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The timing for my recent jaunt to Las Vegas for unrelated business allowed me to spend a few hours at the VSDA Convention & Expo 2000 at the Sands Convention Center in the Venetian Hotel and Casino. Since I had never been to a Video Software Dealers Association convention, I was eager to see what the whole thing was about. While the primary focus of the Expo was definitely business, I can tell that almost everyone in attendance came to Las Vegas to have a good time, eat well and do a little gambling.

In past reports from the show, there had been big announcements about studio support for the DVD format, as well as really cool titles that were coming to DVD. Now that DVD is unqualified success, with every video company firmly behind the format, VSDA 2000 lacked the kind of major announcements that would thrill DVD consumers. Despite the lack of major announcements, there was good news about the DVD format in general. The experts report that the DVD format is now exceeding growth projections for both hardware and software. DVD players are selling at a fantastic rate, plus consumers are also watching movies on their new DVD-ROM enhanced computers. Additionally, the soon to be released Playstation 2 game console with its built in DVD capability will drive the format even further into the mainstream.

In addition, high sales figures for DVD software seems to indicate that the format has reached the point where it has begun to cannibalize VHS, which means that sometime in the future, consumers will begin to see rental pricing on DVDs. Right now, DVD remains a sell through item and hopefully the video companies will continue to market it as such. Personally, I would like to think that any move towards rental pricing will not happen until 2002 or later, preventing the 30 to 90 day window associated with rental pricing from stunting the DVD format's growth. However, when rental pricing finally does become a reality, DVD consumers may only have to deal with it for only a few years. Let's face it, broadband connections to the Internet will finally make the long talked about Video On Demand technology a reality. With VOD, the entire rental model for tape and DVD will be supplanted by Tivo or ReplayTV like hard disk devices that consumers would hook up to their broadband connection, allowing them to download any movie they want, anytime they want. Of course after VOD takes off, DVD will remain a sell-through item- a collectable that will offer movie fans, not only their own personal copy of the film, but value added supplemental features as well.

My favorite event at the VSDA was the DVD Super Session that was hosted by Leonard Maltin. The Super Session included a presentation by Van Ling, who is producing Artisan Entertainment's TERMINATOR 2 Special Edition DVD. Judging by the brief glimpse of the disc, the T2: THE ULTIMATE EDITION DVD could be the single greatest DVD released thus far. The overview of the interactive menus and supplemental materials indicate that this is going to be a kick-ass disc that every action and sci-fi movie fan with a DVD player is going to want to own. The other highlight of the Super Session was Director's Panel on DVD, which featured John Landis, George Romero, John Waters, David Zucker and Rob Minkoff. Every one of the directors had nothing but praise for the DVD format and the effect it has had on film restoration. The advent of the DVD format has pushed the studios to restore the films in their libraries, thus bringing their film materials up to the level of quality required for release on DVD. Most of the director's panel discussion was very relaxed and very amusing with John Waters, David Zucker and John Landis getting quite a few laughs with their anecdotes.

All in all, my experience at VSDA was interesting and enjoyable, although I was disappointed by the fact that there were no major titles announced for release on DVD.

Below are some of the photographs from the DVD Super Session.

Leonard Maltin

Van Ling

John Waters

John Landis

David Zucker

George Romero

Rob Minkoff

For those of you who would like to read about the rumored DVD titles that were confirmed for release at VSDA, I'd like to re-direct you to VSDA coverage offered by DVDFile, The Digital Bits and DVD Review.