A/V Veteran

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 22, 2015  |  1 comments
‘Tis the Season—for last minute, desperation shopping. But what could be easier than one or a few Blu-ray discs for that stocking by the fireplace. So here are a few recommendations...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  9 comments
Oppo has (finally) released details on its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player. Here's what we know...
Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 18, 2006  |  0 comments

If you're an old hand at this home theater audio business, you know that both Dolby Digital and DTS first appeared in theaters, then on laserdiscs, and finally moved on to DVD. Because of the limited data space for audio on all of these delivery systems, the audio had to be heavily compressed—not in dynamic range (a common misconception) but to reduce the space it takes up on the film or disc. Both DTS and Dolby Digital use sophisticated encoding schemes to allow them to save space by discarding data that are not deemed audible. This "perceptual coding," together with other clever tricks, allow full-bodied, powerful sound to be squeezed into that itty-bitty living space.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 04, 2009  |  1 comments

We have a gaggle of national holidays, but only a few aren't moved around to fall on a Monday so we can all enjoy a three-day weekend. The fixed dates of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years come to mind. No matter how much some might want to change them, New Years always falls on January 1, Thanksgiving wouldn't be Thanksgiving without Black Friday following it, and Christmas is a religious holiday (don't remind the wrong crowd of that) whose date was set in stone centuries before the U.S. of A. was the U.S. of A.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 09, 2010  |  1 comments
3D at home can be fun, but in my reviews of 3D displays from most major manufacturers (Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, and Panasonic), I've come across a problem that has been little noted. This problem is not with the displays themselves, all of which do a good job with the 3D effect, apart from occasional ghosting or crosstalk (double images when one eye sees the image meant for the other eye).
Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 08, 2015  |  4 comments
On September 19, 2015, SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) published a Study Group Report titled “High Dynamic Range (HDR) Imaging Ecosystem.” The emphasis is on the production side, but the bottom line appears to be this: The industry is still engaged in a protracted study of HDR, with no current standards for the production and display of content in that format.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 22, 2019  |  4 comments
I've said it before, but it's still true, that whenever we have a new video format the movie studios eagerly line up to sell us our favorites all over again—from VHS tape to Laserdisc to DVD to Blu-ray. But today, with movie streaming swamping video discs sales, the line of consumers eager to replace their existing discs is now shorter than ever.

Ultra HD's, however, appear to be fighting the trend. UHD re-releases of popular films are showing up like flies to a picnic.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 25, 2017  |  9 comments
War is Hell, but it does offer endless opportunities for great (and often not so great) movies. That goes double for WWII. The recently released Dunkirk reminds us vividly of that fact. The reviews have been ecstatic and clearly make it the first film of the year likely to be nominated for Best Picture of 2017, not to mention leaving home theater fans salivating over the release, later this year, of the Blu-ray (and, presumably, the Ultra HD Blu-ray).

While I haven’t yet seen Dunkirk, its release sent me scurrying to my disc collection for other great titles. Some worthy entries aren’t...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 10, 2018  |  4 comments
No, you can’t yet buy an 8K set anywhere, nor is there any 8k programming being streamed, broadcast, or engraved on a physical disc that a consumer can buy. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t being seriously discussed in R&D circles.

In the last week in June a well-attended, two-day seminar on near-future UHDTV display technologies took place in Hollywood, CA. Conducted by Insight Media (www.insightmedia.info), a company that both consults with companies in the video display industry and conducts media-related tech conferences, and sponsored by Samsung, the conference dove heavily into subjects such as 8K, Quantum Dots, and micro LEDs...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 26, 2019  |  15 comments
It's hard to say whether my interest in music and audio started with my first experiences with multichannel sound in the movie theater or whether my interest in movies in theaters, and later in home theater, started with my interest in music. But the fact remains that the film score, mainly of the orchestral variety but sometimes of other sorts (looking at you, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol.1 and Vol.2), remains one of my favorite forms of music.

Film music doesn't have an enviable reputation among classical music connoisseurs. But I see no reason to disparage it because it was written for a more popular type of entertainment...

Thomas J. Norton  |  Mar 09, 2021  |  2 comments
The changes to how we watch media resulting from the closing of theaters due to the Covid-19 pandemic have been unprecedented. True, not all theaters are closed. Here in the wilds of Florida my local AMC has been open for some time. But its current slate of movies is hardly the stuff of dreams: Boogie, Chaos Walking, The Mauritanian (not The Mandalorian!), The Little Things, The Marksman, The Croods: A New Age, and Raya and the Last Dragon. The latter is the only one tempting me to break my year long hiatus from that theater's Dolby Vision and IMAX auditoriums, but not quite enough for me to do so even though I've now joined the few, the proud, and the vaccinated.

A whole spate of potential blockbusters have either been released to streaming or are being held over until the studios are confident that if they show them (in theaters) they will come.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 17, 2019  |  1 comments
The old Blue Bear kept trying to break in but was forever doomed to be on the outside looking in. But the rest of us were more successful, and for three days last week the Denver Convention Center was full of all sorts of goodies needed by custom installers.
Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 09, 2021  |  0 comments
When fishing around for a film to show on a movie night with friends, before Covid-19 rudely interrupted, I recommended The Court Jester. I had it on DVD, but I knew it looked good enough to satisfy non-critical viewers who likely also wouldn't be bothered by its 1950's mono sound. We passed on it that time around, but that old DVD has now taken its last spin. A spanking new Blu-ray of the film has just been released in a video transfer nothing short of stunning.

The movie was originally shot in VistaVision, a widescreen process used (mainly by Paramount) in the 1950's and 60's. It's long-since been dropped as a release format, but is sometimes employed for in-camera special effects created for non-VistaVision productions, particularly in the pre-CGI era. It was used, for example, in the creation of the effects for some of the early Star Wars and Star Trek films when CGI wasn't yet a thing.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 31, 2007  |  8 comments

Sponsored by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment but involving all the major studio supporters of the Blu-ray format, a so-called "Blu-ray Festival" was held in Hollywood over the past two days (October 29th and 30th).

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 02, 2005  |  1 comments

Earlier this week companies supporting the upcoming Blu-ray high definition disc format gathered at the Fox Studios in Los Angeles to give an update to the assembled press. The companies represented were Buena Vista Entertainment (Disney, Touchstone, Miramax), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Panasonic, Pioneer, Dell, and Sony.

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