How come Apple's movies are such low resolution?

MythicFrost

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 11, 2009
3,931
38
Australia
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

macrumors 68030
Jul 21, 2009
2,532
0
United Kingdom
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

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 11, 2009
3,931
38
Australia
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

macrumors 65816
Dec 30, 2008
1,025
21
Nottingham, UK
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

macrumors 65816
Jul 25, 2004
1,285
0
Missouri, USA
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

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 11, 2009
3,931
38
Australia
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

macrumors 65816
Dec 30, 2008
1,025
21
Nottingham, UK
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

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 11, 2009
3,931
38
Australia
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

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2008
500
400
If only . . .

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

macrumors 6502a
May 12, 2009
909
0
iDeaded myself
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

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Mar 11, 2009
3,931
38
Australia
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

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2008
880
380
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

macrumors 65816
Dec 30, 2008
1,025
21
Nottingham, UK
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

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2008
500
400
1080p

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.
 

kernkraft

macrumors 68020
Jun 25, 2009
2,456
1
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

macrumors 601
Mar 29, 2004
4,343
402
Boston, MA
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.
 

roidy

macrumors 65816
Dec 30, 2008
1,025
21
Nottingham, UK
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

macrumors 68030
Jul 21, 2009
2,532
0
United Kingdom
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

macrumors 6502
Jul 2, 2010
297
3
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

macrumors 68020
Jun 25, 2009
2,456
1
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

macrumors 65816
Dec 30, 2008
1,025
21
Nottingham, UK
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

macrumors 6502a
Jan 12, 2008
500
400
Double

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.
 

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