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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Seeing Red: My Clearer, Digitally Enhanced Thoughts on Blu-Ray

Sometimes, when I'm sitting at home watching a movie I think about how lucky I am. There was once a time not to gratefully long ago when if you wanted to see a movie you could only see it in a theater. If you went to the theater and loved the movie you saw and wanted to see it again and again and again, you didn't wait for it to come to DVD, you didn't even wait for it to come to VHS. If you wanted to see your favorite movie again, you had to go to the theater again. There was a time when movie theaters were the only place you could see a movie. In those days movies stayed in theaters triple the time they do now. Then the film would show at cheaper "dollar" theaters for a long time. When newer films came through, the older films were pushed down a ladder so to speak, and your favorite movie could sit in a storage room for a long time before it was to be shown again. This is how it was since the birth of the motion picture.

Until the birth of VHS. We learned how to transfer film onto video tape and the rest was history. Then movies were still shown in a theater, then the dollar theater, then it would be put on a small convenient VHS that you could buy and watch in the luxury of your own home over and over again. It was truly something. 
Like anything else, VHS had it's problems. You had to rewind and fast-forward to get to your favorite scene. After all the use the tape would wear and weaken the picture and quality severely. The tape would break and sometimes fall off track, ruining the whole movie. That's how it was since the birth of VHS.

Until the birth of DVD. We learned how to transfer film onto a disc that could be read by a laser and the rest was history. You could watch a movie with a clearer and better picture than ever before. Easily navigate and skip around to any scene you like. Oh yea, and you could now go beyond just the movie itself and watch bonus features, outtakes, and commentaries. Needless to say, VHS disappeared.

VHS  R.I.P   198o-2001

As people, we struggle with change. Good or bad change, it doesn't matter. We grow attached to things. Though eventually for the sake of progress we accept the new standard and move on with it. I understand the change from VHS to DVD. It was necessary and it was a vast improvement from the former. It was a pain in the ass to re-buy all our movies, but we did it because they we're replacing the old product with a better one.

What I don't understand is Blu-Ray. 

Do they think we're that stupid? Do they take us for fools? I get the VHS to DVD transfer because it was a switch of a complete format. Blu-Ray is a petty difference. They seriously expect us to run to a store with our hard earned money in a time of economic turmoil and crisis and buy a $400-$500 Blu-Ray player and then buy $30-$40 movies in the name of a clearer picture. That's it... It's a disc that plays in a disc player. Huge breakthrough Huh? Except this version gives you a picture so crisp and clear that you can see a bead of sweat on Harrison Ford's forehead. Or a stray hair George Clooney's cheek. Big Deal! Oh, and I hope you have an HD or Plasma screen TV. If not, you don't even get the benefits your being overcharged for. 

Supporters of the latest money scheme tell me "Relax Rob, Blu-Ray will play DVD's as well". Oh well that's good. What am I worried about then? Why am I bitching? I'm worried because I might want to watch and own movies made after 2009. I'm bitching because no one else seems to be. 

The movie companies are saying that after this year, they will only be releasing new movies on Blu-Ray. Even though it hasn't been out that long, less than half the public is in favor of it, and statistics show that Blu-Ray is not selling nearly as well as they thought it would. Sony decided that you'll take it anyway.

In conclusion, I am not against the progress of technology and electronics. I support it. The key word here is "Progress". Progress is not phasing out an entire product for the sake of a sharper picture. That's just a way to make more money. Make a disc that doesn't skip. Make a disc that holds more data, increasing the possibilities of what can be put on it. Create a better format all together. I'll jump aboard that train. Just don't insult my intelligence and try to sell me the same thing twice. But what did I expect from the same people who are currently re-making any movie that ever made a dollar? There are people who love Blu-ray, and that's fine. Just don't force it on me! It's that good ol' "eat it or starve" mentality. I don't like corn. I have nothing against it being available and eaten by many people. Just don't shove it down my throat.  I don't like country music. Many people do and that's great. Just don't force me to listen to it. That's all I'm saying. 

I'm hoping Blu-Ray will be the 8-Track of movies. A short lived fad. I'm hoping people aren't dumb enough to be suckered into this marketing scheme. I'm hoping I'm just being a big movie geek and overreacting. I guess we'll find out...

Worse case scenario, they'll always be bootlegs.  

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