Happy 7th Birthday, DVD! Remembering those Early Days

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Joe Karlosi, Mar 13, 2004.

  1. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

    Nov 5, 2003
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    I never went for LD because of the expense, and also due to the fact that I just knew they'd never last. I figured something smaller would take over, much like the CD - and would require no flipping of discs. Since I never went for lasers, it turned out saving me a ton of money in the long run.

    So when I first heard about this thing called DVD I was sold from the beginning. I became an instant fan of the format before the product was even launched (7 years ago this month!) and I predicted that DVD would do for movies what the CD did for music. It seemed like common sense to me. That's why I often use the nickname, "The First DVD Fan".

    I was the very first person I knew who bought a DVD player in March 1997, and I remember very well all the jeers and hostility and doubters everywhere who said DVD would never last, and that DIVX would dominate! I heard this everywhere: from video store owners/customers; from IMAGE themselves (who eventually and grudgingly released THE TERMINATOR as their first DVD, saying that if people want extras they can buy the laserdisc); and even movie conventions where there would actually be panel discussions called "DVD -- will it last?" I recall being literally the ONLY person in the entire audience among anti-DVD panelists who spoke up for DVD, while everyone else condemned it and felt it would never catch on!

    In 1997 I would actually go onto a computer chat room anywhere and say, "Let's discuss DVD" -- but people would always shoot back, "What's DVD??"

    I recall laserdisc owners pooh-poohing DVD and boycotting them, often times being quite nasty about it.

    Well, here we are now, 7 years later, and everyone -- even the LD fans - have embraced DVD! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! [​IMG]
  2. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    well Joe, i remember passing thru Atlanta one time and stopping off at Laserdisc Enterprises like i usually did and finding a demo set-up to get people aquainted with and interested in the coming of DVD.
    they were showing Twister and i have to tell you- it looked like crap- artifacting all over the place (digital breakup).
    i was dreading seeing this format usurp my beloved Lasers.
    thankfully they got better (and pretty quickly too).

    i was very much one of those ones who hated this format with every fiber of their being and needing some strong convincing before i ever got on board.
  3. JeremySt

    JeremySt Screenwriter

    Aug 19, 2001
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    The first DVD I saw was the first release of T2. I thought it looked and sounded stunning. I bought my first DVD player within a month. I picked up T2, Seven, and Austin Powers.
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Well, here's my story....

    Back in 1996 we laserdisc collectors began to
    hear the "buzz" about a new upcoming format
    called DVD. Having spent thousands of dollars
    on our collection of laserdisc titles, none of
    us were very happy about this threatening format
    and the fact that we would be forced to upgrade
    our current video library.

    We made a lot of noise across the Internet
    in protest of DVD. Plain and simple, we
    didn't want it to happen.

    Well, it came to be that in early 1997 when
    the format hit store shelves in a few select
    cities, favorable word-of-mouth began to spread.

    One afternoon in late February of that same
    year, I found myself at the VIRGIN MEGASTORE
    in New York City. There, in the store's video
    department, I saw my first glimpse of the new
    format. They were playing Batman on a
    small TV monitor. Though the display was rather
    small, it was very clear to me that there was
    something quite incredible about the picture
    quality. There was absolutely no mosquito noise
    or color bleeding -- some of the traits I was
    used to seeing in laserdisc videos at that time.
    In fact, the picture was so much clearer than
    anything I had ever seen before that I
    immediately purchased a handful of discs and
    bought my first Sony DVD player the next day.
    By the way, back in 1997 players cost $1,000
    minimum -- and they were heavy dinosaurs.

    None of us were ever really sure back then if
    DVD would take off. It was a real gamble
    for many of us as studios were taking their time
    to commit to the format. To add to the overall
    uncertainty, there was the looming threat of
    DIVX, a pay-per-view DVD format that the studios
    were looking to support.

    Of course all of you know that there is a happy
    ending to this story. DIVX died a quick death
    and DVD became the fastest growing format ever
    to be conceived.
  5. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

    Jun 17, 2000
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    I purchased my first DVD Player in March of '97 as well, through J&R Music World. It was a Toshiba model that cost 499.00(I gave that one to my sister a couple of years ago). My first DVD's were BATMAN and IN THE LINE OF FIRE. I had purchased a laserdisc player in '95, and I couldn't believe how much better the DVD's looked than laser on my 32" RCA set. Since DVD's were only 24.99 compared to the typical 39.95-44.95 laserdisc, I figured the player would pay for itself once the software took off, which I always believed that it would.

    And now we have thousands and thousands of releases, many of top quality that cost less than twenty dollars. The quality has improved so drastically that the BATMAN DVD that looked so good in '97 is now in desperate need of a remaster. DVD has been an incredible boon to movie buffs.
  6. Rodney

    Rodney Supporting Actor

    Jan 12, 2001
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    My experience is very similar to Joe's. I held off laserdiscs because of the size and the price. I knew that eventually that compression would make possible movies on cd, as I called it in the early 90's.

    I purchased my first DVD player, the Toshiba SD-3107, on December 28, 1997, for $700.00 at Sears. My first DVD was "True Romance", and it was given to me free when I purchased the player.

    I remember scouring the web for any information, finding and enjoying DVD Resource and also remembering how bummed I was when Steve Tannehill stopped his website. In fact, it was his website that took me to this forum, where I was a lurker for a long time before finally registering.

    Wow, I cannot believe it is already seven years. This format has been phenomenal, with a fast adoption rate and a whole new avenue for the studio's to distribute product.
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

    Jun 3, 1999
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    I had a comment about Ron's post, but Larry stole my thunder! [​IMG]

    But I'll comment anyway: That Batman seemed to look so good in 1997 — and Blade Runner — just shows how the quality bar for DVD kept getting higher and higher. It's simply amazing how far this format has come in so short a time, relatively speaking.

    Though home theater has existed for decades, it was DVD that made it a household name. Not only has it changed our hobbies, it has changed our lives as film lovers.

    Hail, hail DVD!
  8. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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    i think a large part of dvds success is attributable to its convergence with the explosion of the internet.
    for not just sales, but for information and 'fan clubbing'.
    if LD had had this going for it, it may have created a bigger dent than it did.
    back in the ld days, the only source for LD info for me was Doug Pratts newsletter, another monthly put out by a fellow in SF, and the image pamphlets that were carried at many retailers listing upcoming titles.
    other than that, and barring any internet connection, where could you go to reenforce your enthusiasm with the hobby?

    compare that to something like HTF where we now actually have the opportunity to interact with some (enlightened) studios.
  9. Bryan

    Bryan Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 22, 1999
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    I remember the first day I read an article in a newspaper about DVD. It sounded so cool. Coming down this hill, I read the whole article to my Mom (she was driving). All these things that you could do with it. I knew I had to have one. Now I have five in my house and hundreds of DVD's.

    I never got into LD because it was too cost prohibitive for me at the time. I also had loads of LP's and nowhere left to put those big discs. For me, DVD's were the God-Send to get me into "digital viewing".

    DVD has changed my life. [​IMG]
  10. Harminder

    Harminder Second Unit

    Apr 24, 2003
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    The first time I had ever heard of DVD was in the summer of 1998 while I was in Hong Kong. My mother's friends kids had a DVD player. They showed me what it could do and I was so intrigued by the size of the disc, it was the same size of a CD!

    So I got home and I kepted nagging my dad to buy me one too (I was 16 at the time) and his response was, work it off if you want one. So I did, the entire summer and he made a call and imported me one from Japan. A Pioneer DV-505 player.

    Once it arrived I went out the same day to HMV and bought my first 2 DVD's. Eraser and The Replacement Killers. But when I got home, I almost had a heart attack. The DVD player kept saying, "wrong region no.". I said, "What the #%($ is that?!" So I looked into the manual and found my answer. My player was Region 2 and my DVD's were region 3. So I was upset for days thinking there was no way to get it changed.

    One day my dad and I were in the market and saw a store that sold DVD's and DVD Players. It was PACKED in there. So we told the store clerk our problem and he said to bring it in and they'll fix the problem. Sure enough, the next day I did and a few days later he made it region free (but I think the hack was in there the whole time, they just made quick cash off of me. Oh well, 16 remember).

    From there, I never looked back. From there I bought a home theatre and I loved the format even more. God bless DVD. [​IMG]
  11. nolesrule

    nolesrule Producer

    Aug 6, 2001
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    Clearwater, FL
    Real Name:
    Joe Kauffman
    I was in college when I first heard about DVD coming within a year in 1996. I used to read all the DVD news on Robert's DVD site at unik.no/~robert (how many others here used to use that site for latest DVD news?). I finally got a chance to see it in the mall when software went on wide release in 1997 and I was hooked, but being a college student, I couldn't afford a player at the time.

    I never took LD seriosuly because of the cost (at my age, LD was way too expensive, but then, I'm only 27 now). The other issue was definitely the flipping. A friend of mine had an LD player and lent it to me for a week when he was out of town back in 1997. I hated having to get up every 30-40 minutes to flip or change the discs.

    In Feb 1998, I actually bought Air Force One, my first title, without having a player. But it was burning a hole in my shelf, so I bought a Panasonic DVD-A100 at Circuit City the next day, along with Batman.

    Then, I got home and discovered that my TV didn't even have composite input. It was a Sunday evening and so I ran to Wal-Mart, the only place open, and bought a 19" TV to watch my 2 DVDs.

    I still have the A100, but use it in my office. Hard to believe it still works, and works very well, in the 6 years since I bought it. Actually, the 19" TV is in my office too. [​IMG]
  12. Scott Temple

    Scott Temple Supporting Actor

    Oct 31, 2001
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    I bought into the DVD format in March 1999, exactly two years after its US premiere. Before DVD, I was never a movie collector. I owned all of the Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween films on VHS as well as a few others, but that's it. I never owned any LaserDiscs. Until DVD, I was completely unaware of the OAR vs MAR debate. It never even dawned on me that I was missing a good percentage of picture information on most films. Duh! [​IMG] The whole "rectangular theater screen vs square TV" never tipped me off. Anyway, back to March '99. My first DVD was I Know What You Did Last Summer. Upon initial viewing I was dumbfounded at how damn good it looked. After years of watching chopped up and dirty prints, I was finally viewing a film how it should be viewed, in its OAR in a crystal clear transfer. It was at that point that I began to collect movies. And I wasn't collecting only horror films either. I began branching out into other genres. Five years and approximately 300 DVDs later, I have no regrets.

    Happy 7th, DVD!
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    EDIT: Another thing I remember is how fairly limited the selection of titles on DVD was in March '99. (compared to today) I can only imagine how limited it really must have been two years earlier.
  13. Ric Easton

    Ric Easton Cinematographer

    Feb 6, 2001
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    August 1999: Finally broke down and embraced DVD, much to my wife's chagrin! She bought me an LD player about 3 years earlier. I hung onto LD for as long as I could. But seeing the pricing of the new format combined with the harder to find LDs... my fate was sealed!

    Still not wanting to give up the ghost, I bought the Pioneer DVL-919 DVD/LD Combo player. My first two movies were "Ronin" and "What Dreams May Come" At the time, I didn't feel right buying movies I already had on LD!

    I'm trying to remember the first time I had heard about the upcoming format. Believe it or not I think it was in a 1992 or 1993 Video Magazine. There on the front cover was someone holding what looked like a CD but the words "Top Gun" were blazoned across the shiny metal surface. The article went on to tell of a format that could fit movies on the small disc. I don't even think the term DVD was being used yet. I remember a few years going by, and still looking at that magazine thinking, when the hell is it coming? I wish I hung onto it now, I believe it went out with the last Spring cleaning.

  14. Jacinto

    Jacinto Second Unit

    Jul 8, 2002
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    Littleton, Colorado
    Real Name:
    I probably would have resisted DVD a little longer, but in the fall of '98, my old LD player died on me. I ended up buying a Pioneer Elite DVL-91 combo unit, so I could still play all the LDs (as well as having digital outs, so I could order all of the DTS LDs that were being sold on clearance about that time), as well as checking out what this new format was all about. I believe my first DVDs were Air Force One and Ladyhawke (please give us a remaster, WB!). I still watched LDs every bit as much as DVDs until two years ago when I got a 50" widescreen RPTV. Suddenly there was a huge difference in PQ between the two formats, so now the lasers only get spun for titles that either I don't own yet on DVD, or that are as of yet unavailable on DVD, or that have been altered from their originals on DVD, or if I just want to knock somebody's socks off with an amazing audio demo from the ol' big discs. This last Christmas, my DVD collection finally surpassed my LD collection, and it continues to grow.
  15. Brian Lawrence

    Brian Lawrence Producer

    Feb 28, 1998
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    I got my Panasonic A-300 about a week before the mid March 97 launch of the format with the Warner titles. I got home hooked everything up and sat there in awe, looking at the blue glowing DVD logo on my TV Screen because I had nothing to play on it. [​IMG]
  16. Sean Campbell

    Sean Campbell Second Unit

    Dec 6, 2002
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    I started to hate VHS from the early 90s onwards as almost all the titles I bought suffered from noisebars or audio dropout. LD wasn't an option as the format hadn't really taken off on this side of the Atlantic and this was in the days before online ordering. So when DVD arrived in the late 90s it was a godsend! I bought my first player in 1999 and haven't looked back since.
  17. dmt

    dmt Auditioning

    Feb 23, 2004
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    when i bought the toshiba SD-3000 in 1997, it was $599 and I was the first person to buy a dvd player in my area and actually, they didn't have any dvd's out way back then (i had to wait a week to get Blade Runner when the first batch of warner releses came out) and was amazed at the picture! It did play cd's great though!

    but back then i played it through my vcr because i didn't have rca inputs for my t.v. so the picture turned out real bad because of the anti copy technology. i wound't take it back tho. i had to buy a new tv to facilitate the inputs hehe

    but yeah. dvd's rule!!!! Thanks for 7 years of great watching! Since then ive had 4 players, and now with the Pioneer DV-563a that plays almost every good technology out there, things have gone a long way, as well as got a whole lot cheaper too! Viva technology!
  18. Mark Bendiksen

    Mark Bendiksen Screenwriter

    Mar 16, 1999
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    Wow...me, too!

    I remember actually getting into DVD by first renting a player back in the summer of 1998. Of course I was immediately hooked. I finally got a player of my own for Christmas that year and the rest is history. Now my wife complains because we don't have enough space to hold all my DVDs. [​IMG]

  19. Joseph J.D

    Joseph J.D Cinematographer

    Dec 4, 2001
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    God....what a long time ago. I still remember when I attended a seminar/demonstration of DVD that a Sony representative conducted at Bay/Bloor Radio (a high end electronics shop in downtown Toronto). This was summer '97 (or was that '98, I'm not quite sure anymore). They were demonstrating the Sony 7000 on their HT setup.....my god the picture quality and the sound[​IMG] (the DVD used was 'In The Line Of Fire'). I was hooked...I knew that this was the format to go with.

    That in mind, I still decided to resist a little longer as there were still few titles to collect at the time. I took the plunge on Boxing Day 1999 and bought myself the Sony 7700, a monster of a machine- and I mean that in a good way as Sony built it like a tank unlike the lighter models of today. It still works like if I bought it yesterday- and it remains my player of choice.

    A toast to DVD!!![​IMG][​IMG]
  20. David Dias

    David Dias Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 25, 2003
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    Even though I owned almost 400 Laserdiscs I embraced DVD from the very beginning. To me it just made more sense, a better image quality, smaller disc and you don't have to flip it over? I was sold! Until I bought my first DVD "Goodfellas" and with horror dicovered that I still had to get off my ass and flip the disc over. But hey, DVD has come a long way and I, like many people, am very proud of my DVD collection.

    P.S. Looking forward to that "Goodfellas" SE Warner Bros.!

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