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Blu-ray's Close-Ups May Reveal More Than Intended

2 Apr, 2004 By: Erik Gruenwedel

At a reception extolling the virtues of the next generation Blu-ray disc DVD format, Mexican writer/director Guillermo del Toro, whose sci-fi adventure Hellboy opened in theatres over the weekend, narrated a split-screen testimonial underscoring the visual improvement Blu-ray technology brought to a copy of David Lean's epic Lawrence of Arabia.

It was impossible not to be impressed by a picture quality enhanced by data rates of up to 36MB per second — nearly twice the data rate of high-definition television.

Lean's famous (but blurry) panoramic desert shots in Blu-ray exposed fine nuances in the landscape and reaffirmed that a “cast of thousands,” truly included human beings.

What followed, then, was a trailer in Blu-ray of Hellboy that unfortunately showcased more than a questionable film.

So good is the format that close-ups of many of the costumed characters, including actor Ron Perlman as Hellboy, expose just that: masks, make-up and assorted other special effects that under less superior a microscope might look more special than fake.

When queried, Del Toro admitted the format could have that effect on digital content, but not with a typical 16mm feature film print.

“Good question,” he said, shaking my hand.

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