Laserdisc

Laserdisc is a format for storing data, mainly movies. It's essentially an LP-sized CD. There are some movies that made it to laserdisc but never made it to DVD. There are some movies with unique versions on laserdisc, the original Star Wars trilogy being an example...when I have $150 for the definitive edition.

I'm collecting laserdiscs. My default price is $1- I'll buy almost any laserdisc if it's $1 or less, as long as I don't already have it and as long as it comes in a reasonable lot size. I found laserdiscs in 1's and 2's at swapmeets and thrift stores, but it's not reasonable to buy the large collections (sometimes with several hundred movies) on Ebay/Craigslist/Amazon- that's more than I can reasonably spend hobby-wise.

If anyone gets worked up about the use of copyrighted material below, I would direct them to this site's page on Fair Use: https://www.dmca.com/FAQ/Fair-Use .  I am not profiting from this.  I am using screenshots, not providing copies of the video.  The potential market for or value of this material is presumably quite low, as the laserdisc format pre-dates DVD.

Saturday, June 11 2016:

Laserdisc: Pioneer LaserKaraoke Video Sing Along

TThe 4th of the 22 karaoke laserdiscs is 50's Hits, Volume 18, Blue Monday, I'm Walkin', I Want To Know, and By My Guest.

The first song is Blue Monday by Antoine Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew:

                       

It's mostly just this 80's catalog model couple trying to look cute and in love.  It doesn't appear to have anything to do with a hungover workforce or wash day.

The next song is I'm Walkin,' also by Antoine Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew:

                 

The late 80's / early 90's schtick was equal opportunity.  The song is from the 50's but this particular karaoke laserdisc was circa 1992, before grunge-type music had set in.  What was going on with African-American music when grunge started I wonder...Was that when hip-hop started to become big?

The next song is I Want You To Know, also also by Antoine Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew:

                       

More catalog models walking around / posing.  For some reason it makes me think of the future people that send Rufus (George Carlin) back to help Bill and Ted.

The next song is Be My Guest by John Marascalco, Tommy Boyce, and Antoine Fats Domino:

                         

The song is from the 50's.  The video, from 1992, captures the 1950's less well than the 1980's store in Back To The Future II captured the 1980's.  The guy in the 2nd picture (with the...awkwardly placed hand)- someone made that part of the video black and white but colorized the stripes in his shirt.  The rest of the video feels like a high-end version of a home-made garage production.  Like the other 3 videos on this disk, it screams late 80s / early 90s.

Sunday, June 5, 2016:

Laserdisc: Pioneer LaserKaraoke Video Sing Along

The 2nd of the 22 karaoke laserdiscs is Standards, Volume 9, 500 Miles, Oh Susannah, Can't Get Used To Losing You, and My Bonnie.  Cover music abounds.

The first song is 500 Miles by Hedy West:

                         

It's mostly this girl walking around, mashing pennies on a railroad track, apparently mooning for this guy that keeps appearing and disappearing, accept when he appears once he picks up an un-mashed penny she dropped in a fountain.  The guy looks very, very much like (and may actually be) a very young Cary Elwes.

The next song is Oh Susannah:

               

It's a white guy on a skateboard with a banjoo drawing on his knee trying to find some girl (also white).  The original version is about a black guy in the 1840's traveling from Louisiana to Alabama to see his girlfriend/lover/wife, a trip that's claimed 500 n-words. (yes, it says that in the original lyrics) (woof)  This is a very short song.

The next song is Can't Get Used To Losing You by Jerome Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman:

                     

Some guy pining away about a lost love. 

Last is the traditional Scottish folk song (author unknown) My Bonnie:

     

From the Wikipedia page for My Bonnie, 'bonnie' (which can refer to a male or female) may refer to Charles Edward Stuart ('bonnie prince Charlie') following his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

Laserdisc: Pioneer LaserKaraoke Video Sing Along

The 3rd of the 22 karaoke laserdiscs is 50's Hits, Volume 13, April Love, Memories Are Made Of This, Stardust, and I'll Be Home.

The first song is April Love by Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Fain.

                 

  The guy looks a bit like Val Kilmer.  Look at his brow line!

  Look at her eye line- she's looking at his brow line.

The 2nd song is Memories Are Made Of This by Terry Gilkyson, Richard Dehr, and Frank Miller.

                             

  First question: Who owns the BMW 323i with California license plate 2PHH166?

  She is angry, so...

  ...she attacks him with a pair of scissors....

  ...snapping his neck and tearing off part of his ear.  Why would she do this?

  Because he used the wrong color of toenail polish.

  Even after she did her special dance move ('the Duck') for him.

  She tried the rabbit thing,

  but all he could think was 'oh god, not the rabbit thing again.'

 

The 3rd song is Stardust by Mitchell Parrish and Hoagy Carmichael:

                 

  It's meant to be a sentimental ballad,

  but the only person in the video

  gets tired and tries to sneak off camera.

 

The 4th song is I'll Be Home by Ferdinand Washington and Stan Lewis. 

                      

  The guy appears to be in love with his car.

  He refers to his car as 'his darling.'

  He practices 'free love' with his car.

  He believes his car is alive and thinks of him.

  There are lots of scenes lovingly panning across the car in slow motion

  He commits to a car-based relationship.

  He takes his car for 'walks in the moonlight.' 

Sunday, May 29, 2016:

Laserdisc: Time Bandits 

  The dust jacket indicates that this is the widescreen version, presented by Handmade Films.  A sticket on the plastic covering outside of the dust jacket indicates that this is a remastered version and is the first widescreen edition.  On the back of the dust jacket- This is a widescreen version, preserving the original theatrical presentation's aspect ratio, with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen.  It can scan and pause.  This is an extended play (CLV) laserdisc and includes closed captioning.

As a child I saw Time Bandits in the theater.  It made quite an impression on me- I used to have dreams about my room extending and black doorways to who knows where opening.  This movie was one of my great childhood adventures.  I used to wonder what I'd do if I ever saw one of those doors open in real life- would I stay here or would I jump in, not knowing where it would take me?  Even as a kid I knew it would be a problem if I ended up somewhere without the map, possibly stuck in another time for the rest of my life.  Now, as a married, employed adult, I would still enjoy jumping into one of those doorways, but I have responsibilities- there are family members who depend on me and too many people would be hurt by me running off on some unknown adventure.  From a serious, over-analyzing standpoint, if I leaped into one of those doorways and didn't find a way back, I think I would fall under the category of 'missing, presumed dead,' and since I entered the doorway voluntarily, I would expect my insurance provider would consider that a voluntary act, which would fall under the suicide clause of my life insurance policy, which would mean my wife would not get any of my life insurance.  Right.  Back to the innocent childhood adventure stuff.

                                                                                                             

I know laserdisc is supposed to be capable of matching and sometimes beating DVD for video and audio quality, but so far my experience has been that it's comparable to VHS, but not DVD.  It's still worth the roughly $1/laserdisc for the entertainment value.  I'd like to go into rather a lot more detail with Time Bandits, but there are a few movies (including Time Bandits and It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) for which I want to do a full fan page like my page on How The West Was Won, so I want to save any in-depth Time Bandits stuff for that.  Since there's a Time Bandits Criterion bluray on Amazon, I'll use that for the fan page.

Laserdisc: Pioneer LaserKaraoke Video Sing Along

I got a set of 22 1987 8" laserdiscs, a line of karaoke laserdiscs by Pioneer.  The first one is Standards, Volume 8, It's Too Late, The Way We Were, The Girl From Ipanema, and I Left My Heart In San Francisco.  Most of these songs have cover music, heavy with saxaphones.  Let's take a look.

                                 

The first song is It's Too Late by Carole King and Toni Stern.  Unlike the Melovision disk (see May 28, 2016 entry), the video tells a story that at least somewhat goes with the song.  The video is unclear story-wise.  The woman sends her girl off to run around with the boy, then the girl and boy are adults, then the adult boy gives the adult girl a ring and a kiss, then the adult boy runs off with some other adult boys, the adult girl goes to find him but finds him with 2 other adult girls, then the adult girl is sad.  Ok so far.  Then the non-adult boy goes to the woman and girl's home, but the girl runs inside.  The boy leaves just as the man shows up, but the woman is unhappy because she remembers the man cheated on her because...the woman is the grown-up female (girl >> adult girl >> woman) who was cheated on by the grown-up boy (boy >> adult boy >> man).  But that would mean the woman and the girl are the same person and the man and the boy are the same person.  But that means...the woman is raising herself?  In the scene at the end with boy leaving and the man arriving- is that meant to be the younger him leaving as the older him arrives?  Is it a visual/metaphorical thing- the boy is a time-after-image or a memory or something?  But the boy can't be because the same thing would apply to the girl and woman at the beginning and we see the girl and woman physically interacting with each other.  Wait...why would the girl run off from the boy if they were older when he cheated on her?  The younger girl shouldn't think she was cheated on because that happened when she was older.  Also:  Bad mom!  Smoking around her kid...herself...whatever.

Next up is The Way We Were, by Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, and Marvin Hamlisch.

               

The video is just shots of old photos and old family movies.  I guess there wasn't much story to work with in this song.  This line of karaoke laserdiscs has color fill in the words from the top down, not left to right.  In the 2nd and 4th images above I managed to get screenshots of the words partially filled in.

Next up is The Girl From Ipanema, by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Vinicius De Moraes, and Norman Gimbel

                               

Pretty girl walks around, wackiness happening in her wake, mainly by the guy in the red jacket.

Next up is I Left My Heart In San Francisco, by George Cory and Douglass Cross

                               

This is another one with a story, some guy traveling to San Francisco to find his lost love, but there's a surprise waiting for him.  The story has some unfortunate implications though...

  He's hitchhiking.  He doesn't have enough money for a plane ticket and he doesn't have a car.  No screenshot- He has holes in his shoes and he's not wearing socks.  Conclusion: He's poor and has no job.

  Side note- I honestly could not tell the genders of these 2 people.  Not that it's good or bad; just that it caught my attention because I couldn't tell.

  He's happy.  He expects this to go well.

  This is his old neighborhood. People know him here.

  He opens the door to the girl's apartment without knocking.  Granted, the door is already unlocked, but still...

  The lady looks surprised.  It's not clear if this kid is meant to be his.

  She's moved on to another relationship.

Summation- Poor, unemployed ex-boyfriend travels across the country, enter's his ex's residence without knocking or calling ahead and...that's kind of it.  The video ends on an awkward sort of 'yeah, but what happens now?' moment.  I would have been a bit more worried than she appears to be at an ex appearing unannounced in my apartment.

  Copyright warning at the end of the disk.  See above RE Fair Use.

  The Pioneer LaserKaraoke disks all appear to have 4 songs each.  It took a while to make and process all of these screenshots, which makes me inclined to not slog through the other 21 disks.  However, there is plenty enough weirdness that makes me want to go through each one.

Saturday, May 28, 2016:

I bought a laserdisc player. It's a Pioneer CLD-V700, one that plays laserdiscs and does karaoke (2 microphone inputs on the front). It had a laserdisc inside, MV-028 Karaoke Hits 7 Melovision. At $30 it was a pleasant surprise at Grace Thrift Center, 316 East Avenue I, Lancaster, CA 93535, 661-726-9723. I tested the player in the store and, while I didn't have time to try and hook it up to see if the video or audio output worked, it powered on and the eject and retract/play buttons worked fine. When I got it home and plugged it into our TV, it worked just fine. Task complete.

A month or so back I bought a laserdisc player from a swap meet. The player was $5, with a power cord chopped off about 1/4" from where it went into the player. It was risky, but at $5, it was an amount I could stand to lose if it didn't work. Bought it, took it home, opened the player, used a sacrificial cord to restore its power cord, plugged it and... Lights came on, power appeared to work, tray would extend and retract, had video signal at the TV, but there was a loose belt or bad motor because the test disc wouldn't spin up and play. In the trash it went.

Last week I had the winning bid on a stack of karaoke laserdiscs, 22 of them, all the same size, smaller than a standard LP-sized laserdisc.  Have to find some microphones with the right connectors now.

Here's a good writeup from someone much more experienced than me with laserdiscs:  http://www.racketboy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=232140

There are 2 recording modes, CAV and CLV.  With an older laserdisc recorded in CAV, when you pause, you get a still frame of whatever your were watching.  The same thing happens with laserdiscs recorder in CLV mode, but not with older laserdisc players.  On my Time Bandits laserdisc I get a blue screen when I pause, but "CLD" appears in the model number of my player, so...maybe the CLD-V700 just does that with every laserdisc or...I don't know.  Will see as I play additional laserdiscs.

There's a chart in the Racketboy article showing the different sizes of various disk-based media.  My 22 karaoke disks appear to be 8 inch laserdiscs.

There's a feature called jog/shuttle control.  I looked up the remote for the CLD-V700 and it doesn't appear to have this feature.  Mine didn't come with a remote.

Criterion Collection laserdiscs were known for having good, cleaned prints and lots of extras.  I'll have to see if any of the laserdiscs I already have are Criterion disks.

Laser Rot.  Poorly made laserdiscs can develop laser rot, oxidation in the aluminum layer of the disk, which can produce visual artifacts like this:

Here's a Wikipedia article that covers disk rot, including laser rot (which has nothing to do with the laser).  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disc_rot#Laser_rot

PC Adapters, Composite To USB

I wanted to be able to take screenshots of my laserdiscs and I have a few old family VHS tapes that I think about converting from time to time, so with the purchase of a laserdisc player I set out to buy and adapter that would let me connect the composite (red/white/yellow) connectors on the laserdisc player to a USB port on my computer.  There are several products that do this, ranging up into the $200 range, but I wanted to stick on the low end of the price range.

I started with this one from Frys Electronics:  http://www.frys.com/product/5901074

The SIIG was $9.99, not $29.99.  It came with the connecter seen in the Frys page and an installation disk with drivers and a video recording program.  When I connected the laserdisc player to my computer and started the included program, I got sound and video in the program, but I wasn't able to get sound and video in any other program.  I got video in VLC Media Player, but it wouldn't give me any sound, even with the correct audio input selected.  I spend a decent amount of time fighting with it, but to no avail.

I tried this thing, $34.99 and in stock at my local Best Buy:  http://www.bestbuy.com/site/ion-audio-video-2-pc-digital-video-converter/9910276.p

It comes with a similar dongle (red/white/yellow/SVHS in, USB out) and install disk, but the included program (Cyberlink PowerDirector 9) is from a known brand that I trust more than the Chinese no-name brand (honestech) that came with the SIIG.  The honestech software installed something called the 'honestech product agent.'  I looked it up online and found varying reports- some saying it was safe, some saying it carried malware.  I ininstalled all of the honestech software and ran an updated Norton scan on my computer and the SIIG install disk- no malware detected.  The Ion install disk and adapter worked just fine, just like the SIIG.  I was tempted to return the Ion to Best Buy and get my $35 back, but I can't un-know the PowerDirector 9 CD key, so I'll keep the Ion.

I tried connecting the laserdisc player's video to the Ion and the audio to the SIIG, then watching in PowerDirector, but it didn't work.  No audio in any program, even PowerDirector itself, even with the correct devices selected.  Then the Ion by itself wouldn't play any audio.  I uninstalled the Ion software and driver, then re-installed and it worked fine.  I don't like losing, but I appear to have lost this particular fight.

Future possibilities include getting a cheap DVD/Bluray player, one that has composite in and HDMI out, then connecting laserdisc player >> composite >> DVD/Bluray player >> HDMI >> computer.  I've spent enough money for the time being and I've got at least something (PowerDirector) letting me watch laserdisc stuff on my computer, so I think I'll save this challenge for another day, possibly Black Friday in November when I can get a cheap DVD/Bluray player.

Laserdisc: MV-028 Karaoke Hits 7 Melovision

This was the laserdisc that came with the player.  No apparent disk rot, either on screen or on the disk itself.  It's a 1993 Taiwanese karaoke disk.  I've never done karaoke before, but I understand how it works.  With this one it's 'color filling up words' instead of 'bouncing ball.'  Here are some screenshots and a song list.

                                 

I'm not sure why that distortion effect is there in the 11th screenshot, but when the lyrics appear, they appear undistored on top of the distortion effect, so whatever it's there for, the distortion effect is meant to be there.  The guy in the cowboy hat looks like Daniel Craig.  Here's the song list:

A Song For You, Leon Russell
A Whole New World, them from Aladdin, Alan Menken
Beauty And The Beast, Alan Menken
Careless Whisper, George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley
Don't Know Much, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and Tom Snow
Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me, Elton John
Don't Wanna Lose You, Gloria Estefan
Everything I Do, I Do It For You, Bryan Adams, RJ Lange, and M. Kamen
Giving You The Best That I Got, Skip Scarborough and Randy Holland
Glory of Love, them from Karate Kid II, David Foster
Heal The World, Michael Jackson
Here We Are, Gloria Estefan
How Am I Supposed To Live Without You, Doug James
If You Don't Know Me By Now, Kenneth Gamble and Jeon A. Huff
I Have Nothing, them from Bodyguard, David Foster
I'll Be There, Willie Hutch and Bob West
I Will Always Love You, Dolly Parton
Look Away, Diane Warren
Right Here Waiting, Richard Marx
Sacrifice, Elton John
Save The Best For Last, Jon Lind and Wendy Waldman
Sometimes When We Touch, Barry Mann
The Wind Beneath My Wings, Larry Henley and Jeff Silbar
Your Song, Elton John

May 2016

Last week I bought 5 laserdiscs at $3-$4 each, above my buy-anything $1 limit. In this case I bought Star Trek II: Wrath Of Khan, Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country, Star Trek VIII: First Contact, The Final Countdown, and Time Bandits.

Disks aside, I should probably get a player at some point...