DVD it's a revolution

Still watching the snow on VHS? DVD is here and if the experts are to be believed you'll be watching your first DVD movie sooner than you think
Written by Jane Wakefield, Contributor

With around 500 titles available in the U.K. by summer, DVD aficionados are getting pretty excited about the potential of the burgeoning technology.

40,000 discs were sold in the first week of April according to DVDplus managing director Bryan Welsh and film studio Warner Bros. claims it made more money from DVD than videos last Christmas.

A conscious marketing decision to release DVD copies of blockbusters ahead of the video version is also pushing the market along nicely according to Welsh. Bruce Willis' Armageddon was released on DVD two weeks ahead of the video and entered the top ten of all films sold in that period. Tim Frost, editor of DVD trade magazine One to One is encouraged by the trend. "There is a nice shelf full of DVD when you go into Smiths now," he says.

While the average consumer has only just got to grips with programming the VCR the DVD community is keen to persuade us to throw out our cumbersome videos and join the DVD revolution. The big question is -- will the public buy it?

The advantages of DVD over VHS are many: discs are small and easier to use than video tapes -- just think you'll never have to rewind a rental video again -- digital production ensures crystal clear images and CD-quality sound. The real advantage however lies in the capacity of the disc. DVD can store around 5Gb -- compared to between 640-720Mb on a CD.

How big?

  • A standard DVD disk holds 4.38GB of data, roughly seven times that of a CD-ROM (650Mb).
  • Dual layer disks which can store 7.95GB
  • Dual-layer, double-sided DVDs can handle a whopping 17GB, equivalent to 26 CDs worth of information.
  • All that extra capacity leaves plenty of room on a DVD film disc for interviews with the stars, directors' cuts, clips of how the film was made,subtitles, etc, etc. Consumers may not be aware of the benefits yet, but once they've seen, say Armageddon with an interview with Bruce and a 'behind the effects' look at how the film was made, VHS seems suddenly less attractive.

    Moreover DVD opens up the potential of interactive movies. Tender, Loving Care, released last month, is the first truly interactive movie according to Bryan Welsh. Produced by DVD International and with narration from John Hurt, this murder mystery allows viewers to influence the plot. Questions are asked at intervals during the film and the streaming possibilities are endless according to Welsh who thinks interactive films will capture the public's imagination.

    So what are the statistics on the movies and what can you get hold of. ZDNet provides an overview of DVD movies with some recommendations of our own.....

    Current Top Hits with sales figures for April

    Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels:20,000
    Lethal Weapon 4: 15,000
    LA Confidential:10,000

    Titanic is perhaps the most eagerly awaited title: "If Titanic was released it would stimulate the hardware market," said Welsh. Due in September.

    Take me to the DVD Basement.

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