If you have known me for any length of time you know I love movies. I also love to collect movies. I have them on DVD, Blu Ray, HD-DVD, Beta Max, VHS LaserDisc and so, so many more.
Now I love collecting films on all different formats, hell I even have at least 1 movie on 8mm film. I am not even that particular to be honest, I will buy a movie I never heard of if it looks cool.
So what is it specifically I love so much about LaserDisc?
With tapes, be it VHS or Beta Max there is an overpowering twinge of nostalgia driving me to open my wallet whenever I encounter a seller of tapes. But I don’t have that with LaserDisc. Now truth be told nostalgia is a huge factor in my obsessive DVD collecting and one of the reasons I in fact shun the obviously superior Blu Ray in favor of buying the vast majority of my film collection on DVD. I started collecting DVD when I was just 19 years old.
But I have no nostalgia for LaserDisc.
When I look at CED I find the format’s very existence fascinating. So much so I anxiously, rather impatiently I might add, waited for Technology Connections to wrap up his multi part series on the history of CED. It looks like a vinyl record but is actually a movie. It’s weird. I love weird.
Against LaserDisc is just an over-sized DVD. Sure it’s technically analog but it looks like a DVD. It uses the same artwork as a DVD. The outward packaging is similar to a record which does add to the collectible nature of the format. But there has to be more to it than that right? I mean I often hear proponents of LaserDisc brag about the artwork like that alone should justify spending dozens of dollars per film.
No there has to be more.
What about the elusive Super VHS? I have absolutely no nostalgia for that yet I continue to scour the internet listings for any hint of a true Super VHS release or player. I guess in a way you could chalk that up to my working in the broadcast TV industry. The first station I worked at had VHS shaped tapes that were not normal VHS. Now they probably weren’t S-VHS either (and NO the S in S-Video does not stand for S-VHS!) but it still contributed to my fascination with obscure tape formats. I mean TV stations used all kinds of funky dory tape decks. I love that. Even the station where I work now I believe has some Super VHS tapes in the back if I am not mistaken.
But again, Laserdisc is not a broadcast format. It is not recordable nor erasable. So my interest cannot be derived from my career field there.
If we continue down the list we eventually run into HD-DVD. Full disclosure I picked HD-DVD over Blu Ray initially and dug my heals in to the bitter end. Oh well mistakes were made. I have gotten over it you should too.
Hd-DVD is merely an extension of my beloved DVD. It makes sense to me. It was also the format chosen to succeed DVD buy the folks who make DVD. That is until Sony went the old Beta route and messed everything up, as they often do.
We can almost pin it down if we talk about Video CD. Of course we all know the mainstream story of VCD. But there is a lot of misinformation in the truth. I won’t try to set the record straight here, not enough time for that. What I will say is VCD has it’s root in the video game business and the early days of CD-ROM FMV games. The CD-i and 3DO game consoles both had add-ons that allowed them to play Video CD discs, among other forgotten formats I won’t delve into here. This is key. You see VCD is technically digital. It’s official name is Compact Disc Digital Video. It gets confusing from here but there is a one more lesser known format that connects LaserDisc to VCD. It is, not surprisingly but totally confusingly named CD Video. No not digital video. It is a LaserDisc the size of an actual CD, same as a VCD, but it is analog video and will play in your LaserDisc player.
This tidbit is what keeps me so fascinated by LaserDisc. It’s the journey from an over-sized and over-priced alternative to VHS that wasn’t even recordable progressed into a tiny obscure format most people don’t even know about before being turned inside out becoming what we know today as both DVD and Blu Ray in many respects.
The actual truth is what keeps me coming back to LaserDisc is the story behind it. The more I learn about the odd format out the more I want to build up a sizable collecting of the damn things. It just goes back to the more you know about something.