The Blu-ray revolution is upon us, not that we are quite ready for it. Over the course of the last decade I was perfectly content with my 29″ tube TV and my DVDs, which were such a huge leap in quality from VHS that I was ecstatic. And the fact that I could collect indie and cult movies at a good price added to my geek-induced euphoria. But HD TV has been in the works for many years and has pretty much been forced upon us, which of course means that we have to upgrade our home video hardware as well.
I actually came to love HD once I upgraded to a 40″ TV (as the resolution on my old set was deteriorating). Some of my DVDs even looked pretty good, even when coming from a regular DVD player without upconversion, although many did not look so hot. The Blu-ray discs of newer movies that I slowly started amassing, however, looked great.
The problem now is having a library of movies in standard definition. I don’t want to replace them with new discs. That would cost a fortune and be time-consuming. I’m still tweaking the settings on my player and TV to better upconvert some of my old DVDs and have them look good with minimal pixelation. Further, while Blu-ray is great for modern movies and big budget films that stand the test of time, many independent and low budget pictures were not meant to be shown in high definition. How will these films make the transition, if at all? What will happen to those small films that have yet to make it onto DVD and might not upconvert well to Blu-ray?
For the latest issue of MovieMaker magazine, I wrote a feature entitled “Buried Alive” (pages 60-62), which ponders such questions and includes the additional query: “Does the birth of Blu-ray mean the death of low-budget indies?” I interviewed such industry insiders as Charles Tabesh (senior vice president of programming for Turner Classic Movies), Chris Franchino (associate director of marketing for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), Darren Lynn Bousman (director of SAW II-IV and Repo! The Genetic Opera) and acclaimed author David Thomson. They and several others attempt to answer the above questions and shed light on the Blu-ray versus DVD dilemma, particularly as the former format is quickly becoming the choice of the major movie studios and is taking up more shelf space at retail.
There is no online link to the story presently, but I encourage you to check out the new issue, the theme of which is “The Future of Moviemaking 2009” and includes stories on the current 3D craze, moviemaking on the Internet and copyright issues in the digital era. We are living in exciting and tumultuous times for both filmmakers and film collectors, and we need to make sure that are past is well archived just as our future is well secured.