Staring In Blimps: PDF DVD final table of contents & technical notes

Editing is completed, DVD authoring is about 85% of the way there, and I expect to have that done around lunchtime Wednesday. Where you see “items” in the list below, basically that’s one game segment, one vintage commercial, one data screen (covering rarities, history notes, system introductions, etc.), or one “year intro” (similar to, but different from the year intros on the OVGE DVD – I had to do the graphical treatment frame-by-frame manually on these buggers!). Why all the chaptering within a given year? Simply put: so there can be a menu system that lets you jump to literally anything on the entire disc. Also, if you want to skip to the next game, just hit the chapter forward button on your DVD remote, and there you go. I hadn’t had to take a menu system into consideration for the previous OVGE version, simply because it was shown at my booth and wasn’t distributed in any way. I’ve gotten a little bit of an education in DVD authoring out of this project…

And now, without further adieu, the list.

“1971-76” – 10:33, 25 items.
“1977” – 8:32, 18 items.
“1978” – 4:35, 10 items.
“1979” – 7:06, 15 items.
“1980” – 15:58, 32 items.
“1981” – 24:33, 45 items.
“1982” – 47:30, 90 items.
“1983” – 25:56, 50 items.
“1984” – 17:44, 30 items.
“1985” – 4:14, 9 items.
“1986” – 2:49, 6 items.
“Credits” – 3:10, 1 item. 171:41

The total running time thus comes out to just a few minutes short of three hours total, plus a menu system that groups things by year; the main menu shows you six years at a time, and when you enter a given year’s menu, you see things in groupings of 12, with page-forward-and-back buttons, as well as a button to jump back to the main menu at any time. The OVGE version topped out at about one hour and 45 minutes, so as promised, the new version almost doubles the amount of content. Even then, there are things that, looking at it now, I realize I should’ve or could’ve included. Not every game is represented by a game segment; some are represented by commercials, just to vary things up and keep a reasonable pace going. Not everyone’s favorite game made it in, to be sure. This would be a ten-disc set of 3+ hour DVDs if I tried to chronicle every game for every system.

One technical note that some may find a bit off-putting is that, since I’m using single-layer discs, the DVD is being authored in “extended play” mode – not normally something you’d see in a commercial release (if indeed you want to be charitable enough to refer to this as such). However, in my DVD+RW test burns so far, there has been no significant reduction of picture quality, simply because a good portion of each game screen is a static graphic to begin with.

As with the OVGE version, there’s a ton of music on this thing, covering items that don’t have sound of their own (or, in some cases, items that have really boring sound). Unlike the OVGE version, all of the music is now original pieces by yours truly. Ironically, and appropriately enough for a DVD about video games, all of the music heard here was created with MTV Music Generator for the Playstation 1. Some of the pieces have already been posted here for a long, long time. Though most of the music is a bit anachronistically electronic/loop-driven, I tried to use somewhat “funky” pieces for the ’70s, Euro/new-wave style for the early ’80s, and occasionally something that’s just out of left field. Each year has a theme, and there’s an overall PDF theme as well that crops up persistently.

On a few items – Odyssey2 Voice games, Coleco tabletop games, Vectrex games – you might pick up on a little bit of “room noise”. These games were either shot with a video camera pointing at their screens, or – in the case of the Voice of Odyssey stuff – with an additional microphone because the Voice had its own speaker which wouldn’t be heard if only the TV audio was recorded. I know that there are emulators for all of these things, but I actually tried to use as little emulation as possible outside of the arcade game segments.

Some of the commercials required an incredible amount of remastering or restoration. The Macintosh “1984” ad was very washed out and flat, and the Dig Dug theatrical trailer – kindly shared with me by y-bot, who recovered and transferred the original 35mm film – required a heap of audio work, because the sound kept falling further and further out of sync with the picture. I’d goose the audio a little to keep it in sync, only to find it completely out of sync 3 seconds later. By far the most treacherous segments turned out to be the Odyssey3 promotional video (the remastering of which landed me the gig of remastering all of the commercials and other stuff on PackratVG’s Odyssey2 DVD), which was in horrible shape originally (green skin tones!?), and the brief segment on the Q*Bert cartoon, which had to be all kinds of color/contrast corrected. A lot of this work was done 4 years ago for the original PDF DVD.

It’s a good thing that I never got rid of my one remaining copy of the OVGE edition of the PDF project, because I found myself missing a handful of things on the miniDV tapes that I transferred directly from the editing workstation where I did the work on the 2004 edition. These items also had to be heavily fixed up so they wouldn’t look horrible next to the nice, sharp digitally transferred stuff. As a result of these missing items, a few game segments were completely rebuilt from the ground up, including everything for the Atari 7800, a new recording of arcade Super Mario Bros. (the OVGE edition of the DVD has strangely choppy sound on it), Lode Runner on the Apple II, and Legend Of Zelda. (I might get my game historian’s license revoked for admitting this, but toward the end of this DVD, you get to see me play Zelda for the first time ever…) In a few places, I corrected errors in on-screen text as well, including a complete rewrite on a couple of things. One of my favorite boo-boos was in the text description for Canyon Bomber, which included the phrase “staring in blimps” – which became my personal code name for this project.

Anyone wondering why the end credits are longer than the 1986 segment, fear not: there are two little logos-with-music at the end, one for and one for After doing this as a crash project inside of a month, I thought I was entitled to a little self promotion. :-p

I’ll have 50 copies of this, maybe more, at OEGE this weekend, at $15 a pop. I may have packaging done and printed up, but the discs will be “hand labeled” (and numbered! w00t, limited edition!) so as not to give everyone tacky paper adhesive labels that might come off during play.

See you in a few days!

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