Thursday, September 10, 2009

From The Archives of Rex Saigon: Double Your Discs (1993)

From the March-May 1993 edition of Britain's Home Entertainment magazine: disc-maker Nimbus demonstrates feature-length, full motion video from a double-density compact disc at the ever popular MIDEM music industry booze 'n schmooze at Cannes in January, 1993. But could something like this ever catch on? The magazine, much like every Home Theatre/Video magazine of the day, assumes that laserdisc can't be dethroned.


dleedlee said...

Would it have made Curt Cobain sound any better? ;)

And remember China's EVD format? Anyway, they're back again with CBHD, China Blue Hi-Def.

Rex Saigon said...

I do remember EVD, and recall seeing a couple of stories through your news site. China does seem determined to have a platform to call their own, although that chronic piracy thingy will always be a hindrance.

This article says that CBHD discs outsell Blu-Ray in China by a 3-to-1 margin, so they must be doing something right:

Then again, when the Chinese government "encourages" the adoption of a home-made system, people probably listen! :D The fact that only Warner has provided titles so far wouldn't seem encouraging, and even if more American studios jump on the bandwagon to take advantage of the format's penetration, piracy will still flourish, so I just can't see the benefits there.

Perhaps we'll need multi-format players some day to watch our beloved Hong Kong movies!

dleedlee said...

One article I read said that one of the motivations was to avoid the $22/player licensing fees. Even if China never sells one unit overseas, they probably could easily outpace the sales of Toshiba's HD DVD locally! And I sure overseas Chinese would buy it just to get high quality Chinese titles. The Western market would just be icing on the cake, potentially. And, apparently discs are only 1/3 the price of BD.

Rex Saigon said...

The subject of avoiding the licencing fees comes up in the feedback on that article actually, and I've no doubt that was a big factor. Also I wonder if those discs would still be 1/3 the price of Blus if they were ever made available in North American Chinatowns. That would be kinda cool . . .

I thought I read somewhere that Blu-Ray prices in China are quite a bit lower in price than they are here—much like Chinese pricing on DVDs of western films—which could mean those 1/3 sticker prices are an even better value than we realize.

Guess I'll need a second HD player someday! :D Although I'm less interested in mainland Chinese cinema with all its restrictions than I am in Hong Kong cinema, obviously, where DVD and Blu have long had a foothold. I suppose if CBHD really takes off, a lot of HK stuff might make the trasition, but by then will there be anyone left to start buying it all over again?

I also wonder if China's rampant piracy (which extends to at least some quarters of the diaspora as I can readily attest) not to mention the ever-expanding array of legal streaming/downloading options increasingly available around the globe, will still be a buzz killer for the format in the long run. For any format, really. The survival of the lowly VCD all these years might indicate differently, of course!

dleedlee said...

It would be worth it just to see programming like the annual Spring Festival galas on HD. The Chinese really know how to put on a dazzling show. And HD-DVD, which CBHD is based, isn't region coded is it?

Anyway, streaming video won't be coming to the rural villages and nether provinces of China for a long time. For those folks, a cheap player would still be just the ticket.

And I just saw on the news tonight $49 Blu-Ray players are planned for Black Friday sales this year.

Rex Saigon said...

Good point about the TV extravaganzas. I'd probably pick up a few of those myself. But then, as a gwailo, I'd still need a bit more incentive! :D

Agreed about the streaming video. Hell, I'm not even that fond of what we get here in North America (although you southern folk get a MUCH better selection than we do). I still prefer to have a disc library, a big comfy couch and a much sharper (and larger) picture! I do catch certain programs online, though, but only stuff where I can tolerate a little compromise in resolution.

$49 for a Blu player is pretty sweet, even if they might turn out to be profile 1.1 players or some such, which I suspect they might be at that price point. Still, great way to get people on board. I've heard that a lot of regular Blu-Ray player prices will be dropping as well, so its really only a matter of time. I'm sure the price of the CBHD players will drop in time as well, since that does seem to be the only prohibitive aspect of the whole endeavour, especially in those rural regions.