Technology seems to move at the speed of light – sometimes leaving the notion of “Business as normal” in the dust… Thus begins my story of the death of the standard DVD…

Lately, we’ve had an inordinate number of these requests: “Just send a DVD.” Where we do our best to explain that DVDs can only handle standard video (Not HD), and our best hope is to down-convert your stunning HD footage, we do so reluctantly. The result is typically lower quality in both video and sound…

If you’re still married to the standard format, we recommend a data DVD, which can store your video as a high definition MP4. All you need to do is transfer the video file to your hard drive, and play it in your computer’s media player.

The truth of the matter is down-converting HD to SD with any nod to quality is a difficult, time consuming process. An example: A client recently hired us to videotape their sales meeting in High Definition. After the fact, they asked for delivery onto standard DVDs… We couldn’t dissuade them.

It took hours to encoding and transcode. If I have to take HD to SD through trial and error I get the best results by mastering a Apple ProRez 422 Hq file @ 720x480 using the D1 DV widescreen 16x9 codec, then if the files are smaller using the m2v MPEG2 settings staying in the D1 DV widescreen format. Adobe Encore likes that. For larger files I’ll make an H264 VBR 3 – 6mbps MP4. That seems to crush it down with much less data than a MP2, keep it 16x9 anamorphic, and still looks decent.

So, after you skip through the last paragraph, full of techy-encoding gobbledey gook, what does it all mean?

Web based playback with a streaming HD video file (think YouTube or Vimeo) is far superior to the quality of a standard DVD. There was a time in my career that I thought that the creation of standard DVDs with menus would be a major part of our video business. The fact is delivery technology has advanced way beyond disc technology. The only disc technology I recommend is Blu-ray for HD – as it’s best for creating looping video at trade shows or other public displays. The cost of Blu-Ray is constantly decreasing, which begs the question: Have you noticed that your poor lonely SD DVD player that probably has not been used since 2004?

Another factor leads us to steer clients away from SD DVDs. Windows operating systems make you jump through several hoops these days for security reasons to play DVDs. In order to set up to play a standard DVD on a Windows based computer you must first pass through the Auto-Play setup. Gone are the days of Win2k and XP where you could stick a DVD in and expect it to mount and auto play.

Also gone are the days when people downloaded software like “Power DVD” to play their DVDs now it is usually a default to Windows Media Player.  Windows Media Player may or may not require some set-up itself or even to download drivers to play a DVD.  Many of the new laptops running Windows 8 don’t even have DVD disc drives installed. These processes are not difficult, but may prove to be a daunting task for the computer challenged. Macs will still open and play a DVD using the Apple DVD Player, but honestly? Most companies are still run PC platforms.

This evolution is not going to change direction; video delivery will continue to advance away from disc-based technology at a rapid pace. There’s no looking back, but there is a better path!

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Gary Jewell

About Gary Jewell

Gary Jewell is a video veteran with 30 years experience. From one-inch tape to digital, there’s not a single format Gary doesn’t understand. With a background in television, Gary has honed his storytelling skills in a way that lends clients not only technical expertise, but also the ability to craft a compelling and creative story.

Published May 01, 2014