*Note: I spent a large portion of 2010 writing my fitness book. I did not update this site during that period.
DIY review: I posted a full, non technical, review of the installation process, programming and image results of Runco's QuantumColor Q-750i front projector and a Q-750i Review Update.
UPDATE - I posted an update to the January 2010 posting of the Runco QuantumColor Q-750i review. You can read the update at: Q-750i Review Update
Samsung Out, Runco In: CRT to DLP to LED (DLP) I had a long talk with my Runco CRT (just kidding). My Runco's (DTV-933 with point-to-point conversion) retirement party is near. I bought it new in May of 1999. I've been eye-balling several replacement models. I absolutely love Runco products. They always put quaity first. The Samsung SP-A900B Front Projector was on the top of my short list of two projectors. Not exactly inexpensive ( $10,000 introductory price and later retail $13,000) but, it produces an amazing image. The other model was a LCOS projector (I'm not a big fan of LCD's). After almost going with the DLP, I went with an LED. Runco's QuantumColor Q-750i was the winner. It jumped into the race at the last moment. No moving parts, pure colors, better than CRT blacks and whites, off the scale contrast, sharp beyond sharp, very bright (Light dedicated room necessary), thousands of hours on the LED's, quiet and downright awesome specs across the board. Downside? Painfully pricey. I'll live with the pain. Available at the end of October.
Some LED Advantages:
No lamps to change
No dimming of image with time
Can project onto a BIG screen
No problems with motion blur
No burn in to worry about, or even 'image retention'
Refresh rates in the microsecond range
The Rotten Tomatoes Show (Currentv.com cancelled show) This was a lucky find while surfing through the "Podcasts" pages in iTunes. I watched one episode. It was so good that I downloaded every episode into my iPod Touch. I mostly watch the show at the gym, while on the treadmill. As a result, I now spend more time on the treadmill. Any distractions from aerobics was welcomed. The hosts, Ellen Fox and Brett Erlich, are a hoot. Movies are reviewed by the hosts, some on-line comedians and on-line viewers. The content includes movie reviews, trailers, funny skits, guest reviewers and a bunch of other great unexplainable stuff. Sound and video quality is excellent. And, no commercials!
There's At The Movies and there's At The Movies (Show cancelled) Siskel & Ebert to Ebert and Roeper to Lyons and Mankiewicz to Scott and Phillips (Rants page)
January / February / March / April / May / June / July 2009
UN2.com Site for submitted short films. Winner gets $10,000 prize.
Last episode of ‘At the Movies’ will air the weekend of Aug. 16th-17th. The reason? Contractual issues.
Roger Ebert's main replacements were A.O. Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune.
Michael Phillips (a great choice) dominated the bulk of the time in the chair next to Richard.
Richard plans to continue the format with his own production...can't wait.
Netflix Streams - Members now have access to streaming movies, via their web site. They also cut a deal with XBOX. Soon, XBOX 360 owners with Netflix memberships will be able to stream movies to their TV's. No additional charges for these great features.
ET: Movie Trailer Voice Dies at 68: Don LaFontaine "King of Voiceovers," died Monday afternoon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
January / February / March / April 2007
*Note: We are, with the help of my friend (Johnny from ExoticFonts.com and XXXFonts.com, formally FishDicks.com), redesigning the entire look and functionality of this web site. I know the site is a mess. We will be losing all of the clutter, massive Home Page, broken links, goofy shifting of buttons and text and so on. Johnny is an amazing graphic artist and web designer. The price for the change was right up my alley…ZERO! We’ve been close friends for over 30 years. That, I’m sure, helped with the cost. Although the new site is more than 95% done, the new site post date is undetermined.
Ebert & Roeper At The Movies: Richard Roeper and A. O. Scott's Top 10 Movie Picks for 2007.
*DVD / HD DVD / Blue-ray Disc Due Out in February 2007 (Highlights):
*DVD February 6, 2007 Boynton Beach Club, The 2005 (Joseph Bologna DD), Flicka 2006 (Tim McGraw DD 2.35:1), Hollywoodland 2006 (Diane Lane DD 1.85:1), Incubus 2005 (Tara Reid DD 1.85:1), Riding Alone For Thousands Of Miles 2005 [Hong Kong - Qian li zou dan qi], Trust The Man 2005 (David Duchovny DD 2.35:1), William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet 1996 (Leonardo DiCaprio SE, DD 2.39:1)
*DVD February 13, 2007 Cave Of The Yellow Dog, The 2005 [Mongolia - Die Höhle des gelben Hundes] (DD 1.85:1), Gandhi 1982 (Ben Kingsley SE 2.38:1), Half Nelson 2006 (Ryan Gosling DD 1.85:1), Us vs. John Lennon, The 2006 (DD 2.35:1), Quiet, The 2005 (Elisha Cuthbert DD 2.35:1), School For Scoundrels 2006 (Billy Bob Thornton DD 2.35:1), Zoom: Academy For Superheroes (Tim Allen)
*DVD February 20, 2007 American Hardcore 2006 (1.85:1, Babel 2006 (Brad Pitt 1.85:1), Bloody Ties 2006 [South Korea - Sasaeng gyeoldan] (DD, DTS), Flight Of Fury 2007 (Steven Seagal DD 1.85:1), Keeping Mum 2005 (Rowan Atkinson DD 1.78:1), Prestige, The 2006 (DD 2.35:1), Shut Up & Sing 2006 (Dixie Chicks)
*DVD February 27, 2007 Crossover 2006 (Tamer Werfali DD 1.85:1), Good Year, A 2006 (Albert Finney DD 2.35:1), Tideland2005 (Jeff Bridges DD 2.35:1)
*The Giving: Check out Felix “El Gato” Martinez’” 2002 independent short film, “The Giving”. He posted it on YouTube. There’s also a fun link to the behind-the-scenes to the movie. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
*RGB Woes: RGB still, in my opinion, provides the best cinematic experience. Unfortunately it’s going by way of the dinosaur. I planned on purchasing the Anthem D2 to replace my aging Lexicon surround processor. After reading the literature, I noticed there were no accommodations for RGB pass through. I called the company and they indeed confirmed RGB was not included. Their reasoning, understandably so, was that most present and future displays are and will be HDMI and component. I did a little homework and found them to be correct. There are ways around this problem; however, they require additional hardware and can become very pricey. I have to admit, when my Runco RGB projector passes on, I too shall join the ranks in the world of the digital projector.
*Amps for Sale: I’m getting ready to sell a group of my amps on Ebay. They’re all top-notch amps. I wanted to downsize my electronics rack. I bought the Lexicon LX-7 to replace the separate amps. Here are the model numbers I’ll be selling. 1) McIntosh: MC2002, 2) McIntosh: MC2105, 3) McIntosh: MC2200, 4) McIntosh: MC2505, 5) Bryston ST Series: 200wpc/400 bridged (8 ohm) I’ll let you know how and when I plan to post them.
May 2007 Posting of the Revamped "Amateur Home Theater.com"
January / February / March / April 2006
*HD Falling Dust 2: The Sequel: Well, here they come. The HD DVD and Blu-ray (BD) movies. Announcements of titles are being released. That's just great, that is if you don't mind two non-compatible formats and two very expensive HD optical disc players. The dust may take a little too long to settle. Just long enough for another, possibly better, format to grab the market.
*RJ Fine Woodworking: RJ Spomer is a custom cabinet maker, which includes home entertainment center cabinets. I visited his site and saw some really nice work.
*HD Falling Dust: OK, HD DVD and Blu-ray (BD) are here…sort of. One might think that was a good thing. Unfortunately, I don’t see it that way. HD DVD and Blu-ray are two competing incompatible systems that provide the same end product, high definition movies and or HD whatever on optical disc. This is not the same type of situation we saw when Blockbuster Video invested 100 million dollars (Backed by Disney) into that inferior butchery of a product called DIVX (Not related to the same DIVX of today). Read the rest of this commentary of The Falling Dust From the HD Optical Disc War.
*Enough with the remakes!: Has Hollywood simply run out of ideas? Are they uninspired? Remakes in 2005 and 2004 were epidemic. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. I assume they think remakes are guaranteed box office hits. Why would you remake an awful movie? Why would you remake a great movie? Even half-hour TV shows are making it to the movies. Does anyone remember the remake of Psycho? I hope not. King Kong / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Amityville Horror / Yours, Mine and Ours / The Omen, the list is endless. There’s a pretty good website dedicated to past, present and future remakes, http://www.sequelogue.com/. My personal list of movies (DVD’s and HDTV) in the last two to three years contains very, very few Hollywood movies. There are a lot of great independent films out there. You just have to make the effort to find them. Gee, maybe Hollywood should remake “The Godfather”. For the Hollywood executive who might read this, I’m just kidding. Having said that, this has been a great year, in spite of the remakes, for movies.
View "Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper's" Year 2005
*RUSH-R30 DVD: Felix “El Gato” Martinez says “rush” to get Rush’s DVD, “R30”. Read his entire review of Rush-R30.
*WideScreen (Review) Review's Sony's New SXRD 1080p 3-chip Home Theater Front Projector: This month's WideScreen Review has an extensive review on Sony's new VPL-VW100. It's a 1920 x 1080p (progressive) high-definition LCOS front projector that can go toe-to-toe with the blacks and contrast produced by a CRT. It's a great review. Here's the kicker...The projector is under 10,000 dollars.
May / June / July / August 2006
Felix "El Gato" Martinez on The History OF VIOLENCE: Cool flick. Not a masterpiece, nor as intense or disturbing as I would expect from Cronenberg, but a good 90 minute thriller. Actually, the movie appears to peak about 2/3 with what appears to be a climax - but...the last third has one of my favorite character confrontations on screen in a while and is quite satisfying.
Felix "El Gato" Martinez' "SPIN ZONE": My "All-Spin" Zone of recommended surround/music titles is now online, in addition to their regular appearances in the HDTV and DVD Etc. magazines. Drop by and give me your thoughts! A work in progress...
*NetFlix, Kind of a soft rollout!: At least NetFlix is ready to go once the titles start coming out of the gate. With Universal putting out Apollo 13 in a few weeks, and Warner giving us the entire Kubrick catalog in HD-DVD. Their rollout schedule should keep things interesting...
*DVD Town HD DVD Review of The Last Samurai.
*Netflix HD_DVD & Bluray Rollout.
*Here's Robert Harris' take on the first HD-DVD titles... He also has some interesting comments re Sony as well (Bluray)...other upcoming HD-DVD titles are mentioned in the thread. Harris, as you may or may not know, is a world-reknowned film-preservationist. He's restored Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia (which is owned by Sony), Vertigo, and many others. Given his experience with Lawrence, it's sad to hear his thoughts re Sony (Link Obsolite).
*Brian Pearson’s HT Project: I thought this would be a fun link to Brian’s Home Theater basement construction project in Downers Grove, IL (Suburb of Chicago). He’s keeping a photo diary of its progress on his web site. Link: Brian Pearson’s HT Project
*HD Software 1080p / Players 1080i: The new HD digital disc movies are at 1080p, however; the first generation players (HD DVD, Blu-Ray) down-convert to 1080i. I’ve read that the next generation players will probably display the full 1080p. This is another reason to get out your lounge chair to watch the dust settle. I'm gonna wait for the full 1080p players.
*Miami Vice in HD: Michael Mann returns to the full HD format (Collateral was shot in HD) for Miami Vice. “DigitalContentProducer.com” highlights the ups and downs for Michael Mann’s choice to shot in HD.
*The Digital Bits Editor Bill Hunt on HD Blade Runner: This coming September, there will be a new limited DVD release (HD-DVD & Blu-ray Disc are also planned) of the restored 1992 Director's Cut (you know... the one that isn't really a director's cut). This will be available for just four months. We believe this is basically the 2-disc release that Warner had originally planned to bow LAST year.
*The Digital Bits HD Release List.
*Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven: Felix “El Gato” Martinez comments; Ridley Scott is the king of the multiple version movie. Blade Runner, Gladiator, Legend, etc, etc, and now - Kingdom of Heaven, which I hear is phenomenal in its original 3 hour + form. The 4-disc set for a measly $18 at deepdiscountdvd.com. Couldn't pass it up!
January / February 2005
*My Mitsubishi WD-62825: I bid farewell to my old, and relatively faithful, Pioneer Pro 99. I bought the Mitsubishi WD-62825. I have a few thoughts, and of course comments, on the matter. I call it "Boat Anchor Anyone?"
*Steve Brown Rants: MP-3’s…PT Barnum would be proud! Steve, with his usual tact, illustrates the slide of hand when it comes to the so-called benefits of buying MP-3's on-line...or was that pitfalls.
*Felix Martinez Tidbit: Hi Friends - Once in a while, a piece of information comes my way that just fuels me to get something to happen... If you're not familiar with the Christopher Reeve-Jane Seymour classic, "Somewhere in Time," you should rent it this weekend and watch it with someone you love. I don't think you will forget it.
This Fall will mark the film's 25th Anniversary, and the current special edition DVD released by Universal Home Video in 2000 recycled the same, atrocious non-anamorphic letterboxed transfer from the barebones DVD release from 1998 (which is probably the same transfer that was used for the laserdisc before that). I've just heard from a reputable source close to the film that a restored, gorgeous answer print was made several years ago, and either lack of communication or lack of vision at Universal prevented it from being included in the last DVD release. And as far as we know, a new release is not in the works.
Since people don't necessarily "change their minds" - they make new decisions based on new information - I'd like to contact someone at Universal Home Video and communicate to them this wonderful opportunity. The glimmer of hope is that they've recently gone back to re-release prior non-anamorphic releases (i.e. John Carpenter's "The Thing" and Oliver Stone's "Born On The Fourth of July").
So in memory of this wonderful film and the talented individuals behind its creation, and in memory of Christopher Reeve (who I think gave one of his best performance in SIT - my personal favorite), if you have any contacts at UHM, please drop me a line.
Felix E. Martinez
Columnist, "The State of Multi-Channel Audio"
DVD Etc. Magazine
* Ebert & Roeper's Top 10: The reason I anually post E & R's Top 10 is because they represent a true love for movies. There is no ego involved. It's never about themselves. It's always about the movie(s). As a matter of fact, I really don't find myself agreeing with Ebert all that often. On the other, hand I do find myself sharing Roeper's sentiments, most of the time. Either way, I never feel they try to upstage or distract from the movie being discussed. This has always been why I liked Ebert's show, inclusive with the old days with Siskel. By the way, I usually agreed with Siskel the majority of the time...Sorry Roger.
March / April / May / June / July 2005
HEAT / 10th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition / Debuts February 22 from Warner Home Video
Epic Crime Thriller Arrives with More than Four Hours of Extras, including Director Commentary, Five New Documentaries and 11 Additional Scenes
Burbank, Calif., November 16, 2004 – Heat -- written, directed and produced by Michael Mann (Collateral, Ali, The Insider) -- will celebrate its 10th anniversary on February 22, 2005 with the Warner Home Video (WHV) release of a Two-Disc Special Edition. This tale of big city crime and obsession marks the first time that legendary actors Al Pacino and Robert De Niro starred together on the big screen. Heat also features Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman and Natalie Portman.
Dive into five all-new documentaries exploring every angle of the movie; from the real life cops and robbers who inspired the film, the breathtaking bank shoot-out sequence, the 20 year history of the screenplay, the Los Angeles locations, and the historic on-screen showdown between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. Eleven never-before-seen deleted scenes and an all-new commentary by director Michael Mann round out more than four hours of additional entertainment. The double-disc DVD will sell for $26.99 SRP.
Michael Mann began his successful career in the 1970s working as a writer on several TV dramas, including "The Jericho Mile," for which he won an Emmy®. After making his movie debut as writer and director of Thief, starring James Caan, Mann hit the big time as the creator and executive producer of "Miami Vice," the successful TV show that ran for 5 years and made Don Johnson and his wardrobe famous. His other credits include The Last of the Mohicans, The Insider (for which he received three Oscar® nominations), Ali and most recently Collateral.
Screen powerhouses Robert De Niro and Al Pacino have delivered a $2.6 billion combined box office. De Niro, who has starred in more than 75 films, won two Oscars (The Godfather II and Raging Bull) and was nominated four other times (Taxi Driver, The Deer Hunter, Awakenings, and Cape Fear). He also starred in GoodFellas, Analyze This, Analyze That, Meet the Parents and its upcoming sequel Meet the Fockers. Pacino has been nominated for eight Academy Awards® and has taken home a Best Actor Oscar® for his work in Scent of a Woman. Among his many other films are The Godfather series, Serpico, Any Given Sunday, The Insider and The Recruit. Last year he was also nominated for an Emmy award as lead actor in the much lauded HBO miniseries "Angels in America."
Sizzling DVD Extras / The Two-Disc DVD Special Edition includes the following extras:
Commentary by writer/director Michael Mann
Three theatrical trailers
11 additional scenes / Five new making-of documentaries featuring the cast and crew
Return to the Scene of the Crime – Location Manager, Janice Polley, and Associate Producer, Gusmano Cesaretti, visit the real life LA locations used in the film
Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation – Mann, cast and crew explore this historic on-screen showdown in the pivotal confrontation at Kate Mantellini’s
The Making of Heat: True Crime – Michael Mann and Chuck Adamson, Technical Advisor and real life inspiration for the Lt. Vincent Hanna character, discuss the Chicago crime scene and the events surrounding the real Neil McCauley (who Adamson took down in the late 60s) that inspired the film
The Making of Heat: Crime Stories – Mann, cast and crew discuss the twenty year origin of the script, the film’s genesis and the complexity of the characters portrayed on screen
The Making of Heat: Into the Fire – Mann, cast and crew discuss training for their roles, filming in LA, shooting the climatic downtown heist and post production
The DVD will be available in widescreen format and will include English and French 5.1 sound and English, French and Spanish subtitles.
*HD Players: It seems the format wars are going strong between HD DVD and Blu-ray. We still don’t have a single format. Toshiba apparently plans to release their first HD DVD player ($999) at the end of 2005 (1920 x 1080p). Blu-ray (Huge capacity potential at 1080p) is expected in 2006. Both HD DVD and Blu-ray have powerful backers, which usually ends up as a stalemate of sorts. Hopefully consumers like you and I won't end up as collateral damage.
August / September / October / December 2005
*Widescreen Review explains DLP: Widescreen Review (WR) has a great article that explains the technology behind the workings of a single-chip and 3-chip display. Normally WR gets too bogged down with technical intricacies that can cause a person’s head to spin uncontrollably. (Obviously it’s not possible to have a discussion on DLP technology without get somewhat technical.) WR did a great job of explaining, and making comprehendible, this technology. For those interested in the inner workings of DLP, this may be just the article for you.
*My Home Theater’s Facelift: Well, I just eliminated a whole rack of amps. I replaced them with one amp…or should I say seven amps? I replaced for McIntosh amps and on Bryston amp with one Lexicon LX-7 (Seven 200-watt channels at 8 ohms). It was a tough decision. The Mac’s are old but goodies. The Bryston is no slough either. They simply took up too much space and were never designed for home theater application. My main concern was if the Lexicon could handle the task in terms of sonic quality and power. The answer is an astounding “yes” on both counts. The amp also has excellent vocal clarity that is necessary for home theater applications. As for my replaced amps, they’ll hopefully make their way onto Ebay in the near future.
*Buy Your HDTV Now or Wait?: A lot of changes will begin to take place near the end of 2005 and early 2006. I’m referring to DVD’s, monitors and projectors. Read the rest of my thoughts as to why you may want to hold off on that new 720p TV or projector at Buy Your HDTV Now or Wait?
*Tidbits: Interesting analysis of CD, DVD-A, and SACD at Chris Tham Home Page.
*El Gato Interview: Hey Guys - I'm interviewing Gary Rydstrom tomorrow over the phone. If his name doesn't ring a bell, he is THE guy responsible for some of the most amazing sound designs and sound mixes in movies over the past 15 years: Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan, etc., etc. Here are some Q's I'm asking him (still in draft form), in no particular order (yet!). What else would you like to know if you were talking to him? Of course, the interview is centered around the new Toy Story re-release, but I can branch out from there. Also, I may not use some of the Q's below, so this is just a starting point. Take care, Felix.
*Sony's New SXRD 1080p 3-chip Home Theater Front Projector VPL-VW100: No reviews on this projector yet however, it looks fairly promising on paper. Here's the full description at ProjectorCentral.com The article starts, "Sony Electronics today took the wraps off a new 1920 x 1080p (progressive) high-definition front projector..." (It's approximately 10K and supposed to be available in November.)
*1080i and 720p vs. DVD: And the format war goes on… I’ve got to admit, it’s very difficult to watch the so-so quality of a DVD once you’ve experienced 1080i and 720p. Here’s a temporary solution for you satellite viewers. Buy a duel tuner digital recorder, get the HD package (and Voom) and supplement your DVD viewing with HD. If the format war doesn’t end then we may wind up getting all of our movies (eventually) via satellite. Let me say this, the difference between the picture quality of DVD and 1080i or 720p is drastic.
*Home Theater Submission: Ramesh Rajamohan built his Home Theater from scratch. He has posted the project with photos. The theater came out great and is well worth checking out.
January / February 2004
*More Felix “El Gato” Martinez Reviews: Here's a new review, for Sleeping Beauty (Link Obsolite).
AIX Records' DVD-Audio of Surrounded By Christmas (Link Obsolite). Snow White – (DVD-V) (Link Obsolite).
*Submitted Home Theater Photos: Chris & Kim Rose have submitted photos of their newly completed basement project. I've got to say they did a great job. Check it out here.
*Tidbit: And here's a nice update on HD-DVD (Link Obsolite).
March / April 2004
NetFlix Improves Turnover: I've been with NetFlix since their first year in business. Turnover wasn't the quickest in the world but, I was simply happy to have access to DVD movies. Improvements have been slow but steady. Their steady improvements have lead to, what I consider, an excellent turnaround. I now experience little to no delays and their inventory is plentiful. As a matter of fact I've been receiving my movies ahead of schedule. Now that's progress! Speaking of inventory, someone needs to inform Blockbuster that stocking two billion copies of the same non letterboxed movie is not considered a vast inventory, or good thing.
*Another Felix “El Gato” Martinez Reviews: Here's a new review, for A Christmas Story, the witty holiday offering from director Bob "Porky's" Clark (Link Obsolite).
*Submitted Photos: Check out the Ted Wood Theater. His equipment list along will leave you green with envy.
*Felix “El Gato” Martinez Tidbits: Hey Guys - This was just posted at TheDigitalBits.com...Warner Bros. is doing their spiffy 2-disc special editions for the following titles in 2004. Finally - Goodfellas!!!! Also nice to see Heat as a 2-disc set and the upcoming King Kong (original version). June - THX-1138, The Searchers: SE, Blazing Saddles: SE, Three Godfathers, Mogambo, Shalako, Wyatt Earp, The Hunger, Fearless Vampire Killers July - Heat: SE, Goodfellas: SE August - Jailhouse Rock, Viva Las Vegas, Tarzan the Ape Man, a Johnny Weismuller Box Set, Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Enter the Dragon: SE, Cleopatra Jones, Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, Purple Rain: SE, Under the Cherry Moon, Graffiti Bridge September - After Hours, Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Who's That Knocking at My Door?, The Lost Boys: SE [*It's likely that those titles above that haven't yet been released in R1 will debut here later in 2004 as well. We've also confirmed with our sources that Warner is working on 2-disc SEs of Forbidden Planet and King Kong for 2004. We'll let you know when any official announcements get made.]
*Foreign Films: For those of you who are intimidated by or have an aversion to reading subtitles on foreign films, please reconsider this fear. I was one of you. I got so tired of the garbage coming out of Hollywood that I decided to open my horizons. I’ve been hot and heavy, for the last three or four years, on watching foreign films. I’m hooked. I’ve now seen Italian, French, Iranian, Iraqi, Israeli, Russian, Chinese, German, Swedish, Mexican, Japanese, Norwegian, Australian and British films. There are a couple of more, I just can’t think of them at the moment. Most of the foreign films I’ve seen are by far as good or surpass some of the best United States produced films. It started with a recommendation I saw on Ebert and Roeper’s “At the Movies”. I then began looking for other critically acclaimed foreign films. I now make foreign films a part of my regular viewing habits. My membership with NetFlix allots me four simultaneous rentals. I make sure one to two of them include a foreign film. Take the chance on these films it is well worth it. I’m gonna recommend a few starter films that I thought were as good or surpass most of the garbage you may be viewing. 1) CHAOS – French 2) THE SON’S ROOM - Italian 3) HAPPENSTANCE – French 4) Mostly Martha – German 5) NOWHERE IN AFRICA – German 6) MEN WITH GUNS – Mexico 7) TIME OF FAVOR – Israel 8) TAMPOPO – Japan 9) AMELIE – French 10) BARAN – Iran 11) MONSOON WEDDING – India) These are not Bang-em-up Shoot-em-ups. There is actually a story and a plot. [*Finally, I’m gonna recommend this film to those who are NOT squeamish. This movie actually gave me nightmares. Its starts quite normal and metamorphosis’ into the macabre. Very warped and sick! 11) AUDITION- Japan]
*Cleanfilm .com a.k.a. Your Loving Family Film Butchers: Ran across this very disturbing website. They have taken the liberty of censoring or sanitizing DVD’s for your viewing displeasure. Cleanfilm.com posted this on their website, “What are family edited movies? Family Edited Movies are backup copies of popular Hollywood DVD titles that have been edited to remove nudity and sexual situations, offensive language, and graphic violence.” I suppose the average running time on a “Family Edited” Arnold Schwartzenegger movie is now around 2 to 2 ½ minutes.
*Felix “El Gato” Martinez Tidbits: Looks like the Blade Runner: SE is indefinitely postponed due to rights issues. I've heard that all work has been abandoned. It was to be a three disc set with every version of the film: the 1982 theatrical version, the 1992 version, and a new, final version. The hold-up appears to be the original producers who probably want to negotiate for more money. I think what is preventing the deluxe edition is the fact that Perenchio owns the original 1982 cut exclusively.
Mr. Yorkin and Mr. Perenchio own the entire property of the film itself, not simply the 1982 cut. Any subsequent version of the film had to have come into existence with their permission. New releases with new transfers and supplements also appear to require their permission. The "interim" solution being proposed of late in this thread will not avoid the need for Yorkin and Perenchio's go-ahead. Warner are distributors of the film under license from Yorkin and Perenchio and presumably cannot go forward with such releases as they wish on their own. If Warner can't do a big special edition, they can't do a more scaled-down new release, either. This isn't some simple problem regarding a supplement in which that supplement could be removed and the release could go on ahead without it.
*FYI...Heat: Two-Disc Special Edition / Blazing Saddles: 30th Anniversary Special Edition / Wyatt Earp: Two-Disc Special Edition / Around the World in 80 Days / Purple Rain: Two-Disc Special Edition
May / June 2004
Felix “El Gato” Here's my review for Michelangelo Antonioni's classic, Blow-Up (Link Obsolite).
*Sony Qualia 004 high-spec: By golly, I think we've arrived...maybe. Yes it's pricey, today. In a couple of years well, hopefully it will be obtainable. Sony specs from February 2003 This projector is now available (2004). I would love to see an A/B comparison to a good CRT. UPDATE: May 2004 - Reviews on this projector are coming in. Excellent in all categories except for the blacks, very very close but not quite there.
*Steve Brown Rants: My brother may be a little slow about follow-up articles (2 years worth of slow) but his incoherent rant is worth the wait. Digital Rant, TWO Year Anniversary in March and Home Theater, computers and Broadband or: To converge or not to converge Part 2 this month.
*More Felix “El Gato” Martinez Reviews: Last Samurai / Fellini's La Strada / Antonioni's Blow-Up
*Out with the Old, In with the New: I made a couple of upgrades to my system. 1) I upgraded the chips in my Lexicon DC-1. I went from Version 2.01 to Version 4.01. The difference is astounding. Separation, depth and ambience clarity were all remarkably improved. 2) My other upgrade was bitter-sweet. I unhooked my prized possession, Sony DVP-S7000. It was an incredible first generation Pre-DTS DVD player. I replaced it wit the Sony DVP NS999ES. After experiencing the Sony DVP NS999ES, well let’s just say, the DVP-S7000 who? The new Sony is night and day improved over the DVP-S7000. Is DTS better than DD? YES!
Felix “El Gato” Martinez on House of Sound and Fog: A devastating film with unbelievable performances. Ben Kingsley is a god. Jennifer Connelly is a goddess. Keep in mind that this film is a tragedy in the truest, almost Shakespearean sense of the word. While not as stylized as Requiem For A Dream, it has that tragic quality of bad stuff just piling up. But the acting. Oooohhh the acting....! Even if you don't like tragedies, the acting alone is worth a watch. Some people are having trouble accepting this film, which in the last act piles up some tragic occurrences - this is no secret as the opening shot of the film points very strongly in that direction. Here are my thoughts as I posted in HomeTheaterForum, FYI (I don't give anything away)...
Just a few cents on this interesting thread: Well, this film is a tragedy in the truest, almost Shakespearean sense (as a style, not as a plot device). The tragic form - whether or not it pushes the plot into logical or far-fetched areas - supports the theme, which if I had to squash it down to one sentence would be: "know when to let go and move on." And, in a perverse way, Sand and Fog has a silver lining, if you think about the last line of dialogue.
But whether the events are real or fiction is irrelevant, IMHO. Kind of like asking why spaceships roar in the vacuum of space in certain movies, etc.
Like any dramatic style, true tragedies rely on a suspension of disbelief, and like the musical form - we don't see many true tragedies onscreen, so there is a bit of resistance in accepting them. I must admit, I had some trouble accepting Sand and Fog as well, until I realized by the last scene that I was having trouble accepting the tragic form, not the turn of events. I guess one could say the same thing for Requiem For A Dream (talk about piling up horrible situations!), but maybe the stylized execution of that film helps the suspension of disbelief (a variation of "the bigger the lie, the more we'll buy it" - or the roarin' spaceships example). Another example is Dancer In The Dark, which has the balls of combining a *musical* with a tragedy, shot on DV. Talk about pushing an audience out of their dramatic comfort zone!
That doesn't mean there's not a whole bunch of truth to extract from the real (or surreal) events. And like musicals, horror movies, etc., the delivery of the message may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Felix “El Gato” Martinez on House of Sound and Fog: A devastating film with unbelievable performances. Ben Kingsley is a god. Jennifer Connelly is a goddess. Keep in mind that this film is a tragedy in the truest, almost Shakespearean sense of the word. While not as stylized as Requiem For A Dream, it has that tragic quality of bad stuff just piling up. But the acting. Oooohhh the acting....! Even if you don't like tragedies, the acting alone is worth a watch.
Felix “El Gato” Reviews: Fifth Element, Das Boot, The Patriot (and misc. video quality ramblings) Bjoern's main page (with pics of his theater), and Hot 2004 DVD’s.
July / August / September 2004
*Felix's Tidbits: This DVD release rec'd lukewarm reviews from a picture/sound quality standpoint (I thought it looked rather good - and plus my DVD copy was personally signed by director Robert Wise, so I will not part with it!), but seeing what they had to work with - it's amazing! The Sound of Music by Guido Henkel. / Here's an interesting site on Commentary Tracks. / This is a great site, and here's what I have left and trying to get rid of! LaserDisc Database.
*Contrast Ratios and Black Levels: Find the numbers relating to front projector contrast ratios confusing? Me too. Hopefully they won't be after you read this, Contrast and Blacks? What does it all mean to me?
*"Send in the Clones" by Bob Brown: Call it an editorial, call it a rant but either way enough is enough. TV studios are simply running out of ideas for shows. Their solution? Clone the successful shows. Read my take on this. Read Send in the Clones!
*Anamorphic vs. Non-Anamorphic release of the "English Patient": el Gato found this cool comparison of the old, non-anamorphic DVD and the new anamorphic release. No contest! And a great, new DTS option for the soundtrack (Link Obsolite).
October / November / December 2004
*Star B-Q: Sorry, this has nothing to do with movies. I recently met Jim Whitaker, founder of Star B-Q. I was so impressed with his 30 years of creating the finest custom outdoor kitchens that I had to give him a plug. By-the-way, I bought one too! It’s 100% customized to my specifications.
*DVD Deterioration: Check out this detailed article on DVD Rot.
*Samsung's HLP-5685w TV: Decisions, Decisions I think it's time to say so-long to my CRT TV and say hello to my Samsung DLP 4th generation HD chip TV. Read Decisions,Decisions to see how I threw in the towel on my quest to replace my Pioneer Elite rear projection TV.
*Casey Design & Custom Woodwoork: Awesome high-quality hand-crafted woodwork for theater cabinets and non theater cabinets at Casey Design & Custom Woodwoork. This is an update to Casey's products. Normally I don't like to promote sales on my site however, when someone personally hand crafts a quality product I'm more than happy to link them.
*Submitted Photos: Check out this link to Gary Reighn’s really cool home theater, “The Bridge”. You’ll understand why it’s named “The Bridge”, the second you see it.
*Draculas Home Cinema: Vlad has provided an in depth review of the InFocus X1 DLP Projector at (Link Obsolite).
*1080p Chip: I’ve been holding out for the 1080p single-chip DLP rear projection TV. I’m looking to replace my Pioneer Pro 99 TV with either the Mitsubishi Diamond series DLP or the Samsung version. So far, the Mitsubishi appears to edge out the Samsung. My only reservation is their native resolution is 720p. 720p is quite good however it’s not HD. It’s near HD. 1080p is HD. Although there really is little to no 1080p material presently out there, I assume it will eventually. I don’t want to have a TV that must down convert to a lower resolution. To make a short story longer, in 2005 the 1080p chips will finally be in production. If they look as good as I’m hoping they will perhaps I’ll take the leap and re[lace my great, but aging Pioneer. By the way, Pioneer is out of the CRT rear projection business.
*Best of Electronics: November and December issues of the various magazines are doing their year-end best-of HT equipment. I noticed there were a lot of top models that were not mentioned this year that I thought should have been mentioned.
*Netflix Lowers Rates: Beginning October 1st, 2004 Netflix is LOWERING its rates. I joined NetFlix in 1999. My rates were $15.99 per month for the four-dvd program. Rates eventually increased to $21.99 and changed to a three-dvd program for new customers. The old customers, like me, got the rate increase but kept the four-dvd program. I was notified by NetFlix, as of November 1st, 2004 they were rolling back my monthly subscription price to $17.99. I assume it's due to recent competition from the super store, Wall Mart, who's gobbling up the planet. NetFlix has catered to and listened to the movie enthusiast. They prioritize dvd's that are offered in their original aspect ratio. NetFlex, through a lot of effort, have successfully provided an amazingly quick turn-around time. Customer support and user friendly web access too has been honed. Please continue to support NetFlix. It would be a shame to lose such a great thing.
*Updated Terms: I’ve updated my Definitions Simplified page covering the various home theater terms used these days.
*DVDBeaver.com: Felix “El Gato” Martinez came across this great site that compares DVDs from different regions, as well as re-issues from Region 1. This may help in the decision-making process in determining if a DVD upgrade (ie. re-purchase) is in order (Link Obsolite).
*HDTVoice: Check out Joe Jenkins’ High-Definition television forum with FAQ covering the world of high definition. Discussions include TV’s, present and future programming, cables, etc. HD Voice.com
*Film Buff (Buffoon) Sues MGM Over Wide-Screen DVDs: This is a disturbing article about a movie buff suing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and several retailers, saying many so-called "wide-screen" DVDs, advertised as showing the film as seen in theaters, actually show even less than already cropped "standard" versions. Yahoo! News *Comments from the web host (Bob Brown) - This Goof Ball claims to be a film buff however; he obviously missed the basic film course on how aspect ratios are created. What he ignorantly is referring to is called a SOFT MATTE! The area behind the soft matte (added upper and lower black bars) on a 1.33 frame (also referred to as the “academy standard”) is referred to as the “safe area”, to be later matted when shown in the theaters. Without those bars, yes, you will see more at the top and bottom of the frame (on a soft matte only) but you’ll end up loosing the Director’s intended visual goals. For example, a matted close-up without the matte is no longer a close-up. The intended mood of the scene becomes skewed. There are many techniques to obtain the various aspect ratios that we often see. The Soft Matte is simply one of them. Hey Warren, take a film class, you’ll save your lawyer and yourself the embarrassment you’ll face in court!
*DVD Player Converts Pal to NTSC: David Scott (from Pulling No Punches) bought on the web a modified JVC DVD player that not only handles all regions but converts PAL formatting into NTSC. As a result, I buy tons of discs from overseas (mostly from Blackstar - http://www.blackstar.co.uk/video/browse/dvd:1 - based in Belfast, Northern Ireland). Mostly I go after stuff that has never been released stateside or, in some cases, DVDs that are more complete or are the product of a better transfer. I have a Panasonic VHS VCR that does the same thing but playing PAL tapes on my NTSC TVs always produced an inferior, albeit watchable, picture. To my astonishment, the JVC DVD conversion is utterly flawless. I guess it's because the latter is digital and the former analog. In any case, this machine has opened whole new viewing worlds from me. I am, as you know from Steve's abuse, a foreign film fan. However, thanks to Blackstar, I have had a great DVD of "Eraserhead" for some time now. Looks like, though, Lynch soon is releasing his own version for $35 - http://www.davidlynch.com/store/store.html. Anyway, likely there are at least a few visitors to you site that want more than the standard Hollywood froth that Steve Brown loves so much. DCS
*DVD-Audio of Yes’, “FRAGILE": Felix Reviews Rhino’s DVD-Audio of Yes’, “FRAGILE” You'll definitely don't want to miss Felix “El Gato” Martinez' review of this DVD-Audio.
*Pulling No Punches: "Windtalkers Stinks" David Scott throws the first punch at Steve Brown as they go toe-to-toe over the less than exemplary film, Windtalkers.
*CRT’s A & B-Stock: If you are one of those people that have to have the best-projected picture available, like me, you may want to check out FH VIDEO.COM. They have B-Stock of Sony front projectors. A B-Stock item is a product that had to be returned to the factory for whatever reason. It’s brought back to its original new condition with a new warrantee. Usually, it’s sold at a portion of the original price making it within the financial reach of some people. I bought my Faroudja DVP-301 Line Tripler as a B-Stock. I paid 1/3 of its original selling price. It’s an awesome piece and has been running flawlessly.
WARNING! Scam Home Theater Web Site: Pro Audio Video of New Mexico is using the Internet to obtain home theater equipment from unsuspecting sellers without paying. Warning! This is how the scam works. Mike Holley of Pro Audio Video of New Mexico will send you a certified check for the amount of purchase. He receives the item and then cancels the check by telling the bank that he himself was defrauded. You can then kiss your merchandise goodbye. He now has your property and the check. The fact of the matter is there are dishonest people, like the Mike Holley’s in this world, who prey upon the unsuspecting. Be very careful of who you are dealing with when selling your personal property over the Internet. Unfortunately, honest people need to be weary of these dishonest people.
*D. I Y. Home Theater in Progress: Cartoon Rick’s Theater is in progress. Check in on his web page from time to time to see how it’s coming along (Link Obsolite).
*HDTV Format: January 9, 2003 - Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, NV (Steve Brown found this article) At CES they announced two versions; one with a built-in DirecTV receiver and one standalone. Press release from the Tivo.com site copied here.
*Theater In Progress: Rizal Sallen's "Dream Theater" is a work in progress that invites us to go along for the ride. He has a fun sense of humor as he explains his progress. "Rizal's Dream Theater"
*TechnoGeeks - Direct Stream Digital over PCM: Felix “El Gato” Martinez comments on the article he found at SMR Group. The other thing no one seems to want to talk about is that the majority of all tape transfers to high resolution digital, or editing/mixing/mastering is done at 96khz or 192/24-bit PCM, so unless an SACD disc's content has been recorded directly using Sony's proprietary DSD technology, or the analog tape transfers, EQ and/or mixing was done in DSD, SACD discs are in fact using DSD technology to capture material manipulated in a PCM environment! It's a much cleaner signal to just stay in high resolution PCM if that's the case, in my opinion, since the industry audio software/hardware standard is ProTools.
*Top 10 List for 2002: View "Roger Ebert & Richard Roeper's" Year 2002
*Back to the Future 2 & 3 Framing Problems: Felix “El Gato” Martinez writes: Apparently the new Back To The Future box set including all three films has a framing problem for films 2 and 3. Here's a link explaining the problem with screenshots... I just got my BTTF set and have yet to see the films. Although after a quick scan thru movies 2 and 3, I did see a bit too much headroom here and there (most extreme examples are the scenes where the screenshots were taken from - many other scenes seemed fine, so it looks like an inconsistent problem). Here's the e-mail Universal is sending to people who respond: Thank you for your email. Universal Studios will exchange Back to the Future Parts 2 and 3 for copies with the updated framing in late February 2003. You may send the DVDs back now or wait until February. Please send Back to the Future disks 2 and 3, without the case, and a letter with the following information: Name, Full Mailing Address, Daytime Phone Number, Reason for Return and Return Address. Send to: Back to the Future DVD Returns, PO Box 224468, Dallas, Texas 75260 (Thank you, Universal Studios Customer Service)
*The Great SACD/PCM Mystery: Wait-a-minute, truth in product labeling? In home audio? Read, Felix “El Gato” Martinez’, comments on SACD discs vs. PCM here.
*High-Rez Limitations: A lot of people assume they are getting the highest resolution being broadcasted via HDTV, HD-VHS etc (DVD’s are not Hi-rez). Just so you know, only front projection 9” CRT’s (full hi-rez), the better DLA’s and single-chip DLP’s are capable of getting 1280 x 1024 (or better). Rear projection TV’s have 7” CRT’s. Single chip DLP’s and LCD’s have a native resolution of 720p. This means, if the resolution is higher than 720p then the source data has to be downconverted to 720p. If it’s lower, depending on the hardware/software, it may be up-converted from 480i(p) to 720p or 720p to 1080i. When you go into an electronics store to see a hi-def TV, you’re usually seeing 720p, at best. Having said that, 720p looks pretty darn good and I’m somewhat pleased with the 720p. I emphasize somewhat. The question is really, are we getting the best of HD? Not by a long shot, unless you happen to be fortunate enough to afford and own a 9" CRT and a HD-VHS player.
*Felix “El Gato” Martinez DVD – A & V Review Links: Straw Dogs (DVD-V) / Big Country: Final Fling (Concert DVD-V) / Big Phat Band: Swingin' For The Fences (DVD-A) / Blue Oyster Cult: A Long Day's Night (Concert DVD-V) / Casino Royale (DVD-V) / Donald Fagen: The Nightfly (DVD-A) / Elton John: Live In Barcelona (Concert DVD-V) / George Benson: Breezin (DVD-A) / Inside The Music: New Wave (DVD-A) / Kansas: Device-Voice-Drum (Concert DVD-V) / Les Brown & His Band of Renown: Session #55 (DVD-A) / Peppino D’Agostino: Acoustic Guitar (DVD-A) / Steve Stevens: Flamenco A Go Go (DVD-A) / Stravinsky: Firebird Suite/Ravel: Bolero (DVD-A) / Sunset Boulevard (DVD-V) / The Doobie Brothers: The Captain And Me (DVD-A) Links to Felix's Reviews
*Talk about a cameo: Felix J. Martinez Sr. & Absence Of Malice
*Home Theater Cruise 2003: Gary Reber, Editor of WideScreen Review is sponsoring a home theater-themed industry cruise that leaves from the port of Miami. Royal Caribbean's Explorer Of The Seas will be cruising the Eastern Caribbean. The date will be from November 1 to 8. Link to details.
*Save Your Money - Buying your next projector: If you’re thinking about buying a new projector then you may want to read my observations on this topic. Here.
*An Analysis of Netflix's DVD Allocation System: This is definitely worth a look at. I’ve noticed some questionable delays in service myself. This article takes a closer examination of a possible explanation. Maybe my answer is here. http://dvd-rent-test.dreamhost.com/
*Submitted Photos: Paul invites you to take a look at “Our Home Theater”. The site also has other areas of interest.
*It's not gonna build itself: Home Theater for the rich and famous...and then there’s the rest of us. BB
*Looks like I've got a column in DVD, Etc. magazine: Felix “El Gato” Martinez debuts his first column in the April issue, which shipped a few days ago to newstands. He’s yapping about "The State of Multi-channel Audio" each issue.
*Felix “El Gato’s” Latest DVD Reviews: Pat Benatar: From The Front Row...Live! (DVD-A) and Das Boot: Superbit (DVD-V) Links to all of Felix's Reviews
*Indiana Jones DVD Set: Available November 4th as a 4-Disc Set Indiana Jones DVD Set
*Drews Script-O-Rama: Large selection of shooting scripts (TV & Movie) and transcripts at Drew's
*There’s Home Theaters and then there’s Entertainment Systems: I wrote a short commentary on Home Theaters vs. Entertainment Systems. For those interested you can read it here.
*HDTV & FOX-TV: Fox TV has finally got the message. Their miserable 480i converted to 480p didn't fool anyone. As of the Fall of 2004 they will begin broadcasting 50% of their prime-time programming in 720p. Good news for those with HD receivers and displays.
*Felix “El Gato’s” July DVD Review: Once Upon A Time In America (DVD-V)
*Defining High-Definition: Interesting article about Star Wars Episode III being shot with the new generation of digital high-definition (HD) camera, the HDC-F950. http://www.starwars.com/episode-ii/feature/20030516/index.html
*Magic Distributing: It’s an online provider of home theater equipment, video cables, audio cables as well as mobile and home custom installation products. http://www.magicdistributing.com/
*Tee Minus 48-Hours…and Counting: Here we go again. Leave it to Disney to figure out how to make a DVD do a “Mission Impossible” self-destruction act right before our very eyes. My comments here.
*More Felix “El Gato” Reviews: Dances With Wolves extended version dvd (Link Obsolite) & The Right Stuff (Link Obsolite) & Donald Fagen's Kamakiriad (DVD-Audio) (Link Obsolite)
*Submitted Photos: T.J. of Milwaukee, WI recently started building his home theater. He will be tracking its progress through his website (Link Obsolite).
*NetFlix is God: Not only is NetFlix the best game in town for rentals but they're really doing a great job of improving distribution. They've added more distribution locations that has greatly improved turn-a-round time. Originally everything came out of California. It then went to Georgia, for east coast USA members. Now they have one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That's only 110 miles from me. Now that's progress.
*Vern Dias' web page is now at: (Link Obsolite).
**Felix reviews: Hey folks - Anchor Bay came out with yet another version of Halloween a few weeks ago - this one is called the 25th Anniversary Edition. Has some great extras, including a nearly 90 minute documentary, plus the much coveted audio commentary track that was on the Criterion laserdisc in the mid-1990s. A new film-to-video transfer was made, but in the process, someone decided to "adjust" the look of the film. I have some screen captures comparing the 1999 transfer, approved by Halloween's DP, Dean Cundey, to the new "DiviMax" transfer from Anchor Bay.(Link Obsolite).
*Here are some other comparisons from DVDFile.com (Link Obsolite).
*This is a guilty pleasure title. I love this film. Unfortunately there are some problems with the WideScreen side of the disc. Here are my comments and some screen shot comparisons (Link Obsolite).
*Here's a review of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds DVD-A (Link Obsolite).
*Submitted Photos: Barnett Erasmus shares his DIY Home Theatre Project
*Another Review from "El Gato": Felix reviews Valley Girl
*Freedom of Choice…except for satellite viewers: Your local networks decided to do an end-around, as they say in American football. Instead of providing a quality product that you would want to purchase they went to the courts to force you to purchase their garbage product. Full commentary here.
*Do It Yourself: Joe Corcoran recommended a do-it-yourself site (might be his own, who knows) that's really worth a look. It's called diyaudio.com. It has forums, links and wiki. Wiki is an editable website. Good stuff at Diy Audio.
*Another Felix “El Gato” Martinez Review: “The Howling” – Special Edition DVD (Link Obsolite).
*El Gato” and The Hulk: Just saw this. Received the disc on the street date from Netflix, which I believe is a first! What a strange film...
I would say it's worth a rental, just to see the way the film is constructed. It has to be just about the best visual translation from comic book to screen, in terms of look and feel. And yet the subject matter is taken VERY seriously. Do not expect a tongue-in-cheek laugh riot. I actually thought that was refreshing.
The effects are pretty amazing. I must say, the trailers when the film came out made Hulk look pretty darn cheesy, but what was missing in the trailers was the comic book tone of the film.
Still...the film is not without its problems. The lead actors are pretty morose, the usually beautiful Jennifer Connelly unbelievably looks anorexic for most of the film, and the film is on the long side (2 hrs 15 min without credits). But I'm glad I saw it. My mouth was hanging open during the hulk-army confrontations toward the end of the film. Amazing!
*Submitted Photos: Yuzaini Jie from Malaysia provided a link to his home theater site. You can check it out at Pa Wa Ru Jie Home Theater.
Interesting article at IndianaJones.com.
** HD-VHS? My (Felix “El Gato” Martinez) only comment is that this seems like a bonehead move with a technology (tape) that is already obsolete. I think that this is merely a bridge to HD-DVD, which according to this article (with more info on the HD-VHS announcement and scathing comments by WB) Video Business is about 5-7 years away...reminds me of laserdisc - a platform (in this case, tape) which matures way too late and is on its way out before it can grab a foothold with the masses. Who is the market for this thing anyway, dealers who want to show off their inventory of HDTV sets? Weird! Steve Brown (my brother) found this D-VHS article at TheDigitalBits.com.
**El Gato's Corner: Felix has an exclusive interview titled, "An Interview with Sandy King, John Carpenter's producer and wife." Here
**Hey Netflix, it’s not a TV show…It’s a movie: There seems to be a disturbing trend over at Netflix. I've noticed that when a DVD title is available in the Full-screen and the Widescreen format Netflix often only offers the Full-screen version. Read the full editorial here.
**Pro Audio Video: Mike Holley invites you to visit his web site dedicated to his Home Theater and Home Entertainment business. It includes pre-installation, construction, and installation. Check it out at www.proaudiovideonm.com
**The DocDVD In-Home Service: Felix ran across this site while rummaging around the internet. They have an in-home Home Theater service. Best of all DocDVD has an on-line service in which they claim to be able to answer your problematic theater related questions in a timely manner. Did I mention the on-line service is Free?
**Ebert and Roper's Top 10: It's out, Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have released their picks for the top 10 movies for 2001. These will make great DVD's in 2002. Ebert and Roper's Top 10
**Submitted Photos: Check out Paul Larson's (Snellville, Georgia) Double-A-Theater. He's done an awesome job on it and he's been kind enough to share it with the rest of us.
*Another cool looking Theater was submitted by Jerry Pompa of New York City. He's filled his JPS Theater with some great theater toys. If his goal was to make me envious, it worked.
**Scar'd-up: From Felix "El Gato" Martinez; At first I was glad to hear Universal was finally re-visiting the mediocre Scarface dvd (new transfer, etc.) but I'm now concerned about what the hell they are doing with the soundtrack. Universal is working on a Scarface: Ultimate Edition, but Rolling Stone has mentioned that rapper Jay-Z is executive producing the soundtrack, supervising the music and doing the score for the 2002 release. I don't really think that's such a great idea and I hope the original Giorgio Moroder score is included as well.
**Worldwide DTS DVD Movie Release List: Felix "El Gato" Martinez found this page while rummaging around the internet. It's a listing of all, or almost all, of available or announced DTS DVD movie releases from around the world. Here.
**Movie Reviews Page: Doing movie reviews is incredibly time consuming, especially if you don’t do it as a vocation. Well I don’t. As much as I enjoy doing them, time is not my friend. Therefore, I will continue the reviews in a non-text form. I will continue to provide an overall rating using the same 4-star scale. The major studios are all providing very good or better quality DVD’s now, therefore critiquing the technical aspects are now relatively moot.
**NetFlix on Wall Street: ZDNet has an interesting blurb about the financial condition of NetFlix. NetFlix is about to go public to help resolve some of their debt. The full article is at ZDNet News.
**King Crimson: Deja Vroom: Felix "El Gato" Martinez says that if you think Metallica is heavy, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet! You've got to check-out Felix's great full review of the band, King Crimson: Deja Vroom Music Video DVD concert.
**Magazine Reviews: This issue (March/April 2002) of The Perfect Vision magazine evaluates 21 DVD players. Most are models that are within the financial means of a normal human being. If you’re in the market for a Big-Screen HDTV then you might want to take a look at Home Theater magazine. (March 2002) They compare the Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Pioneer, RCA, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba and the Zenith.
**2001Oscar Results for Best: Picture – A Beautiful Mind / Actor – Denzel Washington (Training Day) / Actress – Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) [and most nauseating acceptance speech] / Supporting Actor – Jim Broadbent (Iris) / Supporting Actress – Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind) / Director – Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) / Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – Gosford Park (Julian Fellowes) / Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published – A Beautiful Mind (Akiva Goldsman) / Animated Feature – Shrek (Aron Warner) – Art Direction, Set Direction – Moulin Rouge! (Catherine Martin, Brigitte Broch) / Cinematography – The Lord of the Rings (Andrew Lesnie) / Costume Design - Moulin Rouge! (Catherine Martin, Angus Strathie) / Sound – Black Hawk Down / Editing - Black Hawk Down (Pietro Scalia) / Sound Editing – Pearl Harbor (Christopher Boyes, George Watters II) / Visual Effects – The Lord of the Rings / Makeup - The Lord of the Rings (Peter Owen, Richard Taylor III) / Song – Monster’s Inc. – Randy Newman / Original Score - The Lord of the Rings (Howard Shore) / Animated Short Film – For the Birds (Ralph Eggleston) / Live Action Short Film – The Accountant (Ray McKinnon, Lisa Blount) / Documentary Feature – Murder on a Sunday Morning / Documentary Short Subject – Thoth / Foreign Language Film – No Man’s Land
**Submitted Photos Addition: Lance Phillips would like you to check out his terrific home theater. He outlines detailed comments about the theater and provides a great-personalized explanation about his theater equipment. The Lance Phillips Theater
**Plugs: Premiere Home Theatres of Canada and Home Theater Decor would like you to visit their web sites dedicated to Home Theater services and products.
**DVD Covers: Felix “El Gato” Martinez found a pretty cool site that posts images of the covers on the boxes of DVDs. It’s a great resource for this type of materials. dvdcoverart.com
**Pulling No Punches: David Scott and Steve Brown go head-to-head over the trivial and inconsequential. This new segment is proof that they may have the appearance of adults males but the reality is that boys will be boys. Hope you enjoy this section; it should be a lot of fun. Pulling No Punches. Also check out Steve's latest RANT. Hollywood…where a hero is a sandwich and Reruns…here they come again, and again, and again…
**Attack of the 50-Foot Web Site: (Found this site by accident.) If your looking for that rare Sci-Fi or Horror film poster, you really need to check out this site, Attack of the 50 ft. Web Site. Another site selling just about every poster on the planet is, Moviegoods.
*Pulling No Punches: What's Wrong with, "From Hell"? or simply "A Disagreement From Hell." Guest sparing by: Felix "El Gato" Martinez and Bob Brown
*Disney/Buena Vista DVD Alert: Disney is back up their old tricks again. (Remember the original DIVX?) Now they are going backwards again by reformatting the theatrical aspect ratio on DVD. They’re putting some titles exclusively in a 4:3 (1.33:1) aspect ratio so people can fill up their TV screen. (Example: Three Men and a Lady and Taking Care of Business) They won’t even double-side the DVD with both format options. We’ve worked very hard over the years to educate the public on this matter, beginning with Laser Discs. I think it’s time to give the Disney Corporation an ear full. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to inform them of your displeasure on this matter.
*Politically Incorrect: ABC has fired Bill Maher because he wouldn’t bow-down to ABC’s pressures to place restrictions on the show’s content. If you’re interested, here’s a copy of the email I sent to ABC. ABC's My Way or the Highway ABC’s email address is: email@example.com
**David Lynch/self-censorship and SuperBit: Felix "El Gato" Martinez link to http://www.deceptions.net/captures/md_nude.html. You can see the extent Lynch went to to obscure some nude scenes in Muholland Drive. Also, you can see some SuperBit DVD comparisons. Here Incudes an El Gato interview!
*Suggestion from El Gato Martinez: Here's a great press release for the Star Wars: Episode 2 dvd release this Fall. Note: this is the first time a digitally filmed live action feature will be directly transferred to dvd. No film-to-tape or AD-DA conversion. This was done for some animated features (Toy Story, A Bug's Life) but this is the first live action title. Interesting! Here.
*Video Artefacts Artivle Suggestion from El Gato Martinez: Excellent article that covers the following artifacts found on videos at Michael D’s DVD Info Page; Aliasing | Analogue Tape Tracking Errors | Chroma Noise | Colour Bleeding | Cross Colouration | Digital Tape Dropouts | Dot Crawl | Edge Enhancement | Film Artefacts | Gibb Effect | Interlacing | Low Level Noise | Macro-Blocking | Microphony | Moire Effects | Overmodulation | Posterization | Reel Change Markings | Splice Marks | Telecine Wobble Here.
*20:9 Mode in the MPEG 2 Codec: A little known fact - there is a 20:9 mode in the mpeg 2 codec, but no one uses it. Here's a great link detailing this and other widescreen monitor issues...World's Easiest Explanation Of Anamorphic DVD (16:9)
*Star Wars: Episode 2 Press Release: Here's a great press release for the Star Wars: Episode 2 dvd release this Fall. Note: this is the first time a digitally filmed live action feature will be directly transferred to dvd. No film-to-tape or AD-DA conversion. This was done for some animated features (Toy Story, A Bug's Life) but this is the first live action title. Interesting! (Link to article obsolite)
*Naomi Watts interview: Felix “El Gato” Martinez came across this interview and was surprised how personal it is. Lots of stuff about Nicole Kidman too.
*Felix “El Gato” Martinez on ERASERHEAD: Lynch recently stated the following on his web site (in early October)... Felix comments on the upcoming rendition of Eraserhead on DVD. Read here.
*What? They Still Make CRT Projectors?: When was the last time you walked into a home theater Audio-Video business with a CRT front projection system (CRT's) on display? Read the rest of the editorial here.
*Product of the Year Awards: You might want to take a gander at the November/December 2002 issue of "The Perfect Vision" magazine. They listed their Product of the year awards in a multitude of categories.
Queen: A Night At The Opera (DVD-Audio Review): Felix "El Gato" Martinez reviews this DTS Entertainment DVD-Audio. "Much has been written about Queen’s A Night At The Opera, and its place in rock and roll history is well secured. The music, the lyrics, and the performances..." Read the complete review here.
*SuperBit DVD's : Here’s an older article from October 2001 discussing SuperBit (SB)R1 DVD’s vs. Original R1 DVD’s. It really illustrates the visual advantages of SuperBit and the no perceptible differences from a non-SuperBit DVD (Link Obsolite).
*Sports go HD on ABC, ESPN: Steve Brown found this little tidbit that should be of interest if you're chomping at the bit for HDTV. Broadcast network ABC and sports-focused ESPN will both carry more sporting events in high definition in 2003. Complete article.
*DVD Discoveries: DVD Angle announces the release of the first ever DVD dedicated exclusively to the inner-workings of the DVD industry at (Link Obsolite). Looks like a pretty cool DVD for less than 10 (U.S.) dollars.
*Cobalt Cable: John Coleman, founder of Cobalt Cable, offers premium audio and video cables, without the premium price. Cobalt Cable
*Speaker Heaven: Patrick Stevenson says he has speakers for your every need: Home Theater, stereo, wireless, headphones, and more! Speaker Heaven
*Wired@Home: David Ward has a home theater related site that is an Audio/Video Information & Entertainment SuperSite. Wired At Home.com
**NetFlix once great, but now only Really Good: NetFlix.com has made several great changes since their inception. Some of these advances have discreetly been withdrawn. I fired-off a couple of emails to its founder, Marc Randolph. I think the emails ended-up at the same place as the, "I already mailed it back" goes...nowhere. You can read the emails in full at, "I requested the founder and got the flounder."
**Kubrick's "Artificial Intelligence": This was going to be Kubrick's next film. Spielberg took it over after Kubrick died. It looks like a great cast and it's Spielberg's first screenwriting credit since Close Encounters. Should be a very personal film. Artificial Intelligence Theatrical Poster (from, Felix "El Gato" Martinez)
**DVD Profiler: You might want to check this site out. It's a really cool ( free) on-line database program for DVD's and personal cataloging. DVD Profiler.com
**Stereophile's Recommended Components for 2001: If you're in the market for home theater equipment and want to know where the various components rate in the scheme of things then check out the March/April issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater. They rate the components as AAA (Superb), AA (Slightly less than reference quality), A (Significant tradeoffs but priced well), B (Bargain products with obvious shortcomings), K (Not reviewed).
**And the Oscar goes to… Somehow the Academy has accepted mediocrity and hype as a major factor for deciding which films and actors are in the running for the Oscar. The Academy also ultimately chooses the winner. Not unlike the Presidential election, the participants aren’t necessarily the best choices. It appears the one with the most hype, money, and influence prevails. Gladiator the best film of the year? (My review of Gladiator) Russell Crowe the best actor of the year? Julia Roberts the best actress of the year? I always thought the Oscar was for the best Oscar classifications of the year, not the best fairly good classifications of the year. Shouldn’t the best costume design go to an original creation instead of someone who has duplicated an established historical design? These consequences are an affront to the truly great actors and films of our times. They simply didn’t have the money to provide the influence (or desire to influence) necessary to prevail. That’s ok, as individuals we really know which were the true winners…even if they did walk away empty-handed. (No I’m not talking about the Presidential election). P.S. - If you are one of those who have low standards and think Julia Roberts playing Julia Roberts is an Academy Awards winning performance then you might want to re-evaluate your standards. If you want to know what a real Academy Award winning movie and performance looks like then catch Emma Thompson in the HBO movie called “Wit” (2001).
**The Sanyo PLV-60 LCD Front Projector: If your considering the purchase of a front projector and you don't have $50,000 to throw into a Sony G-90 CRT with a Faroudja scaler, then Felix "El Gato" Martinez recommends you take a hard look at the Sanyo PLV-60. It blows the Sony VW10HT away, it's under $9,000 (retail), and it out performs most single chip DLP's. Here's a review on the Sanyo PLV-60 at TheBigPicture.com. For a quick look at the specs go here at ProjectorCentral.com.
**The New Addition of the New Addition: I can only assume the DVD studios think we have the word, “gullible” stamped on our foreheads. The trend is not to properly produce a DVD fully loaded and anamorphic the first time around. On the contrary, they seem to be periodically spoon-feeding us new and improved versions. For instance: There's the Director’s Cut, New Director’s Cut, Director’s Edition, Director’s Special Edition, Special Edition, Deluxe Editions, Platinum Edition, Ultimate Edition, 5-Star Edition, Gold Collection, Diamond Collection, Two-Disc Set, TV Version, New Anamorphic Transfer, and on and on. I think I’ll stick with my not so new and improved renting, via NetFlix.
**Warning, Scam Site: Do not purchase products from "THE DIGITAL DOG." They will not deliver products and they will not credit you back your money after not delivering your products.
**ROBERT SZEWCZYK's Theater Update: Robert has rebuilt his home theater from the ground up. He shares photos, construction and design details, and his equipment list with us. Robert Szewczyk's Theater
**A Chat with Gordon Stainforth: Read Felix "El Gato" Martinez' Exclusive Interview with GORDON STAINFORTH, MUSIC EDITOR OF STANLEY KUBRICK’S THE SHINING!
** The Phantom MESS, I mean Menace: Finally, an announcement from Lucasfilm...(Link to article obsolite) Looks like great stuff. Some people didn't like the flick and thought it was a little goofy (I had fun with it), but the disc should be absolutely reference quality. It will be interesting for me to compare the premiere three-chip industrial strength DLP presentation I saw in L.A. in June 1999 with my new meager digital projector. Yeah, yeah, no contest, but it will be fun to fire it up just the same! (Reported by Felix “El Gato” Martinez)
**DVD Audio: If you’re interested in DVD Audio Titles then you might want to check out the catalog at www.silverlinerecords.com. They also have information explaining the advantages in the DVD recording process vs. CD audio.
**The "El Gato" Theater Update: Felix "El Gato" Martinez is putting his finishing touches on his new self-built home theater, which is comprised of the new Sanyo PLV-60 LCD projector (Review ), the Panasonic RP-91progressive scan DVD-Audio player (Review) and the new Stewart Grayhawk screen material optimized for digital projectors (Details). To bring his system together, he relied on AVCable.com (AVCable) and was pleasantly surprised by their cable quality and customer support. "Jim Woodier at AVCable.com was very helpful in planning out the wiring in Felix's theater, and the cable quality and service were first-rate," states El Gato. Stay tuned for an upcoming recap of the development of El Gato's "home theater on a budget."
**MGM Goofs: Felix saw this comparison of the new Silence of the Lambs MGM DVD vs. the recently out of print Criterion DVD at Silence Of The Lambs. Check out the screen shots. The new version totally ruined Tak Fujimoto's warm, amber color scheme and converted it to a cool palette, apparently without his approval. The only thing worthwhile is the anamorphic enhancement on the MGM as the Criterion was only letterbox. And yes, there's a new 5.1 mix on the MGM version, but the mistreatment of the visuals really puts me off. Also, take a look at how they revived Oliver Reed from the dead in Gladiator. Approximating Proximo Gladiator Secrets Revealed
**Internet Movies: Major studios launch joint Internet film service. Short article at Yahoo news, here.
**4:3...I don’t think so: Warner Bros. is starting to release some family titles as full screen,
not widescreen, which is creating an intense negative reaction in the DVD community. Alas, the new special edition of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory will be full screen (the discontinued previous DVD had full screen and 16:9 enhanced transfers on the same disc), as well as the upcoming Cats and Dogs.
**DVD's Worth Having: Now available is Citizen Cane (New pristine transfer), The Terminator (New 6.1 mix), The Godfather films (Widescreen theatrical version with new pristine transfer), and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (New pristine transfer with enough extras to stuff a large room).
**Theater or Bathroom?: Its a State of the Art Sound System…so why does it sound like a top-notch AM radio? I've been to some Home Theaters that had some mind-blowing sound equipment. So why did it sound like a tin can and is it resolvable? I have some simple explanations and tips that might help set you in the right direction for getting the most out of your sound system, especially if your budget-minded like me. Theater or Bathroom? a.k.a. Acoustic Problems.
**"El Gato's Corner: (Contributed by Felix "El Gato" Martinez) In addition to today's new STAR TREK III review, it is worth mentioning that inside the DVD is another nice little booklet of upcoming Paramount releases, including the expected STAR TREK I & II DVDs, as well as episodes of THE NEXT GENERATION. While exact dates are still unannounced, a few details came our way from Paramount on the STAR TREK films. While it was expected by many that we wouldn't be treated to the highly-awaited STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF CHAKA KHAN, we're told to expect the announcement of the disc very soon (hint: for this summer), and naturally one would guess that THE MOTION PICTURE won't be far behind sometime this fall (damn I'm smart, eh?) As for KHAN, we have been informed it will not contain any extra scenes as seen on the Sci-Fi channel
and elsewhere, but it will be 2.35:1 and anamorphic. Stay tuned for the full details, of course, which will probably arrive in a few weeks...
BUENA VISTA tidbits Just a quick update on more labeling concerns some readers have had recently with Buena Vista titles. For the record, both THE COLOR OF MONEY and OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE are listed on their packaging as being Enhanced For 16x9 Televisions, neither of which are, and OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE also is listed as having a trailer but it does not. Also, today's debut of THE INSIDER features some interesting back packaging. It lists "Production Featurette - Audio Commentary with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe". While the featurette is on the disc, it features interviews with both actors as well as the real Jeffrey Wigland and Director Michael Mann. But, there is not audio commentary to be found on the disc, and most likely it is just a, er, creative way of listing interviews as "commentary". Hmmmm...?
**HDTV or NOT HDTV? : Mitsubishi's and Toshiba's new HDTV's are featured in Saturday's (12-18-99) New York Times as being less than HDTV. "New Rule on High-Definition TV Roils Toshiba and Hitachi." These manufacturers are producing HDTV's that fall way shy of the 1080I required to produce a true full HDTV spectrum. In other words, not true HDTV. Be wary and do your homework before purchasing.
**Reliable Rumors: Reliable Rumors provided by Felix “El Gato” Martinez to start the New Year right. Universal and Columbia plan to release some Spielberg/Amblin Entertainment films DVD next year, which include the now ready Duel and shortly later Jaws, and Jurassic Park. Also planned are DVD versions of the Indiana Jones Trilogy. The Back to the Future Trilogy will be released this year. I hope they have the quality of Saving Private Ryan (Gracias El Gato)
**Roger Ebert’s TOP 10 & WORST 2 of 1999: TOP: 10) The Insider, 9) Topsy-Turvy, 8) American Beauty, 7) The War Zone, 6) Princess Mononoke, 5)Bringing Out the Dead, 4) Boys Don’t Cry, 3) Three Kings, 2) Magnolia, 1) Being John Malkovich WORST: 2) Pokemon, 1) Baby Geniuses
**Reliable Rumors: Reliable Rumors provided by Felix “El Gato” Martinez has found out that it looks like the Jaws DVD is in production and getting a DD 5.1 mix, there's a new edition of The Exorcist with added scenes that were cut, and turmoil over features on the Abyss has caused Cameron to pull the plug. He doesn't want the added interactivity features. He wants to opt for the longer Special Addition.
**The Widescreen : I was trolling around the net and found this superb site called The Widescreen Museum. If you're interested in the history of Widescreen movies then this is the place. It also includes the history of color. The URL is: http://www.simplecom.net/widefilm/
**DVD Recorders and stuff: Rumor has it that it looks like DVD recorders are going to be available to the public near the end of this year. If you have a LD player you should be able to obtain a Japanese copy of The Phantom Menace (enjoy the subtitles).
**Tidbits from Contributors: (From Steve Brown) If you are into the old movies and like to know more on the charter actors, you will really enjoy this site: Character Actor Index (From Patty Yoshita) Script, scripts, and more scripts from movies, TV and more: Drew's Script-O-Rama
**My Faroudja 301 Line Tripler: Up and running! (04-19-00) Video Specialist Roger Galvin traveled from Fort Lauderdale Florida to my house to setup my Runco DTV-933 (w/point-to-point convergence card) and Faroudja DVP-301 from scratch. He wasn't cheap but he was worth every penny. It took between 6 1/2 to seven hours to complete. His attention to detail was astonishing. I sat with him and watched the entire process hoping to absorb as much as possible. (I can happily say that I've retained at least 3.2% of what I've learned today.) Roger regularly travels across the country setting up projection systems. All I can say is that the results are stunning.
**Should I have a Progressive Scan DVD player? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. If your monitor doesn't have the ability to double, or have a minimum horizontal scan rate of 31.5kHz, then the answer is no. Most TV's out there can only scan at 15.75kHz, which can not take advantage of the progressive scan DVD players. If you can't scan at 31.5kHz then save your money. Some of the new HDTV's can but check with your salesman to be 100% sure.
**Planet of the Apes...again: Tim Burton is about to start production on a new version of Planet of the Apes. I'm not thrilled on the concept of doing remakes. If it was anyone else but Tim Burton I would scoff at the thought. Since it is I must say that my level of curiosity is aroused.
**An Affordable LCD Front Projector with an excellent picture: If the price of a Data Grade CRT projector is out of your financial reach then check out Sony's VLP-VW10HT LCD Video Projector. It retails for $6,990, does HDTV, 4:3, 16x9 display, no pixelization, extremely sharp, bulb low power feature for improved blacks for movies, quiet fan motor, 2000 hour bulb, easy setup, no converging, plus more. Its not without its flaws but neither are CRT's. For the price you can't go wrong. I've seen it in action and it looks pretty darn good, probably the best LCD out there.
**Jurassic Park & The Lost World: Jurassic Park: Universal announced that it will release these DVD's on October 10th, 2000. Steven Spielberg’s most eagerly anticipated and biggest blockbuster films, for the first time ever on DVD as Collector’s Editions on October 10, 2000 both Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 audio with a suggested retail price of 26.98 each.
**The Orphanage: Ex-ILM's top Visual FX artists have started their own film studio called The Orphanage, which produces 100% in the digital domain at a fraction of the cost. You can pick-up the full details about Scott Stewart and Jonathan Rothbart in the section called "Homegrown Special FX" at C/Net.com.
**We're here...DVD Recorders By Panasonic (and Fantasia 2000): Panasonic will be shipping the DMR-E10 in August, is currently being demonstrated at retail outlets across the country. The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $3,999.95. Complete details can be read at Widescreen (DVD Recorders) Review (a must-have magazine). Also you can read about the Widescreen Review's sneak peek at "Fantasia 2000".
**Dolby Surround Pro Logic II: Jim Fosgate presents The next generation of matrix surround sound. WideScreen Review (one of my favorite magazines) has a short, but informative, article detailing this next step to Dolby Surround Pro Logic II. It's definitely worth checking out. It's a 6:2:6 matrix encode-decode system (The article will explain).
**Cinema Review: This is a new family based Movie Review web site dedicated to fully informing the movie goer of sensitive content. My first concerns were related to a bias towards redirecting rather than informing. After looking over a few reviews, this is not a concern, in spite of their fixation on language. Consider this another movie information tool, which could be essential for families looking to be informed of content prior to sending their kids or themselves to a movie. The site also has personalized interactive participation. Cinema Review
**The Official Universal Press Release: (Submitted by Felix "El Gato" Martinez) Felix was rummaging around the web an found Universal's Offical Press Release. Lots of informative info about upcoming releases highlighting the new DVD "Legend". For the full article click here.
**More on SE7EN: PLATINUM SERIES: New Line Home Video is presenting "Se7en" in a gorgeous brand new transfer on this DVD. The amount of work that went into this transfer is probably unprecedented, as director David Fincher has spent months to ensure the quality is just right. After traditional silver retention lab work did not yield the results he was looking for, Fincher decided to make a transfer from the movie’s original negative instead, which is a very dangerous procedure, as the negative could be damaged in the process and be lost forever. After the transfer of the negative, Fincher was then able to color correct the film on a frame-by-frame basis in the computer, massaging the images to exactly what he always wanted them to look like and never managed to before. The result is a version of "Se7en" that is spectacular and has to be seen to be believed! Entirely free of blemishes and speckles, the transfer also shows no notable signs of noise, creating an image that is absolutely stable and is extremely rich in detail. The movie’s desaturated look, which gives it its morbid and somber tone, is taking on a form on this DVD that has never been witnessed before. With staggeringly subtle shades, beautifully rendered gradients and amazing contrast, the image on this DVD makes the previous DVD release of the movie look like an experiment. The omnipresent blacks in the film are deep and solid but maintain a surprising level of shadow definition, suddenly revealing image elements that had been invisible before, even in theatrical prints. The presentation is entirely devoid of compression artifacts, completely maintaining the incredible level of detail of the transfer. New Line has done it again! At a point where you think you have seen the best transfers in the market, this studio has just raised the bar one more time. (Thanks Felix "El Gato" Martinez)
**The City Cinema: Steve Shubick has his own website with photos of his Home Theater and an equipment list. Steve would like you to visit The City Cinema.
**Home Theater Guide: Christian Wangberg's new web site is called "Home Cinema Guide." It's a complete guide covering news and all the basics in a home cinema system. The site is also featured with a chat-solution and a bulletin board so you can ask other home cinema users for help.
**Blockbuster; 1-step forward, 2-steps backwards: Blockbuster is entering the Video-On-Demand arena to protect their profit shares via telephone lines (DSL). You'll have a pay-per-view or monthly charge option. Here's the clincher...It's VCR quality (230 lines)! Is Blockbuster unaware that a simple TV antenna (330 lines) or satellite dish (400 lines) has significantly better quality? Maybe they'll bring back DIVX.
**The Future of Movie Theaters: Celluloid Meltdown: Digital Video Movie Theaters are just around the corner. Future movie theaters will be projecting high quality digital images that will replace celluloid (film). Film degrades after each showing, digital movies will not. The digital format will eventually look as good as film and it will not flicker. Movie theaters could start converting to the digital format as soon as two to three years (It will take about that long to match the resolution and contrast of film). Movie Theaters could actually download their movies via satellite. The conversion costs will be about $80,000 per screen,which is twice the cost of a film projector, but the download costs would be nothing compared to film.
**HDTV: Why wait? Oh yea, programming would help: I got to see the real deal in action on the HDTV Pioneer rear projection monitor. There were three broadcast channels. The Grass Growing Channel (GGC), The I Have No Idea Channel (IHNIC), and The Let's Show the Lowest Possible 16mm Film Stock Channel (LSLP16FSC). The bottom line? Too exsensive and not enough programming. The Hi-DEF images looked teriffic the non-Hi looked, well, not teriffic. I figure to give it another year or two before it's worthy, unless you really enjoy watching clear sharp images of grass growing.
**Academy Awards-"To the point": Whoopi Goldberg apparently thought class was something you're supposed to skip. She definitely lacked it. Aren't the ballet-style tap dancers supposed to dance with the music? Best line of the night; as Roberto Benigni recieved his 2nd Oscar, "This is a terrible mistake because I used up all of my English". Next years host recommendation: Jim Carrey
Very important facts: 1) In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere. 2) In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television's Channel 1 to mobile Services (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did not re-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has no channel 1. 3) The first toilet ever seen on television was on Leave It To Beaver.
Your VCR and Y2K:Sent in by an Amateur Home Theater visitor-Passing the word...
THIS MIGHT BE SOUND ADVICE ABOUT OUR VCR'S IN Y2K. If your VCR doesn't work in the year 2000, do not throw it away. Set it on 1972 because the days will be the same. Thought you can use the info. Pass it on because you know the manufacturers won't share this info, they want you to buy a new one!
**Very important facts: 1) In every episode of Seinfeld there is a Superman somewhere. 2) In the 1940s, the FCC assigned television's Channel 1 to mobile Services (two-way radios in taxicabs, for instance) but did not re-number the other channel assignments. That is why your TV set has no channel 1. 3) The first toilet ever seen on television was on Leave It To Beaver.
**Your VCR and Y2K:Sent in by an Amateur Home Theater visitor-Passing the word...
THIS MIGHT BE SOUND ADVICE ABOUT OUR VCR'S IN Y2K. If your VCR doesn't work in the year 2000, do not throw it away. Set it on 1972 because the days will be the same. Thought you can use the info. Pass it on because you know the manufacturers won't share this info, they want you to buy a new one!
**Norm's greetings on Cheers: "What's shaking Norm?" "All four cheeks & a couple of chins." / "What'd you like Normie?" "A reason to live. Give me another beer." / "Hey Norm, how's the world been treating you?" "Like a baby treats a diaper." / "Beer, Norm?" "Have I gotten that predictable? Good." / "What's going on Mr. Peterson?" "A flashing sign in my gut that says, 'Insert beer here.'" / "Whatcha up to Norm?" "My ideal weight if I were eleven feet tall." / "Women. Can't live with 'em....pass the beer nuts." / "What's going on Mr. Peterson?" "The question is what's going IN Mr. Peterson? A beer please, Woody." / "Can I pour you a beer Mr. Peterson?" "A little early isn't it, Woody?" "For a beer?" "No, for stupid questions."
**Runco Super HDTV DTV-933 (CRT) Projector: I guess I'm hopelessly a CRT man and I'll be working overtime for the rest of my life because I just ordered the above Runco.
**Best Buy on DVD VS. DIVX: If you want to be completely informed on DVD VS. DIVX, read what "Best Buy" has to say (excellent article), go to; (Link to article obsolite).
**TV/Movie Calculator: This was sent in by Johnny Jarrell-Open the website below and it will ask for your birthdate. It's pretty cool. http://web.superb.net/boy/age1.html
**HDTV Report: According to the Big-Wigs at a couple of major companies (Pioneer and Samsung no HD-DVD's format has been created as of yet. Technical problems need to be resolved and it won't happen anytime soon. The best solution to get the best image from a DVD is to purchase only the Enhanced for 16 X 9 (anamorphic) versions. They use all of the lines available on your monitor with an additional 120 verticle lines. Personally, I will NOT buy a DVD that is not Enhanced for 16 X 9. I only rent them. Don't encourage the studios to think that we are willing to except an inferior product (they assume we will). You may not be able to take advantage of the extra resolution at this moment but eventually you will. If you don't then you'll be stuck with a DVD with 120 LESS verticle lines of resolution and utilizing less lines on your monitor. Then the studios will offer a new and improved version (that they should have made in the first place) to get you to repurchase it again. There are some studios producing their DVD's with the extra resolution on almost all of their Disc's (there are technical reasons why some discs cannot be enhanced) and they should be commended and purchased. As for the rest, you can keep them.
**Senate and House Alert!!!: (05-15-99) This is an alert to notifiy you of the high probability that satellite users are about to loose their NETWORK (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, and WB) programming because of special-interest groups (Cable Companies) that want control over Network programming. If they get their way we would have to go through them (their crappy picture and high costs would put us at their mercy) to get that programming. The only way to stop this is to contact your local Senator and Representative. Let them know that you are opposed to the special-interests removing your right to receive Network programming on your satellite dish. This is not a joke. This is going on as we speak. If they succeed we will loose all Network programming in June 1999. Please take action!
**DVD prices creeping upward: Warner Home Video and Columbia TriStar Home Video have set the standard for DVD pricing below $25. Paramount Home Video, 20th Century Fox and DreamWorks are releasing discs at premium prices. Universal Studios Home Video and Buena Vista Home Entertainment are going to follow the high-pricing practices. They think we will buy anything between $24 and $34. Personally I will stop purchasing the higher priced DVD's and simply rent.
**MOVIE REVIEWS: I'm posting lots of DVD movie reviews that you will hopefully enjoy. If you would like to contribute to the reviews, you are certainly welcome. Follow the simple format that I'm presently using. Reviewing already posted reviews that have a different viewpoint are welcome. No creative restrictions (except for no profanity like the F-word, thanks). Your name will be posted with your review for all to enjoy.
**Enhanced and Not so Enhanced: Fox finally got around to providing an Anamorphic DVD (s). The Alien series is Enhanced for 16 X 9 and the word is that it's fantastic. Nothing else, that I can see, will be enhanced including Titanic. I would definitely have bought True Lies if Fox only Enhanced it. Even companies like Polygram are Enhancing their DVD's. Hello Fox, Hello Disney, Hello Paramount! If it ain't Enhanced, as far as I'm concerned, it's only a rental.
**Night, Night Termite: DIVX has hit the crapper! Curcuit City is in the process of notifying their customers that software and players will no longer be in production and they will honor the phone-line programing until the year 2001 during the phase-out. They blame it on the studios and hardware companies. Gee, could it have been because most of the public figured out that they were being sold a load? To read the entire article from PR NEWSWIRE click here.
**DLP Projection at AMC's: AMC’s Pleasure Island multiplex at Walt Disney World in Florida, AMC’s Media Center North 6 in Burbank and the Edwards Irvine Spectrum complex are all using DLP (Texas Instruments) Projection systems starting July 30th.
**Sink the Titanic: Paramount is ready to pull a fast one on us. They are releasing Titanic non-anamorphically (not Enhanced for 16 X 9). They plan on doing it anamorphically on a DVD-18 Special Addition sometime next year. I'll wait. Production costs for anamorphic DVD's are the same as non-anamorphic widescreen, therefore there is technically no reason not to produce it anamorphically in the first place (unless you want to bilk a few extra dollars from your customers).
Dolby Digital Theater Plaque:
Check out this 12" x 5.5" plaque by Dolby Digital. I found it surfing around. It costs $20.00 (U.S.). Here is the URL if you're interested: (Link to article obsolite)
**Mr. Spielberg please release your movies: For reasons known only to Mr. Spielberg, he is not releasing most of his movies on DVD. If you would like to see him release his films, you can write him at the listed contact addresses below to express your desire for the releases to DVD..
Steven Spielberg, C/O Amblin Entertainment, 100 Universal City Plaza Bungalow 477, Universal City, CA 91608
Steven Spielberg, C/O DreamWorks SKG 100 Universal City Plaza, Building 10, 34th floor, Universal City, CA 91608-1085
Steven Spielberg, P O Box 8520, Universal City, CA 91608
**Warning: Industry goals to jack up DVD prices: Read how their long-term plans involve phasing-out videotapes and phasing-in price gauging costs of DVD's. Details here: Greed Is Good!
**5.1 Speaker Packages: A lot of you have asked about theater speaker packages. There are a million magazines out there that do excellent and sophisticated reviews on various speakers in every issue. Check out the latest issue ( September 1999) of SoundVision Magazine. They reviewed several budget 5.1 speaker packages that should be of interest to those of you in the market for them. They packed in a nice assortment to choose from.
**Lucas' Digital Theaters: The end is near, or should I say not so far. George Lucas has set the ball rolling. He’s begun demonstrating “The Phantom Menace” in the all-digital domain in selected theaters using digital projectors. I wonder if he truly understands the repercussions of this decision? Simply put, why would anyone go to a movie theater when you could just watch the same movie in your own Home Theater? Chances are your sound will be better and your picture just as good. The purpose of the movie theater was to offer you something that you couldn’t get at home. With a little time, eventually most homes will have some sort of entertainment center or home theater. With enough time and effort, Lucas just might advance himself to the rear.
**Affordable NTSC & HDTV in one: For those of you that are priced out of the expensive front projector market there is a decent alternative. Check out the Mitsubishi WT-46805. It's a 46" diagonal screen (16 x 9), does NTSC, HDTV, anamorphic, and is a lot of bang for the buck. It retails for $2,995 and the picture is quite good.
**We’ve Got Matrix, and Matrix, and Matrix: Apparently the success of The Matrix has brought an original idea to the producers. “Let’s make sequels.” That’s right, it looks like there’s gonna be a Matrix 2 and 3. Let’s just hope they at least come close to the originality and quality of the original, which by the way is usually not the case.
**Saving Private Ryan articles and photos: These excellent URL's to American Cinematographer Magazine were contributed by Felix "El Gato" Martinez from Miami, Florida:
Five-Star General Steven Spielberg answers AC's questions about his cinematic battle plan for Saving Private Ryan and The Last Great War Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski, ASC and his crack camera team re-enlist with director Steven Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan.
**DVD Recorder Anyone?: Pioneer introduces the industries 1st DVD recorder. It's the DVR-1000. Read their posted details at Pioneer Corporation. It's only 250,000 yen.
**Guest Movie Reviewer: Check out Felix Martinez's excellent Movie Review of "Peeping Tom" on DVD from the Criterion Collection.
**Affordable Subwoofer: For those of you who don't have $1500 (or more) to throw into a subwoofer there's a bright alternative for your system. Look at the $499 HSU Research VTF-2. It got an excellent review in the December issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater.
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