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"laserdisc is dead! long live the laserdisc!"


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#1 of 70 OFFLINE   andrea

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Posted June 20 2009 - 04:45 PM

Once upon a time, a webmaster that I consider now a friend wrote: "laserdisc in not dead, it had only retired"... but, after I read the news that Pioneer decided to abandon the format, I cried and screamed: "laserdisc is dead! long live the laserdisc!" as the people once upon a time usually scream when a beloved king die...

I love the laserdisc: it's part of my life! It was my first video format, I bought the first laserdisc with the woman who is now my wife, many of my birthday and Christmas presents were laserdiscs, my two children grew up watching laserdiscs before DVD was ubiquitous!

I have so many laserdiscs that I don't remember (well, indeed I have a complete database in my computer, and they are over 2400, but let me be poetic ;-) ), so many laserdisc players to set the grandsons of my grandsons ready to watch all my entire collection (at least, the laserrot free ones that will remains...).

I knew that last movies were released almost a decade ago, the only brand new players are some combi LD/DVD, but this piece of news was so tragic... like when you don't see a friend for a long time, sure he's busy as everyone but healthy, and one day you discover he passed away the day before! But he will live in your memory, forever...

Well, after some time of sadness and depression, I decided to do something to honor the memory of the laserdisc; I owe it this! I decided to write a book about it! Share all the knowledge I learned on the magazines, newspapers, books in the past 15 years and the information gathered over the web in the past 10 years, to let the people know the "truth" about it.

Now it's time for you to raise your right eyebrow just like Mister Spock, stare for a while with your hand on your chin, scratch your head, mumble some more, and finally say "who in the whole world needs a book about laserdisc nowadays?", then you will suppose that the information floating around the web about the laserdisc argument are enough for everyone; but I kindly disagree.

Let me explain my reasons: it's true, if you search on every search engine, results will contain million pages with the word LASERDISC, but effectively there are so few websites devoted to it, that you can count on your fingers, if you are lucky.
I talk about the websites of the laserdisc aficionados, and I remember here the most important (to me, at least) in no particular order: the laserdisc database, BlamLD, LaserGuru, Laserdisc Archive, Leopold FAQ, Robert Niland FAQ,[/] and also the wikipedia page.

I agree, all these places are useful and everyone who are involved in the laserdisc world should visit them, but I think someone, after visiting these websites, say "I want to know more!, I NEED to know more!". Usually, at this point someone will answer: "Well, buy a book about the argument!" but I could say, honestly, that there is no book that talks about laserdisc, at least no one like "DVD demystified", for example.

Obviously, don't forget all the countless threads in this forum and others, and also the ones on Google groups; there are important supporters who posted in the years, like Joshua, Julien, Kurtis, Douglas, Iain, Kevin, Ty, Christopher, Rachel, Nicholas, Hartmut... it's impossible to name all here!

Literally, there are thousand important bits of info here and there, little chunk of data, curiosities that it's impossible to know them all. Something is saved now thanks to the internet archive, but many, too many things are simply not around, they are vanished. Fortunately, I'm keeping save them on my hard disk, everything, quite every day, about laserdisc from 1999, to preserve them from the passage of the (internet) time. Many GB are awaiting to be rediscovered.

So, I simply came to the conclusion that a "summa" of all the laserdisc information about movies, players, games, history, collector's advices it's not a bad idea, and collect them all in one place, a old-fashioned paper book is a good idea, surely for someone who loves vintage things like a laserdisc lover... where you can find when and where the laserdisc is born, how many titles were pressed, how many copies a certain title has sold, discover what is a VSD, what are the best players, what is a demodulator, what are laserdisc games, which were the real and false names of the laserdisc... but also how to collect laserdiscs, how to send them, how to achieve the best performance in a digital world like this...

I'm realistic, I will not be richer thanks to the ten-twelve copies I hope to sell - my family, my friends, my colleague MUST buy it - but surely I'll be happier, because someone else will know (quite) everything about our beloved big shiny disc!

But, at the end, I must admit that, after ten years on the web reading ALL things laserdisc-related, working in the A/V field for twelve and talked with thousand people, I know so many things about laserdiscs that few others know, but still something is missing...

Yes, I have all the technical details, the info on movies, players, games and, as a old collector myself, many hints and tips; also, the "canonical" history is present, what's missing is the real life experience!

As I live in Italy, I have not the same experience of a person who lives in USA, Japan or UK (or in France, or Germany, other important markets for laserdisc), and it will be wonderful to know what the people thought during the first years of the laserdisc, in its heydays, until the last years; I need someone who lived up the moments, and ready to share its memories.
Also, I'm sure many of you still have the magazines they read in those days, full of meaningful informations, like reviews, technical data, sales figures, charts, interviews etc.

Well, if you have not fallen asleep after reading all this pamphlet, if you think you are one of those persons, and you feel you must participate in the biggest laserdisc project ever, please contact me. Any help will be highly welcomed!

If anybody have any question about the project, want to share here his/her experiences, or just want to know something more about laserdisc, [b]nessun problema!
(no problems in italian) - I'll try to answer to every post.

Thanks in advance to everyone, and enjoy your laserdiscs - forever!

Andrea

P.S. Please forgive me for my English, but don't worry about grammar and spelling of the book; it will be corrected, word by word, at least twice, by one of my best friend, a graduated English teacher, (who obviously has NOT corrected this post)
A book about LASERDISC? In THIS millennium? Why not?
Are you crazy or what? No, I just think it's time people HAVE to know the truth about
laserdisc... but I need YOUR HELP! If you want to contribute, please contact me!

#2 of 70 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted June 20 2009 - 07:28 PM

I'll buy a copy when it's published! I only got into laserdisc in 1993, but I remember in the early 80s when it was first promoted nationally after being test-marketed in select cities for a couple years.

One of the first discs I saw playing in a store was this one:


You should try to include a laserdisc with your book, or at least a DVD with laserdisc-related stuff like this.
Home video oddities, old commercials and other junk: http://www.youtube.com/user/eyeh8nbc

#3 of 70 OFFLINE   andrea

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Posted June 20 2009 - 07:55 PM

Dear Jesse,
I'm happy to receive a reply so soon! Very happy!

Maybe my thread is interesting, looking at all the visit it has received.
This kind of little things keep alive the laserdisc interest. Good!

Well, of course I cannot give away a laserdisc for each book sold, but I thought too to include a DVD containing many things, like videos, music and player reviews etc. but there are many copyright problems, I'll try to solve them later.

...what a comic thing, a DVD, the arci-enemy of the laserdisc, to save its memory!

Ah, and if you will buy the book, maybe I could arrive to 13 copies ;-)

Andrea
A book about LASERDISC? In THIS millennium? Why not?
Are you crazy or what? No, I just think it's time people HAVE to know the truth about
laserdisc... but I need YOUR HELP! If you want to contribute, please contact me!

#4 of 70 OFFLINE   Bryan^H

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Posted June 21 2009 - 05:02 AM

Ahhh, Laserdisc.

Truly the first love of my home theater life.

I have good memories of my Pioneer player, and collection of films.
Sadly, when DVD happened on the scene I dropped the Laserdisc cold turkey and never looked back. That is until I packed it all up to get rid of.
I made a few trips bringing my player, and discs to my car. I took one last look, and had a strong sense of sadness come over me. No, it wasn't all the money I spent on it(I gave my entire collection to the Goodwill) more like losing something that was an important part of my life in an era I much enjoyed.
Nostalgia may play a part, but I will always remember Laserdisc fondly and I'm sad it's gone.

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#5 of 70 OFFLINE   DeWilson

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Posted June 21 2009 - 07:45 AM

Love the laserdisc format, still have 2 working players and loads of discs - only thing I hate about the format is laser-rot! Posted Image

#6 of 70 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted June 21 2009 - 08:34 AM

I was 12 when Disc-0-vision players and discs were being test marketed in the Atlanta area in the spring of '79 (30 years ago...wow). I would get dropped off at the Perimeter Mall to go to the movies, then head into the mall afterwards to kill time until my mother picked me up. There was a shop in there that sold irrc, musical instruments as well as some scattered a/v stuff. That's where I first saw the huge Disc-o-vision player on display, as well as a spinner rack next to it of mostly (only?) Universal titles like Animal House, Battlestar Galactica, Smokey And the Bandit, and two films that I was absolutely obsessed with at that time- Jaws and Jaws 2. What was doubly fascinating to me, was that Jaws was in theatrical re-release at that same point in time. I was going every weekend to see it, and staying for multiple shows- so I got in about 20 viewings of it in the span of two weeks. And then there it was...on a 12" space age, rainbow reflecting platter, that anyone could take home and own for eternity, if they had enough cash.
A little over a year later, a videotape rental store opened up near us and VHS started taking off- but I never forgot Laserdiscs. Even though I bought into VHS a few years later, I never felt the pull to spend money to collect pre-recorded tapes. OTOH, I still fantasized about some day having a collection of movies on LD.
Eventually I did. It only really consumed me for a few years and I only ever compiled a modest collection (under 75 discs), but to finally satiate that long held desire was extremely satisfying.

I resisted DVD for quite a while. I did not see it as the natural heir apparent originally. There was just no way that I wanted to replace a collection housed within those big beautiful jackets, with tiny little discs with their cheap looking snapper cases. UGH! Also the early demos I had seen were full of macroblocking artifacts. How could this possibly be better than a mature format with a selection of titles in the tens of thousands?

DVD's been beddy beddy good to me...but you never forget your first love.
I know there are a lot of us that feel the same way.

Best of luck with the book, Andrea !

#7 of 70 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted June 21 2009 - 09:08 AM

I never got into Laserdisc. I was too young to ever see it (I was eleven when DVD arrived) so I only stuck to VHS then, and I believe it wasn't as big here anyway. But the large discs and the larger artwork on the cases did look kind of cool. I had the same thing with vinyl, but I did get to collect those.
Now I don't see the need in ever collecting them. Although there are films that aren't available on DVD, or have more supplements, I have enough hobbies already.
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#8 of 70 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted June 21 2009 - 10:50 PM

I never got into laserdisc either. They were just too expensive, and when DVD came along I knew then and there from the start that both laserdisc and VHS were eventually going to be overtaken. It seemed obvious to me that a smaller disc, with material all on one side with no need for flipping, would easily do for movies what the CD did for music.

#9 of 70 OFFLINE   Hogie

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Posted June 22 2009 - 02:07 AM

I bought my LD player as my first real adventure in HT. Soon after, I bought an early AC-3 receiver and I was king of the hill! Of course it didn't take long for DVD to kick the format to the curb, so for awhile I felt like I spent more $$ on it than it was worth. I've since evolved from that to DVD and now Blu-Ray, but my beloved LD player is still in the stack and still gets used often enough to warrant the space it takes up in my rack. The DVD player is moving out, but the LD player lives on! The cool thing now is to find people on-line that are clearing their collections out. I get a kick out of it because I keep coming across titles I completely forgot about or have never heard of before, not to mention some material that you can't find on other formats. Now that I look back, with it's hand in introducing me to this hobby, and with the fact that it's still spinning, it was definitely worth it!

#10 of 70 OFFLINE   Rob_Ray

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Posted June 22 2009 - 04:33 AM

I grew up with all the 50s and 60s 70mm six-track magnetic stereo blockbusters and started collecting VHS copies on those titles around 1980. I first saw a laserdisc around 1978 or 1979 in an old Pacific Stereo store. By 1983 I was hooked when a friend showed my his laserdiscs of "Funny Girl" and "Fiddler on the Roof," both containing crisp stereophonic soundtracks at a time when VHS was still non-HiFi mono. Then I found some roadshow films like "Ben-Hur" which contained the original overtures and intermission entr'actes in stereo at a time when I thought one could never have such complete copies on any home video format even in mono. I was hooked, but swore that I would only focus on collecting movies with stereo soundtracks on laserdisc. I'd rely on taping off-air for all my black-and-white favorites. 3000 laserdiscs later I had everything from Kevin Brownlow's Hollywood documentary to all those RKO Wheeler and Woolseys.

And twenty-six (gasp!) years later, I wouldn't dream of parting with any of them. Even when the last of my five laserdisc players dies, I'll still have the nice jacket artwork, the gatefold jackets on the multi-disc titles, the full color inserts on the Dawn of Sound boxes, etc.

Many titles have yet to make it to DVD and even when they do, it's somehow comforting to know I have an analog backup copy whenever possible.

DVD looks spectacular, but in most cases, the two-channel stereo on my laserdiscs better replicates the original movie palace experience I had back in the early 60s than the compressed 5.1 sound on most DVDs. As an aside to comments in the Esther Williams thread, I wouldn't think of parting with my LD of "Jupiter's Darling" even after it makes its DVD debut. I have too much nostalgia for the era when George Feltenstein reigned over all those wonderful MGM/UA Home Video releases.

I still have copies of Video Review with reviews by Leonard Maltin and its articles extolling the wonders of laserdisc's stereo sound. I still pull out my copies of Scott Hughes' old LaserScene Monthly newsletters from time to time. This was the main hobby of my youth and I cherish the memories of collecting all this stuff.

However, recently I *was* impressed with the uncompressed sound on the new "South Pacific" and "How the West was Won" Blu-Rays and I have once again jumped into a new format for that reason alone even though I have yet to purchase an HD TV and have zero interest in most of the titles Blu-Ray seems to focus on.

My passion seems to be the films of my youth. The first LD I remember buying was a pan-and-scan copy of the 1954 "A Star is Born." Coincidentally, the last new-release laserdisc I bought was the late 90's remastering of this same title. Somehow that seemed a fitting coming full circle with collecting laserdiscs.

#11 of 70 OFFLINE   andrea

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Posted June 22 2009 - 06:35 AM

Dear Rob,
that's the spirit!

I must admit that there are more avid laserdisc collectors nowadays than I have ever expected, and I'm happy for that!

If you want to share your laserdisc experience, please send me a P.M.

I invite also the other laserdisc collectors to post here, to share their own real life experience: I think many will be curious to read what they think.

Andrea
A book about LASERDISC? In THIS millennium? Why not?
Are you crazy or what? No, I just think it's time people HAVE to know the truth about
laserdisc... but I need YOUR HELP! If you want to contribute, please contact me!

#12 of 70 OFFLINE   Bradley-E

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Posted June 22 2009 - 12:27 PM

I was into Laserdisc from late 1989 until pretty much 1997 when DVD began. Laser Rot really took a toll over the years. It was very frustrating. Alot of my Fox titles (which were expensive) suffered from Rot. It was a fun format. Now I am pretty much favoring Blu ray over DVD. When will this madness end????

#13 of 70 OFFLINE   andrea

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Posted June 22 2009 - 12:52 PM

Bradley,
sooner or later the optical discs will disappear in favor of flash memories.

Can you imagine collecting movies on microSD cards or something similar? Posted Image
I'm not ready for that... maybe the BluRay will be the last video optical disc format,
so let's be fast to collect them! Posted Image

Andrea
A book about LASERDISC? In THIS millennium? Why not?
Are you crazy or what? No, I just think it's time people HAVE to know the truth about
laserdisc... but I need YOUR HELP! If you want to contribute, please contact me!

#14 of 70 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted June 23 2009 - 02:46 AM

I guess I should chime in as I still have two working players and a few hundred discs. I agree with Rob... I feel the sound is still superior to DVD (though not Blu-Ray) in all audio formats. I still watch them. This past weekend I watched Spawn 2 on LD. Excellent gatefold art. My LDs are still quite watchable on my 60" HDTV.

I won't be getting rid of these discs anytime soon.

#15 of 70 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott

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Posted June 23 2009 - 07:08 AM

Jesse, that video was a trip!
Thanks for finding it

#16 of 70 OFFLINE   Jacinto

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Posted June 23 2009 - 08:16 AM

What a timely thread! I just spent the last week tinkering with my DVL-91 to get it working again (it was the sled with the dvd laser on it that was the problem, of course), and now intend to put it back onto the equipment rack after two years of storage. Count me as a huge fan of the format.

Aside from all of the audio/video benefits of the format at the time, where LD reigns supreme, and forever will, is in the packaging. There's just nothing like it, anywhere. I'll never forget the first time I slid the cover from the T2 special edition box to reveal the life-size headshot of Arnold on one side and the Terminator skull on the other! Or the CAV deluxe box set of Cinderella that I bought for my wife (then fiancee) since it was her favorite movie. That thing has limited edition artwork, a book about the history of the film, etc. Or how about the Pioneer Special Edition of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest? The entire thing is the most beautiful hardcover book with cast photos, interviews, retrospectives, and the entire shooting script, with the discs sliding into the from and back covers! Or the Criterion release of Se7en, with the creepy excerpts from John Doe's journals splashed all over the booklet. Or the gorgeous Toy Story CAV box, with all of Pixar's unedited shorts as extra material. All of it is just wonderful. To me, it seems like the only appropriate packaging for something as grand and powerful as film and cinema experience can be. A little plastic case with an insert just doesn't cut it for the greatest films of all time.

I'll be showing Return of the Jedi for the first time to my daughter when she turns eight in August, and I'm so happy that I can treat her to the same film I saw the first time I saw it in the theater. I like having the original crude jokes on the CAV Who Framed Roger Rabbit? And I still love the sound of them, especially the DTS releases at the end. Velodyne owes LD for my purchase of a sub from them -- the first note of the DTS LD of Jurassic Park bottomed out my mains, and I realized I needed something that could do that note justice.

Andrea, thanks for counseling session!
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#17 of 70 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted June 23 2009 - 08:29 AM

When I am feeling a bit laserdisc down, this always cheers me up:
Posted Image

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#18 of 70 OFFLINE   ambientcafe

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Posted June 23 2009 - 09:00 AM

I still have my functioning Pioneer CLD-3080 combi player ($1,800 cdn new) and 25 LD's (sold most of my collection to a used record store way back when for a buck apiece). Eventually, I'll integrate the 3080 into my 140" scope setup just to see how it looks compared to my BD and HDDVD sources....it'll also be a fun way to reminisce. Some of my more anticipated titles (that I still have and hopefully rot-free) to debut would have to be my Criterion's 'Lawrence of Arabia' (CLV), the extended version of 'The Abyss' (CLV/CAV), the survival flick, 'Alive' (CAV/CLV), and the concert LD, 'Genesis: The Invisible Touch Tour' (CLV). A guilty viewing pleasure would have to be my letterboxed Japanese import of the scifi 'B' title, 'Deep Star Six' (CLV - can't remember if this was dubbed or how the subtitles are on this one). Boy oh boy, just going thru the process of posting this has got me pumped now! Posted Image

#19 of 70 OFFLINE   andrea

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Posted June 23 2009 - 09:42 AM

Jacinto, nice post!

You are right, nothing rivals laserdisc about packaging, and about sound the laserdisc beats DVD 99% of the times, regardless the sound format.

Also, don't forget there are at least 2000 laserdisc programs still not on DVD, and doubfulfly they will in the future, or on BD...

Ken, I always loved the Pioneer turtle!

AmbientCAfe, please post your impressions when you have done all the viewings.

Thanks to all,
Andrea
A book about LASERDISC? In THIS millennium? Why not?
Are you crazy or what? No, I just think it's time people HAVE to know the truth about
laserdisc... but I need YOUR HELP! If you want to contribute, please contact me!

#20 of 70 OFFLINE   Bradley-E

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Posted June 23 2009 - 09:47 AM

I have to say, it was more fun collecting Laserdiscs than it was DVD's. Laserdiscs always felt like a special treat because it was a niche item, and you pretty much only could get deluxe editions and most of all Criterion in that format. VHS was so limited. When DVD's were created they took what was best with Laserdisc and passed it on to everyone.