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Monday, 5 September 2011

Other Old Schools: Number 1 - The LaserDisc

I really enjoy reading other blogs which discuss various aspects of the OSR.  It got me thinking: what else am I interested in that might be given the Old School tag.

I'll try and think of a new item each week and you can judge whether or not it deserves a place on the Old School Cool Wall.

First up: LaserDiscs

Until the DVD format was launched in 1997 (1998 in the UK), LDs were the final word in quality home cinema.  DVD pretty much killed the format overnight.  As people dumped their entire movie collections, I took the oportunity to build up my collection.  I still own about 300 LDs and a flagship Pioneer deck to play them on.  I love my collection.  I'll probably keep most of it even after my player kicks the bucket.

Much like Vinyl LPs, the discs themselves are a big part of the attraction.  Many have gatefold covers, booklets, slip cases or other design features that make them worthy of admiration on a purely aesthetic level.  A LaserDisc player in operation is quite a machine to behold.  They're very mechanical devices, with genuinely smart engineering including: autoturn a feature that plays both sides of a disc without having to remove it from the player, and an additional pop-out mini loading tray for loading audio CDs. 

At the weekend, I was reading about the imminent Blu-ray release of the Star Wars films, and the distress being caused by Lucas making even more CGI changes to the original films.  Thankfully, I own both the Special Edition LD boxed set and the Definitive Edition Boxed set on LaserDisc.  Which, along with my copy of The Star Wars Vault, is all I need to experience 1977 all over again.


  1. I started building a collection after DVD caused the bottom to fall out and then DVD (in my eyes) proved to be somewhat disappointing (especially early on).

    And it's Blade Runner's fault. My favorite film it was one of the first things I purchased and no one will disagree it was a horrible transfer to DVD.

    So I bought 3 players (2 DOAs, then I bought a new sealed unit for WAY to much money) and the DC of the film and until the recent release it was my favorite version, bad side breaks and all. It has the best aspect ration and least amount of frame cropping and several scenes benefit and hold a deeper context when you are able to see everything.

    After the first few LDs it became a regular Friday nite activity. The wife and I would gather round a machine and bid on eBay on short time items scoring many works, some that still haven't been released today or are already out of print on DVD.

    So yes, a big vote for the Laser Disc.

    And my second item would be vinyl records :)

  2. Blade Runner was one of the first film I bought. You're right about some of those early DVD transfers I'm sure some were probably just taken from whatever masters were used for the VHS versions.

    Even with their limited resolution, some LDs still look surprisingly good. I also find the LDs look much better on a decent CRT tv rather than a plasma or LCD.

    I'm making a list of ideas for other items to feature and vinyl records are already on it along with minidiscs. There's plenty of non technology based things I want to put up as well, so it may take me a while to get to those.