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The Digital Bits Insider's Guide to DVD [Paperback]

Bill Hunt , Todd Doogan
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 26, 2003 0071418520 978-0071418522 1
This title builds the perfect DVD collection with the help of the industry's coolest website: The Digital Bits. The making of a classic DVD: go behind the scenes with Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet for the making of the new Alien Quadrilogy DVD box set. It is a top quality home theater made easy, and includes Digital Bits. "Top 100 DVD" list is organized by genre: Action, Classics, Chick Flicks, Music and more! It features the latest and coolest DVD technology: D-VHS, HD-DVD, and more.

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Editorial Reviews


By Randy Salas


The DVD celebrates its seventh birthday this month. What better way to get the inside scoop about the format than from folks who have been there since the beginning, Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan? The editors of the Web site the Digital Bits (, which started as an online newsletter in April 1997, have moved to hard copy with their 426-page book, "The Digital Bits: Insider’s Guide to DVD" (McGraw-Hill, $17.95). Using the same breezy banter that has made their site a popular DVD oasis on the Net, Hunt and Doogan comprehensively explore:

DVD basics:
Find out how the format works, what special features do and why widescreen is better.

Home theater:
Learn how to build an audio-video system that will make the most of your budget.

The "Alien Quadrilogy":
Go inside the making of the massive nine disc set of the "Alien" films with a 44-page blow-by-blow account of its creation.

Essential releases:
Drool over reviews of more than 100 must-have DVDs, including the extended "The Fellowship of the Ring," the three-disc "Toy Story" set and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."

The future:
Get a sneak peek at what lies ahead. "The whole goal was to provide a comprehensive resource for newcomers and also to provide something for longtime DVD viewers," Hunt told me recently. Mission accomplished. (Minneapolis Star Tribune 2004-03-23)

From The "Oscar" issue recommended in the column "The A-List"

For all those who finally got a DVD player over the holidays comes this book for movie fans who want to know more about their new toy. Hunt and Doogan explain how DVDs work, what all the technical terms mean in your owner's manual, the debate over widescreen and much more. (Tribute 2004-02-01)

The editors of stalwart R1 site use old media to share their wisdom...[on] the best ways to to create your home cinema experience and a Hunt and Doogan's scoop is an excellent report on the making of Alien Quadrilogy, which makes it worth accessible one-stop summary by fans of the format. (DVD Review 2004-01-30)

...What if someone took all the essential information that every person should know about DVD and Home Theater and put it into book form? Well, this is exactly what Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan have accomplished with their newly authored book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD. ...

Insider's Guide To DVD

I first became aware of this book that Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan were writing over a year ago. While spending some time out in Los Angeles, Bill talked about his efforts to put together an essential guide for DVD newbies and established enthusiasts. Both Bill and Todd have been feverishly working on this book over the past two years while at the same time maintaining The Digital Bits website. Nobody ever said writing a book would be easy!

Their efforts seems to have paid off. Just starting to arrive on bookstore shelves, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD is the very first publication of its kind to explore the DVD format from history to future. You'll not only learn how DVD discs are manufactured and compressed, but learn about the authoring process in creating some of the great menu designs we have come to appreciate over the years.

One of the greatest benefits of this book for DVD "newbies" is the fact that it clearly explains aspect ratios. Through the use of many comparison film stills, a reader can not only see how a 1.85:1 ratio compares to 2.35:1, but how Full Frame greatly compromises the widescreen scale. If there is one thing I hope this book accomplishes is to educate people as to why widescreen is so important in preserving the filmmaker's intended vision.

For anyone just getting into Home Theater, this book provides valuable information on how best to begin building a theater based on a particular budget. The authors are very careful in making certain that readers wisely spend their budget, finding the right compromise between features and price. Those of you on a limited budget can actually do better than buying a "home theater in a box," and you'll find some invaluable advice on how you can better spend your money.

The book manages to answer just about every question I have ever seen posted on HOME THEATER FORUM, including...

* What does anamorphic mean?
* What is the difference between Dolby Digital and DTS?
* What is THX?

This book contains comprehensive reviews of the Top 100 DVDs of all time. I particularly find these reviews to be valuable as there are so many great films crossing all genres that I have yet to become aware of. The book examines the very BEST of both Film and TV on DVD, with reviews that contain background history on its subject matter as well as giving us detailed information on its transfer and included supplements.

With all this book has to offer, I saved the best for last....

As many of you are aware, Fox Home Video is about to release The Alien Quadrilogy to DVD. The Digital Bits had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes in the production of this amazing 9-disc DVD that contains never-before- seen versions of these films as well as all-new supplemental materials.

The book introduces you to Charles de Lauzirika, one of the hottest working DVD producers. His credits include Hannibal, Legend, Gladiator and a slew of Fox DVD releases. Members of HOME THEATER FORUM should already be familiar with Charlie -- he is an active member of this forum, often graciously taking personal time to reply to numerous posts.

The Digital Bits sits down with Charlie in an extensive interview that takes us through the entire creation process of the Alien Quadrilogy, a project that had not quite-too- seriously been tossed around by Fox over the past few years. ...

Through interviews and photos, you'll be taken to the film archives at Fox Studios where Charlie searches through boxes of film reels and original production artwork. You'll be carefully taken through the day when Harry Dean Stanton, Veronica Cartwright and Tom Skerritt met at P.O.P. Sound in Santa Monica to record the DVD commentary. From the moment these actors walked into the building till they all bid their final goodbye, I felt as if I had just been placed in the middle of the action bearing witness to every intricate detail of what happened during the commentary sessions. This is a rare opportunity for most everyone that has never witnessed how one of these commentary sessions come together. ...

I found the entire Alien Quadrilogy piece to be a fascinating read. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate the work that goes into these massive DVD projects, and understand the reason why we can't always have everything we want included in these Special Editions.

Final Thoughts

At just over 400 pages, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide To DVD is a very easy read. You can pretty much flip through the pages and find something that will catch your eye. Newbies to the DVD/Home Theater experience will spend more time scouring through the first 84 pages of the book. These pages provide a thorough look at everything anyone needs to know about DVD and building a Home Theater. Established enthusiasts will fully enjoy the in-depth look at the creation of this year's anticipated release of Twentieth Century Fox's nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy.

The fact that this book contains comprehensive reviews of the Top 100 DVDs of all time is reason enough to keep a copy next to your favorite sitting chair. It certainly takes the guesswork out of "What are we watching tonight?!"

The book lists at $17.95, about the cost of a single DVD...

This book not only makes a GREAT Christmas stocking stuffer for any DVD enthusiast, but more importantly, your purchase helps support the survival of The Digital Bits website. Many of you should already be aware that websites like ours cost more to run than the advertising revenue we take in. Purchasing this book makes a "win win" situation for both you and The Bits.

This review isn't just support for a great bunch of guys that we have gotten to know over the years -- but support for a book that is well worth its purchase price. (Home Theater Forum 2003-10-15)

From the Back Cover

Finally . . . a DVD book for everyone! Here's your personal handbook to DVD . . . the ultimate guide to enjoying every last bit of fun this exciting format has to offer

Bill Hunt and Todd Doogan have been reporting on DVD at The Digital Bits website since the format first appeared in 1997. And over the years, they've noticed that there are few places viewers can go to have the various aspects of DVD and home theatre explained, in simple language -- plain talk anyone can understand. So they've written The Digital Bits' Insider's Guide to DVD to fill this void. In it they:

* Take a comprehensive look at over 100 of the top DVDs of all time
* Explain DVD and all its features -- what it is and how it works
* Offer expert advice on how to put together a great home theatre at an affordable cost
* Explain the latest technology, such as DVD recorders and the new SACD and DVD-Audio high-resolution music formats
* Provide an eye-opening glimpse of the future of DVD -- which promises your favorite films in high-definition video

There's plenty here for long-time, experienced Bits readers too! Bill and Todd have included a comprehensive review of over 100 discs, in a whole variety of genres, that everyone should have in their private movie collection -- they even tell you what makes each one so great. You'll also get a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at one of the biggest releases of 2003: Twentieth Century Fox's nine-disc Alien Quadrilogy! The authors provide a revealing insider’s view of the making of this elaborate, special-edition box set.

The inside scoop on DVDs -- for less than the cost of a single disc!

Product Details

  • Series: Digital Video and Audio
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics; 1 edition (September 26, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071418520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071418522
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,661,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book and Great Site October 6, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have to they did a great job on this book. I love the site and the book is great as well. A great amount of time and work was put into the book and it shows. This is a great book for all,especially new DVD users.But it still has great info for hardcore fans as well. I know that I will be letting friends know if they want to learn about DVD, to go get this book and check out your site as well.It is kind a like a special edition book version or companion piece to your site.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for any Home Entertainment or October 10, 2003
By fo
With almost 30,000 main stream DVD titles al ready released and many many more smaller inde releases, why not take a look at the top 100 so far? This book is packed with a lot of information for anyone that is interested in ever keeping some of their favorite movies on the digital format. There is also a slew of cool behind the scenes information on what goes into making great DVD's and all...
What I enjoy from these writers is their candid reviews on movie or other dvd's, it all seems real without any ideas held back. They tell you exactly how they see it, instead of hearing a whole lot of baloo from the popular movie "critics" or reading mediocre explanations that try and appease the entertainment/movie industry... these guys shoot from the hip. AND they know their stuff. If you want an honest, educated and informed look at DVD'a and part of the industry, definitely get yourself a copy. It is truly for anyone interested in dvd's... whether you consider yourself a long time collector, new to dvd's or at any level!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thank You Is Not Enough October 7, 2003
Wonderful as I expected. As an avid reader of their website, I welcomed this book with the same care as any good book I read. Hey, if you guys ever need donations or extra money for your website, don't be hesitant to ask.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best DVD Information Book on the Market October 10, 2003
This book is the perfect book for both DVD lovers and people who are looking to get into DVD's for the first time ever. Bill and Todd do a terrific job explaining how DVD works, why DVD is great, and most importantly - how to get started on your own DVD home theatre and collection. I have already recommened this book to some of my friends who are a little confused about DVD's and even though I consider myself a DVDphile I still learned more than a thing or two. If you are, want to be, or will be a fan of DVD's then this book is a must for you.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is great! A very fun and easy read. October 19, 2003
By Rebecca
A friend recommended this book to me, being new to DVD. I was hesitant and afraid I wouldn't get much out of it, but boy was I wrong! I can't recommend it enough to anyone who is interested in DVD. I couldn't put it down, the writing style is very conversational and easy to understand. These guys obviously know what they are talking about and explain complicated principles in an easy to understand manner. The Alien section was fascinating, I really had no idea what all went into making DVD's. I was not aware of their website before this book, but be sure I will be a frequent visitor now! Nice job guys. :o)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for n00bies AND pros October 10, 2003
If you've ever tried to explain to your friends how DVD works, what equipment they should buy, or why there are little "black bars" on the bottom of the screen, of if you've ever tried to convince your parents to get a widescreen instead of a 4:3 DTV, this is the book for you.
Also, if you've ever wondered what all these Surround Sound modes mean or what anamorphic means, this is the book for you.
Finally, if you've ever wondered what equipment or DVDs to buy, this is the book for you. Anyone building a home theater or DVD collection should start at this book before making purchases you won't be happy with!
There is also a discussion of all the new Audio standards like DVD-AUDIO and SACD, as well as the next generation of DVD, HD-DVD.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must have for DVD Fans, users and gurus alike October 10, 2003
This is a MUST-HAVE book for anyone, whether you have a hardcore DVD collection or if you're still on BETA. It's a great book - very funny and well thought out. It's all written for the common's honest and practical. It's very easy to flip through, and I find myself reading pages and then chapters.
The guys at have put together this book to try and give an honest look at a rapidly chaning market. They deserve kuddos for recognizing that this kind of book is needed.
I don't have a home theater system, wouldn't know where to begin. But they lay it out it very easy terms, having already done the thinking for you. I don't know what to look for when I watch a disk, but they do. and they tell me.
This is a book that gives me the quick and dirty AND the nitty gritty all in one very easy to read manner. Not an easy feat, but one they do easily.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The website is great and so is this book! October 10, 2003
This book is excellent. It explains technical DVD terms in a manner that the average joe can understand, and it has some very informative reviews of different DVDs. If you're a fan of the Alien film series, this book has a section on the making of the upcoming Alien Quadrilogy box set, and it rocks! Their website is awesome and I recommend it and this book to any hardcore DVD fan.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, informative, well-written
Anyone who is a regular visitor to knows the lengths the site staff goes to in bringing you comprehensive and detail information about disc releases, DVD... Read more
Published on October 31, 2010 by John S. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars A few words from Home Theatre Forum.....
What if someone took all the essential
information that every person should know about
DVD and Home Theater and put it into book form? Read more
Published on April 8, 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Good for starters
With even person that asks me to help them buy a Home Theater I give them this book. It is a great book to give anyone if they are still trying to understand all the ins and outs... Read more
Published on February 20, 2004 by D.G. Hollums
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for anyone into DVD
I got this book in my stocking and it's really fun read! I learned alot about DVD, and got some good ideas about titles to buy that I wouldn't have thought of. Read more
Published on January 4, 2004 by The Grape Lady
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Expectation.
I would have to agree with the review done by the reader from Maitland, FL United States. My main intention to get this book is to learn more on the "Technical... Read more
Published on December 18, 2003 by Paul C.
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless book on DVDs
If you are going to buy this book looking technical infomation concerning DVDs, forget it. This book is more like a review of movies DVDs, talking about released DVDs and the... Read more
Published on December 1, 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD made easy.
Finally, a book that most can understand and enjoy. This is a wonderful ambitious book to help all those interested in learning about the exciting young format called DVD. Read more
Published on November 9, 2003 by Film Editior
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative but padded
The authors did a great job of laying out all the technical info on how DVDs work and are produced in an informative yet entertaining way. Read more
Published on November 9, 2003 by Bruce Aguilar
5.0 out of 5 stars A True Guide - this book does what it says on the cover
DVD is a complicated subject that can just get too daunting for most people. However this book answers all those difficult questions in a well thought out, easy to read and... Read more
Published on October 26, 2003 by Rupert Dean
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed look at DVD
As a longtime reader of The Digital Bits website, I was more than happy to shell out the money to support their site by purchasing a copy of the book. Read more
Published on October 23, 2003 by Lyman Green
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