Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Making Myself Tired

As Liz has been sick, and it's impossible to go to sleep in a bed next to a coughing person, I've been entertaining myself by checking my favorite forums and browsing around the Internet, which is actually helping to make me sleepy. It's also distracting me from a pretty shitty day at work, which I'm not going to write about because I'll probably just get pissed off. In fact, I can feel myself getting less sleepy as I type this, so that's bad. Instead, I'll focus on:

DVD Resources! That's right! Many people know I'm a big movie freakshow, and I love the DVD format. Soon, the Ultimate Home Theater will be complete, and I can watch movies in the privacy of my own house in glorious digital resolution! I will have to go through my entire library, movie by movie! If I do one a night, I will have enough movies to last me over a year!

At any rate, if you are interested in DVDs, here's some good resources for 'ya. First, DVD Profiler. DVD Profiler is a great database program for DVDs - just enter the UPC code off the back of the DVD, and it logs it into your collection. You can upload your collection to their website so your friends can see what you own, marvel at your good taste, and even see what you'd like to own someday in your Wish List. Best of all, it's totally free.

DVD followers will note that sometimes the best release of a movie isn't always the one that's out in your country. See, the world is divided into seven DVD regions (well, six - the seventh is reserved for airplanes and government stuff). In order to "discourage piracy," a DVD from the UK - from Region 2 - won't play in a normal US - Region 1 - player. Most of the time, this doesn't matter. However, if you're an enormous movie fan, it matters quite a bit. Let's take two examples: Brotherhood of the Wolf and Lost Highway. Brotherhood is a French martial-arts movie set in the 18th Century (no, really, it works and it's really cool). The US Region 1 release has the original movie in Dolby Digital 5.1, anamorphic widescreen (which means it looks better on a widescreen TV), and is the original cut of the movie. The Canadian Region 1 release, however, has Dolby Digital 5.1, anamorphic widescreen, and a longer cut of the movie, restoring almost ten minutes of plot and action. So clearly, if I'm a fan of the movie, I'm going to buy the Canadian release. But wait! The Canadian release has two discs of extra features, but the French release, which contains the same specs, has an entire fourth disc full of other features. So, if I'm a huge fan of the movie, I'll buy the French version. The problem with this is that the French version is coded for Region 2, so it won't play on my player, and is in PAL, so it won't play on a US (NTSC) television.

Lost Highway, one of David Lynch's best works, is even worse. There is no US release of the film. The Canadian R1 release is in 4:3, which means it has been cropped from its original aspect ratio to fill a regular square TV. This is commonly called pan-and-scan, or pan-and-scam to people who like movies. Why? Because you're chopping almost 50% of the picture off on either side, especially on a movie shot in a wide aspect ratio like Lost Highway, which was filmed in 2.35:1. Now, the Australian Region 4 release offers the film in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, but the video transfer is crummy and the sound is only 2.0 surround instead of a digital audio track. The UK Region 2 release isn't much better, but does add a 5.1 digital audio track. The best version, though is the Portuguese Region 2, which has a great anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 English audio track. Obviously, if I like Lost Highway, and I want to see Lynch's original framing of the movie (he is a visual artist, after all), then I'm going to go for the Portuguese release.

So how do I know all this? A helpful website called DVD Compare. It's got an enormous database of comparisons between DVDs released in different regions. For most movies, like Finding Nemo, it's not going to matter. If you're a serious Lost Highway fan though, you don't want to get screwed with the impotent Canadian release - it will be worth your while to import the Portuguese version.

OK, now I'm tired again. Time to hope I can get to sleep.

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