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What I hate about DVDs

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What I hate about DVDs

Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:14 pm

I was gonna just respond to a comment on the HD Format War thread, but decided instead of derailing that conversation with my nit-picking complaints, I'd start a whole new thread...

TAsunder wrote:The discs have a ridiculous number of commercials and many/most players cannot skip them all at once, you have to skip each of them individually.

This is one of my biggest complaints about DVDs in general and makes me question why I should consider "upgrading" my DVD capabilities if the only difference is supposed picture quality and not usability. DVD is the first and only home video format that forces you to watch promos and ads, makes you sit through excruciatingly obnoxious title screens, and generally just confounds every effort on the part of the viewer to just pop the thing in and start watching. If I throw in a disc in anticipation of viewing then go to the bathroom, get a snack and something to drink, pack a bowl and finally, arrange the blankets and pillows on the couch for maximum viewing comfort shouldn't the actual program content be ready to view at this point? Do that routine with Disc One of any set released by Comedy Central and you'll have another several minutes to wait before the title menu has actually loaded.

So for my money (and that's what they want), if someone wants to win my heart and mind in this crazy HD war, step one would be to redesign the playback function to stop limiting my viewing choices and trying my patience with time-consuming bells and whistles (the worst offenders of all being title menus containing spoilers, such as the South Park ones, which literally make you watch a short segment of an actual episode, clearly assuming that you've already seen it.) I know, expecting manufacturers to consider the enjoyment of their customers is pretty radical thinking, but one can always dream, right?

Other DVD nuisances I'd like to see "fixed", especially for more-expensive, next-generation versions:
1- TV shows on DVD should have a chapter break immediately after the opening credits. Always. I've seriously considered returning some offenders in this category as defective.
2- I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to make a single episode play. Two clicks of a button should be sufficient.
3- When the episode is over, return me to the main episode selection menu, not the menu for the episode I just watched. Why would I want to watch the same episode again? And even if I do, I can still choose that option from the MAIN menu, so what gives?
4- Don't hide menu options in cool graphics that aren't laid out in a logical manner. And my remote buttons only allow me to choose "up", "down", "left" and "right" - placing options at weird angles all over the place isn't "neat", it's confusing.
5- Why would you choose to make it nearly impossible to tell which menu option is active? Sometimes, which option is "highlighted" is open to a lot of interpretation. Be bold! Be clear!
6- DO NOT auto-play movies! It's really annoying when you follow my above scenario and return to watch a film and discover that, instead of just loading, the film is already underway. Not only does this create the potential for spoilers, but many "smart" DVD players (the kind that remember where you were in a program) make returning to the film's beginning an adventure in frustration.
7- And if you just gotta auto-play, DO NOT put the trailer immediately before the film. I'm happy you included the trailer, but how about letting me choose when to watch it.
8- Let me cycle through commentaries/audio options with the audio button on my remote. That's what it's for. This use to be standard, but recently (The Simpsons Movie comes to mind) some discs only let you choose commentaries from a menu screen. Why? How is the inability to turn features on and off any kind of improvement?
9- It's bad enough I can't skip all the unnecessary garbage that plays before the menu loads, but did you really have to disable the fast forward button too? Assholes.
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Postby TAsunder » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:44 pm

I believe blu-ray lets you chapter skip or fast forward through the commercials, but I'm not sure if that is because they don't have a UOP or just because no one is currently abusing it.

The fact is that you should be able to hit the menu button from them and skip them, but you can't always do so apparently. I don't know enough about blu-ray to know if this is the "new" UOP or what.

Still, at least you can skip them in some fashion, currently.

Regular DVDs definitely allow DVD makers to mark commercials at UOP, which should be considered an offense that results in a fine, IMO. The intended use of UOP is for copyright warnings, not for forcing people to sit through the ads.

About trailers for the movie before the movie... there is also a rather common occurrence of:

A) Ads for the soundtrack that feature clips from the films that are spoilers

B) DVD Menus themselves with spoilers from the film
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Postby depinmad » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:50 pm

i hear tell that re-authoring "back up copies" of "your" dvds takes care of every single one of the above mentioned issues.
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Postby meowzamusic » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:51 pm

I have an elderly DVD player that works fine but cannot access the main menu button when the disc is in motion. Which isn't a huge deal (the player was a gift) but can be annoying, since in order to access it you have to turn off the player and start over...

I didn't even know autoplay existed until we rented something from Disney for my 4 year old. I was out of the room when it ended and suddenly he's yelling "Dad, the movie's started again!" I guess it's just one more promotional aspect they just can't pass up. Lots of toys and breakfast cereals now come with a DVD of shite for kids and those are on an unstoppable loop as well.

My brother is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and in recent years he's gotten DVDs of the major movies up for awards (since if you're in SAG you get to vote) so we've borrowed whatever titles he gets. It's always shocking (and refreshing) that these discs have nothing but a silent title screen with the single option "PLAY MOVIE"
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Postby mrak » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:19 pm

meowzamusic wrote:My brother is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and in recent years he's gotten DVDs of the major movies up for awards (since if you're in SAG you get to vote) so we've borrowed whatever titles he gets. It's always shocking (and refreshing) that these discs have nothing but a silent title screen with the single option "PLAY MOVIE"

In your experience, how does the quality of those screeners compare to official releases?

I figure it could be any of the following:

1. Worse, because they're rushed out to get in front of voting members.
2. At least as good, because they're being released to a more critical, industry audience.
3. Better, because they can devote more bit rate to the film without all of a general release's obligatory bonus features.
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Postby Shipley » Wed Jan 09, 2008 3:22 pm

screeners in my experience were always about the same as any other movie since they master the DVD long before release date anyway.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:02 pm

TAsunder wrote:The fact is that you should be able to hit the menu button from them and skip them...

Exactly!
I'll go a step further and suggest that the Menu button should override everything.
No matter what's onscreen at the moment, I should always have the option to return to the Main Menu and then start the actual program content (from the beginning, no less.) And no, no exception for those completely useless copyright warnings.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with the inclusion of ads and other extraneous nonsense. Occasionally, I'm even interested enough to let it play. But even so, once is enough. I should not have to watch the same ad for a movie's soundtrack every damn time I load up the disc, especially considering that, when I re-visit a film three or four years later, the soundtrack's most likely out of print anyway!

depinmad wrote:i hear tell that re-authoring "back up copies" of "your" dvds takes care of every single one of the above mentioned issues.

My DVD collection takes up an entire wall, pal.
I have neither the time, the money, nor the inclination to make backups of all those discs, nor should I have to.

I guess I should start looking to score used Oscar screeners. Those sound delightful.
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Postby depinmad » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:07 pm

you miss the point of my quotes.

also, oscar screeners suck, as they have for your consideration flashing across the screen at regular intervals, or for the entire film.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:30 pm

depinmad wrote:you miss the point of my quotes.
Guess I did. Whoops.

And thanks for the heads-up about screeners.

Damn it -- I guess it's back to wishing for quality product, put together with the consumer in mind.

{sigh}
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Re: What I hate about DVDs

Postby supaunknown » Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:02 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:6- DO NOT auto-play movies! It's really annoying when you follow my above scenario and return to watch a film and discover that, instead of just loading, the film is already underway. Not only does this create the potential for spoilers, but many "smart" DVD players (the kind that remember where you were in a program) make returning to the film's beginning an adventure in frustration.

As somebody who works a lot with DVD dubbing I've really come to detest DVD players that automatically have that "last memory" function. It sounds like a good idea on paper until you are forced to use it and find yourself trapped in that giggity quagmire.

It's far too often that designers/authors ain't user-friendly. Fancy bells and whistles take precedence over solid functionality.
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