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 Post subject: Re: Technology Connections
Posted: 04 Jan 2020, 00:03 

Part 4

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Posted: 06 Jan 2020, 00:52 

I am again interested in how to tell the difference between PDO UK and Sonopress West Germany pressings.

I asked about this during my last period of interest in LaserDiscs, and came to what I thought was a satisfactory conclusion. My takeaway based on the discs I had examined was that PDO UK discs were rounder on the edge and Sonopress ones much more sharp/tapered. PDO discs also had their outer ring of dashed markings substantially further from the edge than Sonopress ones, such that with Sonopress ones you can actually see the outer dashed markings through the edge of the disc itself.

However, with more than a bit of annoyance I've just noticed my copy of 4064-70 The Onion Field (both discs of it) exhibits all the hallmarks of a Sonopress disc as mentioned above, and yet has "Made in England" featured prominently on both the outer cover and the inner sleeves.

Is this actually a Sonopress disc despite claiming to be "made in England"? If not, what exactly is going on here? Is it simply impossible to reliably identify Sonopress vs PDO UK discs? Surely there must be some way of telling!

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Posted: 06 Jan 2020, 10:10 

Sadly both PDO and Sonopress lack mint marks besides the two rings of dashes. Unless they're under the label, that is. I'll post some photos this evening.

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Posted: 06 Jan 2020, 22:07 

"Made in England" (likely PDO) http://tim32.org/~muzer/sonopress-pdo/20200106_205015.jpg
"Made in England" (likely PDO) http://tim32.org/~muzer/sonopress-pdo/20200106_205025.jpg
"Made in West Germany" (likely Sonopress) http://tim32.org/~muzer/sonopress-pdo/20200106_205034.jpg
All three in the above order, from top to bottom http://tim32.org/~muzer/sonopress-pdo/20200106_205140.jpg


Based on this I really don't see any reasonable way of telling the difference between these two factories...

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Posted: 06 Jan 2020, 23:39 

I did ask on the forum before but it was in a thread that was kind of half-related, and I didn't really receive a response. I must have been confident at the time that I'd found a way of telling but reading it back now it really doesn't seem to work based on the discs I've looked at, so I think I must have just managed to kid myself into believing it did work at the time...

Even more intriguingly I've just found multiple clear pictures of a Sonopress disc online https://eurythmics-ultimate.com/records/3619-eurythmics-videoofficial-greatest-hits-uk-laserdisc-781-012/ , and not only does it have a mint mark (albeit one that would be hidden under the label on my Princess Bride disc), I have noticed that the dash pattern is slightly different (mine, and all the PDO ones, have one part where it goes .-., whereas this one I've found goes -..-). Maybe this doesn't mean anything, but I'm not going to discount the possibility that my "Sonopress" disc is in fact a PDO one with incorrect labels applied!

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Posted: 07 Jan 2020, 21:35 

I'm pretty sure all of these examples are actually PDO. Which PDO facility is unknown. All of the Sonopress titles I have have stamped mint markings, going all the way back to the "Elton John: Live in Central Park" disc issued in 1982.
Interesting. Did PDO have any facilities besides Blackburn (in England)? Perhaps The Princess Bride does indeed come from PDO and the "Made in West Germany" markings on the sticker, sleeve, and cover are from a previous pressing which they never bothered to change?

If your Sonopress titles had a label as large as The Princess Bride's would they cover up the mint marks? Would there be any other way of telling the difference?

If you could perhaps post some photos, especially of the centres of the discs, perhaps we can come up with some surefire way of telling the difference even in the event of labels covering the mint marks...

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Posted: 23 Jan 2020, 16:50 

Teletext, I don't know what support is like with brand new TVs but I'm somewhat surprised because they've had that feature since forever. Try looking in odd places - if the "text" button doesn't work try looking in the subtitles menu. Make sure you are actively playing a LaserDisc with Teletext subtitles (eg the PAL UK CAV boxset of Jurassic Park) - very few discs have them, and your TV might hide the option if it doesn't detect a teletext signal. As for external Teletext decoders, well, they were a thing in the 70s and 80s but I don't think they've been a thing since then. Looking on eBay I don't see anyone selling any, unless I'm just using the wrong keywords.

North American Closed Captions there are a bunch of different decoders you can buy; few TVs in Europe will support these so this is probably the best way. You'll probably need to get them shipped from the States but I didn't find it to be ridiculously unaffordable as they are quite small devices. See this thread for my experiences buying and using one: https://forum.lddb.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=8816 (and feel free to ask me any more questions!)

LD-G subtitles I don't know about. I've been tempted to buy an LG-1 but when I've searched in the past I've tended to find them rather pricey. And once I bought the CC decoder I discovered most of my Japanese LDs (which realistically are also the only ones with LD-G subtitles) also come with North American Closed Captions.


The vast majority of PAL discs don't have *any* subtitles. North American discs only have Closed Captions. So the Closed Captions decoder combined with imported American LDs is by far the most fruitful way to get subtitles on LaserDiscs in Europe.

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Posted: 23 Jan 2020, 17:15 

Very interesting! I've just looked a few of these things up (sorry if Americans already knew all this). PSA (Pacific Southwest Airlines) was a budget airline which operated from 1949 until 1988, when it merged into USAir (which in turn renamed to US Airways and then merged with American Airlines in 2013). Their Expressway brand was used for flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and their automated ticket machines were introduced on this route in autumn 1978. I imagine this must have been the disc for the one in LA since they mention SF as the destination. However, the brand was not introduced until 1985 so this must postdate that but predate the 1988 USAir merger.

There is a modern airline owned by AA called PSA Airlines, but this is not the same airline - it was renamed from Jetstream International Airlines to protect the former PSA trademark.

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Posted: 28 Jan 2020, 16:51 

Well this is going to be a bit longer so let´s do it step by step.

First of all, why do I bought the PAL player. It was from a move sealing and cost me only 15 euro, I would bought it even if it was broken. Unexpectedly it works great but it doesn't have digital audio, which suck a bit but in the other hand it reads CDV too. That came really handful actually because i really want to stop using my dreamcast and saturn to play cd video (you know, that lens are really fragile).

In second place let's talk about the sony player I've found, well after a lot of guessing checking out the almost erase label of the front i think that it's a MDP-650D. The price would be 80€ (88$), the store claim that the price is high cause the player have RGB output, but as far as i know the signal recorded on laserdiscs was a composite one, so I don't know if they're lying to me or what, cause it doesn't make a lot of sense.

On third place, about the French market. It's a lot easier and cheaper than the spanish, but i would like to stay local because of high shipping extra costs. The problem it's that find anything on any kind of local retailer it has been hard as hell, no one know anything about laserdisc here, even "profesional" retro stores are really lost.

Maybe the next time i have a little trip to the uk i should buy something there and ship it back by myself.

Btw, you guys are being really helpful, the spanish forums are not as near as active as this one, even when it's about trending topics.

Unfortunately CDV (CD Video) is not the same as VCD (Video CD). CDV is analogue picture and is in effect just a LaserDisc with CD form factor. VCD is just digital video stored on a CD encoded with MPEG-1. It would surprise me if a player without digital audio will read a VCD. Some DVD players can read VCDs though so perhaps you should look at finding a cheap one if you want to stop using your Saturn/Dreamcast for it?

Here is information about the MDP-650D written when it came out: http://www.laserdiscarchive.co.uk/laserdisc_archive/sony/sony_mdp-650d/sony_mdp-650d.htm

As you correctly said, LaserDiscs only store composite picture. However, having a TV in Europe that supported NTSC in the 1990s was still quite rare, so the player had a feature where it could decode the NTSC using an internal decoder and output it over RGB SCART. However, the comb filter in a modern TV is *likely* better than the one in a LaserDisc player from the early 1990s, so this feature is not likely to be useful today. It's not a lie, but it's also not amazingly useful today.

As for that price - well, it's not the cheapest price I've seen, but if the player works, I would say go for it. Anything you get over the internet when you include shipping or travel costs to collect it is likely to cost that much.

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Posted: 07 Feb 2020, 15:04 

Thanks everyone!

The thing you want doesn’t exist; that is an anamorphic Squeeze version of Jaws. Laserdisc is an NTSC/PAL format so it only makes 4:3 video, period. You can matte things off (letter box) or you can optically compress it (Squeeze) but it is always 4:3 latently. This is because wide TVs barely existed before the early 90s and only in Japan.

If there is a full frame version of Jaws (I know very little about this movie) then you could get that and Zoom it, matte it to 16:9, that’s what is normally done. If it’s a letter box version then when you Zoom it you should be left with very little to no black bars. You have to have a decent TV though, a lot of the crap ones don’t have decent zoom modes. (Guideline: if it was over 40” and you payed less than $600 it’s probably crap).

So you are saying any wide-screen or letterboxed versions of LD(unless squeezed) means I will have black bars all around on a modern wide screen tv, and hence I will be losing image area/space since its basically a 16:9 image implemented WITHIN a 4:3 box?
Unfortunately, zooming doesn't work, as zooming means that picture quality will degrade.

As for which version of "Jaws" to get, the "Signature Collection" versions are the best. There "limited edition" version has the film in CAV and includes a paperback book and CD soundtrack. The standard "Signature Collection" replaces Discs 1 & 2 from the CAV version with a single CLV disc and drops the CD and book.

Hey, are you the owner of blam1.com website? I was reading an article on Signature Collection releases on there yesterday what a coincidence :lol:
I thought the website is a relic from early 2000 that has just stayed up forgotten by the owner.
Frankly if you want to maximise image quality this isn't the hobby for you, just buy it on Blu-ray. There is a reason why nobody makes new LaserDiscs any more after all! Most of us are here because we are interested in the format in some way, either due to the rare content, or the impressive special edition sets, or simply for the interest of seeing an old format in action.

For most films on LD you had two options. Either a pan and scan (or open matte if you're lucky) version that displays the film in 4:3 by cutting off part of the picture (or adding additional picture for open matte) compared to the cinematic version, or a letterbox version that has hard-coded black bars on the top and bottom of the screen. On a modern TV you can zoom in on the latter. Anamorphic LDs were rare simply because most people had 4:3 screens and there was no way to display the image correctly on the vast majority of 4:3 tellies (the most notable exception being certain Sony models which could add letterboxing for you). DVD players fixed this by having the ability to add letterboxing in the DVD player itself but Laserdisc players weren't designed for this as nobody foresaw widescreen TV in 1978.

So with this newfound knowledge in mind, there are actually quite a few reasons you might be interested in getting Jaws on LD. The limited edition boxset as described above is one, and this is fairly typical for the high end of LD collector's boxsets once LD finally found its niche with cinephiles in the late 80s and through the 90s (until DVD killed it). The other interesting Jaws release is that the first ever LaserDisc (or rather, DiscoVision) release way back in the 1970s was the CAV version of Jaws. This of course is pan and scan (it predated the popularity of letterbox releases) and not a great quality transfer so you should only buy this if you are interested in the historical aspect.
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