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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: March ::
Re: DVD
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0419  Wednesday, 10 March 1999.

[1]     From:   Michael E. Cohen <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 06:45:07 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.0412 Re: DVD

[2]     From:   John Savage <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 11:01:02 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 10.0397 DVD vs. Laserdisc

[3]     From:   Mariann T. Woodward <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 08:18:56 -0500
        Subj:   Re: DVD vs. Laserdisc


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Michael E. Cohen <
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Date:           Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 06:45:07 -0800
Subject: 10.0412 Re: DVD
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.0412 Re: DVD

Mike Jensen writes in part-

>I have a DVD player.  Imagine my disappointment when I purchased RAN and
>MUCH ADO.  They have the trailers, the sub-titles, I can go to the
>beginning of any scene, but the cool stuff stops there.  I can kick RAN
>into wide screen, and it does have a smidgen of background for the film
>- a page or two, and mostly other credits for the cast and crew, if
>memory serves.  Such credits and even the wide screen option are lacking
>from MUCH ADO, again if memory serves.
<snip>
>Perhaps someone can enlighten me.  Do the Laserdiscs for RAN and MUCH
>ADO have better features than the DVDs?

Mike, it really depends on who produces them. Don't confuse the
container for the stuff it contains. I used to work for a company that
did high-quality deluxe editions of movies on laserdisc: some titles got
a really fabulous treatment, and some were merely clean transfers of the
video material with only a few extras. Guess which ones cost more to
produce and cost more to buy....

DVD technically offers much greater capability than do laserdiscs
(which, by the way, are not even truly digital video), but whether an
individual DVD takes advantage of what the technology can offer is a
matter of economics, copyright negotiations, and editorial skill. Since
most DVDs are aiming at a price point of around $39 (US), I'm not
surprised that titles that aim for that price are lacking in features
and extra materials.

You also wrote

>Now comes word that the information encoded on
>the disks will begin to corrupt within a decade.

Perhaps. Get back to me in ten years: these discussions of the longevity
of DVD are tentative at the moment-the technology is in its infancy, and
no one knows for sure what will happen. Note that video tape also
decomposes, and the glue that holds laserdiscs together (yes, a
double-sided laserdisc is actually two single-sided disks glued
together) can decompose and make a laserdisc unreadable. Even the statue
of Ozymandias is falling apart, so Shelley tells us <*grin*>.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Savage <
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 >
Date:           Tuesday, 9 Mar 1999 11:01:02 -0500
Subject: DVD vs. Laserdisc
Comment:        SHK 10.0397 DVD vs. Laserdisc

Tanya Gough:

>the fact that you can still play audio CDs on a DVD player is a definite
>lure.

Since you seem to be in the business, please notify the manufacturers of
such things that what is needed is a single machine that is both a DVD
player and a VCR-so we can play both the DVD discs and the VHS tapes in
the same box.

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mariann T. Woodward <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 10 Mar 1999 08:18:56 -0500
Subject:        Re: DVD vs. Laserdisc

 [ snip ]

>I have a DVD player.  Imagine my disappointment when I purchased RAN and
>MUCH ADO.  They have the trailers, the sub-titles, I can go to the
>beginning of any scene, but the cool stuff stops there.  I can kick RAN
>into wide screen, and it does have a smidgen of background for the film
>- a page or two, and mostly other credits for the cast and crew, if
>memory serves.  Such credits and even the wide screen option are lacking
>from MUCH ADO, again if memory serves.
>
>I was very disappointed.  Now comes word that the information encoded on
>the disks will begin to corrupt within a decade.

My husband and I have a DVD player and I haven't heard anything about
encoded information.  DIVX, on the other hand, is full of nasty bugs to
prevent more than one viewing without paying a fee and logging into
their network.  There, I understand, the codes may expire either by
programming or by intentional "switch-off" by the company.  For example,
if a very popular movie is going to be re-released, the company can make
the disc inactive so it could not be viewed for as long as the film was
in theaters.

As far as the cool stuff, I've found that it takes a little bit of
research and effort in investigating various DVD titles to determine
what they come with-most titles list the contents on the back of the
case so you can check to see if it even has something more than just the
subtitles and trailers.  Those seem to come standard in most cases, and
I just flip the disc over to see what's there.  Or I check out DVD
Express, which offers excellent prices as a totally unsolicited side
plug, and sometimes they list the extras on the preview page.  A quick
check this morning shows that there are nearly 3,000 titles available on
DVD now!

If I can get a title with commentary, I'm really happy, but sometimes, I
just love a movie and I want to include a quality press in my
collection, so I'll purchase the title and go from there.  The cost is
only a few dollars more than a video and it will last significantly
longer than VHS.  Granted, if I wanted to share a movie with a class,
I'd have to bring the entire piece of equipment in as the disc are coded
so that taping to VHS is impossible, but most titles are also available
to check out at the local video store.

Some titles as you mentioned (admittedly most are flashy SF and other
fun mind-candy flicks) come with a significant portion of extra
material- missing scenes, alternate endings, multiple commentaries, and
the like.  Titles released this year are even computer-ready, with web
links, games, and complete screenplays to read or print out on your word
processor of choice.  I think a lot of film companies are slow to
release titles until they see where DVD is going in terms of technology,
who will win the sound war, and, most importantly, the general public,
but already it's surpassing DIVX and holding its own on the market.  The
prices of DVD players are coming down to a reasonable $300 for a basic
model; advanced versions that can play laser discs as well or shuffle
five DVD discs, of course, cost significantly more.

Now, if the DVD title doesn't come with what I want or need, and the
laser disc does, I'll go for that format.  For example, the 1996
adaptation of Romeo and Juliet is scheduled to come out this Spring, but
my research has told me that it won't come with anything but the
trailer.  The laser disc version, though, comes with the director's
commentary, which is what I'm most interested in right now.  Since laser
discs seem to have disappeared from "real life" stores, as soon as I
find it to purchase online for a reasonable price, I'll send away for
it.  Sure, I have to flip the disc halfway through (and sometimes the
break is really awkward) but having the extra fun stuff, with quality
picture and excellent surround sound, is a nice investment.

For movie aficionados who want to reproduce the theatrical experience in
the home, DVD or laser disc player is an excellent investment.  Forget
DIVX, though... that whole scheme just smacks of Big Brother.

Sorry for rambling!

Regards,
Mariann
 

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