How this Site Works
The home page has a left navigation bar + a grid of 9 "tiles." The upper left tile has "What's Up" and recent news. The rest of the 8 tiles each will normally have a recent story about an HDVD, although a story may occasionally be all text. When a new story is published, it shows up in the top-center tile and pushes the older stories down a notch. Once a story is pushed off the homepage, it's still in the archives along with more than 1000 other stories. To reach these older stories, you use the Alphalist or Search. (Sorry, you can no longer scroll down through scores of older stories. This old way of using the journal was fun. But it had a huge drawback as it confounded the Internet crawlers that build the data bases for Internet searches through Google, Bing, etc. With our new system, we hope it will be much easier for the public to use Internet search to find our stories fast.)
About Features Listed in the Navigation Bar
Titles Index/Alphalist. This is our most valuable feature. 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 Alphalist with tips how to use it. Best 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!
Search. If you don't quickly get what you are seeking, especially short items (like encores) that may not be on the Alphalist, use the search tool. For example, enter "spangled" in search, and you will learn that we have an HDVD with The Star Spangled Banner when it was played by the New York Philharmonic in North Korea! Squarespace search is fast. But there is one weakness: it gags on many words with accent marks used in languages other than English. So try to search using words without accent marks.
Excluded Titles. A lot of fine-arts impostors are being published on Blu-ray discs. We exclude them as a valuable service to you. For a title to be reported here, the video must be good enough to benefit from HD TV and there should be real surround sound. We have made a few exceptions. For example, we have a story on a Blu-ray 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.
We have listed hundreds of Blu-rays on our excluded list. Many 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 stories are the Best Ballet and Dance Blu-rays and Best Operas Blu-rays. Are you going to watch Die Zauberflöte? It might help you to refer to our outline of Zauberflöte that gives you the complete story as conveyed by the music and the (often-cut) spoken parts.
What is HDVD? This explains how we have tired to "future-proof" the name of our website.
Titles by Category. This lists all the categories of stories we have tagged. It tells you, for example, how many operas have been published that meet our standards. Click on a category and you get all the stories we have tagged for that category in reverse date order.
Titles by Publisher, This list shows that a lot of folks have published one or two HDVD titles. Opus Art has published the most. Click on a publisher and you get all the stories we have covered from that house.
Grade Explanations. We have an unusual grading scheme. We try to indicate quality with our grades. But we also know how much honest opinions can differ about particular fine-art titles. So we try hard to give you enough information to form an opinion different than ours.
Mission Statements. We have 3 mission statements, one of which we plagiarized from Gramophone magazine, to which we cheerfully subscribe.
Each story about a title goes thru several stages. First, We set up a basic news story as soon as we have reasonably helpful and accurate information about a new title, and then we list the title on the Alphalist. We 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. Most 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. We often report what other reviewers have said about title, especially when we figure we will not have time to do a review ourselves.
We start with a basic story on every HDVD that doesn't get excluded. Then we decide what we can buy. If we don't buy a title, we will often bolster the basic story briefly with reports on what other critics have said about it. If we buy the title, we usually view it at least two times and give it a grade. Various trusted friends, called "wonks", have helped us with basic reviews and grades.
Finally, we try to write a detailed review for each title. Some wonks have contributed reviews. 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 by adding screenshots, we usually move the whole revised story to the top of the home page.
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, through 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.
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 but can also show up in other categories. 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 about DVDitis.
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 mentioned 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 two people with some help from time to time from a few wonks. At this point, if would probably take 2 or 3 people working full time several years 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.
This page updated March 14, 2018