Now that most network shows are being filmed for HDTVs, their DVD collections are coming out in the proper widescreen aspect ratio. I wanted to see if you could play them through a normal DVD player and recapture some of the HDTV quality of the original broadcasts. Respecting that DVDs have less visual information than HDTV, I was expecting the HDMI cable to do too much.
HDTV on DVD
The best part about watching TV shows in HD are the close-ups of actors’ faces. There aren’t many epic vistas on TV but shows are full of distinguished actors with life experience on their face. When I watch 24 on my JVC HDTV set, I sometimes pause on Keifer Sutherland’s face and quietly weep.
The latest TV on DVD sets are Boston Legal, Navy NCIS and Numb3rs. Not one of them held up to the HDMI test. On the plus side, they do look like normal TV shows should look on the HDTV. If you try to watch a non HD channel, it’s fuzzier than antenna reception in the mountains. So at least it equates an acceptable TV broadcast.
Boston Legal has both James Spader and William Shatner in soft focus, or at least the progressive scan blow-up creates that effect. Perhaps the actors like appearing ageless but it does nothing for the effect. All boardrooms and courtrooms look fuzzy. Exteriors add a little color but no more detail.
NCIS is the same thing, all fuzzy. Despite a wide range of unique characters and actors portraying them, they’re all in soft focus.
Numb3rs has a somewhat more unique motif with the visualized math montages. They go by so quickly that you may feel like you’re getting a cool effect in mild HD. There are also more exterior shots to add a little more color, but again the actors appear in soft focus.
So, it was a noble experiment but perhaps we’ll have to wait for TV on HD-DVD to own the full HD experience.