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Discussion on the HTF article on studios dumbing down the DVD format


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#1 of 412 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:22 AM

This is for discussion pertaining to this article:

Is DVD Giving Way to Mass-Market Demands?

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 412 ONLINE   MatthewA

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:30 AM

I could not have articulated it better myself.

You know, I watched "Spartacus" last night on the Criterion DVD, and this reminds me a little of the slave rebellion. Only this time...

we will not be defeated


I will help you fight the good fight.

Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I am going to boycott The Walt Disney Company until then.


#3 of 412 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:38 AM

To be honest, I have little hope for improvement. In fact, I think things will get worse.

Some of us warned of this years ago, that the mainstream acceptance that most members craved would be a double-edged sword.

I am more optimistic about D-VHS and HD-DVD as far as OAR support goes. This optimism is relative; some people will still want everything cropped to 16:9 as HD grows (I won't say 'become standard', as I don't think that will happen; DTV may become standard).

I will join all of you in fighting the fight, but I do not believe the fight can be won.

#4 of 412 OFFLINE   Joe Tilley

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:45 AM

I just got to say that every time I see a show on tv or at a friends house & I see that dreaded ( THIS FILM HAS BEEN FORMATTED TO FIT YOUR SCREEN) I just wont to kick the damn TV in & pukePosted Image Posted Image Posted Image
If movies cant bee sold or produced in OAR anymore I'm getting a new hobbie. It makes me so mad that everything is so mass market anymore, mabey one day people will learn that it's not alaways the one time buyers in front that make them there money,but instead the repete buyers that have a true passon about it that come back again & again,AS LONG AS THERE KEPT HAPPYPosted Image IF IT'S NOT OAR I'M NOT BUYIN

#5 of 412 OFFLINE   RobertCharlotte

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:53 AM

Ron, great article.

One editorial note: "to lob" means to throw. If you meant to say "cut off," then you wanted "lopped off."
Blücher!

#6 of 412 OFFLINE   Wil_J

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Posted April 23 2002 - 02:57 AM

Nice job Ron.

Like Michael, I don't honestly think we will win this struggle. However, I will gladly fight for my right to see films as they were intended.

No OAR = NO SALE.......Wil

#7 of 412 OFFLINE   Joshua Clinard

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:02 AM

Excellent Article. I hope the studio's take note. Ron, let me know, what I can do to help. Please see the following thread for more information on my campaign ideas.

http://www.hometheat....931#post630931

I also have one more thing in the works. I am going to try to get a commercial done, and make a VCD or DVD of it. Then we could all take them to retailers, and slide them into the Demo DVD Players. We would also of course make this file available to the studios. Heck, I will record all the CD's myself, and mail them to the studio's myself if I have to. And by the way, if we make a download availble, I have plenty of space and bandwidth on my new server.


#8 of 412 OFFLINE   Matt Bloxham

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:04 AM

Ron, once again a great article, I hope that the "right" people read this!
I am one of those people who have been converted, back in the day of VHS only. Now I have over 120 WIDESCREEN only DVD's and a digital TV to see all of their beauty.
I know that I try to "convert" and educate as many people as possible, to keep my new hobby alive and wellPosted Image

Thanks to you and all the wonderful folks on this forum, we must fight together.

Matt

#9 of 412 OFFLINE   LukeB

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:09 AM

Good points and ones which would have been great to raise with the Disney people.

#10 of 412 OFFLINE   John Berggren

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:13 AM

The article states the situation quite well.

There was a time when I was a proponent of choice - so long as I could have my anamorphic widescreen presentation. No more. There is no good reason for someone to seek the benefits of DVD and excise the benefits of an OAR presentation.

Studios should provide anamorphic-widescreen only transfers on all releases. Future releases should contain descriptive blurbs about why OAR is better - how it maintains what is seen in the movie theater.

I will never myself buy DVDs that are not properly framed. I will never buy them for others.

The madness must stop. An informed consumer would know that the unused area on a television with widescreen is a far better tradeoff than missing picture from cropping - or just as bad - additional picture that was never intended to be seen.

All productions should be seen in their original and intended ratios. From 1.33 television product and 1.37 Academy Ratio films to 2.35 epics and even 2.76 for Ben Hur, and other extra-wide films.

OAR or NO AR.
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#11 of 412 OFFLINE   Michael St. Clair

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:19 AM

Go to an artist, or an art teacher, or an art historian that you know.

Ask them this question:

"How would you propose I go about educating the american public on the value of artistic integrity?"

They may have a suggestion or two after they stop laughing. Posted Image

#12 of 412 OFFLINE   Robert George

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:20 AM

Directing your efforts at studios is an exercise in futility. The people that run studios do it for one single purpose and that is to make money. They will do whatever is in what they preceive as their best financial interest. They don't care if a DVD is widescreen or fullscreen or anything else for that matter. As long as it sells, they are happy.

To a much greater degree, the culprit you are looking for is no farther away than the local Walmart. By some estimates, Walmart accounts for as much as 25% of DVD sales. By corporate policy, when there is a choice, Walmart buys fullscreen because that is what the majority of their customers tell them they want. Even if a title is available only in widescreen, they buy less of it than if it were fullscreen. Often a lot less.

If the studios were to suddenly be stricken with artistic integrity, the position would be there is only one "right" way to present a movie, and that is the way it was intended to be seen by the filmmakers.

As long as there is a choice, the minority will lose. And that's us.

#13 of 412 OFFLINE   Kelly W

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:31 AM

Well, I'm actually surprising myself that I'm writing this, but I SLIGHTLY disagree with the article.

A little background on myself: Before I bought my first DVD player at the end of 1998, I didn't care about OAR. I happily bought MAR VHS and had a rather large collection of movies. I knew there were some widescreen VHS movies for sale, but I never saw the need to buy them. However, when I saw that most DVDs were OAR (widescreen), it didn't bother me one bit. But after watching a few films, I decided that given a choice, I would always opt for OAR. I only have two pan and scan DVDs in my collection of about 250+ DVDs (The Man With Two Brains and Wrongfully Accused). They were bought early on (my second and fifth discs) and I thought that since they were just silly comedies, OAR didn't matter. Now, I will not buy anything that is NOT OAR. For example, I held out for Willy Wonka:WS, and I still haven't bought Babe. So, I hope you can see that I AM on "your side".

However, I have a problem with this sentiment:
Quote:
The only reason pan-and-scan DVD transfers are outselling their widescreen counterparts is because the studios have offered the public a choice.
I don't have a problem with offering people a choice. As long as OAR is available to me, I don't care if they release pan and scan versions separately or on the same disc. (I think that MGM's recent releases on DVD-14s are well done.)

I agree 100% that OAR is better. But not everyone does. There are people (I've met some of them) who understand the difference and prefer pan and scan. Who are we to say that their taste is wrong?

I didn't care for some so-called "good" recent movies like American Beauty and Saving Private Ryan. On the other hand, I enjoy some so-called "bad" movies like Mallrats and Army of Darkness. Should I not be allowed to buy Superman IV since it is almost universally agreed that the movie is inferior to A Beautiful Mind? Should I be punished for my "bad" taste?

Like I said, I will not buy anything that is not OAR. As some have said, "No OAR = No Sale." However, I have no problem with offering "the misguided" their copies of pan and scan movies.

Consumer choice is always a good thing. It sets a dangerous precedent to say that only one option should be available.

I'm all for making both versions available. That way, everybody can be happy.

-Kelly

P.S. I realize that the movies I mentioned make me sound like a buffoon. Rest assured, I also have and enjoy movies like Citizen Kane, Chinatown, and The Godfather.

#14 of 412 OFFLINE   Peter Rohlfs

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:34 AM

When DVD 1st came out, alot of titles came out dual sided with both WS and P&Scam available. In some cases a dual alyer disk was used and it was a menu choice.

Studios wishing to cater to that crowd of total morons, should continue this practice. The should never be a release that does not include OAR.

The idea that Puke&Scream outsells WS is because of the Wallmarts of the world.

Ron is correct, that when WS only versions are the only choice, they sell.

Peter

#15 of 412 OFFLINE   Nate Anderson

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:35 AM

Doesn't anyone else want to grab these execs and shake some sense into them? I mean, we buy more of their "product" (I feel so dirty referring to my beloved films with such an ugly word, but alas this is in their terminology.) than all the Joe Shmoes combined.

I own 350 some DVD's and only ONE is a MAR'd version. (Doc Hollywood, and I got it when I was first getting into DVD.)
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#16 of 412 OFFLINE   Jerry Gracia

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:36 AM

Dumb and ignorant people piss me off.

The idea that someone would like a films content to be cropped or changed to merely fill a screen is incomprehensible to me.

But hey...same story different day.

I'm to the point that I don't care anymore.

I'll just wait for the next enthusiast format to arrive and enjoy whatever OAR product the studios feel fit to release to us on DVD.

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#17 of 412 OFFLINE   Kevin Coleman

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:45 AM

I have said it before and I will say it again. You guys are all getting your panties in a bunch over a battle that is already lost and one we shouldn't care about anyway.

LET JOE 6P HAVE 480I DVD TO DO WITH WHATEVER HE PLEASES. I STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT THE TRUE ENTHUSIAST FORMAT WILL COME IN THE FORM OF A HD FORMAT. DVD WILL SOON BECOME THE LOWEST RESOLUTION FORMAT ACCEPTABLE

Read this quote and try and guess who it came from.

Quote:
What I hope you find is that the overall quality of the DVD is so far above the LD that you'll want the format to succeed as a replacement for VHS distibution of movies. DVD should become the next mass market medium. The next niche product, that would take the posistion that LD now holds, has yet to come along.


My two cents.


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#18 of 412 OFFLINE   JasonKrol

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:46 AM

I am very upset about this trend, but I have only 1 hope. The exact reason that P&S became so popular was because of all of the consumers that dont really have a clue that came into DVD and were angry about "black bars" and wasted "tv screen space" etc.

As more and more of these same consumers start to embrace widescreen and HD TV sets, they will start to demand more and more of their movies to look "right" and not all "squished!!" etc.

Thats really our only hope.


-Jason

#19 of 412 OFFLINE   streeter

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:53 AM

Catalogue releases are still very often released as double-sided discs with WS on one side and P&S on the other side. The new Bull Durham Special Edition is an example. Look at the announcements at dvdfile.com... so many are released with both fullscreen and widescreen.
Then why do the studios release separate versions for 'hot new releases'? For the re-buying potential. There is a big chance that the people who buy a pan&scan Grinch of Spy Game will buy that same title again within the next five years, only then in widescreen so it fits their widescreen tv. In Europe, 4:3 televisions are all but out of production.
Then why do they put both versions on catalogue releases? Because retailers only carry a few copies of catalogue releases. With 'hot new releases' they carry sometimes hundreds. Here, having both widescreen and pan&scan editions is feasible for the retailers.

It's all about money. Nobody believes me on this, and I've mentioned this half a dozen times here. The only sense behind this is 're-buying' - this is the maximization of profits for the studios both in present and future.

And of course, it is even better if there are ONLY pan&scan releases. This will force consumers to buy pan&scan releases, making room for even MORE re-buying when/if widescreen televisions saturate the US market.

I don't agree with Ron's article. Studios are afraid that they'll lose money by not making pan&scan titles, and they should be. Yes, they'll lose money. The solution is having both versions of the same movie on 1 disc - seperately or 'on the fly'... for ALL movies, not just catalogue releases or new releases that aren't blockbuster hits. But studios will be reluctant to do this. Then they'll lose the revenue that might be coming to them within five years. This is millions of dollars.

What do I think we can do? Expose this strategy that the studios have. It is wrong, and by letting people know that THIS is what they have in store for them in the next few years, maybe they'll stop doing it. I think what the studios are doing is purposely misleading customers - shouldn't they go to trial if it is proven that this is indeed their marketing strategy?
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#20 of 412 OFFLINE   Marc Colella

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Posted April 23 2002 - 03:54 AM

Good article.

Although I have a concern with the points regarding choice.

There seems to be a contradiction here:

Pro-choice:

"But such studios as Warner, MGM, and Disney are now releasing greater numbers of titles in pan-and-scan or fullframe only. By failing to educate the public, these studios are robbing consumers of any choice in the matter."

And they it goes on to say that we shouldn't give the public a choice and force widescreen on them.

Translation: The public should have a choice, as long as it's widescreen only.

I suggest re-wording the part about not giving the public a choice. We may not want to give the public a choice, but we also don't want to stress that's what we're doing. Choice is supposed to be a good thing.




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