I find it simultaneously annoying and amusing that many people think Blu-Ray movies have made it into the pirated market. It’s not bad enough that the illegitimate copies now bear the Blu-Ray branding and packaging, but the vendors even insist to unassuming consumers that what they are purchasing are real Blu-Ray copies and they will be watching Blu-Ray movies on their DVD players at home.
There are a few points to raise here. First of all, DVD players, no matter how new, cannot play Blu-Ray discs (BD). That’s like trying to get your vinyl record turntable to play CDs. You know, square peg – round hole? It ain’t gonna happen. Secondly, to actually make a perfect carbon copy of a Blu-Ray movie, one would need a blank BD to burn it onto. Currently, writable dual layer BDs costs upwards of US$40.00 each and these so called pirated Blu-Ray movies are being sold for approximately US$1.50 (here in Manila). Now I’m no businessman but I think that would constitute as a huge loss in profit. So you will notice that these fake Blu-Ray movies are actually copied onto everyday, run-off-the-mill, dual layer DVD discs instead. For the uninitiated, a dual layer Blu-Ray disc can hold up to a whopping 50GB worth of data compared to the relatively measly 8.54GB a regular dual layer DVD can store. So what have our jolly pirates done in order to fit all that high definition goodness into 10-year old technology? Simply put, they’ve compressed the video data by re-encoding it into lower bitrate video therefore turning the original **high definition video into standard definition (see note). Kinda defeats the purpose really.
Ah but I digress and I do not want this to turn into a tech rant. My main point is don’t delude yourselves into thinking you are actually watching a real high definition Blu-Ray movie. Those pirated Blu-Ray movies on the market may have the Blu-Ray insignia on them but they are not even copied Blu-Ray movies but simply Blu-Ray movie files that have been ripped, re-encoded to fit onto dual layer DVDs, and falsely sold as high definition entertainment to the unsuspecting. Although for US$1.50 a pop, not everyone minds it really.
High Definition (HD)
Usually refers to a video format consisting of either 720 active lines of progressive video or 1080 active lines of either progressive or interlaced video.
Standard Definition (SD)
Usually refers to an NTSC (or PAL) compatible video format consisting of 480 (576 for PAL) active lines of interlaced video.
Note: It seems that newer pirated releases are now being encoded in 720p using a codec called AVCHD. Although real Blu-Ray video is in full 1080p these new bootlegs can now technically be called HD copies.