Looking Back on 2022… and Twenty-Five Years of The Digital Bits!

On this last day of 2022, I needed to take a second to mirror on the previous yr and, actually, on the previous twenty-five years right here at The Digital Bits web site.

First although, our personal Michael Coate has just delivered one final History, Legacy, and Showmanship retrospective for the year, a look back at Steven Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial in celebration of the film’s 40th anniversary. The piece options one other epic and multi-page roundtable interview with movie consultants and historians. Note that the piece may also be up to date early within the new yr with extra photos and info, however the interview as it’s is thorough and nicely value your time, so make sure to test it out.

Now then… it’s a rare factor to look again at twenty-five years of this web site, a website I first began again in 1997 to cowl the arrival of DVD and to introduce the appreciation of cinema to a wider viewers. As a movie pupil on the Universal of Wisconsin in Madison, I had the glory of learning the topic beneath two of the best movie historians and theorists working toady, David Boardwell and Kristin Thompson, to not point out the pleasure of discovering not simply the Hollywood classics however the wider world of worldwide cinema. And it’s been my objective—each then and now—to share that love and pleasure of discovery with everybody who could be . [Read on here…]

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As a working video producer within the late Nineties, I had a novel window on the event of DVD. So when the format lastly launched in ’97, I had entry to many of the main minds within the dwelling leisure trade. The Bits started as an e mail publication, and grew so shortly that I started posting information updates on my private Earthlink web page as an alternative. But inside a month, it acquired a lot site visitors that Earthlink truly known as and strongly suggested me to buy a website identify, arrange a devoted server, and run the location as a enterprise. So nearly in a single day, The Digital Bits went from a passion to a calling, to not point out a full-time job.

To be truthful, if somebody had informed me again then that I’d spend the following quarter of a century because the editor-in-chief of The Bits, I’d have stated they have been loopy. Back in 1997, the very concept of an internet site was nonetheless comparatively new. But The Bits benefitted from the truth that—on the time—few different publications (and just about no web sites exterior of a pair of BBS/dialogue boards) have been speaking concerning the DVD format. For this cause, our first readers included a rare who’s who of filmmakers, producers, and studio executives.

To my shock, one of the primary calls I ever acquired was from Warner Home Video’s then director of publicity, Ronnee Sass. I discovered that WHV president Warren Lieberfarb, extensively regarded right this moment because the Godfather of DVD, was a fan of The Bits. The pair supplied extraordinary entry to all the pieces the studio was working on with regard to the format, and opened many doorways inside the trade for me.

Another early telephone name led to a gathering on the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that was simply as shocking: A startup known as Netflix was planning to lease DVDs by mail, and they needed to promote on The Bits. So and nearly in a single day, we had servers, contributing employees writers, studio assist, promoting, and a rapidly-growing viewers of readers all over the world—over 1,000,000 and a half distinctive readers a yr—all of whom have been longing for information about their favourite movies coming to videodisc.

Since then, I’ve served as an trade advisor, been quoted and interviewed on cable information, co-written an Amazon top-selling e book (with Todd Doogan through McGraw Hill, The Digital Bits: Insider’s Guide to DVD), authored dozens of journal articles (for Widescreen Review, Home Media Retailing, Geek Monthly, and others), 1000’s of disc evaluations and information columns, and guided the location by means of the daybreak of DVD, two format wars (the result of which we accurately predicted from the beginning), and the arrival of HD on Blu-ray and 4K on Ultra HD, to not point out lossless audio and ultimately Digital streaming.

Back in 1997, a couple of individual questioned why I hadn’t used the phrase “DVD” in naming the location, but it surely was clear to me even then that “digital” was the important thing factor—not the supply format itself, which might come and go together with time.

Over the years, of course, we’ve seen the expansion of film fandom (and sadly, seen fandom generally develop a bit meaner and much less affected person with the rise of social media and YouTube). But I’ve additionally personally been inspired by the invention that every new technology is simply as hungry to find and immerse themselves within the movie expertise as I used to be once I first began out.

We’ve seen the best way world occasions like 9/11 and COVID have impacted the house leisure enterprise. We’ve seen a dramatic evolution within the high quality of the house leisure expertise, having gone from watching SD LaserDisc films on analog 4×3 shows to 16×9, high-definition, and now 4K releases which might be practically equal to the easiest theatrical experiences. And we’ve watched dwelling theater go mainstream, as the prices to get pleasure from that have have dropped decrease and decrease. Of late we’ve even seen a mini renaissance in bodily media, as studios that had beforehand rushed head-long into streaming rediscovered the worth of discs when the pandemic shut down the theatrical enterprise. So I proceed to consider that discs shall be round no less than till the tip of this decade.

For me, as somebody who’s been on this trade for thirty years now—and who’s written about movie for many of that point—my love of storytelling has solely grown, not simply on the massive and small screens but in addition on the web page. And as a lot as I really like cinema, I’ve come to like writing much more, first as a critic and columnist, then within the function of historian, and most not too long ago as a novelist, which is an endeavor I hope to share with all these of you who could be enthusiastic about 2023 and past. (Twenty-five years spent analyzing narrative construction makes that development nearly inevitable.)

It hasn’t at all times been straightforward. Keeping The Bits web site going by means of altering codecs, the fixed must improve our {hardware} and software program, the evolving risk of cybersecurity, and more and more tough financial instances—together with a number of recessions—has been steep problem certainly. More than as soon as I’ve been temped to pack it in as I’ve watched different web sites fold and pals transfer on to new pursuits.

But the best reward—and my best pleasure—lies within the many friendships I’ve made alongside the best way, be they with fellow Bits contributors, trade colleagues, or longtime readers of the location. That human connection is what life is all about, and sharing the stuff you love with others is what makes that life value dwelling.

It goes with out saying that I want to thank our excellent employees of writers, columnists, and programmers right here at The Bits, together with Tim Salmons, Stephen Bjork, Michael Coate, Dennis Seuling, Sarah Hunt, Bud Elder, and Johnnie Young, to not point out our excellent server and infrastructure workforce led by Donnie Rollins and Mike Hill. I really like you guys, I’m proud of you, and I respect you all.

Special thanks are additionally owed to the numerous Bits staffers who’ve made invaluable contributions to the location up to now, notably Todd Doogan, Adam Jahnke, Matt Rowe, and Barrie Maxwell, but in addition Mark A. Altman, Joe Marchese, Mario Boucher, Robert A. Harris, Jeff Kleist, Greg Suarez, Brad Pilcher, Brian Ford Sullivan, Dan Kelly, Frank Ortiz, Jim Taylor, Bob Banka, Rob Hale, Florian Kummert, Graham Greenlee, Dallas Ragan, Chris Maynard, Andy Patrizio, Donald V. Day, Drew Feinberg, Stacey Locke, and Josh Lehman. (If I forgot anybody, please forgive me! Drop me an e mail and I’ll add you to the checklist.) I really like and respect every of you as nicely.

Thanks are owed to our many pals, supporters, sources, and colleagues inside the movie and dwelling leisure industries too, a whole checklist of whom—if one may even be precisely compiled—would certainly quantity no less than a thousand folks. You of us all know who you’re, and know that I worth each single one of you. But I have to definitely point out Garrett Lee and Martin Blythe, each of whom have been early supporters of The Bits, Dave and Linda Lukas (of the legendary and sorely missed Dave’s Video in Studio City), and most particularly Ronnee and Warren.

Finally, my thanks to every and each reader of The Digital Bits, each new and outdated—those that subscribed to that very first publication, these of you who found the location in the course of the format wars, and these many of you who’re nonetheless with us right this moment.

I’m actually very grateful for all of you. Thanks for twenty-five great years and many extra forward.

So with that… Happy New Year from all of us right here at The Digital Bits! And might the approaching months carry all of us pleasure, friendship, and lots of nice films to observe on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD!

See you in 2023, my pals.

(You can observe Bill on social media at these hyperlinks: Twitter and Facebook)




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