Doesn't Anybody Remember Laserdiscs?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Doug_L, Jun 15, 2001.

  1. Doug_L

    Doug_L Stunt Coordinator

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    Gonna go off on a little rant here, and I'll apologize in advance for getting on my high horse.
    Not to sound like some crotchety old guy, but it seems like a lot of folks around here either need to a)remember, or b) learn that laserdiscs blazed the trail on a lot of the features that we all enjoy on DVDs today like OAR, director's commentaries, additional materials and so on. Laserdiscs were more expensive, less accessible, harder to handle (due to size and flipping) and considerably less mainstream, yet there were many of us who pressed on because they were the best quality available in their time. Having some understanding of this might make us all a little more thankful for what we have today, and a little less likely to complain that each highly anticipated DVD is grossly deficient in some way.
    This isn't to say that laserdiscs are superior, because as far as picture quality goes we all know that they're not any more. And it's not to say that as one who has been through the "dark ages" of LD I either want some respect or recognition, because I don't; I owned an LD player because I wanted the best quality I could afford, not because I was fighting a crusade for others. It's just that I'm getting a little sick and tired of hearing folks say that DVD's are the greatest thing ever without any understanding of their place in evolution. Yes, DVDs have spectacular audio, video and additional features. No, DVDs are not the first medium for the home to have these qualities (LD's weren't either). DVDs are merely the most recent in a long line of technologies that allow us to enjoy a theater-like experience at home; they too will have their place in history.
    As an example, I recently read a post about the "innovative" commentary track on the Superman DVD, which has two different people in the front left and right speakers, respectively. Cool? Yes. Innovative? No. I'm pretty sure this was done in 1994 on Criterion's Menace II Society LD, and even that probably wasn't the first time ever. This is just an example of the kind of things that I have been seeing more and more of lately that show no apparent knowledge of the past. Just becuase you haven't seen something before doesn't mean that it is new; enjoy it for what it is, but don't praise it for being "groundbreaking", "fresh" or "creative".
    And it's not even like I'm trying to be a hardass about people getting their facts right, because we all make mistakes, (although some seem to take a little more care before stating things as fact. A sincere "thank you" to all who do). It's just that the majority attitude seems to be that laserdiscs never even existed, and to me that's a real shame.
    I'm glad that DVDs have opened the door for home theater to a whole host of folks who had never experienced it before. I think it's great that through commentaries people have become more interested in the movie making process, and in understanding a director's vision. As the number of people who appreciate movies in the home grows we also become a stronger buying force, which in turn increases chances of new technologies coming to the market. I really believe in the phrase "the more, the merrier".
    This is a great hobby that we all share, and some of us are fortunate enough to have been involved for quite some time. I think many of us need to gain some historical perspective about how far we've come in a few short years, and remember that it wasn't always this easy to watch movies with top notch sound and video, in their OAR, and get extras and commentaries to boot; we really do have it good, and the constant complaining about missing DTS tracks and boring menus really need to stop, in my opinion. It is, after all, about the best possible presentation of the movie, isn't it?
    Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong. (That's a Dennis Miller quotation)
    If you made it this far, thanks for putting up with me.
     
  2. Justin Lane

    Justin Lane Cinematographer

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    I am not sure what you are trying to get at here. Yes Laserdisc came first, but for the most part is now a dead format as far as new releases go. I don't see a lack of respect for Laserdiscs on the forum, nor do I think Laserdisc needs to be praised at every drop of the hat just for the sake of doing so. It is an old format that has been phased out, in the same way DVD will be one day. I will just continue to enjoy the films as they are presented, without having too much of an emotional attachment for formats that ultimately will always die.
    J
     
  3. Gary Kellerman

    Gary Kellerman Stunt Coordinator

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    Doug, I once said this on another thread I believe on HTF.
    I perfectly agree with you that the LaserDisc was a trail blazer in the A/V world. It's one particular asset was that there was no direct physical contact between the pickup device and the recorded disc. If a laser disc were to "wear", it could only possibly happen from the heat generated by the laser. The "wear" might have been in the form of LASER ROT. In owning LDs, I did not find this to be the case so the LDs appeared to be "wear proof". The LD system was the first to render stereo sound using closed circuit fm frequencies for the audio. CX noise reduction reduced a definite background hiss on the discs much like Dolby B noise reduction did to cassette tapes. Then it was on to two track digital sound as well as the coming of CD audio discs. That led to DVD which in a sense is really a laser disc whose information is stored for retrieval in the digital domain. Recordable DVD should be the wave of the future and perhaps allow us to get away from most forms of tape whose various systems have contributed alot, but whose system depended on CONTACT for record and playback meaning friction resulting in wear of tape heads and the whole tape playing system.
     
  4. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Doug, you're absolutely right that many of the features we take for granted first appeared on laserdisc, and of course people should be happy that people who produced the format "paved the way", as it were.
    But I'm not sure exactly who or what you think is not being shown respect here because of all the excitement over DVD. The laserdisc "format"? How? The "format" isn't a person, and you obviously can't diss an inanimate, unaware piece of plastic and aluminum in its cardboard sleeve.
    The people who produced laserdisc? Again, how? Those very same people (such as Criterion) are happily producing and selling DVDs now (and making more more at it than they ever were with laserdisc), and are getting lots of praise for their best efforts. So, since plastic and aluminum can't feel insulted, and the PEOPLE involved aren't being insulted, I don't quite get your point.
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  5. SHAWN SZILEZY

    SHAWN SZILEZY Stunt Coordinator

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    Doug,
    I still remember and frequently put my lasers to use. In fact, I upgraded to an Elite player last year just to get the most out of them. To me, there is nothing quite like "airing" out the system with a little Pod Race from EP1 or Snipes ripping through a couple of vamps in all of Blade's DTS glory. The bottom line is just enjoy the hobby as only you can!
    Thx........Shawn
     
  6. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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  7. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Actually, I'd love to get into LDs, but at this point in my Home Theater career the monies are ever spent on DVDs and equipment upgrades for DVDs.
    Peace Out~ [​IMG]
    ------------------
    http://home.earthlink.net/~peregrinefalcon/
     
  8. Brian-W

    Brian-W Screenwriter

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    I still watch laserdiscs (that aren't on DVD), and even upgraded to the best player you can get (Pioneer HLD-X9)>
    Went so far as to pick up a MUSE decoder and some analog High Definition laserdiscs (that do exceed DVD picture quality, and are all 16x9 too) as well. Selection is very limited, but enjoyable nonetheless.
    Here's some screen shots:
    (removed due to size)
     
  9. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    I can personally attest that hidef laser looks REALLY good, thanks to Brian's hospitality. [​IMG]
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  10. Anthony_H

    Anthony_H Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Doug... I think I know somewhat of which you speak. You and I are victims of a recently diagnosed ailment called "Laserdiscitis". Its a feeling of resentment towards the Johnny-come-latelys who weren't waiting in line (when was it '94...'95?) on that Tuesday in October... waiting for that ALIEN box set to hit the shelves. What? DELETED FOOTAGE? Only available here? I actually felt...for lack of a better term...special. I had seen this footage fans had talked about for years but have never seen. It was like having treasure. Showing it to fellow fans....("You got what!!!!!?!?") And pages and pages of text regarding production..marketing campaigns..etc? That is a feature that hasn't been ported to DVD all that well. Now, for the most part... the extras are taken for granted. Any schlub can get them. As more and more people jump on the bandwagon... I believe we will see a "dumbing down" of this format as well... and a loss of any uniqueness it still maintains.
     
  11. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Lots of us remember Lasers. Some few of us are crazy enough to be just as happy with them today as we ever were.
    [​IMG]
    Not too bad a collection, and very very few replaced with DVD. On my NTSC display LD still looks great.
    ------------------
    Philip Hamm
    AIM: PhilBiker
     
  12. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

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    Anthony, there is also a related category of "Home Theateritis" that is the resentment of long-time proud home theater owners toward the new breed of guys who just go to Circuit City and get the system in a box. Not to knock those people, but I remember when I was nineteen and saved $800 to get a REAL receiver. We scrounged our cash carefully and stockpiled it to get that special piece of gear that was relatively unknown to the masses. Now you see all those home theater ads on TV and in the Wal-Mart flyers and it feels like the whole experience has been cheapened somehow.
     
  13. SHAWN SZILEZY

    SHAWN SZILEZY Stunt Coordinator

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    Brian,
    WOW, those screenshots look awesome! Too bad you live in CA, I would love to see a demo. Very impressive! [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Thx......Shawn
     
  14. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I remember them vaguely, being unwieldy and something I couldn't afford, despite their widescreen transfers.
    But, then again, I also remember my Atari 2600 and 800XL, and don't necessarily expect people to be grateful for second fire buttons or more than 64K of memory or connection speeds over 300 baud, either. [​IMG] Life goes on, and newer generations have higher expectations.
     
  15. chris rick

    chris rick Second Unit

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    The dts discs are still amazing and sound better than just about anything on dvd for the most part. I'm parting with them now though because of the huge inferiority of ld's to dvd's in the picture department. Still a decent format, but far far far inferior to dvd at this point...that plus it's a niche market now...my advice to most is to not get into this ld game since most titles are making their way to dvd now....my 2 cents
     
  16. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

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    How much playing time is a available on a High Definition Laserdisc? (I've only seen analog HDTV/Muse at the Smithsonian-- I believe they later replaced the old Japanese analogue set with a ATSC set. Nonetheless, very impressive).
     
  17. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    I not only remember laser discs... I still buy them! I am currently in the process of buying back (via eBay) copies of lasers I sold off with the surety that Warner Bros. would put them on DVD, seeing as how they were big supporters of laser and initially big champions of DVD. But now that it looks like most of the RKO classics are just going to rot in the Warner Vaults, I am re-acquiring them and am perfectly happy with their quality until something better comes along...which it only will if MGM buys the classic library back (hint hint).
     
  18. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    I think I will be hanging on to my LD's for some time to come for a variety of reasons, such as--
    1.) Packaging--
    An LD boxed set is still a collectors item
    compared to the throw-away packaging of even
    most elaborate DVD's.
    Comparative examples:
    THE SOUND OF MUSIC
    MY FAIR LADY
    FANTASIA
    GONE WITH THE WIND
    2.) Deluxe Edition LD's being issued as bare bones
    DVD's, i.e.: MY FAIR LADY, again.
    3.) Extras presented on DVD in an INFERIOR manner
    compared to the SAME extras on LD boxed sets,
    i.e.: THE SOUND OF MUSIC Interactive Stills
    Archive; beautiful, sharp and clear on the LD,
    blurry, over-exposed and washed-out on the DVD.
    4.) Many titles issued as deluxe LD's that
    seem increasingly unlikely to be reissued
    IN ANY FORM on DVD in the foreseeable future,
    i.e.: GOLDEN AGE OF LOONEY TUNES
    ZIEGFELD FOLLIES
    GENE KELLY COLLECTION
    MGM COMPOSER SERIES
    MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS
    SHOW BOAT (1936)
    (Hmmm...all titles controlled by.....SATAN????)
    So, in the fabulous march of progress in which newer may not ALWAYS be inherently better, for the time being, I will continue to lug around many, many LD's, not only for the pleasures they continue to give me that, as yet, are unattainable on non-existent upgraded DVD editions, but also on the off chance that their "quaintness" (and market) value may increase in direct proportion to the condescension and contempt in which they are currently regarded by many whose eyelids start to flutter at the sound of the words "new and improved."
     
  19. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

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    I love my laserdiscs and have been enjoying them more now that i got my new Seleco HT250 projector. They have never looked better. Hey its hard to make a case for laserdiscs when you have a Hamms beer sign. Now thats old! LOL Of course with that last name.......OOOHHH now it makes sense.
    ------------------
    Jeff Whitford
    Hometheater Guru
     
  20. Dave L

    Dave L Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice post Doug, like you and some others I've been an LD collector for years, early 80s actually, and have seen the highs and lows of the format. Considering how few classic films prior to the 60s have and are being released on DVD, I'm caring for my collection carefully. Hardly ever replace an LD with a DVD unless there's some compelling reason like extras I want (Cleopatra, Close Encounters) or a new version (Big Sleep, Dracula). Just keep my fingers crossed that at least one of my four players holds out as long as I do.
     

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