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Old School vs. Next Generation

21 Jun, 2007 By: John Latchem

A recent event in support of the Blu-ray Disc versions of the first two “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies provided me an ample opportunity to sample the technical achievements of high-definition discs. I was impressed, but not inspired to adopt the technology just yet.

However, I was somewhat enthralled by the “Liar's Dice” game on the Blu-ray version of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. It's a fun and simple game, with smooth transitions between the different graphic elements (on PS3, anyway), unlike so many DVD games that take forever to load and longer to play.

Extras like these are the real selling points for most people to upgrade to high-def.

Upgrading from VHS to DVD was an easy sell for film fans hooked on the advantages and extras of the new format. That transition was analog to digital, but DVD to high-def is digital to digital. The leap isn't so great, and the old discs play on the new players. There aren't more than a handful of movies most fans will actually care enough about to buy again, and the extra features for the most part aren't that much better.

If I care enough about a movie to want to see behind-the-scenes footage, I don't have a problem watching it separately from the movie, as opposed to during the movie, as many high-def discs offer.

The expanded capacities of high-def discs offer great potential. Improvements in interactivity should appeal the most, such as the feature on the HD DVD of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift that lets viewers customize a car to appear in the film. Imagine being able to upload a picture to put yourself in one of your favorite scenes. Or maybe edit your own version of a film, like constructing your own special edition of The Empire Strikes Back. Or even record your own commentary.

In the end, however, the stalwarts of great cinema remain story and character, and technology has yet to improve on that.

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