Blu Better than Film?

In a recent article in Home Media Magazine, movie director Jon M. Chu expresses his opinion that Blu-ray looks better than film. Chu is the director of Disney's Step Up 2 The Streets, and will be named Breakout Director of the Year by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA) at their Home Media Expo 2008, June 24-26 in Las Vegas.

According to Chu, "The Blu-ray high-def disc wins by a mile." In particular, the upcoming (July) Blu-ray release of Step Up 2 The Streets, a dance-intensive film, offers a far better picture than the theatrical print. Speaking of the Blu-ray release, Chu says, "It's beautiful. The colors just pop. You get to see because we play a lot in the shadows. That's what we wanted to do and sometimes the print was a little dark to me . . . On the Blu-ray, just consistently you know what you're getting and you can play in those shadows. You can see it and it doesn't feel dark. It just feels moody."

Continuing, Mr. Chu apparently worries that Blu-ray might offer too much detail, for example, revealing production mistakes. He says, "Well, you definitely get to see more wires from the camera. There'll be like a sandbag or something somewhere.

Let me think this through. I am certain that Mr. Chu knows much more about film than I do, but I want to make sure his comments are not misinterpreted. I don't think he's saying that a transfer to a Blu-ray disc has more detail than the original print. Certainly, obvious errors could be corrected. For example, an extraneous sandbag on the set accidentally present in the film print could be digitally removed prior to transfer to Blu-ray. But it would be equally possible to remove the sandbag prior to transfer to DVD, or VHS, for that matter.

Perhaps the director is more directly referring to color correction and other signal processing that is quite easy to implement prior to transfer to digital. Certainly that offers additional opportunities to directors and cinematographers to get their vision right. For example, a restored version of Snow White can look better than the existing prints. So, reshuffling his comments, I interpret Mr. Chu as saying that Blu-ray transparently conveys all the visual content of the original film, along with any improvements he makes prior to digital transfer. 

I am OK with that. Better than the losers who go around claiming that digital sucks the soul out of analog. -Ken C. Pohlmann