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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 11/11/99



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/14/99 - 8/17/99)


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9/14/99

Well, we told you we'd be back with big news today, and we're making good. You may recall that we reported in the The Rumor Mill on Friday, that our sources had informed us that Saving Private Ryan was on its way to DVD in November. We're very pleased to report that, late yesterday, we received the official confirmation of this release from DreamWorks. The studio is officially announcing today, that Saving Private Ryan WILL debut on DVD on November 2nd, on the same day that a limited-edition VHS version becomes available at sell-through pricing. You can read the full text of the studio's official press release here. The also-limited-edition DVD will include the following:

· Anamorphic widescreen video mastered from a new high-def film transfer
· Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
· a 30-minute (approx.) "making-of" documentary, entitled Into the Breach
· 2 theatrical trailers
· a significant number of bio pages on cast & crew
· a special message from director Steven Spielberg

Note also that a DTS-encoded DVD version (minus the documentary) will also be available on 11/2. Specific pricing information has not yet been announced on either version (it should be available soon). The disc has been in production for several weeks at least, and sufficient copies will be pressed to meet the expected high demand.

As you can guess, this title marks a significant milestone for DVD. It is the first time Spielberg has allowed one of his major, recent films onto the format since Amistad. It certainly bodes well for the future DVD release of other titles from the director. And knowing the caliber of DreamWorks' previous DVD work, I think you can expect the quality of this release to be first-rate. Cool no?

Saving Private RyanThe Iron Giant

And Private Ryan isn't the only cool upcoming DVD we're pleased to announce today. Warner Home Video yesterday released details of their upcoming DVD version of their recent animated (and some already say classic) hit, The Iron Giant. The film will street on November 23rd, on both VHS and DVD. The DVD (which has an SRP of $24.98) will include the following:

· Anamorphic widescreen & full frame video
· The Making of the Iron Giant documentary
· a theatrical trailer
· cast & crew bios
· Cha Hua Hua music video by Eddie Platt
· DVD-ROM features, such as weblinks and access to online bonus material
· cast & crew bios
· "special" DVD packaging

Expect the DVD to be pretty cool, as Warner seems to be going all-out to promote the title, including the preparation of a major media marketing campaign. Warner Home Video even hosted a special screening of the film yesterday in Santa Monica to promote the title. Sadly, I was out of commission, and was unable to attend (really wish I could have been there - drat!). More information on the video and DVD will be available in the coming weeks on the film's official website.

In other news today (as if THAT wasn't enough!), Image Entertainment has once again updated their official DVD News page, with word of tons of new upcoming titles, including Austin Powers 2, Fitzcarraldo: SE, Monty Python's Life of Brian (Criterion), and more discs than you can shake a stick at. Also, Sony has issued a "media advisory" (also see this link) listing more of the specs of their upcoming PlayStation 2 game console system, which now claims audio CD and at least some DVD-Video playback capability (although there is no specific word as to the extent of that capability). Columbia TriStar has also announced a DVD release of the film Ma Vie en Rose, which streets on 11/9 (SRP $27.95).

Finally, today's update of The Rumor Mill includes some interesting new information on a DVD policy decision by Alliance, which distributes DVDs in Canada for Buena Vista, and lots of additional DVD title information.

Stay tuned...!

9/13/99

Ahh... the long work hours have finally caught up with me. Saturday night I got nailed with a nasty little head cold, and I've been in bed most of the weekend. I going to take today to rest up, but we'll be back in full force tomorrow with a big post, and some ultra-cool DVD news that - trust me - should make up for the lack of a post today. Stay tuned, and thanks for your patience!

9/10/99

We've got a bunch of information for you today. First of all, we've updated the CEMA DVD player sales information, to include the 47,660 players sold into retail in the first week of September (see the listing above, and the full chart for details).

Buena Vista has forwarded us their official list of disc specs on their forthcoming A Bug's Life: Special Edition DVD, and it pretty much confirms what we reported a few days ago. Nonetheless, here's the official list:

Disc One: The Movie

· Direct - Digital transfer
· Two Viewing Options - Widescreen (16X9 anamorphic) and Full Screen (1.33:1)
· Dolby digital 5.1 soundtrack
· Audio commentary featuring John Lasseter (Director), Andrew Stanton (Co-Director and Co-Writer) and Lee Unkrich (Supervising Film Editor)
· Isolated Music track - 2.0 stereo
· Isolated Sound effects track - Dolby Digital 5.1
· French Language Tracks - Dolby Surround 4.0
· Academy Award-winning short, Geri's Game

Disc Two: Supplemental Material

· Introductions and explanations by the filmmakers
· Early Presentation Reel (Fleabie)
· Original story treatment and pitch boards
· Character designs, concept art and color script
· Deleted sequences
· Storyboard-to-final film split-screen comparison
· Behind-the-scenes featurette on the creation of A Bug's Life
· Behind-the-scenes look at voice talent
· Early production tests
· Production progression demonstration
· Sound Engineer Gary Rydstrom on the movie's sound design
· Trailers and posters (Domestic and International)
· A behind-the-scenes look at how the movie was recomposed from widescreen presentation to full frame presentation for home video
· Both sets of hilarious outtakes, and a behind-the-scenes look at their production

So there you have it folks. Around the Net today, Yahoo has a press release on Image Entertainment entering into an agreement with Radio Shack, with Image fulfilling consumer-direct DVD software orders for a Radio Shack online ordering system. Both CNet's GameCenter.com and News.com have stories up on Sony possibly delaying the introduction of their PlayStation 2 system. And all you chariot jockeys better bridle up - DreamWorks is hosting the first-ever chariot race down Hollywood Blvd. next Tuesday, to promote their Prince of Egypt VHS and DVD releases (see press release).

And finally today (speaking of DreamWorks), we've got some very interesting information on a possible Saving Private Ryan DVD, plus lots of other upcoming title info, that you definitely don't want to miss. You'll find it all in The Rumor Mill, so do check it out.

Have a great weekend!

9/9/99

Come on - sing it with me now: "Tonight I'm gonna party like it's 9/9/99!" Well, I suppose I couldn't resist uploading today's update at 9:09 AM - I guess I'm just trying to tempt fate. Is that something like a conjunction of all the planets? I'm sure there's someone out there who thought the world was going to end at 9:09... or (gasp) maybe it was 9:19? Hhmmm.... Well, at least our server didn't explode. ;-)

All right, Todd and I are working on some more stuff for tomorrow, but in the meantime, I've got some nifty stuff right now for all of you. First of all, we've got a major new update of The Rumor Mill today, which includes major new information on the Bond DVDs, insider word on the DVD capabilities (or lack thereof) of Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2 system, and lots of upcoming title information. Do check it all out.

Speaking of PlayStation 2, Reuters is reporting (via Yahoo), that Sony may have to delay the official launch of the game platform, due to delays in manufacturing enough "super-fast chips" for the unit. I suspect we'll hear all about it in the next couple of weeks.

Also in the game console milieu, Todd's got another Doogan's Views column for you today, in which he gives you a look at Sega's new 128-bit Dreamcast game system, which today makes its grand entrance into the U.S. marketplace. Todd attended a special midnight press event in Atlanta last night, and he's got the full skinny for you. I had the privilege of playing with a Dreamcast for about an hour at the E3 convention earlier this year, and I must say, I was impressed - there's a lot of fun to be found in this new system. Look for DVD capabilities to be added (as an add-on box) sometime early next year.

In other news, The Musicland Group's Sam Goody.com and NetFlix have reached a DVD partnership arrangement you all might want to check out (click here for the press release). DVD International is promoting their "industry first" DVD-18 release, the fish tank/screen saver disc Aquaria (see press release), which streets on September 28th. And Image Entertainment has secured the DVD (and other format) rights to Peter Frampton: Live in Detroit, reinforcing the company's push to become the most active music DVD producer in the game (see press release). Image has also updated their DVD News page again (late yesterday to be specific), with LOTS more cool DVDs listed, so do check that out.

I'd like to point out a nice interview that DVD Review has posted with Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy himself, Robert Englund - worth a look.

Cinescape Online has another interesting new tidbit on possible Star Wars DVDs, this time from Lucasfilm major domo Rick McCallum himself, via Star Wars Insider magazine (just slide down the index page, and you'll see it in yesterday's update). Rick talks about potential amazing SE content for the years-away DVD set... which all sounds fine and good. But I'm guessing that most of us would be quite happy just to have the films on DVD NOW (in anamorphic widescreen, of course) with just a trailer and maybe some nifty animated menus. Shall we all take a vote? Raise your hands if you'd be happy with that. How 'bout it George?

And finally today, I'd like to say a big hello to all our friends over at Interplay Productions. I am absolutely hooked on their outrageously cool new Starfleet Command game, and it's driving my wife crazy. I'm something of a closet Trek fan, although I have to confess that I've lost interest in Trek big-time in recent years. There have been a LOT of Star Trek-based PC games before, but most of them have pretty much sucked - all role-playing and the like. I don't know why it's taken so long for people to realize that all Trek fans ever wanted from a computer game was to take command of a starship and blast the hell out of the Klingons, but that's just what Starfleet Command lets you do, and it's great fun to boot. Try the free demo if you can afford the download time, and I guarantee you'll be hooked! Kudos to Chris and the whole Starfleet Command team. Well done guys!

Back tomorrow - see you then!

9/8/99

We've got a few interesting items for you today. First of all, some housekeeping issues. I've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list, as well as the VideoScan Top 10 Selling DVDs and DVD Titles Released/Announced information in our DVD Format Stats section. I also archived some of my older My Two Cents columns for faster loading, and updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the current version (August 19th).

Now to the good stuff... we have a guest DVD review for you today. Many of you may remember our old friend Andy Patrizio, who used to write frequent columns for TechWeb. Andy is now even more prolific, contributing freelance technology articles to such publications as Video Store & Wired magazines. In fact, he's written several recent DVD articles for Wired, that I recommend as important reading: DVD Audio: The Sound of Silence, DVD's Fragmented Future, and Adding ROM to Your DVD. When Andy offered to contribute a guest DVD review to the Bits, how could we say no? Well, we didn't... and today you can read Andy's thoughts on Fox's Wing Commander. Be sure to give Andy an e-mail, and let him know what you think!

Elsewhere around the Net, comes word that Sony is soon to unveil details about their upcoming PlayStation 2 game console, including its DVD capabilities. Next-Generation Online has published a report that Sony will announce such details as price, name, DVD and Internet strategies, and possibly even the styling of their new game console on September 13, just four days before the start of the Tokyo Game Show. Not to be outdone, GameFan has posted what looks to be a joke (perhaps taking a poke at Sega?), claiming that Sega will soon make a DVD add-on for their Dreamcast game system. I'm not quite sure what to make of this "report", but I'd say that that "design document" looks a little suspect.... ;-)

In other news, Image Entertainment has recently updated their DVD News page, to include details on lots of great upcoming DVDs, including The Blair Witch Project, The Stand, Yellow Submarine, Stargate: SE, Big Daddy, Bride of Frankenstein, Friday the 13th, and lots more.

Yesterday, I made a comment that Todd and I would love to Paramount release Once Upon a Time in the West on DVD. Well, I've thought of another Paramount film that demands DVD release in my opinion: Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet. If you haven't seen it, Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey put Leo DiCaprio and Claire Danes to shame as the title characters, and the cinematography (by Pasqualino De Santis) is to die for. Bring it on Paramount!

Finally today, as many of you know, I write regular DVD reviews and the occasional article for Video Store magazine. Recently, my editor at Video Store asked me to put together a feature look at the inner workings of The Digital Bits. Todd and I put our heads together on the idea, and I wrote the article, which appeared in a recent issue (August 29-September 4). But Video Store is an industry publication that the general public doesn't have access to, and we figured that some of our regular readers might also find a look behind-the-scenes here at the Bits interesting. So we've decided to repost the article here. I've been told it's kind offbeat, but it's all the truth - if you've ever wanted to know just what goes on during a typical work day here at the Bits, you're about to find out. Anyway, Todd and I think you'll enjoy it. Enough babbling... here's the article: The Digital Bits: Behind-the-Scenes at a DVD Website. Let us know what you think...

Have a great day, and stay tuned!

9/7/99

We've got more Upcoming DVD Artwork for you today, with looks at the covers for Labyrinth, Monty Python's Plying Circus, Immortal Beloved, Fox's animated Anastasia and more. We've also got a couple of other "cover art" related images to show you here. They wouldn't fit in the Upcoming Art section, but we figured you'd like to get a look at them anyway. It looks as if MGM is getting ready to deliver a nice pair of DVD boxed sets:

Bond Special Edition DVD gift setThe Man with No Name DVD gift set

The James Bond DVD Gift set includes all 7 of the studio's upcoming special edition Bond DVDs (SRP $199.92, but available for much less online - street date 10/19). The Man with No Name set includes a trio of films starring Clint Eastwood, and directed by Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone: MGM's upcoming Fistful of Dollars, as well as the two previously released titles, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly (SRP $59.98, again available for much less online - street date 10/5). Now if we could just get Paramount to release a DVD version of Once Upon a Time in the West (another great "spaghetti" western by Leone, this time starring Charles Bronson, with Henry Fonda has a black-hatted bad guy!), Doogan and I would be happy campers.

For those of you who track major media mergers, you should know that the biggest yet is about to occur: Viacom and CBS are about to be joined at the hip (see CNN story on the merger). Viacom, which already owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, has agreed to absorb the broadcast network in an all-stock deal valued at some $35 billion. The combined corporation will be the second-largest media group behind Time Warner.

In other news, our friends over at Techweb have a story on the confusion that's about to be created as a result of deep gulfs in the DVD Forum over recordable DVD formats. As we said the other day, leave it to the consumer electronics industry to confuse consumers with electronics. The LA Times has posted a look at the DVD market share among studios, with each's studio's current best-selling DVD also listed. According to the text, some 10.1 million units of DVD software have sold thus far this year.

And how's this for a DVD-related Millennium prediction: in a brief prepared for the industry, market-watcher Strategy Analytics forecasts that the DVD software market will reach $36 billion by 2005, and that DVD-Video will pass VHS in 2003. "DVD is set to become the dominant packaged media platform for the next decade,'' says David Mercer, Senior Analyst with Strategy Analytics. "DVD players will be everywhere, and discs will be even more pervasive than CDs are today.'' Cool.

Back tomorrow!

9/6/99

Groovy, Baby! Some swinging new details just came in about New Line's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me DVD (street date November 16th, SRP $24.98). The Platinum Series disc will include nearly 20 minutes of deleted scenes, a Mike Myers feature-length commentary track, a behind-the-scenes featurette, multiple soundtrack music videos (from REM, Madonna, Lenny Kravitz, Mel B/Scary Spice), Comedy Central's "spy-o-graphy" (The Dr. Evil Story), interactive menus (where Austin reacts to your menu selections), and several DVD-ROM features (including a playable demo of the Austin Powers Operation Trivia CD-ROM game, customized web browsers, cast & crew bios, weblinks, and more).

As with all New Line's Platinum Series DVDs, the film has been transferred to video in high-definition format. The DVD will be enhanced for anamorphic displays. Here's a look at the cover art (which has also been added to our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section):

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me DVD

But that's not all for today. We've also got a look at the contents of Buena Vista's upcoming A Bug's Life: Special Edition. The package will include 2 DVD discs, and it looks like Buena's Vista's FINALLY getting the idea, 'cause it's gonna be anamorphic. Here's the list of contents:

Disc One: The Film (DVD-9/dual-layered)

A Bug's Life (in anamorphic widescreen)
A Bug's Life (in recomposed full frame)
Geri's Game
both sets of film end-credit "outtakes"

Note: the 16x9 version will also include 5.1 sound, plus a 2.0 music-only track, and feature-length Audio Commentary (with John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkirch), while the full frame version will include 5.1 audio, plus a 5.1 sound effects-only track.

Disc Two: Supplemental Material (DVD-5/single-layered)

"Fleabie" - early presentation reel
Original treatments with concept art
Storyboard pitch
Storyboard-to-film comparison
Early/abandoned story reels (P.T.'s Office, Museum Trip, Flick and Grub Open, and Queen Over the Waterfall)
"Bug Cam" footage and bug research
Character designs (virtually all major and minor characters are shown throughout the development process, from early sketches, to final models)
Location designs (Ant Island, City, Circus Tent and Wagon, Grasshopper's Lair)
various Concept Art and Color Scripts

Look for the disc to street on November 22nd, for an SRP of $49.99.

Hope you're all having a great long weekend (for those of you in the States), and hope all the rest of you HAD a great weekend! We'll see you back here tomorrow. Stay tuned...!

9/3/99

Well, Buena Vista's decision to increase the price on their Disney animated DVDs has left many consumers puzzled, and not just a little angry. But a good friend of mine, who happens to be a buyer for a retail video chain, e-mailed me with what looks to be an explanation for the price increase. The SRP was $34.99, and is now $39.99. But the cost of ordering these discs for retailers only increased by $1, and the minimum advertised price has stayed the same, at $29.95. What this effectively does, is allow retailers more flexibility in choosing the price they'll sell the discs to consumers at, and potentially gives them the opportunity to make more money. I'm not going to say this is a good move from a consumer standpoint, but I'm sure retailers are happy, particularly since several of the titles will be available for 60 days only. However, many retailers will likely still keep their prices as low as possible, particularly online (a check with online retailer DVD Express, reveals that they're still selling them for the low price of $23.99 each, and Amazon.com is at $20.99 for many of them).

Speaking of Buena Vista, the studio has announced its DVD lineup for November. Look for the following titles: Break Up, The Castle, Heaven, Instinct, Life is Beautiful, A Bug's Life: Special Edition, I'll Be Home for Christmas, Exotica, and The Crossing Guard. Also, those of you who picked up a defective copy of Buena Vista's She's All That (with 2.0 instead of 5.1 audio), will be happy to know that the FIXED copies are now appearing in stores. The corrected discs include a blue, oval sticker on the front, with the words: "Newly remastered with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio". There's no studio exchange program - you simply return your defective discs to the retailer you purchased them at, and exchange them for the fixed ones.

In other news today, we've got a bunch more Upcoming DVD cover artwork for you to check out. You'll get a look some 20 forthcoming titles like Election (a VERY funny movie), Star Trek: The Original Series, Volumes 3 & 4, Life is Beautiful, A Bug's Life: Special Edition, Instinct, Quiz Show, Twin Dragons, Warner's new re-issues of A Christmas Story and How the Grinch Stole Christmas/Horton Hears a Who, Never Been Kissed, Big Daddy, and much more. Enjoy!

Sharpline Arts is offering an Adobe Acrobat PDF file of keep case artwork and inserts that they've created for their Alien Legacy documentary (see our review here). You'll need to download Adobe Acrobat first to be able to read the files, and you'll need a good color printer to make copies that you can use in empty DVD keep cases. Click here for the actual download page at Sharpline to get the files. Be warned however - each file is well over 1 meg in size, and the download page goes down often. Still, I think this is a nice idea.

The whole Alien Legacy 5th disc has been quite the controversy, especially now that you can't even get it anymore. Like many, I would have liked to see it on the actual Alien disc itself. But at 60 minutes, it was too long to fit on the disc. It might surprise many of you to know, however, that had Sharpline cut it down to 30 minutes or so (they WERE asked to do so, but declined), it COULD have fit on the disc, and WOULD have been included, making all of this trouble moot. And frankly, as a former editor myself, there's a lot of over-long, talking heads-type stuff in the 60 minute program that probably should have been cut anyway. Still, it is frustrating that, after making it available only by mail to those who purchased the box set, Fox has stopped shipping it altogether. If you're a fan, the disc is worth having (I wouldn't buy the set for it, but if you DID buy the set anyway, you damn well ought to get the 5th disc). Sadly, this whole mess is a case of stubborn heads at both Fox and Sharpline - Sharpline wouldn't cut the documentary to fit on the DVD, and Fox won't ship out any more copies. Who loses out? You do.

The EETimes has a good article today on recordable DVD players, although there's trouble ahead for consumers. Both Pioneer and Sharp have unveiled demonstration units of their recordable players, which will debut in Japan later this year, and next year in the States. But both players are based on the DVD-R/W format, which is NOT compatible with current DVD-Video players. Only Phillips currently has promised a recordable player which uses DVD+RW - a format which has been demonstrated to create discs that can be played back on ALL current DVD players. Boy, there's nothing like major consumer electronics manufacturers to be guaranteed to do everything possible to confuse consumers.

Those of you who are fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 can rejoice - not only is Rhino planning on releasing it on DVD, but they want to know what YOU think and want on the discs (gasp)! Click this link to give 'em your feedback. Cheers to Rhino for thinking to ask for their fans' input! I sure wish other studios would do the same.

Finally today, I've received a couple of upset e-mails from angry Blair Witch fans, who are concerned that Artisan's upcoming DVD SE of the film will include only full frame (4:3/1.33:1) video, and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. I'd like to remind everyone that The Blair Witch Project was originally shot and edited on video. It had to be side-matted for transfer to film for its theatrical release (you still only saw the 4:3 image). So full frame (1.33:1) is actually its original aspect ratio. You're not missing anything - this IS the correct ratio for DVD release. Also, 2.0 stereo was the original audio mix format - it was not released in 5.1 in theaters. You can check the film's listing in the Internet Movie Database for more. And I'm sure I'll be hearing from hundreds of Blair fans over the weekend, so I'll be sure to keep you all up to date on what they have to say.

Have a great weekend everyone!

9/2/99

Howdy campers! I want to thank everyone who sent their kind best wishes to Sarah and I yesterday - they were (and are) much appreciated. And yes, we had a great day!

Let's talk DVD, shall we? We ended August with a bang, so it's only fitting that we start September in style as well. So how's about another cool advance look at an upcoming DVD? And we've got a great one for you this time around - our own Todd Doogan gives you his take on Warner's ultra-cool DVD of The Matrix! I've seen the disc as well, and my guess is that after you've read Todd's review, you're gonna have a hard time waiting until September 21st to get you own copy. And trust me - start saving your money now, 'cause you're DEFINITELY gonna want a copy.

In other news, Image Entertainment has again updated their DVD News page, and there are lots of good new Image-exclusive titles to check out. For those of you who needed confirmation of the Blair Witch Project DVD information we reported the other day, check out this link from Yahoo, which again says that the 10/22, day-and-date DVD release WILL be the fully-loaded SE after all. Artisan goes for the DVD gusto! Good for them - can't wait for that disc! Also today, comes word that National Geographic Home Video is getting into the DVD game, and that Warner Music is releasing Depeche Mode videos on DVD as well (click here for that story).

One last note - Buena Vista HAS officially confirmed to us that they've raised their price point to $39.99 for their upcoming classic animated DVDs. OUCH. They did not provide an specific reason why, but I suppose they figure that since many are only gonna be available for 60 days each, they want to make all the money they can. Still, $40 bucks each is gonna make it hard for all those parents out there, whose kids are gonna be screaming for the discs after they see the commercials on TV. Come on, Disney -- can't you at least TRY to be consumer friendly?

Star tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/31/99 - 5:30 PM PDT)

Another double-update day! I've got some more great stuff for you this afternoon, starting with a look at the DVD cover artwork and disc specs for the Disney animated DVDs (the covers, along with Blair Witch, have also been added to the Upcoming Art section). Just one word of note: Buena Vista has STILL not confirmed the rumored price hike for these DVDs. I hope to hear back from them soon.

And to close out the month of August, we've got one last disc review for you: your first look at DreamWorks' excellent new DVD version of The Prince of Egypt. As you'll see, I think this is DreamWorks' best DVD thus far, and it easily ranks as one of the best yet produced (in terms of all-around quality and extras). So enjoy!

One last note - there will be no update tomorrow, as Sarah and I are celebrating our anniversary. When you've been married for nine years, you've gotta develop priorities, you know? ;-) So have a great day, and I'll see you back here on Thursday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/31/99 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Well, we might as well round out the month of August in style, right? Hot on the heels of yesterday's major Blair Witch DVD update, today we've got another nifty new review for you - your first look at the next entry in Universal's Classic Monster Collection... The Mummy. Enjoy!

We've updated our CEMA DVD player sales info (both the full chart and the listing above), and you should know that the 3 million player mark has officially been passed! The VideoScan Top 10 Selling DVD list and the Nimbus DVD Titles Available stats have also been updated today.

You should know that Columbia TriStar has officially announced the following DVD titles: Muppets from Space (street date 10/26, SRP $24.95, with trailers, outtakes, a music video, and "live" commentary with Kermit the Frog, The Great Gonzo, Rizzo the Rat, and director Tim Hill), Arlington Road (street date 10/26, SRP $24.95, with alternate ending, "making of" featurette, and audio commentary with Jeff Bridges and director Mark Pellingtion), and Big Daddy (street date 11/2, SRP $24.95, extras TBA).

I also spoke with DreamWorks yesterday, and learned that The Love Letter and The Haunting will be the studio's next two DVDs, both tentatively set for release on November 23rd (although the latter title may be moved to December 7th). Expect The Haunting to be a very cool DVD - enough said. Still no word on Saving Private Ryan.

We've been hearing rumors of a change in DVD pricing for Buena Vista's classic animated DVDs. Supposedly, retailers are being notified that the SRPs for the studio's upcoming classic titles will be jacked up to $39.99 (as if $34.99 wasn't bad enough for bare-bones discs). We'll have to see if this turns out to be accurate (this is NOT yet officially confirmed), or is just another one of those Disney fairy-tales (like Walt's head being frozen under the streets of Disneyland - no kidding, some folks believe it).

Finally today, we'd like to point out a live chat transcript that you might find interesting. The DVD website Digital Bayou.com held a chat with Paramount Home Video's Jeffrey Radoycis the other day, and he had a few interesting comments on the future of the various forms of the Star Trek franchise on DVD. The transcript is short, but it's worth a look, so do check it out.

Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/30/99 - 5 PM PDT)

So you say you dig The Blair Witch Project? How'd you like a look at the upcoming DVD? I decided to jump in with a late update, as new information has just come in on this disc. It looks now as if Artisan is going to be releasing it's special edition DVD version right away, after all. We had been told that that was originally the plan, but that it was later decided that there wouldn't be time enough to get an SE disc done, in time for the VHS street date of 10/26. Now, Artisan print ads in the trades are touting The Blair Witch Project: Special Edition on DVD (SRP $29.98), day-and-date with the VHS release on 10/26! How cool is that, DVD fans?

Here's a list of the contents of the disc:

"Newly discovered" footage not seen in theatrical release
Director and Producer commentary
Theatrical teaser and trailers
Curse of the Blair Witch mythology (which I assume, is the Sci-Fi documentary)
DVD-ROM features include link to Blair Witch web site & chat rooms, Blair Witch Dossier, and Blair Witch comic book

And just so you know this is the real deal, here's a look at the disc itself. Enjoy!

The Blair Witch Project: Special Edition DVD

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/30/99 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Welcome back to the work week office slaves! I know how many of you out there read the Bits at work, during all those "coffee breaks" - come on, admit it! So did everyone have a good weekend? I went out and saw Mickey Blue Eyes yesterday, which wasn't half bad. It's slow, and runs way too long, but there are some definite laughs. I'll say C+. You know, it's interesting... of all the ethnic stereotypes out there, I think Italians have one of the toughest to shake. The image of the Mafia don and the wiseguy is just really ingrained into the fabric of American pop culture. I mean, how often, when you see an Italian male portrayed in film or on TV, is the character a mobster? I'd guess 8 times out of 10. Strange.

Anyway, let's talk DVD. First of all, our own Todd Doogan's got an update for you on Troma's DVD plans for the near future, which I've posted in the Rumor Mill today. And hopefully by now, you've read our 4 new reviews from Friday, which include Paramount's Titanic. Titanic seems to have reinvigorated the anamorphic/non-anamorphic debate on the Internet. I've gotten numerous e-mails on the subject, from people who were upset that the disc isn't 16x9 enhanced, one who didn't care, and several who still don't understand the subject. For that last group of Bits readers (who might have missed this), I'd like point out a link to an editorial I did on the subject of anamorphic widescreen DVDs last year. I've recently done a small update to the end of the editorial, discussing current studio support for the feature.

Just so that you know that we at the Bits aren't the only ones pushing the virtues of anamorphic, I'd like to point out a great column in the September issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater. In contributing editor Fred Manteghian's The Back Page column (see page 130), a recent online survey the publication conducted on their website is mentioned. The question: "How important is an anamorphic picture to you when buying DVDs?" The results? 83% of those surveyed said that anamorphic was either "A must-have" (44%) "Extremely important" (29%), or "Very important" (10%). A follow up survey revealed that only 31% of those same readers currently have an anamorphic display. A similar survey done on The Big Picture website revealed that 63% of readers believed that 16x9 was "Extremely important - I wish all DVD's were 16:9-enhanced. C'mon studios! Get with the program!" Once again, a follow up survey revealed that only 9% of those polled currently have an anamorphic display (another 17% planned to buy one in the near future).

I hope the Hollywood studios are getting the message. The bottom line, is that I think those DVD consumers who understand anamorphic, generally consider it very important to them, regardless of the kind of TV display they currently have. Manteghian sums it up as well as anyone in Stereophile:

"...those anamorphic DVDs you buy today are going to look awfully good on that new 16:9 screen, whenever it slips into your living room. Insisting on anamorphic DVDs today ensures that we're getting a new component transfer that is tailor-made for the DVD medium.

But there are still some people who prefer non-anamorphic DVDs, which are devoid of any player-induced downconversion artifacts on their 4:3 sets, over future-ready anamorphic DVDs, which will some day provide them with a third more resolution than non-anamorphic discs. In my view, this is just eating the flowers from your own fruit tree."

Manteghian sums his column up as follows (and he's got a really good point, I think):

"I think the discussion should revolve around the downconversion artifacts the studios foist upon us when they refuse to release a movie with an anamorphic transfer. Why are The Horse Whisperer's vistas of Montana pastures marred by the shimmer of tall grass instead of its wave? And what about The Last Emperor? Only the beauty of its tale kept me glued to the couch through four hours of nearly unwatchable video. Here's an arti-fact: All else being equal, the image with the most lines wins."

Amen, brother!

One last note for you today: Image Entertainment has all the specs on those upcoming Disney DVDs on their DVD News page. As we mentioned previously, many are THX, and some will have a pittance of extras, such as music videos, featurettes and a trailer. But don't expect anamorphic enhancement on any of the widescreen titles (Urgh!). Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/27/99 - 11 PM PDT)

As promised, we're back with a late post of the Bits, and have we ever got TONS of stuff for you to check out over the weekend! First of all, we'd like to send our congratulations out to our newest Trivia Contest winner, Christopher Jonathan Leigh Brookes, of Davenport, Iowa. Christopher correctly guessed all of our mystery DVD covers, and was selected in the drawing. We had 1,679 entries this month - the most ever, so thanks to all who participated.

Now then, we've got a trio of new DVD reviews up tonight, to add to our The Mummy review from earlier. First of all, I've taken a good hard look at Paramount's new DVD version of James Cameron's Titanic. Does this long-awaited DVD live up to its name? Check out the review and find out. Next up is one of my favorite films, Warner's The American President, which just came out on DVD. And rounding out the reviews for today is another fun film, Monty Python's And Now For Something Completely Different, from Columbia TriStar. Not bad for one day, eh?

But we're not done - we've also posted some 20 new DVD cover scans in our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. We've got a look at lots of great new titles for you, including all of MGM's new 007 Special Edition titles, as well as The Shawshank Redemption, Deliverance, Fistful of Dollars, Forces of Nature and The Dark Crystal. Okay... NOW we're done.

You all go out and have yourselves a great weekend, watch lots of DVDs, and we'll see you back here on Monday. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/27/99 - 12:45 PM PDT)

Okay, this is just a quick update to let you know that our review of Universal's new DVD version of The Mummy (1999) is now available. I've been working on some befuddling technical issues around the site for the last day or so (not the least of which is a crash-happy hard drive on my own computer), but I've got a number of things almost ready to post, which I'm working on now. For that reason, I'll be making a second post later this evening, with 3 more reviews, some new upcoming DVD artwork, and the results of our August Trivia Contest. For those of you who have yet to enter, the contest will remain open until 8 PM PDT tonight, so do get your entries in fast!

Be sure to check back later, and have a great weekend!

8/25/99

Todd's reviews of the films writer/producer Rudy Ray Moore on DVD have now been posted. Moore was a comedian in the 70s, who not only became an icon of so-called "blaxploitation" cinema, he also helped to inspire contemporary forms of rap and hip-hop music. A trio of his films are currently available on DVD (Dolemite, The Human Tornado, and Disco Godfather). One of the great things about a format like DVD, is that is gives off-beat or overlooked films a new audience. With that in mind, I think you'll enjoy Doogan's thoughts on Rudy Ray's work on disc.

I'll be posting my review of The Mummy later this evening, but in the meantime, I wanted to talk a little about DVD-Audio. While at DVD Pro last week, I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion entitled, Auguries and Portents. The idea behind the panel, was to talk about the so-called "convergence" in digital technologies that is occurring (more properly described as a "conversion" from analog to digital, I think). Among the panelists, was Geoffrey Tully, formerly the president of Divx Entertainment, who now owns his own consulting firm. Tully had some interesting things to say about Divx and its demise, which I'll talk about in the coming days. But one interesting comment he made was, "If you think the DVD vs. Divx format war was big, just wait until DVD-Audio vs. SACD..." (meaning Sony's Super Audio CD format).

DVD-Audio is expected to officially launch in October, when the first players and a VERY few software titles should arrive in the marketplace. But most analysts are expecting a slow start for the format, significantly lagging behind DVD-Video and DVD-ROM. Several questions remain about the format, including user interface formats, copy protection concerns, and technical issues about hybrid DVD-Video/DVD-Audio discs. It was interesting to note, that NO DVD-Audio players were in evidence at DVD Pro for demonstrations, with the format's launch just weeks away. Then there's that format war concern again.

As many of you know, Sony reportedly intends to go forward with its own Super Audio CD format, which will compete directly with DVD-Audio. When will manufacturers start to figure out that consumers will JUST NOT TOLERATE such competing formats anymore? One would think DVD vs. Divx would have been lesson enough, but to listen to some in the industry, Divx's failure had less to do with a lack of consumer support (and a climate of outright hostility), and more to do with a lack of industry support of the format! I suppose one can't fault captains of industry for their arrogance. It may be that they'll always believe that all they have to do is create a new format, and throw lots of marketing dollars at it, and American consumers will line up to buy it like lemmings. But I think they're smarter than that (the consumers I mean, not the captains of industry). But worries about an all-out audio disc format war aside, I don't believe it will be nearly as big as some would have you believe... because I just don't think there's a lot of consumer interest in a higher-resolution audio format right now.

Now, just hear me out on this -- one of the knocks against Digital and HDTV, is that, for the most part, people are plenty happy with the quality of their current TV picture. I mean, if you go over to your parents' house (if they're anything like my parents), the color on their TV is way out of adjustment. But they don't care - it looks fine to them! They're happy. But DVD-Video is still a good sell to them, not just because it provides an immediate noticeable improvement in picture, but because it's also a lot more convenient and durable than VHS tape. I mean, I actually heard my mother tell me the other day (she lives in North Dakota mind you), that "it's just getting so we can't rent videotapes anymore... the DVD just looks so much better, and it's easier to use." You go, Mom! DVD is catching on now, because regardless of the kind of equipment you have, you get immediate benefits (convenience, quality, extras, etc...).

But is there that same perception of need for DVD-Audio (or SACD either for that matter)? For one thing, you'll need a very good stereo system to really appreciate the difference in sound quality over regular CDs, not to mention that you'll require full surround sound systems to hear enveloping multi-channel audio. CDs sound great to most people. And DVD-Audio doesn't have any significant convenience features over current CDs either.

I'm not saying that there isn't a market out there for high-resolution audio discs, but I do maintain that it's probably going to be smaller than the DVD-Video market for a long, long time (think about the current market for DTS-encoded DVDs, for example). I think people are, for the most part, going to say that they're just plenty happy with their CDs, thank you, and pass for the time being. This is especially true when you consider that Digital TV, DVD-Video and lots of other technologies are going to be competing for their spending dollars. How many people out there can afford to repurchase their movie collections on DVD-Video, their music collections on DVD-Audio, plus pay their cable, Internet, and phone bills, AND still afford that new Digital TV that they're gonna need in 5 or 6 years? Not many.

So what will be the fate of DVD-Audio, or SACD? Well, I don't think there will be enough consumer interest in either for a full-fledged format war... at least not right away. And, as with any new format, it will be the software that drives sales - the so called "killer apps". When you can buy a boxed set (consisting of a couple of hybrid DVD-Audio/Video discs) that includes every album ever recorded by The Rolling Stones (remixed in 5.1 sound, naturally, with an optional running commentary by the band members), along with every music video they've ever done, and maybe some live concert stuff as well... then people might get interested. Who knows if the music industry will even be interested in offering that kind of fully-loaded product, given their concerns about piracy (heightened at the moment by MP3 and other technologies)? In the meantime, I'll say this: when DVD-Video launched in March of '97, I was absolutely confident that it would be a smash hit. But I think DVD-Audio has a long, tough road ahead of it. I could be wrong, but that just my two cents...

Stay tuned!

8/24/99

Ahhh... feels good to be home again. We've done just too damn much travelling here at the Bits over the last two weeks! I'm afraid our three cats barely recognized us when we walked in the door. ;-)

Anyway, time to catch up on some of the DVD news that's happened over the last couple of days. It's now official, Paramount has shipped more than 1 million units of its Titanic DVD (see the press release). We'll have to wait and see just how many actually sell, and if the Disney animated titles pass it by. DVD Express also has a new exec - one Jonas Gray (formerly of CDNow) who will act in the new position of Vice President, Business & Strategic Development (see release). And Motorola has developed a new chip that is Dolby Digital Consumer Encoder certified (see release), enabling the two-channel digital encoding of stereo analog sound for storage on a digital media. The chip is expected to be used in a variety of new consumer DVD-recordable products.

Now then... reviews are definitely the order of the day around here. Fans of Eurosleaze, B-grade (almost C-grade) horror/shlock rejoice! Todd's wrapped up his series on the Redemption films on DVD today, with a look at Requiem for a Vampire, Clive Barker's Salome & The Forbidden, The Sinful Nuns of Saint Valentine, The Night of the Hunted, Nude for Satan, and The Reincarnation of Isabel. Once again, you can access the complete index to the reviews, and Todd's introduction, by clicking here. This ain't kid stuff, folks.

I'll be posting several more new reviews tomorrow, including The Mummy: Collector's Edition (the 1999 widescreen version, baby - no pan & scan crap here!), and some off-beat stuff from actor/producer Rudy Ray Moore, courtesy of Todd. I'll also have a few interesting comments I heard on DVD-Audio at the DVD Pro convention, and a few of my own thoughts on this subject.

See you then!

8/23/99

So did y'all have a good weekend? I'm making this post from the old laptop yet again, sitting here in a hotel room in Boston (very early in the AM Eastern time), while attending a wedding this weekend with Sarah. I haven't been in this neck of the woods in years (although I lived here for about 10 years, a long time ago), and I'd forgotten how great a place it is. Anyway, I digress.

I'm not going to be long-winded today, since I'm jumping on a plane home in a few hours. But we've posted the first of another set of reviews that I think you'll find interesting. Image Entertainment has been working hard in recent months, to release a ton of off-the-beaten-path, B-grade horror flicks on DVD, particularly European films of the genre. Among those titles, are the Redemption series - truly cheesy (and ultra-fun) Eurosleaze horror movies. There are so far nine of these films available on DVD, and Todd's decided to review each of them, starting with The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance, Cold Eyes of Fear, and Devil's Nightmare. We'll look at more of them throughout the week (click here for the introduction, and index of our Redemption DVD reviews). We think you'll agree... you've never seen ANYTHING like these flicks before!

I'll be back tomorrow with more. And we've got lots more reviews coming, including Paramount's new Titanic disc. Does the DVD live up to its name, or does it sink like its namesake? We'll let you know.

Stay tuned...!

8/19/99

Hey - what do you know? An early post! Thought I'd surprise you for a change. Today we have some more new DVD reviews for you. Doogan's got a look at a cheeky little gore-fest, called Brain Damage. And our newest staff member, Frank Ortiz, weighs in with the first of his music DVD reviews: Sarah McLachlan: Video Collection 1989-1998. We'll have lots more disc reviews coming through the weekend, and some of them are pretty off-beat to say the least! And don't forget our Cruel Intentions and Star Trek: The Original Series DVD reviews which we posted late yesterday, as well as Doogan's newest editorial. Oh... and we mentioned yesterday that the Disney animated DVDs will be THX-certified too (no kidding).

Speaking of the Disney DVDs, we've also posted a full transcript of the Wall Street Journal article that broke the Disney DVD story. Despite the fact that just about every DVD web site online (including us) has been talking about "rumored" Disney animated DVDs for many months, sometimes I guess we've got to let the mainstream press break a story too! ;-)

Now... I promised some comments about DVD Pro '99. I mentioned before that the conference has a very heavy technical bent. Many of the attendees were from the authoring end of the industry, with others attending from the various manufacturers and content producers (like the studios). There were also a lot of people, particularly those exhibiting during the show, from companies that manufacture hardware and software systems used in mastering DVDs (decoders, authoring software and related services). The whole idea of the show, is to act as a melting pot, where people of all levels of expertise can get together and share their experience.

There were a number of individuals in attendance who were just looking to get into DVD for the first time, and were educating themselves about the format. Some were from independent video companies, others were from law enforcement, the government, and various educational institutions. I even met a nice fellow involved in education research at The University of Wisconsin, Madison (my alma mater), who plans to use DVD as a way of studying how children learn math. It truly seems that DVD is not only here to stay, but has definitely crossed over into mainstream markets.

One of the more interesting things I learned however, after attending a number of seminars, was the sheer difficulty of producing on DVD at the present time. Despite its many benefits, there are a lot of technical hurdles to overcome as a content producer. Several of those I spoke with privately, who were experienced at DVD authoring, suggested that virtually every DVD player on the market today violates the DVD specification (does not conform) in some way, some more serious than others. This isn't really the fault of the player manufacturers - the problem is that this format is just so new. For example, when many of the early DVD players were being designed and tested, engineers worked hard to ensure that the players confirmed to the spec. The problem was, there was very little actual software available to test the players with. No one had yet produced a DVD-9 RSDL dual-layered disc, for example, so how do you make sure your player handles on-the-fly layer switching acceptably? You can make test discs, but it still isn't 100% foolproof. It will be interesting to see what happens with forthcoming DVD-18 discs (dual-sided AND dual-layered). And if you think that stand-alone DVD-Video players are problematic, DVD-ROM drives are far worse. Gateway, for example, for a long time was shipping computers equipped with DVD-ROM drives... but without the software drivers needed to make them work properly! Not to single them out - they're but one example. And as those of you with DVD-ROM drives no doubt already know, getting tech support for your drive can be like trying to squeeze water from a stone.

Here's some trivia for you: did you know, that when you watch a DVD with subtitles, each time a new subtitle appears on your screen, it's actually a single image file (called a "subpicture")? And that to make subtitles work on DVD, producers synchronize strings of hundreds of such files together with the video, for the length of the movie? The average DVD movie's subtitles contain 500 to 1,000 or more subpictures. And you can also string subpictures together, containing not just "text" but actual simple images, to make simple animations. That's how the "live" commentary track was done on the Ghostbusters DVD - some 96,000 subpictures were strung together and played sequentially. And I'm told it was a HUGE effort to get it to work. Fascinating, no?

Here's another interesting piece of trivia: did you know that when you see those "animated" chapter selection pages, with say, 4 moving pieces of video in little picture-in-picture windows, you're really only looking at one actual piece of video? What's happened, is that an editor has digitally combined 4 streams of video (via split-screen), onto one piece of video, which is then encoded on the DVD. The menu page graphics are then laid over it (with "windows" that let the moving video play through). So you're not really seeing 4 pieces of video accessed simultaneously via your DVD player, just a nifty and creative bit of editing trickery. Still looks cool in my book though!

I'll share more interesting bits of such trivia in the weeks to come. In the meantime, I can definitely say that I came away from DVD Pro with a much better understanding of the tremendous effort that's required to produce some of the more elaborate and innovative features on DVD. So the next time you're watching that ultra-cool, special edition DVD of your favorite film, remember that somebody (and probably a bunch of somebodies) worked a LOT of late nights to make it that way.

Finally today, I know there are a few stories we've talked about here at the Bits, that have failed to appear, among them the digital projection story. This is simply for lack of the time needed to get them finished and posted. Running the Bits is a huge job, and even with Sarah, Doogan and Frank working hard, I'm still up until 3 AM every night, trying to get things posted. Sometimes, having to cover a breaking story or get important review work done just takes precedence over the things we'd planned to do. But we'll be refocusing and reorganizing our efforts over the next few weeks, to get some of those long-awaited stories posted. And we'll be getting back to doing a lot more of the online behind-the-scenes articles that we really made our name with here at the Bits early on. So in the meantime, we appreciate your patience.

Stay tuned...!

8/18/99

Yes, we have Doogan's Views for you today! Todd's topic of discussion this time: Doogan's list of films that damn well ought to be on DVD by the end of next year! Todd's put together a list of flicks he'd like to be able to spin in his player, and I've added a few for good measure. If you have a suggestion or two yourself, e-mail Todd with them.

Also today, we've got a couple of new DVD reviews for you. Todd's got a look at Columbia TriStar's Cruel Intentions disc, and you can read my take on both of the first two volumes of Paramount's new Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD, as well.

This would normally be in the Rumor Mill, but for ease of posting, I'll put it here (all the usual disclaimers apply): A little birdie's told me that the Disney animated DVD titles are gonna be THX-certified. Enough said.

Finally, I wanted to let you know, that according to Nimbus, we've crossed the 4,000 DVD titles available mark in Region 1 (not including adult titles - see the stats section above).

Back with more tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/17/99 - 6:45 PM PDT)

Okay, Todd's editorial and my two cents on DVD Pro will be posted in a few hours, just in time for very early tomorrow morning. But I wanted to give you all a quick update on the Disney animated DVD situation. An official spokesperson for Buena Vista Home Entertainment returned my call a short time ago, to tell me that this story is, in fact, true. Word about these DVDs first broke in the Wall Street Journal today, and a small statement apparently went out on the newswires as well.

Here are the details that can be confirmed at this time: All of the titles and street dates listed below ARE accurate. These are not going to be considered special edition DVDs in any way, but at least some of the discs may include foreign language tracks and original theatrical trailers. All films will be released in their original theatrical aspect ratios, however it is uncertain whether the widescreen films will be released in anamorphic on DVD (either this is TBD, or the information is just not being released at this time - note that I did mention that A LOT of you have been asking about this already). The DVDs will only be available for 60 days each, after which time they will be placed on moritorium indefinitely. The SRP for all of them will be $34.99. More details will follow in official press releases in the coming weeks.

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/17/99 - 3:15 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update from my laptop (while sitting here at the airport in San Francisco). First of all, the big news today has been Buena Vista revealing that it plans to offer no less than NINE of its Disney animated classic films on DVD (for a limited time, of course) through the end of the year. I have yet to confirm this with BVHE directly, but word is Pinocchio will debut on October 26th, 101 Dalmatians, Hercules, and Mulan will be released on November 11th, Lady and the Tramp, Peter Pan, and Simba's Pride (aka Lion King II) will follow on November 23rd, and The Jungle Book and The Little Mermaid will round out the series on December 7th. Each of the titles will be available for a 60-day period only, and then most will be placed on moratorium for up to 10 years (reportedly) - yikes! I must say, I'm WAY stoked to see Jungle Book coming on DVD - very cool!

Finally, I wanted to let you know that the DVD Pro Discus awards were announced at the show last night (note that they have not updated their official site however). Here's a list of the winners:

Best Consumer DVD-Video

Tomorrow Never Dies - Winner
Ghostbusters Collector's Series - 1st Runner Up
From the Earth to the Moon - 2nd Runner Up
Tender Loving Care - Honorable Mention

Best Consumer DVD-ROM

Encarta Reference Suite '99 - Winner
Lost in Space - 1st Runner Up
From the Earth to the Moon - 2nd Runner Up
Pleasantville - Honorable Mention

Best Corporate DVD (ROM or Video)

411 Digital North America - Winner
Philips ProDVD 170 Player DVD Video - 1st Runner Up
1998: The Year of Thinking Different - 2nd Runner Up
MSDN Library - Honorable Mention

Best Educational DVD (ROM or Video)

From the Earth to the Moon - Winner
1999 World Book Family Reference Suite - 1st Runner Up
World Book Discoveries - 2nd Runner Up
Barney: Let's Play School - Honorable Mention

Best DVD Packaging

From the Earth to the Moon - Winner
More Tales of the City - 1st Runner Up
The Ten Commandments - 2nd Runner Up
Pleasantville - Honorable Mention

Technical Achievement

Tender Loving Care - Winner
Lost in Space - 1st Runner Up
Taxi Driver: Collector's Edition - 2nd Runner Up
Ghostbusters: Collector's Series - Honorable Mention

Best Of Show

Encarta Reference Suite '99

I must say, I was surprised at a couple of these awards, particularly Best Consumer DVD-Video, and Technical Achievement. My personal feeling is that Ghostbusters deserved to win hands down in both categories. Nothing against Tomorrow Never Dies , which is a fine DVD, and might have had a slight edge in video and audio quality, but I've seen no better set of features on a DVD yet than those on Ghostbusters. And a couple of those features were so daring and cutting-edge technically, that the disc was a major topic of discussion for those involved in DVD authoring at the show. Go figure. As one of the judges for the awards, I can only say this: Ghostbusters is definitely MY choice for Best Consumer DVD-Video of the year so far.

Also puzzling were the DVD titles that weren't up for consideration for Discus awards, simply because the studio or producer responsible didn't bother to submit them. The Alien: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD, for example, would have given the other titles a good run for their money. Oh, well....

Anyway, once I get back to Los Angeles, I'll post Todd's column, and talk a little more about the DVD Pro '99 convention in general. Stay tuned...


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