David Prior, Peter Staddon mentioned in Chicago Tribune DVD article

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Lambert, Oct 30, 2001.

  1. David Lambert

    David Lambert Executive Producer

    Aug 3, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Orly Kroh-Trifman and David Prior of the
    Digital Video Compression Center pose with
    posters from "The Planet of the Apes."

    From the Chicago Tribune
    Compression era offers extras
    Snippets, cut scenes get new life on DVDs
    By Vincent J. Schodolski
    Tribune national correspondent

    October 29, 2001
    UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- Ever wanted to learn how to walk like an ape? Or how you keep big-name movie stars warm in 47-degree water? And how some of those stars performed on their original screen tests?
    You can experience all that and a great deal more on the soon-to-be released DVD version of director Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes."
    There are 13 hours of material on the two-disc set, a volume made possible by evolving compression and disc technology.
    "DVDs can store so much more that it helps directors think about what they are making," said Peter Staddon, senior vice president for marketing at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, which releases the DVD on Nov. 20. "It has evolved so quickly that we are doing things today that would never have been considered a couple of years ago."
    Several technical factors have contributed to the evolution in DVDs that has in turn affected the way filmmakers think about movies.
    "We wanted to enhance what was in the story already," said Ralph Winter, the executive producer of "Planet of the Apes." "We wanted to capture as much of the way the film was made as possible. This [DVD version] is something we all think about now as we are making a movie and even preparing for the movie."
    The "Planet of the Apes" DVD was produced at the Digital Video Compression Center located on the Universal Studios lot.
    "We changed the flow of our normal work to accommodate this project, which was so complicated," said Orly Kroh-Trifman, the director of the DVCC. "We knew the way we usually handled things would not work."
    John Kellogg, general manager of multichannel audio production for Dolby Digital, said DVDs should be seen as big hard drives that offer limitations only on the amount of data that can be stored.
    "It is not so much new compression techniques as it is the larger capacity of the discs," Kellogg said. He said improvements in MPEG compression is now largely a function of software. "And there are always upgrades." MPEG, an acronym for moving pictures expert group, refers to an industry standard for compressing full-motion video.
    New authoring software, for instance, allowed technicians to create new kinds of menus, links and files. "Now the DVD players encounter little operating systems as they read the discs. Those tools were not available three years ago."
    But, Kellogg added, the industry is starting to meet some consumer resistance to the super-enhanced discs. "We may be seeing the pendulum swing back. There are some who say enough already. They just want to put the disc in and press play," Kellogg said.
    For people who simply want to watch a film, and not all the extras, a new type of DVD from Sony Corp., called Superbit DVDs, uses available disc space to create a higher-quality product.
    Marshall Starkman, project supervisor at the Sony DVD Center, said the new DVDs are the product of rethinking how the existing space was used.
    "We're saying let's use the space that was allotted to value-added [features] and instead use it to make the best quality picture and audio," Starkman said.
    This kind of thinking, he said, allowed Sony to double the average bit rate overall on the disc.
    Since the amount of storage space on the DVD is finite, trade-offs have to be made. The more value-added features, like those on the new "Planet of the Apes" DVD, the less room for better quality video and audio. In the case of the Superbit DVDs, all the extras are eliminated and the space is used to cram more bits into the quality of the picture and sound.
    Starkman acknowledged the new DVDs will have the greatest appeal to serious film buffs with sophisticated equipment. "The benefit is most evident on higher quality systems."
    David Prior, who handled DVCC's production of the "Planet of the Apes" DVD, said that the greater capacity is changing the way filmmakers approach projects.
    "People are exploring the technology in ways that they had not thought about before," he said. "The only ones who were doing this were the porn industry and some concerts."
    Prior said the evolving technology, coupled with filmmakers growing awareness to the creative possibilities, is leading to an increase in budgets for producing DVDs. That in turn has led to directors working to collect additional material during filming.
    More than 200 hours of video were shot during the making of "Pearl Harbor," giving Prior abundant material to work with as he directs that DVD.
    "I like to go with the `you are there' approach," he said.
    It also affects the way directors approach their work.
    "It is easier for them to cut a scene because they know they can put it on the DVD, which becomes the archival, permanent record of the film. Studios are in effect letting the DVD producers and directors write the history of a film," Prior said.
    "I see them as film school in a box."[/quote]
    [Edited last by David Lambert on October 30, 2001 at 07:04 PM]
  2. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

    Jan 3, 2001
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    Nice article. Thanks for posting it David.
    Funny how David Prior mentions the porn industy. Why does it seem like technology is driven by smut?
  3. Sean Moon

    Sean Moon Cinematographer

    Jan 25, 2001
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    Hey, the porn DVDs are the about the only ones that actively use the multi-angle feature. At least someone is!

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