Sunday, 22 January 2012

GRUMBLE, MOAN, WHINE...


“It’s my belief we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain” - Lily Tomlin
For Movie Monday today, no review, just a gripe about the technology. When videotapes first came into the scene everyone was ecstatic as movies could be enjoyed at home, in the comfort of your lounge room the play and stop button meaning you were in control and the fast forward and rewind buttons adding that extra bit of power in your hands. It was an imperfect system of course, and many times the precious tape of a favourite movie was mangled by the player. Still, movies at home were an increasingly pleasant way to spend one’s evening. The video rental shops proliferated like weeds in the garden and all was good…

All was good until the advent of the new technology, that is. I’ll bypass a few false starts in the next step up and go to the DVDs. When they first came out these were amazing! I mean compared to VHS tapes, we were talking about chalk and cheese. Crystal clear picture quality (compared to video tapes always), no waiting for pesky rewinding of the tapes (didn’t you just hate the people who DIDN’T rewind the tape after watching it?), subtitling in a dozen languages or more, interactive menus, special features instantly available, high quality freeze frames. Oh boy! This was worth investing in. So we threw away our fragile and ever likely to be mangled VHS tapes of classic movies and bought the DVD versions. And all was good!

All was good until the advent of the Bluray discs, that is! They left DVDs behind in terms of clarity, quality and amazing features. So yes, the technology junkies amongst us (OK, I’m raising my hand…) bought a Bluray player and began investing in Bluray discs as they were coming out. Yes, it was so much better! And when the old classics began to be reissued in the new format in restored, crystal clear versions, one had to replace those favourite DVDs with the new and improved Blurays, especially if they were offered on special by your friendly neighbourhood video store, right? Hmmmm, until the advent of something new (and they are trying it at the moment with 3D, but I am not convinced just yet)…

Now comes the serious gripe part. Recently we put a Bluray disc in the player to watch a movie and we got a nasty surprise. First came the company logo and fanfares advising us which company had made the movie. Secondly the logo of the company that had made the Bluray disc of the movie. Then the usual tirade about copyright and penalties for people infringing copyright by copying and selling the copies. Fair enough (although a criminal who is going to copy a movie and flog the illegal copies will hardly take notice of this advice…). Then another warning about illegal copies – this time a video version about how burning illegal copies is destroying the Australian film industry. Tried to fast forward that but was unable to. That really annoyed me! I paid my good money for the genuine article, I sat through one copyright warning, and now this? Why? A bit of overkill, surely.

Maybe we’d get to watch the movie now. Ha! Think again! Trailers for new releases on Bluray disc. OK, let’s skip those. Not really, couldn’t! The darned thing would not let me fast forward or skip. We had to watch four trailers of movies that held no interest whatsoever for us, wasting our precious time and increasing the level of our annoyance. When they were finally over, we thought the movie would start. No, it was the company logos all over again and then the main menu – finally! We wanted to select the option of English captions for the hearing impaired. Well, that was a herculean task as the menu navigation was counterintuitive and the options selected did not clearly show up. We ended up going back to the beginning. Yes the VERY beginning, before there was light – so we had to watch all the copyright guff and all the trailers all over again!

We finally got to watch the movie after wasting about 15-20 minutes and becoming extremely annoyed with the technology. This is not how it was meant to be. Technology is there to make our lives easier, increase our level of contentment, increase our leisure time and make things better. Bluray manufacturers, you seriously need to rethink the way you construct your disc menus and remove the punishment that you mete out to the bona fide customers that have paid good money to buy your products. Such an experience as I have described is not uncommon, although some discs are better than others. And also, I want the option of subtitles on ALL movies on Bluray. As actors are getting less articulate, as background noise and loud background music are becoming ever commoner (even over vital conversation between leads!), as regional slang and strong accents are more widespread, as whispering and comments “off” are part of movies, I find English subtitles essential in even English language films…

That’s it, I’ve had my 5 minutes of complaining. Have a nice week!

2 comments:

  1. I agree with you. But I do love the quality of Blu-Ray films!

    ReplyDelete