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Questions about DVD


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11 replies to this topic

#1 wjglavis

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Posted 11 June 2001 - 06:00 AM

Sorry, I know this is the 'video' swapshop, but I hope you won't mind me asking about DVD here.

I'm beginning to think about whether I ought to buy a DVD player. Then, yesterday, I found an article saying that it's possible to buy multi-system players in the UK. So my question is: do such things exist in the US???

I've just reread the very interesting (but complicated!!) thread about multi-system video recorders that appeared on this site a while ago. So then I wondered: will a multi-system DVD player work with a regular television or am I going to have to buy a new one? Or deal with lots of wires and a thick instruction booklet??

Finally, like a lot of other people on this site, I own LOADS of ballet videos that it would kill me never to be able to see again. Is the day going to come when we will all have to transfer our precious video collections to DVD?

- Wendy

#2 Giannina

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Posted 11 June 2001 - 10:02 AM

We don't mind at all, Wendy, and it's an important question. Last year we ordered 3 ballet DVD's from Great Britain that were supposed to be formatted (is that the word?) for our player (plus others). They would not play on DVD's here and we had to return them: double shipping costs! Very upsetting. I don't know how to protect oneself from another such disaster.

Giannina

#3 lara

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Posted 12 June 2001 - 02:03 AM

One of the things to remember about multi-system DVD players is that not all of them have NTSC output that works with your normal NTSC American television.

Now, if one has a multi-system TV then
those DVD players will work.

The best solution is to buy a DVD player that is multi-regional and the PAL signal is converted to NTSC - playable on American TV.

I just, like Friday, bought one of those off Ebay. Totally brand new. Sampo DVE 620.

These folks have a web site where they can be bought also.

What that means is that Region 2 DVDs PAL encoded like those from England can be played on your American tv that is not multi-system.

A VCR that also is a converter can play PAL tapes AND convert the output signal to NTSC for watching on regular TV.

So I decided also to get a VCR that is the multi-system CONVERTER too. So now I am set for any kind of video and DVD format. I have friends in England who send me videos of dance programs and it is WAY expensive to have them converted.

One can buy an inexpensive PAL VCR but again, without a multi-system TV you can't watch it.

There are many configurations in solving the PAL/NTSC problem but this is the way I went simply because I had just bought a new TV and didn't really think to check if it was multi-system or not.

Sorry to be so long winded - technical stuff gets so....technical.

Lara

#4 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 12 June 2001 - 11:05 AM

Wendy, my advice would be to wait a little more. DVD recorders are on their way (this summer, as some say). Once these machines become commercially available and affordable, the days of videotapes are numbered.

#5 wjglavis

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 04:57 AM

Thanks for the advice, everyone. Marc, you may be right about waiting - but aren't the new recorable DVD players going to be more expensive?

Re replacing old video tapes, I was looking round at the ROH shop and they have quite a few older ballet performances in DVD (always supposing you want to buy them again!) but that still doesn't help with precious recordings off the television which have never been sold to the general public.

Lara, I've read your posting twice and it's beginning to make sense to me now. (Was at the ballet last night and haven't yet recovered.) But think I'm getting the gist. That was a really helpful posting - for other people as well as me, I'm sure.

- Wendy

#6 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 13 June 2001 - 11:05 AM

Wendy, yes they will be more expensive, especially in the beginning. But I guess that's what every video collector eventually wants: a machine that plays AND records, in order to replace all the old tapes (some job !) and to continue the collection.

In any case, if you don't want to wait, best is to buy a multistandard player, otherwise you are limited to discs sold in your region.

Also, check out the websites of the main companies of electronics.

#7 Jack Reed

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Posted 16 June 2001 - 09:22 PM

A reason not mentioned explicitly so far for getting a DVD recorder and copying your videotape collection is that DVD's are likely to be a more robust medium for storing the performances we cherish than videotape is. Tape can be crumpled or stretched when a VCR acts up, the tape sometimes sheds the oxide coating which holds the magnetic recording, etc. DVD's are more like CD's; they're not indestructible but they're less prone to problems.

This afternoon I heard something on the "World Business Review" program on the BBC World Service that sheds some light on the regional incompatibility problem and what may happen to it. I'm posting a link to the transcript of the program on the Links forum and giving the gist of it here:

According to program presenter Martin Webber,
clever consumers will tell you that you can play U.S. DVD's on European-standard players by tapping in a few numbers before you watch. But why is regional coding used?

Scott Hedrick, home entertainment editor of "Variety", explained that the film studios make maybe 4000 prints of a major hit at an expense of thousands of dollars for each one. When these have had their theatrical run over a period of many weeks, they're shipped on to another region, and the DVD release appears for sale in the US. When the run is finished in the second region, DVD's appear there and the prints are shipped on to the next region, and so on. The studios want to get the most they can out of theatrical ticket sales and don't want DVD's from the US competing, so US DVD's are coded not to be playable in other regions, and similarly DVD's coded for other regions aren't supposed to be playable here.

[So what? We consumers have reason to hope; read on.] With the construction of multiple-screen cinemas, films don't play there as long as they used to; and with people finding promotional material on the internet and on cable and satellite systems, the film market is becoming more global. With simultaneous global distribution of films digitally the studios' need for regional coding will decrease.

[I'm not sure that when the need for coding decreases the coding will be stopped, but for someone like me whose immediate concern is about repair or replacement of VCR's so that my valuable tapes can be played safely, the idea that nothing is lost and maybe something is gained by waiting to go into DVD recording is very comforting. Those who don't want to wait will have to sort out their compatibility problems along the lines Lara explains. I hope this information adds some perspective to the picture and helps people decide how to go.]

#8 Manhattnik

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Posted 17 June 2001 - 02:31 PM

Forgive me for intruding my geekiness here, but you can record your own DVDs now, although it's a bit pricey. Apple Computer's top-of-the-line G4 mintower comes with a Panasonic DVD-R drive -- that is one that can burn DVDs that you can play in your own (or most) DVD player.

Get yourself an analog-to-digital converter, plug in your VCR, stock up on your favorite video cassettes, and have fun.

There are, however, many limitations to Apple's current video-burning software. Unless you buy the very expensive FInal Cut Pro package, you're limited to putting only an hour's worth of video on a disk. Doubtless this will change soon.

I personally would just love to put together some of my favorite bits on a disk to play back on my laptop during those long train rides....

#9 wjglavis

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Posted 18 June 2001 - 06:05 PM

Many thanks for all the info, everyone. (I think I'm going to get the hang of this DVD stuff eventually...) I'm sure others, besides myself, have found the information very helpful.

I'm curious, though. Are reissued DVDs (of existing videos) actually any better than the ballet tapes we have already?

- Wendy

#10 Jack Reed

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Posted 23 June 2001 - 09:42 PM

I've been wondering about that myself, Wendy. I think the potential for them being better is certainly there, technically, in contrast to standard VHS tape, which doesn't reproduce as good a picture as we see when we're watching the broadcast we're taping, although S-VHS comes a lot closer. And it's said that newer technologies work in part by simplifying the data they transmit or store in ways that may not completely fool the eye or ear, if that's not too vague a way of putting it.

Not having had the opportunity to make comparisons, I asked a friend who is a professional electronics engineer with an interest in home theatre about it, and he said that DVD can record video of better quality than any of the small videotape formats.

But as a long-time record collector, I've learned from experience that as better recording technologies come along and old performances are reissued, the occasion to issue them again sometimes can have an inferior result. In other words, the ability of people to make a bad decision and mess something up is not to be underestimated! (And of course, copying our own tapes onto DVD won't improve the picture - the DVD can only play back as good as is recorded onto it - though it would add the advantage of the durability the DVD has over tape.)

But commercial producers will usually have very high quality large-format videotape to use as sources for what they sell, so that DVD reissues can have much better picture quality than already-existing commercially-issued tapes, and I expect most of them will.

My friend also said something that echoes what Manhattnik wrote about something changing soon: He expects rapid change in this field, and suggested I not bother to research it in detail until I was ready to spend the money.

#11 Manhattnik

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Posted 25 June 2001 - 09:18 AM

DVD is superior to videocassette technology for many reasons. I'll save the whole "analog vs. digital" thing for another time.

I think the best thing about DVDs is that they don't degrade over time. The more you watch a videocassette, the worse it gets. And copies of copies of copies are just horrendously bad. There is no technical reason why a copy of a copy of a copy of a DVD shouldn't be just as crisp and clear as the original (barring technical roadblocks doubtless to be inserted over copyright concerns). I'll muddy the waters a bit by adding that just as there are now digital camcorders, there are also digital videocassette decks which may combine the advantages of both media (but boy are they expensive!).

#12 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 26 June 2001 - 06:36 AM

one person has spoken to me about the idea of putting video on cd-rom (as an extra step, but fixing, i presume, a certain quality of image/sound to be transferred to dvd in the future). are there any issues anyone knows of in terms of compatibility/better or worse quality of transfer, aside from considerations of time?


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