For August 1997
This is in response to the person who asked why Maverick only plays in 2-channels (front left and front right) when it states "Dolby Surround". I had the same problem when I played JFK and someone else from the newsgroup had when playing "Blade Runner". I don't have an exact and technical answer but I was able to solve the problem. Even you list Dolby Surround titles as "2-ch Dolby Digital". It says "two channels" so that's literally what I get...if using a Dolby Digital decoder.
My DVD player is connected to a Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder (optical) which is connected to a Dolby Pro Logic preamp/processor. No other connection was made. When I played JFK, sound only emanated from two speakers. Nothing I did with on-screen menus or the Dolby Digital processor would fix the problem.
I was browsing the DVD FAQ and it made mention of "5 channels being matrixed down to 2, then up to 4 using an external Dolby Pro Logic processor" [3.6]. Luckily, I had some extra cables lying around and hooked up the DVD player's audio outputs directly to the Dolby Pro Logic processor, bypassing the Dolby Digital decoder completely. Lo and behold, JFK now comes out in glorious Dolby Surround! I played a 5.1 disc in a foreign language which used Dolby Surround and it also worked.
I can't speak for receivers, but I've heard that some of them can detect the proper amount of channels automatically. My solution may help and it was very simple and sensible to come by. The problem is not in the disc, it is in the setup/connection.
(Thanks for the info Keith!)
I really enjoyed your site. I plan to visit often. I currently have a Dolby Digital System with a laserdisc. I own about 70 discs. Whaddaya think about DVD? Better? Worse? Run and buy or what? Have you compared picture quality? Your reply would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again and great site!! Keep up the good work.
(First off, thanks for the kind words...it's much appreciated.
Anyway, the old DVD vs LD debate, eh? Well, I did a major comparison a while ago, and I like DVDs much better than laserdisc. If it's a really, really good LD transfer, there's not too much difference between it and the DVD. If it's your average LD transfer, than the DVD is definitely superior. Over anything else, what I really like about DVDs is the absolute lack of color noise, and not a single glitch (herringbone patterns, dropouts, etc.). Not flipping 99% of the DVDs out there is also a bonus.
As for myself, I've got about 4,500 laserdiscs in my collection (no kidding...I really have THAT many), and if I have a title now on DVD, I probably won't ever be watching the laserdisc version again.
I was really skeptical about DVDs initially -- I saw a demo at a convention about a year, or year-and-a-half ago, and I absolutely hated it. Very pixelated images, things didn't work correctly and it looked worse than the small "movies" you watch on your computer screen. After it was released official this past March/April, I spent a couple weeks roaming around and demoing everything, and it was now a very impressive product.
My suggestion is to run around the various store yourself (depending upon your area, of course), and demo the system for yourself. Rule #1, however -- beware of any demo disc. Every single demo DVD disc I've seen is horrible, and doesn't come close to matching the quality of the actual finished titles (most of the demo discs were made last year, before the system reached it's current level of quality). Again, I don't know where you are located, but Circuit City, Fry's Electronics, The Good Guys, Media Play, and probably any laserdisc or DVD store should allow you to demo and play around with the system and/or titles.
Hope this help a little. You might also want to check our my earlier editorials on the website. It's located in the "Laser Rot Speaks" section...there's one from May 1997 called "D-DAY" or something like that, which details my experience with the "improved" DVD system.
Gimme a holler if you have any more questions...)
Your DVD Web page has a lot of useful information. Some thing that would be pretty cool would be a summary page that showed the total number of DVD's available, # of movies, # of Music, etc. Maybe even a breakdown of the same by studio. maybe by month somehow, that way you can see how much it grows or peak times of release, who has the most DVD's.
Anyway it was just a thought.
(You know, that's a pretty interesting idea... Let me ponder the idea for a little bit and think of the best way of setting it up, and I'll may wind up implementing it. Thanks for the suggestion...
By the way, what do the rest of you think? Is this something you would all find useful?)
I just purchased a DVD player. Believe it or not, I do not have a movie for it yet. That will be coming next paycheck. I went to look at the DVD movie selection at my local Media Play today. I was a little upset when I found out that the Multiple Rating features is not yet supported on any DVD movies. This upset me because this feature it mentioned in almost every DVD article written, yet it is useless unless it is supported. I choose not to watch rated "R" movies, and this is one of the main reasons I purchased a DVD player. Please try to answer the following questions:
1. I brushed over the titles you have listed on your site and found none that supported MR. Did I miss any that do?
2. When should I expect to see this feature utilized?
3. Do you think it will become a standard feature on most DVD movies?
(Hi Brent...I've got some answers for you, but you might not like what you read...
1. No studios right now are doing anything with Multiple Ratings. The reason is mainly because everything single director that has been asked about this feature with regard to DVDs has been highly against it (as much so as most directors were against colorizing). They are stating that they made their films a certain way, and they are against removing footage to change the rating. They consider such a system will destroy the artistic integrity of their films. Many actors have been against this as well.
2. The only multiple ratings system that is currently utilized is where there are already two different versions of a film. One coming up in the near future is Kalifornia, and the DVD features both the "R"-rated version and an "uncut" edition. Aside from films such as this -- which feature both "R" and "uncut" versions, the only two films that come to mind that can legitimately feature a multiple-rating function would be Saturday Night Fever and Excalibur, both of which were released in "PG" and "R" rated versions theatrically.
3. Aside from the above-mentioned details, I seriously doubt it will ever become a standard feature on most DVDs. Most of the directors have already stated they will not support it, and many consumers are against it as well. I happen to be one of those against it -- I also think multiple-rating versions recut by the studio definitely destroys the artistic integrity of films. But then again, I personally think that everything should be released in only their original aspect ratios, and that all pan & scan masters should be destroyed. I've been involved one aspect or another of the film and video industry for a long time (not just this website, but professionally), and the film industry people are a picky bunch. The video side of the industry thinks the Multiple Ratings function is a great idea, but the actual people involved in film production think it's awful.
I wish I had something better for you, but that's where everything stands at this point in time. Maybe things will change, but that remains to be seen. Right now, Multiple Ratings sounds like a neat idea, but the DVD folk should have done their research before announcing a feature that nobody wants to support.)
I just wanted to reply to your comments. I don't understand how taking the "F" word out of shows like A Few Good Men will destroy the artistic integrity of a show. There are shows that just throw in a nude seen in hopes that it will bring in people to the theaters, not because it contributes to the quality of the show. I understand shows like Schindlers List, it would be a huge mistake to alter a show like that. Yet I still disagree on other shows, taking out a nude seen, and a few swear words doesn't ruin the show. After all, many, many, many shows are edited for airplane flights, and TV viewing anyway. Why is that any different, after all, with DVD at least the viewer could choose to change it. Ultimately, shouldn't the viewer being the one deciding what he wants to watch, and not the director deciding what the viewer should watch? This might sound kind of lame, but there are a lot of people who choose to not watch R movies, especially in Utah, and adding this simple feature would sale a lot more copies of a rated R movie. Especially because these people would be eager to buy it, after they had to pass it up in the theaters. Oh well, I guess I'm better off anyway. These days there a few rated R movies worth watching anyway.
I appreciate you response, it was good to hear an honest response, rather then the crap they fed me at the electronics store. Please let this be posted as a warning to those who wish to purchase DVD with this feature as there sole reason. It isn't a feature at all, unless someone supports it.
(Well, a guess a better way to put it than "ruining artistic integrity" is to consider it to be a form of censorship. Sure, some movies throw in cursing and sex just for the sake of having it in there, but the director has a certain goal in mind that he/she is going towards. The director should make the sort of film they want to and have their final vision stay completely intact without any interference from the studio or from viewers. Sure, viewers can decide what they want to watch...if you don't like movie, stop watching it. Directors usually make films to please themselves -- if you happen to like the end result, fine; if not...oh well.
You mention edited versions of films for TV and airplane flight -- these versions almost always destroy a film. The cutting of scenes and/or relooping of dialogue is always noticeable, and the film's pacing and storyline are almost always harmed to some degree. It's so horrendous, that I refuse to watch films when traveling by air, and I almost never watch a film on broadcast television. If I directed a film, or wrote a novel, I definitely wouldn't want the public to be able to monkey around with it and change it or cut out whatever they wanted to. It's censorship, plain and simple. For example, say I hated Gone With the Wind because it was too long...should I be able to go ahead and cut out two hours of footage and release it on tape or disc as an alternate version for the masses? Not a chance...I'd hope film fans around the world would "take me out" before I did anything so stupid.
I understand the you don't like "R" rated films, but I honestly just can't agree with your reasonings or suggestions in this matter. Sorry.)
Earlier today I sent an e-mail to one of your correspondents, not really knowing that you probably would not get it directly and see the response I have to your site.
As a long tine collector of Laserdiscs (since 1985) and the owner of about 5000 titles (that is correct: five thousand) I was not ready to embrace this new fangled thing when it first appeared in several demos. They were really awful! And of course I told all my friends that FACT.
Then on March 25th, my local LD dealer told me to come in and spend any time I wished with the real stuff. I have been roasting several crows since.... I was amazed. And now I have 125 of the things!
Your site is the best information on the web. I have been using LaserViews for a long time and Roberts site as well, but the reviews and other information you give surpasses them all. I would not be without my nearly daily dose of your informative site.
Your reviews of DVDs are absolutely the best anywhere. You give all the necessary information needed to get the background to all aspects of the disc. All other reviews leave some or most of the information out. My only wish is that you could get them ahead of time so I could know before I get them what to expect. I do get them on the release date. Of course, I get some junk (like the Royal Wedding from UAV wish is the worst I have seen - even worse then the VHS tape a friend has). I will not buy any more UAV discs until they have been reviewed somewhere first for quality.
My next purchase will be a combination my dealer is giving me: the newest Toshiba DVD player coming out soon (SD3107) and the 16:9 TW56G90 - 56" TheaterWide rear projection model. Then I will have Component Video. I am using a Yamaha DSP A-3090 amp with five speakers using Linaeum tweeters and an M&K 200 subwoofer. I have noted that a number of reviews state the LD AC3 sound is supposedly fuller than that from DVD - which did not make sense to me since there is less processing to be done. However, using a sound pressure meter I determined that the LD sound is louder by a couple of DBs than that on the DVD. You would think that those who were talking about it would check it out first before making claims about the LD having superior sound. In fact, I find the DVD sound cleaner and the bass more definite in my system. (Let me mention here that I am an organist and hear a lot of bass sound in real life.)
AGAIN let me thank you for all the wonderful work you are doing for all of us. Since my main job is teaching data entry for the Department of Social Services for the City of San Francisco, I kind of know the work you are doing. Please keep up the good work. It is very much appreciated.
(Thanks for your comments, Paul!)
Dear Laser Rot,
I recently read through some of the DVD reviews on your site in hopes to find some acknowledgment of a problem I've experienced on several titles . . . surprisingly, but somewhat expected, I did not. My concern has to do with digital sound artifacts resulting in momentary poor sound quality. But first I would like to thank you.
I purchased a copy of Jerry Maguire soon after its release. To my disappointment I found that it was (I thought) only coded in Dolby Pro-Logic (DPL) surround sound, even though the packing stated that it was recorded in Dolby Digital (DD). It wasn't until I read your review that I realized that there was another use, other than selecting foreign dialog, for the "audio" button. Sure enough, a couple clicks of the audio button and up comes the 6 channel audio track! Thank You!
I can't tell you how much it irritates me to have to reach around to the back of my Toshiba player to switch the output so the PCM/DPL signal is fed directly to my receiver's LD input instead of my outboard DD processor. Not to mention having to listen to a DPL soundtrack after being spoiled by DD.
A quick question before I get onto my gripe about DVD sound quality. In your review of The Usual Suspects you state that the English soundtrack is in 5.1 DD. After finding the new use for the "audio" button, I pulled up the on-screen display to see what the player thought it was reading. Sure enough, the on-screen text read something to the effect of "Audio - English AC-3 6CH". Yet oddly enough, sound comes from only two speakers. Whazzup?!
OK, one more thing before the sound quality issue. Am I mistaken to believe that the DD logo on the back of the DVD packaging was supposed to designate that the disc inside contains a 5.1 channel soundtrack? Because it seems some studios use this logo to mean "it is digital and it is Dolby, what more do you want buddy?" I'll tell you what I want, I want the DD logo to mean 5.1 surround, not just DPL recorded digitally! For example, The Mind's Eye disc has the DD logo on it, yet it's in two-channel DPL surround! Huh? Some studios (Warner Bros.) are more informative when using the DD logo and actually state what form the sound is in for all languages on the disc. Warner Bros. places a "5.1surround" designator next to the DD logo . . Thank You! This should be the standard. Let me know if you're with me on this.
Now about the sound quality. On a number of the Warner Bros. DVD discs, and possibly others, I've noticed momentary digital artifacts in the form of either a faint "crackling" or "clicking" noises, or slightly harsh, raspy dialog. Although the anomaly is momentary, it's always in the same place.
Now I'm no golden ear, nor do I aim to be. I can't tell the difference between two amps, receivers, CD players, etc., like some say they can (speakers are a different story). But I can tell when I hear poorly recorded or poorly compressed digital sound.
I've heard this crackly/raspy sound anomaly on:
* Batman Returns (throughout the movie)
I've done a small amount of troubleshooting on my own. I'm convinced that the noise was generated during the compression of the soundtrack, and is not a problem with either my DVD player or DD decoder. I've tried the Batman Returns disc on several other players, which all resulted in the same experience during the affected soundtrack segments. I've listened to both the 5.1 channel tracks and the DPL tracks, same thing. Because I have an outboard decoder, when I listen to the DPL track, it goes straight to the receiver's LD input, bypassing the decoder all together, so I know it's not that.
If you would please, could you take a moment to go to the above-mentioned chapter in GoldenEye and let me know if you hear the same thing? Right toward the end of the helicopter crash you should hear the crackling noise that I described earlier. I can also provide you other specific examples in Batman Returns if you wish.
Don't get me wrong I love this format, and I'll take the discrete, dynamic sound of DD over DPL any day. But I expected better QC from a major motion picture studio such as Warner Bros. It's quite unnerving to get all wrapped up in a good movie, only to be slapped back into reality by "the crackle".
Wow, that ended up being a lot longer than I expected. Guess I got off on a bit of rant.
Love your site by the way, especially the "upcoming releases" section. I would have very little hope for DVD without it.
Thanks for listening.
(Yowch, a manifesto! Okay let's see what I can answer...
I haven't experienced anything like the sound glitches you have described. My GoldenEye and Batman discs play fine. Has anyone else reading this experienced something similar?
It's my belief that The Usual Suspects is a 2-channel Dolby Surround mix. As I discuss somewhere further down this letter column, I get the same "Audio -- English AC-3 6ch" notation on my Toshiba SD-3006, and I like to think I can believe what the onscreen menu states. However, it seems to be in error. I'm trying to contact PolyGram t see what the deal is...
As for the Dolby Digital logo the back of the packaging, yes, you are mistaken about what it designates. It does not mean that the disc definitely has a 5.1 channel mix on it. Dolby Digital is simply a sound-encoding scheme, and it can handle 1-channel (mono), 2-channel (stereo and/or surround) and 6-channel (5.1) mixes. The wiser studios now actually do break that down and tell you whether a 5.1 mix is one the disc or not.)
How are you? Are you feeling better? I hope so!
I was wondering, if you could tell me, if there are any differences between the upcoming DVD versions of Highlander 1: Dir.Cut and Lady In White: Dir.Cut and the released LD versions? I have both on LD and I'm very satisfied with it. None of the DVD's are 16:9-enhanced, right? So the difference in picture quality will not that different, or? Audio is still terrific good on the LD's (AC3).
Is there any other reason why I should buy the DVD versions? I'm a bit confused about the "Never-seen-before footage" they're mentioning in the text.
Thanks for your thoughts and keep up the good work!!!
(I'm not entirely sure what differences, if any, there are between the Highlander 1 versions. As far as I know right now, they are exactly the same. I believe the "never-before-seen" footage they are talking about as being in Highlander is the same extra "director's cut" footage that was present in the laserdisc edition. I'll see if I can find out anything else, but it is Republic, so who knows what information I may get...
The only thing that I know for sure is different about Lady in White is that it's the first real dual-layer DVD, and that it contains the full score the movie (not as a music-only track, but as separate full score which is accessible and playable on your DVD player like a CD is). I'm still awaiting a few more details on this.)
I am interested in buying a DVD but am not going to if the recent theatre movies will not be released on DVD when they come out on VHS. Is there a way for you or me to see if Face/Off and Con Air will be DVD material??? Some of the movies now are OK, but I will either get a DVD or a really good VCR, depending on the titles. Can you help me??
(Unfortunately, I can't really help you with any of this, and neither can anyone else at this point in time. Face/Off is from Paramount, and Con-Air is from Touchstone, and neither company has announced their DVD intentions yet. Rumors have it that Disney and their subdivisions are considering releasing DVD product, but it's not expected to arrive until sometime next year at the earliest. Absolutely no information has come out of Paramount regarding DVD, rumors or otherwise.
Right now, it's basically a "wait and see" situation... However, if and when Disney and Paramount start releasing DVDs, I would seriously expect them to appear day and date with the VHS tape.)
Still enjoying your site very much. I'm still waiting to get my DVL-700 Pioneer player. It must be a very hot seller. Over my vacation in July I bought some DVDs to have on hand when I get the player. I picked up Jerry Maguire. I just got finished reading your review, and I'm glad I got it. I was one of the people surprised to see that it was 139 mins. and all on one side. I think it's GREAT.
I also got a good laugh out of your comment next to the Risky Business announcement in the "Coming Distractions" section. I want to voice my opinion about pan & scan. Is Warner Brothers DELIBERATELY trying to sabotage a good format??? Why in God's name are they only releasing some titles in pan & scan when they have the ability to put BOTH versions on the one disc? They are doing it with a lot of their other titles, so why not consistently? This is Risky Business for God's Sake not Ishtar!! It's going to sell IF it's letterboxed. I know one of the reasons is the expense to release both as you've stated. So if that's the case, the hell with pan & scan. Another reason I've heard is that the studios want to put graphics on one side to make it look good. I like that idea, but I'm willing to do without it.
I'm a little upset because I have made a point of not purchasing any more Warner LDs in favor of DVDs. It's irritating to wait only to find out there's no letterboxing on what I'm waiting for! I'm glad DVD is here. I'm glad Warner believes in it so strongly and supports it. I just hope they stop some of the carelessness I've seen so far. And remember, I'm someone who doesn't even have a player yet!!!! I'll calm down now. I hope I haven't upset anyone.
(Well, Warner seemed to have learned their lesson with Risky Business, since they went ahead and letterboxed it anyway. I like to think that everyone who wrote in to Warner and complained did some good! Hopefully they will continue doing this...especially with the upcoming Pee-Wee's Big Adventure DVD!)
Hello, I am definitely planning to buy a DVD player. The question I have is whether the picture/sound/overall performance of the DVD-CDRom players are as good as the stand-alone (just hooked-to-your-TV version)? I would like to be able to use the interactive/multimedia/and reference DVDs made for the computer versions but I don't want to sacrifice the sound and picture quality when viewing a movie. The current model I am looking at is a Diamond Maximum DVD kit which does have a surround sound output for a stereo, and composite video and S-Video outputs into a TV. Thanks for your help.
(Sorry, Jon, but I really don't have the slightest idea. I am completely unfamiliar with the DVD-ROM side of things, and dealing with the computer hardware aspect of DVD is far beyond the scope of my site. Your best bet would be posting a message to the alt.video.dvd newsgroup -- there should be someone there who can help you out. Wish I had something better to tell you...)
Jeff...I'd much rather see you do the reviews than anyone else. The Jerry Maguire review was pretty lame. Your previous reviews were extremely well written. I feel you are as good a writer, if not better, than Doug Pratt at LaserDisc Newsletter. I find your words to ring true and really hit the nail on the head. Keep 'em coming.
(I've passed on your comments to Dave Green about his Jerry Maguire review, but I haven't received any real response other than one of the "oh well" variety. Personally, I almost always try to write most of the reviews myself, since 1) this is my site, and 2) I'm incredibly picky and I know what I want in a review. I actually take the time to watch every single thing on an LD or DVD -- I always sit through the entire film (none of that triple-speed watching crap here), listen to the entire commentary, and read every bit of stuff present. That's why the reviews are always so detailed, and also why they take so damn long to write...
Unlike several other people who seriously flaked out on me, Dave was basically being really nice and trying to help me out while I was out-of-commission thanks to those broken ribs I had recently. But, yes, I also thought some of the review was a little weird...)
Great site. Do you have any inside info on the release of DTS encoded DVDs in the near future? I would think some of the Universal titles would be expected to be in DTS.
(I've heard nothing lately on the status of DTS DVD titles. The last thing I heard that was of any significance was that it was predicted that any DTS DVD discs would be priced at a premium of $49.95 to $79.95 per disc.
Speaking for all of my friends and myself, we think the pricing is absolutely outrageous, and have no intention of ever buying any DTS DVD titles (or overpriced DTS LD titles, for that matter). Sticking my foot a little further into in my mouth, we also don't think the price warrants the "supposed" sound quality difference -- myself, I've heard both, and to me Dolby Digital and DTS are so similar in quality that it's not even worth bothering with. (Sorry if sound like a snot here, folks, but this is just the way we feel. If you like DTS, that's absolutely fine...)
Okay, enough of my mouthing off. As far as Universal is concerned, the last I heard was that their titles were going to be presented in Dolby Digital only, not DTS.)
I know you Americans like to think you're the only ones that matter in the world but hey guess what you aren't. The region 1 coding is for North America not just the US, so please stop being so damn ignorant and have some respect for other countries in your region.
(My, my, my...aren't we a bit huffy...I think it's time for you to chill out. Unfortunately, you seem to be the ignorant one since you didn't bother to even check any of your "facts" regarding the way we handle regional coding information here on website before spouting out at the mouth.
DVD titles in the various "Coming Distractions" pages are listed by Region AND Country Of Origin. Therefore, Region 1 title listings feature a little American flag, because all the titles therein are produced in the United States. If a Canada company starts producing DVDs, Canada will obviously receive it's own separate section featuring a little Canadian flag. With your twisted logic, since most Hong Kong discs also play in any player worldwide, should I list discs manufactured in Hong Kong under a Canadian section right now? Hell no...
Also, in our actual reviews of DVD titles, we always end our reviews by stating what regions the disc is encoded for. If you actually bothered to read them, you'd see that we always note that Region 1 discs are encoded to play in "the U.S., U.S. territories and Canada."
By the way, folks...apparently this "Canadian" twit was so afraid of any response, he left what is apparently a false e-mail address, since all mail has come back with a "user unknown" message).
I read your recent review of The Usual Suspects, and the reviewer commented on the great 5.1 channel DD soundtrack. I own The Usual Suspects and it is not in 5.1 audio. Is there more than one version of this movie, or did your reviewer make a mistake?
(No, Alan Williams did not make a mistake, at least not intentionally. There currently seems to be quite a bit of confusion as to whether or not The Usual Suspects is really a 5.1 title or not. I own a copy of the movie, and on my DVD player -- a Toshiba SD-3006 -- audio channel one plainly states "Audio -- ENG AC-3 6ch" on the onscreen menu. To my eyes, that means it's supposedly encoded with a 5.1 mix. However, the packaging claims it's "Dolby Surround," which means a 2-channel mix. Also, many folks with Dolby Digital amps are claiming that it's definitely a 2-channel mix.
I'm going to see if I can get a definitive answer out of PolyGram regarding The Usual Suspects. My guess is that the 6-channel notice is just an error and that the DVD really only contains a 2-channel mix.).
Any word on when Paramount or 20th Century Fox will join the DVD revolution?
I can't wait for all of the great movies they have to offer.
Thank you for your time and great web page!
(Officially, there has been absolutely nothing regarding Fox or Paramount. However, there are unsubstantiated rumors that Fox is gearing up for DVD and is already preparing transfers...)
Now that Image has picked up Warner, do you have any insight into what stuff will be showing up on their release list?
Thanks for any intel on the subject!
(I haven't heard of anything yet, but as soon as I do it'll be posted on the website. Apparently, the Image / Warner deal was made on August 8th, and it was "officially" announced late in the afternoon of the 15th. I'll try to find out what, if anything, is in the works for the immediate future..).
Do you have any information on why the Fleetwood Mac DVD "The Dance" was cancelled?
(I spoke with Warner Reprise today and their answer was that...)
Do you have a mailing list to sub$cribe to..??
(Don't quite know what you are looking for in a mailing list, but we don't have any such thing here on the site, nor are there any current plans to ever implement one.)
For all you DVD guys out there: You're being screwed. DVD is an inferior format. Until they can resolve the compression issue (and they haven't. There is too much pixelation) the format will be inferior to laserdisc. That, plus the fact that an even newer format is coming (see Image's website for more info), combined with the fact that most of the studios aren't getting involved any time soon, should have made all of you wary about embracing this technology so soon. Stick with the proven stuff.
(Ah...another paranoid laserdisc fan. According to your statement, "stick with the proven stuff," does that mean I should dump my LD and DVD systems, and jump back to VHS since that's "proven stuff"? Whatever. There will always be a new format on the horizon that will eclipse what has come before, and someday VHS, laserdisc, DVD, and whatever follows that will eventually make way for something else. It's the way of the universe. By the way, reviewer Dave Green wanted me to pass on this message to you: "Aaaaaah...the end is near! Run for your life!")
I was curious if you knew if the upcoming release of George Lucas's Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition will feature a DVD version...
(Check out the response to Ben Burnsed's letter right down there below yours...)
Dear Laser Rot,
I just recently purchased the Mitsubishi DVD player that it out for 600 dollars. I was told that this is a very nice player and it will hold up nicely over the next couple of years. I would love to heard your opinion on this type of DVD player and/or what other people have said about it. I only own Total Recall and I have been totally pleased with that movie and the player so far. I also apologize, but I am very curious about where I would check on information abut when the Special Edition Star Wars Trilolgy will be released on DVD. If you have any information, I would love to know. Thank you for your time and I enjoyed browsing through your site.
(I honestly have heard absolutely nothing so far about the Mitsubishi players. Really, I haven't a clue at all about them, and I haven't even seen one yet in any of my local stores. My suggestion is to check out the newsgroup at alt.video.dvd; I'm sure you can find some info there.
As for Star Wars on DVD, Fox has said nothing officially about their DVD plans, but the industry buzz is that something is going on currently behind the scenes. Supposedly, Lucas has stated in some interview that he would like to see Star Wars on DVD, but that won't happen until Fox announces support of the format. Right now there is nowhere you can go to check for information on a DVD release, but be assured that any official information will be posted on our pages as soon as it is announced.)
The July issue of AVN (Adult Video News) has a review of a pre-production version of Shock on DVD. Shock is a VCA Platinum Plus titles. The magazine has a special section devoted to CD-ROM and DVD reviews...you might want to check it out. I have found your site to be the best DVD-related site on the net, and thought you might be interested in the review. Keep up the good work.
(Thanks for the words and the information, Michael...much appreciated!)
I won't bore you with pages and pages of thank yous and 'man you site is great,' and lots of cheezy suck-up crap. (Unless that's what you want, in which case I could rewrite this email).
But your page IS great and I visit it often. I love movies, I love LaserDiscs, and from what I've seen (and read here) I'll probably love DVDs as well.
Either way, thaniks for making a great page! It's one I plan on coming back to again and again. (and again, and again, just like a stalker...)
(Glad you like the stuff on here, Nathan! But hey, as far as sucking up goes, I do have an ego to take care of, you know. So go ahead and feel free to shove the compliments my way...!)
Hi! I just accessed your website, but I'm having trouble downloading the list of DVD movies. Can you please send me a complete list of DVD movie titles? I would really appreciate it. Thanks a lot!!
(Sorry, Warren, but I don't have any such beast -- there is not one single "complete" list of movie titles available here. However, for the time being, there is one main list with upcoming DVD titles, as well as another 7 or so pages listing titles released during individual months.
The pages are also quite large, and the page size are way over the limit that many internet providers allow for e-mail -- it would likely clog up your system, or come in truncated, if I tried to send you all the pages at once. Also, there's all those nasty images I stick in all the pages that you'd have to cope with. In any event, sorry, but combing this information int one or several e-mail file for you at this is just a little to difficult to accomplish quicky in the limited time that I have right now.
Unfortunately, I also don't have a simple text file containing this information in one nice, easy-to-digest piece. Again, due to time limitations, I just manage to maintain the regular website pages, and redoing all the information again for a text file update is just too time consuming right now. But it is something that we're considering doing in the future as a downloadable file off the main page...there are many other items that honestly have priority over this right now.)
(Still) love your work - hope your ribs are feeling better.
I have one comment about a response you made to a letter where one of several subjects was pan and scan. You stated that the cost of doing two transfer might keep studios from releasing both versions. My comment is that most studios already produce a P&S version for the VHS market, and converting this to DVD would be a fairly simple thing to do (short of MPEG-2 compression).
Second, anamorphic to letterbox conversion is generally poor on most DVD players. A lot of the complaints are probably from the jagged lines that develop from the conversion process. I'd love to get a 16:9 TV or a 2nd generation player -- but I went for the 1st generation.
Thank you for yur time, and keep up the good work.
(Really quick, my comments regarding the studios dong a pan & scan transfer are valid -- I've heard this from several of my studio reps. Also, since the overall resolution, etc. of a DVD is much higher than video, many studios have stated that they would need to make a new P&S master specifically for the DVD to match it in terms of quality.
With regard to the "jagged lines" present in letterboxed releases, this has absolutely noting to do with the transferring process -- it is simply one of the many flaws we have in our present NTSC television system. NTSC doesn't handle diagonal lines or small repeating patterns well, and it displays moire patterns (the weird "waving" or "jittery" lines) whever it comes across one. Unfortunately, no matter how good a transfer is, NTSC will nearly always mess this up. Short of HDTV or a complete revamping of our NTSC system, the jagged lines are here to stay.)
Well, it was my assumption that it had to do with the anamorphic to letterbox conversion / "filtering". When I switch my player from automatic letterboxing to 16:9 mode, the jagged lines magically go away -- but create a whole new problem that could only be cured by a 16:9 monitor. I have zero such problems with letterboxed (non-anamorphic) software, such as JFK or the PolyGram titles. The worst offenders for this are rolling credits. I also don't see the same problems with P&S sides. My problems seem to go beyond inherent NTSC artifacts. You probably think I'm certifiable by now, but I've had others confirm what I've seen, including one person who switched from a Pioneer to a Sony player (I wish I had done that). Well, again, I deeply enjoy your work, and good luck with your physical ailments.
(Well, switching to the 16:9 mode on your player and watching the result on what I'm assuming is your 4:3 monitor, doesn't really "magically" fix the problem -- you're just squishing the picture on your set, thus the nasty moire patterns/diagonal lines are moved into a different position and definitely display differently. I don't have a 16:9 set myself...maybe one of our other readers out there can tell us whether the 16:9 transfer displays less NTSC moire/jagged patterns than their standard letterboxed counterpart...)
I enjoyed your August issue of "LaserRot Speaks." You were right on target! I thought you might be interested in this artcle I just read on www.twice.com about The Good Guys store (what a stupid name that is!):
(Heh heh heh...)
I did a web search looking for info on the problem of laserrot, and instead turned up your web site, which I have to admit I was quite impressed with. I was wondering whether you could answer some questions on the degradation of laserdiscs when laserrot does in fact set in.
What is it?
What are the signs to look for? I have heard that it is white speckles, or even coloured ones.
If it sets in, is it in fact a gradual degradation, that gets progressively worse over time?\
Can you spot signs of laserrot by looking at the actual disc under a light?
If it does set in, does it tend to start at one particular spot of a disc, such as the first 5 mins., or is it a constant throughout the film?
Can you stop it once it sets in, especially for a really expensive disc?
Does it always get progressively worse?
If you buy a disc that does not immediately show the problem unil two or three showings in, which by that time could be 6 months or so, you would be faced with a very tough time getting reimbursed by the retailer who sold you the disc. So if there is laserrot does it show up, even subtlely from the time it is released from the factory?
What percentage of discs in your industry are affected by this problem?
Is it a problem that no longer exists in the industry, being prone to older pressing methods, or should I be careful?
Thanks for your time. I would really be grateful if you could answer my questions, even if you have to wait a while to get to them.
(Lots of really good questions, Chris! But before I reinvent the wheel by answering all your questions here, your best bet is to first check out the LaserDisc FAQ located here inside our "Info Base" section. There is a whole section devoted to the laserrot problem, including picture samples, and you should find most of the answers there that you are looking for. If there are any other questions you have that the FAQ doesn't answer, please feel free to write back and I'll do my best to help you out...)
I recently purchased a Toshiba SD-3006 at Best Buy. It was an open box because the remote was missing. I paid only $369.99 and the remote cost $50.00. Anyway, I need to know if anyone makes a converter from coaxial to optical. I have a Yamaha 3090 integrated amp, but it only has one coaxial input and it is for the CD. I can get the AC-3 signal by switching to DVD/VCR3 to get the video then switching to CD. The Yamaha has all fiber optic inputs for each source, but only that single coaxial input...
Any help would be appreciated!
(Good deal on the player! I dished out $649 for mine... As for the converter information, I'm afraid I haven't the slightest clue. My recommendation is to post to the alt.video.dvd newsgroup and maybe someone there has already got the answer you need. You may also want to go over to Deja News and do an archive search of all the newsgroups for the information you want.)
Well, went DVD movie shopping yesterday. I still cannot believe the lack of titles. God, is Aug. 26th ever going to get here? I went to Circuit City in St. Louis, MO and they don't even sell the players yet. The salesman said they had like 800 units in their warehouse and would get them soon. Ya right, he also told me that they will never sell movies for the players. What is the point? Also, I went to Best Buy which now has the DVD prices at $24.99 and some titles for $19.99. They had the same old stuff, no Warner titles yet. I did buy Total Recall, which I have to admit was pretty good. It has a good menu system with actual movie frames which I can jump to on the fly, not just chapter numbers like all my other movies.
The problem I have is I also went to Camelot Music and they sell most titles for $24.99 or $29.99. They had several movies of interest, but the price was too steep. I like the $19.99 price! Anyway, the thing I cannot understand is that a local shop called Now Hear This -- they sell used CDs and rent laserdiscs, but also sell them -- had more titles than all three of the major chains. Also, Warner titles, but the price was too high, $27.99 or $29.99. I think it's the first time I have seen Eraser, Michael, Vegas Vacation, etc. Now if a small store like this can afford to buy and sell DVD discs, I think Circuit City could make an effort. What a bunch of followers, at least Best Buy has the balls to put the hardware out there and try to entice the masses.
Well, have a great day.
(Uh, yes...August 26th did eventually get here.)
Do you have a text only option? I would like to have a list of the coming attractions, and the current titles out, but I would rather not print out all the fancy words and letters.
(No text-only option yet, but it's likely that we'll add a text-only or downloadable text file for the "Coming Distractions" pages -- and maybe some other pages, too -- sometime in the almost-near future. Right now, it's mainly a matter of time and priorities -- I have a lot of other new information I'd like to get on the pages before attempting to make text-only versions of some of the big lists. I'm also looking at the best way of implementing such a thing...)
I really enjoy the site, I check it every day. I just got a piece of information you might not of heard, or maybe you have, but I'll tell you anyway.
The Columbia House LaserDisc Club will be carrying DVD movies very soon and will make an announcement soon, probably after Warner goes national so they will not be stepping on Warner's toes by selling nationwide.
Thanks for the great web site!
(I'd heard rumors about Columbia House starting up a DVD club, but nothing that was ever confirmed. It's been awhile since I've tried checking up on this, so I'll give it another shot shortly and see what information, if any, I can find out.)
How about some information regarding the availablity of DVD rentals from the major VHS tape rental companies -- such as Blockbusters? Most of us can't afford to buy new disks but would certainly rent them if they were available.
(Aside from the possibility of Blockbuster renting titles -- which was in the "Cool Stuff" column a few months ago (sorry, I'm too lazy to look up the date right now...) I have no way of currently finding out what companies around the country will begin renting DVDs. There are thousands of video and laserdisc stores that will likely be doing this, and trying to track anything down for these individual stores or really small chains is close to impossible. However, if we receive any information whatsoever regarding the major chains starting up rental programs (i.e., more Blockbuster news, Media Play, etc.), you can be sure that it will be posted in our "Cool Stuff" column. )
Friends at Laser Rot:
Let me first congratulate you on a truly fine job. Your pages are very informative, I check them at the latest every other day to find out what is new in the world of DVD.
I particularly enjoy the Upcoming Distractions page. Good name, by the way.
However, this last time I noticed you used black text on a dark blue background. Frankly, my head hurts from trying to read it. Any chance you could go back to the white on blue background text?
Thanks a bunch and keep up the good work!
(Michael, as you've probably figured out, the weird colors I had on there a while ago didn't even last an entire day. In any event, consider your "wish" already granted! )
Does Disney offer any DVD titles?
(Not just yet. From what I understand, they are currently checking out the format and seeing how it does before committing any titles for release. However, the current industry buzz is that if they do announce titles, they will likely not appear until sometime next year.)
Subject says it all: Has anyone heard if Voyager is planning on releasing the Criterion laserdiscs on DVD? Particularly, The Fisher King?
(I asked someone over at Voyager this very question a few weeks ago. They have examined the DVD format for themselves and have stated that they definitely like what they see. They are currently looking further into the format and are continuing examining potential options as apply for their specific product. As for a definite answer as to whether Voyager will be releasing DVD titles, I can't give you either a "yes" or a "no" -- they are officially "non-committal" on the issue at this point in time. But as for what I expect will happen...)
I noticed in your "Cool Stuff" section for August, you mentioned that the Toshiba Starter Kits had arrived. What you didn't mention was that the letter stating that Video Essentials should be arriving in the next 4-6 weeks was in ALL the kits -- including those who had purchased the SD-2006. Any word on whether the letter should have been edited for 2006 owners, or whether they are sending VE out to everyone? I'd hate to buy it if I knew I was getting a free copy soon :)
(Larry, I had no way of knowing that the same letter was sent out to everyone; I was under the assumption that Toshiba had sent out different letters depending upon the player model purchased.
As far I as know from Toshiba, only those folks with an SD-3006 will be receiving the Video Essentials disc. I've tried contact Toshiba directly already to see if this was a goof-up, or if they've suddenly decided to send everyone the disc, but I've received absolutely no response thus far. Most of the people I've talked to at Toshiba haven't the slightest idea what the Video Essentials disc, or even what the SD-3006 promo was. As you may also have expected, no one has bothered to call me back with the information. I wish I had a definite answer for you, but until someone at Toshiba bothers to inform their customer service reps about their DVD promotions, there seems to be little that I can do at this point in time. Maybe if someone from Toshiba is reading this this can clue us all in...)
Since I bought a DVD player, "Coming Distractions" is one of my favorite sites to visit. But it takes a while to load (and I know this is a small gripe) -- is there any way you can put the updated date on the top instead of the bottom?
Keep up the good work!
(Aha...bypassing the main page where the updated dates are, and going straight for the info, eh? Anyway, for those of you who are loading up the "Coming Distractions" pages directly, I've already put the updated date info up at the top. Enjoy, and consider your wish "granted!"
Where is your order page? I can find the catalogue but not the order page... Just kidding.
I have been ordering DVDs from a place called LiquidData. They have some adult DVDs for sale and for pre-order that are not on your "Coming Distractions" page.
I have also seen these titles listed at www.primenet.com/~grover.
Do you plan on tracking every DVD released in region #1 on your page?
I spend my lunch break every day at work surfing the web for new DVD information. Your page is the best, most up to date pages I have seen. I check it at least once every day to see if any new DVD's have announced. I also look to "Cool Stuff" to see if Paramount and Fox have decided to be cool and make DVDs. I hope they "see the light" soon because I really would like to see Star Trek on DVD.
(A smart ass, huh? Where's my order page indeed....it's right here on the shelf, next to my Oscar (insert registered trademark and Academy copyright notices here). Actually, believe it or not, I still get a surprising amount of letters from, ahem, "people" asking for my catalogue and ordering information. My mind sometimes boggles at the utter lack of comprehension (or attention, or reading abilities) some people have... Scary. Okay, back to your question(s)...
Yes, I definitely plan on tracking any and all U.S.-released titles that I can get information on. I think I was one of the last people on the planet to get information on any of the VCA, Vivid or Metro titles. I've written and contacted the various adult companies producing DVDs, and even though I've been told that information will be forthcoming, nothing ever shows up. Apparently, since I'm not a distributor, a store, or the Adult Video News magazine, I feel as if I've been deemed "not worthy" of receiving information on most adult titles direct from the companies themselves. (Of course, I could mention some other LD and DVD companies that are just as uncaring about promoting their products, but I'm keeping my mouth shut...). In the meantime, I've been going through other sources for the information, so it's often a little late. Hopefully, this will change... End of speech.)
Sorry to bother you, I've been searching for some info for some time and have not been successful. I'm hopeful that you might know the answer.
Are you able to tell me a DVD title that makes use of Macrovision's Colorstripe process? I was told that it has not been used on any US releases (yet). If you know of a foreign title that uses it, do you have any ideas on where I coud purchase it? Thanks for your time.
(Sorry, but I know nothing of the Colorstripe process...this is the first I've heard of it. My usual suggestion: post a message to alt.video.dvd newsgroup and maybe someone can help out...)
A Piece of My Mind...which is probably more than I can spare:-)
Laser Rot, thank you for being willing to put in the time to make this most excellent and useful web site.
As an owner of a 16:9 TV and a convert from Laserdisc to DVD, I am getting concerned about the number of DVD letterbox releases that aren't 16:9 enhanced (P&S ugh!). I currently have 30 DVDs with another 12 on backorder. I have been concentrating on buying 16:9 enhanced discs.
The reason for my concern? I'd like to get the most out of this new technology.
The image improvement over conventional letterboxing (or LD) has to be seen to be believed. The number of scan lines used to display the picture is increased by 33% and the full 720 horizontal pixels are potentially visible. This means that up to 78% more pixels can be used to display the image. The difference is astounding. At my viewing distance, the scan lines disappear while an expanded conventional letterbox image's scan lines are accentuated by the expansion and are clearly visible. There is a corresponding difference in detail and image sharpness.
In searching through the "Coming Distractions," I see a number of movies that I would like to purchase that aren't noted as being 16:9 enhanced. I hope that this lack of notation is caused by lack of information not by reflection of fact.
I realize that I'm a small minority, but every purchaser of DVDs should consider that the 16:9 enhancement is said to improve the image on a 4:3 set. In addition, HDTV sets will probably also be 16:9. There is probably a 16:9 set in your future in the next ~5 years. 16:9 enhancement is a one time cost (it can't be very much). I realize that not doing the enhancement yields a larger bit budget for compression, but most of the movies I'm talking about are under 2 hours. There should be more than enough storage on DVD to enhance virtually every letterbox movie.
It is particularly annoying to have to pay a premium for Columbia TriStar DVDs and have very few of them 16:9 enhanced. While I might be willing to pay a small premium for 16:9 enhancement, I refuse to pay extra "not" to get it. This is really too bad, but I won't buy any DVD priced above $24.99 unless it is 16:9 enhanced. I think that owners of 4:3 sets should consider this as well.
I have found the Columbia TriStar web site and have sent them e-mail about my concerns. I didn't expect an answer and I wasn't disappointed.
So, Laser Rot, I'm going to use the links from your site to the web sites of the software publishers. I think that will help me in my quest for more 16:9 enhanced discs. I hope that all of the users of your site will send e-mail to the publishers expressing their opinions on this matter.
(Thanks for your thoughts...)
Some of the DVD's say Dolby Digital. Surround sound and they are not Surround sound. Like Maverick, it says Dolby Digital surround sound, but all I get is the two front speakers. The back, center, and subwoofer don't work. Then other titles say Dolby Digital surround and they are like Polterquest. Columbia says only Dolby Digital surround sound but they are 5.1 after you go into menu and set it. Why aren't they surround sound and is there anyway you can tell if they are surround sound. I bought Maverick said it was Dolby Digital Surround and it only plays the 2 front speakers I would probably have not bought it I knew. I have a RCA 5500 player. The same with The Usual Suspects. Anyway is there any way you can tell if it will play in surround sound besides if it says 5.1? Like Polterquest it don't say 5.1 but it is surround sound. Thank you.
(Um, okay. It sounds as if there may be something wrong with your setup, but I don't know. You should be getting more out of Maverick than two front speakers. I haven't actually seen the disc myself yet, so I can't tell you if it's a disc-related problem, or what. Maybe someone else can write and let you know. However, if a title says either 5.1 or Dolby Surround, you should be getting a surround channel mix. I don't know what else to tell you.)
First I would like to say that Laser Rot is the second best DVD website on the internet (Robert's DVD page being the first). I appreciate the fact that you listed some of the titles I suggestged on the DVD wish list. I was wondering is Laser Rot had any influence with the major studios who are releasing titles on DVD. I noticed that The Lawnmower Man will not be in it's extended version format. WHY? If Laser Rot has any influence with New Line Cinema is it possible that they can lobby for this title in its extended version?
(What, only second best?!? Anyway, I asked this question regarding The Lawnmower Man a while ago, but I never received any answer. However, New Line IS making an effort to release the best possible DVDs of films, so I'll pass this information along to them again. I'm hoping it'll show up in the longer director's cut anyway, just like The Island of Dr. Moreau did this past week (Moreau was originally slated to be the standard theatrical version, but instead it is the four-minute longer "director's cut").
I think Mr. Borman is guilty of what he accuses laser disc owner of: being a bit of a snob.
I own both the laser disc format and the DVD. When I can get DVDs (in letter-box), I will buy them, bt as in the case of the Star Trek material, it is on. available on laser at this time. I did not buy my laser disc machine to be a snob and brag about it...I bought it because it had the best picture (at the time) and discs were relatively inexpensive.
He should get a life...
What gives with some of the DVD discs being formatted in Pan and Scan only?
I bought Michael and thought I was playing the disc on the wrong side...then I found out there was only the one side recoded on. What a rip-off. I am hearing news that certain discs will continue this practice. I was going to re-buy The Shadow when it comes out, but I hear that is to be Pan and Scan too. Forget it, I will keep my laserdisc. I also see that the prices on many discs are creeping up in price... Is that the old tactic of hooking us on a format and then sticking it to us after we have invested in it?
Is there any news on the hold-out studios coming over to DVD? How stupid can they be when the big Christmas buying season is coming-up...?
(Call it that big mystery... I've heard so many reasons as to why titles continue to show up as pan & scan only, that it's enough to make you head spin. Warner seems to have finally learned their lesson with the recent Risky Business, which showed up letterboxed even though they said it definitely wouldn't. So you see, there is some hope...)
Thanks for your update re: Toho DVDs (or the lack thereof). However one small correction; while I AM the (editor and) publisher of Kaiju Review, I am only a contributor to Uchusen Quarterly (albeit one with his own column/byline!) which is published by Asahi Sonorama in Japan. Uchusen Quarterly is Japan's number one pro magazine dealing with the world of SFX films (and related materials such as toys, video software books, etc.).
Thanks for your attention.
(Thanks for the clarification, Dan!)
Hi to All DVD Fans,
I just wanted to relay the following information to as many people as I can. I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. We are not one of the DVD test cities. I purchased my player at a local Costco Warehouse (formerly Price Club). When I bought it, they had no titles for sale. A local high- end audio shop in town had about 10 titles which they acquired from somewhere. They are charging anywhere from $24.95 - $29.95 each. I had my sister, who lives in New York City, buy me four titles from J&R Music World. They were $19.95 each. In the last two months, Costco has gotten in the following DVD's:
These 4 are 19.95.
These six sell for 18.99
If any of your readers have Costco/Price Clubs in their area, they should check them out for DVD's.
For what it is worth, here is what I think about the DVD/LD debate. If the manufacturers support it and embrace it the way they embraced audio cd's, then expect LD manufacture to drop off to nothing in about 5 years. It was only 4 years after the introduction of audio cd's before vinyl was buried.
If I offend anyone with my next thought, I'll apologize in advance. I think the majority of LD owners are snobs who think they are smarter than the general VCR-owning public. They are afraid that their little secret about how good home theater is will be out once the general public gets ahold of and embraces DVD's. DVD's will be much less expensive than LD's, so more people will have them, making LD owners feel less elite.
(I'm going to stay out of this discussion, folks, but I feel that I should mention that contrary to what John mentioned here, Dances With Wolves has not been released on DVD yet. It's likely Joe is talking about Columbia TriStar's Legends of the Fall.)
Originally Created: 08/01/97