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As if there was ever any doubt about the involvement of the major players from The Lord of the Rings series, but Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis (Gandalf and Gollum) certainly held out, but they will reprise their roles in Peter Jacksons The Hobbit.
Martin Freeman has been on board since day 1 and former Doctor Who Sylvester Mccoy also having a role. Frodo himself Elijah Wool has also signed which is something of a mystery as Frodo is never mentioned in The Hobbit, what with this being a prequel to the Rings Trilogy, clearly Jackson is taking some artistic license.
The film has had a troubled pre-production with copyright issues stopping production for many years, and a loss of original director, but with Jackson on board and the continuing cast list 2012 will be a great year for fans of the Tolkien world.
This week is a big week in the gaming world, the annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) conference is taking place in LA, a conference when all the big players in the gaming industry boast about their year and give loose forecasts of new games coming to their platforms for the following year.
The Expo is also a platform for new hardware, and although 2 of the big players, Microsoft and Sony, only had hardware to show off in the form of additions to existing hardware or revamped current hardware, industry leader Nintendo had a small ace up it's sleeve.
Nintendo by far has and does rule the hand held market and this year they are releasing a sequel to their best selling Nintendo DS handheld gaming console. The new twist on the console it that it has a 3 inch 3D top screen as well as the small bottom touch screen, and adding another twist the 3D screen does not require glasses.
All's well so far, all game news so far, what makes this even more interesting is that Nintendo has signed a deal with the likes of Warner Bros. and Disney to release movies in 3D on the device, not that raises the game even more.
On display in LA at the expo in form of a demonstration of this is Dreamworks How to Train Your Dragon, a recent 3D animated film, and although the 3D effect takes a little getting used to it works, but only for depth, which as James Cameron, director of Avatar, says is a large part of 3D, it's not all about things flying out of the screen at you.
This is exciting news, one which I expect will be used mainly by kinds, hence the studios involved and the kinds of films they are releasing. If proved successful this could pave the way for greater things, another example of the games industry leading the way of the films industry.
It had a format war to deal with at it's conception which created a slow start for Blu-ray, but the BVA's (British Video Association) latest figure are encouraging for the format as it sees a 50% increase in sales in Q1 2010.
HD has been a hard sell to most but with players falling in price to under £100 and good sales of the Blu-ray equipped Playstation 3 sales of the disks rose to 2.7 million for the period so far in 2010.
The total Blu-ray disks sold so far is around the 15 million mark and sales are expected to rise fast this year and should see a massive boost by year-end. Launching a new format just as a recession hits cant have helped but it looks like the UK at least is becoming HD friendly.
For all us home movie enthusiasts out there this is great news, the studios which on the whole have been great releasing catalogue films should start releasing the likes of Lord of the Rings extended editions (I know it's coming, can you believe it's nearly 10 years?), The Back to the Future Trilogy (can you believe it's 25 years?) and the holy grail of films The Star Wars Trilogy before long.
The big electronical consumer show for the year is just wrapping up in Las Vegas, Nevada and the story of the year for home cinema is the big push from electrical companies like Samsung and LG for 3D television.
3D hit the multiplexes big time in 2009 with film studios like Disney and Fox releasing big budget 3D movies like Up and the Billion dollar plus grossing Avatar. The next natural step for 3D technology is the home market, and the hardware manufactureres were there to demo this is force.
Blu-ray and high definition is certainly the right media for picture clarity to make 3D in the home a reality and with no new video format to push on the consumer this year, and also true High Definition 1080p TV's becoming mainstream 3D is the next technology being pushed on us.
There is a problem with 3D that is being asked by many, is it a gimmick? Or can this really be a serious contender for the next big thing in the home? The big problem with 3D is that you need glasses to enjoy the effect, and for a 2hour+ movie this can be a strain on the eyes.
With 3D television the like of Samsung are discussion having 3D broadcast for normal TV programs, but can you really see whole families sitting down for an evenings entertainment wearing 3D specs, and how much are these specs going to be? For a family of 4 this could get expensive, which means were into a niche market now, and to make money from 3D it has to be marketed to the mainstream.
Cost again is where there is a big problem, the hardware companies want us to upgrade all our home entertainment equipment once more for 3D. We willingly did this for DVD because we could see the advantage. We were less willing but again we did it for high def because we could see the advantage, but for 3D, where is the advantage, why should we buy new TV's and players to sit in our houses wearing a pair of silly glasses?
Personally I think there is a place for 3D in the home, but it's for children to enjoy movies like Up on their PS3 with a TV in their own rooms, or the couple sitting down for a couple of hours watching Avatar on a Saturday night, not for television broadcasts for a whole evening, I don't want, or need, Eastenders or Jonathan Ross in 3D!
Moving on the other big thing at CES was the bigger and bigger screen on the TV's that are getting thinner and thinner. There was evidence of OLED but this generally for the smaller screen devices, the bigger sets were generally LCD, and very very thin and light.
Although retail sales on the street are looking pretty glum at the moment with retailers closing their doors by the week it's nice to see a report that sales of Blu-ray movies are up, by an incredible 400%.
The British Video Association have reveled (in a chat with pocket-lint.co.uk) that 1.5 million disk were sold in December. This is great news for Sony, the format and entertainment sales, but lets look try to examine why such a huge jump.
Blu-ray is a new(ish) home movie format, one which had a vicious and fairly long battle with Toshiba's now defunct HD DVD to be the successor to DVD in the home, so 2008 was the first Christmas that consumers had only one high-definition format to choose from, a relief for many I'm sure. Couple this with the fact that the price of the players are coming down to that which consumers beyond the film fanatic are willing to pay and the number of Blu-ray players in the home starts to increase.
HD TVs are also dropping in price and you can currently pick up a decent 1080p TV for well under £1000 if that's too much a decent "HD Ready" can be bought for as little as £300, this together with good sales of the PlayStation 3 which can play Blu-ray movies means that the high definition world is hitting more and more homes, probably by the week.
Now what was the best selling disk on Blu-ray in December, well no surprise to hear it was The Dark Knight (selling nearly 300,000) which was not only one of the more anticipated moves of the year but also one which many people would have wanted on the high-def format, summer action/sci-fi films are what will sell the format.
With all this in mind it's no wonder that sales of the Blu-ray disks are increasing at such a fantastic rate. Don't get me wrong I love Blu-ray and have the full high-def set-up and have enjoyed many films (WALL-E and The Dark Knight are particularly good) on the format, and I hope this surge in sales continues and eventually overtakes DVD, roll on Quantum of Solace it'll be great I'm sure, but it's not really a surprise is it?
As soon as CES started and Warner Bros. confirmed that they are going Blu-ray only we all knew it was only a matter of time before there would be only one format and this "war" would be over, and now it looks like Toshiba will announce their withdrawal from HD-DVD.
This speculation along with the Warner announcement and the many US retailers announcing either Blu-ray exclusivity or Blu-ray dominance in stores are enough to kill the format, who wants to buy a player that has little retail support.
Blu-ray is the winner and it's only a matter of days (if not hours) before it will become official. This is one in the eye for Microsoft who has reportedly pumped millions of dollars into support for the format and a big triumph for Sony who developed it.
The conspiracy around the Microsoft involvement is multilayer, but whatever the truth is I think that downloadable content for films and TV has taken a hit in the back of this move as well, people can buy a player with confidence now.
The good news for Sony now is their insistence of putting a Blu-ray player in the Playstation 3 might pay off, the gaming device is still by far one of the better players on the market and is still the cheapest certainly in the European market where the stand alone players are still not that common.
The players are sure to come down in price now and the HD-DVD format will slowly start to disappear off the shelves, for those that did buy an HD-DVD player you will soon be able to pick up the movies very cheap.
You can call it a victory if you like but the simple fact is that in the home movie market there is only room for one format, and in the high definition future if movie watching in the home we will be doing that on a Blu-ray device.
Toshiba has today (Tuesday) announced that it will discontinue production of all things HD-DVD which basically kills the format dead. It's been a long fought battle but in the end what is widely considered the best format won.
Was it the Playstation 3 which won the battle, I doubt it, but clearly Sony had learned a lesson with the Playstation 2, which was accounted for part of the success of DVD, and delaying the launch of the PS3 to include the high definition player has certainly helped the format along.
So what now of HD-DVD, Universal have also announced that they will switch to Blu-ray and Paramount will follow suit as well that‚Äôs a given. Those who bought an HD-DVD player will be able to pick up some bargains but the releases will cease very soon and their players are destined to join the Betmax grave of home entertainment.
Blu-ray is the future of High definition disks, but some at Toshibas think that there will be no physical future for home movies, a thought shared by Microsoft who were a backer of the HD-DVD format, it'll all be downloads soon, but I‚Äôm not ready for that future but I'm sure happy that Blu-ray has won this battle.
There is a bit of controversy circulating around the internet that early adopters of blu-ray disks will lack features of future Blu-ray disks, and although this is true some claims are being made that the early players will not play future disks.
Although the former statement is true, feature on some future disks will not be accessible on certain players, the latter is simply not true.
Lets put this into context, Blu-ray players have a profile, 1.0, 1.1 and in the near future 2.0. Features are categorised in these profiles so for example picture in picture on future disks are part of profile 1.1. If you have an early player that is only capable of 1.0 you will be able to play a 1.1 disk and get the full experience but you wont be able to access the picture in picture feature.
What impact does this have on the current blu-ray player owners? It seems for a majority it will have little impact. One of the reasons why early players are not future proof is that they cannot connect to the internet and so cant be upgraded, this is where the most popular Blu-ray player sold to date has the advantage.
By quite a large margin the best selling player with the largest install base is the Playstation 3 and this is a wireless device which connects to the internet no problem and has already been upgraded to profile 1.1 and the upgrade to 2.0 is just around the corner.
Good news in all this is that one of the standards being introduced for profile 2.0 is the ability to connect to the internet which means that any future upgrades wont be a problem.
If you have been a little bit of an early adopter and you bought a player after November last year then you are probably already set and any player bought then or after that date had to be at least profile 1.1. If you bought one before then just remember you can still watch the film without any loss of picture.
Early adopter generally know that by being the first person on the street to have the latest technology they will probably have an out dated device quicker than the guy next door who waited 2 years before taking the plunge.
Today marks, for some, a sad day in home entertainment, Pioneer have announced that they will stop making laserdisk players this month.
Initially brought to market in 1978 under the name of Discovision the 12 inch disks were going to revolutionise home entertainment and bring that cinema quality high definition picture to the home.
Although the technology inside the huge players was far superior to that of it's magnetic tape (VHS and Beta) equivalents the lack of storage (60 minutes on each side) and high price stopped them from becoming a mainstream purchase.
American video enthusiasts took to the devices as did the Japanese, but Europe never really embraced the devices. VHS had a strong hold, and by the time people realised that their £15 film on the fragile tape was a bad idea and looked for alternatives the 5 inch DVD was hitting the market.
Despite it's hard life the format has laser 30 years and sold a quite respectable 360 million units. Disks didn't shift that many, Star Wars was one of the biggest sellers with 100,000 sold and The Lion King not far behind, although exact sales data is hard to find.