Posted on June 18 2012
Recently I had a customer approach me about doing a large, home movie legacy high-definition scan to Blu-ray so that she could show over 17 hours worth of film on 10 different stations at a memorial service. Given my past experiences with blue-ray technology, I was a bit nervous and braced for trouble. I guess I was a bit prejudiced by all the bad experiences I have had thus far with Blu-ray technology. I was a huge fan in the beginning. I believed that it would quickly replace DVD and give Super 8 filmmakers a way to see their work in the incredible quality of HD. Living through the minor problems with recordable DVD, I was prepared for some problems. But to my surprise Blu-ray was actually much more difficult.
Blu-Ray got off to a very rocky start. In many ways this was due to the difficulties of dealing with HD, compatibility in players and new concepts like firmware. Although the image quality was impressive, the problems using this medium in the beginning were almost overwhelming. Unlike DVD that was quickly embraced by the public, Blu-ray has been stumbling every step of the way.
I purchased my first Blu-ray player in 2008. I got one of the best brands and most expensive players to insure I had the best of what was being offered. It wasn’t long before I realized the many shortcomings of the medium. Although the quality was amazing, both my recorded Blu-Ray’s and commercial disc’s would often would not play. I once spent a complete Saturday trying to download a firmware update, burn it to CD, and install it in my player. Even after a whole day’s work, it wouldn’t play and I had to wait for a disc from the manufacture. It took 4 days to get an update from the manufacture, and then I could finally play a new commercial Blu-ray release. During 2008, I purchase 3 more players from different manufactures for testing. Some disc would play in 3 out of the 4, sometimes the menus worked on one machine and not on the other, and I could get the BD-R’s to play if I hit enter, but it would crash if I hit play. All these problems are not a lot of fun when you think you are picking a format that is universal and easy to play, but it fact it is the opposite!
Things did not evolve very quickly in those early years of Blu-ray. The public, as well as my interest, was tested to its limits of tolerance. Along with the inconsistencies of the disc, the job of making a recordable Blu-ray disc was also very slow and riddled with compatibility problems of its own.
But in 2012, with this new project of 17 hours of home movies that the client wanted on Blu-ray, I decided to give Blu-ray one more chance and a fresh look. The first thing I did was purchase a new player. Since 2008, the cost of Blu-ray players has come down significantly, even for a very high quality player. The manufactures have also added new features to make them more universal. The new Sony BDP-S390 I acquired for testing had the specs I needed for this job was around $100.00. It played my BD-R (Recordable Blu-Ray) perfectly first time in 1080 at the amazing quality. It worked so well with Blu-Ray we tested it with just about everything else we had. It played every test DVD we had in the office no problem as well as run media from a USB Flash drive. If that was not enough it is WI-FI compatible so we logged onto the internet and could play movies I had uploaded into the Cloud on You-Tube. The Wi-Fi is also critical to doing an easy firmware update. What an amazing transformation from 2008.
The memorial service was an amazing success. Rather than making an edited composite media piece, the concept of showing every aspect of a person life through their home movies was an impressive way to present a person’s life story. The newer technology of Blu-ray made it all possible to showcase hours of HD quality home movie legacy footage flawlessly.
If you were turned off by the Blu-ray experience as I was, you should as I have fresh look. Start with a new player, as the newer devices are incredible and affordable. The promise of Blu-ray is finally here.