Abandoning DVDs is Costing Us Money

Posted on by Larry

Commentary2.jpgOf all the recent decisions by Apple and Adobe, ending sales for DVD Studio Pro and Encore has caused more complaints and hardship than just about anything else they’ve done. (Well, OK, excepting the launch of FCP X and the switch to subscription pricing; but I digress.)

Recently, Tony Fleming sent me a letter that represents the feelings of many that I wanted to share with you.

Many, MANY filmmakers, videographers, wedding professionals and others rely on DVDs as a bread-and-butter income generator. Yes, DVDs are standard-def and the world is HD – though Encore also supports Blu-ray, which DVD Studio Pro does not. However, as has been shown time and time again, people will pay FAR more for something they can hold in their hand than something that is simply downloaded. Thumb drives are not yet equivalent to DVDs.

Terminating DVD SP and Encore has caused much lost revenue in our industry; especially as Tony makes clear, there is no Plan B.

While I don’t expect Tony’s comments to change behavior at either Apple or Adobe, perhaps it will spur Roxio to improve their support, or encourage another developer to provide the tools we need to create professional-grade DVDs.

Let me know what you think. But, as Tony eloquently expressed, we are still between a rock and a hard place.


by Tony Fleming

Firstly, I think it is arrogant and ridiculous for companies like Adobe and Apple to have decided that [optical] discs should be relegated to the stone age when there is currently no viable alternative. The vast majority of the world is not connected to reliable internet – even in this country. I show videos at public events. Am I supposed to show up and hope there is going to be a reliable internet connection that is going to last throughout the playing of the video? Even if I arrive with the video on a portable hard drive, what do I say to people to want to pay for a copy of the video [to take] away with them?

My clients (who run into the hundreds) want to take videos with them on their boats where there is no TV, no cell coverage and certainly no internet that anyone could afford to pay for.

We are encouraged to shoot in 4K and certainly I agree with that and the advantages that Larry has pointed out of being able to perform all kinds of camera movements in post. If the finished video is then saved on a regular DVD, the result is utterly depressing when you see how sorry it looks compared to the original. On the other hand, having battled my way through to being able to burn it to a Blu-ray Disc the result looks really outstanding.

DVD Studio Pro won’t do the job and, in any case, you have to scrounge around to find it. Larry suggested Adobe Encore but when I went on line I find that it, too, has been discontinued. I purchased Roxio Toast and after much hassle finally managed to burn a Blu-ray with excellent results. I had to uninstall it and re-install Toast to get it to work at all and the menu system does not function. Their support is absolutely the worst I have ever come across and, looking at the mass of infuriated comments on the forums, that is undoubtedly the universal opinion.

Streaming may be the way of the future but its availability is strictly limited and [optical] discs are the only alternative I know of. Those discs need to be in much higher resolution than DVD given that we now shoot in 4K. As Steve Jobs said “Blu-ray is a world of hurt” but it doesn’t need to be.

Once again we are just left twirling at the end of a rope while the companies on whom we rely are somewhere over the far horizon.


Tony Fleming

View some of Tony’s travelogue videos at: www.flemingyachts.com/venture.html

33 Responses to Abandoning DVDs is Costing Us Money

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  1. DVD Studio Pro in my opinion was/is? a near perfect program. Encore was a bear, difficult but not impossible to use, lots of crashes and no longer works with newer Mac OSs. FCPX’s support for optical burning is minimal yes but with a few additions could become quite satisfactory for most jobs. I love the AVCHD ability to burn a BD playable disc using DVD media. Yes AVCHD’s bitrate possibility is half of BD but the quality is gorgeous and far superior to SD DVD. ROXIO Toast is not currently a viable answer for BD/DVD. Its menu system stinks. Its rendering takes forever. Its support is close to nonexistent. I would encourage them or some other entrepeneur to envision a market that should not be killed and add new new zest to it. M-Disc does have an archival storage solution for DVDs and BDs that no other media (flash-hard drive, the cloud or tape) has. I scan and transfer people’s 8/16mm film to digital, 35mm slides, Analogue Videos as well and DVD/BD is an important part of my business.

  2. Mac says:

    Can anyone offer their experience with ProShow from Photodex (Win only).
    Is this not a viable software?

  3. Norman Pillsbury says:

    I’ve fought this problem for too long. How hard is it to create a minimal application to burn a BD and/or DVD with: a) a way to import a splash screen and add a Play Movie button, b) a way to import a music looping clip of any length, and c) play the movie such that it either returns to the splash screen when done or have the option of continuous play??

    We spend thousands of hours filming and editing and at the final step have to fight with old or poorly designed technology or lack of minimal support or all of the above. What’s wrong with this picture?

    Someone should make a video highlighting this nightmare. But they couldn’t burn a BR.

  4. Clayton Moore says:

    People are forgetting it was very important for Apple to walk away from optical drive support (CD/DVD/BR) as soon as possible, because there was no longer room for an optical drive in their hardware. Combine that with the fact that iTunes both rentals and purchase also run counter to physical media of any kind ……. equals from a business standpoint, it made no sense at all for Apple Inc. to continue to support DVD authoring. The numbers and economics of scale clearly showed that in relationship to the direction they were going in, there was no benefit and no money in it for them.
    I think Apple felt ……. eh, the market will figure it out sooner or later, meanwhile its no longer their problem.

    • Larry says:


      Apple still provides the external superdrive, even though there was no room for internal optical drives in their computers. Even 3rd-party drives are still available. The issue is not access to the hardware, where there are solutions, but access to authoring software, where both Adobe and Apple abandoned the market. And, on the Mac, there are no good alternatives.


      • Clayton Moore says:

        I can remember as far back as 2007 conversations with my fellow Apple employees about DVDSP and that it felt like Apple was loosing interest in it. Honesty I believe that this was another case of the late Steve Jobs trying to single handedly create a trend away from something he personally felt was un-cool. The weird Apple obsession with thinner and thinner clearly supported where Steve was coming from. Now I have two external drives myself and they work better then my built-in Super Drive ever did. Yes a lot of clients still want DVD – so many Government clients still use DVD.
        DVD is still used in the legal profession.
        Problem is that dumping DVD/BR support ran contrary to the consumer electronics industry. I can only imagine what Steve would say about “4k Blue Ray”.

        As for Adobe, who knows weather they felt the numbers no longer made sense. Seems to makes sense that ROXIO pic up the ball and just build on what they have and spin off a fatter and more professionally polished version to run on the Mac.

  5. I feel all your pain – despite everything, DVD remains very necessary. I became a client of Mediazilla – http://www.mediazilla.com, who are a hosting and authoring service – at first they were pushing strictly on line delivery with authoring, but they’ve since realized how much demand remains for optical media. As a member of their site, I can create a chaptered and menu’d video that can be downloaded as disc images for both dvd and bdr as well as a usb drive. All you do is upload your finished video in h264 format, then upon upload, author your project on their site….

    In effect, with a membership, your content can be delivered in multiple formats -on line, DVD, BDR, and USB. You can deliver any and all of these…

    I don’t work for them, have no financial interest, I’m a paying client.

  6. Paul Golde says:

    Unfortunately, we are at the inflection point of optical media becoming obsolete for general use. That means plenty of government agencies, little old ladies and others that “require” physical manifestations are still around. But because we have bandwidth increases, cloud storage and compression codec improvements, there’s little incentive to robustly support an ever dwindling market. As DVDs become more of a PIA, those that “require” DVDs (including leviathan government agencies and newlyweds, who have grown up in the age of streaming) will stop insisting.

    I work in advertising and I used to make very elaborate authored DVD demo reels. If you were to hand out a DVD demo now, no matter how pretty, you’d get a reaction like “oh great, how quickly can I throw this away?”. They don’t want physical media cluttering their offices and couldn’t be happier to have what they want to see as links.

    I guess my point is, you will struggle to make DVDs for a little while longer and then eventually, bit-by-bit, you will be sitting around saying “remember when we made DVDs?” It’s gonna be a little painful for the next while, but this too, will pass….

  7. My company, Platform Purple, has been working to provide a viable DVD/Blu Ray alternative since 2008, and over the years we’ve made millions of product deliveries for hundreds of video producer clients and learned a lot about what works in the real world.

    DVDs were a very convenient standard, so we’ve done our best to emulate the best qualities of DVD & Blu Ray, but solve problems around digital delivery such as some mentioned above.

    For example, I agree with Tony that you can’t rely on streaming-only delivery if you want your viewers to be able to enjoy your content reliably, so Purple is focused on delivering secure downloads (with streaming also available as a convenience when on WiFi or a fast cell connection). You only have to be online long enough to complete the download, and then you can enjoy the content anytime, anywhere, online or offline.

    Our clients who sell videos price downloads about the same as DVDs or slightly less (e.g., $29.95 DVD, $24.95 download) and have found their customers (mostly older and tech-challenged 🙂 generally appreciate the convenience of instant delivery, HD quality, and viewing across different devices–tablets, laptops, smartphones and smart TVs, and find that repeat sales are higher than with DVD customers, which to me indicates some degree of satisfaction with the experience.

    While some of the projects I see mentioned above are better delivered on disc, others might be better with downloads (such as Bruce’s NYC Transit Authority training).

    We provide around-the-clock end user support to the customers of our clients, so we know instantly when people have problems or questions and have worked hard to solve issues that have occurred repeatedly and will always strive towards a better and better experience for both publishers and consumers of content.

    This post turned out sounding more like marketing than I intended, but if any one wants to try out Purple and report their experience back to the group shoot me an email and I will get a product or two of yours published without any cost or risk so you can try it out.

  8. Chris Hutson says:

    If you still want, or need, creative optical authoring and delivery, there is a solution to Apple’s and Adobe’s ‘techno-dictatorship’. It pains me to characterise It this way, as I have fought for decades to keep Apple hardware and software in the educational institutions with which I’ve been associated. However, forced data wrangling for both authors and clents can be both costly, unwieldy and, at times impossible, especially if the client audience isn’t floating in ‘Cloud Nivarna’.

    The solution involves the products of three manufacturers – Sony and Hewlitt Packard or Dell.

    For authoring have a look at Sony’s DVD Architect 6 which provides powerful scripting and audio/video encoding options for DVDs and Blu-rays. To see what it can do, download the user manual at: http://dspcdn.sonycreativesoftware.com/manuals/dvdarchitectpro6.0_manual_enu.pdf

    It’s Windows only, and for a powerful and portable combination you could install it on the last of the high-end 17″ laptops still available; HP’s ZBook 17 G2 Mobile Worksation that comes with an inbuilt Blu-ray burner and all of the useful ports and expansion slots; USB 3.0, Thunderbolt 2, DisplayPort, ExpressCard/54 and SD (your existing compatible Mac resources can be used).The quad core option is certified for Avid Media Composer and will run all the other Window’s NLE’S with ease. Its NVIDIA Quadro will give you the necessary GPU acceleration. Dell also make a suitable 17″ laptop, but with a reduced range of ports and slots, and no inbuilt Blu-ray burner.

    This solution is worth considering if you still want to produce optical products, and also use all the latest cameras and codecs. I’m even considering a Windows tablet option as I’m tired of having to wrangle my iPad if I want to take large amounts of audio/visual material out into the field, particularly at short notice. Time, possibly, to put away the black turtleneck, even if it has worn well. Cheers.

  9. Terry S. says:

    So far my clients still prefer DVDs to Blu-rays or Digital Files for the final product. The tangibility of the DVD medium seems to sell itself. I’ve had to keep my older Macbook Pro 17″ wth an internal Superdrive that has an ExpressCard 34 slot for USB 3.0 adapter and can still run MacOS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, so I can run DVD Studio Pro 4 for professional DVD mastering. DVD SP was probably the best software ever created for the medium. I’ve tried Encore and they can have it. It’s no picnic & often the final product produced is not compatible with older DVD players often found on School & Goverment facilities witch often make up the najority of the type of clients I work with. DVD SP just works! THANK YOU APPLE! Now I can see if you are doing some really complicated menus, bonus content with interactive features, etc. then sure DVD SP probably won’t cut it, but for alot of Consumer, Educational, Commercial, and Goverment Video applications it’s one of the best. As long as I can still open the app, run my system, and produce viable DVDs, then I don’t see ever moving to something new.

  10. Dr Keith Massey says:

    I agree with all that Tony Fleming says in his very relevant comments.

    As an Apple converted man from PC for now ten years I think it’s a complete disgrace that Apple has so arrogantly let me down all those fellow professional film-makers worldwide of all different levels, in not upgrading the DVD Studio Pro software to take into account that we need to make DVDs and Blu-ray disks.

    Apple and Jobs – you were/are WRONG! Go into any high street media store anywhere in the world and you cannot get away from DVDs for Hollywood distribution which is still way ahead of Blu-ray. If Hollywood can still make billions of $$$ with DVDs it has to be the market leader and cannot be ignored. However as someone who has just retired from a lifetime working as a Director of Photography/ Lighting Cameraman in broadcast television I started editing twelve years ago for my own personal projects.

    DVD Studio Pro gave me the tools to make a DVD with menus and chapters to Hollywood standards that impressed clients and this has not changed. Apple (and Adobe – I started on Premier Pro and Encore) should have updated this essential post production process to keep pace with HD recording that could be converted to Blu-ray and there should now be something for 4K to give us an advantage against broadcasters who cannot transmit 4K because of bandwidth problems. If Jobs didn’t like Blu-ray why didn’t he bring something else into the market for us all to benefit by? I don’t like making Blu-ray because it takes far too long to make as is still not cheap enough to justify it’s hyped up mark up.

    I still have an 8 year old 17″ MacBook Pro which I purchased for tv editing. It had every feature we needed – direct SxS input for the new tapeless cards; DVD, connectivity for all the various hard drives. After that they brought out fancy laptops with no connectivity but which looked “pretty” but only fit for purpose for very few applications. Stupid. Like a car which looks great but no petrol (or as you say “gas”) tank.

    I don’t know if I’m alone, but Apple’s arrogance, and this is what it is, may come back to bite them because no matter how big a company is, they are never too big to fall when their corporate perception goes negative with their customers.
    Apple lost incalculable trust with their worldwide editing customers when they brought out FCP X. It is now, after a few generations, a great product for me and for what I need it for, but they should not have unceremoniously dumped their FCP 6 & 7 clients and treated them with the contempt they did at that time. Big mistake.

    It was stated recently that Apple has probably peaked. If so why don’t they pull their finger out and bring out the next generation of UHD reproduction that utilises a 4K standard which millions worldwide would want to use and it looks really good in a presentation box ?

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