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VCR: Videocassette recorder
Related: cinema - film - post-VCR cinema - Videodrome (1983) - video nasties
Videodrome (1983) - David Cronenberg [Amazon.com]
Videocassette recorderIt was not until the late 1970s, when European and Japanese companies developed more technically advanced machines with more accurate electronic timers and greater tape duration, that the VCR started to become a mass market consumer product. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Videocassette_recorder#History [Sept 2004]
In 1987, video rental income reached $5.25 billion for the year, surpassing movie theater ticket sales for the first time. Today, movie studios regularly make more money on a film from home video sales and rentals than from the box office. --http://www.ce.org/publications/books_references/digital_america/history/vcr.asp [Oct 2004]
19871987 VCR penetration passes 50% --http://www.wsiu.org/digitaltv/timeline.shtml [Oct 2004]
Filmmakers influenced by video tape availabilityThe 1990s saw the first generation of filmmakers with access to video tapes emerge. Directors such as Quentin Tarantino and P.T. Anderson had been able to view thousands of films and produced films with vast numbers of references and connections to previous works. This, along with the rise of so-called "independent film" and ever-decreasing costs for filmmaking, changed the landscape of American movie-making once again, and led a renaissance of filmmaking among Hollywood's lower and middle-classes—those without access to studio megabucks. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinema_of_the_United_States [Oct 2004]
Kill Bill as “post-VCR film”
Chris Hyde argues that Kill Bill wouldn’t have been possible without the “influence of the late 20th century’s technologies on the cosmopolitanism of film audiences”:
“The effects of the VCR on post-1980 cinema are many and varied, and it is hardly in Tarantino’s oeuvre alone that the invisible influence of videotape can be seen. But it’s also no surprise to find that the director toiled as a clerk in a video store during some of his formative years, and all of his work contains referential asides that make it patently obvious that his style has been heavily influenced by what he has seen.” --http://blog.epistemographer.com/?p=77 [Oct 2005]
VCR adoption rate historyA quick glance at the VCR diffusion curve tells the story. In 1980 less than one percent of all U.S. households owned a videocassette recorder. Barely seven years later [1987, the number skyrocketed to 50 percent. Projecting the curve shows that by the end of the decade it will be over 90 percent. --http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article260.html [Oct 2004]
Still another factor in the early spread of VCRs was pornography. With low-cost tape reproduction and a machine that allowed private viewing in homes, pornographic film producers early on recognized the potential of the VCR to create a new market and a new acceptability for a product previously limited to sleazy, X-rated theaters. Indeed, in 1980, when research showed that 60 percent of video sales in the U.S. were for pornographic material, some observers worried that the VCR was leading to the "porno-fication" of America. By 1987. however, as prerecorded video choices expanded dramatically, pornographic tapes receded to about six percent of total sales and rentals in the United States. --http://www.medialit.org/reading_room/article260.html [Oct 2004]
Pornography [...]The success of the VCR is attributed to the great availability of pornography on that medium, reflecting the long standing tradition of pornography being the driving force for the takeup of new media (the Internet being another obvious example).
Old adult films made for theatrical distribution. This genre of professional adult films ceased to exist around the early 1980s because of the advent of home video. Some of the pre-VCR big budget films are actually famous, like Behind the Green Door, The Devil in Miss Jones, and Misty Beethoven. European made in Europe during the same era that were even more professional, artistic and beautiful than their American cousins. The 1970-1985 explicit feature film genre was an historical anomaly. Being real movies with unmistakable artistic worth made by professionals intent on achieving artistic effects they can't properly be jumbled together with the stag movies that preceded them or the video drek that followed them. --http://www.cinebizarre.com/essay_obspor.htm [Dec 2004]
Network Effect [...]In the early 1970s the Dutch electronics company Philips developed a VCR system that used square cassettes with a recording time of one hour. The machines were equipped with crude timers that used rotary dials. The machines were expensive and the system never caught on.
It was not until the late 1970s, when European and Japanese companies developed more technically advanced machines with more accurate electronic timers and greater tape duration, that the VCR started to become a mass market consumer product. By 1980 there were three competing technical standards, with different, physically incompatible tape cassettes.
The two major standards were Sony's Betamax (also known as Betacord or just Beta), and JVC's VHS. Betamax was generally reckoned to make and play slightly better quality recordings, but VHS rapidly overtook it in sales. As more VHS recorders came into use, and more VHS films became available, network effects eventually Betamax was squeezed out of the consumer market; though a related system called Betacam still remains in use for high quality professional recording equipment. Some accounts claim that VHS won because initially allowed for twice the recording time. Others attribute the success of VHS to the greater availability of pornography on that medium, reflecting the long standing tradition of pornography being the driving force for the takeup of new media (the Internet being another obvious example).
Video nasty [...]Video nasty was a term coined in the United Kingdom in the 1980s that originally applied to a number of films distributed on video that were held by some to be unfit for domestic viewing. Many of these "video nasties" were low-budget horror films produced in Italy and the United States. The furore created by the moral crusade against video nasties led to the introduction of the Video Recordings Act 1984 which imposed a stricter code of censorhip on videos than was required for cinema release. Several major studio productions ended up being banned on video, falling foul of legislation that was designed to control the distribution of video nasties. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_nasty [Feb 2005]
The personal video recorder (or PVR)
The personal video recorder (or PVR) is a consumer electronics device that records television shows to a hard disk in digital format.
This makes the "time shifting" feature (traditionally done by a VCR) much more convenient, and also allows for "trick modes" such as pausing live TV, instant replay of interesting scenes, and skipping advertising. Most PVR recorders use the MPEG format for encoding analog video signals.
The most popular PVRs on the market are TiVo's TiVo and DNNA's ReplayTV. Many satellite and cable companies are incorporating PVR functions into their set-top box, such as with DirecTivo. In this case there is no encoding necessary in the PVR, as the satellite signal is already a digitally encoded MPEG stream. The PVR simply stores the digital stream directly to disk.
Upcoming entrants into the market include products such as Digeo's Moxi, and Microsoft's Media Center.
In 2003, the Yakima, Washington Police Department began using PVRs in their patrol cars to record the activities of officers and suspects. Since then, many other police departments have followed suit, due to the increased reliability and decreased cost compared to analog video systems.
There are ways to make one's own PVR using software and hardware available for Microsoft Windows, Linux and Macintosh operating systems. There are even people working on turning the Xbox into a PVR with a modchip. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_video_recorder [Jul 2004]
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