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Old 11-02-03, 02:51 PM   #1
jough
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The Cheapening of DVD

I just wanted to address a few things that I've noticed on the boards in the past few... years.

It seems that there are a number of things happening with DVD of late that many members don't like. Then of course there are those who chime in with their "What's the big deal about _______?" threadcraps.

Here's a short list I've compiled of what I consider to be legitimate gripes about the DVD industry, and problems with it as we cinephiles see it:

1) Full Screen/Pan & Scan/"Standard" Ratio Transfers

Early DVD adopters didn't have to worry about the ratio that a film was shot in - the DVD would of course be widescreen.

That's because cinephiles prefer to see the entire image, as framed by the director. Framing of shots and camera movements are very VERY important artistic decisions. Cinephiles prefer to see camera movements as directed, not false camera movements added by an intern working for the studio's home video department, who adds a camera move that was not present in the film, but has been added so that audiences could see who was speaking when nearly half of the frame is obscured in a "full" screen release.

There are always those who claim that they're cinephiles but prefer "Full Screen" transfers. They are not.

Cinephiles love, respect, and honour film. Pan & Scan transfers do not honour the original film. If you don't care about that extra 1/3 to 1/2 of the picture, you are not a cinephile (by definition, since you don't care about some of the most important aspects of the art of film).

It's OKAY not to care. But just understand that you were not part of the early DVD and LD market, which is who I'm addressing.

The biggest problem facing transfer ratio is the lack of an OAR (Original Aspect Ratio) release for many films. And this problem looks like it's getting worse instead of better.

Some have suggested that providing both transfers in a single release is the answer. Some people prefer separate releases. Both of these are a problem for cinephiles. We either have to pay extra for another disc or have the quality of our preferred format (widescreen, or OAR) suffer due to having two copies of the movie on a single platter, or else have the problem of stores not stocking enough of the Widescreen transfer and having a hard time finding a DVD we'd like to buy because the store won't order more of the WS until they've sold out of the FS.

Cinephiles would prefer that there be only a single release: OAR.

2) No insert.

This is a problem that seems like most DVD consumers don't care about, so since it costs *some* money to make and print inserts, and since DVD buyers have shown that they don't care, in general, the insert for DVDs will likely go the way of Divx in a few years' time.

I like having a booklet that I can read offscreen that offers additional printed material about a film - essays, reviews, a cast list that I can look at while the film is in the player, a chapter list, details about the production.

I prefer to buy films that have nice inserts, and given that I want to buy a lot of movies on DVD, I'll choose those that have inserts before those that don't.

But regardless of whether you think it's a big deal or not, it's another cheapening of the DVDs that we love.

3) Keepcase vs. Digipack/Snapper Cases

This is a subject that seems to divide the Cinephile DVD buyers down the middle.

Ultimately the packaging doesn't matter as much as the film and the supplements, but given the choice, the keepcase is superiour in many ways.

The multi-disc set digipacks are nice space savers - but so are the keepcase style Next Pak slim cases.

Snappers and Digipacks are made of cardboard and brittle plastic - you may not mind the dings and dents and tears in the cardboard case, and the plastic holding the discs are often fine - UNTIL THEY BREAK.

If the disc holder inside a keepcase breaks, you can remove the discs and inserts and change out the case, like you would a CD jewel case (and probably have many times).

You cannot do this with a digipack, which is why there's such an aftermarket for custom slip covers.

4) Forced Trailers

This is a fairly recent hot-button issue, given the release of the high-profile "Hulk" DVD which disables the "Next Chapter" button and forces you to either watch their promotional trailers or fast forward through them - EVERY TIME you load the disc.

Sure, the Hulk trailers are only a couple of minutes - but how long will they have to be before they're a problem for YOU?

People have made the case that VHS rentals have long had trailers before them. This is true. Video RENTALS have had these trailers - but if I've purchased a disc that I'll probably watch more than once over the years, I don't want to have to sit through increasingly outdated trailers EVERY TIME.

Sell-through VHS removed the trailers, and sell-through DVD (i.e. ALL DVD) should not have trailers before the menus - forced or otherwise.

Put the trailers in a section of the disc called "Sneak Peaks" or something. Then I can choose whether or not to view them.

Forcing ads or trailers before a home video release only generates hostility towards the items being advertised. Creating IRE in a consumer towards your product is at best a poor marketing decision.

5) Double-Dipping

I don't think most Cinephiles have as much of a problem with multiple releases of the same title, provided that:

a) it is announced when the bare-bones version is released
b) it contains all of the features of the previous release, and then some
c) it provides compelling enough supplements offering a reason to upgrade
d) it offers a new (and superiour) transfer of the film

I've only "upgraded" a few of the DVDs I bought, but I didn't regret doing so. And the old discs always found a new home.

Still, it'd be nice if studios took the time to do it right the FIRST time, especially on deep catalog titles that they took years to release in the first place.

6) Non-Anamorphic Transfers for Widescreen Ratios

Thankfully this is becoming a non-issue, as studios are quickly updating their telecine transfers for the upcoming HD-TV standard.

This is one of the cheap aspect of early DVD that has actually *improved*. However, even at the end of 2003 there are still some discs being released in letterboxed non-anamorphic widescreen.

7) Promotional Special Features
Suggested by Drexl

DVD Supplements is an area that has both improved (with the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, all of the Pixar films, the new Disney SEs, etc.) or has cheapened (i.e. the extras for Spider-Man, Minority Report, Tomb Raider, etc.).

Many supplemental features are little more than a promotion for the disc we've already purchased. Yes, we know the film is good. We just bought it. We're sold. You don't have to sell us on it again.

Adding interactive games, web links, original promtional "first look" featurettes and such is FINE - but please don't re-wrap this material and market it as compelling features. They're not, and we're not falling for it anymore.

Of course, even shallow featurettes are still an improvement over "Chapter Selection" or "Widescreen Presentation" being listed as a "Special Feature."

8) DVD-ROM/Web Content en lieu of DVD-Video Content
Suggested by napstimpy

DVD-ROM content can be really nice when it's done well - a read-along screenplay is always welcome, and I'd personally rather view stills in high-res on my computer monitor rather than on my DVD player and television.

However, some DVD producers inexplicably include audio and video-based content in a computer-only format. This is especially jarring when that content is comprised of things that you'd prefer to watch on your big tv, like trailers, deleted scenes, etc.

Even worse is web-based content, like audio commentaries (see the Star Wars discs) and other behind-the-scenes video material that we'd rather have on disc, so that we can archive and keep it (and watch it on an airplane, etc.) rather than having to access it on the internet.

I won't even bother to go into depth about bandwidth concerns, and the availability of web-based content years from now (whereas discs will always be around as long as we'd like).

Please, studios, put content on the disc so that we can view it with our DVD players.

============================================

These are the cheapening aspects of DVD releases that I could think of here. If you'd like to add more - please do so below and I'll add it to the list.

I look forward to hearing from my fellow Cinephile's and the Joe-Six-Pack's alike on these issues.

Last edited by jough; 11-02-03 at 08:18 PM.
 
Old 11-02-03, 02:59 PM   #2
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7) "Special features" that are mostly fluff, such as interactive "games" and advertisements for merchandise with the film's license
 
Old 11-02-03, 03:25 PM   #3
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Some have suggested that providing both transfers in a single release is the answer. Some people prefer separate releases. Both of these are a problem for cinephiles. We either have to pay extra for another disc or have the quality of our preferred format (widescreen, or OAR) suffer due to having two copies of the movie on a single platter, or else have the problem of stores not stocking enough of the Widescreen transfer and having a hard time finding a DVD we'd like to buy because the store won't order more of the WS until they've sold out of the FS.

Cinephiles would prefer that there be only a single release: OAR.


Well said jough

This issue should go by the wayside as DVD-14's make it into the marketplace. Both versions (When available) can fit onto a single DVD release (1 per side) in this manner (excluding super deluxe versions of course).
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Old 11-02-03, 03:45 PM   #4
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thats a ton of gripes and whining that I can deal with. once again...as always...the issue of poor disc manufacturing has been ignored, denied and left off the "top concerns" list. everything else is always a priority....leaving the most essential of gripes in the closet.

sorry man...you know the "gripes and whining" part is nothing personal. it's nothing I have not heard before...so what I said is not directed at you.
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Last edited by gutwrencher; 11-02-03 at 03:49 PM.
 
Old 11-02-03, 04:04 PM   #5
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Repeat after me

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Old 11-02-03, 04:05 PM   #6
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Nice analysis, Jough!
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Old 11-02-03, 04:05 PM   #7
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Sure you can't think of a few more things to whine about?
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Old 11-02-03, 04:18 PM   #8
jough
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gutwrencher,

I left transfer quality off the list because that's simply a GIVEN. And for the most part transfer quality is improving, and my list is mostly comprised of things that have been cheapening, declining, etc.

And ben12, I'm sure I can think of more ways DVD is being cheapened by studios looking to increase profits at the cost of quality, but my initial list is a good enough start.
 
Old 11-02-03, 04:30 PM   #9
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In my opinion the most important cheapening of DVDs of the last few years is that they've become cheaper to obtain.
 
Old 11-02-03, 04:37 PM   #10
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Don't forget that the DVD spec contains the ability to add a pan-n-scan track to a widescreen transfer. It is just very rarely implemented (and often ends up confusing buyers with a disc that says "widescreen" but is displaying foolscreen because they left their DVD player set that way since it doesn't usually make a difference).
 
Old 11-02-03, 04:38 PM   #11
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Well, I'll add a future one: the unskippable product ads that will follow the unskippable trailers. As a way to ease us into this, now instead of getting the movie related insert we get ads in the insert space (oh yeah, I'm just dying to get that Hulk Mastercard )
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Old 11-02-03, 04:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by jough
gutwrencher,

I left transfer quality off the list because that's simply a GIVEN.
uhh...thats not even close to what I said. manufacturing has nothing to do with the transfer. I'm talking about issues involving manufacturing...such as actual disc quality, excess glue, improper bonding, off-center holes in discs, questionable control teams at pressing plants....that kind of stuff. you know...stuff that matters. things that will sneak up to bite us in the ass while were being concerned with snappers and paying twice for the same title.
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Old 11-02-03, 05:11 PM   #13
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Re: The Cheapening of DVD

Quote:
Originally posted by jough
There are always those who claim that they're cinephiles but prefer "Full Screen" transfers. They are not.

Cinephiles love, respect, and honour film. Pan & Scan transfers do not honour the original film. If you don't care about that extra 1/3 to 1/2 of the picture, you are not a cinephile (by definition, since you don't care about some of the most important aspects of the art of film).
What a load of elitist film snob crap. By your 'definition' I'm not a cinephile because I own and enjoy pan and scan films. I'm not a cinephile despitre a big screen TV, 1,000+ DVDs and laserdiscs and really kickin' DVD player.

My ass.

Look, I'd love to have the Godzilla films in subtitled wide screen glory. However Toho refuses to budge on this matter, and as a result we only get dubbed pan and scan versions of these films.

I'd love to get some of the El Santo movies in widescreen. I'd love to get some Shaw Brothers Kung Fu in Widescreen. These older films dont even EXIST in widescreen anymore. The only way to get them is the use the cropped TV masters.

So, you are saying that I shouldnt enjoy these films JUST because they don't present the film widescreen?

Bullshit.

Or what about the Remo Williams, Breakin' and Breakin' 2 discs I picked up for less than 5 bucks each. Sure it would have been nice to get them wide screen, but come on - I spent less than the price of a value meal at McDonalds on them. It would cost more to rent them in some places.

Quote:
Originally posted by jough
It's OKAY not to care. But just understand that you were not part of the early DVD and LD market, which is who I'm addressing.
You know what - I DONT care. And I've got laserdiscs older than some of the users around here, so dont feed me a line about not being an early adopter.

The movie is the most important thing. If I had to get an 3rd generation Star Wars on 8mm silent film, cropped and pan and scan - I'd still do it. The movie means more than the presentation.

Of course I'd love a wide screen print - but failing that, I'll take what I can get and upgrade as nessassary.

As for the rest of your 'arguments', well I'll leave the superiority complex ramblings for another day. . . .
 
Old 11-02-03, 06:47 PM   #14
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Re: Re: The Cheapening of DVD

Quote:
Originally posted by El-Kabong
What a load of elitist film snob crap. ....
The movie is the most important thing.
Glad I'm not the only one who nearly gagged on the pretentious sophmoric film-school diatribe - a dazzling display of self-important sermonizing by a self-proclaimed "cinephile".

Are there some valid points made? Yes, but presented in a way that I find arrogant and self-righteous,

Just my own personal cinephile opinion.
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Old 11-02-03, 07:04 PM   #15
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Old 11-02-03, 07:15 PM   #16
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There's one thing that wasn't mentioned and has increased over the years:
The amount of security stickers on the cases.. Back in '97, '98 and '99, You might find one sticker on the top spine of the case and that was it.. but now it's a common sight to see all three entry points of the DVD stickered...even on the cardboard snappers! What's the point if the DVD is shrink wrapped anyways? Do we see this kind of sticker fanaticism on CDs, VHS, or software? A lot of DVDs are $19.99 or less these days: $5.88, $9.99, $14.99 retail is not uncommon--not $21.95 or more like in the early days, not exactly an expensive item...

It takes me a while to take the stickers off just to get to the disc and as a collector it's tough to take the stickers off without slightly damaging the case too.. The"pull" tab is useless and why does only one of the stickers have a "pull" tab?

--mike
 
Old 11-02-03, 07:24 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by leemik


It takes me a while to take the stickers off just to get to the disc and as a collector it's tough to take the stickers off without slightly damaging the case too.. The"pull" tab is useless and why does only one of the stickers have a "pull" tab?

--mike
guess we all have our own style and methods of opening dvds. I've never had much trouble with a new case...and I've opened over 1,100. there has been a few slight mishaps...but most of my cases and dvds are in as close to mint condition as possible. a helpful tip for the residue that is sometimes left behind after peeling a sticker.....use a little lighter fluid on a soft cloth and polish it out.
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Old 11-02-03, 07:33 PM   #18
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Re: Re: The Cheapening of DVD

Quote:
Originally posted by El-Kabong
By your 'definition' I'm not a cinephile because I own and enjoy pan and scan films. I'm not a cinephile despitre a big screen TV, 1,000+ DVDs and laserdiscs and really kickin' DVD player.
That's right. You're not a cinephile by my definition. You got it.

See, by definition a cinephile is someone who loves cinema. The composition of a shot, camera movements, framing, these things are all part of the FILM itself. They are as much content as the dialogue and music.

So if you don't respect a film enough to want to see all of it, presented as best as can be, then no, you're not a cinephile.

That's not a bad thing. Maybe film isn't your bag. But I'm not really talking to you with my initial post, then.

Quote:

Look, I'd love to have the Godzilla films in subtitled wide screen glory. However Toho refuses to budge on this matter, and as a result we only get dubbed pan and scan versions of these films.
So you're saying that's a good thing? I'm saying that's a bad thing - and that if no one purchased the P&S version they'd have to put out Widescreen in order to make any money.

Essentially, Kabong, you're part of the problem.

Quote:
So, you are saying that I shouldnt enjoy these films JUST because they don't present the film widescreen?
No, I'm saying that *I* can't enjoy these films unless I can view them in their OAR. You can do whatever the heck you want.

Quote:
The movie is the most important thing.
I agree. But this thread isn't about how important movies are. It's about how DVD manufacturers are cheapening their product to our detriment, even if only in minor ways (so far).

But if you feel the film is the most important thing, I'd question why you only want to watch 2/3s of it?

Sure, if you cut off your baby's arms and one leg (about a third of the child) it's still the same baby, but it's a horrible mutilation. I feel that Pan and Scan is a horrible mutilation of a film. If you disagree, you're part of the problem as I see it.

Quote:
The movie means more than the presentation.
Film IS presentation. By destroying the audio and video they destroy the film as a whole.
 
Old 11-02-03, 07:37 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally posted by gutwrencher
uhh...thats not even close to what I said. manufacturing has nothing to do with the transfer. I'm talking about issues involving manufacturing...such as actual disc quality, excess glue, improper bonding, off-center holes in discs, questionable control teams at pressing plants....that kind of stuff. you know...stuff that matters. things that will sneak up to bite us in the ass while were being concerned with snappers and paying twice for the same title.
Hmm... I didn't mention manufacturing errors because I've rarely noticed any. Usually these are QC issues and can be fixed by returning a disc to the store in exchange for another non-faulty copy.

My list would address *choices* that studios make. Cheaper manufacturing is a choice too, but it's not something that I've seen to be too much of a problem (except from some Anchor Bay releases).

Have you had a lot of problems in this area?
 
Old 11-02-03, 07:59 PM   #20
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Play nice, kids... most of the issues raised here are dead-on, in my opinion.

Something that's always bugged me (and hasn't been mentioned) is DVD-ROM content, for two reasons:

I rarely if ever watch DVDs anywhere but on my home theatre. It annoys me that significant bonus feature content I've paid for is unreachable (deleted scenes from E.T. come to mind, there are many others...). These features could easily have been regular DVD video content, it's just someone decided they wouldn't be. Don't even get me started on web-based content (dial-up, longevity, etc).

Second, I'm a Mac user (thousands of eyes roll) and see no reason that most content for Windows couldn't be written for dual systems or as platform-independent. Yes, Macs are only fraction of the PC market (let's not debate the merits here, OK?), but I'd bet that in the world of DVD authoring, movies-making, etc, you'd find it's a higher percentage.

I know it comes down to what's more cost-effective, and a lot of ROM content isn't anything I feel too broken up about missing, but still, it stinks, at least a little.
 
Old 11-02-03, 08:12 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by jough
So you're saying that's a good thing? I'm saying that's a bad thing - and that if no one purchased the P&S version they'd have to put out Widescreen in order to make any money.

Essentially, Kabong, you're part of the problem.
I tried that. I waited for over a DECADE - like since sometime around the early 90's when Criterion announced that they were perusing the Godzilla license. I avoided buying the pan and scan LD's for the longest time waiting for them to work around Toho's stubbornness.

Then the laserdisc market imploded, taking my dreams of The Tokyo Stomp with it.

Then with the dawn of DVD, Sony released some of the later G movies - in dubbed pan and scan. Well, crap I thought. Ok, I'll sit back and wait. Perhaps Toho will come to their senses and a better version would surface.

Here it is - 4 years later. No good Godzilla transfers. Some of them to be sure, but not all. How far had my boycott gotten me? oh look at that. . . . NOWHERE!

If boycotting pan and scan at the expense of missing the movie is your bag, great - wait as long as you want. But don't talk down to me while you're doing it.

Quote:
But if you feel the film is the most important thing, I'd question why you only want to watch 2/3s of it?
Simple - I'd rather have 3/4th of the movie than none of it.
 
Old 11-02-03, 08:24 PM   #22
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I hope by the time HD-DVD rolls around Widescreen TVs are more cost friendly. I look at DVD as being a transition format. Basically a format that is helping the transition to Widescreen TVs and movies being viewed in their proper aspect ratio.

It is my desire that when HD-DVD rolls around in the not to distant future that Widescreen TVs are the normality & movies are released on HD-DVD without giving thought of anything but a widescreen transfer (older movies excluded of course) and that transfer being anamorphic. Seeing as how the DVD format has evolved I don't think this is wishfull thinking at all.

Personally, I have 1 full screen & 6 non-anamorphic DVD's. I purchased these early on in the format but of course have refused to buy such DVDs the past couple years. I don't consider myself a cinephile since I am still relatively new to film. I haven't seen a lot of movies before the 70's or 80's. I am slowly working my way back & at the same time opening up to foreign films. I do consider myself a smart consumer though.

Geez, I hope what I just said somehow provides some worth to this thread.
 
Old 11-02-03, 08:24 PM   #23
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3/4ths wouldn't be as bad, but most "Full Frame" transfers cut off 30-45% of the image (see widescreen.org for more on film mutilation).

I would rather have the entire image, which is the point of my #1 cheapening concern.

For instance, "Real Men" is coming to DVD in December. I love this film and have been waiting for years to own it on DVD. But it's being released only in a horrible P&S transfer, right from the videotape.

I'll pass on buying it. There are still Criterion Collection discs I haven't bought. Why waste my money on shoddy presentation?

In any case, the release of a Pan & Scan only version of a major studio title isn't something we would have seen 4+ years ago, which is why I included it on my "cheapening" list.

This isn't the thread to discuss whether widescreen is better than pan & scan. This is a thread that takes the fact that widescreen is superior as a given.

I'm sure people would be interested if P&S lovers posted about how they thought it was an improvement over OAR. I'd read your thoughts. This just isn't the place for it.
 
Old 11-02-03, 08:31 PM   #24
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Yeah, just like when Can't Buy Me Love was released earlier this year but not in widescreen. I was dying to have this film but I stayed strong and refused to buy it! Damn them!
 
Old 11-02-03, 08:35 PM   #25
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"People have made the case that VHS rentals have long had trailers before them. This is true. Video RENTALS have had these trailers - but if I've purchased a disc that I'll probably watch more than once over the years, I don't want to have to sit through increasingly outdated trailers EVERY TIME.

Sell-through VHS removed the trailers, and sell-through DVD (i.e. ALL DVD) should not have trailers before the menus - forced or otherwise."


I'm confused here, as plenty of my old VHS's have trailers before the actual movie starts.
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