VHS and Beyond

Author - Cody Smith

How I've seen the movie industry change over the past 20 years.

VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray, 3D… the world of movies is changing fast. Just in the 20 years I’ve been on this earth (not to imply I was somewhere else before that…), I’ve seen incredible leaps and bounds in the “moving picture” industry. Growing up in the 90s, I remember when DVDs didn’t even exist. Many classics like The Lion King, Toy Story, Saving Private Ryan, Braveheart, Titanic, Forrest Gump, and Jurassic Park were being created in what you could almost call a film revolution.

Then came the day we walked into our local video rental store and there it was: a single rack of shiny new DVDs sitting near the entrance with a conspicuous sign pointing them out. The rest of the store, of course, was still VHS, which is what we rented since we wouldn’t get a DVD player for some time yet. But DVDs were a mega hit (obviously), so it didn’t take long for ALL the racks to be filled with DVDs, and the VHS tapes thrown in bins to be sold. At the time it was very exciting, but looking back, it was really a sad day to see VHS tapes become outdated. The benefits of DVDs seem to outweigh their drawbacks, though, so I suppose it was a good tradeoff.

Then came HD-DVD. There were more features (part of the advertisement, I’m guessing, since HD doesn’t have anything to do with the features offered), the quality was better, the picture was clearer, and high-definition became the new “normal”.

The next big thing? 3D! I remember going and watching my first 3D movie – one of the first of its kind. It was big, it was realistic, it was a little freaky, and it seemed the entire movie , including movements of the characters, etc., were specially directed to look cooler in 3D. I’ve never been a big 3D person, but the fact that you could now feel a little more like you’re there in the movie became HUGE. It seemed for a while that nearly every new movie to come out was in 3D – but only in theaters. It wasn’t until not so very long ago that 3D viewing became something you could do on the couch at home.

And finally in more recent years came the biggest advance since the DVD… Blu-Ray. To be honest, I’m not 100% for sure what all the differences are between plain ol’ DVD and Blu-Ray, but I’ve heard they’re supposed to be clearer, have a lot more features, and are more scratch resistant… if you have the Blu-Ray player to watch them on, of course. I’ve only seen one Blu-Ray movie ever, so I can’t really give an opinion on what I think about them yet.

Since the beginning of movie time, they’ve been filmed in 24fps (frames per second). This is what sets the big production Hollywood look apart from the home video look. Most personal camcorders film in 48fps to 60fps. This gives home movies a very clear crisp realistic look that is usually associated with “cheap”. But Peter Jackson, producer of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, may change that very soon. His new trilogy, based on the first Lord of the Rings book, The Hobbit, is filmed in 48fps, which could potentially revolutionize the filmmaking industry if all goes as planned. Since a lot of people are very against the switch to 48fps, though, he will be offering The Hobbit trilogy in 24fps, 48fps, and 48fps 3D. He claims that combining the realism of 48fps and the realism of 3D gives the incredibly unique feeling of actually being there in the movie.

But regardless of all the external changes I’ve seen throughout the past 20 years, the stories never change. Whether I’m watching Jurassic Park on VHS, or watching it on 3D Blu-Ray (which will be coming out July, 2013), it’s still a great movie. A bad movie is going to be bad no matter how you watch it, and an awesome movie is still going to be awesome no matter how you watch it.
Check out 16 of my all-time favorites below. If you haven't seen all of them yet, don't feel bad (although you probably should), just click "watch now" or "buy" to stop being jilted today…