Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics (Blu-ray) (2008)

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Released 16-Jul-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Demo/Test None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 97:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given

Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case ?
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (2304Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The Joe Kane produced DVD Essentials series have been the backbone of our calibration requirements here at MichaelDVD since the first edition came out for NTSC in last decade.

The reason for the adulation is simple : they provide a concise and approachable guide for calibrating your home display and surround sound set-up as well as explaining the purpose and importance of a properly calibrated home theatre system.

The latest version, Digital Video Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray has only recently become available and should be snapped up by anyone who wants to do justice to their expensive system. Firstly though you should note that the reference to Blu-ray is simply notice of the medium by which the information is conveyed - the program does not specifically deal with Blu-ray itself however it does use the extended visual capacities of the new medium to convey the wealth of information and display examples.

The menu for the disc includes 4 options:

  1. Complete Program Menu
  2. HD in Detail
  3. Setting Up My HDTV
  4. Just the Test Patterns

The options can be selected individually leading to another raft of sub-options. Essentially the first two are the explanatory materials and the last two are the "meat and potatoes".

The first section, Introduction to High Definition, tries to explain in terms that can assist both the beginner and the experienced home cinema enthusiast with the elements of a high definition source and display. Not for the first time does Joe Kane hit out at the screen manufacturers who, like flowers attracting bees in a spring garden, try to alter the colour of their sets on the shop floor to attract buyers. As he says - a great deal of money and effort goes into making it wrong!

His exhortation to the masses is to buy the set that looks most "real" rather than the one that has the highest WOW factor. In any event, the tools provided on the disc help to correct errors in the settings of the display.

The Introduction explains the different standards for standard definition and high definition broadcasts. It begins in a straightforward manner although even the most experienced of us may want to rewatch the bits dealing with "direction vectors with amplitude information".

The second explanatory section, HD in Detail, is really an extension to previous materials regarding the creation of a proper environment for home theatre viewing. It begins, of course, with the room and the desire to maximize the visual and sonic potential of the space. It is broken up into three elements : environment, audio and video.

Owners of previous iterations of DVD Essentials will recognise some of the material but no matter - it is just as useful today as in the past. After explaining basic speaker set-ups and connections Kane gets into the video side of things explaining the importance of the right connections and the various factors such as brightness, contrast, gamma, overscan that affect the quality of the display.

After 90 minutes of introductory material buyers will be wanting to get stuck into the calibration. The disc features an intimidating series of test patterns for calibration. Fortunately, there is a feature included which explains the utility and purpose of the various patterns and why it is better using test patterns rather than movies or TV to set the levels. Kane explains the patterns and a pause prompt appears on the screen if you wish to pause it then and there to carry out the tests.

As well as the test patterns the disc includes some reference visual material. These included the restaurant scene ( done way back in 2001 but scanned at 4K resolution) and the shuttle launch set to music of Respighi. No matter how many times I watch the launch it never fails to impress and buyers will be able to use this short video more than any others to show off the beauty of their display. The image is beyond crystal clear and has no compression defects whatsoever despite the fact that it contains a lot of smoke which can play havoc during playback.

The meat and potatoes is necessarily dry but you won't find a better assortment of test patterns outside a professional facility. The Blu-ray comes with a quick reference card and an optical filter to help calibrate the colours. Carrying out the calibration can take hours if you do it properly. However, even slight tweaking can achieve great results particularly if your display has been untouched since it left the shop.

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Transfer Quality


    The DVD Essentials Blu-ray is presented at a native 1.78:1 ratio.

The prime encoding is at 1080p but there are examples provided of material at 1080i and 720p. There is little point perhaps in assessing the visual quality of a disc that is designed to allow the viewer to improve the visual quality of their system. Suffice to say, as pointed out above, that the reference material is indeed of reference quality.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


  Again, there is probably little point assessing the sound quality of the disc. It comes with a Dolby Digital TrueHD soundtrack which is impressive in the demonstration material but is either non-existent in the test patterns or unnecessary in the explanatory material.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


The extras are as stated above.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  This disc is available worldwide.


   DVD Essentials HD Basics Blu-ray is a necessary tool for anyone who wants to maintain the visual quality of their display. It is easy enough for the curious beginner to approach but also offers something for the experienced campaigner.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, October 06, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Is standard Video Essentialsgood enough for full HD calibration - REPLY POSTED
All depends on your vision - SJ2571 REPLY POSTED
My 2 Cents Worth -
re: All depends on your vision - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)