My thoughts


Star Trek Beyond (2016) Trailer 3 – 1080p HD FLAC 7.1 and AC3 5.1 3

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond

Trailer 3 for Star Trek Beyond is now available as a .mp4 with AC3 5.1 audio, or an .mkv with lossless FLAC 7.1 and AC3 5.1. This is my second trailer to feature 7.1 and I hope you enjoy the result. This is not the official mix, it was mixed by me using the individual dialogue, music and effects tracks. I find that playback of the FLAC track using my Onkyo TX-NR747 175-Watt 7.2-Channel Network A/V Receiver  to be a bit lower in volume than the AC3 track, and I am not sure why. I never noticed a difference in volume levels with my Denon receiver, so I hesitate to modify anything in the audio track. It may be a setting on the Onkyo or in MPC-HC, which I have been using for playback lately instead of Plex. I need to look into it. Trailer 3 can be found at the Star Trek Beyond page.

I also want to take a moment to recognize the recent death of Anton Yelchin, who played Checkov in the Star Trek reboot, including Star Trek Beyond. He was perfect in the role, and at just 27 he is a talent lost all too soon.


BenQ HT1075 First Thoughts and The Digital Theater vs YouTube 3

BenQ HT1075

BenQ HT1075

BenQ HT1075 First Thoughts

I mentioned last week that I was upgrading my system to go from a 50 inch Samsung LCD to the BenQ HT1075. What got this ball rolling was moving from our current house, to a location that would allow for a dedicated home theater space. I am happy to say that it looks like we have found the right location, and we have a buyer for our current home. So at the end of May, I will be setting up the BenQ in the new theater space (provided there are no unforeseen complications).

The projector arrived on Monday, just in time for the release of The Force Awakens on Tuesday. I didn’t have a screen, but I really wanted to try the projector out. I did some research on-line and I decided to try blackout fabric for a screen. It comes in a width of 55 inches, so a 98 inch long piece would produce a 16X9 screen with a diagonal width of 112 inches. The fabric has a nice white finish, is quite smooth, and is totally opaque. In a pinch and for $30 it did quite well. I am sure it is not as good as a quality screen but it sure beats a wall, or some of the other alternatives.

Like virtually all reviews of this projector indicated, the setup was ridiculously easy. I placed it behind the couch on a small table that was about 3.5 feet tall. I did not need to use the keystone adjustment (which is good because it reduces resolution) and with just making a few adjustments I was good to go.

To mark the occasion of the release of The Force Awakens, we decided to watch the original Star Wars Trilogy on blu-ray. On Monday night we screened A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. I was just using the Cinema mode for those films, and we thought they looked fantastic. A New Hope obviously has some issues relating to its age, but it has never looked better viewed at my home. It really is amazing how much of a difference you get from going from 50 inches to 110. The whole experience is that much more cinematic. You can see all the details in the background because they are so much bigger. The other benefit is that the picture just draws you in. It is totally immersive. It is comparable to seeing it in a movie theater.

For the second night, I made a few tweaks to the settings based upon some other reviews on the net – those types who have all the measurement equipment needed to properly calibrate the projector. What I used was based upon the Cinema Mode. Brightness was increased from 50 to 51, and contrast was decreased from 50 to 49. I also changed the color temperature to Warm, which I was surprised to find was more appealing and realistic to me as I usually prefer the Cool setting on past displays. Warm seemed to provide the best skin tone. I also set the lamp power to the Smart Eco mode, which should provide the longest bulb life possible. I was watching the films in total darkness, and even in Smart Eco mode the screen was plenty bright – perhaps too bright in some cases where there are shots that have both dark and bright components (such as the shot of Starkiller Base against the blackness of space). In scenes like that, I found that the brightness of the planet, was washing out the darkness of space. This may be helped by the addition of some dark masking materials that would provide more contrast for on screen vs off screen. I have also been doing some reading about neutral filters, which would make the picture a little darker. And yes, I know, I did increase the brightness by 1 in the settings, but when I tried decreasing the brightness it had other undesired effects. But at the end of the day, this is a sub $1000 projector, and so far I am more than happy with the quality of the projected image. Actually, it is even better than I was expecting it to be.

The blu-ray release of The Force Awakens was nothing short of spectacular. The only real issues I noticed where like the ones mentioned above. But then again, I was not using a proper screen and there may be some configuration changes that could improve on that.

The Digital Theater vs YouTube

It appears that there has been a bit of a debate that sprung up across the internet over the past couple of weeks with regards to the latest Warcraft Trailer, where there has been a lot of passionate talk on Reddit and more recently Forbes.com where they are comparing the quality of the video of the YouTube trailer vs the version I have. I do want to mention that there are some who are suggesting that the lossless version I have here has uncompressed video, which looks much better than the YouTube version which is compressed to hell, pardon the expression. In the case of “lossless” trailers on this site, the term applies only to the audio – which will be either Dolby TrueHD, Dolby ATMOS, DTS-HD Master Audio, PCM, or FLAC. The video is compressed, but in the case of the ‘lossless’ mkv files, the bitrate is comparable to blu-ray, which is much better than YouTube. The HD Master of a trailer runs at 220 Mbps and is usually about 3GB in size. I am compressing trailers down to an average bitrate of 24 Mbps and usually in the 300 MB range.  By comparison, the 1080p version of the 1 minute Warcraft trailer on YouTube is 18 MB in size, while the one featured here is 176 MB. Ours has 5.1 surround sound at a much higher bitrate of 6912 Kbps, instead of a highly compressed 2 channel AAC track at 144 Kbps.

Trailers on YouTube are substandard. A director should be angry to have the trailer for their film presented in such a way. But I am heartened that there are a lot of people out there that think that the promotional efforts I am doing are a better representation of the film than what is available at YouTube. After all, that is why I started this site. I wanted trailers that sounded better than the 2 channel versions readily available and I thought that there had to be more people out there who were interested in the same thing. Video and audio quality matter – maybe not on a phone or tablet, but certainly on anything in the home theater realm. One day YouTube may have multi channel audio and better compression, but until that day comes I am going to keep pushing for better quality.

 


Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Experimental – Pass 2

Independence Day: Resurgence

Independence Day: Resurgence

Here is an update from my audio experiment on Sunday. I have been doing some research and along with the feedback provided by readers, I remixed the track from scratch. The source is 2.0 PCM 24 bit, and the goal is to create a track that sounds better than what a pro-logic decoder can produce.

I received a few different and conflicting remarks, so I thought it would be best to create each track at the same peak level, and to leave enough headroom for any dynamic adjustments. Even though I used the same processors, my overall approach on the new mix was totally different.

 

Below are some graphs that show the sound levels between the old mix, and the new.  Continue reading “Independence Day: Resurgence (2016) Experimental – Pass 2” »


Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) Film Review (Spoiler Free)

The Force Awakens One Sheet

The Force Awakens One Sheet

I just watched The Force Awakens, and I must say that it lived up to my expectations in every way. Truly a return to the classic style from the original trilogy. It introduced some great new characters in Rey and Finn – who have a wonderful chemistry. I really liked Finn, he was a little goofy, fun, unsure of himself, and ultimately quite brave. John Boyega was wonderful in the role, as was Daisy Ridley as Rey. BB-8 was a fun addition to the droid lineup in the saga and it was an absolute delight to see Han and Chewie back in the Millennium Falcon. The film had quite a few genuinely funny moments, I know I spent a great deal of the time grinning like an excited kid. The movie introduces some new questions, mainly the origin of the new enemy who takes the place of Emperor Palpatine, and where did Luke’s lightsaber come from – because as you know it was hacked off of Luke’s arm along with his hand by Vader in The Empire Strikes Back, to eventually fall from Cloud City…to Bespin I guess. 

Bottom line – this is the Star Wars film you have been waiting for since you heard that Episode I was coming. In all the ways that episodes I-III are missing that element that makes episodes IV-VI fantastic, episode VII has them all and then some. It is a simpler story of good vs. evil instead of taxation of trade routes and senate procedures. I am fairly certain that it will challenge Avatar for that number 1 spot. If it doesn’t break the record, it will come close.

I can’t wait to see it again!


3D Side by Side (SBS) and other news 2

3D VideoI have converted the .iso files to 3D SBS .mkv files. Goosebumps is still encoding so it will be uploaded later today when I get home from my day job. The completed ones are Angry BirdsThe Finest Hours, The Martian and Teasers 1 and 2 of The Force Awakens.

I will also have 2D files for The Revenant with PCM and AC3 5.1 available later today. The next film to add to the site will be Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I normally hate zombie films – but this one looks quite different. Coming later in the week will be Trailer 2 of Daddy’s Home. I am going to be completing some research and compiling a 4K buying guide to help those who may be thinking about getting a new 4K set this before year end. I will also be reviewing Terminator Genysis and adding other trailers as they are available.

Finally, I want to take a moment to thank everyone who visited and interacted here over the last week. I have received a lot of positive feedback, which is just wonderful to receive. And some critical feedback as well, which has helped me to make improvements to the site. I also saw a lot of people who were quick to help others with technical problems. It was a very rewarding week. Thank you.

Jonathan


Die Another Day Teaser 1 Restoration (2K AC3 5.1)

Die Another Day

Die Another Day

With SPECTRE being released in a few weeks, I started to think about some of the older 007 trailers. Notably, the teaser for Die Another Day had a really impressive soundtrack back in 2002. I recall seeing it in the theatre for the first time before a screening of Star Wars Episode II – Attack of the Clones. I loved that thunderous bass when the gun fires and that slamming sound when the icy 007 logo appears. Arguably, that teaser was better than the movie. When the DVD was released, it featured the usual 2.0 stereo track which did not hold up to the 6 channel theatrical presentation. Luckily for me, I did find it on the Windtalkers DVD, albeit with non-anamorphic 16:9 widescreen that would leave the picture as a tiny box on an HDTV.

Not. Any. More.

Last night I found a version of this teaser over at the 007 dossier where they have scanned a 2K version of this trailer (and many others) from a 35mm film print. The audio on it was only AAC 44 khz, 158 kbps stereo, so I took the liberty of adding the 6 channel Dolby AC3 5.1 48 khz, 448 kbps track from the non-anamorphic dvd to give us the teaser in 2K (2048 x 856) with 5.1 audio. I also increased the overall volume level from the dvd version as it was never quite as loud as it should be. If you are a 007 fan, and a fan of this teaser, you can download it below.

TRAILER NAME Video Audio Size
Teaser 1 MP4 2K (2048 x 856) Dolby AC3 5.1 448 Kbps 59 Mb

I would love to do a restoration of the Goldeneye teaser (“you were expecting someone else?”). If anyone has the audio for it please get in touch!


Plex Media Server (Review)

Plex Home Theater

Plex Home Theater

Plex Media Server and Plex Home Theater

Last night, I installed Plex Media Server (PMS) and Plex Home Theater (PHT) on my dedicated home theater PC. In the simplest of terms, the PMS turns your PC into a media server that you can access on your home network using a variety of devices with
the corresponding Plex application for those devices. In my case, since I was using a dedicated PC connected to my receiver I installed the Plex Home Theater app on my PC.

What are the benefits of using Plex over a media player?

First and foremost, it allows for the full output of Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio. Oh, and it is free, which is always a great thing in my books. You can however, purchase a “Plex Pass” which will give you some additional features, such as sharing and automatic inclusion of theatrical trailers before movies. I am opting to not have a Plex Pass at this time, so I cannot comment on those features.  Continue reading “Plex Media Server (Review)” »


THX Eclipse Trailers (long and short) added 5.1 Dolby 1080p HD and site update

I uploaded two THX trailers – Eclipse Long, and Eclipse Short. Both feature the classic “Deep Note” with some rather hypnotizing visuals.

THX

THX

You can get them here or you can use the Audio Format Trailers menu at the top of the page.  I have more THX trailers that I will be uploading before too long.  To keep up to date, you can sign up for email alerts, or follow us on facebook at www.facebook.com/thedigitaltheater to get notified when trailers or features are added.

This site is still in its very early days, as of today (August 12, 2015) it is just 3 weeks old. So if you are just stopping by for the first time, and are surprised by the lack of content – well, that is the reason.  I have lots of things that I want to do, but it is taking me longer to get them completed than I had originally planned.

One aspect that I have started working on is 4K and the home theater of the future.  4K is very much like this site – in its early days – but there is going to be a lot of great content coming over the next year. I hope to put together some practical buying guides to help those who are interested in going 4K. Look for that soon.

I am also going to be reporting on the new object based sound formats Dolby Atmos and DTS:X so that you can make good buying decisions.

The other part of the site I want to develop is technical reviews of films and equipment. This will probably have to come last as it will take time to get the other site components together as well as taking the time to watch a film and then write a review about it.

One thing that I am not going to do, is to attempt to please everyone.  If I watch a trailer and I do not like it, I will not post it on this site. That is the great part of owning a corner of the internet, you can make it what you want it to be. I want this to be the part of the internet that has the good trailers. Quality over quantity.

So stay tuned, there is more to come.

 


A few words about trailers on this site

titlecard

I love hearing movie trailers in 5.1 (or more) audio.  Back in the early 1990s when digital audio formats such as Dolby Digital and DTS were becoming the norm, trailers in the theater where usually presented in 5.1. Back in those times, the trailers for films such as “Twister”, “The Rock”, and “The Lost World” sounded incredible. Such active surrounds and deep, pounding bass.  Unfortunately, when they were released on DVD they arrived with 2.0 soundtracks.  How disappointing.  Here we were with the technology and equipment to play these trailers in full 5.1 but the studios decided to only include the 2 channel stereo version. Continue reading “A few words about trailers on this site” »