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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In just a few short days, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) will officially release it’s first wave of “Mastered in 4K” blu-ray titles. The titles, officially available on May 14th, will include Ghostbusters, Spider-Man, Glory, Total Recall, Taxi Driver, The Amazing Spider-Man, Angles & Demons, Battle Los Angeles, The Karate Kid, and The Other Guys. Prices for these titles range between $19.99 and $40.99 MSRP with some e-retailers, like Amazon.com, already offering them at reduced prices for pre-order.

What is “mastered in 4K”?

In somewhat of a gimmicky move, Sony’s Mastered in 4K series compliments it’s launch of Ultra HD (UHD) Television displays. You may recall that Sony unveiled pricing for it’s new 4K display offerings early last month. The missing piece, many critics say, is true 4K source material to properly light-up the mind boggling number of pixels offered by UHD displays. Mastered in 4K blu-rays are meant to help fill that void, however they are not true 4K discs. Instead, they are 1080p blu-ray discs playable in all existing blu-ray players.


“The electronics industry’s groundbreaking launch of 4K Ultra HD TV has given us reason to even further elevate our Blu-ray offering,” said David Bishop, President, SPHE. “This spring, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is excited to deliver a complementing lineup of ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray titles, offering consumers the best possible picture and sound quality to be experienced on the latest HDTVs.”

While this might appear to be a simple retread of already released blu-rays, this may actually come to benefit fans of the movies being re-released. Sony claims these blu-rays will differ from their previous releases because they are sourced from new 4K transfers of the original films that have been tweak by “film restoration experts.” Sony says that the series will provide owners of 1080p displays with high bit rate digital transfers and “expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source,” while offering owners of new UHD TVs an upscaled “near 4K-picture quality.” The keyword, here, for UHD TV owners is “upscaled,” which firmly points-out that these are not actual 4K sources. However, for the rest of us, this may be very good news and hopefully means that collectors will be treated to better blu-ray editions of these film favorites.

Déjà vu?

While we all can hope these re-releases offer-up superior viewing experiences, this move by Sony seems eerily similar to its Superbit DVD flop. Superbit discs were typically re-releases of best-selling movies that lacked single disc special features and fancy menus in order to provide consumers with a slightly more information-rich source as compared to standard DVDs. They had higher bit rates which reduced video artifacts due to compression and exhibited improved clarity. Also, the discs carried better audio with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 tracks. Despite the fact that critical comparisons of Superbit and DVD releases, such as one in-depth comparison performed by DVDtalk, found the Superbit format to have benefits, the format never caught fire. It was eventually discontinued around the arrival time of Sony’s blu-ray disc format.

True 4K blu-ray discs are on the horizon

Recently, the Blu-Ray Disc Association (BDA) confirmed that it is actively considering format extensions that will allow 4K movie playback on blu-ray disc. Last year, the BDA formed a task force to begin investigating new codecs, resolution limits, and other factors that enable 4K content playback on blu-ray.

“Through the first quarter of this year, the task force solicited and received numerous proposals, and is now evaluating the various technologies.The task force, which is comprised of representatives from BDA member studios, consumer electronics manufacturers and media technology companies, looks forward to sharing with and receiving input from content creators, and is expected to make specification and technology recommendations to the Blu-ray Disc Association board of directors later this year," said the BDA in a recent statement released to CNET.com.

The BDA says their task force will have a final recommendation prepared by the end of 2013.

Image Credit: tgdaily.com
 

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I would have to question why, as it is the masters in full 1080p high bitrate are as good as it gets. I dont see how mastering it in a higher resolution (Ultra HD) and then down converting it to 1080p will give any better results.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You could be right... it really depends on how the transfers were handled for the original blu-ray releases. I guess we'll have to wait and see once the discs are out. Folks with be doing comparisons, no doubt.
 

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You would think for remastered 4K movies, they would offer special effects and action packed movies first!
 

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Agreed, thats another reason I dont trust this as my thoughts are that they had poor masters made of these movies in the past so of course it will look better than before when in reality its no better than a really good 1080p master
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
For a movie like Ghostbusters, I agree... but weren't Total Recall and The Amazing Spider-Man really fabulous looking movies?

There is something, here, that doesn't quite pass the smell test... I would definitely agree.
 

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To me, I think Sony and any other manufacturer who are trying to push this "4K" or "Ultra HD" technology onto the masses at this point in time will be in for a surprise when their units don't sell as what they expect it to sell due to the high price and the lack of content.

I suspect the push is more to show the stock holders that they are still relevant and worthy of investment even thou the last few years they have been in the Red.

Afterall, 3d was DOA. Lack of content and channels and folks didn't want to wear the 3d glasses all hurt the technology.

Same can be said for this 4K push in general..

Also, Sony is pushing their 4K content only media server for Sony 4K tv buyers. So, if you bought an LG or some other brand, you can't use the Sony 4K server. This is not a way to open 4K to the masses.

If I were doing this, I would only showcase this once price was more affordable for the common man and a lot more content was available for a nominal fee as well as having 4K channels for movies and sports for everyone..

I am sure 4K is the future but it seems at this point in time it is a bit premature.

In regards to the movies, yes, Total Recall is good as well as Spiderman but they are very old. Why not more recent action packed movies or very highly visually appealing movies that will look fantastic in 4K?
 
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