Fleeting versatility: The current state of DVDs

“What happened is that we had this very old CD. It’s called Rolie Polie Olie, and it’s like this really old cartoon,” Gab (III, BS-EPSY) shares. “Me and my siblings, before we’d go to school, we would always watch that.” Not too long ago, DVDs were still a thing. It wasn’t perplexing to go to a movie rental store, pick out which DVD you’d like to rent (or buy), and enjoy the novelty of playing the disc in the comfort of your own home.

Now, with stores like Aca Video and Video City bidding adieu to customers, more and more people are relying on the convenience of the Internet and the whims it provides. Want a movie this instant? Log in to a streaming site or torrent at your own risk. Some people, however, still believe in the versatility of DVDs, keeping the light of the format alive.

DVDs - Agnes Lalog

Enter streaming and torrenting

During the heyday of DVDs, Ara (IV, BSA) and her family were avid collectors. By the time streaming and downloads entered the picture, she stopped buying DVDs in favor of the former two. Citing convenience as one of her top reasons, Ara admits that her love for DVDs has since died down slightly. “Di mo na kailangan pumunta ng store to buy DVDs,” she remarks.

Arianna (V, AE-BSA) also confesses to being a DVD junkie, but similarly, she stopped collecting somewhere along the way due to issues in practicality. Opting for streaming instead, she says that it is more convenient, in more ways than one. “Parang easier access, like you can watch it at home or through your gadgets.”

On the opposite side of the Internet spectrum, Jasper (III, MKT) believes in torrenting despite the dangers it poses. During his last count, Jasper amassed 198 DVDs over the course of many years. It would’ve increased if he didn’t stop collecting them; by the time he entered college, he saw hindrances in continuing his tradition. “A normal student like me wouldn’t have been able to sustain constant collecting of DVDs priced from P350 to P750,” he comments.

He also noted the frustration he felt over the variety of DVDs available today. “I was getting fed up with having such limited choices,” he states. Still, he believes that DVDs have sentimental value over files in computers. “Some people, me included, long for that,” Jasper adds, talking about the power DVDs have over the emotions of the inner fan in every person who collects.


Special features

Ask an avid fan of any cult hit or blockbuster film and they’ll tell you that special features add to the entire home entertainment experience. Perhaps one of most notable aspects of DVDs, special features serve as extra tidbits for fans, and then some. Most films, especially the ones that have a huge following, provide an in-depth behind-the-scenes look at how the film is made from top to bottom. However, some pundits have stated that DVDs are including fewer and fewer special features in the current landscape of the market.

Magnavision Home Video’s Carol Chuaying, who serves as the head of marketing, says that this isn’t entirely the case. “The studios dictate what content will be included in each particular format,” she states. “Majority now of the special features are included in the Blu-ray format. Blu-ray has higher definition images and has a bigger memory capacity,” she comments, adding that the advantages of DVDs are its price point and accessibility.

Professor Joel Legaspi, who currently teaches under the Marketing Department, thinks that special features are still important to the overall DVD experience. “Before, you get really excited with the booklet. It has pictures, facts, and figures,” he cites of the many joys of the DVD. Having recently purchased Wong Kar-Wai’s complete filmography on DVD in Hong Kong, Legaspi believes that special features should be extra special in the era of ramped-up promotion. “Number one is content. I think regular people [still] buy them. It’s just really a matter if they like the content or not,” he comments.


The subject of permanence

As someone who appreciates good movies, Professor Mark Gordon collects a lot of DVDs. “I look for movies that are so good that I and my friends would want to watch them more than once,” he remarks. As someone who saw the formats change from VHS tapes to DVDs, he has seen his fair share of technological ebbs and flows. With streaming and downloading taking center stage, Gordon still prefers his DVDs. “That’s a choice about permanency. I think it’s better for me to have a physical copy,” he comments, adding that technology changes quickly. “If I buy a movie and a DVD, I can loan it to a friend like a book.”

That same sentiment is shared by Gab, who believes that the best thing DVDs have going for them is the physicality they provide. “I guess the biggest vanguard that the DVD really has is that nostalgia factor,” Gab shares. “You want to get the best of both worlds. And who could give you that? It’s no one else but the DVD. Great quality and great price. It’s fair,” Gab quips. Though he believes in the potential of streaming, he still delights in the tactile quality of DVDs.

With faithful followers in tow, the DVD format still has some pull in today’s market. “Customers still prefer getting a physical copy that they can watch and include in their collection. We count ourselves lucky that we have a core group of customers who continuously patronize our releases,” Chuaying remarks. “At the end of the day, our products are still being purchased at impulse so we need to be where the customers are. It is a must to provide them good quality materials and service,” she concludes on a hopeful note.


Death of serendipity

Though optimism may abound in the hearts of loyal DVD collectors, it’s not hard to feel cynical in the face of change. “You hope to stay as much as you can, but I don’t think it will be brought back to its glory days. It’s so hard,” Legaspi laments on the future of DVDs. As Liz Lemon’s famed ex Dennis Duffy would say, “Technology is cyclical.” Whether Duffy’s right or not is something we’ll see in the future, but change is bound to happen. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it is a truth that should be acknowledged.

“If you grow up in a streaming environment, that’s what’s gonna feel natural to you, and DVDs will seem restrictive in many ways,” Gordon states on how people naturally move on from one format to the other. Gone are the days when people gravitate toward stores and check a random title from a rack of colorful DVDs. “This medium of downloading is the culmination of the death of serendipity as a force for exposing people to new things.”

However, like the memories of a childhood experience, the DVD still persists, whether through its physical means or the content that lives on. “DVDs aren’t dead, especially if you find a lot of nostalgic feels to it,” Gab rebuts with a twinkle of hope in his eye. “At the end of the day, when everything’s gone and you can’t rely on the Internet, what more can you possibly rely on than when you have a physical copy?” More than that, though, are the memories that were forged and shared over a medium leaving its glory days behind. Maybe DVDs really are versatile in the way they not only keep movies, but also how they symbolize the joys of a simpler time.

Daniel Ian Comandante

By Daniel Ian Comandante

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