Originally Posted by Josh Z
They were called "Squeeze LDs." Four titles were pressed as promotional items with the purchase of a Toshiba 16:9 RPTV: Free Willy, The Fugitive, Grumpy Old Men, and Unforgiven.
Another seven discs were released to mass market sales in Japan: Basic Instinct, Cliffhanger, Cutthroat Island, Showgirls, Stargate, Terminator 2, and a THX remastered copy of Terminator 2.
More info here:
We gotta teach these HT youngin's where we'all came from
Things were pretty darn good, if not great, in the Laserdisk era (80's-90's) for home cinema buffs.
Lossless PCM audio? Pfft, LD had that in the 80's
Dolby Digital 5.1 discrete?- 1995 done and done.
The first AC3 laserdisc was "Clear and Present Danger" and was released in 1995; the AC3 soundtrack is stored in the right analog channel, and is RF modulated; to be decoded, a laserdisc player with the AC3 RF output is needed, and must be connected to an RF demodulator and a Dolby Digital decoder, or to an amplifier with built-in RF demodulator and DD decoder.
The AC3 soundtrack has always the 384kbps bitrate at 48KHz, almost always 20bit 5.1 channels, but in some (rare) cases the number of channels could vary - usually during extra material like making of, documentary etc.
The first DTS laserdisc was "Jurassic Park" and was released in 1997; DTS soundtrack takes the place of the PCM soundtrack, leaving free two analog tracks, (almost) always used for the movie soundtrack, allowing the owner of an old analog-only player, or who has not a DTS decoder, to listen to it. To be decoded, a laserdisc player with digital output is needed, and a DTS decoder, or an amplifier with built-in DTS decoder.
As the DTS soundtrack are in place of the PCM one, it has the same technical data, 16bit 44.1KHz 1441kbps but, at the contrary of the PCM two channels, it has 5.1 discrete channels.
The laserdisc DTS soundtrack IS NOT the same of the theatrical one: infact, in theaters, DTS uses a different codec, APT-X, encoded as ADPCM at 882kbps and recorded on CD-ROMs, with a compression of 4:1, while DTS on laserdisc uses Coherent Acoustics perceptual coding compression scheme, encoded at 20bit 44.1KHz with a bitrate of 1235kbps (padded to 1441kbps to be the same of PCM soundtracks) and a compression of 3:1. Hence, the DTS laserdiscs should be better than the theatrical DTS, as the home codec is newer and better, and bitrate higher with less compression.
As almost all DTS DVD have the so-called "half bitrate" soundtracks (754kbps padded to 768kbps) instead of full bitrate (1509kbps padded to 1536kbps), the laserdisc DTS soundtracks is always better than "half bitrate" DTS DVD; in some cases, could be preferable to full-bitrate DTS DVD due to different mixes used.
Anamorphic widescreen? Been there, done that.
Extras? LD had deluxe editions like the Abyss chock full of 'em-
The first THX-certified LaserDisc title of the Special Edition Box Set was released in May 1993 and was a best-seller for the rest of the year. The Special Edition was released on VHS in 1996 as a part of Fox Video's Widescreen Series with a seven minute behind-the-scenes featurette with footage that did not appear in the Under Pressure: The Making of The Abyss documentary that was included on the Laserdisc and DVD releases. The Special Edition's first DVD release in 2000 was on two discs and featured animated menus, both the theatrical and Special Edition versions of the film along with the Laserdisc's extensive text, artwork and photographic documentation of the film's production, a ten minute featurette and the sixty minute documentary Under Pressure: The Making of The Abyss.
...and all this with BIG cover art/books/sleeves, and ZERO copy protection/Macrovision/DRM/Cinavia/HDCP/etc
Yes, LD's had multiple language and commentary audio tracks too.
On good CRT displays of ~50" or less from a good LD player via Svideo or analog Component YPbPr, the picture easily rivaled or bested DVD.
It was only after several years (post ~2000) when DVD mastering improved that the digital video (perhaps coupled with HDMI/SDI digital video outputs) of DVD proved its worth- but that was the only improvement (Other than smaller form factor). Better LCD projectors and the introduction of DLP and LCOS pj's allowed screens of 8ft wide and more, which further showed the improvements of digital video on well mastered DVD's. OTA 1080i/720p HD resolutions around 2000 further enabled bigger/wider screens than the rear projection CRT's and front monster 3 lens RGB CRT's allowed, unless you were an Art Sonneborn with dual stack Sony G90's
Now git off my lawn!