DVD players were the only category in consumer electronics hardware that showed major growth last year. At least three factors have fueled this rapid adoption. First, the quality of DVD-video is far superior to VHS. Second, most video rental stores carry a wide selection of DVD titles for rent. Third, the retail price for a DVD player has plummeted below $100. This is important to people who make video because we now have another distribution medium to use.
VHS videotape has been the standard video format for distribution for years because nearly every home has a VHS VCR connected. Now, there are enough DVD players in use for everyone making video to consider making duplicates of their videos on both VHS and DVD. The price to duplicate DVDs has dropped dramatically within the past year. Individual copies made at home might cost as little as 70 cents per disc and the cost to duplicate 1,000 copies of a DVD is about the same as 2-hour VHS tape. DVD is clearly becoming the new standard video format for distribution. But what does that mean for video producers?
The most important aspect of using DVD for video is navigation. With a VCR, the remote control is the only navigation tool available. The menu choices are crude and inaccurate: pause, stop, rewind, play and fast-forward. The content creator has no control over the navigation and, therefore, it is assumed that the viewer will simply play the video from the beginning to the end.
DVD, on the other hand, is nonlinear. This means that the viewers can jump to any point of the video at any time. DVD menus, when properly designed, are a boon to multimedia presentations. This one seemingly simple capacity actually transforms the entire video production (and viewing) experience.
From the outset, video production has really just been an extension of radio. Early TV shows were comprised of cameras pointed at radio personalities as they did their radio shows. These shows were, in turn, an extension of motion pictures, theatrical plays and Vaudeville acts. Collectively, it is all really story telling, which is in turn largely what being human is about. Stories are linear. They start with a beginning, have a middle and conclude at the end. Since most videos are stories on a TV screen, the linear nature of videotape is perfectly suited for this purpose.
This fundamental idea of making a video that is, in essence, a series of short stories is enhanced by DVD. DVD authoring will challenge all video producers to consider the idea of a nonlinear presentation. Creating this type of video is an entirely different endeavor right from the first stages of planning.
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