Saturday, March 24, 2007

Bullitt Time in The Matrix and Sony's PS3 Launch

"Bullet time" was the phrase used on-set to describe the unique slow-motion effects used in The Matrix movie, subsequently mimicked in many other films that have been made since. It's doubtful the bullet-time gimmick would have been anywhere near as effective as it is without great editing, which is the subject of a fantastic little documentary (well when I say "little", I mean 1 hour 40 minutes!) about film-editing over the years which I watched this morning instead of getting on and doing some work!

The documentary is included as an extra on the HD-DVD disc of Bullitt, which I've just reviewed over on my HD-DVD Review blog here and is today's 'Official daily blog entry from Ian'.

It seems I suddenly can't escape The Matrix (See! The movie was right!) Earlier this week it was announced that The Matrix trilogy are finally going to get the long-promised release on HD-DVD disc in May, although Blu-Ray are going to have to wait a little longer because it seems the manufacturers are struggling to get Blu-Ray's much-hyped interactive features working as well as HD-DVDs!

Meantime the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray war looks like being prolonged after all. The much-hyped Sony PS3 launch across Europe on Friday, which was mooted to give Blu-Ray the big advanatage it needed to decimate HD-DVD (every PS3 can play Blu-Ray discs, which is part of the reason why the games machine price is so high) turned into something of a farce, with low numbers for launch parties being reported all across Europe.

Early reports of the sales of the PS3 itself are not good. The UK launch got much favourable press over Sony's decision to give those who queued overnight at Oxford Street a free Bravia TV (worth £2000) and free taxi rides home. But elsewhere in Europe (and in the UK too, albeit buried under the 'free TV' story) the buyers just aren't there, and the unit is available in stores to anyone who wants one. This is in stark contrast to the earlier launches of the rival X-Box 360 (which offers the rival HD-DVD format, but only as an optional extra) and Nintendo Wii or even the original Sony PS2.

One has a horrible feeling that with the cock-ups that are being made on both sides of the battle to win the mass market over to high-definition, both sides are going to lose. Sales on both formats are abysmal, even in the States where the formats have a six to nine month lead over Europe, and it's hard to find HD-DVD or Blu-Ray discs anywhere other than online. With each day that passes it looks more and more like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray are going to be another LaserDisc format - one that never caught on with the general public, and was soon replaced by a single, superior format. Depressing news for those of us who've invested in either or both of the technologies, on the rather foolish assumption that the companies involved had actually got their acts together.

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