Early Look: The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 15, 2003.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    The Digital Bits:
    Insider's Guide To DVD


    Anyone that has spent time here on Home Theater
    and other forums like it know the value of
    the information these sites provide. Practically
    anyone with little or no Home Theater experience can
    arrive here, post a few messages and ultimately walk
    away from this forum well educated.

    What if someone took all the essential
    information that every person should know about
    DVD and Home Theater and put it into book form?
    Well, this is exactly what Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan
    have accomplished with their newly authored book,
    The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD.

    I'll talk about this book in a moment, but first
    I want to talk a little about Bill Hunt, Todd Doogan
    and THE DIGITAL BITS website.

    When Home Theater Forum set up shop in 1997 the
    Internet was still something most people knew
    little about. While we were settling into our
    new digs and enjoying the smell of the Internet's
    fresh paint, we came in contact with Bill Hunt,
    who had recently launched The Digital Bits
    website which was at the time covering the launch
    of the DVD format. After a few friendly conversations
    on the phone, Bill Hunt took HOME THEATER FORUM
    under his wing and made us his official
    discussion forum. This joining of forces sparked
    a close friendship amongst us and potential for
    growth that would never have happened without each
    other's support.

    Thanks to the efforts of Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan,
    The Digital Bits has been the Internet's
    premiere venue for the latest DVD news, views and
    reviews. Run by DVD fans themselves, The Digital
    has consistently been a reliable source
    for those seeking the latest "insider" DVD news and
    latest DVD release reviews. I personally visit the
    website on a daily basis just to catch up on The
    Rumor Mill
    , which teasingly gives us a hint at
    titles that are in the pipeline for release.

    I consider Bill Hunt to be a good friend. Both
    he and I seem to cross paths every time I am out
    in Los Angeles. Two years ago when I had the
    opportunity to visit Skywalker Ranch, I knew I
    wanted Bill Hunt to come along. Spending the day
    with Bill, I found him to be extremely knowledgeable
    about film, Home Theater, and the DVD industry.
    He's also a very friendly, down-to-earth individual.

    I don't think I have had the pleasure of meeting
    Todd Doogan, though I have been an avid reader of
    Doogan's Views, which often takes a humorous
    look at what is happening within the industry,
    while providing some of the best DVD reviews the
    Internet has to offer.

    Insider's Guide To DVD

    I first became aware of this book that Bill Hunt
    and Todd Doogan were writing over a year ago. While
    spending some time out in Los Angeles, Bill talked
    about his efforts to put together an essential guide
    for DVD newbies and established enthusiasts. Both
    Bill and Todd have been feverishly working on
    this book over the past two years while at the
    same time maintaining The Digital Bits website.
    Nobody ever said writing a book would be easy!

    Their efforts seems to have paid off. Just starting
    to arrive on bookstore shelves, The Digital Bits:
    Insider's Guide To DVD
    is the very first
    publication of its kind to explore the DVD format
    from history to future. You'll not only learn how
    DVD discs are manufactured and compressed, but learn
    about about the authoring process in creating some
    of the great menu designs we have come to appreciate
    over the years.

    One of the greatest benefits of this book for
    DVD "newbies" is the fact that it clearly explains
    aspect ratios. Through the use of many comparison
    film stills, a reader can not only see how a
    1.85:1 ratio compares to 2.35:1, but how Full Frame
    greatly compromises the widescreen scale. If there
    is one thing I hope this book accomplishes is to
    educate people as to why widescreen is so important
    in preserving the filmmaker's intended vision.

    For anyone just getting into Home Theater, this
    book provides valuable information on how best to
    begin building a theater based on a particular budget.
    The authors are very careful in making certain that
    readers wisely spend their budget, finding the right
    compromise between features and price. Those of you
    on a limited budget can actually do better than buying
    a "home theater in a box," and you'll find some
    invaluable advice on how you can better spend your money.

    The book manages to answer just about every question
    I have ever seen posted on HOME THEATER FORUM,

    * What does anamorphic mean?
    * What is the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS?
    * What is THX?


    Page by page, this book carefully decrypts all
    those numerous logos that adorn the back of a
    DVD box. You'll decipher the differences
    between DTS and DTS-ES as well as
    learn what those strange DVD sound icons really

    At this point, many of you reading this review
    who are established DVD enthusiasts may be wondering
    what's in this book for ME? While the book does
    spend a good deal of its first 84 pages on material
    already familiar to most of you, Bill and Todd have
    included eye-opening material that will keep readers
    glued to their seats.


    This book contains comprehensive reviews of the
    Top 100 DVDs of all time. I particularly
    find these reviews to be valuable as there are so
    many great films crossing all genres that I have
    yet to become aware of. The book examines the
    very BEST of both Film and TV on DVD, with reviews
    that contain background history on its subject
    matter as well as giving us detailed information
    on its transfer and included supplements.

    With all this book has to offer, I saved the best
    for last....

    As many of you are aware, Fox Home Video is
    about to release The Alien Quadrilogy to
    DVD. The Digital Bits had the opportunity
    to go behind-the-scenes in the production of
    this amazing 9-disc DVD that contains never-before-
    seen versions of these films as well as all-new
    supplemental materials.


    The book introduces you to Charles de Lauzirika,
    one of the hottest working DVD producers. His credits
    include Hannibal, Legend, Gladiator and a slew
    of Fox DVD releases. Members of HOME THEATER FORUM
    should already be familiar with Charlie -- he is an
    active member of this forum, often graciously taking
    personal time to reply to numerous posts.

    The Digital Bits sits down with Charlie
    in an extensive interview that takes us through
    the entire creation process of the Alien
    , a project that had not quite-too-
    seriously been tossed around by Fox over the
    past few years.

    It was originally Charlie's passion to do something
    special with David Fincher's Alien 3, but
    never dreamed that Fox would offer him the massive
    job of putting together a 9-disc Special Edition
    that covered all 4 films.

    Through interviews and photos, you'll be taken
    to the film archives at Fox Studios where Charlie
    searches through boxes of film reels and original
    production artwork. You'll be carefully taken
    through the day when Harry Dean Stanton,
    Veronica Cartwright
    and Tom Skerritt
    met at P.O.P. Sound in Santa Monica to record
    the DVD commentary. From the moment these actors
    walked into the building till they all bid their
    final goodbye, I felt as if I had just been
    placed in the middle of the action bearing witness
    to every intricate detail of what happened during
    the commentary sessions. This is a rare opportunity
    for most everyone that has never witnessed how
    one of these commentary sessions come together.

    In addition, we take a look at the people and
    processes in putting together the Special Edition
    content for Alien Quadrilogy. As would
    be expected, there's a lot of digging into archives,
    trying to connect with the talent and creators
    involved with the film, and the challenge of
    meeting the alloted timeframe and budget of the
    studio. Anyone who has ever questioned why a
    Special Edition DVD doesn't contain a certain
    deleted scene or element that fans have wanted,
    will now understand the politics involved in
    obtaining this material in the first place.

    The book clearly talks about Charlie's efforts
    to persuade director David Fincher to participate
    in the Alien Quadrilogy project -- especially
    since it was a film that the director was not
    very proud of. Charlie never had the opportunity
    to meet Mr. Fincher in person nor get him personally
    involved, but there's an amazing story about a
    "close encounter" with the director at a local
    Mexican restaurant.

    I found the entire Alien Quadrilogy piece
    to be a fascinating read. It gave me the opportunity
    to appreciate the work that goes into these massive
    DVD projects, and understand the reason why we
    can't always have everything we want included in
    these Special Editions.

    Final Thoughts

    At just over 400 pages, The Digital Bits:
    Insider's Guide To DVD
    is a very easy read.
    You can pretty much flip through the pages and
    find something that will catch your eye. Newbies
    to the DVD/Home Theater experience will spend
    more time scouring through the first 84 pages of
    the book. These pages provide a thorough look
    at everything anyone needs to know about DVD and
    building a Home Theater. Established enthusiasts
    will fully enjoy the in-depth look at the creation
    of this year's anticipated release of Twentieth
    Century Fox's nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy.

    The fact that this book contains comprehensive
    reviews of the Top 100 DVDs of all time
    is reason enough to keep a copy next to your
    favorite sitting chair. It certainly takes the
    guesswork out of "What are we watching tonight?!"

    The book lists at $17.95, about the cost of a
    single DVD. AMAZON is offering the book for a
    discounted price of $12.57.

    Click Here for Purchase Information

    This book not only makes a GREAT Christmas stocking
    stuffer for any DVD enthusiast, but more importantly,
    your purchase helps support the survival of The
    Digital Bits
    website. Many of you should already
    be aware that websites like ours cost more to run
    than the advertising revenue we take in. Purchasing
    this book makes a "win win" situation for both you
    and The Bits.

    This review isn't just support for a great bunch
    of guys that we have gotten to know over the years --
    but support for a book that is well worth its
    purchase price.
  2. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

    Nov 2, 2001
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    Sold! Just put my copy on hold at my local Borders.

    Also Ron, you mention the DVD producer trying to get David Lynch involved-shouldn't that be David Fincher? I assume you're referring to Alien 3.

    Great review!

    EDIT: I see you already fixed it!
  3. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Ronald Epstein

    I had just posted this review and gotten off
    the phone with Bill Hunt who caught my dyslexic
    typo. I was lucky -- as many times as Fincher's
    name appears here, I got him mixed up with Lynch
    only twice. [​IMG]

    You were one of the rare who caught the mistake
    for the 5 minutes it was posted.

    Glad you bought the book!
  4. Andrew Bunk

    Andrew Bunk Screenwriter

    Nov 2, 2001
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    I feel special now-I'm in the elite of the error catchers![​IMG]
  5. TomWoodward

    TomWoodward Second Unit

    Aug 10, 2002
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    Great review Ron, and I couldn't agree with you more. Bill and Todd have done an amazing job on this and I wish them every success with it. It's just a really polished package, plenty of info for the beginner and enthusiast alike. The Alien Quadrilogy stuff is particularly interesting, there's some really great info included. I've also learnt quite a few things that I didn't know before - although I've never been much of a tech head so that's probably not surprising! All in all though, thoroughly recommended and I'm definitely going to be giving it a plug on our site in a few days time. I've still got another half to go so it'll have to wait till then [​IMG]
  6. Chris_T

    Chris_T Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 29, 2000
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    Just ordered the book at Amazon. Great review Ron. I am more than happy to support The Digital Bits, which I believe is one of the premium dvd sites on the web. Great going guys and keep up the good work.

  7. Jimmy M

    Jimmy M Second Unit

    Feb 3, 2001
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    I got my copy last week. The first section I read completely was the Alien Quad. chapter, which was worth the price of the book alone.

    I think the funniest part about the back cover is the features grid. (Yes, it has a grid just like all DVDs should have) The Aspect Ratio of the book is 1.5:1, and written sideways next to that it says "Hey...it's widescreen if you read it like this" [​IMG]

    Awesome book. It will be kept in the first slot on my DVD shelves.

  8. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

    Jun 17, 1999
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    This is going on my 'to buy' list, but...

  9. Bill Hunt

    Bill Hunt Insider

    Dec 5, 1998
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    Thanks so much for the kind words, Ron.

    We've got a lot respect for you and everyone here at the HTF. You've become a good friend over the years and it means a lot to Todd and I that you enjoyed the book. Many thanks to you, and to everyone here at the HTF who have been supportive of the Bits since the early days of DVD.

    Shayne, you're right about DVD Demystified. It's a fantastic book. Jim Taylor's actually the one who introduced the folks at McGraw-Hill to us when they wanted to do another DVD book. The idea is that DVD Demystified is targeted at the high-end and industry users, the very tech savvy folks, while our book is a lot more casual and new user friendly. The two books complement each other well I think.

    Thanks again, everyone!
  10. Peter McM

    Peter McM Supporting Actor

    Nov 18, 1999
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    I'm feeling a lot of love in this room right now...[​IMG]

    Definitely on my next trip to Border's!
  11. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

    Sep 19, 2000
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    Great review, and since (just like a DVD) I pre-ordered, I can second all these points. Well worth the price, plus it helps the Bits!

  12. Dan Rudolph

    Dan Rudolph Producer

    Dec 30, 2002
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    I bought this book from Amazon on the same order as Forever Knight season 1, so it will be a while before I actually receive it. Looking forward to it, though.
  13. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Feb 16, 2001
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    Albany, NY
    No room in my budget for this right now, but definitely on the Christmas list. I rarely make blind decisions like this, but I can only count two instances where I was anything less than thrilled with The Digital Bits website. Meanwhile, it is one of my daily stops online. Even without the book, a resource like that deserves to survive; an awesome book is just icing on the cake.
  14. James Sarno

    James Sarno Stunt Coordinator

    Sep 23, 2003
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    Great Book!...Such an easy read....
    My Wife picked it up from the table and has not let go of it.It sits in our rack,as our refrence guide...It will always be the "last DVD" in the rack...

    Job Well Done
  15. Tony_Ramos

    Tony_Ramos Second Unit

    Sep 13, 2003
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    I, too, made a blind purchase simply b/c I LOVE the Bits and the work you guys do. I couldn't imagine how much harder it would be to find DVD info all on one site if the Bits wsan't around.

    As for the book, it is the best layman's approach to DVD and home theater technology that I have read. Not only that, now I can remember what DVD;'s i need to add to my collection next time I'm dying for something to watch in between the big releases.

    Thanks guys!
  16. Yumbo

    Yumbo Cinematographer

    Sep 13, 1999
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    don't forget Practical Home Theater as a companion.

    clicking to Amazon to purchase...will be good for my staff to read!
  17. Shayne Lebrun

    Shayne Lebrun Screenwriter

    Jun 17, 1999
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  18. Malcolm Cleugh

    Malcolm Cleugh Second Unit

    Jan 11, 2002
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    For UK readers this is also available from Amazon.co.uk (Bill do you want to mention this on your site).
    for £9.73 with delivery in 11 to 12 days.

    Works out cheaper than buying from US and as I am getting something else is with free shipping.
  19. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Northern Virginia
    Real Name:
    Chuck Mayer
    The Bits was my DVD source on the net back when I got my first player and we were waiting for Disney, Paramount, and Fox to start putting out their films. The book is an easy sell for me, and I plan on getting copies for a few friends.

    It's been ordered with Dragonslayer from Amazon, using Ron's link.

    Thanks for the great community!

    Take care,
  20. Yee-Ming

    Yee-Ming Producer

    Apr 4, 2002
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    "on a little street in Singapore"
    Real Name:
    Yee Ming Lim

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