HDBeat Interview: Andy Parsons of the BDA & Pioneer's Senior VP

BadAss

Banned
Heres an interesting article from Andy Parson of the BDA.

HERE.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Heres an interesting article from Andy Parson of the BDA.
Pioneer defend the format they are backing...unsurprising. That said is he sure of his subject: BD-J has some significant advantages over HD DVD iHD which is fails to mention :confused: and he answers "don't know" to a question most of us could answer on here!
 

BadAss

Banned
I wonder if monitor2002 will show his face to give us his opinions also. :rotfl: He could even double his post count.

Andy Parsons.

I think that at some point that even thought we are getting off the ground a bit more slowly than they did, at some point we are going to pick up a good solid head of steam. I guess I am prediction that this will be at somewhere near the end of this calendar year. By that time we will have 5 CE models, the PS3 and hopefully a lot more titles available, to where the early days of this format disagreement will fade into memory.
 

tryingtimes

Well-known Member
Yep - mostly just towing the company line. He's obviously not shaken by the current situation though - it will be interesting to see if the Pioneer Elite player offers definite improvements over the Samsung.

Mind you I do agree that it's all about the software.
 

Angry the Clown

Novice Member
It's actually not too bad an interview. The one gaping flaw in his argument which I am so utterly tired of hearing now was calling on HD DVD for some of its titles already hitting around 28gb capacity, failing to acknowledge that a key reason for this is because the extras have all to date been encoded as MPEG2 and that the format is only on the cusp of releasing the first titles mastered with later generation VC1 encoders that are able to deliver the same levels of quality but at far lower and more efficient bitrates then the titles already on sale (some of which were in fact prepped as long as six+ months ago). Taking into account that this aspect of VC1 encoding will improve further still in future, and that using advanced video codecs instead of MPEG2 for the encoding of special features will free up space even more, the argument that HD DVD is already nearly maxing out its space continues to be an utterly baseless accusation.
 

Nic Rhodes

Well-known Member
28Gb on a disc and one person views it as maxing out the format, another one views it as using the maximum available disc space available. Is your pint half empty or half full?
 

rooster-x

Novice Member
Well the 28GB of HD-DVD won't even fit on a 25GB BD-ROM, everyone must have cracked up laughing to that one :rotfl:

Also, either he doesn't speak English very well or the typist wants sacking :devil:

Rooster-X
 

lfletcher

Well-known Member
"What content can I buy in the format, what movies, is a powerful motivator, which is more important than CODECs or cropping"

Thats a very scary statement. So they are happy to give us any old crap as long as there's plenty of it. High def is high def right. Hmmm, might explain why the quality isnt up to what it should be. I truely hope there are others in the Blu Ray camp that dont feel like this.
 

SAH

Banned
Rasczak said:
Pioneer defend the format they are backing...unsurprising. That said is he sure of his subject: BD-J has some significant advantages over HD DVD iHD which is fails to mention :confused: and he answers "don't know" to a question most of us could answer on here!
Can you not let a pro/impartial BR thread go by without slating it?:hiya:
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
Can you not let a pro/impartial BR thread go by without slating it?
:rotfl: Just pointing out where it fits in the grand scheme of things...right alongside the survey by Toshiba saying HD DVD would win the format war.
 

Angry the Clown

Novice Member
A further interesting statement in that interview having read through it again actually is his confirmation that BD Live won't be active until 2007. This effectively hampers the format's levels of interactivity, preventing it from even displaying the most basic use of Picture in Picture features. This presents a bit of a problem for dual format supporters who have and continue to seek to provide ‘In movie Experience' features (or something similar) on their HD DVD titles as they'll either hold back from releasing the same film on Blu Ray entirely until they can deliver near enough the same interactive level of content, or they'll end up stripping back the features on a BD release. In addition to this, if Blu Ray isn't going to be in a position to show off its interactive features this winter then from a marketing perspective they've got one less thing (on top of many releases already lacking all the extras existing DVD counterparts have) to try and show off and help the mass market buyer justify why they should progress from a DVD format to a Hi Def one. They'll accept there is an improvement in image quality, but they'll be asking “what else?”

This all snowballs into the excuse Parsons seems to have for most of the more challenging questions which lfletcher highlights, and that is that despite the format's current drawbacks in capacity, codecs and general all round quality, it doesn't really matter because the brute force of those backing the format combined with the PS3 will, in his opinion, ensure its success in the marketplace regardless.
 

SAH

Banned
Rasczak said:
:rotfl: Just pointing out where it fits in the grand scheme of things...right alongside the survey by Toshiba saying HD DVD would win the format war.
The 'grand scheme of things', exactly what I'm looking at with PS3, BR manufactuers, stuidio support etc.............:thumbsup:

As stated in the interview, once the balls rolling BR's going to be hard to stop.

I can see both formats being a success, I just cannot see HD-DVD overcoming the industry support BR has, regardless of the VERY early tech issues, which I'm sure will be sorted soon.

I haven't bought into either format yet, so I'm being as impartial as I can.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
The 'grand scheme of things', exactly what I'm looking at with PS3, BR manufactuers, stuidio support etc.............

As stated in the interview, once the balls rolling BR's going to be hard to stop.
You may well be right. We will all be watching with great interest over the coming weeks/months.

However I think the future is looking very rosey for HD DVD as well: sales in excess of what DVD achieved at a later time in it's lifespan, excellent AV performance and at such a cheap price.

I can see both formats being a success, I just cannot see HD-DVD overcoming the industry support BR has
Like you I think both formats will survive and both will enjoy a level of success. Once the Q4 battle is over I would suspect that we will see things balance out more: HD DVD will get more studio support but BluRay players will start to close the gap cost wise and (hopefully) we'll see a dramatic upturn in quality from BD-Videos. And with an established mix of formats in the marketplace the next obvious step is dual format players.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
Angry the Clown said:
It's actually not too bad an interview. The one gaping flaw in his argument which I am so utterly tired of hearing now was calling on HD DVD for some of its titles already hitting around 28gb capacity, failing to acknowledge that a key reason for this is because the extras have all to date been encoded as MPEG2 and that the format is only on the cusp of releasing the first titles mastered with later generation VC1 encoders that are able to deliver the same levels of quality but at far lower and more efficient bitrates then the titles already on sale (some of which were in fact prepped as long as six+ months ago). Taking into account that this aspect of VC1 encoding will improve further still in future, and that using advanced video codecs instead of MPEG2 for the encoding of special features will free up space even more, the argument that HD DVD is already nearly maxing out its space continues to be an utterly baseless accusation.
I agree in terms of space that it's not much of an arguement especially from their current 25GB position. HD-DVD could quite easily provide 2 disc sets as is done now and I doubt anyone would mind. If anything from a PQ point of view it's preferable to do that as the main feature can be encoded for a full disc.

However, I'm still unconvinced on the bandwidth issue... (sorry!) Many people are asking for TrueHD or DTS HD Master audio tracks and these can consume up to 18mbps (peak) which is a fair old dent out of a peak total bandwidth of 36mbps. (And this assumes there is only ONE language soundtrack. Each additional track type or language consumes more bandwidth.) Clever encoding can eek out 2-3mbps more, but even if VC-1 is twice as efficient as MPEG2 compression wise, it still has 5x the resolution of an SD DVD to shift with what effectively becomes approximately twice the bandwidth ~20mbps. And as I'm sure it's easy to see, peaks in noise often coincide with fast action on screen. With BD you have ~40mpbs for video with another 14 available for sound. Again, it's fair to assume decent encoding can give 2-3mbps headroom, and even with a lossless compressed soundtrack you have substantially more headroom for video.

Of course BD have effectively tossed that advantage away at present by encoding in MPEG2 with lossless uncompressed PCM audio (albeit 16bit, not space sapping 24 bit, 96KHz) but it does concern me for now.

Everyone's talking about being able to squeeze stuff on whatever capacity suits, but I don't want to be squeezing stuff so early on. I want to be comfortable that people are concentrating on getting the absolute best picture you can get. Squeezing will inevitably come later as profit margins reduce and companies do whatever to eek out as much profit as possible.

I really want to see some of the 'difficult' films make a showing and see how they turn out.

I don't see Q4 over here being that special, will we even see a BD player in Europe before Xmas (and a PS3 doesn't count, nor does an xBox 360 HD-DVD add-on) let alone any discs??

Also, as for the comment about consumers not caring and buying whatever has the right films, whilst it may be heresy in these forums ultimately it's right. As long as your player plugs straight into your HD ready TV and gives a better picture than DVD (which if the previous incarnation was a cheap CRT and scart connected cheap DVD player it probably will) then most people will be happy. That's surely at least 12-18months away though. Most people won't give a monkeys what VC-1, AVC and MPEG2 are. They don't frankly understand what 576i, 576p, 720p, 1080i or 1080p mean either. They just want what looks like a good picture.
 

Rasczak

Distinguished Member
However, I'm still unconvinced on the bandwidth issue... (sorry!) Many people are asking for TrueHD or DTS HD Master audio tracks and these can consume up to 18mbps (peak) which is a fair old dent out of a peak total bandwidth of 36mbps.

...

Everyone's talking about being able to squeeze stuff on whatever capacity suits, but I don't want to be squeezing stuff so early on. I want to be comfortable that people are concentrating on getting the absolute best picture you can get.
Well a good test is coming up: Warner are releasing the Harry Potter: The Goblet Of Fire later this year. As normal it will be presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and 1080p video but will also include both Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1 soundtracks. And space obviously isn't too much of an issue as there are plenty of extras too:

Among the extras are eight featurettes, additional scenes, a Harry Potter timeline and the film's theatrical trailer.
 

Angry the Clown

Novice Member
Question is will Potter be 16bit/48hz like all the previous TrueHD releases, or will we finally get something 24bit/48hz that is 100% lossless to the master source? I'm in agreement with Ian to the extent that bandwidth remains my only concern with HD DVD. If it can be proven that we can have a primary lossless track in 24bit, a movie of a decent length and some extras like IME then that'd be enough to calm my worries. Titltes like Kong, Batman, Potter will all have been done with later generation VC1 encoders, so is 24bit no doable?

People are asking for multiple lossless tracks and 96hz despite the fact 99.9% of films are mastered at 48hz with no plans to change that. I think those demands are unrealistic, so at most we need to hope they can deliver something eventually meeting the spec I just outlined. Again, are we getting 16bit on TrueHD so far because of bandwidth, or is it because Studios want to give us something better than lossy, but not 100% true to the master? All the PCM tracks on Sony's Blu Ray titles are 16bit too.

I really want to see some of the 'difficult' films make a showing and see how they turn out.
I agree. I think Kong might potentially be a challnge in November, it depends what else is on the disc. I have a theory we're looking at the first 2 disc HD DVD release there anyway, with the movie on one 30gb disc and the bulk of its extras coming on a second disc (might not need to be 30gb). Effectively they'd be whittling down the three disc DVD set to two discs, and delivering the movie uninterrupted on disc one. All speculaiton on my part however.

So with Kong it's 2.39:1, which like Potter helps the encoding process, but there's an awful lot going on in Kong, and vast amounts of fast motion. In extended form it's probably going to hit at around 3 and a half hours, so it will be interesting to see if they add TrueHD and/or some IME features on top of that. Universal's first titles with TrueHD are forthcoming, so it'll be interesting if they go with 16bit or 24bit on those, especially on a title like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas which is 2.39:1 and only has a trailer for extras.

I don't see Q4 over here being that special, will we even see a BD player in Europe before Xmas (and a PS3 doesn't count, nor does an xBox 360 HD-DVD add-on) let alone any discs??
Over here? I agree. As far as Blu Ray's European launch goes, it doesn't seem to be happening this side of Christmas. I suppose we'll know for certain at IFA, but they put themselves in a sticky position by not launching in Europe this year as the longer HD DVD is allowed to be promoted freely (regardless of whether the players sell immediately here or not) then the longer the name of HD DVD becomes cemented in the minds of the consumers.

I've proposed this theory before too. Should studios issues a few Blu Ray movies in Europe just to run alongside the PS3 then they'd be in danger of creating a situation where Blu Ray might be viewed as a proprietary format exclusive to the PS3, and that its movie releases are to the console what UMD movies were to the PSP.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
The only place where lossless 24/96 audio belongs is for music content. If we go on a short flight of fancy for a moment...

Imagine if Roger Waters and David Gilmour have another momentary lapse of reason and decided to do a new Pink Floyd tour complete with traditional light show. Once people had gotten over the disappointment of not getting a ticket, they'd instead turn to wanting an HD disc of one of the concerts. At that point you'd want a decent TrueHD/DTS-HD 24 bit 96Khz (or even higher if possible) 5.1 soundtrack and 1080p video... Now, it's likely it would be video and not film, so are we talking 1080p/50? 1080p/60? Can you do 1080p/24 on video?

If you look at Pulse as a real example, using Bitrate 1.4, it averages at 7.55 Mbps and often peaks at 10Mbps (DVD's limit). Now the picture quality of Pulse is not fantastic by any stretch of the imagination. There's still lots of blocking and other artifacts. Clearly concert footage with lots of movement, rapid lighting changes (strobes for example), lots of shadow detail, is something of a torture test for digital video.

Will there be enough headroom to do this in HD without the artifacts? I'd love to know if say Pulse could be encoded at a much higher bitrate (still SD) and whether the digital artifacts would disappear as a result. I'm guessing you'd be left with just the unavoidable video issues.

Clearly having a clean source in the first place will also help, but concert footage isn't exactly going to be a rare use of the new formats. Queen's recent tour with Paul Rodgers was shot in HD (apparently) and so at least has a cleaner source, and the director deliberately turned up the ambient lighting in the venue to help. However it too is still far from artifact free, has a high average bitrate of 7.15Mbps and peaks often high rates. It also carries a DTS 24/96 soundtrack and not much lower bitrate DD.

Going back to Pulse, lets say we wanted to do an HD-DVD version that was still SD but included a full 24/96 lossless compressed (forget PCM) soundtrack. I think TrueHD will peak at up to 18Mbps, which leaves peaks of around 20Mbps for video. If you stuck with MPEG2, that only leaves just over double the current bandwidth and it's still SD. It was also split over two discs, so presumably it would fit on one HD-DVD. Would you have to re-encode in VC-1 or AVC to give yourself a chance of getting it artifact free in SD...? food for thought in my view, especially with an HD concert transfer. I know some Queen concerts were shot on 35mm, I'd love to see those transferred, it could be very interesting.
 

richard plumb

Well-known Member
Going to be messy in Europe too, where you will want multiple soundtracks.

Isn't it crazy that we're sitting here thinking 36Mb/s isn't enough? (although I guess its only 3.5x DVD max bitrate. BTW, is that 36MB/s sustainable, or peak?
 

Angry the Clown

Novice Member
Can you do 1080p/24 on video?
You can yes. Sony's F900, F950 and the Panavision Genesis HD cameras amongst others were built for such a purpose, and some other pro HD cameras offer such functionality too, as do some pro-consumer HDV cameras now. For concert performances however I'd imagine it might be more likely that they go with 50p or 60p though I can't think of an express reason why they'd consider having to do so… There's also the distinct possibility they might shoot a lot of concerts in 720p as well.


Going back to Pulse, lets say we wanted to do an HD-DVD version that was still SD but included a full 24/96 lossless compressed (forget PCM) soundtrack. I think TrueHD will peak at up to 18Mbps, which leaves peaks of around 20Mbps for video. If you stuck with MPEG2, that only leaves just over double the current bandwidth and it's still SD. It was also split over two discs, so presumably it would fit on one HD-DVD. Would you have to re-encode in VC-1 or AVC to give yourself a chance of getting it artifact free in SD...?
I would imagine that so long as a mass of compression anomalies were not present on an HD master in the first place, then certainly even a 480p VC1 encode of such material should better MPEG2 of the same resolution given one of the key benefits of advance video codecs is their greater ability to handle such challenging content. Concerts shot on video in the first place (both SD and HD) are going to have their fair share of anomalies inherent to the source that can not be removed. Those shot on film are in a better position if care is taken during the telecine process of creating an HD master. Plus the higher quality your source, the better and easier it is going to be to master even when down converting for HD and SD (like for instance, a film being down converted to HD from a 4k digital intermediate master would better than down converting the same material from a 2k digital intermediate). So really it will always boil down to how much work and money content providers want to put into any releases.

I don't think HD DVDs bandwidth constraints would be a limiting factor for concerts presented in high definition (assuming VC1 was used) even if they had a 96/24 TrueHD track because they're not going to have more than one DD+ track in addition to that. Would they use a wealth of interactive iHD features as well? I think there's great potential for exploring interactivity like that with concerts but if such heavy duty interactive content was the one element that had to be dropped in order to still allow a title to carry such a high resolution lossless track, DD+ and so on, then so be it if it's the only way to provide the feature content in optimal quality. Special features could be accessed normally on the same disc, or on a second disc. If something's got to give, and it's the implementation of extras, then I don't think there's much cause for concern.

Again the greater question really is what happens with challenging 1.78:1/1.85: feature content, with multiple DD+ tracks, a 24bit/48khzTrueHD track, and IME based special features. Is it possible on HD DVD if a studio wanted to do it? Even without IME features, is it still possible? The latter point I thing is the bigger cause for concern, because if a film and all its audio can at least be provided optimally, then there are other ways for users to access special features in a way that they wouldn't be eating into bandwidth which would be the trade off if it was a case where we could have challenging content, multiple DD+ tracks and a 24bit/48khz True HD track but couldn't have IME features on top of that. Both formats really pose trade offs in different areas and I've long given up the belief we could achieve something near perfect with either…. And of course we can theorise like this in the belief that one day every title released will have lossless audio, and I'd be amazed if that's ever the case with either of these formats (that's rather why demanding more than one lossles track seems absurd when its difficult enough hoping that we'll get just the one done right in the first place).
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
richard plumb said:
Going to be messy in Europe too, where you will want multiple soundtracks.
Indeed... The alternative is of course one disc per country if they want full quality, but wouldn't that negate any replication cost advantage of HD-DVD for the studios?

richard plumb said:
Isn't it crazy that we're sitting here thinking 36Mb/s isn't enough? (although I guess its only 3.5x DVD max bitrate. BTW, is that 36MB/s sustainable, or peak?
It's peak, although I suspect that you could probably get close to it at a sustained rate.

Well, it could be that the new codecs get so good that it is enough from a video standpoint. Not sure whether that can happen with the lossless audio stuff as it's lossless and therefore presumably much harder to reduce it's size. Video is very lossy in comparison to audio, rates approach around 50:1 I believe, so the fact that you can lose data definitely helps.

However it would be nice to start by worrying about how good can I get the quality as opposed to how can I fit it all in to my available bandwidth. Let's be clear, this isn't about capacity per se, as I'm assuming both sides can keep up with each other on that one over time.
 

Ian_S

Distinguished Member
Angry the Clown said:
You can yes. Sony’s F900, F950 and the Panavision Genesis HD cameras amongst others were built for such a purpose, and some other pro HD cameras offer such functionality too, as do some pro-consumer HDV cameras now. For concert performances however I’d imagine it might be more likely that they go with 50p or 60p though I can’t think of an express reason why they’d consider having to do so… There’s also the distinct possibility they might shoot a lot of concerts in 720p as well.
I did wonder... 50/60p though would simply double the throughput requirement. That's quite a difference unless as you say it's shot at 720p.

Angry the Clown said:
So really it will always boil down to how much work and money content providers want to put into any releases.
Indeed, although some of the old big names could probably justify it.

Angry the Clown said:
Again the greater question really is what happens with challenging 1.78:1/1.85: feature content, with multiple DD+ tracks, a 24bit/48khzTrueHD track, and IME based special features. Is it possible on HD DVD if a studio wanted to do it? Even without IME features, is it still possible? The latter point I thing is the bigger cause for concern, because if a film and all its audio can at least be provided optimally, then there are other ways for users to access special features in a way that they wouldn’t be eating into bandwidth which would be the trade off if it was a case where we could have challenging content, multiple DD+ tracks and a 24bit/48khz True HD track but couldn’t have IME features on top of that. Both formats really pose trade offs in different areas and I’ve long given up the belief we could achieve something near perfect with either…. And of course we can theorise like this in the belief that one day every title released will have lossless audio, and I’d be amazed if that’s ever the case with either of these formats (that's rather why demanding more than one lossles track seems absurd when its difficult enough hoping that we'll get just the one done right in the first place).
I'd forgotten about 16:9... I guess it's a cruel irony that concerts tend to be shot mainly in that ratio now.:)
 

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