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A Videographer’s Thoughts: Is the DVD Dead?

matt-avatar WhitenedOne of the questions I’m often asked as a wedding videographer is “how many copies do we get on DVD?” Whilst this is a very understandable question it’s one that often makes me wonder just how important the DVD itself is to the product that we create. In a world of Smart TV’s and fast HD video streaming is DVD really still the best medium on which to receive your wedding film?

Another question that I’m often asked by those enquiring about the DVD is “do you shoot in High Definition?” a question that seems almost at odds with any enquiry about DVD’s. The answer for both myself and every videographer I know (save perhaps for some of those specialising in analogue media such as Super 8 films) is always yes. HD is an expected standard these days and with 4K cameras now entering the market even High Definition may soon be a thing of the past. Regardless though of whether your film is created in HD or indeed 4K, if you are receiving it on DVD it is true HD no more.

DVD’s are an ageing format created before HD video became commonplace and as such they do not support High Definition resolutions. When putting your film onto DVD for you the quality of the finished product decreases from that crisp 1920 x 1080 pixel (or thereabouts) video that may have been shared with you online to a maximum dvd resolution, somewhere in the region of 720 x 576 pixels. In effect by putting an HD film onto DVD the resolution is virtually halved and whilst this is not always hugely noticeable to the untrained eye, under direct comparison the quality difference is often as clear as day.

This is where the Blu-Ray disc comes in. Blu-ray offers a vastly superior amount of data to be stored per disc and at a true HD resolution. When watching a blu-ray disc of your HD wedding film you are seeing it the way your videographer meant for you to see it, the way that they saw it on their editing screen before exporting it for you to watch. But unlike DVD, Blu-ray is a format that has never truly taken off with a relative minority having the capabilities to actually play them back. Even for those videographers that offer an option of Blu-Ray rather than DVD it is the latter that generally seems to prove the more popular option with couples as, let’s face it, virtually everyone has the means to play back DVD.

But this is changing. More and more computers are excluding DVD drives from their specs and more and more consumers are turning to online digital services such as Netflix, Amazon prime and other on-demand services to view films without the need for a disc at all. It seems that DVD’s are rapidly disappearing from the shelves and being lost in a high def world so is it time to move on and look at alternative means to view your wedding film?

The answer is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Many videographers no longer consider the DVD to be their final product and focus their attention on producing a full HD online version of their films which, thanks to changes in technology, can be viewed on anything from a Smart TV to a tablet to a smartphone and even downloaded quickly and conveniently to be watched again and again. That is the product and the DVD (if provided at all) is just a happy bonus, a physical (if slightly lower quality) product to accompany the main show online. Yet for so many couples the DVD is the most exciting thing to receive. The thrill of that parcel arriving and being lovingly unwrapped. The joy of seeing all that personalised packaging and gathering the whole family around the TV as you slide that sparkling disc into the DVD player. The excitement shared with less technologically au fait relatives when they receive their own special copy. The pleasure of seeing that DVD box set sitting on the shelf next to your beautiful wedding album.

Yes digital and online services are the future and perhaps once every household owns a smart TV the USB stick may fully take over the DVD’s mantle. It’s certainly wise to ensure you have a high definition copy to keep things future-proof and maybe the DVD is not the version you’ll regularly watch, but for now, at least, maybe there’s life in the old dog yet.

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