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

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

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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