Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DVD extra text - a Menu style Society bent on interactivity

When we buy a DVD we know that we are going to get those special features that put each of us a step closer to the original movie by giving us theatrical trailers and actors/directors opinions and viewpoints on the script and shots and so on and so forth. Very often we also have soundtrack and music video options for the hit song in the movie (this is true of the American Pie 2 DVD). When we buy re-release DVD's which have previously come out on video cassette we also naturally expect to find extra features that we didn't know about the movie originally all the way back in say 1986 and it brings viewers back to the theatre essentially, and even to the production process itself. However my point is that all these special features, whether offered on the DVD or not are presented in an interactive menu-style way. This is perhaps what society is coming to expect from everything. We can identify with menus from our home PC's and cellphones. We expect things to be packaged easily so we can find them in an interactive format which we can access easily and decipher quickly. Afterall the DVD is essentially a file that we are able to navigate around through the use of such menus. As consumers we are increasingly demanding more out of entertainment packages, hardware and software and we expect to be able to interact with a movie in ways we never previously could. Way back in the 1930s right through to the 1980s, actors used to tour the country with the studio publicity department to promote a film and concert halls were packed so as the public could 'interact' with the star (e.g. part of the movie package). Now that interaction comes through simply pushing buttons and skimming through menus. It makes the consumer complacent with the product and stimulates the market for which it is meant by offering this new level of activity. It is an attractive package for the consumer in terms of this interactive process, it helps to re-sell old movies, it helps to boost sales of new movies and is something that most people can easily interact with through its easily-recognizable menu format. Indeed the theatre is re-mediated interactively.


At 12:15 AM, Blogger Mana-E said...

Yeah, the Navigational tool is good on DVDs, but do you feel these days, that they put too much stuff in the menus section. They have those little animated pieces in-between the menu section linking the two menus together. Or flash like animations when ever you push on the menu buttons. I think some time it a bit too much some time especially when your trying to get to a certain spot quickly. For example when the lecture is trying to line a spot on a DVD they want to show. You have to go through all the menus and animations and most of the time they don’t let you skip the animation and just move on.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger Andrew R. said...

Yeah I agree. Particularly with the Flash Animation point you raised. I think that what DVD's do is basically remediate the home PC and the technologies available on it (e.g. the Flash Player, Real and Quicktime etc.). I think it makes consumers feel more interactive but yes it is annoying and very often all you want to see is the movie - not all of the extra 'clips'. I liken it to Windows XP which now has a whole lot of little graphics for various menus and files and so on. A DVD is simply an electronic 'press kit' for the everyday public.

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Jennifer said...

I remember watching the sixth sense on VHS ... quite awhile after it came out but I think my mum borrowed the tape of someone. Anyway the vhs still had the extra text of deleted scenes, which played after the film, which ment fast fowarding through credits to get to them. Another interesting concept with the extra-text is the extra disk so not only do you have to scroll through menus you have to change disks. Sometimes I think the dvds get a bit caught up in the packaging of the little extras.


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