December 07, 2006

THE FOG (1980) old cult titles on HD-DVD

THE FOG (USA, 1980)
Available from France on HD-DVD (Studio Canal)
Good to see that among the mixed bag of movies fresh from the cinemas, there are some interesting older titles being released on the new HD-DVD format.

For several years, most films have been digitally mastered onto High Definition master tapes. These masters were used to make the regular 'standard definition' DVD releases. But now, HD-DVDs can use the same master tapes without the need for remastering. This should instantly give movie studios a very wide choice of potential HD releases.

The increased storage capacity of the HD-DVD format means that it can now hold the same sized pictures as HDTV, 1080 picture lines, and full-width 1920 pixels per line (without having to squeeze the picture anamorphically). Uncompressed audio tracks are now also a possibility, dependent on how many different audio tracks and supplement material is also being stored on the same disc.

I think the increased quality of the image is of most benefit to anyone with a very large screen. I'm not sure there'll be a noticeable difference on a standard sized TV, widescreen or not.

John Carpenter's The Fog (1980) is an upcoming release on HD-DVD, presumably to 'complement' the recent remake. The picture quality is suitably impressive, and is especially necessary for a film shot in the 2.35 widescreen format - though it seems to have been slightly cropped at the sides, down to something resembling a ratio of 1:2.0. Hopefully in the future, when everyone's TVs are bigger, 2.35 aspected movies will actually be released in full width 2.35!

As an example of older titles to be released by Studio Canal, my only gripe is that there are absolutely no extras, meaning that I'll have to hang onto my old DVDs because they have all the extras on! Most supplemental features on HD DVDs seem to be included at standard definition, and shouldn't take up much space. It's always a trade-off between extras, picture quality, and a wide variety of alternate audio tracks, all vying for storage capacity on each disc.

Still, I'll be looking forward to David Lynch's The Elephant Man and the 1976 version of King Kong, from the same range, which are also both 2.35 widescreen films. These discs are designed to be released in several different language territories and are not regionally coded like standard DVDs.

Do you want to know more?
Full audio specs and more details about The Fog and The Elephant Man from Xploited Cinema website.

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