Lord of the Rings in 4k

Hiya everybody! Did you miss me? I’ve been off on vacation for the last two weeks, but I’m back now and gearing up to get into the swing of things again. Not too much time today to post, but I wanted to report out on an experiment of sorts I did over the break.

Each Christmas vacation for the past long while, we’ve picked a movie series to binge. We’ve done The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings twice before, actually, but it’s a favorite, so we decided to do it one more time. (All 6 movies. The extended versions.) Doing something like that is actually harder than it sounds, just because they’re so long. We’re talking over 21 hours of movies. But when you’re dedicated enough, anything’s possible. 🙂

This was the first time we’d be watching them on my new sound system and projector, meaning I could do Dolby Atmos and 4k. They have them on HBOMax in 4k, but my research said that getting the movies on disc would end up with a better picture and sound than streaming them. (In theory, it’s due to the compression the platforms use to stream the movie. Stream a film, and it might end up taking around 5GB of data. That same movie on disc can be over 50GB or more. All of that information doesn’t just magically disappear without an impact. That’s what I’d read, at least. To put it to the test, I’d have to actually buy the discs and find out.

In the name of science, I decided buying the discs was the way to go.

Having now watched all 21 hours of footage, and comparing it to a few spots on the streaming version, I can confirm that watching it on disc is a much, much better experience. The picture looks fuller, and the sound is incredible. (I think they skimp on the subwoofer tracks in particular in the streaming versions.) These were the first movies I watched on this new set up that really put my system through its paces. I had no idea just how good it could be, and I’m now a firm believer in physical media being the way to go for spectacle films. (Ironically just at the time when companies are thinking about not selling physical media anymore.) That said, internet speeds are increasing every year, and the amount of data it takes to store 50GB always stays the same, which means that in a few more years, I could easily see streaming getting to the point where there’s no difference any more.

In any case, there you have it. This watch through was the best one I’ve ever had, though experience-wise it still doesn’t compare to seeing them on opening night in the theater, of course. With a packed audience of die hard fans, hoping against hope that Fellowship isn’t going to be awful. Kids these days don’t know what it was like back before fantasy was taken seriously as a genre. Peter Jackson did so much for us. (And for the record, I continue to be a big fan of all three Hobbit movies. Are they as good as the LOTR? No. But they’re a blast to watch, and they fit together so well. This is a hill I will defend to the bitter end.)

Anyway. Hope you’re off to a good new year, and I look forward to posting more again.

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