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Prometheus and Other Blu Ray News

Its that time of year when all of the summer blockbusters start to announce when they will be available on DVD/Blu Ray – in other words, its a great time of year.

We’ve already seen or will so see a long line of classics finally released on BluRay, including JAWS, the Indiana Jones series of movies, the entire Harry Potter collection and even the long awaited E.T.

The Summer of 2012 brought on a good list of great movies and already you can get your hands on the biggest box office winner, The Avengers, and even what is maybe still my favorite movie of the year, “Cabin in the Woods”.  The latter is a fantastic flick for anyone who is a fan of horror, sci-fi or just interested in an awesomely different take on the normal torture-porn genre of movies.  There is a moment towards the end that will forever be one of my favorite movie scenes of all time (if you don’t know after seeing, ask, I won’t mock you too much).

But soon we will also get our hands on “The Dark Knight Rises”.  While I am excited to see this movie again, I was disappointed to find out that there will not be, not yet at least, a “Director’s Cut” of the movie in this edition.  There has been lots of talk about deleted scenes or a longer version of an already long movie.  Instead what we’re getting on Dec 4th is a blu ray combo pack that will marry the 72 minutes of IMAX footage with the 35mm and a whole litany of “2nd screen features” and stuff tied to apps.  Oh, yes, if you really are into it, there will be a collector’s edition (see above) with a copy of Batman’s broken cowl.

Prometheus may go down as the summer’s most controversial movie, leaving people with more questions than answers and the blu-ray release promises that “Questions Will Be Answered” and will provide alternate beginnings and endings.  There is also a long list of 2nd screen features and an app that you sync to the movie and over seven hours of additional material for anyone that really wants a deep dive into the ALIENS mythology.

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ET Is Coming Home… On BluRay!

I can’t believe it, but the classic movie ET is 30 this year.  In October the long awaited Blu-Ray versions will finally be released and there will be a couple of different packaging.

The film has been digitally remastered and will feature a new 7.1 Dolby surround sound track.  The version of the film will be the beloved 1982 theatrical releases (Meaning the gun will remain in the movie, a change Spielberg made to the movie in 2002). Bonus features will include an all-new interview with Spielberg, and “The E.T. Journals” featuring never-before-seen footage from the set of the film, plus the usual assortment of trailers, TV spots, photos and more.

The limited edition version will come with the coolest silver model of ET’s spaceship, which when opened, plays the theme music from the movie and the steps lower to reveal a small version of ET.  This version will cost $140, but will also likely end up being a highly valuable collectors item and only available via Amazon.  The regular version, the BluRay disc and extras without the ship will sell for $24.

All of it goes on sale Oct 9.

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So, You’re Buying a HDTV…

There are so many awesome deals on TV’s out there today.  LED, LCD, Plasmas can all be had for a fraction of what they sold for just a couple of years ago.  Now is a great time to get a HDTV.  Don’t forget a BluRay player!  The only true full 1080p source you can get to display full resolution from your set is from a BluRay disc.

But if you spend that money, you will need to calibrate that TV once you get it home.  Trust me, its worth your time and whatever money you’re willing to put into it.

Calibrating your TV will be the best time and money you can spend above and beyond what you have already spent on your new flat screen.  This applies to LCD, LED, Plasma, DLP and even those few remaining CRT’s.

TV’s out of the box are generally way off when it comes to the picture quality being “accurate” (more on that below).  TV’s now also have a whole gaggle of features and settings that are unneeded – many of which actually make the picture less accurate.

Here are some explanations and links to calibrating your HDTV and getting the most accurate picture:

There are a set of standards, by the broadcast industry, that define what an “accurate picture” is to be.  This is insure that all aspects of a picture are consistent from display to display.  Think of it this way… When you are looking at your TV’s picture you want it to look “real”, just as it would if that same scene was playing out in front of you in person.  You want people’s skin colors to be as they are in real life.  Many TV’s will give everyone a tan or sunburn out of the box… Or make your favorite football field look way more green than it really is when you’re sitting in the stadium in person.  Also, “black levels” are very important.  Things that are supposed to be black, should be, not some shade of dark grey.  REALLY look at your TV, pause a frame and look at it.  Think about what you’re looking at and then compare it to what you know it would look like in real life.  Here is where you begin to understand picture quality and the idea of “accuracy”.

First, check out tweaktv.com –  This is a community forum of regular people sharing what settings have worked on their specific brand/model of TV.  This can be a little hit or miss, but it is free and can be a good beginning on teaching yourself more about calibration.

The next step is more advanced.  Go out and purchase either or both of two great calibrating DVDs or BluRays.  The first is Spears & Munsil and the other is fromJoe Kane, “HD Basics”.  These are great educational tools, not only to explain all there is to know about TV calibration, but also all the test patterns your little heart can desire.  They are both great and I can’t recommend one over the other.  I will warn you, these can be very intimidating for the beginner, but with some patience and time you can do a very solid calibration by yourself.

The last option is hiring a professional video calibrator to make a house call.  Best Buy offers this service, but I have no idea if their techs are as capable as many independent providers, and their $300 is mysteriously cheaper than the going rate for calibration.  It is important that you make sure that whoever you hire, they are ISF Certified.  Now, be forewarned that ISF Certification isn’t what it used to be.  There are shady people that have gone thru the course, but if someone shows up at your house without the proper analyzing equipment, they probably aren’t up to the task.  Take the time to do some research and find an experienced tech, with the proper equipment and is willing to spend the several hours it takes to properly calibrate a display and its separate inputs. Check here to check out ISF’s offical list of techs they recommend.  Call several different ones in your area and ask them about their experience level.

Here is a good basic starter from ESPN, of all places, that discusses the benefits of getting your display calibrated.

And CNET has an outstanding reference guide on all specific points of calibration.

If you have any questions, please email me.

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