What Happens When You Insert the “Dead Side” of a LaserDisc?

If you think the LaserDisc just protests and pops out of the player when inserted on the wrong side, you’re so very wrong.

Though the idea of the player slurring “Noooo! ¬†GET OUT!” while ejecting the disc is cracking me up. You have no idea how much.

Or maybe you do.

Anyway…

Weird Fascination

I will preface everything I’m about to say with the fact that this is a weird fascination of mine, and only because it came up in a random You Tube search about four years ago.

I think it started while I was looking up videos about LaserDisc players. The geek in me really wanted to watch a video on how to operate a LaserDisc player, but the nostalgic geek in me wanted to see what movie quality on a laserdisc looked like.

What I got was something kinda cool and random – a group of videos that shows what happens when you put in the wrong side of a LaserDisc.

I also learned how to operate a LaserDisc player, which I’ve never owned, and never plan to own at this point in my life.

The LaserDisc “Dead Side”

In a You Tube full of randomness, there are a surprising number of “LaserDisc dead side” videos (which is still not many, when probably compared to most other niche topics), all of which demonstrate a small snippet of what happens when you insert (whether intentional or otherwise) a LaserDisc into the player incorrectly. It is referred to the “dead side,” but it is quite the opposite. Things happen. There is life.

Turtles and Logos

You’d automatically assume that a “dead side” is what it sounds like: a dead side. Black screen. No noise. Nothingness.

Not true at all. Depending on the disc manufacturer, several things are possible.

For example, there’s this lovely friend:

As You Tube uploader VWestlife explains, this is what happens when you try to play the blank side of a LaserDisc. He emphasized that the analong sound is the actual noise, the result of CX. The turtle sticks around for 9000 frames (approximately 5 minutes) before fading to black.

LaserDisc Turtle is from Pioneer LaserDisc, and is considered to be the most well-known of the dead side offerings. And he’s adorable. Just look at his smile!

“Mr. Turtle, how many instances of inserting the LaserDisc correctly does it take to get you back on your feet?”

LaserDisc Turtle halso has a Japanese variant:

Again cute and friendly, but imploring you to turn the him (and by him, the disc) over. You like this, it feels inviting!

But not everything is overturned turtles and happiness.

There’s this blunt message from Techinidisc:

Uploader eyeh8cbs explains that Techinidisc’s dead side runs for 25 minutes (in CAV with analog sound only), but cuts to a black screen at 24 minutes.

And can you imagine the life struggle of all the information…about no information at all?

Uploader eyeh8nbc (who is probably the same person behind “eyeh8cbs”) also shared this deadside, from a 3M/Imation disc. Imation was the final company to produce laserdiscs (production stopped in 2002), and this was a Sears in-store LaserDisc that showed movie trailers, ironically for movies that were never released on LaserDisc. This particular dead side runs for five minutes..

There’s also the Sony version.

Again, as uploaded by eye8nbc, this dead side is side four of a three-side LaserDisc movie as manufactured by Sony. While excerpted here, it actually runs five minutes.

There’s Warner/Elektra/Artista (WEA)-manufactured dead sides…

Again, eyeh8nbc contributed this one, which is practically screaming to be turned over.

Paving the Way…

Sure, the dead side of a LaserDisc isn’t the most exciting, but the very idea of a LaserDisc as a viable media format, at least at one time, was exciting. It was the precursor to the DVD and Blu-Ray, and it served as a reminder that with time and development, technology would improve, and more viable, cost-efficient formats would find their way. The format was not without its flaws, but those flaws are good for teaching developers about what will work best. Does the LaserDisc feel ahead of its time? Yes it does! Who would have believed that a shiny disc that looks like a record could produce video?

More importantly, would have believed that a turtle could be the cutest way to tell you to kindly flip the disc over?

He is so stinkin’ cute!