DVDs or Downloads?

Here at Malachite we are great enthusiasts of DVDs. increasingly however, the future is moving towards downloads, as has happened in the music business. Video editing and training guru Larry Jordan, based in Los Angeles, has recently posted an interesting article ‘Rethinking DVDs’ about all this which you can access here. Malachite’s Charles Mapleston has contributed a comment to his piece:

My background is making long-form documentaries, originally for the BBC and, back in the day, shot on 16mm film. In those days, making programmes for a fixed broadcast time slot, we often had to “murder our darlings” – favourite scenes which didn’t quite fit the narrative or which had to be excised for length ended up “on the cutting room floor”.

What I’ve always particularly loved about DVDs was that at last all those scenes on the cutting room floor could now be included as extras, deleted scenes, etc. And as much of my work is about music and arts, the DVDs could also contain slide shows, additional music tracks, PDF documents, even websites, all accessed from menu buttons. This was in the heyday of Apple’s DVD@ccess, still good on Macs, but this sadly no longer works on PCs after Windows XP.

What is particularly good about DVDs is that all this material is packaged together and is easily accessed and can be inter-related through disc navigation. Also, tracks can have chapter markers to easily jump to a particular scene. Much as I love and use downloads and Vimeo, I’m not aware of any online way of easily packaging all these elements together – but maybe someone is already working on a solution. But personally, I still like to have the physical product – and then of course there is information on the sleeve and maybe an insert booklet, too. DVDs – standard definition or Blu-ray – may be on the way out, but it seems that we are a long way from finding a replacement that is as versatile, accessible and comprehensive.

Long may DVDs continue; we shall certainly keep producing them as long as our clients keep wanting them. We produce and use downloads too, but I worry that without the DVD’s ability to package together all those elements, those ‘murdered darlings’ will remain on the cutting room floor.