what’s with all the different dvd packaging? (make up your minds already)

WHAT’S WITH THE DVD PACKAGING? A simple question, right? Why so many different boxes jackets sleeves whatever? Why no uniformity or user friendliness? And I don’t even want to start on the way DVDs begin: the various way-too-clever manners in which bored techs find to align the chapters or choices in the opening minutes of the video is often confusing and frustrating!

In 1948, Columbia Records introduced the 33⅓ rpm long-playing record (the “Lp”) as a commercial medium for listening to recorded music. As a medium of its time, it was damn near perfect: with a 12-inch diameter (a 10-inch record accompanied it but did not survive for more than a few years), it contained approximately 15 minutes of music (or sound or signal) per side.

What made the package an “album” (sort of) was that it was housed in a cardboard jacket (called a sleeve in most of the rest of the world but what do they know?) that usually had attractive art or graphics on the front cover and textual information (called liner notes) and the back cover.

The term album was a holdover from the previous medium, the 78 rpm record: the record companies often gathered three or more of these records with their limited capacity for music into book-like jackets that resembled photo albums.


DVD Packaging: the first pop LP was Columbia CL-6001, THE VOICE OF FRANK SINATRA.

On June 21, 1948, Columbia introduced their new 33 rpm long-playing record album by releasing 105 titles in both ten-inch and twelve-inch  formats. CL-6001, THE VOICE OF FRANK SINATRA—a reissue of a 78 rpm album—is usually given the credit as the first modern 10-inch album. These albums consisted of a record inside a thick paper sleeve with rather rudimentary graphics. 

The LP was a sensation

The record-buying public took to the 12-inch LP record immediately! And while many of the company decision-makers thought that the medium was best suited for presenting lengthy classical pieces—especially quartets and symphonies, which could require ten or more of the old 78s—it was the jazz and pop music lovers that purchased the new record in HUGE quantities.

The record album remained pretty much the same critter through its history, which continues today. While it is no longer a major medium, sales of the vinyl record albums have been increasing incrementally around the world since the beginning of the 21st century.


That is, tweakings aside, the record album of 2014 is more less exactly the same as record album of 1949: twelve inches in diameter, made of a polyvinyl-based compound, housed in a cardboard jacket.


DVD Packaging: the first classical LP was Columbia Columbia ML-4001, the MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO IN E MINOR, featuring Nathan Milstein with Bruno Walter.

Columbia ML-4001, the MENDELSSOHN VIOLIN CONCERTO IN E MINOR by violinist Nathan Milstein with Bruno Walter conducting the Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra of New York, is usually given the credit as the first modern 12″ album. Within a few years, LPs were issued in cardboard jackets with attractive artwork on the covers, most included an inner paper sleeve to protect the record from the cardboard. This packaging has remained constant for more than sixty years!

What’s with the dvd packaging?

Then there is the DVD: approaching its 20th birthday, the manufacturers have yet to settle on such basics as the ideal set of choices/options (Play, Scene Selection, Set Up, Languages, Special Features, etc.) and their arrangement on your screen at the beginning of each movie. Some of these options are so damn clever they are difficult to navigate!

More importantly, they have yet to arrive at an optimal manner on how the disc is housed!

I don’t know about you, but for the most part, the more “creative” the packaging of a DVD—especially a set of three or more discs—the more I hate them!!

Multi-disc packs open in so many ways, almost none of which make accessing the DVDs easy!!!

Single didc DVDs should be housed in record album-like sleeves; cardboard jackets with graphics on the front and basic details and legal data on the back. Gatefold jackets could hold additional notes and illustrations on the inner leafs, or for deluxe packages, pages can be glued or stapled into the spine.

Simple, efficient, and considerably less expensive than the nonsense that I have to through to watch an episode of Friends or The X-Files etc.

So, what’s with all the dvd packaging and why can’t you guys get it right?!!?


DVD Packaging: photo of Bridget Fonda from the movie POINT OF NO RETURN.

FEATURED IMAGE: According to the DVD FAQ on the DVD Demystified website, the first feature films available on DVD were released in Japan on December 20, 1996. They were Blade Runner, Eraser, The Fugitive, and Point of No Return (known as The Assassin outside the US). It was from the latter that I chose the image of Bridget Fonda that graces the top of this page.

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