CustomHT Intro DVD, A Review By Frank Anderson

Discussion in 'Home Theater Projects' started by Gregg Loewen, May 16, 2004.

  1. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    CustomHT.com is offering a very unique product to the Home Theater addict. And let’s face it that’s what we are. For this Home Theater addict, it’s something I would not have thought about getting. This disc is just plain “Kewl”. First I’ll tell you about the disc I have then I’ll tell you about some of the different configurations that you can get to more personalize the disc for yourself.
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    The disc arrived in a clear soft plastic CD/DVD case. There is no cover art or obviously an insert. But that’s ok because imprinted on the disc it’s self is the personalized name of your Home Theater which you pick when ordering. First, if you have a 4:3 TV make sure your DVD player is set at 4:3 Letterbox or Widescreen. This disc is in the wides screen formate of 16:9. When the disc starts to play be prepared to turn the volume down! For 95% of all the DVD’s I play I set the volume between –15db and –12db (I have my Outlaw Preamp Processor with Outlaw Amp). My system is calibrated at 78db when volume is at 0. Very rarely do I need to adjust the volume beyond these settings. However, others may think the sound is OK for the type of product.

    First you sit through about 10 seconds of Holland Graphics Design and your obligatory Legal Notice. After that comes the CustomHT.com graphic and a spinning film reel. After a couple of seconds the reel stops spinning, the sound stops and you get to a menu which has two options. Option 1 is “10 Minute Count Down” and Option 2 is “Short Countdown”.

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    First I’ll start with the “Short Countdown” and give you a play-by-play. It takes just over 4 minutes to play through. It’s starts off with a very well done “Flying DVD” sequence. The disc is flying down from the sky and into the theater. From there the disc smashes through filmstrips which are counting down the seconds. With each one you get the sound of glass breaking. Up to this point, the 5.1 surround sound is very well done but here there could have been a little better usage of the rear speakers. This goes into an explosion, which is very bass heavy and up comes the title “Anderson Home Theater”. Also, a professional sounding announcer says, “Welcome to the Anderson Home Theater”. An extremely very well done sequence. You can see this entire sequence on the CustomHT website.

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    Next up are four CGI animated shorts. The first is dancing concession items encouraging you to get some mouth water treats lasting approximately 27 seconds. Second is one that reminds you not to litter lasting approximately 17 seconds. Third is one that tells you to turn off cell phones and beepers lasting approximately 15 seconds. When I first heard this short with the ringing phone, I thought mine was ringing Great sound! The fourth and last short shows a reclining soda cup and popcorn bag getting ready to watch the show in a Home Theater. The same announcer says, “Frank and Susan invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the show”. This option is of course completely customizable. You may customize the disc to say, “We now invite you to sit back, relax and enjoy the show”.

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    After the CGI shorts the Flying DVD sequence starts over again. Lastly a Feature Presentation graphic with the announcer saying, "And now the Anderson Home Theater is proud to bring you our feature presentation”. I found all the CGI animation cute and the graphics very well done. It certainly gives you a feeling of being in a large public theater. I really think this disc is kewl as h***!

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    Now on to the “10 Minute Count Down”. It’s starts off the same as the short version with the Flying DVD sequence but the announcer ends saying, “Welcome to the Anderson Home Theater. The show starts in 10 minutes”. From there it goes to one of ten different trivia questions that play throughout the ten minutes. Each lasting about 30 seconds before the answer comes up. Of course all of them have appropriate elevator music playing in the background. Mixed in with the trivia questions are the four CGI shorts seen in the “Short Countdown" and Industrial Countdown graphics reminding you that the show starts in 8, 5, 2 and 1 minutes. Also throughout are mixed 10 movie posters sequences (each lasting approximately 30 to 40 seconds) with moving/animated graphics and their appropriate theme music. On my disc I got Star Wars, Grease, Batman, Matrix, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casablanca, Jaws, Die Another Day, Fellowship of the Ring and Austin Powers. It of course ends with the Flying DVD sequence and Feature Presentation announcement. An outstanding 10-minute montage. Anytime you’re going to show a movie for a few friends this will certainly give everyone time to get settled, chat a while and give a more professional feel to your Home Theater presentation.

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    Now about the different configurations. I have what’s called the Flying DVD Style. There are five others to choose from: Hollywood, Wild West, Theater, Art Deco and Live Footage. There are two different countdown styles, I have Industrial, there is also on called Fantasy and one not yet released called Star-toon. You can have a combo of trivia questions and mix of movie posters (like I have) or all posters. And there are almost 50 different posters to choose from! You can specify if you want the announcer or not AND the announcer can be a celebrity impersonation. You can hear and see all of this on the CustomHT website or get a Demo Disc (for a small fee) sent to you.

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    The only thing I could suggest to add would be movie trivia facts in addition to the questions. Also, I don’t know if it’s possible, but how great would it be if the disc randomly played ten out of a hundred trivia questions (or facts) ten out of almost 50 posters each time you played it? All in all an outstanding product and one that I will get later on, completely personalize for me. Something else to feed your HT addiction.

    Frank Anderson
    Hometheaterforum Administrator

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    http://www.hometheaterforum.com/htfo...213&groupid=10

    Link to CustomHT
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    [​IMG]

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    Have they even seen a film reel before? I don't think there is such a thing as 9 perf silent 70mm.
     
  3. Matt Czyz

    Matt Czyz Supporting Actor

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    I guess that disc is all well and good, but one of the main reasons I don't go to the movies much anymore is because I'm sick of sitting through that endless loop of movie trivia, "freeze frame" pics, and other nonsense before the movie starts. The last thing I want is to sit through more of it in my own living room. Anyway, I'm sure a lot of people might like this, but it's something I would never use.
     
  4. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    I would love to get one of these, but there's no way I can justify paying $200 for what amounts to a cool knickknack. If it were under $50, I'd probably be all over it.
     
  5. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    Hi guys!

    I have had one of these discs for well over a year now. I think it is very cool and worth every penny. Please read on...

    My disc was customized to have a lion roaring at the start then the announcer piping in "Welcome to the hometheater of Lion Audio Video Consultants". For me (and my company) this was very much worth it. Every time I do a demo my client will remember me via the roaring lion.

    If you are scrapping your dollars together to get enough to buy the BTTF Trilogy (or whatever), of course spending $99 plus on a custom intro disc is crazy. On the other hand, if you paid $1000 (or a great deal more) just for your cabling this disc may just be what your looking for to give the finishing touch to your theater!!

    But thats just my opinion!

    Gregg
     
  6. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Agreed! On the other hand, I'd bet that if they cut the price from $200 to $50, they'd sell a *lot* more than four times as many. It really is a cool idea.
     
  7. Jay Mitchosky

    Jay Mitchosky Producer

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    I'll add my review to the mix:
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    I recently had the opportunity to review a custom home theater intro DVD from www.customht.com. With the ever-growing popularity of home theater in today’s culture it was inevitable that this type of product would come along. In short, while not cheap it makes a great addition to any enthusiast’s home theater that is sure to impress your guests.

    FEATURES

    For those unfamiliar the home theater intro DVD serves to set the mood for an evening at the movies. One thing that you can’t replace with home theater is that sense of “going out”. CustomHT’s intro DVD puts the final touch on your suspension of disbelief with a snazzy computer-generated intro complete with an announcer welcoming your guests and a countdown until showtime. Your name or that of your theater is customized as part of the announcement. To further up the ante is an assortment of decidedly cheesy concession stand and “please be quiet” announcements that remind me of the days of my youth at the drive-in. Add to that a set of movie trivia and you have a fun filled package that truly prepares your audience for an evening of entertainment. Throughout the trivia/countdown there are “coming attractions” with poster images and music from classics such as Star Wars and Grease. Clearly the licensing fees to allow actual trailers to be included would have been prohibitive (which would have been REALLY slick, particularly if you could choose the movies) but it’s still a nice touch. In addition to the full 10 minute countdown with trivia is a shortened version with just the theater intro – a welcome change after you’ve seen the whole program a few times over.

    CustomHT has a number of different intro and trivia styles for you to choose from to further personalize the experience. I received the very stylish Live Footage intro which has an elegant, classic feel to it. If bigger and flashier is more your style there should be something to suit your tastes in the other formats. The website has tiny QuickTime previews for the different options but I found that many of them did not work on my computer. Before making the investment I would suggest ordering the demo DVD that will allow you to sample the styles in your HT environment. It’s quite comprehensive.

    All the styles are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 16:9 format. Prices range from US$99 to US$199 depending on the style and options you select. The disc itself is custom labeled for your home theater. One gripe I do have is that for this price I would expect to have a formal DVD keepcase and custom cover – mine arrived with a flimsy generic single-CD clamshell (although that may be because it is a review sample). Service from CustomHT was prompt and courteous with their product delivered exactly as ordered.


    AUDIO

    The audio is clean and spacious, but seems to really push the low end in an attempt for added impact. I find there is maybe a bit too much mid-bass here and would have preferred a little more balance in the presentation. The announcer’s voice tends to spread across a number of channels as opposed to be strictly focused on the center channel – it sounds more like a God-like PA announcement, which may have been the intent It really fills the room. Sound effects are well integrated, although the Live Footage style doesn’t have much by way of whiz-bang effects. There are other styles that look like they would really engage the audio channels with things flying by and exploding (another reason why I would recommend the demo DVD as your first step in choosing your style). Overall it is a satisfying audio experience but not something you would tend to use for demo purposes. That said I do not think this is the point of the product. For me it is all about establishing a mood.


    VIDEO

    Video is presented in a 16:9 format and is clean - free from noise or defects. This is to be expected from a computer generated program that went straight to disc. Colors are bright and can be lavish and cartoony during the CG and trivia sequences but ultimately will depend on the style you choose. Text on the trivia sections is crisp and clear on both a 27” direct view and 50” RPTV. I can’t comment as to image quality on a large projection screen.


    VALUE

    As indicated above this product is for setting the stage to an evening at the movies. When I first popped in the disc and heard the announcer welcoming my “guests” to my home theater I had a goofy grin on my face. The downside (price aside) is that it has a relatively limited shelf-life. Would I play this disc prior to watching a movie every time with my family? Not a chance. Nor would I be inclined to play it all the time for all of my guests. This is something to crack out for a more formal movie night with a bunch of people or those first timers who are completely amazed that you have a dedicated home theater. There are a lot of ways to spend upwards of $100 on theater accoutrements but few will create the mood of a customized theater introduction.
     
  8. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Aren't these discs $100 instead of $200 or am I missing something?

    Parker
     
  9. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I'm confused...

    are you expected to sit down and pop this disc in, sit around and wait 10 minutes than get up again, take the disc out and put in a movie?

    It sounds cool, if not somewhat frivolous and inconvenient...

    Maybe if there was a way to have your actual unit modified to play a customized intro before each flick kicks off, but to get up and pop in a seperate DVD every time you want to watch a movie - I can just see everyone complaining right now...

    Friend #1: "what the hell are you making us watch this stupid shit for again, man!"

    Friend #2: "yeah, this was semi-cool the first time we saw your little flying disc, will you just put in the damn movie already, this is pointless!"

    Me (Hans Moleman voice): "But come on guys... it adds to the whole simulated theatre experience."

    Friends #1 & 2: "AH SHUTUP AND PUT THE REGULAR DVD IN ALREADY!!!"
     
  10. Jim Williams

    Jim Williams Second Unit

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    In a case like this it would make a lot more sense, but for your average home user it seems like a big expense for something that would get limited use.

    My opinion.
     
  11. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    I think it would make a better program for a HTPC rather than a regular disk-system. You could program the "Intro" to play right before your film and skip the whole animated menu of the movie... then if would work.
     
  12. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    That is very obvious. Buying a disc like this depends on the type of theater you own and the amount of disposible income you have (see my 2nd post about scrapping dollars together to buy a DVD).

    Many of the people that purchase this type of product will also have a 2nd DVD player installed just to play this, then switch to the other DVD player for the feature attraction. This is very easy to do with the correct macros for the remote.

    Regards

    Gregg
     
  13. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    IIRC when I checked the other day, it was $150 for a non-customized disc and $200 for the version customized with your own name/ title.

    Garrett's idea for playing this from an HTPC hard drive is excellent.
     
  14. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    Actually the custom discs start at $99 and go up from there. It takes time to make one of these discs. The editor told me more than 4 hours which would depend on options. Then you have to pay the voiceover person for the added voices (this is done by a professional voice over person in a real audio studio). As Aaron suggested, at $50 a disc, the company would be immediately bankrupt.

    PS: the HTPC thing would be a great option!!
     
  15. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

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    Thanks for the review, Frank and you other folks who chipped in.

    I do have 2 DVD players set up in my HT system, so this would be a luxury item I would love to have (Basically as others have said to show off the theater for first timers... they love when I fade out the lights with my remote control!)

    But, I fear that there will always be something I would rather be spending my money on. Those TV season sets are breaking my bank!

    Ric
     
  16. Jay Mitchosky

    Jay Mitchosky Producer

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    First off, what part of home theater is not frivolous? [​IMG]

    You're missing the point of the product, which is why it's not for everyone. In my review I noted that you're not likely to put this in every time you watch a movie, and certainly not for the same group of friends. But for someone new to the theater, or for a dedicated movie night it can add to the event feel.

    I would be amazed if anyone who owns this disc puts in before each viewing. I can't imagine it was ever designed for that purpose.
     
  17. Lyle_E

    Lyle_E Stunt Coordinator

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    Jay, I tried to follow the link in your post but the extra dot after the com took me nowhere not trying to be picky.:b


    I would compare this to "a man from the future holding up a lighter infront of those who had to work hard at making fire" Crowd: "ooooo fire!!"

    I would only use it a few times to get the same effect.. Once for the relatives when they came and visited and I showed them my modest 'what i like to call a Home theater'

    I dont think I would splurge my hard earned coin for the top of the line disc - with the personal touch (my theater is not that fancy) Some off you folks do have the top end super deluxe googliophonic set up and you would almost certainly have to have this Disc

    If they offered a generic one at a resonable price (I could live with 50.00) I would have to have the 10 minte countdown playing as everyone arrived and sat down.

    If you had a generic one already completed, it would take no time to burn it. It would almost be all profit for the disc. I realize the 'feature' dvd is only 45.00 and is generic. I was thinking along the lines of the flying DVD.
     
  18. Bill>Moore

    Bill>Moore Second Unit

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    This sounds very cool. I don't have as fancy a home theater as some, but it works for me. It's better than most friends and family have, so it would be fun to toss it in as people got their drinks, went to the bathroom and made their way to the living room to watch the movie. I wouldn't play it every time, but it could definitely serve a purpose as a pre-movie distraction while the group gathers.
     
  19. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Dang... more money gone... gone... gone.
     
  20. Shane_M

    Shane_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Dang... more money gone... gone... gone.
     

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