While DVD authors and content providers alike have been debating the pros and cons of DVD-18, there is another format that has been somewhat ignored. That format is DVD-14, and it is starting to make some noise with new releases from MGM this fall.
DVD-14, which is currently manufactured in the United States exclusively by WEA Advanced Media Operations (WAMO), is basically a DVD-9 bonded to a DVD-5. By eliminating the need for two discs, the format can theoretically save content providers money, and, according to Pierre Loubet, vice president of sales for advanced media at WAMO, is a fairly straightforward product to make. Replicators experienced in DVD-9 production should have no problem replicating DVD-14s with very good production yields.
Initial DVD-14 releases from MGM include Fiddler On The Roof, Legally Blonde, and The Terminator. "DVD-14 allows us to pursue our objectives, and gives us the storage space needed to do that," says Blake Thomas, executive vice president at MGM Home Entertainment. "What we are trying to do on most of our titles is provide the widescreen and full-frame versions of the movie, as well as all of the added value material. In order to do that, we need more space than a DVD-5 or DVD-9. DVD-14s will likely become routine for us."
What will be offered on these DVDs? The Terminator will sell for $26.95, and will feature a new 5.1-channel mix supervised by its original composer, Brad Fiedel. The DVD will also offer previously deleted scenes with audio commentary by James Cameron, and a new documentary containing interviews with the cast and crew. A DVD-ROM script-to-screen feature and original mono sound are also included.
Sonopress Germany expects to start manufacturing DVD-14s before this year's end. "The technology is in place in Germany, and it is transferable into the United States if the demand is there," says Bob Spiller, president of Sonopress in Asheville, North Carolina. "MGM's interest in the format seems to be the first little blip on our radar screen. Others are coming to us asking if we can do it from an offload perspective, but our strategy is to deploy it when the commercial demand is there."
WAMO's Loubet is confident about the future success of DVD-14. "The format is gaining strength because it is a money-saver when compared to offering multiple disc sets. Not only is half the polycarbonate used, but packaging is reduced, which in turn reduces both freight and postage," he says. "We've also heard consumers say that if the main feature and special bonus features are on a different disc, then often the bonus features won't be watched," Loubet continues. "That's a pretty inefficient use of people's money."
In addition to films, there are other opportunities for the format if developers use their creativity. Loubet offers a marketing scenario: A movie can be on one side of the disc, and promotional materials such as a customized ad for K-Mart featuring tie-in toys, clothing, or other merchandise associated with the movie. There can even be another DVD-Video or DVD-Audio on the other side.
Interestingly enough, the DVD-14 format is also available in an 80mm disc size (the size that Nintendo is using for the soon-to-be-released GameCube). While not quite 14GB (The 80mm disc offers about 2.8GB of storage per layer), the option exists nonetheless. With all of the options available, who knows what the future has in store for this fledgling format?