Thank you for reading the 70th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
A crazy week this week, but for the most part, this remains unseen for a little while yet. As mentioned in previous newsletters, I've been working on a website update, and this week, I've spent most of my waking hours on that. It is coming along quite nicely, but it isn't there just yet.
Metal Gear 25th Anniversary.
Do I feel old. I remember the days when the first Metal Gear game came out. A buddy of mine called me and told me to come over and have a look at this. He just got Metal Gear for his MSX2 computer. We spent most of the weekend playing it.
There wasn't anything out there at the time that would even come close in terms of playability, putting it in a class of its own. On the MSX computers, Konami was already at the top when it came to games, but with Metal Gear, they raised the bar even higher.
Since then, quite a few successors have been released, and a few months ago, a Metal Gear bundle was released for the PS Vita, and while the newer versions are not too bad, I missed the original Metal Gear Solid in the bundle, but thankfully it did include the MSX version though. Surprisingly, thanks to its easier control system and no loading screens, it is also the most playable version in the bundle. A true classic.
During the anniversary event, Konami also announced some upcoming stuff, including a smartphone version and, finally, a movie is being worked on.
Happy Birthday Metal Gear (and Konami).
Sony PS Vita 1.80 Update.
A few weeks ago, Sony announced an upcoming update for the PS Vita that would include Playstation One game-support to the Vita. It arrived this week, but it seems Sony isn't even trying anymore. Pricing for these 15 year old games are cheaper ($6-$10) than actual Vita games, but combined with the price for storage (special Vita-only memorycards) you might as well pick up a PS-One system in a pawnshop and pick up a few games with it for the same price.
Aside from that, unmentioned in the release notes, this new update also locks memorycards to a single PSN account, so if you are sharing a PS Vita between different people, each user will need its own memorycard in order to use their own game saves.
While some of the games are actually cool, the thing is, why bother getting a PS Vita when you can do the exact same thing on a 5 year old PSP. With all its power and features, shouldn't Vita users be getting PS2-caliber games?
Last week Sony announced that it would not do a price reduction in order to gain some more sales with the PS Vita. There are a couple of prime games lined up for the holiday season, but it just seems that the Vita was released a year too early.
Windows 8 Tablets.
After the battle with Apple, I guess Samsung is now doing something else. Announced earlier this week, Samsung's Windows 8 Tablet line-up will be called "ATIV Smart PC". ATIV, who would come up with such a name? Spelled backwards, ATIV reads as VITA, which endured a marketing campaign from Sony for over $50 million, which also comes close to VISTA, which Microsoft spent over $500 million on with advertising.
The tablets themselves, well, I'm sure there will be a lot of confusion. With 2 variations that are similar in looks and size, with the only visual differences being RT in the name and the price, a lot of people will be running into complications.
From a developer perspective, this Windows 8 ordeal is a bit scary. While I will have a test-system setup, I will not be upgrading my development system to Windows 8. As a "power-user", I make heavy use of multiple applications running at the same time, and I could care less about being able to see the weather on my desktop when I am sitting next to a window. But, having a tablet OS and a desktop OS being visually identical will be a nightmare. People will pick up the cheaper RT tablet, and it will do Facebook and stuff just fine, but of course desktop-based apps will of course not work.
Next week, on the 6th, Amazon is holding its product announcement event. With the Kindle Fire currently being sold-out, it is safe to say that a new model will be introduced.
Unlike Apple, with rumors and even pictures galore in regards of the upcoming iPhone 5 a week later, Amazon is very tight-lipped when it comes to these things. Last year they surprised a lot of people with the Kindle Fire and its integration with Amazon's services, and I'm quite sure they will do the same this year.
Will we see a quad-core this time, a higher resolution, larger screen, expandable memory (please?). With a recent addition of new shows to watch for free using Amazon Prime service, I would say, all of the above.
In my opinion, I think Amazon hit a home-run right out of the gate when they released the Kindle Fire. Unlike all other Android tablets, they ignored the specification battle, and opted for content access instead in order to try and compete with the iPad. How will they do this time?
Next week we'll find out.
Something surprisingly interesting was released by Square Enix (of Final Fantasy fame) this week. Coreonline.
The service offers games through a browser, which isn't a new concept of course, however, rather than displaying ads on a permanent basis, you earn play-time by watching ads. You start with 10 free minutes of time, and after that you simply watch some advertising videos in order to gain more points, or you can pay for full game access or individual levels.
A very interesting concept for free content. While I'm not too fond of advertising when it comes to services I pay for (TV for example), when it comes to content that is provided for free, I do think that this is an interesting way of "earning" it. I could see this system being used for other media as well, such as movies and TV shows (a free Netflix Streaming maybe), and even music.
Even for Youtube it would work great. With services like Youtube/Hulu etc, I tend to skip through clips, and being forced advertising at the beginning is annoying when you are looking for something, so by having "adfree minutes" I can just fill up the bar with a couple of ads and enjoy uninterupted viewing.
Coreonline provides you with a choice of different advertising clips to choose from, and while you can simply pick the ones that give you the most amount of time, the choice also enables them to provide you with more targeted advertising as well.
For more info visit the site here:
DVD Catalyst News:
As I mentioned earlier (and in a few previous newsletters) I've spent the majority of the week on an update for the website.
The current Tools4Movies.com website is loaded with information, but unfortunately, things are a bit tricky to find, so my main goal with the update for the website is to make things easier to find.
Most of the design and organization is done, which is always the hardest part, and takes the most amount of time and I am about half-way in regards to adding guides.
I am very pleased with the way it looks, and can't wait until it is all done.
Since I am writing and redoing some of the guides for the new website design, I posted up 2 articles on the Tools4Movies.com site for 2 new-release movies of this week.
Starship Troopers 4 DVD
Surprisingly, this week's movie-releases were actually quite good. For both a mini-review below.
Q: Subtitles for foreign language parts in movies.
A: There are unfortunately 2 different ways these subtitles are handled on DVDs. Some use one method, others use the other.
For most movies, including Avatar and District 9 for example, they use a so-called "forced subtitles" flag. By enabling the subtitles for it and enabling this flag in DVD Catalyst, it will only show subs for the non-English dialog.
Enable "Power User" mode (bottom right in DVD Catalyst), then go into Global Settings (top left underneath the cat-eyes), and look for the Language tab. In there, enable the "forced subtitles only" checkmark (scroll down a bit if you don't see it)
For other movies, including Kill Bill 1 and 2, and recently, X-Men First Class, they use a different method. Rather than the "forced subs", they use a separate subtitle selection. If you see a second "English" subtitle in the dropdown, it is likely that that would be the subtitles you want to use.
Q: Partial conversion issue.
I started experiencing partial conversion issues. Even movies that converted fine before, now it only converts a couple of minutes of the movie and then stops. Converting the same movie twice in a row results in a different end-point. I have used this DVD drive for quite a few movies without any complications until now.
A: The issue you are experiencing seems to be related to a combination of a DVD and your DVD drive. is related to a combination of a DVD and the DVD drive you are using, especially since the same disc works on a different drive. Using the same DVDs on a different computer resulted in no such complications.
I have ran into a similar issue myself with a Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast, Anniversary Edition, which somehow corrupted the memory of my DVD drive, forcing me to (I use an external one) shut it down a few times in order to flush the memory. Even without starting DVD Catalyst 4, if I popped that DVD in, and ejected it, it would not work correctly with any DVDs anymore, even ones that worked fine before.
My first suggestion would be to try and turn the drive (or computer if its internal) off for a few minutes, and then try a DVD that worked fine before and see if that works.
If that doesn't help, look on your DVD brand/computer brand support website for a firmware update for the drive you are using. Some DVDs can be more tricky than others, and can actually cause complications with a drive, and usually a firmware update will address such issues.
Q: TV show DVD question.
I am trying to convert a TV show DVD. There are about four large VOB files on the disc plus a few other small files, and these are all contained within a VIDEO_TS folder. The software only seems to convert the first file into my desired MP4.
A: Actually DVD Catalyst converts all the video content (all VOBs).
While the VOB files are the actual video content on the DVD, the reason there are 4 of them is due to a file-size limitation in the official DVD specification. To remain compatible with that standard, the files on a DVD cannot exceed 1GB in size.
Movies as well as episodes are always split over multiple VOB files.
The amount of VOB-files on the DVD, or the file-sizes, do not affect the amount of episodes directly. 1 VOB file doesn't equal 1 episode. The "tracks" that are on the DVD, the same as how a DVD player plays them are sort of "play-lists" that stitch these VOB-files together as intended.
This is most noticeable with movies that have a theatrical and an unrated version on the same DVD. Both versions of the movie point to the exact same VOB files (the video content) but for the unrated version, the "playlist" includes links to smaller VOB files (the missing scenes) at certain time positions. The actual movie content is only on the DVD once.
DVD Catalyst looks for these "tracks", rather than just the VOB files. If it would convert the VOB files directly, each movie would be split over 4-5 files, rather than a single one.
With TV DVDs, often there is a so-called Play All track, and the individual episodes as separate tracks. The Play All track is just a playlist that contains all the VOB files of all episodes, and the episodes only the ones for the episode themselves.
Based on your description, it seems that after you insert the DVD, and DVD Catalyst looks for the tracks on it, it only shows 1 track. On TV DVDs this is usually a so-called "Play All" track, a "playlist" that plays all the episodes in sequence. In most cases, but not all, TV DVDs have, alongside this "Play All" track, also "playlists" for the individual episodes, but a few (Dukes of Hazard S01 for example) only have a "Play All" track.
If you know how many episodes are on the DVD, you can (with "Power User" mode enabled) use the "split in parts of x scenes option for the DVD track to separate the episodes. If there are 20 scenes, and there are 5 episodes, set it to split in parts of 4 (20/5) scenes.
Q: Sync Issues.
I have converted several Bluray movies to mp4. Watching the movies I am now seeing the audio and video are slightly out of sync. The DVD conversion seems to be fine. Unless my eyes are deceiving me in the movies I believe the audio is delayed behind the video. From your experience do you know what I should try to correct the problem?
A: Sync issues are usually caused by a variation in the frame rate of the source video. If the frame rate that the conversion detects is different at certain points in the video, such as a movie studio intro, the audio portion will skew a bit, resulting in out-of-sync issues. DVD Catalyst 4 automatically compensates for this.
However, audio-sync issues can also be caused by what is used to play the video file. The default Windows Media Player video codec on Windows 7 and Windows 8 has issues with MP4 files. If you play the video files using that, you might encounter sync issues, but if you switch to a different player, such as Quicktime or VLC, the file will play perfectly. The same goes for certain players on devices.
Unlisted political calls rant:
When it comes to politics, I tend to stay away. I can rant about this for 1000's of newsletters, but no matter what I write, it doesn't matter anyway, so I don't even bother.
However, what is aggravating me is the amount of unlisted calls with political surveys. Both my wife and I use cellphones, but because of our internet (DSL) being through the phone company (cable internet sucks in my area) we do have a house-phone. Because we use cellphones as our main phones, it is setup with a special "internet-only" plan. It works, but for every call out on that phone, we are charged a premium, so we keep it located in a cabinet underneath the counter. It has a phone number, but since we never use it, I don't even remember what it is. I do know that it is unlisted, and it is added to the Do Not Call List.
With all this political stuff going on, they just use automatic dialers for their survey stuff, and of course the house phone gets hit with them as well. Because they are not "selling" something, not counting the money they get from selling your entries, the Do Not Call List doesn't apply, but considering the amount of "Car Warranty" and "Credit Card Debt Consolidation" calls we get on the phone, that doesn't matter anyway.
Even our cellphones get hammered with these, and when you try and get through to someone, pretending to show interest but with intend to yell, it disconnects or when they hear your voice they hang up.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 after a week.
For my evening relaxation, I continued to use the Galaxy Tab 10.1 this week. My opinions from last week's newsletter still hold up, but I've gotten used to the overall feel of the tablet.
Many readers know that I don't really do much with a tablet aside from watching videos and a bit of email, but with the Galaxy Note, I have been playing around a bit more than usual. Every now and then when I was watching a video, I found myself to use multi-screen and open up a browser and fiddle around a bit, or open up a drawing app on the side and doodle around. I even caught myself playing the Amazing Alex game while watching a movie.
The multi-tasking part is what makes the big difference for me. With everything else running apps and games full-screen, you are restricted to just doing one thing at a time. Before the Galaxy Note I loved using the Blackberry Playbook, mainly because of the ability to keep apps running while switching between them, but having both on the same screen is a lot nicer to work with, and of course the bigger screen helps with that a lot too.
Starship Troopers 4 Invasion Mini-review.
This week, Starship Troopers 4 was released on DVD. After #2 and #3 being a bit of a disappointment, I didn't have high hopes for this one.
Unlike the other 3, Starship Troopers Invasion is not a "live-action" movie, but animated.
Because the movie is animated, they were able to pull off a lot more visual effects. For the first one, a budget of $100+ Million was used to create it, but for the second and third ones, the production costs were considerably less, and it showed. By going animated, the high cost of sets, clothing, props etc was eliminated, leaving the full budget for graphics and voice acting.
The CGI looks great, except that the faces of the characters are a bit "over-done". The actual environments armor suits, and the lighting effects give it a bit of a darker look than the original Starship Troopers, but it works. Only at a few points in the movie I noticed that the gunfire effects were a bit weaker than the rest.
The story line, for a movie such as this, is actually quite good and as a full-package, I would place this movie as the second best (behind the original one) of the 4 Starship Trooper movies. I can see a TV show coming from this, and at least a sequel or 2.
With most of the hard work already done with modeling and texturing the ships, suits and characters, it would not cost as much to do so.
Battleship Mini review.
If I was given the task to make a movie about the classic turn-based Battleship game many of us grew up playing with just a pen, paper cereal box and a buddy, I have no idea what I would do. Of course a few famous people (in this case Liam Neeson (Taken etc), Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and Rihanna (famous singer)), some romance and of course a lot of naval stuff thrown in, but then to tie it into an actual battle would be a bit tricky. Which enemy to pick?
With the movie, they decided to use aliens as the enemy, a safe choice, and with Curiosity doing its roaming on Mars these days, not extremely too far-fetched.
Of course the aliens have far superior armament than what we earthlings have, so the focus of the movie is mostly on camaraderie and skill, and the development of a few of the characters.
The "based on the game" part was taken loosely. Of course the naval aspect is throughout the entire movie, but there was only a small reference to the game, which was quite originally done.
With a production budget of over $200 million, the visuals are quite stunning, and the mixture of computer-generated and live-action looks natural. Only in a few scenes, I thought they should have done a bit more work, but it was minor.
Overall, I find that the movie is a pretty good. Of course it depends on your own taste, but if you are into action movies, this one is worth the time.
Just a small collection of rerun movies that have been out before.
Spiderman (2002,2012), Total Recall (1990,2012), Footloose (1984,2011), Judge Dredd (1995,2012), Red Dawn (1984,2012), Evil Dead (1981,2013), Lone Ranger (1949,2003,2013), Superman (1978,2006,2013), Dirty Dancing (1987,2013), Akira(1988,2013),The Crow(1984,2013), Robocop(1987,2013), Short Circuit(1986,2013), Godzilla (1954,1984,1998,2014),Logan's Run(1976,2014)
There are some true classics in there that should be left alone. Reboots, remakes, they can call it whatever they want, but it is just wrong to take a successful movie from the past, and remake it with some new actors.
I understand that many people have not seen the "originals", but the movie studios continue to use the same lame concept for the majority of these copies. Change the story a bit to make it more in this time, throw in some special effects, make sure that the "key" moments of the original find their way in somehow and of course near the end, bring back (if possible) some of the original actors so they can be put on the credits to gain some extra viewers.
Well, that is it for the 70th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
Thank you for reading, and have a great weekend.
See you next week.