Thursday, October 20, 2011

A question for my filmmaker friends

Question: Why are DVDs sliced off into chapters rather than into reels?

No, seriously. Why?


Anonymous said...

very interesting probe. right away, i think it is a misnomer. and the naming itself could be a result of two influences. one, cinema reformed as dvd is directly competing with the market for books. so, it might have been a natural decision to call reel sections chapters. a case of cinema wannabeing book. (aside: in the year 1994, a certain screenplay changed the way we looked at cinema altogether; interestingly, it was divided into various sections called ‘chapters’). two, blame centuries of evolving logical thought.

the question itself, takes us to the way we look at the popular media in use today. consider this: to begin with (when man and woman were primitive) all media was naturally occurring (without conscious effort from either man or woman) and all around. it was all at once and was not cool (as in no interactivity was possible). media was 100% sensory. then one of us decided to draw on walls. so, the first instance of manufactured media occurred. it must have been very gratifying, because the habit caught on and spread around the world. importantly, for the first time in our history, we started thinking logically. should i draw the mammoth on my left side and the hunter on the right side? then, should i draw the scenario of the hunter throwing the spear at the mammoth to the right of the first scenario or below it? etc. we learnt and refined the art of creating media. and evolved in logical thinking. 100% sensory media became part intellectual and part sensory. well, some of us passionately argue that all media in use today is totally logical and intellectual. the only sensory aspect being the way we sometimes respond to the stimulus, despite our logical selves. then we found a more portable form of wall. paper. replication of logical storytelling via newspaper and books proliferated logic across distances. somewhere down the line, we got used to the logic of dividing a narrative, any narrative into logical chapters, usually set aside chronologically. maybe, we retained some genetic memories of primitive times, where we had experienced 100 sensory media. maybe, we fell nostalgic. so we manufactured a new medium which came as close as we ever could to 100 sensory media (of course, some storytellers still persist with attempting to make us think like the intellectuals we are.) cinema. requiring us to go a demarcated location, and thereby making us submit to the environment. urging us to disconnect from all possible intellectual and logical stimuli. dimming the lights on any visual imagery that might distract us from experiencing near 100% sensory media. from the moment the movie begins till the break, no interactivity is possible. just like it used to be in our primitive days. why would anyone not want to go to this specially demarcated place to experience this wonderful 100% sensory blah? it turned out, a lot of us had become so used to logical thought and user controlled media, that they preferred media on demand more than they preferred 100% sensory media experience. and an even large number of us asked ‘can i logically control this exalted 100% sensory media thing?’ ‘you know, like bookmark it or something?’. chapters in cinema, though innovatively used in one instance in 1994, became a necessary inclusion for those who saw benefit in taking cinema outside specially demarcated locations. sure, within user owned and user controlled locations too, there can be specially demarcated spaces of a smaller scale, with almost 100% sensory media.

km said...

Good question. I'm guessing It is because some UI/Software guys at a film studio in LA thought it would be cool to splice the film into chapters?

From a user interface perspective, the chapter metaphor is not unique to the DVD. Even in the 90s, CD-ROMs had chapters. So the chapter is definitely a continuation of the same visual metaphor.

Now I'd like to hear a real filmmaker answer this question :)