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.


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!


Check Out This 1978 Tour Of A Betamax Collection!

Ah, Betamax. There have been many times when technological formats that are sort of similiar must go head to head. Like in the case of HD DVD versus the Blu-Ray format. Of course if you go back a little further there was the competition between Video High Density video discs vs LaserDisc and VHS. And if you are of a certain age you might recall when it was the VHS format versus Betamax fighting for your hard earned money.

I wasn’t aware that Betamax actually ceased being made way back in…2016?! That is the truth though – which means it lasted for 40 years. Not to shabby a legacy for the “loser” of the videotape format war.

I was only in contact with a Betamax unit once in my youth. You have to remember this was back when both it and the VHS units were quite beautiful. In addition to being incredibly large with myriad buttons and dials as well as featuring top-loading mechanisms.

As I was saying though – I only once had any sort of experience with a Betamax. This was in 1982 and my Father rented Star Wars. I want to point out this was during the time when renting a Betamax or VCR unit was a bit of an ordeal.

First of all you needed to have the membership to the video store which required the usual identification. However you also needed to literally leave a deposit on top of the rental fee – generally a $100 dollar bill or at least a check if you were trusted by the store.

Now having said all of that, thanks to the Retroist who pointed this video out to me. We can travel back in time to 1978 to visit Ray Glasser. In the almost ten minute video he gives those of us from the future a personal tour of his Betamax collection.

The television and movies in his collection are rather staggering. Everything from Star Trek, to King Kong and the Burns and Allen show, to name a few. So without further ado let us join Ray Glasser back in 1978 and enjoy his Betamax collection tour!

[Via] Videoholic Returns

Now then. You’ve seen the tour of Glasser’s Betamax tapes. But why not watch Bill Hammack aka Engineer Guy briefly explain why the VHS format won out?

Battlestar Galactica

Atari Was Making A Battlestar Galactica Laserdisc Game?!

Battlestar Galactica was required viewing in my youth. Of course it didn’t hurt the television series that in 1978 everyone was in the grip of Star Wars fever. In fact I I saw the Battlestar Galactica movie, which was an abridged version of the TV pilot, at the 62 Drive-In of my youth.

ReMastered By JDG

My notebooks at school were chock full of doodles featuring Stormtroopers as well as Cylon Warriors. Although I regret to say that I wasn’t lucky enough to receive very many of the toys. However I did get my hands on Mattel’s Cylon Centurion figure. Moreover it became a rival bounty hunter for Boba Fett in my Star Wars toy universe.

So in other words, I was a pretty big fan of the short lived Battlestar Galactica series. What I was not remotely aware of until yesterday though, was that Atari had plans on a laserdisc game. I found out about it thanks to Patrick Barnes who posted on the Diary of An Arcade Employee Facebook Page. It was back in 1984 that Atari began work on a conversion kit for another of their laserdisc titles – Firefox.

Image courtesy of the Arcade Flyer Archive.

Sadly the Battlestar Galactic arcade game never saw the light of day. On the positive side at least there exists this test footage of the proposed arcade title.

Uploaded by Scottith Games to his YouTube account!

Furthermore he shares an interview with a designer of the game. Owen Rubin who worked on such classic games as Battlezone, Space Duel and Major Havoc:
“With Galactica, it was my idea originally as I was a Galactica fan obviously, (those are Cylon ships in Major Havoc, and the graphics displays in the tactical display were drawn like in Galactica as well), the guys who did Star Wars and Firefox started the project. I did a small amount of work as well. All that was really done was some footage on the laserdisc that let you land a fighter ship into one of the landing bays on either side of the large ship.

The video on the disc is recorded in such a way that playing it back would look like garbage. It is a bunch of still frames that you play out of order so that you can change what you are playing seamlessly. For example, the landing footage is one of 9 to 16 or so frames from different positions as you approach the landing bay. Imaging a 3×3 of 4×4 grid of possible positions you can approach from, with the center being straight on. If you fly straight, the program would display every 9th frame which was the video of flying straight.
Battlestar Galactica - Landing Bay
If you moved right, you would select the proper “frame view” and it would look like you moved in the video to the right, and now play every 9th “right position 1″ video frame in order. With this scheme, you could fly in 2 dimensions with the joystick while the game pushed you forward in the third as well, controlled by a throttle.”

It most certainly isn’t every single day that you learn about such a video game project. I want to thank Patrick Barnes once again as well as Scottith Games for documenting what might be lost arcade game history.

Now that you’ve learned about the Battlestar Galactica arcade game. How about you watch the 1998 trailer for the reboot of the series that the late and great Richard Hatch conceived?

[Via] Peter Noble

Dragon’s Lair Cartoon Coming Soon to DVD!

“Ooh, save me!”

According to a post on TVShowsonDVD.com, Dragon’s Lair, the Saturday morning cartoon series based on the laserdisc video game of the same name, is coming to DVD “very soon.”

The show (which only ran for 13 episodes) featured all the characters from the video game including Dirk the Daring, Princess Daphne, the Giddy Goons, and Singe the Dragon. The show will be a Time Warner “manufacture on demand” release that spans two DVDs. No official release date has been announced yet, but before Christmas seems like a pretty good bet.