New DVD formats are just around the corner
August 24, 2002 8:40 PM   Subscribe

New DVD formats are just around the corner so let the buyer beware. I wonder just how many dvd collectors actually believe they own the final version of their favorite movies?
posted by Beholder (23 comments total)
WIll these people just set a universal standard so I can go out and plop down the cash for a friggin DVD burner without having to worry about incompatibility issues? I literally have stacks of CD-R's and RW's proliferating around my desk. They're even starting to spill over into other rooms, they're just like tribbles man...
posted by spungfoo at 8:55 PM on August 24, 2002

Wanna buy some laserdiscs?
posted by HTuttle at 8:56 PM on August 24, 2002

As somewhat of a DVD collector, I would hope that nobody actually thinks that. I mean, that's life in the tech industry, really. There's always something new on the way. The fact is, DVDs are advanced enough (both technologically and features-wise) that when a new system comes out I can purchase one and not feel the need to re-buy movies I already own; I'll just start a new collection once the price of the new players drops. It seems the new players are only offering more space, anyway. And who cares, really, since there's plenty of space on DVDs for the people responsible for whatever movie is in question to put good features on it--or on two, three, or four DVDs (like the upcoming LOTR special ed. director's cut in November). It's not like DVDs cost that much to produce anyway. It's just a matter of producers/directors/whoever that are willing to put the effort in.

I think the real problem with DVDs is the fact that they try and scam the buying public by putting out multiple versions of movies within a year or two of year each other (see above comment about LOTR). They bring out a bare bones version with hardly any--or no--features (Blackhawk Down) and then bring out a special edition eight months later so people have to buy it again, or they bring out a version like the first LOTR that came out three weeks ago and then they bring out the super special director's cut which has more features but doesn't contain the theatrical version of the movie. If you want it, you have to buy the first. It's pretty much a cash grab, but so is everything else these days. You just have to look into what you're buying.
posted by The God Complex at 8:56 PM on August 24, 2002

And even if you do (Look into it), all you accomplish is finding out that yes, it's a cash grab.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:07 PM on August 24, 2002

It's going to be hard for consumer penetration, and don't doubt it. DVD offered consumers a benefit over VHS. To the average consumer, this will mean nothing, because their favorite movies will still be sold one movie to a disc. So what that the disc can hold 4x as much data, if the movie fits on a standard DVD.

The new system will need to be backward compatible to old DVD systems in order for consumers to even consider this new technology.

Think about the number of people still on VHS, despite the huge list of benefits given from DVD. This will be differant. The benefits will not be there, and the consumer will not buy in. (Example: MiniDisc)
posted by benjh at 9:14 PM on August 24, 2002

Black Hawk Down had no features (although one yearns to know how it was filmed) but a lesser movie, Pearl Harbour, was full of them. With this last DVD edition, the extras were better than the movie.

(My wife jokes that I watch the trailer first; then the commentaries; and, finally, if I have the time and the patience, the actual movie. She's not far wrong.)

In my limited experience, decent, respectable film-makers make a point of releasing feature-rich DVDs straight out. Recently outstanding among these were Zoolander (even though they filched the numerous legendary "Earth to..." takes) and the Coen brothers' The Man Who Wasn't There/The Barber.

As in the Cinema itself, it pays to trust the directors and producers.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:20 PM on August 24, 2002

That's what I was talking about Miguel: Blackhawk Down (which I thought had a 25 minutes documentary but I could be wrong) has a special ed. coming out in November I believe. And it's not always up to the filmmaker, sometimes they don't have as much control as they'd like. I've always thought of Ridley Scott as a fairly respectable filmmaker, myself.

(and Pearl Harbour actually had two special editions, the second has four discs and apparently the features on the big one make it worth buying--whether or not that's true is beyong me, having never wasted the time watching the whole movie. Interestingly enough, you get $5 or $10 off if you own the first and send the UPC code in after buying the second. I'm not sure if there's anybody out there stupid enough to buy that movie twice, but people surprise me all the time.)
posted by The God Complex at 9:31 PM on August 24, 2002

I haven't seen it myself, but I've heard the commentary in Dude, Were's My Car? is worth the price of the DVD.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:32 PM on August 24, 2002

Sorry, The God Complex: I live in Portugal where there's only one DVD version (generally the richest) of each movie. So I understand how frustrating it must be to have pick and chose or wait for the final version of a film. Still, if suspicious of upcoming, fuller versions, I would always hold out for its eventual release, natch. What would be the problem with that?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:44 PM on August 24, 2002

The only problem, Miguel, is that some studios do a poor job of publicizing their plans for future versions.

Other times, they are kind enough to let us know in advance (Resident Evil, LotR, Almost Famous)

I also try to hold out for the best possible version...I usually succeed because I read lots and lots of DVD news sites.

As for the next-gen DVD players... I won't really care, I don't think. My current versions will do just fine for quite a while, thanks.
posted by El_Gray at 11:15 PM on August 24, 2002

Couldn't the push behind a new format be HDTV?

If TVs will be forced to have an HDTV decoder by 2004 (?), then it would make sense to have a video format that would show it off.
Without making the consumer get up and switch the disk 4 times.
posted by Iax at 11:38 PM on August 24, 2002

Blue Laser DVD format is meant to be used for High definition releases of Movies. But the tuner has nothing to do with. The HD Tuner that the FCC just mandated has to do with picking up terrestrial signals from your local affiliates. Any High Definition Ready television with out a HD tuner can take advantage of HD DirecTV and Dish Network (with the right equipment from the satellite company), and would be able to use one of these blue laser DVD players. The problem is that, much like the debate with the broadcast flag and PVRs, the standard for DTV has not yet been worked out. Current HDTVs, like the one I bought last year, use component video in/outputs for the HD signal. This is sending a digital signal through a analog in/output. This worries Hollywood. They say they will only release movies on HD-DVD when it is a 100% digital encrypted in/output, like IEEE 1394 DVI (More commonly know as FireWire in the computer world) The problem with that is that almost 2 million HDTV-Ready set have already been sold with out DVI on them (Like mine!) So that leaves alot of people that are going to really piss off if they can use their HDTV!

I personally don't think there will be any huge rush to get rid off all your red laser DVDs, and get blue laser versions of them. And all signs point to backwards compatibility with older discs on newer players.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 1:05 AM on August 25, 2002

A 4x increase in storage over a 10 year period seems wofully small and strangely its just enough to handle a HDTV movie.
posted by stbalbach at 4:44 AM on August 25, 2002

Let me throw a monkey wrench in here: EE Times has a good (abet older) story on the issues surrounding next generation DVD formats. It has much more detail than the Reuters story.
posted by Tystnaden at 5:12 AM on August 25, 2002

My thinking on this is that some day soon, EFF will win the right to use DeCSS to rip DVD to a cleartext format, which day will coincide roughly with two other innovations:

* 56Mbs 802.11a networks

* Giant hard drives

At that point, why would you get a special-purpose video device? Commodity hardware + giant hard drives + really fast wireless networking = a really flexible universe of entertainment.

I mean, I've already ditched my CD players in favor of a truly gargantuan MP3 library. I have *crates* of CDs in storage now, and I stream my iTunes library from one box to another without breaking a sweat. When I go on the road or go to the office, I'm all MP3ed up, with my entire library right there at the keyboard.

I'm on the verge of replacing my TiVo with an eyeTV software-based PVR that does pretty much everything my TiVo does, plus lets me edit highlight reels, burn, email, and so on.

The next step will be ripping all those louche DVD platters to something really reliable and back-up-able and editable, i.e., hard drive.

The next laptop I buy will have enough hard drive to store all the files I've ever owned and lots left over besides. It'll have a DVD drive that reads whatever the current format is (or I'll buy an external one) and I'll just rip everything to the drive.

I've already got a collection of about 1,000 ebooks. I hope to expand that out to encompass the 20,000 books I currently own.

What it means is that my life will be reduced to those artifacts that are truly worthy of retaining (i.e., beautiful McSweeney's hardcovers, novelty picture LPs, assorted collectibles), furniture, clothes, and a laptop and a couple of external backup solutions.
posted by doctorow at 8:24 AM on August 25, 2002

My first thought was that such a standard would be more beneficial to the next generation of game consoles, than the standard DVD movie player. Because consoles are generally replaced with new ones every 4 or so years, a large capacity format like that can be a major selling point.

doctorow: You won't get that happening without a major fight by the "Content Producing Industry." There's no way they'd want that to happen.
posted by mkn at 8:52 AM on August 25, 2002

doctorow - we can't even get a court to say it's OK to link to DeCSS. I know you have to be an optimist to keep fighting these battles. Thank you for doing it, and more power to you brother. Still, I have to think that in the near and mid-term, the solution is going to remain flouting the laws rather than changing the laws (or the judicial interpretation of the laws).

I would love to have a media server, but at the rate I'm accumulating DVDs, I'd already need .5 Terabytes to hold it all. Building in room for growth, I'll probably need 1, maybe 1.5T. I know I could do that now. All I'd need is 4 to 6 250G drives and a massive, massive power supply.

But, back-up is going to be a non-trivial problem. Our IS tech at work can't figure out a good back-up solution for our 250G file servers - much less 1.5T. The only way I can even think to do it is another back-up server with 2 sets of a 1.5T RAID Disks on sleds. Is that even possible? What would it cost?

And all of that assumes current DVD capacity. If they double, triple, quadrupal the data...well, maybe in 2, 5, 10 years.

You've got the right idea. I'd love to get there faster, but assuming you want DVD quality with extras and not Tivo quality, we're still going to be using discs of shinny plastic for movies - at least for a while yet.
posted by willnot at 10:52 AM on August 25, 2002

It sounds like the next standard will be HD (good link, Tystnaden), and the discs will have 9GB capacity. So that media server dream may be a ways off.

If HD sets take off people may start wanting their DVDs to be a little better looking, as I'm sure a good HD set will show up the relatively low resolution of DVDs. However, HDTV sets were only 3% of TV sales in 2000*, so this might not happen any time soon.
posted by D at 11:44 AM on August 25, 2002

benjh - are you knocking MiniDisc?
I own an MZG-750;
A $2 disc holds 5 hrs of CD-quality music and I can put my huge collection of MP3s on em. I'm not sure why it didn't really take off here in the US, but I know in Japan alot of people have them.
It's a very economical solution.

And I'm buying a 120GB HD for $150 - my last purchase, 1.5 yrs ago, was 15GB. It just keeps going.
posted by ac at 3:03 PM on August 25, 2002

Back when DVDs were being developed, I was under the impression that multi-layer technology would allow manufacturers to put as much info as they wanted on a DVD, limited only by the number of layers they could cram in a disc. Plenty of discs are already dual-layer. It seems to me that extending storage capacity that way is the proper way to develop the format.
posted by daveadams at 5:34 AM on August 26, 2002

El_Gray, what are the best DVD news sites out there? (or anyone, for that matter...)
posted by goto11 at 9:59 AM on August 26, 2002

My favorite DVD news sites:

The Digital Bits

and, less for new, but with great forums where news is discussed...

posted by El_Gray at 7:22 PM on August 26, 2002

ahem. "less for NEWS, but with great forums, etc..."
posted by El_Gray at 7:23 PM on August 26, 2002

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