time to take the plunge

Technically-oriented discussion of classic films on everything from 35mm to Blu-Ray
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Harlett O'Dowd

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time to take the plunge

PostTue Oct 26, 2010 7:19 pm

don't know if yesterday's storms did something, or it was just time for my almost 17 year old Magnavox to give up the ghost - but give it up it did.

SO

knowing that I have not yet - but will now soon be - going the Blu-Ray route and that 80% or more of my viewing habits will revolve around vintage film....

what HDTVs should I consider? Avoid?

Flat is fine but not necessary considering the layout of the room.

Cosco is convenient, but other box stores will do.

Thanks in advance.
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Paul Penna

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PostTue Oct 26, 2010 8:33 pm

I have a couple friends with Vizios and are they're happy with them, and they're usually available at a good price from Costco.

Something to keep in mind about screen sizes: 16X9 screens are more rectangular than your old 4x3 Magnavox, so the standard diagonal measurements won't translate for how large a vintage Academy ratio film will display. Say for example your Magnaxox has a 32" screen; to get the same size image of an Academy ratio film you'll need a 40" 16X9 set. Below is a link to a screen size calculator. For TV 1, enter the dimensions of your old TV in inches and choose 4:3 aspect ratio; for TV 2, choose 16X9 aspect ratio and experiment with the inches until you come up with something that comes close - there's a graphic demo that shows you exactly what you'll get:

http://tvcalculator.com/

Also bear in mind that _for you_ any new set might not do exactly what you want right out of the box. For most people it probably would, but most people don't care about old films. There may be default factory settings that either stretch out or crop Academy ratio films, and/or have "enhancements" engaged that do odd things to the motion or image appearance. The good news is that all of these things are usually defeatable; the bad news is that you have to learn what they're called and how to access them in the setup menuing system. Yes, it's like learning how to use a computer program. If you have an experienced video go-to person among your friends, nag them into helping you.
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Nick_M

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PostTue Oct 26, 2010 11:10 pm

If you're going the flat-panel route, the only sets I would seriously consider right now are LED-backlit LCDs. If I were to ditch my HD CRTs, those would be the first I'd check out. They come in different flavors - side-lit, local dimming, etc.- so you'd have to weigh which drawbacks are least irritating to you (but the overall picture quality is worth it). Samsung has some really nice sets. Also consider 3D capability.

Sharp just came out with an LCD that uses 4 colors of pixels- RGB & Yellow. It's interesting.

If you're sensitive to the rainbowing from projectors, stay away from plasmas and flourescent-lit LCDs. It varies, but their afterimages can be pretty bad.

A while back, I scoured eBay and Craigslist for some gorgeous discontinued CRTs. Saved a bundle and haven't regretted it.
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Paul Penna

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PostTue Oct 26, 2010 11:55 pm

One of those friends I mentioned has a Vizio LED-backlit LCD model, and it looks very nice.

DLP is another display technology that produces a rainbowing trailing image effect that some (like me) are sensitive to.
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Mike Gebert

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PostWed Oct 27, 2010 7:07 am

Do DLP sets even exist now? I bought a Sony SXRD set (basically DLP) and love it, but Sony killed that product line right after.

I think DLP/SXRD/whatever produces a more film-like image, not as garish or digital-y as LCD or plasma. But I think whatever you look at, recognize that the manufacturers build in settings for display on fluorescent-lit sales floors, which boost the hell out of brightness, blue levels, etc. So mentally adjust for that while shopping, and actually adjust when you get your set home.

I can see the rainbow effect on a friend's Samsung DLP if I try hard enough, jerking my head to one side quickly. It doesn't exist on my Sony SXRD at all, but as I say, they killed that technology.
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sc1957

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PostWed Oct 27, 2010 10:42 am

I'll second the advice on calibration. While a lot of people suggest bringing in a professional calibrator person or buying a special calibration DVD, I found several sets of calibration settings for my TV on the Web (all slightly different, but basically all the same). Just search for your model number and "calibration," and you can do it yourself, and then correct for the way you prefer things.

As far as which to buy... there are so many choices. I bought a 40" Sony XBR a couple years ago and love it. It was on the expensive end of the scale, but my previous Sony XBR CRT model lasted 25 years, so it's a name I trust.

Crutchfield is a great Website to compare prices. They have lots of info, too. If you scroll to the bottom of this page, you can find a long list of how-to videos on choosing a TV.
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silentfilm

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PostWed Oct 27, 2010 10:51 am

I've got a 1080p and a 720p Sony Bravia, and the picture on the 1080p screen is incredibly sharp, especially for BluRay discs.

Some of the networks just broadcast in 720p, so you won't always see a difference on broadcast/cable TV between the two different resolutions.
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostWed Oct 27, 2010 4:38 pm

When getting an HDTV with plans for getting a Blu-ray player, you will definitely want to make sure it supports the "full" 1080p x 1920-pixel resolution, as well as 24fps playback. Some have only 720p or 1080i resolution, and 30p or 60i (or 60p) frame rate capability that require digitally converting Blu-ray files from 24 fps to 30 or 60 fps by duplicating certain frames. You may also want to look at the contrast ratio it can reproduce, but those numbers are usually distorted by having monitors set on high-contrast settings that really make the picture look awful.

It will make things easier if your remote also has quick picture-adjustment buttons (with "favorite" presets you can adjust manually), and especially an easy one-button aspect-ratio adjustment for squeezing/unsqueezing/zooming your image to your preferences.

Most brands seem to give reasonably good pictures, but it's worth checking out something you want with a variety of sources and settings if you can. I've had problems with almost anything I've ever bought with the Samsung label (TVs, BluRay players, camcorders), but some people seem to like them a lot. I've had good luck using both Panasonic and Mitsubishi projectors, Mitsubishi, Sony, Sharp, and Polaroid TVs, and two different model cheap Magnavox (Funai) BluRay players (which do exhibit minor anomolies occasionally on certain newer BluRay titles, but I have not upgraded any firmware for either player since I got them a couple years ago).

Some DVDs and BluRay titles include color bars and calibration pattterns that let you adjust your monitor or projector for optimum film-like performance. This often means a darker overall image but you'll be able to see all the details in the shadows at the same time the highlights are not blown out. With any TV or projector will likely need most or all room lights turned off (certainly with a front-projector) for the best viewing experience.

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Danny Burk

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PostWed Oct 27, 2010 5:07 pm

Chris, is there a real difference in display quality of 1080p vs 1080i? I've seen varying answers here. It seems that 1080 should equal 1080, although I don't know whether interlacing vs non-interlacing makes an actual visible difference. My display is about 6 years old, a Hitachi 1080i, and I wonder whether I'm "missing something" by not having 1080p. I haven't had the ability to to make a direct comparison of "i" vs "p", although the difference between Blu-Ray and standard DVD is very easy to see on my setup.
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostThu Oct 28, 2010 3:46 pm

Chris, is there a real difference in display quality of 1080p vs 1080i?


Well, I suppose a lot can be subjective, but a 1080i picture for one thing is being displayed at 60 interlaced fields of 30 frames per second instead of the standard 24 fps most films are shot at, so there has to be some conversion going on that may degrade the original quality (unless it's a Todd AO film shot at 30 fps). Half of each frame (every other line) is displayed first, and the second half is filled in afterwards before moving on to the next pair of fields. If, as I do with my HDV camcorder settings, each of the two fields per frame is actually from the same instant in time, you get the equivalent of 30p and one complete 1080-line picture every 30th of a second. However, TV typically shoots two consecutive fields per second, so there's always some blur and "comb" effect on moving objects when those two sequential fields are displayed simultaneously. Setting a player to 30p (if your monitor supports it) usually blends them to look more like a full frame than two interlaced half-frames (which it still technically is).

Film itself is progressive -- you see the entire frame at once before the next one replaces it. Modern television scans the frame from top to bottom, and the progressive-scan pictures scan the entire frame before moving to the next one, so you see complete frames in sequence like film. Interlacing was done on early TVs because the phosphors would fade out before the scan had reached the bottom of the frame, thus they scanned only every other line and quickly filled in the others so you saw 60 actual half-resolution frames per second with part of one overlapping part of the other that had already started to fade out, giving the illusion of 30 frames that were double the resolution unless there was fast motion that caused some blur. What your 1080i monitor displays depends not only on its scanning abilities, but how the image was recorded. A 1080p monitor is definitely preferred to see the greatest capabilities of your equipment, but a 1080i monitor may still look extremely sharp (depending upon your source material). Apparently some HD video is taking advantage of the 60 frames per second to do 1080 60p instead of 1080 30p, which would be the equivalent of the old 70mm "Showscan" system that never caught on. The main thing is, you want the capability and flexibility to display the image the way it was shot, instead of having to duplicate or eliminate frames to simulate 30fps or 24fps for things shot at the opposite speed. And of course PAL HD would be 1080i but at 50 interlaced fields at 25 frames per second, further complicating things.

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Old ... BluRay.htm
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Christopher Jacobs

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PostThu Oct 28, 2010 3:58 pm

One more thing. If you're not getting a projector, go for the largest possible screen you can afford, as one of the biggest advantages of Blu-ray and HDTV (besides reproducing most or all of the image information available on the film) is that the picture can be about six times larger than a standard TV before you start to see the pixels that make up the picture. Recommended viewing distance for the most theatrical experience is between one and two screen-widths away from the image (unless you're one of those who prefer the back of the balcony, which makes the entire argument for high-definition and big-screen TVs irrelevant, since you get the same effect watching a small TV set from across the room, where you cannot notice any difference in resolution).

--Christopher Jacobs
http://hpr1.com/film
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs
http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/Old ... BluRay.htm
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Mike Gebert

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PostThu Oct 28, 2010 4:13 pm

I did some of the calibration for my TV (I found somebody online who just listed the settings, so it took about 2 minutes), but the main calibration I did after that was to put on Star Wars in HD (which happened to be on that month) and adjust it to look exactly like I remembered it looking in the theaters. Unfortunately there's no setting for Han shooting first...
“Sentimentality is when it doesn't come off—when it does, you get a true expression of life's sorrows.” —Alain-Fournier
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Danny Burk

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PostThu Oct 28, 2010 4:43 pm

OK Chris, thanks for the explanation. Not really what I wanted to hear, since I'll now consider my 1080i to be substandard!

Just as an aside, I'd read somewhere that there is no longer NTSC or PAL in HD (or at least on Blu-Ray)...not true?

Agreed, anyone who's in the market for a new setup should go as large as possible. I got the biggest available at the time - a Hitachi 70". And guess what? I wish it were bigger...I drool at the thought of a 110" projector, but this one will have to last awhile longer.
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Harlett O'Dowd

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PostMon Nov 01, 2010 10:03 am

If anyone is interested, I followed Bruce's lead and purchased a 48" Sonvy Bravio.

So far so good.

Now, what's this about calibrating?

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