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MythicFrost
Jul 31, 2010, 06:20 AM
Hey,

I'm in Australia and unfortunately we can't buy any HD movies over here yet, but even so how come the movies I download are such small resolution?

SD is 480p right? I've got so many iTunes movies that are 35(x)p, thats barely above the iPhone 3GS vertical screen resolution, which is pretty bad for an iPad/iPhone 4. Why is this? I'm curious... I kind of expected a minimum of 480p.

Is it really such a large difference in download size to go up to 480p? Or even a little higher?



TheBritishBloke
Jul 31, 2010, 06:25 AM
They're supposed to be DVD quality at 480p with the exception of older films. Then Again I purchased 'surfs up' the other day which is a newish animated film and it was of absolutely terrible quality.

If you're not happy, email itunes and they will refund your purchase. So long as you regularly use the itunes store they appear to be very understanding. I've probably given them 500GBP in films and tv shows. So they weren't bothered about refunding a 3.99 film lol.

MythicFrost
Jul 31, 2010, 06:47 AM
They're supposed to be DVD quality at 480p with the exception of older films. Then Again I purchased 'surfs up' the other day which is a newish animated film and it was of absolutely terrible quality.
That's unfortunately not the case with most of my purchases, for example, Star Trek which I'd say is very new, is 853 x 352.
If you're not happy, email itunes and they will refund your purchase. So long as you regularly use the itunes store they appear to be very understanding. I've probably given them 500GBP in films and tv shows. So they weren't bothered about refunding a 3.99 film lol.
I would, but unfortunately a lot of these movies are ones I want, and have owned for a fair while. I'm happy to keep them, but I just wish they were higher. I've bought Avatar and it's 853x480 (as are several others), but many are in the range of 35(x)p.

roidy
Jul 31, 2010, 07:13 AM
That's unfortunately not the case with most of my purchases, for example, Star Trek which I'd say is very new, is 853 x 352.

I would, but unfortunately a lot of these movies are ones I want, and have owned for a fair while. I'm happy to keep them, but I just wish they were higher. I've bought Avatar and it's 853x480 (as are several others), but many are in the range of 35(x)p.

Take the two examples you've given:-

Star Trek - 853x352
Avatar - 853x480

Now what you've got to remember is that Avatar is 16:9 aspect ratio ie Full frame and Star Trek is 2.35:1 aspect ratio meaning it has black bars top and bottom of the frame. Apple or the movie studio isn't gonna encode the black bars and waste space so they cut them off meaning you lose 128 rows of pixels that contain nothing but black anyway(64 lines top and 64 lines bottom). Once the AppleTV/iTunes adds the black bars back onto the 853x352 movie you still end up with a 853x480 frame size it just contains black bars top and bottom.

And just so you feel your really not being ripped off:-

Standard NTSC DVD resolution = 720x480 which when stretched for anamorphic content gives a frame size of 853x480
Standard PAL DVD resolution = 720x576 which when stretched for anamorphic content gives a frame size of 1024x576

Plus DVD content is mainly interlaced were as iTunes content is all progressive.

cantthinkofone
Jul 31, 2010, 09:07 AM
Hey,

I'm in Australia and unfortunately we can't buy any HD movies over here yet, but even so how come the movies I download are such small resolution?

SD is 480p right? I've got so many iTunes movies that are 35(x)p, thats barely above the iPhone 3GS vertical screen resolution, which is pretty bad for an iPad/iPhone 4. Why is this? I'm curious... I kind of expected a minimum of 480p.

Is it really such a large difference in download size to go up to 480p? Or even a little higher?

You can't buy HD movies in Australia? :confused:

MythicFrost
Jul 31, 2010, 06:39 PM
Take the two examples you've given:-

Star Trek - 853x352
Avatar - 853x480

Now what you've got to remember is that Avatar is 16:9 aspect ratio ie Full frame and Star Trek is 2.35:1 aspect ratio meaning it has black bars top and bottom of the frame. Apple or the movie studio isn't gonna encode the black bars and waste space so they cut them off meaning you lose 128 rows of pixels that contain nothing but black anyway(64 lines top and 64 lines bottom). Once the AppleTV/iTunes adds the black bars back onto the 853x352 movie you still end up with a 853x480 frame size it just contains black bars top and bottom.

And just so you feel your really not being ripped off:-

Standard NTSC DVD resolution = 720x480 which when stretched for anamorphic content gives a frame size of 853x480
Standard PAL DVD resolution = 720x576 which when stretched for anamorphic content gives a frame size of 1024x576

Plus DVD content is mainly interlaced were as iTunes content is all progressive.
Ah thanks for your reply, that makes sense! So, 853>720 means I'm getting movies that are a little bigger?
You can't buy HD movies in Australia?
:( I'm afraid not, only rent from the ATV.

roidy
Jul 31, 2010, 07:20 PM
Ah thanks for your reply, that makes sense! So, 853>720 means I'm getting movies that are a little bigger?

Umm.... Good question. It depends on what source the movie studios encode from. If it's a DVD source (720x480) then your getting the exact same resolution as you would from a NTSC DVD, remember the 720x480 DVD is anamorphic and gets stretched out to 853x480 on playback. However if they use a higher resolution source, which they probably do, that hasn't been anamorphicly squashed horizontaly then each of the 853 columns of pixels will be unique instead of being a 720 pixel wide frame stretched to 853 pixels. I think that makes sense:D

One point to note is that like me your from a PAL territory, you're from Australia and I'm from the UK and we enjoy a slightly higher DVD resolution than NTSC, PAL is 576 lines high versus NTSC which is only 480 lines. But as iTunes and the movie studios are from the US I suppose they chose to use the NTSC standard.

MythicFrost
Jul 31, 2010, 08:05 PM
Umm.... Good question. It depends on what source the movie studios encode from. If it's a DVD source (720x480) then your getting the exact same resolution as you would from a NTSC DVD, remember the 720x480 DVD is anamorphic and gets stretched out to 853x480 on playback. However if they use a higher resolution source, which they probably do, that hasn't been anamorphicly squashed horizontaly then each of the 853 columns of pixels will be unique instead of being a 720 pixel wide frame stretched to 853 pixels. I think that makes sense:D

One point to note is that like me your from a PAL territory, you're from Australia and I'm from the UK and we enjoy a slightly higher DVD resolution than NTSC, PAL is 576 lines high versus NTSC which is only 480 lines. But as iTunes and the movie studios are from the US I suppose they chose to use the NTSC standard.
Ah, ok, thanks.

If only Apple would let HD movie downloads in Aus!

idunn
Aug 2, 2010, 10:47 PM
I'm with you on this. Although had no idea HD was not available in Australia. Whoever prevents this, the studios, Apple, whomever, its crazy: so 20th Century.

My experience with standard iTunes movies has generally been good, with some notable exceptions. While they generally appear to be at or near DVD quality, one never knows what is going to show up. The quality of some movies has been decidedly poor. It is apparent that Apple does not bother to have anyone preview these films who knows the difference, or cares. One singularly notable example arrived in the wrong aspect ratio (all stretched out); I notified Apple of this, so at least no other would suffer the same, and last I checked they were still selling the same thing.

HD is so much better. To the extent that I've considered repurchasing anything I really like in that quality. Problem is that although appreciably better, HD from iTunes is not: it is 720p versus 1080p. Much better than an ordinary DVD, yes; as good as a BluRay, no way.

So there we are. It blows that HD of any sort not yet available in Australia. Only a bit less that iTunes and ATV have yet to get with it and offer real HD, 1080p. It is really nice being able to electronically download and store these movies . . . now if it was really worth doing so.

314631
Aug 3, 2010, 03:38 AM
It's the studios who are fighting hard against Apple. They do not want to give them the same amount of control the music industry ceded when the iTunes store was created. Even in the US, there is an extremely limited selection of HD movies available.

Studios are happy to license MOST movies to Apple TV devices in HD on a rental basis. But not on any other device. It's ridiculous.

The best thing you can do is refuse to purchase the content. You'll regret it later if you ever try to play that content back on a high quality television.

MythicFrost
Aug 3, 2010, 05:23 AM
It's the studios who are fighting hard against Apple. They do not want to give them the same amount of control the music industry ceded when the iTunes store was created. Even in the US, there is an extremely limited selection of HD movies available.

Studios are happy to license MOST movies to Apple TV devices in HD on a rental basis. But not on any other device. It's ridiculous.

The best thing you can do is refuse to purchase the content. You'll regret it later if you ever try to play that content back on a high quality television.
Yep -.-

I wish they'd just give in and let Apple do it.

kiranmk2
Aug 3, 2010, 06:35 AM
The simple thing for the studios to do would be to form agreements with multiple online distributers - this would stop giving Apple too much control and might even stimulate a bit of competition for customers. However, I've always wondered about prices for digital downloads. In the UK now, you can't move in the big media stores for cheap DVDs: 2 for 10, 3 for 20 etc. Obviously this comes around from surplus stock, but that just wouldn't happen with digital downloads. I'd love to move to downloading films, but I can't see Apple (or anyone else) ever having sales. A good model would be Steam which regularly has offers on over weekends.

roidy
Aug 3, 2010, 06:57 AM
I'd love to move to downloading films, but I can't see Apple (or anyone else) ever having sales. A good model would be Steam which regularly has offers on over weekends.

Apple do have sales, at the moment in the UK store there's a films under 5 section and a while ago they were selling some films for 3.99.

idunn
Aug 4, 2010, 12:36 AM
Whether it is Apple, or not, that is responsible for the absence of every movie extant, or to be, in full 1080p HD on iTunes . . . the result is the same.

The studios, Apple, Amazon, every other provider out there in competition with one another, ultimately they all answer to the customer. Years ago if you missed a movie in the theaters, too bad, maybe you might catch it later badly edited, with lamentable reception, on television. Obviously that no longer applies. People are not only accepting HDTV as the norm, but aware of such advances as BluRay as well. In other words, they are increasingly are aware of what constitutes quality, with the choice.

If you look, you'll find those elsewhere on these forums who spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money to transfer DVDs and BluRay discs into a digital format. They care. Do you think they would go to all that time and trouble if there was an easier alternative? In some cases they are dealing with legacy libraries, wishing to retain what they have in a digital format. But from now, from scratch, one increasingly has other options. Vudu, for one, which does offer 1080p.

Apple might be more serious about offering HD, real 1080p, in twisting some arms if necessary, if it fully understood that iTunes has no monopoly on media, or in how it may next most popularly be accessed. Anyone purchasing a movie on iTunes today, whether supposed HD or not, is in the position of asking if it is money well spent. Why compile a library of movies at a quality one may regret and not watch in future?

In this competitive world all creators should have the concern of copyright, of piracy, of being fairly paid. Also the recognition that standards have and are changing, and increasingly if they wish to compete with media in the 21st Century, that means nothing but the highest standards possible. Today, that equates with 1080p.

pacmania1982
Aug 5, 2010, 08:21 AM
You can't buy HD movies in Australia? :confused:

You also can't in the UK which irritates the hell out of me. Its annoying as I can rent stuff on my Apple TV from the UK iTunes Store in HD

pac

kernkraft
Aug 5, 2010, 08:29 AM
I'm sorry to say this but you are either

1.) downloading it wrong

2.) or wrongly assuming that current downloads are fit for purpose. They are not. A BR disc can hold tens of GBs of data, whereas a movie from iTunes is often around 1-2GB. That is even less than what you get on a DVD, an over a decade old technology.


The sad reality is that you pay more than you would for a DVD, when you download from iTunes, but in the meantime, you get worse quality. Check out the sound on a decent sound system and the difference is even more shocking.

andiwm2003
Aug 5, 2010, 08:47 AM
Whether it is Apple, or not, that is responsible for the absence of every movie extant, or to be, in full 1080p HD on iTunes . . . the result is the same.

The studios, Apple, Amazon, every other provider out there in competition with one another, ultimately they all answer to the customer. Years ago if you missed a movie in the theaters, too bad, maybe you might catch it later badly edited, with lamentable reception, on television. Obviously that no longer applies. People are not only accepting HDTV as the norm, but aware of such advances as BluRay as well. In other words, they are increasingly are aware of what constitutes quality, with the choice.

If you look, you'll find those elsewhere on these forums who spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money to transfer DVDs and BluRay discs into a digital format. They care. Do you think they would go to all that time and trouble if there was an easier alternative? In some cases they are dealing with legacy libraries, wishing to retain what they have in a digital format. But from now, from scratch, one increasingly has other options. Vudu, for one, which does offer 1080p.

Apple might be more serious about offering HD, real 1080p, in twisting some arms if necessary, if it fully understood that iTunes has no monopoly on media, or in how it may next most popularly be accessed. Anyone purchasing a movie on iTunes today, whether supposed HD or not, is in the position of asking if it is money well spent. Why compile a library of movies at a quality one may regret and not watch in future?

In this competitive world all creators should have the concern of copyright, of piracy, of being fairly paid. Also the recognition that standards have and are changing, and increasingly if they wish to compete with media in the 21st Century, that means nothing but the highest standards possible. Today, that equates with 1080p.

Not sure if this represents the majority of customers. I download only standard res. because the download is faster. The few movies I want to own I buy on DVD anyway (used for ~$5). For me and a lot of people I know convenience (i.e. download speed and HD disk usage) trumps resolution by far. Sound quality matters even less.

It would be interesting to see the market research on that one. If 80% of customers think like I do then there will be a long time till the download quality improves.

cantthinkofone
Aug 5, 2010, 09:56 AM
You also can't in the UK which irritates the hell out of me. Its annoying as I can rent stuff on my Apple TV from the UK iTunes Store in HD

pac

Then what aboutAmazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blu-Ray-DVD-Movies/b?ie=UTF8&node=293962011)?

I'm very confused.

roidy
Aug 5, 2010, 10:13 AM
Then what aboutAmazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blu-Ray-DVD-Movies/b?ie=UTF8&node=293962011)?

I'm very confused.

This whole thread is talking about purchasing HD movies from iTunes not HD movies on disk, like Blu-ray.

roidy
Aug 5, 2010, 10:24 AM
I'm sorry to say this but you are either

1.) downloading it wrong

2.) or wrongly assuming that current downloads are fit for purpose. They are not. A BR disc can hold tens of GBs of data, whereas a movie from iTunes is often around 1-2GB. That is even less than what you get on a DVD, an over a decade old technology.


The sad reality is that you pay more than you would for a DVD, when you download from iTunes, but in the meantime, you get worse quality. Check out the sound on a decent sound system and the difference is even more shocking.

Umm.. Please quote the person you're replying to as your post dosn't seem to make any sense without knowing who it's aimed at.

But one point I will make is:-
movie from iTunes is often around 1-2GB. That is even less than what you get on a DVD, an over a decade old technology.

One has nothing to do with the other, the 1-2Gb iTunes file is a H.264 mp4 file where as the same 8Gb DVD is H.262 mpeg2. H.264 mp4 is much more efficient at encoding than H.262 mpeg2. So the same or better quality can be achived in a much smaller file size.

TheBritishBloke
Aug 5, 2010, 10:30 AM
When they refund your purchases, you're still allowed to keep the files.. It's sort of like a good will gesture. They've probably refunded about 30 of stuff to me, because ive been happy with everything else I've bought over the years.

eponym
Aug 5, 2010, 10:46 AM
Whether it is Apple, or not, that is responsible for the absence of every movie extant, or to be, in full 1080p HD on iTunes . . . the result is the same.

The studios, Apple, Amazon, every other provider out there in competition with one another, ultimately they all answer to the customer. Years ago if you missed a movie in the theaters, too bad, maybe you might catch it later badly edited, with lamentable reception, on television. Obviously that no longer applies. People are not only accepting HDTV as the norm, but aware of such advances as BluRay as well. In other words, they are increasingly are aware of what constitutes quality, with the choice.

If you look, you'll find those elsewhere on these forums who spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money to transfer DVDs and BluRay discs into a digital format. They care. Do you think they would go to all that time and trouble if there was an easier alternative? In some cases they are dealing with legacy libraries, wishing to retain what they have in a digital format. But from now, from scratch, one increasingly has other options. Vudu, for one, which does offer 1080p.

Apple might be more serious about offering HD, real 1080p, in twisting some arms if necessary, if it fully understood that iTunes has no monopoly on media, or in how it may next most popularly be accessed.


Nobody here is in any position to speculate on how Apple actually feels about 1080p (and higher resolutions). Apple, like other great UX-focused companies cares more about "best to market", not "first to market".

They're obviously working on some major revamp of iTunes. And they're certainly not behind the times in any way. 1080p service is expensive and needs to be done right. And streaming/buying in 1080p isn't a serious reality right now. Yes, it's being done. But you have to have serious bandwidth to do it properly. Most of Apple's customer base (and the world for that matter) don't have the speed (nor the bandwidth cap for that matter) to take advantage of it.

kernkraft
Aug 5, 2010, 10:53 AM
Umm.. Please quote the person you're replying to as your post dosn't seem to make any sense without knowing who it's aimed at.

But one point I will make is:-


One has nothing to do with the other, the 1-2Gb iTunes file is a H.264 mp4 file where as the same 8Gb DVD is H.262 mpeg2. H.264 mp4 is much more efficient at encoding than H.262 mpeg2. So the same or better quality can be achived in a much smaller file size.

As I haven't quoted the person but my answer obviously referred to the OP's issue and the name of the thread, I don't think that there is anything wrong with my omission.


I admit that there is a difference in the encoding but it is obvious that you cannot expect a 2GB file to be high quality regardless of the file type they employ.

roidy
Aug 5, 2010, 11:30 AM
As I haven't quoted the person but my answer obviously referred to the OP's issue and the name of the thread, I don't think that there is anything wrong with my omission.

Fair enough, but if your don't quote the person you're replying to then it looks like you're replying to the person above you and not the OP. And it wasn't obvious (at least to me) you were replying the the OP because your first comment was:-

I'm sorry to say this but you are either

1.) downloading it wrong

As the OP is talking about iTunes store movie resolution then in what way could he be downloading it wrong?

I admit that there is a difference in the encoding but it is obvious that you cannot expect a 2GB file to be high quality regardless of the file type they employ.

Why is it obvious? It is more than feasible for a 2GB H.264 mp4 file to be the same or better quality than an 8Gb mpeg2 DVD. I've got H.264 mp4 encodes of DVD's that are only 1.5GB in size but with no noticable loss of quality.

idunn
Aug 5, 2010, 09:16 PM
Apple's iTunes HD (720p) offerings are more than twice the file size of SD movies. For instance, a 1.51GB SD movie might be 3.48GB in HD. Presumably 1080p (if and when offered, would double that number yet again.

MythicFrost
Aug 5, 2010, 09:18 PM
Apple's iTunes HD (720p) offerings are more than twice the file size of SD movies. For instance, a 1.51GB SD movie might be 3.48GB in HD. Presumably 1080p (if and when offered, would double that number yet again.
I've got a 100/200GB a month plan @ 30Mbps, that's exactly what I want! 10GB movies!

fpnc
Aug 6, 2010, 04:46 AM
I think that all of the iTunes SD movies are encoded at a maximum resolution of 640xN where "N" is 480 or less. However, the display or reported resolution can be higher than that because they will stretch the horizontal resolution to match the aspect ratio on the source video. It's similar to the anamorphic encoding that happens on DVDs.

Not all of the movies on iTunes will get this type of anamorphic treatment, so some widescreen content will actually be encoded at fairly low resolutions -- with vertical resolution below 300 pixels (so you might get something like 640x272 for a widescreen movie with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1). As you might expect those movies will look pretty soft, much worse than you would see on any newly released DVD. Unfortunately, I don't think there is any way to know prior to purchase whether a movie on iTunes will be encoded with a full 480 pixels of vertical resolution. However, it seems that most of the newer, widescreen releases on iTunes are prepared with an anamorphic-like stretch such that in the case of my prior example the encoding would be 640x362 and the display resolution would then be reported as something like 853x362 (thus preserving the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio).

In either case, I think you'll find that nearly all of the iTunes SD content will have lower resolutions than you will see on any recent generation DVD. They (the content providers -- not necessarily Apple) want to up-sell you to the iTunes HD content or have you stick to DVDs.

Ryu Darragh
Dec 26, 2010, 10:33 AM
I'm sorry to say this but you are either

1.) downloading it wrong

2.) or wrongly assuming that current downloads are fit for purpose. They are not. A BR disc can hold tens of GBs of data, whereas a movie from iTunes is often around 1-2GB. That is even less than what you get on a DVD, an over a decade old technology.


The sad reality is that you pay more than you would for a DVD, when you download from iTunes, but in the meantime, you get worse quality. Check out the sound on a decent sound system and the difference is even more shocking.

Here's some info folks will find interesting. The format for a DVD is the VOB format. Simply put, this is a wrapper on a standard MPG2, regardless of whether it is widescreen or not. Typically, a 4:3 file will be approximately 3GB-4GB with all the extra folderoll removed from the VOB wrapper, like different angles and alternate audio tracks, etc. A widescreen version will be from 4GB-5GB depending on the same sorts of silliness.

The reason the file is 5GB to 9GB in the VOB format is, to put it quite simply, to make it impossible (so it was hoped) to copy onto a recordable DVD. They have even added additional empty data to pad the VOB files out.

In Blu-Ray (and the VHS-esque version of it, DVD-HD - seems the Betamax-esque format won this time), the files are insanely padded in the MD2 format. A true HD file is still an ordinary MPG2 format file. It will be 130% to 160% larger at 4GB-6GB for a 4:3 film and 6GB-8GB for a widescreen version.

Again, the format on a BD disc is intentionally padded to make it difficult to copy onto a recordable BD disc.

Most HD format files could easily fit onto a double layer DVD if they were converted (note: Not transcoded, left at the same bitrate) back into the basic MPG2 format they started in.

kiranmk2
Dec 26, 2010, 01:49 PM
I can't tell if you're being serious with that post. The size of the video is determined by the picture complexity and average bitrate. A film with a lot of movement and decent amount of film grain will require much more space than a slower moving, 'cleaner' film that is longer. I've got some DVDs where the VOBs are only 4 GB and some where 8 GB of space is used. Alternate audio only takes up, at most a few hundred MB - Dolby Digital used about 96 kbps per channel - most 5.1 tracks are 384 kbps (some are 448 kbps and a rare handful are 640 kbps), so for a 2 h film a 5.1 track would take ~300 MB. Likewise, subtitles are really small in size.

In my opinion, iTunes won't increase resolution until 2012 at the earliest. This is when the successor to h.264/AVC is expected to finish. This will allow a halving of bitrates so a 20 GB BluRay film could be reduced to 10 GB with the same picture quality. This would mean an Apple 720p encode could stay in the 3-4 GB size and double the bit rate and a 1080p of 6-8 GB would start getting close to Blu-Ray standard. Of course, we'd also have a further 2 years innovation in bandwidth and hard drive storage (5 TB drives, 2 TB laptop drives?)

peterjcat
Dec 26, 2010, 03:47 PM
In Blu-Ray (and the VHS-esque version of it, DVD-HD - seems the Betamax-esque format won this time), the files are insanely padded in the MD2 format. A true HD file is still an ordinary MPG2 format file. It will be 130% to 160% larger at 4GB-6GB for a 4:3 film and 6GB-8GB for a widescreen version.

There's so much wrong with this paragraph that I don't know where to start.

Omne666
Dec 27, 2010, 06:32 AM
Hey,

I'm in Australia and unfortunately we can't buy any HD movies over here yet,

Actually, the way around this is to open an Apple ID account with a US based postal address. Then buy from the US iTunes store.

......but I didnt tell you this.:rolleyes:

alehel
Dec 27, 2010, 07:00 AM
Again, the format on a BD disc is intentionally padded to make it difficult to copy onto a recordable BD disc.

Really? How come it's always worked for me without having to remove or compress any of the information?

Also, I just went through 8 DVD's. Only one of them used more than 4.2gb. That's small enough to fitt on a single layer disc.

alehel
Dec 27, 2010, 07:02 AM
In my opinion, iTunes won't increase resolution until 2012 at the earliest. This is when the successor to h.264/AVC is expected to finish.

What name does this format go under? Are you refearing to VC-2 (a.k.a. Dirac)? The information I've read say that the quality improvement isn't all that significant. Something like 10%. This could be the result of my lousy memory though :p.

[EDIT] Sorry for the double post.

MythicFrost
Dec 27, 2010, 07:42 AM
Actually, the way around this is to open an Apple ID account with a US based postal address. Then buy from the US iTunes store.

......but I didnt tell you this.:rolleyes:

Haha, yea thanks, I'd prefer to avoid that tbh, I'd rather get Netflix I think =P

kiranmk2
Dec 27, 2010, 11:57 AM
What name does this format go under? Are you refearing to VC-2 (a.k.a. Dirac)? The information I've read say that the quality improvement isn't all that significant. Something like 10%. This could be the result of my lousy memory though :p.

[EDIT] Sorry for the double post.

Called HEVC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H265

idunn
Dec 27, 2010, 01:23 PM
My subjective impression is that iTunes has increasingly offered movies with the option of an HD version (720p). Objectively I can quantify this, as in counting I can report that just in Dramas they offer 221 titles. In total they still do not offer what is available elsewhere, but the HD segment of their library is growing fairly fast.

Unfortunately strangely so. Look at upcoming releases, for instance, and you'll discover many titles offered in SD or HD. If perhaps an audience for every movie, some of these titles will safely never win an Academy Award; others that actually might sometimes are offered in SD only. Whether Apple, the studios, or someone else, games are being played. It is disconcerting, but true, that the new title just released only in SD for $14.99 will eventually sell for less, perhaps rather soon if not popular. The standard for anything not brand new is $9.99. That might be expected, but more maddening when discovering the SD title purchased for $14.99 appears several months later in HD for $19.99. If liking the film, then the higher price for HD would have been worth it, but that supposedly wasn't an option. Only now it is, after you've already paid $14.99 for SD. One might wait. Which may work, or possibly find that seemingly iTunes never intends offering an HD version.

This guessing game extends into that discounted. Many older, and sometimes excellent, movies are discounted to $4.99, either permanently or only temporarily. There are many older titles offered at $5.99. HD versions will be discounted as well, but not as many offered, and not in the same fashion. Some newer HD titles are seemingly offered initially at $17.99 instead of the more normal $19.99. Some older and, presumably, less popular can be found at well less than $10. 'Zoolander' was recently temporarily offered at $9.99 in HD.

Anyone preferring HD may be nonplused to find their favorite movie offered only in SD, but then a brief mention that it can be had in HD via Apple TV? What? That would have been a better avenue when one could actually buy a movie from ATV.

One way of getting a quick idea of resolution in iTunes is when stopping a title. This used to be a one-stop process: close the movie and one was back to the list of movies. More recently doing the same leaves the movie, etc., in a pop-up window, which must itself be closed, so two steps. But other than puzzling, this can be revealing. The size of the pop-up reveals the media's resolution. Older TV programs and other media presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio will be in a pop-up of the same dimension, but smaller than when at full screen. Please also note I am referencing this from a 13" MacBook, so one's experience may vary. Widescreen movies are of course more rectangular. SD versions will reveal a small pop-up about half the width of this 13" screen. HD versions are appreciably larger, reaching from edge to edge. How tall they are depends on the aspect ratio filmed in, but in width always side to side for HD. For SD, some movie pop-ups appear larger or smaller, depending presumably on varying degrees of resolution.

Then the issue of quality. Subjectively, it seems to be improving, or at least with far fewer of the egregious errors previously present. Meaning that even standard SD versions appear as their DVD cousins. There remains some variance. The HD version of 'Zoolander' is okay but obviously not the clarity of other HD offerings. This could be the film itself, in how filmed, or perhaps the transfer. Someone that knows more about this than myself tells me that even in BlueRay all is not equal, some movies transferred from film to a digital medium with more care and better results. On the iTunes front, however, I can tell you that the SD version of 'Sleepy Hollow' from iTunes was decidedly inferior to the same thing on DVD. Whether iTunes has rectified such an oversight I have no idea, but would caution you against buying 'Thunderbolt and Lightfoot' from them. Only instance I have seen, but the quality of this SD offering was okay, BUT it was delivered in the wrong aspect ratio. I mean seriously wrong, as in everything was stretched out. The entire movie that way. Apple easily refunded the price when informed of this, and I deleted it from the drive on my own accord. But some months later, since this film is expensive to purchase on DVD, I tried iTunes again. With the same exact result!

This brings us to the question of what one is going to be happiest with. Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't just stick with HD, but a good movie in SD at $4.99 is often tempting. When it comes to HD, I also wonder why I am even settling for the iTunes version of it at 720p when the BlueRay version at 1080p can be had at the same price.

Maybe less. It pays to shop around. Anymore there is less rhyme and reason to this, and one might rent 'A Christmas Carol' from iTunes for $3.99, or rent the same thing from Amazon Video on Demand for .99 (it is now back up to $3.99 on VOD). One will discover that releases and prices on iTunes and VOD mirror one another. But on any given occasion one or the other may offer the same title for several dollars less. Then also, if one is willing to put up with a disc, then one should check beyond iTunes to what may be available on DVD or BlueRay. In example, some BlueRay titles (being twice the quality of Apple's HD) can at times be offered at the same approximate price as what Apple asks for an SD version.

Speaking of Amazon VOD, this service is a surprisingly good competitor to iTunes. In fact, with several advantages. For one, everything is instant: one can wait for a rental movie to download (or at least buffer sufficiently, particularly with a slow connection), or watch it now streaming from VOD. Then also, since this media is retained on Amazon's servers, one does not have to concern themselves with their own in managing and storing media. They also offer the option of downloading media, but since this has been historically a PC only option, I cannot speak to it. If allowing Amazon to hold your media, as it can be rented or purchased, then there can be downsides as well. If working quite easily and well, this service is dependent on your broadband connection. If without one, traveling, etc., you will not be watching anything. If, God forbid, Amazon ever went belly up then presumably say goodbye to all your movies stored with them. That possibility aside, what one will experience more often is how good your internet provider is. One advantage with iTunes, if potentially slower, is that once you've downloaded something you've really got it, seemingly in perpetuity. Assuming one's computer works, then, whether rented or bought, any movie should play fine from start to finish. However, since presently with a pitiful 1.5Mps (more like 1.3Mps max) connection, I can report that the standard SD movie from iTunes will download in about 3 hours. But it is possible to use VOD on even such a connection. They use a good algorithm which not only returns a good quality picture, but will adjust it as needed to suit the connection. If something like mine (cough), one may witness a crisp picture revert to something less, depending on the vagaries of the incoming signal. Generally quite good, although anyone else considering this might consider 1.5Mps more of a bare minimum. If, at times, the signal drops low enough then VOD will pause the film while it buffers. Even in my case, this is seldom. Presumably anyone in a city with appreciably better broadband would never notice this. But even SD offerings can look near iTunes HD with some movies, and generally good and acceptable otherwise. VOD also offers HD versions of some titles, but this requires something other than a computer, such as a newer internet HDTV.

Then there are other providers, such as Vudu, which in their case offer streaming 1080p (or nearly so), but in that case a connection of more like 5Mps required. It can all seem a bit much, all the more as everything is changing so fast. SD titles I purchased from iTunes, and thought to favor forever, may in time get replaced with HD versions from someone. Or maybe not. Particularly with some older movies, there are no HD versions available, seemingly anywhere, and may never be. But sometimes older movies are finally released in an HD version. Which makes all the more sense as even those only available in SD were captured on film which as master is better than even digitally downscaled BlueRay.

Never before as many options in this, all possibly different tomorrow.

alehel
Dec 27, 2010, 05:13 PM
Called HEVC: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H265

Interesting stuff. I was not aware of this work. Thanks for the link :). When you mentioned half the bitrate for comparable quality I thought you were overdoing it a bit, but I see that this is actually a clame made by the mpeg group. The fact that this would require computational work that is 2x - 10x that of h.264 makes me think it will be quite a bit more than a couple of years before we see this on iTunes though. I'm not sure most consumer macs would be capable of that. I hope I'm wrong though :).

alehel
Dec 27, 2010, 05:26 PM
Someone that knows more about this than myself tells me that even in BlueRay all is not equal, some movies transferred from film to a digital medium with more care and better results.

This is very true. Very many factors come into play when moving a movie from film to digital. The original release of Predator for blu-ray was, acording to what I've read on blu-ray.com, based on the files that were created for use with the DVD versions. Several Blu-Ray use mpeg-2. Reason for this is usually that they are reusing the masters that were used for the DVD.

If you browse blu-ray.com (which by the way is a site that I highly recommend to blu-ray users) you'll find that the quality of the transfers varies greatly. Criterion for example spend a huge amount of time on the restoration prosess for their releases. I never thought Videodrome could look as good as it does on their blu-ray transfer. An example of bad transfers could for example be ITV, the british TV Channel. A lot of their blu-rays look practically the same as their dvd edition. But that is of course my own personal opinion.

Which makes all the more sense as even those only available in SD were captured on film which as master is better than even digitally downscaled BlueRay. Many of Criterions restorations are made as 4k masters and then downscaled to 1080p. Would be interesting to see what the quality difference is.

Dr McKay
Dec 27, 2010, 05:31 PM
Hey,

I'm in Australia and unfortunately we can't buy any HD movies

If you have an Xbox 360, you can buy and rent movies on the Zune Marketplace in full 1080p.

Ryu Darragh
Dec 27, 2010, 07:53 PM
There's so much wrong with this paragraph that I don't know where to start.

Do start. Here's a hint:

Dragon Wars (D-Wars)

M2TS file on Blu-Ray disc: 18.53GB (with all other files included, 26.2GB).
MPG2 HD file it contains: 7.87GB

VOB file on DVD disc: 7.93GB (already larger than standard recordable DVD, but total is 8.8GB).
MPG2 file it contains: 3.08GB

Both are exactly the same movie, both of the same vintage, both widescreen.

Blu-Ray is superior because it is optically superior to the older format which uses a red laser (most DVDs use an Infrared) and has a relaxed optical aperture compared to the HD-DVD format. This means it does not need to be as stringent in manufacturing to get a similar level of data. This also means it is less likely to degrade over time as the HD-DVD format is. This was very much like the VHS/Betamax format wars. The difference is, in this case, the superior format, specification wise, won out.

Ryu Darragh
Dec 27, 2010, 08:04 PM
Really? How come it's always worked for me without having to remove or compress any of the information?

Also, I just went through 8 DVD's. Only one of them used more than 4.2gb. That's small enough to fitt on a single layer disc.

A question was asked why the M2TS file (and, by extension, the VOB) was so much larger. The padding I have found, once you take out the main MP2 video file, AAC and other audio formats and the "extras", like alternate camera angles, is zero padding (binary zeros). Why have nearly 8GB of no data in a file? What possible purpose could upwards of 50% of a file being blank possible serve? Removed, the file still plays perfectly on a bog standard DVD player, all extras and other features included (I have a VOB stream editor).

They may not do the oversize padding on many movies now because Double-Layer DVDs exist, but I have seen many a disc in the past with more than 4.7GB files (when you add all the VOBs that make up a movie). In fact, nearly all of my DVDs were that way. What were the vintage and which files are you referring to? The original VOBs (which are always 1GB or less for each segment) or the ripped MPG? And were these widescreen? Many of my DVDs are widescreen (NOT the abortion called "Letterbox" :p).

Another reason that just (re)occurred to me is to make bit torrenting the VOBs more of a hassle.

paulrbeers
Dec 27, 2010, 08:15 PM
Your arguments still make no sense and I'm not sure you made any points. Fact of matter is that the space required to store a video has very little to do with trying to use more than one layer and more to do with the quality of the original recording, resolution, type of file and the amount of action. A modern romantic comedy will use much less space than an action flick. Fact is modern encodings only use data when a pixel changes. You really don't understand how video files work. Please don't confuse those who are trying to learn by posting incorrect information

Ryu Darragh
Dec 27, 2010, 08:21 PM
Also, I just went through 8 DVD's. Only one of them used more than 4.2gb. That's small enough to fitt on a single layer disc.

Oh, sorry: Numbers

D-Wars, widescreen, double layer DVD

Total on disc: 8.83GB
Movie Section: 7.83GB (Main Movie 5x 1GB files plus one 583MB Others: 2x 1GB files, two <200MB files)

Contents of file: MP2-2.93GB, AAC-0.18GB, Alternate Angle 1-1GB, Other Audio-0.48GB, Zero Padding 1.2GB)

Ryu Darragh
Dec 27, 2010, 08:31 PM
Your arguments still make no sense and I'm not sure you made any points. Fact of matter is that the space required to store a video has very little to do with trying to use more than one layer and more to do with the quality of the original recording, resolution, type of file and the amount of action. A modern romantic comedy will use much less space than an action flick. Fact is modern encodings only use data when a pixel changes. You really don't understand how video files work. Please don't confuse those who are trying to learn by posting incorrect information

Software programmer. Edit videos. Have nonlinear editing tools and video diagnostic tools. File sizes of files on disc padded. Facts. Sorry. It is even called "Padding". Explain padding if your such an expert. Explain padding when its removal does not affect file playback one whit on bog standard old fashioned and new DVD players.

You're right on one point. The size of the file doesn't have as much to do with its quality as the encoding methodology used. Just tyring to explain why DVD and Blu-Ray formatted files are so large. HD is a prime example. Most HD files would easily fit on a DVD if not for the padding.

My main point was the hardware requirements have all to do with DRM and not quality as some claim. Listed those. Apple is in fact no longer offerring HD for download (the buttons are greyed out) if you don't have HDCP harware all the way. Listed those (the button will also explain this if you click on it in iTunes).

The drop in resolution appears to happen in iTunes alone. Quicktime Player will still play movies not in HD format just fine. HD movies via iTunes have become black screen or very low resolution on my machine since the last update.

If you were not addressing me, my apologies.

Cave Man
Dec 27, 2010, 10:24 PM
In Blu-Ray (and the VHS-esque version of it, DVD-HD - seems the Betamax-esque format won this time), the files are insanely padded in the MD2 format. A true HD file is still an ordinary MPG2 format file. It will be 130% to 160% larger at 4GB-6GB for a 4:3 film and 6GB-8GB for a widescreen version.

No, it isn't. The DVD specification was for video encoded in MPEG-2. Blu-ray can have MPEG2, but most of those are the old movies that were already encoded in MPEG2 before Blu-ray was available. Since then, nearly all movies are encoded with h.264 or VC-1 for Blu-ray.

Again, the format on a BD disc is intentionally padded to make it difficult to copy onto a recordable BD disc.

This simply isn't true. It's about the frame size (1080p for Blu-ray vs. 480p for DVD), compression algorithm (MPEG2 only for DVD, MPEG2, VC-1 or H.264 for Blu-ray) and bit-rate, and audio (AC3, DTS, True-HD or DTS-MA for Blu-ray, AC3 and optional DTS for DVD).

Most HD format files could easily fit onto a double layer DVD if they were converted (note: Not transcoded, left at the same bitrate) back into the basic MPG2 format they started in.

Not with MPEG-2 at 1080p they couldn't. It's conceivable that many encoded in h.264 and only with AC3 or DTS *might* fit on a dual-layer DVD, but that would really be pushing it. Certainly Avatar Extended Edition wouldn't fit on a DVD without having crappy results. Its DTS-MA English audio track is 5 gb itself.

Stuipdboy1000
Dec 28, 2010, 03:21 AM
You also can't in the UK which irritates the hell out of me. Its annoying as I can rent stuff on my Apple TV from the UK iTunes Store in HD

pac

As of a few weeks ago, you can now buy HD movies from the UK store. The selection is very limited at the moment though.

Source. (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/12/08/itunes-store-now-offering-hd-movie-sales-in-uk/)

OllyW
Dec 28, 2010, 03:48 AM
As of a few weeks ago, you can now buy HD movies from the UK store. The selection is very limited at the moment though.

Source. (http://www.macrumors.com/2010/12/08/itunes-store-now-offering-hd-movie-sales-in-uk/)

Very expensive too. :(

roidy
Dec 28, 2010, 04:28 AM
Very expensive too. :(

Really? You think so. I thought 3 more for new releases and 1 more for older films was pretty good value. I expected Apple to be dicks and charge way more.

OllyW
Dec 28, 2010, 04:32 AM
Really? You think so. I through 3 more for new releases and 1 more for older films was pretty good value. I expected Apple to be dicks and charge way more.

I also think the SD prices are way too high. :D

roidy
Dec 28, 2010, 04:39 AM
Fair enough, we'll leave it at that:D

shandyman
Dec 28, 2010, 04:58 AM
Really? You think so. I thought 3 more for new releases and 1 more for older films was pretty good value. I expected Apple to be dicks and charge way more.

It's 4.50 to rent some new stuff via apple tv in HD! the rest is 3.50 and other stuff at 2.50, still pricey on the most part

Oh and while we're at it, TV rentals in the UK would be nice! and netflix or lovefilm too

roidy
Dec 28, 2010, 09:47 AM
I was referring to the price difference of purchased HD content, the UK has had HD rentals for quite sometime now.

New movie releases are priced at 9.99 for SD and 12.99 for HD which I don't think is too bad, or 6.99 for older SD and 7.99 for older HD movies, which is even better at just a 1 increase for a lot better quality.

As for TV rentals and Netflix/Lovefilm, I'd rather buy my content outright and watch it as many times as I like than rent it, but that's just me:D

shandyman
Dec 28, 2010, 11:14 AM
I was referring to the price difference of purchased HD content, the UK has had HD rentals for quite sometime now.

New movie releases are priced at 9.99 for SD and 12.99 for HD which I don't think is too bad, or 6.99 for older SD and 7.99 for older HD movies, which is even better at just a 1 increase for a lot better quality.

As for TV rentals and Netflix/Lovefilm, I'd rather buy my content outright and watch it as many times as I like than rent it, but that's just me:D

i use rentals for stuff i just don't wanna own, like various tv boxsets, films that i am not sure about, or whatever. anything i really wanna own, i buy outright on blu ray rather than on itunes, i don't see the point buying films on itunes yet as it just doesn't suit my needs.