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Fourth Annual DVD Pro Conference Delivers Bulls-Eye Keynote, Birds-Eye of Industry

by Stephen Clark Jr.

July 31, 2020 | From July 16th to 18th, the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, California buzzed with activity as the DVD PRO Conference & Expo landed just beyond the frenetic confines of the San Francisco airport. DVD PRO 2000 attracted 1,466 attendees, a marked increase over last year's conference. Spearheaded once again by EMedia Magazine contributing editor and Standard Deviations columnist Dana J. Parker, the conference program diverged ever further from DVD's initial entertainment-uber alles course, paying special attention to such emerging markets as corporate training and education, with an eye to how developers themselves can become educated in DVD for a growing range of authoring purposes.

A bustling show floor churning with attendee traffic showcased new trends as well, highlighted by new systems for desktop DVD-R production, new authoring offerings, and just-debuted multi-platform DVD playback engines.

Elevated to new gala status was the DVD Discus Awards ceremony, which opened with a fitting tribute to DVD Demystified author Jim Taylor (also a speaker at the show), who won the inaugural award for Outstanding Contribution to the DVD Industry, and boasted food--a first--while once again honoring innovation and excellence in DVD authoring, packaging, and technical achievement.

delivering digital

Always looking just ahead of the curve, the show kicked off with a keynote by John Griffin, founder and CEO of Cherry Lane Digital LLC, who took attendees to where the sidewalk ended and beyond, projecting past packaged DVD into a world where the means or media of content delivery would take a back seat to the delivery itself. Griffin asserted that we are moving towards a service-oriented, rather than a product-oriented business model, where enhancing customer service and building relationships will play a more important role than salesmanship. "We are not moving from a world of analog distribution to a world of digital distribution," Griffin says. "We are, in fact, instead moving to a world of digital delivery."

Getting off to a Sunday start, DVD PRO featured several pre-conference sessions the day before the official conference program began. The pre-cons gave the attendees a chance to hear some valuable information before the full conference and expo were turned up to full volume. The pre-conference sessions, which included topics such as Fundamentals & Formats and DVD: Portable Broadband attracted surprisingly large crowds who were looking to get their feet wet with these early sessions.

there were exhibits, too

Snuggled in the cozy Grand Peninsula Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency, Spruce Technologies (http://www.spruce.com) kept busy by demonstrating its flagship DVDStation solution. Sonic and Daikin were also both present, exhibiting their respective DVD authoring solutions.

Hitachi (http://www.hitachi.com) joined a number of drive makers at the show, weighing in with both playback and rewritable units in the form of its new DVD-ROM (GD-7000) drive on display, as well as its DVD-RAM (GF-2000) drive, which supports 4.7GB DVD-RAM discs, as well as 2.6GB discs.

Showing off its REALmagic DVD solutions, Sigma Designs (http://www.sigmadesigns.com) also attracted some attention at its booth. InterActual was introducing its InterActual Player 2.0 (the successor to its PCFriendly software), which resounded with a recurring theme in the conference program, the enabling technologies and creative possibilities of Web-connected DVD.

To date, DVD has been almost an exclusively replicated phenomenon; that is, unlike CD-ROM, where customized and short-run content is commonly delivered on recordable media, virtually any DVD you're likely to find yourself playing just about anywhere has been a pressed disc. While DVD recording technologies are available, in the various permutations of DVD-R and various capacities of DVD-RAM, writing DVDs has been strictly the province of authors with title projects to prototype and test (DVD-R) or users with content bound for personal or network storage (DVD-RAM). Auguring new possibilites for the means of DVD delivery are a handful systems and technologies on display at DVD Pro, designed specifically to use DVD-R for disc production and distribution chores. NewWave Technologies (http://www.newwavetech.com) was displaying its DVD duplication system, which combines Ultera's MultiMaster array controller technology with the latest generation DVD-R drives from Pioneer New Media Technologies. Speaking of duplication, Rimage was demonstrating its Perfect Image Producer family of products, which now feature DVD-R and CD-R recording in the same system. Essential of course to any desktop DVD production system is media, and Verbatim and Mitsui were well-represented with their lines of DVD media.

Not to be outdone by desktop upstarts, key replicators were also well-represented at the show, highlighted by Technicolor's announcement of 100% line expansion, demonstrating clear bullishness on the DVD market's future prospects in its current pressed, packaged form.

Several companies appeared to have followed the reasoning of the keynote speaker, and are actively working on solutions to deliver DVD content through varying formats, not necessarily pressed or recorded. Zuma Digital, for example, had its ActiveDVD technology on display, which can integrate DVD-Video into a PowerPoint presentation.

and the winner is

The 3rd annual Discus awards this year featured something new--a dinner during the presentation. Jim Taylor was presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the DVD Industry, the first presentation of what will become an annual element of the Discus Awards event.

Winners were announced in several awards categories, with snippets of pithy commentary from the panel of judges that selected them. These included A Bug's Life - Deluxe Edition, winner of the Best Technical Achievement award. "It makes you appreciate how much effort goes into a digitally animated feature," commented one judge. The Matrix, described as "a stunning example of how good DVD can be," took top honors in the Best Consumer DVD-Video category. Of The Abyss, winner for Best Consumer DVD-ROM, one judge noted, "The amount of behind-the-scenes material would rate this as a 'Collector's Edition.'" Mars: The Red Planet, praised for its attention-grabbing cover, took home the Discus in the category of Best Packaging Design. The Standard Deviants (Government) was voted the Best Educational DVD, drawing acclaim for offering compelling content and tough questions. "What pushes the winner over the top in the business category is that it's a cartographer's tool as has never existed before DVD," commented one judge about Xmap Business, winner of the Best Corporate DVD award.

Next year's conference will be held July 30-31, 2001 at the Monterey Convention Center in Monterey, California. As the DVD industry continues to grow evolve, the same is expected of the DVD PRO Conference & Expo.

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