How this Site Works

First, let's go through what happens under each item listed on the left of the website under Navigation, i.e., How this Site Works.

Latest Titles & News. This is our name for what many call the Journal. This website is a blog, or weblog, with stories entered at the top from day to day. In February 2016 there were more than 900 stories which go back to 2006. (The earliest date you now will see now is in March 2011 when we moved the site to Squarespace.) This way of writing a website is cheap to do, but it leaves you with a huge mass of material organized only by date each item was published. So the rest of the navigation features of the website are designed to help you efficiently access the glob of info in the log.

Most of the stories in the journal are about a specific HDVD title you can buy and play in your home theater, for example, the 2007 Paris Opera Ballet Swan Lake published by Opus Arte. But news stories and text articles can also appear in the journal.

Index of Titles/Alphalist. This is the most valuable feature of this website. Go there first to get an overview of the hundreds of works now available. Each item in the list has key info and a link to a detailed story. For example, from the Alphalist, you can see that we now have many versions of Romeo and Juliet as a play, a ballet, and an opera.

There's a lot of information packed into the Alphalist. There's special information at the bottom of the list telling you how to use it.

It's fun to scroll down the Alphalist to see what's available. But the list keeps getting longer. So here's a huge helpful tip: Every computer browser has a "find" tool. Turn on find as soon as you call for the Alphalist. Type in a few letters and you will usually be able to move around the Alphalist fast!

The Alphalist should allow you to find most of the major works that have appeared in HDVD. If you don't quickly get what you are seeking (especially shorter items), use the search tool. This will help you locate things that are too minor to put on the Alphalist at all. For example, enter "spangled" in the search tool, and you will learn that we do have an HDVD of The Star Spangled Banner when it was played by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea!

Excluded Titles. A lot of fine-arts impostors are being published now on Blu-ray discs. We exclude them. For a title to be reported here, the video must have been originally made for HD TV and there must be real surround sound. We have made a few exceptions. For example, we have a Blu-ray title showing black and white symphony films made long ago by Karajan with 35mm cameras and mono sound. We made this exception because Karajan was among the first to experiment with fine-art video, and in some respects his films are still trail-blazing. We have listed hundreds of Blu-rays on our excluded list. All of them are being offered by your favorite vendors. Many of the claims being made for them are fraudulent. Don't get ripped off---check our Excluded List before you buy!

Special Stories. Here we have longer stories of general importance that don't fit well in the journal format. Our most popular special story is the Ballet and Dance Hit Parade.

Search.  Using our search tool is now the most common reason visitors enter the website. The Squarespace search tool is fast. For example, it can instantly tell you how many HDVDs feature Anna Nebrebko (with a link to our story on each). But there is one weakness now in our search. It gags on many words with accent marks used in languages other than English. So try to search using words without accent marks.

Register. Right now we have no advertising or paywall. Any visitor can see everything. But to help us improve the site, sign up as a wonk. Then you can Login and post comments to stories, help us with grading titles, and contribute reviews and articles.

Now let's look at some of  the items under About on the left side of the website.

We have a Mission Statement which we plagiarized from Gramophone magazine, to which we cheerfully subscribe.

Each story about a title goes thru several stages. First, we list the title on the Titles/Alphalist. We next set up a skeleton news story with whatever information we can glean (sometimes incorrectly)  about the title at that time. We then order the most promising titles from a vendor (paying the same price as any other customer). When we get a disc, we read the package and keep case booklet and edit the facts in our story for completeness and accuracy. For titles we decide not to buy, we research the detailed facts in other ways. Often a vendor will eventually post pictures of the keepcase which will give accurate information. Publishers have websites with information, of course, but these resources are too often plagued with careless errors.

Next comes the more subjective aspect of the story. We view each title at least two times and try to give it a grade after discussing the good and weak aspects of the title.  We have used the "verdicts" of the OperaDou Jury for grading titles. The Jury verdicts are sound because the folks involved are well qualified and experienced.

Finally, we try to write a mini-review for each title. Some wonks have written reviews we have published. Writing the reviews takes more time that you might expect. We are always way behind on this. 

In late 2012 we started using screenshots. If we update an older title and add screenshots, we usually up-date the story, which puts it afresh at the top of the journal.

This site is not a collection of links to other stuff.  Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide to fine-arts HDVDs right here.  We do link to amazon to make it easy for you to support the website by buying titles from them. And on rare occasions we link to an unusually valuable outside URL. If you come across a broken link, please let us know.

We are not just trying to report on what's out there. We hope, thru constructive criticism, to influence the standards followed by the industry for the production of fine-arts titles.

High quality in every aspect of producing videos is more important to us than to a movie buff or sports fan. For example, as good as the lossless sound now is on most of our HDVDs, we are still not satisfied. We believe the industry should also reveal in product descriptions how the sound recordings were originally made and that the industry should move promptly to recording with 96kHz/24 bit technology.  We have a number of recordings made this way from the Japanese, AIX, and Challenge Records, and we can hear and appreciate the difference.

Probably the most aggressive thing we are doing as constructive criticism is to complain often about "DVDitis." This is a disease that mostly infects Blu-ray recordings of symphony music. The publisher does what he has always done: he makes a record that will look as good a possible as a DVD. Then as an extra profit center, he publishes the exact same record in Blu-ray format. Since the resolution is better in Blu-ray, it's truthful to say that it a better product. But this is misleading. The Blu-ray would be much better yet if the performance had been shot from the beginning to take full advantage of HDVD capabilities. When we see DVDitis, we usually reduce the grade a lot---like maybe from an "A" to a "C+." To learn more about this, see our long article on DVDitis here.

As you can tell from reading about the definition of "HDVD," we expect downloading to one day be important to us. But now you will not see any download on the Alphalist. At the moment we know of no title of interest to us that is available for downloading with video and sound quality comparable to the Blu-ray disc. If we are wrong about this, please help enlighten us!

This website is a part-time effort of one person with some help from a few wonks. At this point, if would probably take 2 or 3 people working full time to flesh out each basic review with a detailed story and keep the website current. So the website now is an attempt to create a prototype of what should be done to do justice to the field of fine-art HDVDs.

For our current prototype of a good review, see our story on the dance title The Metamorphosis. This review has all the elements we would like to provide in every story for our consumer audience.

But the prototype goes further than that. It also has complete credits for everybody who worked on the title that we can identify from the disc package and from reading the credits on the disc. Consumer fans are not interested in complete credits. We provide this in our prototype because we think this would be of interest to professionals working in the business of making fine-arts videos. By providing this information, we suggest the website could also become the "newspaper of record" for folks working in the field of fine-art videography.

What is HDVD? We have our own definition of the term "HDVD." This broad definition of HDVD means we will still be relevant if optical discs like the Blu-rays become obsolete.

Titles by Category. You can view all the titles in a specific category. For instance, if you are only interested in ballet, you can use this tool to order up a list of all the ballets. Some titles get counted in several categories.

Titles by Publisher. You can order up a view af all the titles published by a single publisher. 

This page updated February 9, 2016.