Studio and HTF-sponsored Widescreen Education Consortium!

Steve O

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Jan 19, 2000
Messages
111
Personal Plea to Ron Epstein:
As one of the primary leaders of the home theater community for many years, I believe that you would be perfect to spearhead a consortium of studios to create a simple, consistent message that could be displayed in retailers' establishments.
Here's the proposal:
WIDESCREEN EDUCATION CONSORTIUM
1. You get executives from Fox, Disney, Warner, MGM, etc. to form a Widescreen Education Consortium.
2. You design a single advertisement board that would show one major DVD release from each studio. The selections would show widescreen on top, pan/scan on the bottom. The choices of scenes would illustrate especially high picture losses (like the one in your article).
3. The studios would each contribute equally to the design and production costs. The advertisement boards would credit the participating studios at the bottom with the name of the consortium (WEC).
4. The WEC would enlist major retailers into the effort -- Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, etc. Retailers would pay for the cost of the boards to educate their customers. They would also be credited at the bottom of the board with their logos.
If customers saw the same message at every establishment, they would start to get educated very quickly!!! This measure, I believe, is the ONLY thing that will turn the tide. If we can get Jane Soccer Mom to understand why widescreen is better and get "snooty" about it, then we will have won the war. Soccer Moms like to keep up with the Jones' -- which is why we can win them over once they realize that P&S is inferior.
I believe very much in the power of going straight to executives. If they are approached correctly, you can move mountains. In the past, I've gotten Pringles to change back their salt-and-vinegar chip formula (to include more salt and more vinegar!), I've gotten the Senior Vice President of Border's Books and Music to change their national store layouts, I had a multi-million dollar road widening project that affected our entire neighborhood significantly changed, and I received a personal call from a Vice President at United Airlines due to a customer service issue. None of that is due to influence -- just the power of the pen (or the keyboard, as is the case).
Please let me know what you think. If you like the idea, let us know how we can help.

===========================================
P.S. Don't even bother trying to use the term "Original Aspect Ratio" or the acronym "OAR." Let's face it, our most difficult task is educating the public about why widescreen movies should be shown in widescreen on DVD. Nobody is arguing about films that were originally shown in 4x3. By using terms like OAR, we will confuse people more and defeat our own cause. That's why the focus should be on widescreen - thus, the Widescreen Education Consortium. Just my two cents, anyway.
P.P.S. I transferred this message into its own thread because I want feedback from Ron and the members of this Forum regarding possible ways to get this ball rolling. Letters and on-line ranting won't do the trick. We need to organize, mobilize, and lead this effort to success. Here's the strategy:
THE STRATEGY (simple, but effective):
1. Through Ron, we make initial contact with all studio executives and give them the WEC proposal.
2. If/when they refuse to join the WEC (or if they just ignore him), we focus our letters, E-mails, and phone calls into a JOIN THE WIDESCREEN EDUCATION CONSORTIUM campaign!
3. Enlist all DVD, movie, and review/critic Web sites to officially join in the advertising campaign to get the attention of the national media and studio executives.
4. When we start to make enough noise, we enlist the help of the national media (Entertainment Tonight, Roger Ebert, etc.).
5. While the momentum is high, we enlist the help of widescreen-friendly directors who can help us with credibility.
6. Once two or three studios sign onto the concept, the rest will follow suit. These guys don't want to look like the bad egg.
It will work. But only if we work as a team.
I welcome your comments (optimists and naysayers alike).
:b
 

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
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Dec 4, 1999
Messages
11,267
Call me devil's advocate. People talk a good game. It's people DOING a good game is what matters. I proposed an in-mall education campaign for last Christmas, I said I'd spearhead it, I even talked to some local electronics manufacture reps about donating us some big TVs to showcase on, but no one wanted to sit at that mall all Saturday tellling people why they shouldn't watch half a movie

I'm still willing to do this, but I have to have a crew. 1 person looks like a nut, while 2 or 3, and organization.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Steve,

I admire what you want you want to accomplish here.

The problem is, studios were approached a year

ago with an idea of educating the public with

short promo tutorials that would be placed in

front of their features.

The studios were not interested.

The truth of the matter is that the studios

are now driven to put more pan and scan product

out on the market. The damage is already done,

and they could really care less about what we

think about all this.

I think writing the article last week was

as far as I want to go with this after hearing

about Paramount's pending deciison to go pan & scan.
 

Steve O

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 19, 2000
Messages
111
Ron,
Thanks for the reply. I'm very disheartened that you feel it's a lost cause. I certainly value your assessment of the situation, since you have your finger on the pulse of the industry much more than me.
While I personally like the idea of the short promos right on the DVD, I can see why studios didn't go for it. It requires an unrecoverable investment on their part and an incremental cost on every new release. The Consortium plan would be a shared investment in, for the most part, cardboard displays -- with retailers helping to defray most of the capital cost. For the retailers part, it's one more piece of eye candy in the store that helps to sell product.
The promos put the responsibility squarely on the backs of the studio and their production staff. In the Consortium plan, they would be making a modest investment and outsourcing the entire operation -- but would still reap the benefits of positive press.
There's also an intangible here that you may be short-selling, ... the power of the people. Just like we defeated Div-X together, I believe that the online home theater community could get some serious momentum behing the Widescreen Education Consortium. If any retailer or studio refused to participate, we could render our collective forces to convince them that our consumer wallets are behind this concept!
Trust that you're surrounded by good people who will go very far and do very much to get the job done. We're here to help you Ron, if you're up for fighting the "good fight" once more. Although I understand if you didn't want any part of it, please remember that you are the (fearless) leader of the largest ongoing home theater discussion on Planet Earth.
And that counts for a lot.
 

Steve O

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jan 19, 2000
Messages
111
BTW --
Not sure why this thread was banished to "HTF Help and Feedback" (a virtual "file 13," where very few people travel). This thread is a discussion of DVD software, widescreen, and how to convince studios to educate consumers on the format. Admin - can this please be returned to "Home Theater Software," if possible. Thanks!
 

Ronald Epstein

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Steve,

I moved the thread back here (have no idea who

moved it in the first place).

I mentioned this in another thread, but will

repeat here...

DIVX was easy to defeat because it came at

a time when the DVD format was still young and

mostly being supported by the early adopters.

It was the early adopters that spoke out on

forums like this and convinced people that it

was a bad format.

This is different.

DVD is too mainstream now. It no longer belongs

to the early adopters. It has now fallen into

the hands of the general public.

You can see how the attitudes at the studios

have changed. The internet really doesn't matter

as much to them anymore. You notice how studio

reps that used to be a part of this forum are

no longer?

This forum was important to them only at a

time when we were a driving force behind the

growth of this format. Now, that force has

turned to the general public and retailers.

While the opinions we express on forums like

these get read by the studios, these studios

now have a totally different agenda in promoting

the DVD format.

It's rather sad when you *think* that the studios

should have a moral responsibility to protect

and preserve their product. It's even more sad

when you discover that Walmart has more say in

film preservation.

I'm sorry I am not supporting this, Steve.

From an insider looking out, I already see how

much the studios have distanced themselves from

this forum and this issue.
 
M

MaxY

Well the one good thing in the whole P&S vs widescreen is that several of the DVD Software companies have direct ties with several companies selling widescreen TVs.

For instance, Columbia Tri Star is linked to Sony and Warner is Linked to Toshiba.

Max
 

Scott Kimball

Screenwriter
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May 8, 2000
Messages
1,500
Maybe we're going about this the wrong way...

Historically, "educating" John Q Public is a very difficult thing to do. I think the studios know this.

Maybe, instead of speaking out about the positives of the "horizontal black bars," we should take a different tack...

Perhaps we should lobby the networks to produce more widescreen content (a la ER, West Wing, Enterprise, etc...). When John Q. Public gets tired of seeing black bars on all the network programming, they may be more receptive to purchasing a widescreen set...

Then, perhaps we should be lobbying the television manufactuers to release more widescreen sets, and fewer standard sets. After all, the networks are producing more widescreen content... When more wide sets are produced, prices should come down, encouraging more people to buy wide sets...

As discouraging as the pan n scan trend is, I think it's only temporary. When widescreen sets reach a certain saturation point, the studios will need to release widescreen versions of their films for "the new masses."

We'll have a few dry years, where only films by directors powerful enough to have widescreen versions released will see such a release, but eventually, John Q Public will start to demand widescreen releases.

It's sort of an evolutionary process. Right now, unfortunately, there are more Neanderthals than Homo Sapiens...

-Scott
 

Lou Sytsma

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Lou Sytsma
Ron - that must be very disheartening. I still believe down the road ~ 10-15 years this whole issue of OAR will be moot.
We are best served by continuing to maintain the profile this forum has created and forward our cause in a mature and professional manner.
Something this forum is excellent at!
 

Eric T

Second Unit
Joined
Apr 1, 2001
Messages
266
Maybe it's just me, but how big a problem is it really? I have yet to come across a movie I like and find it only available in P&S. Well, except "Two Against Nature", but that's not really a movie, it's more of a concert.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Ronald Epstein
but how big a problem is it really?

Problems start out innocently small and

slowly snowball into major problems if not

corrected early on.

At first it was only MGM & Warner releasing P&S

titles. Then came Fox, and soon after, Columbia

and Disney. Now Paramount is considering it.

This is a major problem that is only going to

get worse. Sit back and watch it happen.
 

Jeff Kleist

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Dec 4, 1999
Messages
11,267
That's right, SIT BACK

You want to do something about it, DO SOMETHING!

Get "Widescreen Version-Up to 40% more picture FREE!" stickers printed up and go to your local stores and slap em on! (with permission of course)! Set up widescreen demonstrations! Pass out fliers! Big title coming out on DVD, especially one with dual releases? Why not make up some nice example sheets and pass 'em out?

I'm willing to head this campaign and organize Philly stops, but I need help. as I said 1 person looks like a kook. A BUNCH of people are a group with something to say.
 

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