Still-frame supplements. I miss them!

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Brian Kidd, Nov 7, 2004.

  1. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Back in the days of laserdisc, many supplements consisted of text supplements including images and the occasional video clip. A few dvds that were ports of earlier ld sets carried these over, i.e. T2, and THE SOUND OF MUSIC. I'm going to go out on a limb with what I'm sure is an unpopular opinion, but I must say that I really prefer them over the glossy and often uninformative featurettes included on most releases nowadays. My reasoning is that text supplements allowed for an almost infinite depth to the material. You could truly learn everything there was to know about a film from reading them (the good ones, at least) whereas video already limits the amount of material due to its very nature as a time-intensive medium. Certainly there are exceptions, such as the wonderful LOTR:EE sets, but such releases are few and far between. So many modern supplements serve as little more than EPK material and videogame commercials. A lot of them really talk down to the audience.

    Now, I'm no fool. I realize that with most releases, the supplemental material must be created with the lowest common denominator in mind. However, if a film is being geared toward a specific niche, wouldn't it make sense to also cater to that more-discerning audience by including as much material as possible in the most cost-effective manner possible, i.e. text supplements? I honestly miss being treated as though I might have a brain and can read.

    *flame-retardant suit ON*
     
  2. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    I'm with you, Brian. A ton of times I'll listen to commentaries that would be served much better by being condensed and presented as textual information.

    Indeed, my favourite supplements on any release in 2003 were the LD archives on the ALIEN QUADRILOGY. They were simply fantastic, and there's something about the change to text and images that really made you want to go back and actually watch the film again.

    But on laserdiscs, supplements were genuinely created to enlighten the viewer who wanted to learn the nuts and bolts of how movies were made rather than provide a couple of hours of cute anecdotes after the film was over.

    I just don't get why people are so averse to them most of the time - as if the written word is somehow an inferior, old-fashioned way of accessing information.
     
  3. AnthonyC

    AnthonyC Cinematographer

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    I don't like them. If they're going to do that, just print a booklet. It strains your eyes to read all those, and they're annoying to go through.
     
  4. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    I have LDs which came with books, actually!

    Most of the supplements on my discs are not that great. Well, that's not quite fair; the still-frame production art portfolios, for instance, would be a lot more interesting if they did not largely duplicate the material printed in the 4-colour glossy 30*60cm inserts. [​IMG] Featurettes are mostly "so what" material for me, and commentaries can be more annoying than interesting. Still waiting to see what the supplementals on my newest import disc will be like; a pilot film and a music collection [Ryuichi Sakamoto score] are reported as on the extra disc, and who knows what kind of art will be under the music. Of course, a well-done CAV laserdisc is itself an advanced course in the art of filmmaking!
     
  5. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    I would prefer if DVD producers attempted to streamline the amount of supplemental material used. I want the meat and potatoes, not everything but the kitchen sink!
     
  6. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Well, being that "supplemental" means "in support of" you kind of take the actual feature as being a given. My thing is that the text supplements used to be so much more informative than the current wave of featurettes. Plus, they really don't take up much room on the disc. The only time that supplements are unwanted is when they have a detrimental effect on the presentation of the feature. I am well aware that on ld this wasn't a problem, but I still think that when done well, text supplements outshine almost all video supplements.
     
  7. MarcusUdeh

    MarcusUdeh Supporting Actor

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    Trivia tracks are an alternative solution for commentaries and featurettes. Instead, of TV spots and trailers they could have a gallery of print advertisement. A Stills gallery montage for deleted scenes with brief descriptions and an explanation for their exclusion; all this would save space correct?
     
  8. Jon Robertson

    Jon Robertson Screenwriter

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    Oh yes, well done, very clever, etc. And instead of the film, they could just put the screenplay and some stills! [​IMG]

    In terms of documenting how the movie was actually put together, I do prefer still frame supplements (besides, they were quite often interspersed with video clips of behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, deleted scenes and the like). Once I've finished the film, I'd prefer something that isn't just "more video" (the change is refreshing) especially when it's padded out with as many clips from the feature itself as these things are nowadays.

    Mind you, supplements have become noticeably dumbed-down since DVD hit the mainstream. As I said before, still-frame supplements were a staple of laserdisc where space was more limited, but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise as you couldn't include semi-interesting or non-essential extras as a result.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    Then you probably should go on the internet and do a search on the movie. A DVD player hooked up to a TV strikes me as an ill-suited way to deliver that kind of content - good enough ten years ago when both internet access and content was somewhat limited, but now that that's not so much the case, why keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole?
     
  10. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter
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    Actually, text supplements made the information available in one convenient place, so that you didn't have to search around. Also, the integration of video and image sections within the supplement lent itself to a more cohesive package. I see what you're saying about the availability of information on the net, but the time it takes to search for said information in what invariably ends up being a mess of sites with differing authoritativeness on the subject merely adds to my argument for the effectiveness of a well-done text-based supplement.

    As for text commentaries, while they can present some of what would have been in a text supplements, they also are limited in that they must move fairly quickly thereby forcing the text to be short and succinct. Once again, I prefer the text supplement.
     
  11. RichD

    RichD Agent

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    One of my favorite still frame supplements is on the original Highlander DVD (you know, the one with the horrible, horrible transfer). I might have some details wrong since it has been a while, but I rememeber it had a long memo from the director to the studio outlining exactly what he wanted to do with the movie, which the studio never allowed him to do.

    Would've made it a far better movie, imho. Also had still-frames of a deleted scene where the original footage no longer exists.

    This info isn't in the commentary, nor would it be fitting for the usual talking head supplement. In other words, it's perfect for still frame. Cheap, easy, and no cost to the PQ of the film.
     
  12. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I suppose it depends on your definition of "convenient"; I generally don't find reading off a TV where I can't adjust the text size/color/font a very comfortable experience.
     

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