Monday, March 31, 2008

The demise of artefacts

I recently blogged about trying out an InFocus IN81 projector. Once I had seen how good conventional DVDs and PS3 games looked on it, I decided to purchase a Blu-ray movie. After browsing the net, Beowulf got good reviews for image quality, and the kidz all wanted to see it. And so for the first time in ages (I rent the majority of my DVDs, and purchases are usually made online) I visited a non-virtual retail outlet.

The first shock I received was the price of Blu-ray movies. Beowulf set me back £23 ('reduced' from £25). I pay less than that for a 6-DVD box-set!

The second shock was just how little you got for your money. If you're paying £5 for a DVD, you can understand getting little more than a disc in a box. For £23 I was expecting (at the very least) a glossy booklet with details about the film and cast. Instead you get a poorly printed slip of paper warning you that your Blu-ray player might need upgrading before being able to use this disc.

If this is typical of the way Blu-ray discs are packaged, then the future really is downloading, there is no 'added value' between what I bought and a zipped file with a jpeg of the cover artwork.

Incidentally, the film itself was a good example of how far CGI has come, and how far it has to go. The high resolution of the images was impressive, but made the limitations of the animation even more apparent. The cognitive dissonance that results from not being sure whether to treat what you are watching as 'real' or 'cartoon' eventually becomes disconcerting and uncomfortable.

Even ignoring the technological side of things, the film was disappointing. Think 'Shrek with a higher body-count and a lot less wit'.

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