Figures vary from report to report, but sales are not anywhere near the boom figures that marked the earliest years of movie this decade, and many observers insist it will never get there again. Most of the format's mainstream hardware adoption a certain driver of dvd sales is complete. The re-issue of several titles, as many as two or three times (the dreaded "double-dip have been welcome in some circumstances for improved transfers, reviled in others for slick re-packaging of an already existing product. And it hasn't been difficult for plenty of dvd fans to hang on to their current films on dvd and collect something entirely new, rather than get caught up in a sisyphean cycle of upgrades something hi-def dvd tempts on a much larger scale. Our shiny little platter has reached its peak. Home video is on the cusp of unprecedented fragmentation, and it's easy to wonder if we'll ever see the likes of one simple, universal format ever again. In a few years, you may visit a friend's home and watch a new movie on standard dvd, a high-def variant, a download, or from a broadband service. You may have to make inquiries of a technical nature before you bring along your own viewing choices. And, quite possibly, you may debate if it's better to see a movie in a theater or at home, if the title has been released to both venues on the same day.
Jeffrey katzenberg (the 'k' in DreamWorks skg as reported. Variety, said on a conference call to investors earlier this year "Blu-ray and hd dvd are a niche business They're not going to become the next platform. I think for the general consumer, there is not a big enough delta between the standard dvd in terms of where it is today and the next generation." we agree. Dvd-audio and its competitor, super Audio cd (sacd have not supplanted Compact Disc sales, even as cd sales as nearly perfect a mass-media product as has ever been invented find MP3 downloads denting their margins. Last we checked, hi-resolution audio was consigned to a small shelf in the back of our nearest big-box electronics retailer, while every type of sleeve for every size of ipod was stacked up on the nearest route to the cash registers. Roy scheider was right, gang. You're gonna need a bigger boat. * nonetheless, even if the next generation of dvd video has yet to emerge, standard dvds have now entered a slow, graceful decline at least in terms of overall market share.
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Downloads need to be simple, and while most people seem comfortable with putting a dvd in a tray, we know that a significant portion of the consumer public still gets a rash when they have to interact with a personal computer any more than absolutely. Meanwhile, the format war between Blu-ray and hd-dvd has been a stark disappointment to many who eagerly bought into dvd in the late-'90s. Both high-def formats reached consumers before any clear winner emerged, creating an inevitable "wait-and-see" attitude. Considering the fallout from the vhs-beta war of the 1980s, it's surprising that the industry has chosen to steer us on this course, essay particularly when there still are enough Beta supporters out there who remember all too well what happened when their expensive technology lost. The recent decision by paramount kublai and DreamWorks Animation to exclusively back hd-dvd (reported last week) alongside Universal, means that only warner Home video is prepared to release product on both platforms, with the remainder of home-video vendors in the larger Blu-ray camp.
A similar scenario in the 1990s would have doomed dvd to the fringes of the mainstream marketplace, if not to an early demise. Terminator 2 became the first feature film on dvd with a layer-switch (rsdl allowing for uninterrupted viewing, nobody had to stop and check, "hey, will my dvd player read that disc?" Yes, in 1997 it did. And it still does. In fact, it's been made easy. High-def dvd may offer higher resolution and more interactive features, but it's no more simple to operate than standard dvd. And we all know that usability, not quality, wins the day.
We'd all like to think that quality is what drove this format over the past decade, but that's not entirely true. In fact, the idea's more than a bit misleading. Quality has been a factor, but, compared to videotape, the intuitive dvd interface and durable disc made it a logical purchase for just about everybody. Since 1997, there simply haven't been any reasons not to invest in dvd, save for the fact that it doesn't record. And, in the end, even that hasn't mattered much.
MP3s don't "record" either, but it's the usability of downloadable, digitally compressed music that has caused it to supplant a good portion of cd sales, just as CDs replaced vinyl and cassettes, just as dvd has replaced movies on videotape, and just as broadband viewing. Usability, and clarity, wins the mainstream. * for those of us who enjoy watching movies at home renters and collectors alike the marketplace's far horizon looks vastly different today than it did ten years ago. We see an ongoing format-battle between Blu-ray and hd-dvd, with most studios taking sides in the matter. We also see apple making forays into the digital living room, hoping to crest the sort of technological watershed with itv that they've already crossed with the ipod and itunes, putting downloadable movies on everyone's set-top box just as they've put music in everyone's pocket. For most consumers, it's tempting to batten the hatches and wait out the storm, if only to see where the rising tide takes. It's also tempting to simply hang on to old-school dvd, which is reasonably high-def (with anamorphic transfers on most discs supported by all vendors, cheap, and as comfortably reliable as an old pair of sneakers. For the moment, neither new option the competing hd formats, digital downloads has offered a compelling argument to consumers.
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Internet reviewers and talkback citizens pored over every significant title, evaluating the william quality of the image and audio, comparing the work to previous Laserdisc releases, catching bad crops and missing elements, and noticing small, important details that the majority of us would miss. The vanguard of dvd websites that arrived between 19 made the difference, trading out time and effort for the sake of improving the format, inspiring widespread consumer confidence, and waging an information war against the now-defunct pay-to-play divx format by circuit City. In fact, if you remember the "Open dvd" campaign, you've been around for a while. Dvd won the war. In fact, it won a few wars against divx, against the vhs rental market, against mainstream consumer technophobia. And it happened not just because of websites, but because every early dvd adopter became an evangelist for the format, until, homework within a few years, even the most casual home-video viewers found a reason to invest in dvd, at least alongside their trusty vcr. For movie fans, the format has meant quality transfers, widescreen presentations (for many, seeing full ratios on old favorites for the first time and a reason to buy good speakers and blackout curtains. But the biggest battle was won in the mainstream, where such mattered far less than usability. And this has been dvd's true value-add.
In fact, thanks to dvd websites, the "blind" purchase has never been necessary. For consumers willing to research via mouse-clicks, dvd websites have offered a wealth of details about any given dvd's transfer quality and istanbul extras, often before new products reach store shelves. Combine that with the fact that websites could be published not just once a day, but updated several times per day, by multiple writers. Without that, dvd might look very different in 2007. Thanks to the web, some titles that didn't meet the high standards that the format itself promised were re-issued with improved transfers. Even more frequently, long-requested titles remained (and still remain) off the market for years until studios could complete a print restoration and compile enough extra features to make even the most cynical of dvd consumers excited about an upcoming release (and yes, waiting for. King Kong was worth it).
but they also got better. * the arrival of dvd was bolstered by the near-simultaneous arrival of the world Wide web. Indeed, for a lot of folks, dvd and the Internet have been inseparable elements of a single success story. The partial democratization of mass publishing which (before blogs) was virtually limited to tech-savvy webmaster-types who also would likely find the dvd format fascinating sparked several new websites, including early vanguards like. The dvd resource page, the digital Bits, and. These websites, and the others who followed in their wake, did more than just offer the latest industry gossip and movie reviews. They kept the dvd industry honest by making sure that the earliest of consumers were radically informed about their purchases.
Vhs tapes offered poor transfers compared to essay today's viewing standards, while film collectors hoarded hard-to-find movies captured from rare, late-night tv screenings. At the time, laserdisc was the cineaste's choice, although the format was expensive, unwieldy, and sometimes subject to degradation thanks to the infamous "laser rot" that plagued more than a few collections. Folks who didn't have laserdisc players and deep pockets could purchase some movies on vhs with widescreen transfers, but they came at a premium price. And then there was videotape itself bulky, non-indexed, and liable to warp, break, and degrade, it simply was not durable enough to satisfy film collectors. Looking back, we see there simply is no comparison between 19Today, it's not only possible, but affordable for the average consumer to own an excellent personal film collection and home-theater equipment. It can even be done "on a budget as it were. Compared to the pre-home-video era (basically, at any time before mass-market vcrs the transformation is nothing less than astonishing, and it's worth thinking about. It was not that long ago that only the very wealthy could afford home theaters and actual prints of films for private screenings. It would require not only a large room, but a separate, muffled projection room as well, and somebody to run the projector (recall that famous scene.
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Dimming the lights: On August 26, 1997, digital Video disc made its unofficial debut, with Warner Home video placing 61 titles in nationwide release after a six-month trial period in test markets. Sony's flagship dvd player at the time, the dvd-s7000, cost 1,000; entry-level models reached the marketplace several months later with price-tags around half that, which still wasn't cheap. The nascent format faced several challenges not all Hollywood studios were on board with the new digital media, while video-rental chains would not clear out a portion of their vhs shelf-space for the shiny new discs. However, thanks to improve a passionate group of early adopters, home-video divisions at Warner and Sony, the release of movies on dvd without the traditional "rental window" applied to vhs, and retailers stocking discs at affordable prices, consumers began crossing the digital divide. Since then, dvd has changed not just the way we watch movies, but how we think about them. It's hard to understate the impact that dvd has had on our movie-consuming culture. Just as a lot of us will someday (even today) explain to young people what the world was like before personal computers or the Internet, we have to make an effort to scan back to the mid-1990s, when the idea of feature-length movies on cd-sized. Prior to 1997, the condition of feature films on home video was sorry indeed.