The Lord Of The Rings trilogy theatrical editions were delayed from last year and it was thought that perhaps more work was being carried out on them to make the transfers among the best on the Blu Ray format, unfortunately it appears no new work was carried out and it was simply a marketing decision to delay the release.
The films hit Blu Ray on the 6th of April and many people have already got their copies as some retailers often ship early. There have already been high definition television screenings of each film. The HD TV editions had their own problems.
The first film The Fellowship Of The Ring seems to have problems which may exist on the master. Blu Ray should be capable of producing better image quality than television broadcasts but early reports suggest unhappiness among the AV enthusiast. These films will still probably sell extremely well thus enthusiasts will be ignored.
People who have viewed the films are complaining about DNR and the filtering of the high frequency picture information, filtering is usually done to make it easier to encode the picture information onto the disc. Read the glossary here for info on DNR.
It is pointless to purchase discs which have had their finest details erased due to filtering. Some people may argue the problem exists on the digital intermediate and that they may need to go back to the original film elements but considering how much money these films have made and continue to make for the studio i believe they should do whatever it takes to give us the best possible image and sound quality.
I was personally waiting for the extended editions of the film but i believe the theatrical editions should have been treated with a helluva lot more respect. Another point worth mentioning is Warner's obsession with trying to encode a film using VC-1 with as low a bitrate as possible. I wish Warner would stop this and adopt Sony's method.
Microsoft who spent considerable time and money developing the VC-1 codec have already said there is a point where VC-1 can smooth the image and this happens if the bitrate is too low and you end up with a watchable image but not a film like image.
I have viewed many perfectly watchable Warner film titles on Blu Ray and the key word here is watchable, they never seem to go for greatness with their encodes and prefer to go for just good enough most of the time. Warner are keen on putting extras on the same disc as the film, a practice i dislike and i want maximum bitrate for the image and sound and for the extras to go on a second disc.
Its a shame that most people will buy these based on the fact they are better than the DVD and it seems Warner will continue to practice low bitrate VC-1 for the forseeable future. Click here for Blu Ray screencaps from the film. These screencaps come courtesy of AVS forums and forum member eric.exe and a discussion and more screencaps can be found here. I have absolutely no intention of buying these discs but its important to get the word out about such high profile poor quality releases. I hope the extended editions are a lot better.