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LaserDisc...Logically.
May 6, 2011 3:03 PM   Subscribe

Leonard Nimoy and a beeping rock (with some help from ABBA) introduce the Magnavision LaserDisc player.
posted by jocelmeow (71 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's no more inside because I have no words.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:04 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could someone please add the sexymustache tag?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:08 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Done.
posted by jocelmeow at 3:11 PM on May 6, 2011


And QuestionableSweater - why doesn't he just turn up the heat, or were knit sweaters sweaters the primary attire of choice in this version of the future?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:12 PM on May 6, 2011


"The encoded information on this disc is read by a laser beam. That means that the video and sound quality must be superior to video tape reproduction."

I don't mean to be a dick or anything, but logically, that doesn't follow.

Might be better, in no way necessary by that fact alone.
posted by el_lupino at 3:13 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"An Optical Laser Scanner?"
posted by device55 at 3:16 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Yes, I can understand you--I'm Leonard Nimoy!" The "fuckin' duh" is left unsaid.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:16 PM on May 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


Man, when you start buying crack rocks of that size - and they glow and start talking to you, much less trying to sell you home theater equipment - you know you have a serious problem.
posted by loquacious at 3:18 PM on May 6, 2011 [28 favorites]


Beeping rock is the most annoying presentation technique ever.
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Yes, I can understand you--I'm Leonard Nimoy!"

Nimoy should trademark that because I swear that's going to be the next internet meme.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:19 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why does he keep repeating everything the rock says?
WE CAN HEAR THE ROCK, LEONARD! PLEASE STOP REPEATING IT!
Damn annoying.
posted by zoinks at 3:20 PM on May 6, 2011 [23 favorites]


Holy crap, his nails are done!
posted by P.o.B. at 3:22 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, on second thought, the nail thing isn't that surprising. I mean, he is talking to a glowing rock. I don't know what I was thinking.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:28 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, so you're out of words, so I'll give you a moment to process this, but THERE'S MORE. Nemoy tears through the 4th wall and talks to you, the salesman/dealer (ONLY!) about how to sell this futuristic product. Except he leaves after a few minutes and lets the amateurs chatter on about selling the product, and how to clean a disc. Apparently, they had limited tape, as THERE ARE NO SECOND TAKES. This is real, folks.

Dear Diane: if he's fascinated by "laser technology," he might be a cat.

And apparently recording movies from Network TV is such a given that a selling point is that your movies will be better quality than the crap you record at home. BRUTAL HONESTY.

This sales video is split into two parts, and it continues with the wrong and right ways to sell this product.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:30 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I wold actually like the variable speed slow mo slider on a modern device. That's pretty handy looking.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:32 PM on May 6, 2011


"Bleeborp bloop blipblopbloooooorp?"

"No, Mr. Beeping Rock, I do not know what happened to our love. I agree that it was good, though."
posted by mintcake! at 3:32 PM on May 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Man, Pioneer really lost the war on this one. They have Patrick O'Neal displaying "the future of home entertainment" who really isn't sure this is that great; and Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert teaches you how it works, which is actually pretty keen stuff. Still, it's not selling the LaserDisc system like a beeping rock might.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:35 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The mustache...it is not logical.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:37 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascinating
posted by hortense at 3:46 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


3:17 "Obviously scratches won't affect this coated surface"
posted by finite at 3:47 PM on May 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, Benny Andersson. Is there anything your wonderful presence can't make better? *swoon* Your Scandinavian bearded face was one of my first clues to my homosexuality, and I still hope you'll call me up someday for a date.

I have a small stack of laserdiscs (not Magnavision, obviously) but I have no player for them. Someday I'll find one, I'm sure. It's not like I'd use it a lot -- I only own 4 movies on LD -- Star Wars, Prelude To A Kiss, Fantasia, and Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour.
posted by hippybear at 3:55 PM on May 6, 2011


The non-obvious thing is, if this is indeed a regular laser disc, that these discs are analog. The disc is digital in a way, but there's no codec as we know it today - the stream of bots turned directly into a analog image frame the same way it would have come in OTA. And the laser is generated not by a LED by by an honest-to-god laser tube full of helium or neon.
posted by GuyZero at 3:57 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The grass has grown thick over the grave of my youth. - Solzhenitsyn
posted by Trurl at 4:11 PM on May 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


YAY ABBA! I was having an inexplicably shitty day until... well, ABBA. (I'm part Swedish, there may be a genetic component to this).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 4:33 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile...RCA had Gene Kelly pimping their analog* video disc system...
* Seriously...the thing used an internal stylus ala a record player. I did POP materials for this ├╝ber-fail
posted by Thorzdad at 4:39 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Except he leaves after a few minutes and lets the amateurs chatter on about selling the product, and how to clean a disc.

"This may come as a surprise to some of you. But the videodisc system will not sell itself."

As true today as it was then.
posted by Trurl at 4:41 PM on May 6, 2011


I <3 Leonard Nimoy. That is all.
posted by Splunge at 4:50 PM on May 6, 2011


I liked the part where he talked to the flashing rock.

You know what he was thinking - "beat that, Shatner!"
posted by archivist at 5:04 PM on May 6, 2011


I liked the part where he talked to the flashing rock. You know what he was thinking - "beat that, Shatner!"

Note his subtle emphasis when saying, "Yes, I can understand you. I'm Leonard Nimoy!"

George Takei is a lovely man, but he can't speak Talking Rock.
posted by Trurl at 5:07 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


"The encoded information on this disc is read by a laser beam. That means that the video and sound quality must be superior to video tape reproduction."

I don't mean to be a dick or anything, but logically, that doesn't follow.


Um, it's a frickin' laser beam. What more do you need to know?
posted by jeremias at 5:11 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Get your damn sticky BBQ-covered Vulcan fingers off of the playing surface, bub.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:28 PM on May 6, 2011


Evie's dad from Out of this World is right: Laserdisc IS cool!
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 5:37 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


400 QUATLOOS ON LASERDISC TECHNOLOGY
posted by DU at 5:43 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


(filthylightthief goes out to get the papers get the papers)
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:46 PM on May 6, 2011


But, Mr. Nimoy, how will I hook this up to my Odyssey 2?
posted by mittens at 6:04 PM on May 6, 2011


Having now had a few hours to reflect on this, I have a few words. First of all, who came up with this beeping rock concept? It's such a terrible idea that I'm thinking it must have been a high-up executive who came up with it and handed it off to a long-suffering creative team who really tried to do their best with it. Moral of that story: Let the creatives do the creative, unless you're specifically trying to head for for so-bad-it'll-be-an-internet-classic-in-30-years.

On the other hand, it seems like drugs must have been involved. But in terms of the time that this must have been produced, it doesn't seem like a very good fit with the stylish drug choice of the era. Nobody high on cocaine would come up with something that ends up plodding along in this way.

Or was it that they spent all the money they had on the R&D of the device and on Nimoy's star power, and then had no money left? Did they cut the voice-over artist who was going to provide the rock's dialogue, leaving Nimoy to sort of voice both sides? Or maybe there never was a voice-over artist, and they paid a whole lot of money for someone to make those grating electronic cheeping noises?

Anyhow, Mr. Executive, wherever you are, uh, thank you?
posted by jocelmeow at 6:05 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, Magnavox made the first consumer disc reading laser in "the galaxy?"

I think this breaks canon.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:18 PM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


My point is, in the JJ Abrams Reimagining where it's a young Spock selling a BluRay player, they explain it away by humanity's unique trait being the understanding that blue lasers are good for data storage.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:19 PM on May 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've still got a milk crate with a few titles on LD that hadn't made it onto dvd back in the day, like the un-re-imagined Star Wars, Delicatessen, and some old blues performances. My Uncle is still using my last player. I got turned on to LD by an episode of Siskel and Ebert. I was in heaven being able to see movies in their original aspect ratios and with super sharp image quality. The commentary tracks and extras commonly available were icing on the cake. I wonder if my Uncle is up for a viewing of the Criterion release of Brazil...
posted by calamari kid at 6:32 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beeping rock is the most annoying presentation technique ever.

I have sat through a lot of presentations in my time and I would choose beeping rock over the animations people use to spice up PowerPoint.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:43 PM on May 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


DU: "400 QUATLOOS ON LASERDISC TECHNOLOGY"

1000 QUATLOOS ON BETAMAX!
posted by Splunge at 6:48 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


ricochet biscuit: "Beeping rock is the most annoying presentation technique ever.

I have sat through a lot of presentations in my time and I would choose beeping rock over the animations people use to spice up PowerPoint.
"

300 QUATLOOS ON CUTE DOGGY OVER PAPERCLIP!
posted by Splunge at 6:49 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


That thing's the size of a fridge.
posted by Shike at 7:08 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Moral of that story: Let the creatives do the creative, unless you're specifically trying to head for for so-bad-it'll-be-an-internet-classic-in-30-years.

I'd like to think that somewhere, someone was actually specifically that person. The person who had a vision of a science-fiction future in which increased media saturation and media storage would lead to the ability of a generation or two down the line to look back on the current media output with exacting, machine-assisted recall rather than hazy nostalgia mixed with too-scattered, too-scarce bits of archival footage.

And this visionary understood that people would sift back through this stuff in wonder and amusement, and he said, okay: let's give 'em something to talk about. Let's go for ruination, let's make it bad and hide it in plain site. Let's subvert this motherfucker, get corporate money and then cheat to lose.

This visionary scooped Tim & Eric Awesome Show by decades. He was the Andy Kaufman of corporate video production. He invented Everything Is Terrible while the folks purportedly behind EIT were still in diapers or testicular sacs. The Tim Berners-Lee of appalling youtube discoveries.
posted by cortex at 7:13 PM on May 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


> "The encoded information on this disc is read by a laser beam. That means that the video and sound quality must be superior to video tape reproduction."

I don't mean to be a dick or anything, but logically, that doesn't follow.


He's Leonard Nimoy.
posted by mrzarquon at 7:21 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Well, it seems that they thought of everything! But wouldn't it be wonderful, if it also had stereo sound?"

BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP

"Oh, I see, they do have stereophonic sound. But how can that be possible today, with most television sets having single speakers?"

BEEP BEEP BEYOOP BEEP

"Hmm, two channels of sound, and all it takes are standard cables, connected to my own stereo system? I might have known."
This is the Citizen Kane of videos advising salesmen on how to move units.

Also, I just thought of something they should have thought of. HDMI cables. Digital data storage rather than analoge video and stills. More than 60 minutes of video per side. Using digital codecs to compress video (yes, I know processors weren't invented that'd be viable for an affordable set top appliance, but think of those, too!). Smaller discs would be nice, too.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:21 PM on May 6, 2011


Hey! Did Nimoy just reneg on his endorsement of LaserDisc technology at the end with that scrolling text?

Or is the talking rock changing its mind after Nimoy called it out on the surface being "unscratchable?"

Also, unauthorized duplication of this disc is a violation of applicable laws!? Why would you fight the spread of something so awesome?
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:28 PM on May 6, 2011


cortex: Perhaps he envisioned a future where LaserDisc was so successful, despite the future being the apocalypse we predicted in the 80s, that the street urchin children will go about the collapsing cities using weird old videos stored on LaserDisc as currency, irony being the only comfort they knew.

Naturally, said creative individual decided "I should make a video so strange and terrible everyone will enjoy it. If I hoard 200 of these, I will own Neo York Citisphere or whatever the kids will call what remains of New York."

Incidentally, I'm banking on the run-on sentence standard.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:41 PM on May 6, 2011


These Magnavox peeps should do videogames. Perhaps something where the keyboard is the key.
posted by pashdown at 7:50 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi I'm Leonard Nimoy.

Plastic Rock: Beep

LN: So I can fast forward porn and go through the limited "story" and get to the good stuff?
PR: Beep
LN: And I can index special parts so that I can watch them again over and over?
PR: Beep
LN But this thing costs as much as a freaking car. Why do I have to write that damn numbers down? I only have one hand and it's covered with peanut butter!
PR: Beep
LN: Fuck you plastic rock, I'll polish the carrot my way. I'm a fucking star.
PR: Beep beep beep.
LN: No porn? You have to be kidding me? ABBA, that's a joke right?
PR: Beeeep....
LN: You just wait there, I have a rock hammer somewhere. I have a lot of hobbies since Star Trek was canceled. Don't move.
PR: BEEP!

Hammering noises.

LN: Fuck this, where is my VCR...
posted by Splunge at 7:51 PM on May 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


All I could think was:
Help yourself, mates! A chestful of video discs!
Aaah, what good are they?
Can't record on 'em!
They're not compatible with my system.
posted by galadriel at 7:51 PM on May 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


The disc is digital in a way, but there's no codec as we know it today - the stream of bots turned directly into a analog image frame the same way it would have come in OTA

Correct. It's more or less a digitized FM signal which is converted to an analog FM signal by the player, then demodulated by the TV. They eventually did start using PCM audio, though.
posted by ShutterBun at 7:52 PM on May 6, 2011


LOL, the salesperson is WRONG to tell the person who wants something that records where the VCRs are. They need to emphasize recording is for philistines.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:57 PM on May 6, 2011


EVIL SPOCK!
posted by schmod at 8:48 PM on May 6, 2011


Ya know what really annoyed me? He touched the actual surface of the disk several times. I came from the album days. And even now I NEVER touch the info surface of any kind of disk. Sure I guess he was making some kind of point about the durability.

But you NEVER touch a vinyl album on the actual surface.

I was taught this by my father.

And you never touch any disk on the actual surface. By the edges and the hole people. By the edges and the hole!

It grated on me the way fingernails on chalkboard would. Is it just me, because I'm old and silly?
posted by Splunge at 8:56 PM on May 6, 2011


Speaking of old- I used to use one of those LD units at work for training. Taking a course on the Magnavision was so much better than on a 2741 Selectric data terminal, and we didn't even get the blinking rock.
posted by MtDewd at 9:27 PM on May 6, 2011


I've been downloading video for long enough that this primer on 'laser disc technology' was enlightening.
posted by mazola at 9:45 PM on May 6, 2011


I'm not a luddite by any means, but man I sort of miss tiny old tube televisions. And I miss hunting for the proper laserdisc release, but I can't remember what that means now. Not being pan and scan and whichever of CAV/CLV that permitted frame-by-frame FF/RW, I guess?
posted by Kyol at 10:30 PM on May 6, 2011


CAV allowed the special effects (still frame, jog/shuttle) but only had 30 minutes per side. Later on the advent of digital buffers enabled the same features for CLV discs.

The inclusion of scenes from Airport '77 in the demo video was kind of meta, as the movie itself features the same laserdisc player being used for the in-flight introduction video.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:36 PM on May 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nimoy recorded a voiceover for the pre-show at the Boston Science Museum's OMNI theater, which opened in the mid-80s. He shows up while the unseen technicians are starting their sound check.

"Whoah!" one of the techs says. "It's Leonard Nimoy!"
"Why'd they get him?" the other says.
"Because I grew up three blocks from here," Nimoy says, as dryly as all get-out.

Later on his voice is bounced all around the theater as he solemnly recites "Who put the bomp... in the bomp... sha bomp... sha bomp." It is a glorious moment.

I like his style.
posted by Spatch at 2:10 AM on May 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


That rock was other movies of the times -

I remember seeing it in 2001 a space odyssey, All the planet of the Ape Movies, and wait for it . . .In Search of Noah's Arc !

Amazingly, that matinee was a packed house of 6 year olds fascinated with the whereabouts of Noah's boat, irrespective of denomination.

I imagine if this move came out now - the reaction would not be curiosity .

posted by epjr at 4:10 AM on May 7, 2011


The inclusion of scenes from Airport '77 in the demo video was kind of meta, as the movie itself features the same laserdisc player being used for the in-flight introduction video.

My favorite moment in Jurassic Park is when the kids enthuse over the state-of-the-art tech in the tour jeeps.

Wow! An interactive CD-ROM!

Spared no expense.
posted by Trurl at 7:45 AM on May 7, 2011


I used to design interactive videodisc (IVD) training. Some of the Pioneer players had a serial interface so you could control the player from a computer. With a CAV player, you could move to any frame. CLV players only offered control by chapters.

CAV players made it possible to construct interactive movies on the fly, where the user's choices determined the sequence of the scenes. The videogames Dragon's Lair and Space Ace used this technique.

Designing the interactive video sequences was insanely difficult because of the limited time on one side of a disc. To get the player to switch between scenes fast enough to avoid blackouts and pauses, the scenes had to be optimized in sequence and edited non-linearly. the optimization program that determined the editing sequence took days to run. Yes, days of computer time.

The real nightmare was establishing that there was an optimum sequence in all cases, since if there was a cycle of optimum sequences, the program would never halt. Fortunately, there was a graph-theoretic proof that there was a single optimum sequence.

Nevertheless, the video editor nearly had a nervous breakdown because the master videotape looked like complete gibberish.

IVD never caught on because there was no standardized interface or control language for the players. It was a doomed technology for a variety of reasons.

The part where Nimoy is touching the surface of the disc was a sales point. The big competitor to laserdisc was RCA Selectavision. Selectavision was very sensitive to dirt on the discs and you had to handle them in protective sleeves. If you touched the disc, it could get a glitch that couldn't be removed. The fragility of the Selectavison discs doomed it. So this is Nimoy putting a thumb in RCA's eye.
posted by warbaby at 7:47 AM on May 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Man, why is it that when I deck myself out head to toe in white, including the bell bottom slacks (Haggar of course), I look like a dork?
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:06 AM on May 7, 2011


I think MetaFilter should do an homage to this technology and go in Read-Only mode.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:13 AM on May 7, 2011


First, that beeping crystal is actually an ancient forebear of the father from "Out of this World", brought back through futuristic technology.

The reason he has to wear a sweater is because the energy it takes to power that laser is so huge, that they can't waste it on something lousy like "heat". You get video or you get a proper heating system, but you can't have both. Especially after the failure to expend the political capital necessary to convert over to renewables. This future that Nimoy is a part of is the scary future where energy is a dwindling resource. If you see a man without a sweater, you know he has really shitty entertainment options (all the power goes to his heat, of course) and you should never take him up on his offer to watch TV at his house. But that's ok, because you two have a working plan. You stay at his house to keep warm (without wasting money on stupid sweaters) and he comes over to watch stereophonic-laser-discs.

That sort of communism is the way the people of the future must survive post-peak-oil.
posted by symbioid at 1:04 PM on May 7, 2011


The beeping rock is clearly a straight-up ripoff of R2-D2.

Some Magnavision exec probably took his kid to Star Wars, and was completely amazed that people would buy a character who spoke in beeps.

When they were making this commercial, and needed to cast someone for Nimoy to talk to, the exec probably took a giant cigar out of his mouth long enough to say, "Let Lenny talk to some beeping pile of shit, jesus people are fucking morons."
posted by popechunk at 9:19 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Gourmet video, for people who know and love video
posted by azarbayejani at 6:36 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like his style.

I like his moves.
posted by grubi at 6:37 AM on May 9, 2011


Leonard Nimoy is lazy.
posted by homunculus at 12:13 PM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nimoy is The Dude?
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:01 PM on May 28, 2011


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