drive up the adoption of Internet-connected TVs by 143% and accounted for 43% of all connected TV viewing measured by Conviva. Roku themselves are seeing a period of strong growth, with the service now having more than 30 million subscribers.

Photo of Roku Streaming Stick
Roku is the most popular streaming device, according to new data

Adoption of Amazon Fire TV devices also growing strongly over the last year, up 145% and now accounting for 18% of connected viewing.

Here in Australia, our one and only cable TV operator has finally embraced streaming and have started to bundle Netflix with their subscriptions (despite the fact that it tried to launch its own streaming platform). And with broadband speeds increasing and bandwidth costs decreasing all the time, streaming just make more and more sense.

With that said, and this is from my first-hand experience with uploading 4K trailers, we are still dealing with huge files and that it’s going to take a while before we reach mainstream adoption. For one, YouTube’s bitrate of choice for 4K content is only around 13 Mbps (and that’s using the not so efficient VP9 codec, instead of HEVC), and that’s not really enough. But any higher, the number of people able to watch 4K quickly drops from an already small pool of users actively looking for 4K content. So until people can comfortably stream a 30+ Mbps stream and still be able to use their connections for other things, 4K adoption (despite the huge number of 4K or at least 1440p capable devices, including most phones and tablets and TVs sold these days) will be bottlenecked. Let’s not even think about 8K for now.


Disney’s acquisition of Fox is a bold and potentially profitable move for the Mickey Mouse company. But not right now though, because Disney has been surprised at just how much Fox Studios is underperforming right now, with projected profits turning into losses for the last quarter.

Screenshot from Ford v Ferrari
Disney/Fox has high hopes for Ford v Ferrari

The box office for Dark Phoenix was much less than expected, and none of Fox’s other movies also did well enough. The rest of 2019 looks a bit brighter with Ford v Ferrari and Ad Astra, but these are hardly locked in winners.

So if anything, the sale of Fox to Disney came at the right time for the former News Corp studio. Maybe at the right time for Disney as well. Not so much for Fox’s release slate, since Disney is already doing pretty well this year with over $8 billion in box office takings, but as a way to acquire a great back catalogue of titles to fill their Disney+ and Hulu content libraries.


That’s all I have for you this week. Until next time!