It’s our last night of a weekend in Strawberry, and we’ve already burned through our rented DVDs. Reaching into the archives here, we’re watching All The Presidents Men on VHS.
Beyond the fluffy 1970s hairstyles, I was struck by some comparisons waiting for the tape to get to the movie, especially as our viewing of DVDs to VHS is about 98% to 2%. As the tape rolled in linear motion, there were movie promos, then a 5-10 minute documentary on the making of the movie (typically under the DVD Extras), then 3 different movie trailers (typically under the DVD Extras), then finally the movie. And there are no captions to turn on/off. Actually we finished our dinner by the time the movie rolled.
I’ve gotten to be a junkie for watching the DVD Extras. It’s so disappointing when the DVD menu only has choices of “Play”, “Setup”, “Scenes”, and “Trailers”! I like learning about the ideas crafted by Directors, or the ideas of the writers, or learning how the movie making process played out.
For example, in the promo for All the Presidents Men, Director Alan Pakula talks about how he juxtaposed how “small” the young reporters Woodward and Bernstein were compared to the power of Washington DC infrastructure, by showing them in long shots of the two of them walking into immense buildings like the Library of Congress. Or in disk two of A Beautiful Mind, Ron Howard shares how every shot where John Nash encounters his special characters, it was always done by hearing their voice first, and a camera shot from Nash’s perspective. Wow, does that seem subtle, but powerful.
This may be simple stuff they teach in film school, but I am amazed at these techniques, which directly play off of psychology, perception, and the power of visual media – especially as the creation of web video content is coming from us in the masses, who did not learn the film school way. Might there be new techniques that are effective? Might we suffer from a lack of “traditional” technique? Regardless of how these unanswerable questions flesh out, it says something that web videos are proliferating the way they are doing now.
So really, my conclusion is that watching content on VHS makes me hanker for the features on DVD. It’s easy to dismiss VHS as a format as easy as it is to mock the 1970s hair style of Dustin Hoffman in this 1976 flick.
It’s easy to snicker at past media. I always get this feeling when I come across a pile of old 8 track tapes, remembering the disturbing “thunk” they would make in my high school friend Kevin’s Duster. But I was a bit humbled when during a presentation at last month’s NMC online conference, Jared Bendis reminded us that 8-Tracks were rather revolutionary for breaking the linear navigation of audio content and more so, that they pioneered quadraphonic sound.
So my wondering mind is wondering… what future media or content form might make me snicker when looking back at DVDs as a content form?