A two-day stop in San Francisco on Fujitsu's road show last week was enough time to let me scoot downtown and scope out the company's new Plasmavision 42 display. Jon Iverson and I were mighty impressed by it last month at the Consumer Electronics Show, where it was demonstrated under less-than-ideal conditions. This month, in a suite on the 35th floor of the ANA Hotel, the Plasmavision once again stood out as an exceptional feat of engineering.
L<I>aserdisc. Mel Gibson, Julia Roberts, Patrick Stewart. Directed by Richard Donner. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1. Dolby Digital. 3 sides. 135 minutes. 1997. CLV/CAV. Warner Bros./Image Entertainment Widescreen Edition WB 115091. $39.95.</I>
The holiday season was a big one for the Digital Versatile Disc. VideoScan, which tracks the sales of more than 16,000 video retail businesses, reports that almost three million DVDs were sold in the five weeks leading up to the New Year, accompanied by equally brisk sales of players. The new format entered its second official year as the fastest-growing new medium in history.
Did you know that William Shakespeare, with 329 film titles to his credit, is the most prolific screenwriter of all time? Neither did I. Did you know that Mel Blanc---the voice of Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Tweety Bird, etc.---is the most prolific film actor of all time, with an astounding 672 titles to his credit? Neither did I. Did you know that D.W. Griffith's total of 545 films makes him the most prolific director ever? Neither did I. Did you know he was also the third most prolific screenwriter, with 222 scripts? Did you know that silent-film star Mary Pickford appeared in more movies (238) than any other actress? Have you ever even <i>heard</i> of Julia Caesar, whose 135 film appearances make her the 20th most prolific screen actress of all time? Neither had I.
Enough DVD movies have been sold this year to compile a top-ten list. <I>VideoScan</I> reports that <i>Twister</i>, the big-budget thriller in which no-name actors chase tornadoes and get chased in turn by tumbling barns and flying cows, was the best-selling DVD through November 30. The film, on disc, is hugely popular; a surplus of spectacular visual effects apparently compensates for its mediocre acting, clunky dialog, and almost total lack of story.
Pre-show publicity for the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show indicates that most major manufacturers will be making a big push with High-Definition Television. If all goes according to the FCC's plan, by this time next year most large urban areas will have at least one digital transmitter in operation. By the turn of the century, most broadcasters will be equipped to send digital signals alongside their analog counterparts. Signal sources---terrestrial broadcasting, satellite transmission, cable feeds---will proliferate.