Professional (industrial) standalone DVD players might help you advance your video production capabilities.
Pioneer was first to market with industrial players. Both Philips and Panasonic offer competing players.
These playback machines have amazingly deep programmability. Users can have them play back selected video clips at specific times and respond to touch-screen input from customers. They are used for in-store promotions, museum displays, and point-of-sale kiosks. They are deeply versatile and reliable. Prices hover at around $700 for these feature-packed devices:
Philips ProDVD 175
One company that relies heavily on professional, industrial DVD players is MGM Mirage.
MGM Mirage Has DVD Vision
Randy Dearborn was there at the beginning. As multimedia director for MGM Mirage's massive 10-casino empire, he has led the charge to DVD.
Four years ago, Dearborn began replacing the company's unwieldy, expensive, and unreliable laserdiscs with DVD players. Now, all the laserdiscs are gone and DVD and MPEG-2 videos are on display throughout the MGM Mirage resorts nationwide. The integrated capture, compression, and authoring capabilities of Sonic DVD Creator gives MGM Mirage Resorts the power, ease, and flexibility to make full use of DVD's advantages.
Underscoring DVD's versatility, the DVD projects at the MGM Mirage Resorts cover diverse areas, such as point-of-sale video displays, exterior signage, corporate archives, and "back of the house" communications with the company's 10,000-strong workforce. "We use DVD Creator to capture and encode the video and then either transfer the MPEG-2 stream to the hard-disk player or author and burn DVDs for standalone DVD players," says Dearborn.
The resorts use Pioneer 7200 drives (the precursor to the current 7400 drives) that have built-in software that allows playback by clips or through interaction with touch screens. Some interactive touch-screen kiosks let customers select music CDs and listen to specific cuts. Figure 23.5 shows a kiosk menu.
Figure 23.5. Shoppers can listen to music from Cirque du Soleil before buying the music CD.
One application for DVD is feeding video to the giant "reader boards" on the casinos' towering marquees on Las Vegas Boulevard. The former system required playback from $15,000 Pentium workstations with specialized video cards. Now Dearborn and his four-person crew program the Pioneer drives to play back video clips in a specific order and at specific times (see Figure 23.6).
Figure 23.6. MGM Mirage uses professional DVD players to display images like this on its huge reader boards.
"I bought two of these decks, one as a backup, for only $1,600, and I'll never have to worry again about whether Windows will decide to crash."
MGM Mirage corporate executives now supplement their investor road shows with DVDs?a far cry from days gone by. They used to bring a videotape and rely on the AV person at the control board to manually switch back and forth between a video deck and the laptop running the presentation. Now they simply load the DVD in their laptops and at opportune moments click a button in an HTML page to bring up the DVD menu shown in Figure 23.7. Then they jump instantly to an MPEG-2 video to further amplify a point. "I author the DVDs with several videos so the presenters can pick and choose, depending on the audience."
Figure 23.7. MGM Mirage corporate executives now rely on DVDs for presentations.
Dearborn's department is now transferring the entire video archives of the company to DVD, categorizing clips and creating menus that make it easy for users outside the department to access the material.
Dearborn remains on the cutting edge of this technological tidal change. His foresight means his department continues to be one of the busiest in the MGM Mirage empire.