By Randy Salas
THE INSIDERS' 'INSIDER’S GUIDE TO DVD'
The DVD celebrates its seventh birthday this month. What better way to get the inside scoop about the format than from folks who have been there since the beginning, Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan? The editors of the Web site the Digital Bits (http://www.thedigitalbits.com), which started as an online newsletter in April 1997, have moved to hard copy with their 426-page book, "The Digital Bits: Insider’s Guide to DVD" (McGraw-Hill, $17.95). Using the same breezy banter that has made their site a popular DVD oasis on the Net, Hunt and Doogan comprehensively explore:
Find out how the format works, what special features do and why widescreen is better.
Learn how to build an audio-video system that will make the most of your budget.
The "Alien Quadrilogy":
Go inside the making of the massive nine disc set of the "Alien" films with a 44-page blow-by-blow account of its creation.
Drool over reviews of more than 100 must-have DVDs, including the extended "The Fellowship of the Ring," the three-disc "Toy Story" set and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
Get a sneak peek at what lies ahead. "The whole goal was to provide a comprehensive resource for newcomers and also to provide something for longtime DVD viewers," Hunt told me recently. Mission accomplished. (Minneapolis Star Tribune 20040323)
From The "Oscar" issue recommended in the column "The A-List"
For all those who finally got a DVD player over the holidays comes this book for movie fans who want to know more about their new toy. Hunt and Doogan explain how DVDs work, what all the technical terms mean in your owner's manual, the debate over widescreen and much more. (Tribute 20040201)
The editors of stalwart R1 site thedigitalbits.com use old media to share their wisdom...[on] the best ways to to create your home cinema experience and a hundred-odd...reviews. Hunt and Doogan's scoop is an excellent report on the making of Alien Quadrilogy, which makes it worth buying...an accessible one-stop summary by fans of the format. (DVD Review 20040130)
...What if someone took all the essential information that every person should know about DVD and Home Theater and put it into book form? Well, this is exactly what Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan have accomplished with their newly authored book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD. ...
Insider's Guide To DVD
I first became aware of this book that Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan were writing over a year ago. While spending some time out in Los Angeles, Bill talked about his efforts to put together an essential guide for DVD newbies and established enthusiasts. Both Bill and Todd have been feverishly working on this book over the past two years while at the same time maintaining The Digital Bits website. Nobody ever said writing a book would be easy!
Their efforts seems to have paid off. Just starting to arrive on bookstore shelves, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD is the very first publication of its kind to explore the DVD format from history to future. You'll not only learn how DVD discs are manufactured and compressed, but learn about the authoring process in creating some of the great menu designs we have come to appreciate over the years.
One of the greatest benefits of this book for DVD "newbies" is the fact that it clearly explains aspect ratios. Through the use of many comparison film stills, a reader can not only see how a 1.85:1 ratio compares to 2.35:1, but how Full Frame greatly compromises the widescreen scale. If there is one thing I hope this book accomplishes is to educate people as to why widescreen is so important in preserving the filmmaker's intended vision.
For anyone just getting into Home Theater, this book provides valuable information on how best to begin building a theater based on a particular budget. The authors are very careful in making certain that readers wisely spend their budget, finding the right compromise between features and price. Those of you on a limited budget can actually do better than buying a "home theater in a box," and you'll find some invaluable advice on how you can better spend your money.
The book manages to answer just about every question I have ever seen posted on HOME THEATER FORUM, including...
* What does anamorphic mean?
* What is the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS?
* What is THX?
This book contains comprehensive reviews of the Top 100 DVDs of all time. I particularly find these reviews to be valuable as there are so many great films crossing all genres that I have yet to become aware of. The book examines the very BEST of both Film and TV on DVD, with reviews that contain background history on its subject matter as well as giving us detailed information on its transfer and included supplements.
With all this book has to offer, I saved the best for last....
As many of you are aware, Fox Home Video is about to release The Alien Quadrilogy to DVD. The Digital Bits had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes in the production of this amazing 9-disc DVD that contains never-before- seen versions of these films as well as all-new supplemental materials.
The book introduces you to Charles de Lauzirika, one of the hottest working DVD producers. His credits include Hannibal, Legend, Gladiator and a slew of Fox DVD releases. Members of HOME THEATER FORUM should already be familiar with Charlie -- he is an active member of this forum, often graciously taking personal time to reply to numerous posts.
The Digital Bits sits down with Charlie in an extensive interview that takes us through the entire creation process of the Alien Quadrilogy, a project that had not quite-too- seriously been tossed around by Fox over the past few years. ...
Through interviews and photos, you'll be taken to the film archives at Fox Studios where Charlie searches through boxes of film reels and original production artwork. You'll be carefully taken through the day when Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright and Tom Skerritt met at P.O.P. Sound in Santa Monica to record the DVD commentary. From the moment these actors walked into the building till they all bid their final goodbye, I felt as if I had just been placed in the middle of the action bearing witness to every intricate detail of what happened during the commentary sessions. This is a rare opportunity for most everyone that has never witnessed how one of these commentary sessions come together. ...
I found the entire Alien Quadrilogy piece to be a fascinating read. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate the work that goes into these massive DVD projects, and understand the reason why we can't always have everything we want included in these Special Editions.
At just over 400 pages, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD is a very easy read. You can pretty much flip through the pages and find something that will catch your eye. Newbies to the DVD/Home Theater experience will spend more time scouring through the first 84 pages of the book. These pages provide a thorough look at everything anyone needs to know about DVD and building a Home Theater. Established enthusiasts will fully enjoy the in-depth look at the creation of this year's anticipated release of Twentieth Century Fox's nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy.
The fact that this book contains comprehensive reviews of the Top 100 DVDs of all time is reason enough to keep a copy next to your favorite sitting chair. It certainly takes the guesswork out of "What are we watching tonight?!"
The book lists at $17.95, about the cost of a single DVD...
This book not only makes a GREAT Christmas stocking stuffer for any DVD enthusiast, but more importantly, your purchase helps support the survival of The Digital Bits website. Many of you should already be aware that websites like ours cost more to run than the advertising revenue we take in. Purchasing this book makes a "win win" situation for both you and The Bits.
This review isn't just support for a great bunch of guys that we have gotten to know over the years -- but support for a book that is well worth its purchase price. (Home Theater Forum 20031015)
Finally . . . a DVD book for everyone! Here's your personal handbook to DVD . . . the ultimate guide to enjoying every last bit of fun this exciting format has to offer
Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan have been reporting on DVD at The Digital Bits website since the format first appeared in 1997. And over the years, they've noticed that there are few places viewers can go to have the various aspects of DVD and home theatre explained, in simple language -- plain talk anyone can understand. So they've written The Digital Bits' Insider's Guide to DVD
to fill this void. In it they:
* Take a comprehensive look at over 100 of the top DVDs of all time
* Explain DVD and all its features -- what it is and how it works
* Offer expert advice on how to put together a great home theatre at an affordable cost
* Explain the latest technology, such as DVD recorders and the new SACD and DVD-Audio high-resolution music formats
* Provide an eye-opening glimpse of the future of DVD -- which promises your favorite films in high-definition video NOT FOR NEWBIES ONLY!
There's plenty here for long-time, experienced Bits readers too! Bill and Todd have included a comprehensive review of over 100 discs, in a whole variety of genres, that everyone should have in their private movie collection -- they even tell you what makes each one so great. You'll also get a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at one of the biggest releases of 2003: Twentieth Century Fox's nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy! The authors provide a revealing insider’s view of the making of this elaborate, special-edition box set.
The inside scoop on DVDs -- for less than the cost of a single disc!