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The "Future" of DVD w/ Jim Taylor (From 1999)
First off I want to welcome our guest tonight Jim Taylor. Jim is the author of THE DVD FAQ and was one of the early evangelists of the format. He is also the author of DVD Demystified, the bible for DVD. Jim will be chatting about the future of DVD. Also one lucky DVDTalkie will win an autographed copy of DVD Demystified. Welcome Jim!!!

Jim Taylor: Thanks. Just to get things started A few possibilities for the future of DVD: No Divx...Divx, the Remake ...Progressive-scan players (already on PCs today) ...Multi-beam drives (read speeds of 10x, 20x, 50x, ...)...Next-generation DHD-DVD (high-density blue-laser, high-def)...Settop combo boxes (DVD+Web+cable+satellite+HDTV+game+...) And more really cool stuff. So ask away about DVD technology today or tomorrow. If I don't know the answer I'll make something up.

Will dhd-dvd's be compatible w/ the players that are currently available?
Jim Taylor: Probably not. It would be possible to make something that's dual-layer that would still work in today's players, but it may be easier to just make two discs instead. I do expect that future players will be able to play today's DVDs, so your existing collection won't become obsolete.

How come we are still having compatibility problems with the 4th generation players, is it software or hard ware?
Jim Taylor: It's mostly hardware. The content developers are pretty good about making compatible content, but there are a lot of ambiguities in the spec that cause variations in players.

What do you think about Fox's turnaround today (if true) and BV's resistance to anamorphic transfers? Will this battle EVER end? Are we even making an impact, I like to think so but get tired of fighting those studios.
Jim Taylor: I think some of the studios don't have the long-term vision to properly embrace anamorphic widescreen. They're focused on today's needs of today's customers. But the people actually making the discs in the studios are fans just like us. If we keep up the battle from both ends, I think it will finally sink in.

Why do Music CDs sound better through my old LD player than they do in my DVD player? Or am I making this up?
Jim Taylor: Good question with no clear answer. In my experience, most DVD players do a better job of playing CDs than most CD players. But a high-quality LD player may be a better transport or may have better digital-to-analog audio circuitry than an average DVD player.

What is the latest on DVD-18. How long until we see it and any guesses on the first title?
Jim Taylor: DVD-18 is still not out of the laboratory, no matter what you hear from a few replicators. Yields are still very low. It's way cheaper and easier to make two DVD-9s than one DVD-18, which in many cases makes more sense. My current projection is that we'll see small runs of DVD-18's very late this year or early next year.

Does this mean that "The Stand" will be delayed?
Jim Taylor: Given that Cameron abandoned DVD-18 for Titanic, yes, I expect The Stand to be delayed.

Do you know if the international Fox Titanic DVD will be anamorphic?
Jim Taylor: I don't know if the international Fox Titanix will be anamorphic. I do know that over 70% of TV purchases in Europe and Japan are widescreen, so maybe Fox is more in touch with its international customers.

Do you see a possibility of DVD-Audio overtaking CD's?
Jim Taylor: DVD-Audio will take a *very* long time to displace audio CD. If it weren't for DVD-Video and DVD-ROM, DVD-Audio would be a total flop. DVD-Audio will succeed eventually, but only because people will gradually replace their CD players with "universal DVD players" that will play DVD-Video and DVD-Audio. The studios will also push DVD-Audio because it gives them copyright protection

Are there any DVD audio releases?
Jim Taylor: There are about 50 DVD-Audio discs planned for launch this fall. However, copyright protection and watermarking for DVD-Audio still are not defined, so they're running out of time to meet a fall launch.

Is there any trick to bypass (Fast Forward) past those irritating FBI warnings at the beginning of a film? Skip doesn't work, obviously.
Jim Taylor: There is no way to get around user operation restrictions that lock you into the FBI warning (other than modifying the circuitry of your player :-)

Any word on a re-release of the infamous 1986 "Little Shop of Horrors Special Edition" ?
Jim Taylor:I haven't heard anything about new Shop of Horrors. It's all tied up in egos and legalities.

Is there an audible difference between DVD-Audio and plain old DVD (to the average user)?
Jim Taylor: Yes, there is a big difference between true DVD-Audio and plain old DVD, DVD-Audio is a variation of DVD that uses higher sampling rates, MLP encoding, special slideshow modes, different copy protection, data stored on a different place on the disc, etc. It's incompatible with current DVD-Video players. However, it's possible to use today's DVD-Video discs for great audio. You can put hours of very high quality audio (better than most studios can produce, better than most home systems can reproduce) on a DVD-Video disc with still images, features, etc). You can also make DVD-Audio discs with Dolby Digital tracks that will play on today's players and PCs. Oh hey, I just noticed that the question was whether there was an *audible* difference. Short answer: no. Long answer: For high-end equipment and golden ears, the 192 KHz sampling rate of DVD-Audio might provide richer harmonics and better resolution. It's also good for recordings of bats.

So you eventually won't be able to create and duplicate DVD's like you can now with CD's?
Jim Taylor: Correct. When DVD-Audio succeeds, you won't be able to make copies of protected content.

At what point do you see DVD player sales start to level out and do you fear that if DVD becomes too popular, the quality of DVDs will go down (i.e P&S only, fewer features, etc).
Jim Taylor: I don't expect home DVD player sales to level out for at least 10 years. I'm sure we'll see lots of crap on DVD as it becomes more popular, but mostly from new producers. I think the studios have set a certain bar, with a certain level of expectations, and they won't drop much below it. But as the tools to produce DVD-Video become cheaper (down from $1 million two years ago, down from $100,000 a year ago to about $10-20K today), we'll see a lot of people tossing junk onto DVDs to sell it into a new market, But we'll also see some really cool new stuff, that uses DVD in ways we never imagined, show up from new independent producers.

What is holding up progressive scan output DVD players?
Jim Taylor: I know of three companies that have progressive-scan players sitting in warehouses. They are under pressure from various factions to not release the players until there's a copy protection standard for progressive output. Unfortunately, that work is moving slowly. I expect that if one manufacturer gets brave enough to release a pro-scan player, it could break the logjam.

What is "cable DVD"? I saw it stamped on to the packaging of several titles.
Jim Taylor: I've never heard of cable DVD. Maybe it's a recording of public cable(you know, the naked Jesus type of shows)recorded onto DVD.

Audio cds have about a 75 minute capacity for music. In hours and minutes, what is the capacity of a single-layer DVD disk? Also dual-layer?
Jim Taylor: Audio capacity of DVD depends on how the audio is encoded. With Dolby Digital encoding (stereo with surround) you can get 300 hours on a single layer. That means a DVD-18 could hold just short of a month of audio!

Have you seen the DVD4U sampler with a free copy of "The Big Squeeze"? Do you see a possibility of more free movies given away as a means of pushing advertising?
Jim Taylor: Yes, I thought The Big Squeeze DVD was pretty cool. I'm positive we'll see more and more of this. DVDs are becoming cheap enough that soon we'll see them stuck in magazines for free.

DVD Audio is incompatible with current DVD Video Players? How about DVD-ROM Drives?
Jim Taylor: DVD-Audio will be compatible with DVD-ROM PCs once the software is updated. The software has to be able to handle higher sampling rates, copy protection, watermarking, MLP, etc.

At the risk of being outcasted, to make DVD more appealling to the masses, do you not think P&S and Widescreen should be in every disk?
Jim Taylor: I think that mass appeal movies should include a P&S version. It's actually pretty rude, when you think about it, to force the vast majority of TV viewers to waste part of their TV screen on black bars. As widescreen TVs become more popular, and as people get used to letterboxing, then it will be less important.

Do you plan an update to your book to include the birth and death of Divx and other new technologies?
Jim Taylor: I started working on a second edition of DVD Demystified about two months ago. It will include new stuff such as Divx, recordable DVD, WebDVD, etc., as well as lot of new information on DVD in computers and DVD production.

Do you have any favorite DVDs and which DVD do you think best takes advantage of the format?
Jim Taylor: One of my favorite DVDs is Tender Loving Care. It's amazing what the guys at DVant were able to do with the rudimentary interactive features of DVD-Video. I like Dark City a lot, because of the varied commentaries, menu game, and the fact that it;s a great movie! I suspect that Ghostbusters will become one of my favorite movies. I suggested two years ago that the subpicture feature could do MST3K-style silhouttes of the commentators. So I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.

what effect will broadband have on DVD?
Jim Taylor: If you mean broadband Internet, not a lot. It will take many years before we have the bandwidth for online delivery of DVD content. By then, DVD will be high-definition and we'll be back where we started.

Have you seen any "new, cool innovate" DVD-ROM content in your travels?
Jim Taylor: As the DVD-ROM Evangelist for Microsoft (yes, that's really my title), I have to say I'm a little disappointed at the lack of innovative DVD-ROM content, The coolest stuff I've seen is the combination of DVD-Video and DVD-ROM with Web connections.I expect Ralph Labrage's Mars discs to be very nice.

Will dvd become the new standard for everything? Audio DVDs, DVD computer software, dvd movies (already there), etc?
Jim Taylor: In the long run, I believe DVD will become the primary standard for mass delivery of high-bandwidth prerecorded media. We'll still have old formats like casette tape floating around, but DVD and its successors (still in a 5-inch optical format for backwards compatibility) will become the primary media of the new digital age.

Which do you prefer: A standalone DVD player or a PC DVD-ROM with TV output?
Jim Taylor: For movies in a home theater, I think a standalone DVD player is better, you get a remote, nice display, typically better audio and video connections, and so on. But, I think this will change. A lot of people are trying to figure out how to make the right combination of PC and living room DVD player So far they're too big, too noisy, too hard to use, too unreliable, too prone to crash, etc. But soon someone will get it right, At that point, you'll get really cool interactive WebDVD stuff in your living room, for example, watch a documentary and wonder about the lemmings...pause the disc, click on the lemmings with your remote, and jump into related Web pages that explain things... the same with actors (ever asked" where have I seen her before???") you'll be able to llink to actor information on your home WebDVD player. I can't wait!

Do you think the region coding will hold up (as in will multi region players become common-place and defeat the whole system)?
Jim Taylor: Region coding was largely invented to support two Hollywood systems that are becoming very outdated: staggered theatrical release, and regional distribution. With eventual digital release of movies, the first one goes away, with e-commerce on the Internet, the second one is going away, But in the meantime...region coding will be with us for a while. As other regions get more and more titles, there will be less pressure from customers for other regions. This is already starting to happen in Europe. Customers can go to a store and get a decent selection of movies, so many people no longer need region one players (and many new buyers will never even worry about regions)

Are there any brand new technologies that are being developed that may rival DVDs in the future?
Jim Taylor: There are some interesting new technologies such as Philip's solid-state memory devices and Sony memory sticks. Also things like optical tape, holographic storage, electron beam recording, and so on...but a huge advantage of DVD over other storage media is that it can be quickly and cheaply mass produced...wham with a stamper and you're done. Because many innovations can be used with DVD (more layers, higher density, etc.) I believe it will be around for a long time.

What is WebDVD?
Jim Taylor: In general WebDVD is the combination of the high bandwidth and high quality of DVD combined with the interactivity, timeliness, updatability, and communication of the Internet. It's a great way to get the best of both worlds. Microsoft and others are producing tools and technology that supports the development and use of WebDVD titles. I believe that soon, almost every DVD produced, including movies, will be a WebDVD.

Dolby Digital DVDs and DTS DVDs...which do you prefer and why? Is DTS here to stay?
Jim Taylor: I may get myself in trouble on this one. I have well-trained ears, although I wouldn't say they were golden, but in general I can't hear the difference between Dolby Digital and the original PCM. Since DTS in in between the two, it's kind of lost. It's still not the full PCM but it takes up more space than Dolby Digital. I think DTS will be with us for a long time as an audiophile niche alternative but it will never replace Dolby Digital, which has become too well established as a standard in DVD and beyond.

What is the future of DVD ROM drives?
Jim Taylor: That's a broad one DVD-ROM drives will continue to get faster, at a much faster rate than CD-ROM drives did. For example, new multi-beam readers (which split the laser and read multiple tracks at once) will allow really fast data transfers. DVD-Rom drives will get much cheaper to the point that within less than two years almost every maker of CD-ROM drives will have switched to DVD-ROM drives completely. At that point essentially every PC you buy will have a DVD-ROM drive in it. Around 2002 the installed base of DVD-ROM drives will exceed that of CD-ROM drives. We'll then see a very rapid transition from CD-ROM to DVD-ROM for distribution of software -- much faster than what we saw with floppies, since we're primed for it. Once there are millions of PC-DVDs out there (there will be about 30 million by the end of this year) then we'll see some incredible new software that uses the video features of DVD in cool ways, and we'll see some very exciting PC enhancements to movies.

Geoffrey Kleinman: I'd like to thank Jim Taylor for joining us this evening, I hope he will be able to stick around a while to answer some more questions. Now we are going to give away an autographed copy of Jim's Book " DVD Demystified"... The_Zizz is the winner tonight!

Related Links: THE DVD FAQ and DVD Demystified


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