Friday, January 27, 2006

Marc Ostrick launches video podcast

My buddy Marc has launched two new video podcasts that I thought some of you may be interested in checking out. His name may sound familiar to some of you; he produced the amazing documentary on the 24 season 2 DVD set, as well as documentaries on The Shield. Not only is Marc very talented, he's also a really cool guy. Here's the email he sent out...


Dear Friends, Family and Associates,

I am happy to announce the launch of two documentary video series I’ve created that are now accessible on Apple’s iTunes.

Both series, LOCKOUT and STUDIO VISIT are free “video podcasts” and all you need to do to see them is launch iTunes on your computer.

Once you’ve located and selected the series (info below), A new eposide of mine will appear weekly in your iTunes “podcast” folder.

LOCKOUT is a web series that dives into the creative process of several breaking bands in New York & Los Angeles. The first episode of the podcast series features LINKIN’ PARK rehearsing tracks on their debut album before exploding into the mainstream.

STUDIO VISIT explores the creative process of emerging visual artists in New York as well as those who help get visual arts shown in NYC. Raymond Saa´, an incredible painter/sculptor, is featured in the first STUDIO VISIT podcast.

To access the video podcasts all you have to do is launch iTunes (USA site), go to the 'music store' and type in “Marc Ostrick” in the search window. Both my series should appear.

You can also link directly to the STUDIO VISIT by clicking the link below:

(copy and paste the FULL link into your browser if it doesn't click)

Or you can get to LOCKOUT via this link:

(again, copy and paste the FULL link into your browser if it doesn't click)

With podcasts marching in fast, and making it easy to share work, this is a very exciting time for filmmakers.

I’m thrilled to be a part of this new technology and hope you check out these fun mini-docs. If you like what you see, feel free to pass this info along to friends. (This is a grassroots campaign.)

Thanks for watching!!!!

Marc Ostrick

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

iPod or DVD?

So, let me ask you something...

Do you think that the downloading of TV shows to iPods will affect the sales of TV-DVDs?

I say no, it won't affect it, and here's why...

The shows sold on the Apple iTunes store are about a quarter the size of DVD resolution. They're also not in widescreen, and they don't have Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. We're on the verge of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, yet the threat to TV-on-DVD is coming from these poor quality files? That doesn't make sense to me.

The price of the episodes doesn't offer much savings when compared to the DVD box set. Let's use Lost as an example. Apple is currently selling the complete first season for $34.99, while Amazon is selling the complete box set for $38.98. A few dollars more and you get tons of extras, widescreen transfer, and Dolby Digital 5.1. That's fine for Lost, but it's not good when you compare the price of Monk. The first season, just 13 episodes, sells for $25.87 on iTunes, or $44.99 on Amazon. Hmm...that's not very good. Apple is pricing their shows based on QUANTITY, while many studios price their products based on what they think they can get. The pricing strategies that some studios take with their products don't look good when compared to the iTunes model, so hopefully, though not likely, they'll consider adopting a pricing structure that reflects the content.

We also have to take into account that there are a LOT more DVD players out there than video iPods. Yes, Apple sold over 14,000,000 iPods in the previous quarter, but not all of those played video. Apple has said that they have sold over 8,000,000 VIDEOS on the iTunes store, not episodes. Disney has sold over 1,000,000 copies of Lost (I've heard over 1.2 million, but 1 million is easier to deal with). 1 million copies of Lost on DVD would translate into 25,000,000 episodes...with a single release.

Dave and I were talking about this through email, and he brought up a good point; lose your Hard Drive and you lose your episodes. I guess if you stored them on your HD and iPod then it would be unlikely both would go at the same time, but there are people out there that are buying these without putting them on iPods.

When you buy episodes for your iPod you're also missing out on the brag factor. Isn't it cool when your friends come over and see your wall of DVDs? They stand there and browse the spines, marvelling at your collection. You just don't get that with an iPod.

I'm not knocking the iTunes music store, I just don't think it offers much competition to TV-on-DVD. I think it's a great service when you miss an episode, but it won't replace a widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 version of a show on DVD, at least not for me.

Any comments?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Hey! We're On Wikipedia!

Nothing big; I just thought I'd share this!

I just found out that is an entry in Wikipedia now! Wow, cool. Wesley Mead - a British student who Gord and I enjoy talking to and can usually be found at the Home Theater Forum - wrote up the original entry, and tonight I flushed it out a bit with more info and history.

It's very neat to find our site listed there, and y'all be sure to go take a look! I don't know why I even checked to look it up; it was just a whim. :)

Monday, January 16, 2006

It's a small world...

So, I'm in Toronto this week with my girlfriend on a little vacation and something weird happened. We decided to go to dinner at the Hard Cafe and while we were waiting for our waiter to come over this familiar guy walked in and sat at the bar. It was my friend Pablo; we go to the same gym. He had just flown in to Toronto and went for a drink with some people he knew... and it just happened to be the same place we were. Man, this world is small.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Waiting for Sopranos? Wait a bit longer...

This impacts DVDs a bit, so it's not THAT far off-topic...

I just sat in on the HBO panel at the Television Critic's Association gig in LA, and I have some interesting news for fans of The Sopranos. I don't know if this has been reported elsewhere, but the final season will be broken in two (like Sex and the City was). The first 12 episodes will air starting in March, 2006, with the final 8 episodes airing in January, 07.

Yup, if you're waiting for the end of the show then you'll be waiting for over a year. I predict, and and this is NOT official at all, that HBO will release The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 1 on December 5, 2006. That's an educated guess based on two things; HBO likes releasing product the first Tuesday in December, and it makes sense they'd want to get the first half out on DVD before the holidays, and before the final half airs in Jan. I may be off by a few weeks, but that's my guess.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Around the world...

So, last night I decided that I'm flying to LA on Friday morning. It's very last-minute, but there's a great opportunity there on Saturday.

For two years I've been bugging Warner Bros to release "The Adventures of Brisco County Jr" on DVD. We've posted the news that it's coming out, but now I'm getting a bit more involved in the set, with the blessing of Warner Bros. I want to promote this set pretty heavily on the site, and instead of simply posting "Buy the set," I'm going after some exclusive material. They're shooting interviews with Carlton Cuse and some of the writers on Saturday, and I'll be there to cover it. I'll snap some photos, hopefully get some audio clips, and try to stay out of trouble. We're going to be doing some other cool things with the set, so if you're a fan of the show then you'll want to keep checking the site for the news.

I leave around 7:00 am tomorrow, but that means I have to be at the airport around 5 am. I'm freaky tall (6'8" - seriously), so I need an exit row or else I can't move for a few hours after getting off the plane. I fly through Las Vegas (America West got rid of their direct flight - damn them!) and get into LA about 10:30 am. I've managed to make lunch plans with a friend, and dinner plans with some TV critics in LA for the Television Critic's Association gathering. Saturday will be spent at the interviews, and hanging out...maybe doing some shopping, or stalking celebs. I leave to come back at 9:00 pm, flying through Vegas again (free wireless internet in the airport), and I get home at 4:00 am. Now the problem is that I leave for Toronto with my girlfriend Monday morning, so I have about 25 hours to get caught up on sleep and pack for that trip. Phew!!

Hopefully I'll find some time between LA and Toronto to post some of the material from the interviews.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Yep, Some Things Are Better In Region 2.

We're getting a lot of e-mails right now about how Birds of Prey is slated for release in Region 2 ("Europe"); you can find a listing for it at if you're wanting that. There are NOT plans announced yet for a Region 1 (USA/Canada) release.

Joey is out on DVD in the United Kingdom, much to the chagrin of fans of the show who can't understand why it gets released there first before it shows up in the USA (where it is produced, and where the show could use a boost in the ratings from a DVD tie-in).

I read at Home Theater Forum today how Kojak's second season is coming to Europe, but I know that there are no plans for it in the USA so far. The Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman already have Season 1 sets over there, but no word yet when we'll see them here in North America.

Ally McBeal has had no word announced here in R1 either, with music rights issues being the reason most cited for the hold-up...but you can get all five seasons sent over from the UK right this second if you want to. Heck, the Married...with Children theme song is intact on the R2 releases in Germany from what we've heard.

Anyone remember the BBC production of The Tripods series, based on the classic John Christopher books (The White Mountains, The City of Gold and Lead, etc.)? Yeah...that's been out there as well, although I hear it's tough to find these days (the second series moreso than the first). There was even a disc of Voltron released in Region 2 (and the entire series got released in Australia's Region 4!).

Heck, in Japan (also "Region 2", oddly enough), Bewitched is up to Season 6 already, while we've just gotten the S3 announcement today for our shores.

That's enough examples, I think; you get the point. So...why?


Because, that's why.

Because that's what the region system was made for in the first place: because studios recognized that some of the properties they owned in one geographic area were not always controlled by them in other geographical areas, and they didn't want an overseas release by their "competitors" to intrude on possible sales on their own turf later on.

Because music rights issues are different in different countries, based on different laws.

Because rights to and control of extras may be different in other countries as well.

Because some properties are more popular and sell better in other places, no matter how hard that is to believe.

Because in some countries, the new-ish show in question isn't available to air on television at all, or else airs in a way that limits the audience. So the DVD release there is meant to bring the show to a bigger audience.

Oh, and the boxes may look different there than here because the cover art that is meant to appeal to that audience may not be the same art the studio uses to market the show in the USA. So don't be surprised if you e-mail that R2 art to us and we say "sorry, we won't show that European cover art to our readers". Yeah, some of this blog post is about us! :)

Gord and I wish we had time to cover all the non-Region 1 TV-DVD releases out there, but we simply don't. That's why we try to politely convey to folks who send us e-mails with "news" of them that tellling us about Region 2 releases is just a waste of time. We're only two guys, and it takes all of our bandwidth to cover just what we do, and still find time to make a living on the side. Not to mention Gord's girlfriend, and my wife and son. They want a bit of our time as well!

There's a lot of talk about whether or not the Region coding system will continue as home video moves forward into new formats. Right now that sort of thing just sounds like a lot of talk, with no real momentum that we can see about seriously eliminating the Region coding concept. So we just have to live with it in the meantime.

And for those of you with multi-region capabilities, it might just give you MORE options, instead of limiting them!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Before Family Guy There Was All Dogs. Now Futurama May Join Them!

John Cawley is a Line Producer at Cartoon Network (you may know his work from such shows as Bobby's World, Dexter's Lab, Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law and Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi among others), and has volunteered to act as our occasional Animation Consultant. He saw our recent news about All Dogs Go To Heaven, and has written this guest blog topic for us to ponder about how similar on VHS this film was to the DVD effect of Family Guy. Here's what he had to say:

    Before FAMILY GUY, there was ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN.

    I am always amused by the post-release history of ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN. When the film came out, it was lambasted by critics. The box office was somewhere around $25 million (when other animated features were doing around $70-100 million). In fact, after around two months, the film was declared a flop. There is even a great story of Don flying back to Ireland after the debut due to the film's reception... which made him a no show on several major US TV shows (like TODAY).

    However, on home video (VHS in those days) ALL DOGS did really well. In fact, so well, it caused execs to re-consider the property and develop a direct-to-video sequel and TV series. ALL DOGS was one of the first "failed" productions "revived" by home video for sequels. Others include FERN GULLY and BALTO. Again, both box-office "duds" that did well enough on home video to warrant additional productions. (And one cannot ignore the beginning of the direct to video horror/live action sequels - THE HOWLING III.)

    Of course today it is not uncommon for less-than-smash films to find a new life on home video. The good video sales of Disney's EMPEROR NEW GROOVE has brought us a sequel and series... just like ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN.

Interesting, John. Thank you. Readers should note that John sent this to us before finding a new online article today, based on a Variety report, discussing how "...Following the hugely successful resurrection of Family Guy, Fox execs are reportedly in talks to bring Futurama back from the dead. The studio has begun talks to revive the Emmy-winning animated series and produce a limited number of new episodes, thanks to a resurgence in the show's popularity on DVD and in reruns..."

Of course, as the Yahoo story states, " For Futurama to return, the studio would need to re-sign the show's production team, as well as voice stars Billy West, Katey Sagal and John DiMaggio." Exactly. But if the return of that show can be pulled off, there will be a lot of fans who will be happy to watch the show when it returns to the airwaves...AND buy the DVDs of those episodes, when they eventually come out!