in praise of good dvd authoring

Warner Brothers has always, in my book, put out the best DVDs of the major studios. I’m not talking about movies, but the technology. They backed the format when it first came out, were the first to release special edtion DVDs, and after all these years, their DVDs are still easy to watch.

Case in point, I was watching the first season of Without a Trace on DVD. The season finale was a two-part episode. Now, it would be easy for someone at the wheel to be a little lazy and just drop the two episodes on there as they were originally aired onto the disc — that is, in two seperate sections. These guys, however, did not drop the ball. I watched the two-parter as it if was one very long film. They never even broke the credits for the second one, and I was never able to tell where one episode finished and the other began.

Warner Bros. DVDs have always been good to their viewers. I remember when DVDs were first coming out (and I bought my first Sony DVD player, only $400), it seems like Warner was always the one with the most titles on the shelves, and constantly announcing new titles. It’s been so long, so I don’t remember a lot of details too well, but I remember clearly that Disney and Fox were not even in the picture yet, and were still waiting out the whole DVD thing. Disney, in fact, screwed up from day one. They released their movies on DivX first, the pay-per-view business model that was invented by a bunch of lawyers. Of course, to this day, Disney still massively screws up DVD authoring, so it really comes as no surprise.

Again, though, Warner has been the best to the consumer. They were also the first ones as I recall to come out with Special Edition DVDs with lots of content on them. And not just under their label too, but also their subsidaries like New Line Cinema. I remember watching the first Austin Powers movie on DVD, and then watching it back with the audio commentary, and just thinking how cool that was you could get the inside look on things. Warner really made DVDs worth buying back in those days.

I also remember (and have a few in my collection) that a lot of WB DVDs would start the movie the second you put them in. They would have the studio logo come up which plays before any of their movies, which only lasted a few seconds, but after that you’d see the movie in widescreen. Which is another reason that Disney sucks — they still release movies on DVD in fullscreen. What a waste of cinema.

So, how are they doing now a days? Still pretty darn good. Without a Trace (not a recent DVD release, I know, but its still typical) starts out with the studio logo, which you can fast forward through, then a short 15-second show panorama thing, which you can’t, and then the main menu. No FBI warnings or INTERPOL treaty notices. Compare that to Disney’s 7 minutes and ten seconds using “Fast Play”.

It’s kind of a shame we can’t pick who puts out our DVDs. Some day I’ll have to do a comparision study, to look at a studios release of DVDs over the years, and see who is the most consumer friendly. I think I can already guess who is going to win, though. And come in last.

1 comment on “in praise of good dvd authoring

  1. Scott Morris

    Dude, I am totally hearing that. If I want to freaking watch 47382 hours of previews that are *OLD* news by the time the DVD comes out, I will go rent a Disney re-run, man. Half the reason I want to rip my DVDs is so that, as soon as my mouse button is released after the second click of me double-clicking the video file, the first sequence of the movie is hitting my retinas. I no likey waity-waity. If I wanted to freaking wait or watch anything that I don’t care about, I would go watch someone’s grandma plant tulips. I’m not here watching this thing because I care anything about what you fools are trying to force-feed me. Lemme have the movie. *RIGHT NOW*!


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