DVD Zombie

 DVD was created in 1995 and was instantly a success from VHS tape for home video. This was over 20 years ago! When Blockbuster video introduced DVD's for rent, consumers quickly obtained DVD players, usually as Christmas presents, and the market was exploding. Final Cut Pro with Compressor and DVD Studio Pro, along with many other software titles, were putting advanced capabilities of DVD authoring in the hands of many independent video producers, especially in the wedding videography industry.   

 Then something happened, High-definition flatscreen tv's became the norm. Consumers proved, with their wallets, that they wanted better looking images. In 2005 Apple introduced the ability to create HD video on a regular DVD using DVD Studio Pro. This wasn't popular because HD media required a lot more disc space than what the 4 (or 8) gigs allowed on a regular DVD. Furthermore, consumers were confused by the format war unfolding in front of them. HD video or Blu-Ray? Both had a screen resolution geared toward the 1920 X 1080 high-def flatscreen resolutions customers were watching them on. If someone walked into Walmart, they had a choice between HD DVD player and Blu-Ray player between 2006 and 2008, until Toshiba pulled out of the market as studios were moving more toward Blu-Ray since it had the capacity of up to 50 Gigs per disc. This meant less compression and better looking video.  

 This was the defining moment when DVD died- in 2008. DVD's only supported a resolution of 720 X 480 compared to the high-definition Blu-Ray which can yield 1920 X 1080 resolutions and higher. I still get questions today why their lower resolution DVD doesn’t look as good on their higher resolution tv. However, consumers' DVD players still worked. The demand was still strong for DVD's and not many were willing to purchase Blu-Ray players since, you know, DVD's were now the norm. The industry changed far faster than consumers could keep up with. I believe that Blu-Ray won this format war partially due to the PlayStation 3, which was released in 2006. However, although great for Gen X'ers and beyond, previous generations stayed with their DVD player. Not everyone of course, just the folks who still drive a Buick LeSabre from 1982 because, it's a great car that still works after all.  

 Other than Sony, Computer manufactures were slow to adopt Blu-Ray burners as well. Partially due to Sony's proprietary licensing structure and especially Apple who never has had a Blu-Ray in their machines. Instead- Apple made their computers thinner with more space for things like batteries and RAM by taking out the optical disc drive all together. Steve Jobs famously called Blu-Ray "a bag of hurt" even though Apple was an early investor in the technology. Sony  made it just too pricey for Apple's customers to accept.  

 The hours upon hours it takes to create, burn, and test a Blu-Ray or DVD is only part of the problem. Consumers’ players had a 50/50 chance of not being compatible for either DVD or Blu-Ray. Some played the DVD- and some played DVD+ while newer models played both and not all could play dual layer DVD’s. If you're producing DVD's for a global audience, there's different region codes to look out for, which is even more confusing than just NTSC vs PAL. To add to the overall problems, optical media can get lost or damaged easily.  

 Today the resources for independent producers to burn Blu-Rays is very slim as software companies know that this is not the future. Apple replaced Final Cut Studio with Final Cut Pro X which can still create optical media, but not with highly customizable DVD menus like Adobe's Encore software can.  

 Oops- Encore is also no longer being supported by Adobe either. Sure, you could still download it if you get the Creative Cloud, but it may not run very well on your system running the latest software. Not only that, you'll need Photoshop to create the buttons for the Menus that require layers with special codes that tell Encore what to do. Of course you'll also need a Blu-Ray burner. If you do go this route, make sure to use Photoshop 6 with Encore as Creative Cloud isn't 100% compatible either.  


 So, the two biggest NLE companies that independent producers use, no longer supports a fully featured DVD (Blu-Ray) authoring software. As a content producer, I strongly urge my clients to not use optical media at all. Not all computers can play Blu-Ray, which is why they ask for DVDs still, 20 years later. Some think that they want it due to its ability to have copyright protection, but the truth is, if someone wants to copy it, they'll find a way. More often than not, they have forgotten USB drives can also be plugged into computers and just didn't know some TV sets as well. Will DVD ever just die already??  

Enter online digital media for alternatives to DVD. 

 There are so many ways to offer your clients alternatives to optical media including USB's that have custom branding. However, the future is online. Here are only a few services that can help with better experiences than a DVD:


 We all know about YouTube. Some of us think it's for cat videos and annoying talking fruit delivered up to a 4K resolution no less. Well, that is true, but as content creators, it needs another look. It is the second most used search engine in the world and it just happens to be owned by the first, Google. Not only is it completely free to use, it is possible to make money through their monetization models. If privacy is what you need, you can do that too. Embedding video in your website is easy also- just be sure to click "show more" and turn off "show suggested videos" before you copy the embed code. 


 Vimeo is not plagued with cat videos. Instead, it's what the "Pro's" use. Producers love the quality that it has, especially when every frame represents hours upon hours of work. The quality is great, but for me, it doesn't stream video very well, even on the strongest of networks. As a producer and digital media trainer, playback trumps compression. Perhaps their Plus ($59/yr) or Pro ($199/yr) versions offer better results?


 Frame.IO offers a smooth collaboration platform for client review that allows timecode based note taking, streaming and downloading. They have integrated support for both Premiere and Final Cut Pro X. This is especially great for locations with slow internet speeds since you can turn on downloading abilities of your productions instead of just streaming. Their pricing starts at free and ranges to $150/month depending on your needs. 50 GB with 25 collaborators and unlimited projects at $25 is enough for me. 


 This is the equivalent of a DVD menu, only its online. If you do want a Blu-Ray (because it won't just die already) you can do that too. Benefits include: 

-Easily export projects to DVD, Blu-ray and USB/offline formats

-Digitally Transfer Possession to your clients 

-1 TB Storage Space (approximately 250 hours of HD video @ 10 mbps) 

-Allow Downloading of Your Videos 

-Share Your Media via URL or Embed Code

-Password Protect Media for PrivacyPricing is $49/Month or $495/Year for a little bit of savings.

Cloud Storage

 Google Drive, iCloud, DropBox, We-Transfer and High-Tail are among the top services and the list continues to grow. One thing to note about DropBox however- although it can stream video, it will only stream up to 15 minutes of a finished piece. Whenever you send files across this way, with whatever service you choose, I suggest to zip the files first into one folder so there’s less interference for the user.   


 Brightcove gives the ability to embed video with custom branded players. Playback is great since their servers render out many renditions of your video for many different streaming platforms and bandwidths. Also- if you needed to swap the video, you can while maintaining back links to your video. No need to republish while maintaining security. This is an enterprise class system that is tailored specifically for your needs. 

 It's time to move away from DVD altogether. Your customers think they want it because that's all they knew for the past 20 years and it still resides in most computers. Even film festivals (like withoutabox) are starting to accept digital films online. For anyone concerned with the quality of their videos, only you can stop the DVD Zombie from coming back. 


Comment on this post (1 comment)

  • Bob Karstens says...

    A thorough overview and very informative. i wish the angle had been New Tools! rather than the death throes of Zombie DVD’s which I have to admit is a cute metaphor. Maybe you should have taken “the horror” even further!~

    Roberto El Karstenio, Jr.

    May 17, 2016

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