DVD 1999 has been a very interesting year for the DVD format, but has the consumer benefited? We will explore the major events of 1999 and relate them to how they effected all of us. The first and most notable was the death of DIVX. Richard Sharp lost his bet and is now being replaced as CEO of Circuit City. DIVX if you don't recall was a pay per view DVD format. The format limited your choice of formats, extra's and overall the whole DVD experience. The death of this format made it clear to the studios to start backing Open DVD. Everybody have their DIVX Coasters?
This led to studios like Fox and Disney to finally jump on the DVD bandwagon. We saw greater output by Fox and Disney. Including 9 of the highly desired Disney Animated Classics. This is all great, but both companies are charging a premium for their movies. To help with the monstrous prices, companies like www.reel.com have emerged where they have deep discounts and $10 off a $25 purchase that makes most titles under $20. What is really sad is these studios are charging the premium for a stripped DVD disc. Barely any extra's, usually only one audio and video format.
Speaking of Audio formats we saw the emergence of Dolby Digital 5.1 as the standard DVD Audio Format and Widescreen Anamorphic as the preferred video format. This has lead to some great DVD's being released. Titles like Aliens, Titanic and numerous others using one or both of these formats. In the audio format we saw the birth of DTS. DTS is a format that is supposed to be truer to the Digital Theater Sound that you get when you go to the movies. The problem with this format as we saw is many of the first and second generation players do not support the format and then there is upgrading stereo components, for what was deemed to be a very marginal difference in audio experience. To put the nail in the coffin you the consumer will be treated to a $5 per disc premium! Anyone say Pass?
We also saw the release of numerous big name titles. That list includes Titanic, Austin Powers 2, The James Bond Collection, The Disney Collection, Shawshank Redemption, Shakespeare in Love, The Wizard of Oz SE, and many, many more. The consumer while finally getting a decent selection has been deprived from adding some major titles to their collection! Lucas and Speilberg are the major withholding offenders. We currently don't have any of the Indiana Jones collection, the Star Wars series or ET, for that matter, because of some people turning a deaf ear to the public! Now some of this might be able to be blamed on a limitation for producing DVD's. But, then again numerous titles came out within months of their theatrical release.
We also saw many titles being loaded up with extra's like You've Got Mail, Austin Powers 2, and The Bond Collection. Disney on the other hand has stripped their discs down to a few trailers and they consider a nicely painted DVD an extra. I'm sorry, but a French Soundtrack is NOT an extra either, neither is widescreen format. So where does that leave us for the future?
Well first let's discuss what a standard DVD should offer vs. a Special Edition . The standard DVD should have Dolby Digital 5.1 and a widescreen transfer, with several extra's. Where a SE should also have Dolby Digital 5.1, but include an anamorphic transfer and be loaded with extra's. Many great SE's have more extra's content then the actual length of the movie. Of course all discs should have nice easy to use menu's and be compatible with all DVD machines. Of course it would be great if all studios would satisfy all walks of life by putting both an anamorphic widescreen and pan&scan versions on each disc.
The DVD Cyber Center saw many changes over the last year as well. We have become one of the top DVD sites averaging over 2.5 hits each and every month (far from the 5,000 hits per month a year ago). We have added many more reviews and even got some new reviewers to join our team. The most dramatic things we have done include two different complete site changes (hope everyone is happier with what we have now). We are expecting even better things to come for us in 2000: more reviews, more news and more contests among other things. We look forward to serving everyone in the new year.
Predictions for the future of DVD? We believe that we will see studios respond to consumer demand and produce titles as above. Overall Quality will increase. We will see the first release of an HD DVD machine. One that can take advantage of the increased resolution of the new HD format. This unit will cost 10's of thousand's of dollars and will not hit the mass market for probably 2 - 3 more years. We will begin to see an integration of line doublers and quadruplers with DVD players and overall prices for units will drop, for base DVD players, below the $150 mark. The first DVD recorders will hit the mass market at costs of around $1,000. We may even see a full movie that utilizes the DVD players capability of swapping angles and maybe a fully interactive movie where endings change on the viewer's inputs. Expect a boom in 2000, it will be an exciting future!!!