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Videodisc format, precursor to LD - anyone remember this? (1 Viewer)

Bill Williams

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I'm doing a comprehensive article on the many different versions of "Superman" (just the first film only) that have been released since 1978, among them the VHS, LD, and DVD formats. I clearly remember that the film had been released in a 2-disc LD-style videodisc format, as I'd seen it a few months back at the flea market. If I remember correctly, it was called Video CED, though I could be mistaken. From what I remember, it required sliding the disc and the sleeve into a disc player, then sliding the disc out before the start of the movie.

Can anyone provide additional information on this format? What were some other films, for example, that were released in this format? How much running time was typically on each side of a disc? What was the audio/video quality like? For a widescreen film like "Superman", was there any pan-scan of the film required, or were they able to do it in widescreen format? Any and all information would be greatly appreciated, as I would like to have my facts together and in order to include in the article.

Many thanks, guys! :)
 

Aaron Silverman

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I vaguely recall those discs. I believe they were magnetic, like floppy disks, as opposed to optical.

A/V quality was superior to VHS (IIRC), but inferior to LD.

[edit] Oops, ya beat me to it. . .I stand corrected!
 

MikeEckman

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No, they werent magnetic. They used grooves with a stylus and needle pickup similar to how vinyl records worked. Check out the link Francois posted. There is a pretty good FAQ there that explains everything.

I toyed with the idea of getting a player off ebay or something just for the vintage coolness of it, but then I decided not too cause I already have too much crap lying around my house! :)
 

Jon Martin

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I remember those. They used to have a whole section of the video store for them, back in the days when video stores only had about 100 titles. They were more fun to look at then the VHS because they were a lot bigger.

Never owned one but used to have friends who would rent them for parties. They had to be flipped over I remember, like laserdiscs.
 

Kevin M

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At the link above there is a cool & interesting (if funny or even quaint in hindsight) Quicktime movie of a period RCA Selectavision sales/corporate film, HERE IS THE LINK.

(My favorites:
#1 is when the "host" describes the "special" turntable that wraps the pallets for shipment....anyone who has any experience at all in factory work will laugh at this as it is a very commonplace thing called a lan-wrapper, not exactly "special".

#2 is where he explains that there is a fine layer of oil applied to the discs to prevent stylus ware.....very antiquated, it's still amazing that the damn things actually worked....most of the time anyway.)



BTW, it may take awhile to download, the site isn't the fastest in the world.
 

PatW

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I had one of those players. There was a audio-video store
that loaned out a few titles if you purchased your stereo
system from them. You also received a free player with your
purchase. From what I can remember most of the discs skipped and some were unplayable. It must have been a "rough" crowd renting these. I gave away my player when
I embraced the LD format.
 

Hector.B

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That video tour of the RCA factory was awesome! Does anyone know if there exists a similar video for Laserdisc production facilities?
 

Tim_Stack

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My neighbors and grandparents had them and a pretty sizable collection of movies. I would watch Superman II over my neighbors' house all the time. Jaws and Close Encounters were the choices at Nana's that I watched most often.
 

ChristopherDAC

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I have a Pioneer test disc with a brief run-through of the Pioneer LD facilities, but the audio is Japanese/German dual mono; A Video Standard, precursor to Video Essentials, with a brief clip of the DiscTronics facility; and the Sony A/V Sampler disc, Take 5 II, with a short clip of the Sony DADC Terre Haute plant -- which incidentally had no quality control whatsoever.

CED was not earlier than LD, incidentally. It was actually released more than 3 years after the optical format, although the stylus-based technology [actually quite sophisticated, if bizarre] and the fact that some players were monaural-only seems antiquated enough that people make that mistake.
 

RobertR

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I remember hoping very strongly for the CED format to fail, because I was rooting so much for the LD format, which seemed far superior and more elegant to me.
 

Jamie Cole

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I found one of these at an estate sale recently and got it running for about half the length of one movie (Nine To Five, oddly enough), popped in another movie which got stuck, and then the player died. Considering I paid $5 for it and three discs (Nine to Five and a two-disc set of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) I got my money's worth in nostalgia factor.

As a little kid I wanted one of these things so bad... I used to salivate over it at my small town's Western Auto hardware store!!! As an eight-year-old, I didn't know there was any such thing as LD at the time.
 

Larry Sutliff

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Same here! I was about 14 when these things were available. I would go to the local Sam Goody's, and they would be playing WAR OF THE WORLDS or SUPERMAN on CED, and I would longingly watch them, wishing I could have something so cool. This was before my house even had a VCR, so I just wanted something, anything to be able to see these movies at home. I had a movie projector, but the Super 8mm films were only ten to fifteen minute edits of films, so that wasn't good enough! When I received a VHS for Christmas about a year later, I was in heaven.
 

Jesse Skeen

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How'd this thread get so long without me seeing it? :)
I probably have the largest CED collection of anyone here, though the guy who runs the CED Magic website claims to have every title ever printed plus some unreleased test discs. Right now I only have about 40 titles to go before I have them all, there were around 1200 altogether, quite a lot for a format that only lasted 5 years.
The first 3 Superman movies and Supergirl were released on CED, but in pan & scan and the first one was only in mono as they didn't add stereo capability to the format until 1982. Letterboxing didn't become really common until the early 90s on laserdisc, but there were a handful of letterboxed titles on CED.
 

Heinz W

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You guys were lucky you didn't get one. I think I payed about $130 for an RCA display model, the last one they had. That was a lot of money to me then. I think that was '81, I was 15. What a POS! It never worked properly. That salesman saw me coming from a mile away! :D

I guess in all fairness I must admit the one my uncle had seemed to work better. It still skipped and froze up at times though. It was a badly designed format, it's durability was less than that of VHS! It vanished pretty quickly when it died from what I recall.
 

Matt Stone

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My buddy and I got obsessed with the fact that the discs are similar to vinyl records a couple of years ago, so he dropped 40 bucks and bought a player and about 10 discs on eBay. Everything works properly, and he said he's watched Empire and Raiders a few times on it. Just thinking about video being read with a stylus still freaks me out ;)
 

Kevin M

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Kevin Ray

Yes, and the fact that it uses Frequency Modulation (just like FM radio and the analog track on LD's) to do all of this is interesting.....but equally understandable as to why the quality was fair shit.
 

Paul Sandhu

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So these things came out in the 70s? So they predate VHS?

And the idea of watching a movie on something like that does freak me out too... can you imagine if these things became the norm?
 

Jesse Skeen

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They were supposed to come out in the 70s, but with development delays it didn't reach the market until 1981. They stopped making the players in 1984 due to poor sales, but kept putting new movies out until 1986. I have the very last disc produced before the factory shut down called "Memories Of Videodisc" which includes that factory tour which was shot in 1983.
Yes, playback on these is sub-par due to the common skipping. The later-model players handle skipping a lot better than the earlier ones, but they really should have eliminated that problem altogether before putting them out. The sound on them is pretty good (better than linear stereo VHS at least) and uses CX noise-reduction like the analog tracks on laserdiscs do.
I wonder how the public would have coped with these if they had taken off, not only are the discs big but they're HEAVY as hell! I've moved my collection about 3 times and can say the weight of them really tests one's commitment to the format! I know a couple people who collected them for a while but gave up and sold the lot when it came time for them to move.

http://www.cedmagic.com/misc/tv-movies/watching-us.mov

Click on this to see a Quicktime movie of a TV commercial from 1981 that I found on an old tape at a flea market.
 

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