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DVD test

                      Subject:                              Time:  9:04 AM
  OFFICE MEMO         DVD test                              Date:  4/22/97

To all,

Last night I rented a DVD player from one of the local video rental stores and
2 DVD discs. ($25 for the whole deal for 2 nights rental).  This is a commonly
available deal at least in my area for those of you curious about this new
format.  I brought it home and hooked it up to my 48" rear screen projection
TV via the S-Video connector and proceeded to sit down to what I hoped would
be a combined evaluation and enjoyable screening.  

I have seen DVD demos before at various retail outlets running the range from
discount appliance centers with bright fluorescent lights to higher quality
home theater specialist stores with huge front screen projectors equipped with
line doublers.  But there is nothing like looking at something like this on a
known equipment set with familiar and controllable viewing conditions.  

My findings are that DVD is indeed amazing.  Demos in stores had left me
disappointed for one reason or another but I suspect this was due to either
the viewing environment or the state of the display devices or the individual
transfers on the demo discs or my own preconceptions.  At home I felt the
images I was seeing were truly comparable to good D-1 quality.  Detail is
amazingly fine, small color details are subtle  and natural with absolutely no
bleeding, compression artifacts were not at all evident at least on the disc I
watched, noise is non-existent (except for some slight highlight sizzle in the
bright areas---non TWiGi equipped URSA???).  Audio was at least as good as
anything I've heard before at home although laserdiscs should be equivalent if
digitally encoded.  The quality of the audio was more than likely just a
function of this particular transfer.  

One thing to beware of for the uninitiated is that both discs I rented were
16x9 Letterbox format.  I am a fan of Letterbox myself for my own laserdisc
collection but those LD's are all scanned to fit on a 4x3 aspect ratio screen.
 The rental discs are squeezed horizontally and have an unresolved anamorphic
look if played back in the wrong mode selectable on the DVD player (unless you
happen to have a 16x9 capable display at home).  If you select the 4x3
letterbox display mode on the DVD player's menu to restore image geometry the
lines are averaged together to resize the image and the image detail is
compromised.  The image looks like it has gone through a DVE (which I guess it
has, built in to the player).  So those of you contemplating buying in to this
new technology should thing about purchasing a 16x9 capable display device so
you can view the image without any vertical interpolation and with the full
vertical resolution of the recording.

And of course those of us in the industry thinking about gearing up to do DVD
tape mastering must make sure our telecine suites are set up for monitoring

Dave Corbitt

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