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Posted on 2008.05.04 at 13:45
Current Location: 75409
Current Music: Watch the Skies: The Science Fiction Films of Steven Spielberg
To everyone on a budget, there are pro's and con's. I only mention the budget part because one of my readers wanted to know why I wasn't projecting 1080p onto a foreign port's silky smooth waters, from my yacht to watch my movies, instead of viewing them on my 42" 720p widescreen television in my bedroom. The short answer is money. The more complicated answer: I try to pay cash for everything and as much as I am in my bedroom watching movies (not much) and wanting the most expedient way to not replace all my 'standard' (480p) DVD's which I'm still trying to replace from my laserdiscs - the most elegant and least cost-prohibitive way to do that, was the 720p. The Vizio 42" is one of the top units for compatibility. I know people who've had to have the latest/greatest/best/soonest and they make me chuckle. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I'm just not what you'd call an early adopter. But then again, if I had unlimited funds, that likely wouldn't be the case. Each of us spends our money on things which are most important to us, and a future-proof television, for me, isn't one of them. I mock those who mock me because when the time is right, I'll simply buy another one. You know those console televisions your parents had? Yeah - that's what your set is going to look like soon enough. Your children will laugh at you.

Then again, what do I know? My son came in while I was composing this picture and said, "Wow - I really like that TV," as he pointed to the console. When pressed, he liked the woodwork. Who knows - by the time my son has children of his own, 70s retro may grip the nation...

But I'm not here to talk about resolution, rather, screen size. I watched a couple of movies this weekend and simply sighed heavily that though my picture is indeed 36.5" (horizontally) it is but 12" high. That's right - my massive 42" widescreen television displays an image a foot tall, and no more. From the users guide:

Widescreen versions of DVD movies are most commonly formatted for standard 4:3 televisions.

This gives me 38.5" viewable (diagonal) - but only 12" high. Though I despise Pan & Scan, at least you get a lot more real estate. In this regard, it feels a lot like my new widescreen monitor. Although, I am getting used to expanding out, rather than up and down. Seeing a picture only twelve inches high, no matter how its presented, just feels...wrong.

Another thing which completely shocked me about this television is the amount of heat it puts out its front panel. WOW! Just walking by it burns my arm with targeted heat. Its not hot to the touch, but it radiates something fierce.

Still - its an amazing thing. It will be made one better when we finally get the last piece of the puzzle: The Blu-Ray player.


Enough about the television, on to the movies!

We watched The Golden Compass to ensure its suitability for our children (it was), and I agree with hiro_antagonist's review of it wholeheartedly. An enjoyable suspense from the daily grind for both children and adults.

Sweeny Todd on the other hand was brilliantly executed. Though I was familiar with the story from only a very high-level as that's one I'd not seen on stage, I was completely blown away by the film. Once again, we find that Johnny Depp embodies the protagonist to the degree that it is difficult to consider this role having been played by anyone else, and I'm not even a fan of his! A lot of this I owe to Tim Burton, who's choices in stylization are both bold, and brilliant. He's the opposite of technicolor; the entire movie (minus the flashbacks which were done the inverse of Wizard of Oz-style) was desaturated with just hits of color (usually a deep red) here and there. Just magnificent. The title sequence (textbook Burton) had me groaning with another highly-stylized film, and though this was, it wasn't as expected.

Burton, always keeping it fresh.

All that stuff I said about a 12-inch high image, yeah, swashbuckler332 fixed all that, and it looks glorious. Thanks dude.


irulan_amy at 2008-05-04 21:57 (UTC) (Link)
I think Sweeney Todd is easily one of Burton's best. He really did a fabulous job. And I was way impressed with Johnny Depp; he positively nailed that role.

I literally just finished watching The Golden Compass. I was really looking forward to seeing as the book (the whole trilogy really) is just fantastic. And I gotta say - I was a bit disappointed. The sets, props, costumes, and general look were all amazing. The actors were great, the young actress who played Lyra was terrific. I disliked the lack of exposition. The whole movie felt really rushed for me. Maybe that's because I read the book? I'm not sure. But - the entertainment aspects (like the great battle and ice polar bears) outweighed it.
ehowton at 2008-05-04 22:11 (UTC) (Link)
No, you're entirely right - I didn't understand much of the beginning of the movie because it wasn't laid out well, and my wife mentioned, "I guess we need to read the books to understand." It was rushed, but I agree - the bears were amazing. And of course, it had Sam Elliot. Duh!
catttitude at 2008-05-04 22:43 (UTC) (Link)
I think I missed something in the beginning of the story, I didn't get the animals as being the human's demons. Today I went out and bought the trilogy and I can't wait to read them. I just know the books will better than the movie and I am not patient enough to wait for the others to come out on DVD.
irulan_amy at 2008-05-05 04:50 (UTC) (Link)
The books are better. I felt like the whole movie was so rushed. And when you read the first book, you'll see that they stopped the movie at a really awkward part...and I don't get it because at the pace they were moving, they could have covered it in 10 minutes...
Joshua Gizelt
swashbuckler332 at 2008-05-04 22:59 (UTC) (Link)
Check the aspect ratio settings on the television. Many of them allow you to blow up the picture by cropping the top and bottom, which is fine for a letterboxed image. It will (obviously) yield a lower resolution picture than an anamorphic source, but one's eye quickly adjusts to that. That's how I watch non-anamorphic DVDs and laserdiscs on my television.

When you get a Blu-Ray player, make sure that it upconverts your current DVDs. Apparently not all of them do this. While the picture quality is in no way comparable to a true high def source, it is nevertheless a distinct improvement in color saturation from a non-upconverted image.

Edited at 2008-05-04 11:00 pm (UTC)
ehowton at 2008-05-04 23:07 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you! I wanted the up-convert but I assumed they all did it. I'll keep an eye out for that. And I did watch the last half of The Golden Compass with the 'Zoom' setting on (which behaves exactly as you described) but I wasn't going to miss a thing in Sweeny Todd.
galinda822 at 2008-05-05 00:27 (UTC) (Link)
I'm perfectly happy with my 42 inch LCD HDTV. I'll keep it until it quits working.

BTW...I still have one of those console television downstairs in the basement. Circa 1980 :)
ehowton at 2008-05-05 00:48 (UTC) (Link)
I thought yours was larger than 42" and that's where your console television should stay. Forever. Am I right?
galinda822 at 2008-05-05 01:24 (UTC) (Link)
I think it's only 42" - but I could be wrong.

Actually, I still have the damn console because I can't figure out how to get rid of it.
I was still using it when I moved in the house 5 yrs. ago.
jaceman at 2008-05-05 11:43 (UTC) (Link)
All that stuff I said about a 12-inch high image, yeah, swashbuckler332 fixed all that, and it looks glorious. Thanks dude.

I'm glad he did because I was all set to kick you in the head. Also, in addition to adjusting the aspect ratio on your television set, your DVD player (depending on how new it is) may have an option in its "Setup Menu" to tell it whether you are using a standard 4:3 set or a widescreen 16:9 set.
ehowton at 2008-05-05 11:51 (UTC) (Link)
I'm amazed how...clear the picture is, and how it fills my entire screen. I'm very happy now. And that's what did it in the end - the DVD player's widescreen setting. w00t!
heybishop at 2008-05-05 17:35 (UTC) (Link)
I think unless you're going REALLY big, there isn't much of a perceptual difference in quality between 720P and 1080P.

I have a 720P projector and a 106" screen. It looks fantastic. Even standard def DVDs look good. VHS and Laserdisks certainly show their age at that size. But I can imagine that if my projector were 1080P those imperfections would only be more apparent.

90% of the content I watch is standard def. But for that 10% (basically I download Lost and BSG in 720P) man does it look good. Almost looks (certainly feels) like a 35mm projection.
ehowton at 2008-05-05 19:51 (UTC) (Link)
Everything I've read agrees with your assessment. I think the television is fantastic, and I haven't even seen anything HD yet...
dreamkatch at 2008-05-12 19:13 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh! I loved Sweeny Todd, I had to keep watching the part where she plays out her little fantasy life with picnics on the beach, and summers in the country. I thought the colors were amazing. the bright outfits contrasted with their dull and dirty faces.....I just loved it!
ehowton at 2008-05-12 19:24 (UTC) (Link)
My favorite part about that scene? His expression! It. Never. Changed. <-- hysterical!
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