Why Do Some Blu-Rays Look Better Than Others? Explained

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When you watch a Blu-ray movie or TV show, you may notice that some look better than others.

This can be due to a variety of factors that affect the quality of the picture and sound.

In this article, we will explore why some Blu-rays look better than others and what factors contribute to this difference.

One of the main factors that affect the quality of a Blu-ray is the compression used to encode the video.

Another factor that can impact the quality of a Blu-ray is the mastering process.

I will go into more detail regarding both of these factors in the preceding sections.

Why Do Some Blu-Rays Look Better Than Others?


Blu-ray is a high-definition optical disc format that offers superior picture and sound quality compared to standard DVDs and streaming.

However, not all Blu-rays are created equal. Some look better than others, and there are a few reasons why this is the case.

Compression is one of the biggest factors why some Blu Rays look better than others.

Compression is necessary to fit a high-definition movie or TV show onto a disc, but too much compression can result in a loss of detail and clarity.

Some studios may use higher compression rates than others, which can result in a lower-quality picture.

The more a movie is compressed, the more likely it is to have artifacts and other visual issues.

Studios particularly struggle with compression when it comes to longer movies. As more data needs to be stored on the disc.

For example, a movie like Avatar The Way of Water Will be more compressed than other Blu Rays because it is over 3 hours long.

To combat this studios often put the bonus features on a separate disc to better preserve the quality.


Another factor that can impact the quality of a Blu-ray is the mastering process.

The mastering process involves creating a final version of the movie or TV show that is ready for distribution on Blu-ray.

This process can involve color correction, noise reduction, and other adjustments to improve the picture quality.

However, if the mastering process is not done properly, it can result in a lower-quality picture.

Additionally, some studios may use different mastering techniques than others, which can also impact the picture quality.

Some Filmmakers/studios don’t care as much as others

Unfortunately, some people just do not care about how good the Blu-Ray looks when it is distributed which is perplexing.

It helps to research the company that was involved in the making of the Blu-ray as well as the studio/director.

For example, you know that when you get a Christopher Nolan movie on Blu-Ray it is going to be of exceptional quality.

As he is very much involved in the entire process.

He has consistently produced some of the best 4K Blu Rays in recent memory with films like The Dark Knight, Dunkirk, and Tenet.

In fact, Dunkirk is one of if not my favorite 4k Blu Rays in my collection.

Dunkirk 4K Blu-ray
  • Stellar contrast, best seen on an OLED or QLED TV
  • Immersive sound mix with great height effects

Which Blu-rays typically look better?

Generally speaking, movies shot on 35mm or 70mm film tend to look better than those shot with digital cameras.

This is because film cameras are able to capture more detail than digital cameras, resulting in a more nuanced and lifelike image.

I actually wrote an entire article about why older movies that are shot on film look better on Blu-ray if you want to check that out.


Additionally, movies that are shot on 2K cameras and then upscaled to 4K can often look bad.

For the best possible picture quality, you want to look for movies that are shot on film or in native 4K cameras.

Another factor that can affect the quality of a Blu-ray is the quality of the film transfer.

Some studios put more effort into the transfer process than others, resulting in a better-looking final product.

Some film genres in particular put more effort into picture and sound quality than others. Action and Sci-Fi are great genres for example.

Meanwhile, dramas and comedies tend to not look as good because not as much effort or money is put into those things.

You are never going to see a comedy with a Dolby Atmos track for example.

However, this is by no means a hard rule, it’s just an observation I’ve made.

It’s also worth noting that the quality of your TV and Blu-ray player can impact how a Blu-ray looks.

For example, your Blu-Ray player can affect the picture quality of your Blu-ray.

Also, If your TV is not properly calibrated, or if you don’t have the proper model you may not be getting the best possible picture quality.

Technical Aspects of Blu-Ray Quality


Technical aspects such as resolution, compression, and color depth can affect the overall quality of the video.

In this section, we will explore the technical aspects of Blu-ray quality.

Resolution and Video Quality

The resolution of a video determines the amount of detail that can be displayed.

Blu-ray discs can support up to 1080p resolution, which is considered high definition. 4K Blu Rays can support up to 2160p resolution.

Compression and Bitrate

Compression is used to reduce the size of video files without sacrificing quality.

However, too much compression can result in compression artifacts, which can appear as blocky or blurry areas in the video.

The bitrate of a video determines the amount of data that is used to represent the video.

A higher bitrate generally results in better quality video, but requires more storage space on the disc.

Color Depth and Dynamic Range


Color depth refers to the number of colors that can be displayed in a video.

Blu-rays can support up to 10-bit color depth, which allows for a wider range of colors and smoother transitions between them.

Dynamic range refers to the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of a video.

High-dynamic-range (HDR) video can produce more vivid and lifelike images by increasing the dynamic range.

HDR is very prevalent in 4k Blu-ray as essentially all 4k discs have HDR.

Audiovisual Technologies in Blu-Rays

When it comes to Blu-ray discs, the sound and picture quality can vary greatly.

This is because of the audiovisual technologies used in the production of the disc.

In this section, we will discuss two of the most important audiovisual technologies used in Blu-rays.

Dolby and DTS Sound Formats


Blu-ray discs use advanced sound formats such as Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Atmos, and DTS:X to deliver high-quality sound.

These sound formats offer superior sound quality compared to standard audio formats.

Dolby Atmos in particular offers advanced sound that is used in some Blu-ray discs.

It is an object-based audio format that provides a more immersive and realistic sound experience.

Dolby Atmos is almost exclusive to 4k Blu-ray, which is why that format has superior audio quality.

High Dynamic Range (HDR) Content


High Dynamic Range (HDR) is a technology that enhances the contrast and color of the picture.

It provides a wider range of brightness and color than standard dynamic range (SDR) content.

HDR content is typically available in two formats: HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

HDR10 is an open standard, while Dolby Vision is a proprietary format developed by Dolby Laboratories.

Both formats offer superior picture quality compared to SDR content.

HDR, like Dolby Atmos, is exclusive to 4k Blu-ray.

It is arguably more important than resolution, in fact, I tell this to people all the time, 4K TVs are great because they can display HDR, not because they can display higher resolution.

Consumer Considerations for Blu-Ray

Blu-Ray is a physical media format that offers high-quality video and audio playback.

If you’re considering buying a Blu-ray player or building a collection of Blu-ray discs, there are several factors to keep in mind.

Cost and Value


One of the main considerations for Blu-ray is cost.

While prices for Blu-ray players and discs have come down in recent years, they can still be more expensive than other home entertainment options, such as streaming services.

4K Blu Ray Players in particular are still very expensive.

However, the higher cost can be justified by the superior quality of the video and audio playback. Blu-Ray Players are still very much relevant and serve their purpose.

Additionally, if you’re a true movie buff, owning physical media can be a valuable addition to your collection. Its just fun to collect.

Collection and Ownership


Another factor to consider is the ownership and collection aspect of Blu-ray.

When you purchase a Blu-ray disc, you own that physical copy of the movie or TV show.

This means you can watch it as many times as you want, with no additional cost or need for an internet connection.

This is why I collect. For example, I have watched films like Mad Max Fury Road, and Dune 2021 (affiliate link) an ungodly amount of times. I paid for those discs once.

I could purchase a digital copy of the film but why would I do that when I can just buy the disc that often comes with a digital copy already?

Although I will concede not all Blu rays come with digital copies. It just doesn’t make sense to me, I’d rather own the film in its best possible quality (which is Blu-ray) if I am going to rewatch it over and over.

I also never have to fear losing the film as this happens all the time with digital downloads, companies can lose the license and take films from their libraries.

Additionally, many Blu-ray discs come with bonus content, such as behind-the-scenes featurettes or deleted scenes, which can enhance your viewing experience.

For your favorite films, you can even get beautiful steel books that have exclusive cover art, I do this occasionally. It’s much prettier to look at than a digital download.

I love my Apocalypse Now (affiliate link) steel book and often put it at the top of my tv stand to show off.

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