Her satin skin glows in the moonlight as she turns her face towards the camera, a
single, shiny teardrop rolling slowly down that smooth face towards her sensuous lips -
her eyes pore into yours as the deep well of their dark brown centre plunges into the
mists of eternal longing . . . and she sighs, as the violins echo her anguish... With a
picture twice as sharp as your VHS and CD quality digital sound, DVD brings near- cinema
quality into your lounge room. OK, so you miss the roar/sob/groan/cheer/ scream of the
crowd next to you, but for home entertainment, DVD is to VHS what your cassettes were to
your CDs: superior.
"you'll be instantly hooked"
Just play the first few minutes of Amadeus on DVD and you'll be instantly hooked on the
medium - like we were at Urban Cinefile; the music, the images. . . the Mozart…. the
marvellousness….the madness !
The improvement in technology leads directly to an increase in enjoyment: the clarity
of the picture, the saturation of the colours and the excellence of the sound combine to
involve you in the whole movie experience far more than a standard video. Not that the day
of the video is over: far from it. Excellent quality videos are available and will be for
years. But . . . once you've seen A Bugs' Life on DVD or Priscilla, for that matter, you
will be reluctant to settle for the analogue alternative. And we have good news on that
But the benefits of DVD technology don't stop at higher quality movie replication: with
the 5 - 9 gigabyte of memory on a DVD, extra features can be stored to create a better
'context' for the movie, ranging from the director's voice over narrative (as with Ronin)
as an option, to seeing how the original storyboards for the James Bond film, Tomorrow
Never Dies, match the finished film.
"other instantly available features"
Extended 'Making of…' features (with star and director interviews), tv spots and
theatrical trailers - as well as language and subtitling options, especially useful in a
multicultural society like ours - are some of the other instantly available features on
most DVDs. Scene selection is pretty well standard, too, so if you have a favourite bit
you want to jump to - or show your aunt - you can do so with a click.
Oh yes, talking about clicks, if you have a DVD Rom on your PC (fairly common now) you
can watch DVD movies on your computer; this is useful if you a) don't have a DVD player
plugged into your tv, b) you are pretending to be working at your desk (with earphones).
Some films, like Thelma & Louise for instance and Message in a Bottle, even have
alternate endings; these are endings that were shot but rejected - either by the studio,
the test audience or the director.
The industry - DVD disc distributors and DVD player manufacturers - have formed a joint
task force to promote DVD to us consumers, using a combination of key media and direct
promotions. Recently released VHS movie videos carry a 56-second DVD trailer, and in
October, the first of one million new flyers will be distributed through video stores.
Wayne Borg, Commercial Director at Warner Home Video, says the arrival of DVD coincides
with a shift to ownership of movies by consumers; hence the 11 million units that we in
Australia buy each year, a figure that will be matched by DVD in three years - hopes Borg
and his colleagues.
"the joys of superb picture and sound."
At prices from $25 to $35, DVD is an option for the dedicated and the well paid - although not much more than a music CD. But
first, you need a player, and here's the good news we promised. The manufacturers have
committed to rapidly reduce the price of their entry models to roughly the same level
($600 -$750) as the top of the range VCRs. This is seen as a key to the mass uptake of DVD
as a home entertainment system. As Borg and his Managing Director, Mark Gareton point out,
a $2,000 'home theatre' upgrade can turn your lounge (or bedroom) into a mini-movie
theatre, with the glories of perfect freeze frame added to the joys of superb picture and
But there is no indication that DVD is cannibalising VHS sales: even as Warner Home
Video celebrated its first $1 million in retail DVD sales through Myer Grace stores this
week, they also recorded a 20% rise in VHS movie sales.
Of all the distributors, Fox was the least confident until they started counting the
orders for Titanic. Ken Taylor, Marketing Manager at Fox, says "It exceeded our
wildest expectations; we're actually out of stock waiting for new copies. The interest
took us completely by surprise."
"DVD... Decidedly Volatile Demand"
Following this experience, Fox is far more open to the potential of DVD and is likely
to be eyeing the 51% market share that Warner Bros currently claims (the figures includes
Buena Vista titles from the Disney empire), or the 24% that Columbia TriStar (including
its Universal titles) has carved out already. Roadshow is the third major player, with 18%
of what is obviously a Decidedly Volatile Demand in the market.