Sunday, February 18, 2007

DVD Pet Peeve

I bought a couple of DVDs the other day. To my consternation, in spite of taking what I thought was reasonable care to get the items I wanted, I got the "full-screen" versions instead of the "wide-screen" versions. The problem is that many titles are issued on separate discs for the two formats, compounded by having "rated" and "unrated" versions of the same film. It's not unusual to have four different slots on the shelf for the same movie, without even getting into the newer formats like Blu-Ray or HD-DVD. The studios go to some lengths to make sure you can distinguish the "unrated" version, but they seem to go to equal lengths to make it difficult to tell the aspect ratio. On one of the discs I bought, the only indication that I wasn't getting the wide-screen version were the words FULL SCREEN on the side (nowhere on the front!) of the package. Only the copyright notice was in smaller type.

It's particularly frustrating when the solution is so simple and so unbelievably obvious: just create some little icons for the different aspect ratios. I banged out the graphics above in about two minutes, but, even at half size, they would make it easy to tell at a glance whether you had the right format. So why the obfuscation?

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