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Why are operas, ballets, and concerts filmed in 1080i instead of 1080P?


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Initial post: Oct 23, 2012 4:57:17 PM PDT
Cavaradossi says:
I've read that even rock concerts are recorded in 1080i. Is there something about all these performing events being shot live that makes this necessary?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 23, 2012 11:25:52 PM PDT
EdM says:
Not true. There are any number of Rock concerts in 1080p, e.g.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/AC-DC-Live-at-Donington-Blu-ray/586/

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/Paul-Simon-Live-In-New-York-City-Blu-ray/52663/#Review

However, more than a few BD concerts were originally done for TV, where 1080i is the maximum permitted. This includes PBS concerts in particular. Still, they are usually done pretty well, audio wise, in a lossless codec. This, Dolby TrueHD or DTS HD Master Audio, is more important to me than 1080p for a music concert.

I'd expect that as time goes by, more and more will be done in 1080p, but where the concerts do not sell as well, and need to be spun off from a TV sponsored concert, 1080i may be an economic necessity. Especially, as many concerts were older and video based, 1080i is likely the usual. OTOH, filmed concerts can certainly be remastered in 1080p, as with the AC/DC Donington concert. The more recent River Plate Concert was done in 1080p also, as AC/DC are particularly digitally knowledgeable, plus the likely have boatloads of $$$ from the Iron Man and other huge sellers on BD, e.g., movies.

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/AC-DC-Live-at-River-Plate-Blu-ray/21329/

Nothing to do with filming live.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2012 12:05:22 PM PST
Wayne says:
Nothing is filmed in 1080i. Film doesn't have a resolution in lines per inch. It has an ISO rating, and that and the amount of light could be factors in determining how much grain there is. But film is designed to be projected onto giant screens and have crisp and sharp resolution. Converting from film to digital can be done at any resolution, but your title and your post are asking two different things. Concerts can be recorded without film, and digital recordings can be made using whatever resolution the equipment can handle. There are plenty of examples as Ed pointed out.

There seems to be a misconception about film, and people often think that its resolution is equivalent to whatever was used to broadcast it. But there are plenty of examples of TV shows from the 1960s that have been converted to 1080p and are ultra sharp, while later ones on videotape (or in theory, digital recordings of less than 1080p) might end up looking a lot worse. If a concert were converted from film to 1080i for broadcast, it could easily be put on BD at 1080i. But not much would be lost, given that concerts don't tend to have much movement or actions scenes.

1080i and 1080p both have the same number of lines of resolution. But 1080i is interlaced so each "frame" has only half the number of lines. However, the interlacing process puts them back together, and the two "frames" represent different parts. So it's not a matter of swapping one set of 540 lines for another. It's a matter of getting half the frame at a time, putting it back together to get the full resolution, but only getting half the effective number of frames. So 1080p will look better, especially with a lot of motion. But in some cases, depending on the lighting, level of action, etc. you might not see a difference.

Posted on Nov 9, 2012 2:33:44 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
The question was prompted by reviews over the years of operas filmed during performance, and of symphony concerts and ballet performances stating the BD presents the program in 1080i. I had even read reviews of some rock concerts that were presented in the lower manner. I just wondered why these programs were so often released in that resolution instead of 1080p. It is true that there have been some recently that are in 1080p, but that didn't seem to be the case for a lot of them in the past. I just wondered if there were something about music and theatrical performances that ruled out 1080p.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 11:43:31 AM PST
Wayne says:
If it's a matter of transferring film to digital, the equipment and software being used has no way of knowing if the content of the film is showing opera, rock music, street musicians or Noh theater. I won't go so far as to say "film is film" but that would be closer to the mark than saying that the type of performance makes a difference. I can think of some reasons why some concerts might not necessarily benefit from 1080p but not any why it would hurt.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 10, 2012 3:30:55 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 10, 2012 3:32:04 PM PST
EdM says:
> I just wondered if there were something about music and theatrical performances that ruled out 1080p.

IMO, economics. When even classical CDs are hard put to sell many (say 1000) units, then notably higher priced BD sales must surely be economically iffy. Thus, very many classical music BDs piggy-back on TV, e.g. PBS productions. Here in the USA, PBS does _terrestrial broadcast_ TV, at 1080i using MPEG 2 codec. So, the lowest cost for source video is to go with what you have. Plus, substantially all high quality BD players can process 1080i to 1080p with good results.

http://doublebassblog.org/2009/09/why-teens-dont-listen-to-classical-music.html

"The numbers for classical music consumption in general are, by any standard, frighteningly low. Only 3% of recordings sold in 2008 were classical, with the average classical music recording selling only 300 copies."

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20120105005547/en/Nielsen-Company-Billboard's-2011-Music-Industry-Report

wherein see: "2011 GENRE ALBUM SALES REPORT" and less relevant to physical disk BD sales, "2011 GENRE DIGITAL ALBUM SALES REPORT"

Classical album sales were next to last by genre. Also:

http://247wallst.com/2011/05/01/the-most-cash-strapped-classical-music-organizations/

"The Death Of Classical Music in America"

"... As F. Paul Driscoll, editor-in-chief of Opera News, notes in past years classical music has never had a huge audience but at least people respected it. That's less the case today because arts education has been on the decline for years. Classical music sales account for a small slice, some 2 percent to 4 percent of the $15.9 billion record music industry, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry."

In my optimistic opinion, the presence of BD albums with high quality lossless audio on the vast majority of BD classical [and pop] music performances, will serve to gradually increase demand over time, especially as some people may gain an appreciation of classical music from movies, Amadeus, Mozart's Sister [Blu-ray], Immortal Beloved [Blu-ray] and more. They may also improve their audio systems to better hear BD movies, and end up with better audio for classical concerts, e.g.

" something about music and theatrical performances that ruled out 1080p."

Remember that movies are viewed by the millions in theaters also ... Also, many pop/rock/country, etc., concerts are viewed by millions also, perhaps 20-50,000 at a time over a many-stop concert tour. Classical lacks that drawing power; indeed, classical is in part dying as in the above article. That is to say, to crib a (not entirely true) political saying "it's the economy, stupid."

Posted on Nov 12, 2012 3:30:17 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
EdM

It does seem to be the case so often in commerce that the less good chases out the good.

I think part of the lower sales in classical music now than in the past comes from the fact that there are so many recordings of any particular concert piece or opera that any given recording of let's say Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, for instance, has to compete against so many others for a sale.

It's also true that where opera is concerned, I tend to buy video versions instead of CDs, unless it's a CD version of a recording from the past where my vinyl version of the same performance needs replacing. Still, there are so many older recordings that are simply irreplaceable from the performance standpoint. It's beyond good that they are still available for purchase.

I don't mind a given opera BD being released in 1080i; I just wondered if there were some technical reason for the practice. You idea that it might be about economics could be true.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 17, 2012 1:25:57 PM PST
Wayne says:
"Average" is not a very meaningful term though. Mathematically speaking, there are many types of averages. Considering that music sales in general are skewed, mean sales might not be the best indicator of anything. I remember a record store owner telling me that 90% of sales came from the top ten albums and 99% came from the top 100. But there were thousands upon thousands of titles in the record stores. If you look at what the sales are for the top ten and top 100 classical recordings, that might be more telling. I'd still expect them to be low compared to other genres, but with the numbers you are giving, the average recording artist would get about $30 in royalties from any given record. And with an orchestra, that would boil down to pennies per performer. It's not a sustainable model.

Posted on Nov 17, 2012 3:55:58 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Wayne says

I remember reading years ago that the great American soprano, Leontyne Price, made over $100,000 a year for a long time just from royalties on her recordings. She was much loved during her career and still is today, so I imagine she probably still gets a good amount from royalties even now.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 11:05:04 AM PST
Wayne says:
I have no idea what she gets from royalties, but what opera has in common with any other genre is that those who are not at the top don't make very much. The top rock stars can easily make in the millions. But that's a relative handful, and the number of opera singers who do well (but not in the millions) are also a handful. The typical performer in opera doesn't stand out as a money maker and won't come close to a doctor or lawyer. The same is true for the typical rock musician including recording artists. If you are not at the top, you are lucky to make enough to live comfortably.

There are some artists these days who are bypassing the major labels completely. Rather than settling for a commission of 60 cents per CD, they can sell them on their own website. If they lose 90% of the sales that a major label would have brought them, they are still far ahead.

It's far easier to have a home studio these days because even a 24 track digital recording setup is within the reach of a smaller artist. And reasonably good quality 1080p video cameras are available for a few hundred dollars. Editing software that can work with multiple video feeds is not expensive either and even home editing software can easily handle several video feeds. It's not likely that a typical artist will fall into DIY mode, but the raw cost of equipment makes it possible for small production companies to pop up and do work that surpasses what studios were doing a decade ago.

So it would be entirely possible for an opera company or classical orchestra to produce recordings at a profit. Some of the best sounding classical recordings were made by RCA in the 1950s using two or three high quality microphones and an orchestra. Take away the analog tape, hiss, and recording limitations, and all you need is a distribution channel. It's very easy to sell on Amazon, and it's just getting things into retail stores that's a problem. It boils down to whether the typical consumer of classical music shops at WalMart or on Amazon. If in-store sales give the bulk of the profits, it might not be relevant if the studios are out of the loop and only the per-item commission for selling at Amazon comes off the top once CDs are produced. And if people buy into downloadable formats, then the costs are even lower.
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Discussion in:  Blu-ray forum
Participants:  3
Total posts:  10
Initial post:  Oct 23, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 20, 2012

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