Comic-Con: In a 3-D Year, Celebrating the Majesty of Blu-ray

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The big movie talk of Comic-Con – really, of the entertainment industry as a whole – is 3-D.

The ship sailed long ago on this: Movie studios are rushing to convert movies, TV networks are updating their equipment, gaming platforms see the potential of immersive first-person…as everyone talks about TRON: Legacy around town today, the first thing they mention is that it’s being filmed in native 3-D.

Now I came out as an ecstatic 3-D devotee in the wake of Avatar, convinced that for the first time I had seen 3-D truly enhance an experience, only to be dismayed by the likes of Clash of the Titans, Alice in Wonderland and then The Last Airbender. How many lackluster conversions do you think it will take before audiences finally get fed up with half-hearted 3-D? With 3-D altogether?

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Scanning the schedule for this year’s Comic-Con, one of the very first panels I came across sparked a debate in my mind: Is Blu-ray a superior technological advancement to 3-D? Better than even Avatar-level 3-D? If you had to buy one: A 3-D TV, or a Blu-ray player, wouldn’t you naturally go with the latter?

I, for one, think the crisp, cutting-edge high-def of Blu-ray is something that takes the big-screen home viewing  experience to whole new plateau. I still remember how my jaw dropped as I watched the Planet Earth Blu-ray for the first time on my new TV – while my flat-screen was still set up on the floor of my apartment because I couldn’t wait the one day it would take to get a TV stand.

And in the three years since, I have seen an array of movies jump to life in ways that I never would  have expected. A couple weeks ago, I popped in a normal DVD of an indie movie, shot on crude, low-budget digital equipment. When the pixellated, low-def picture came up, I let out an audible “Ugh!” I am now so addicted, and spoiled, by high-def images that it’s what I demand and expect.

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I’m determined to follow this line of thinking a little bit further after one of today’s key panels: “Digital Bits: Blu-ray Producers 2010— Bill Hunt, Adam Jahnke, and Todd Doogan,” where some of the leading producers of the “special edition” Blu-rays that I so love will be talking about where they plan to push this technology next.

Reading about the panel had me remembering my all-time favorite Blu-ray experiences. The first time I popped in The Godfather trilogy on Blu-ray, and quite literally saw a different color palate than I had ever seen with the film before on low-def DVD or VHS.

Then there’s Baraka, the sprawling, global documentary that pointed a 70-mm camera at some of the world’s most stunning locales, which arrived on Blu-ray as a dense, rich, virtuoso photo album. The color is so clear, the definition is so crisp: I’ve started recommending this to everyone as the documentary that might win over even those who hate non-fiction film through the sheer power of its images.

The most electrifying Blu-ray achievements thus far on the sci-fi front, at least in my humble opinion, are the opening battle sequences of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek – which are in your face on Blu-ray – and the restored “Final Cut” of Blade Runner. All the cityscapes, the shadowy robot battles, the dark loft scenes and that soaring futuristic pyramid, set against the sunset: Here’s a movie that looks better on your home TV than most films do in the theater.

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In any event, I find it intriguing that there’s a Blu-ray panel today, right at the outset, that cuts through some of the waning 3-D buzz and will hopefully lead some newbies to realize the full potential of high-def clarity. Rather than obscuring the picture with 3-D glasses, here’s something that actually gives your eyes more data. More dazzle.

What do you think? Am I full of it, or does Blu-ray trounce 3-D? What are your favorite Blu-ray titles?

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