I always get a chuckle when people refer to a DVD or Blu-Ray rip as a master. Yes, it's true that for the end user, it's the first generation of a video that they may choose to encode to a (usually) smaller file, but it's far from the true master which is multiple terabytes and a color range far beyond UHD.
The analogy may fail in the digital realm, but the term master was never used to refer to consumer tapes or vinyl records. There was "Direct from Master" or "Direct to Disc", but it was understood that this was still at best a 2nd generation reproduction. To me, the only true master in the digital realm is the original file (raw or compressed) and everything else is a 2nd generation copy with necessary losses (resolution, color reduction/grading).
I fully understand the studios reluctance to allow the release of true masters, but with ultra high end home theaters approaching and possibly overtaking some multiplexes in size and quality, and given the willingness to pay a premium, will true master quality video ever be allowed. Again, a jump back to the analog realm, where those with the money and right connections could buy and own 35mm prints of movies, which were of course 2nd generation at best.
Of course, today's technology isn't capable of full 4k and color fidelity, but what about the future as standalone theaters screens continue to shrink in size and quality, and the size and quality of home theaters grows. I look to IMAX as an example, where starting at $1 mil, an IMAX Private Theatre can be built.
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Last edited by lingyi; 19th Jun 2018 at 12:22.
Will we ever see true master quality video?
As a side note: What do you understand as 'master quality video'?
For me it's simply an authored version of the (digitalized) sources, which was only compressed through lossless compression, but I know a few folks who would define it another way.
(Some studios have 'masters' for each typ of release,.. a DVD master, a Blu-Ray master,...)users currently on my ignore list: deadrats, Stears555
To my understanding, a 'master' is always the first generation edited version of a work. In the analog days, a cut and spliced original tape or film*. In the digital age, the multi-terabyte uncompressed or compressed (if it came out of the camera that way), color graded for theatrical release file.
A DVD, Blu-Ray or UHD authoring 'master' is at least a generation (i.e. is no longer a bit for bit copy) away from the original in resolution and color grading.
*I realize that the film out of the camera is a negative and a positive must be created from it to be worked on.
Last edited by lingyi; 24th Jun 2018 at 01:34. Reason: Additional info
The guy who created "Timescapes" sells a 300GB 4k 12-bit Cineform version of his film for $200 (Looks like he dropped it from $300). It was one of the first major films to be sold in 4K to average consumers in both a smaller H.264 25GB form and most certainly the Cineform version. I can remember him saying that the 1440p version he offered sold the best as it matched Mac Laptop Screens, which you normally would have to watch 1080p upscaled to fill the screen. How close his Cineform version is to his final cut, idk. It was probably the RAW Camera pictures ---> Adobe PP ---> Cineform Encoder.
Before you point out that Cinform is lossy, I'll point out that not even movie theaters project lossless content but instead usually play JPEG2000 (MPEG2 10-20 years ago) copies of the film in 4k on the screen. If Hollywood can't even bother to send lossless copies of their films to movie theaters, I doubt they will be rushing to provide the general public with lossless copies anytime soon. Along with the fact that VHS/DVD/BD/UHDBD all have DRM flaws that can't protect the content from copying, so the risks are way too high for them to simply attempt to distribute lossless "masters" of their films. The only time I would expect anyone to hand out lossless versions of their stuff would be in the event of selling their copyright to the content to another party.
Last edited by KarMa; 24th Jun 2018 at 08:15.
Even if they were available, you may want to be sitting down when you hear how much the hardware required to play them would cost.
I'll expand and clarify my definition of 'master' as I've been too focused on cinematic works. It's not all about video quality and file size.
If someone shoots with a Fisher Price PXL-2000 in all it's B/W 120x90 glory, that tape is an analog master. If it's digitized, then that file is a digital master. If the digital master is upscaled to 1080p, colorized and released for distribution, that becomes the distribution master. If that distribution master is uploaded to YouTube where it's reencoded and someone downloads it, it's no longer a master, but a copy. If every other form of the video is lost and the YouTube copy is the only existing file, that then becomes the master, but it's still not a true master.
In the analog realm, there are scenes and entire 35mm movies that exist only in 16mm or 8mm form. Again, these are the master from which copies can be made, but they are not the true master.
Edit: I'm just waiting for johnmeyer to come here and correct my definitions!
Last edited by lingyi; 24th Jun 2018 at 16:32.
Thank you KarMa for explaining that theaters receive a compressed version of the movies. I thought they received the full sized files. In this case, I would consider what the theaters receive as distribution masters and would be satisfied as an end user to view that at home. Sadly, I'll never be able to afford the setup to view this is all it's glory in my remaining lifetime, but it's a nice thought that perhaps future generations can reap the benefits of this.