Because you should, right?
Today’s commercial – or rather, commercials – comes to us from 1984, and from the Oddity Archive’s Archive Annex YouTube Channel, which is the home for longer presentations of material featured on Oddity Archive episodes. Case in point, a promotional Laserdisc for Pioneer, featuring their Laserdisc player campaign for 1984, featured in episode 204, “Pioneer Promotional Laserdiscs.”
“Sound, Sound…Wonderful Stuff.”
Pioneer’s 1984 campaign stars singer Ray Charles, whose ability to hear the sound is far more important than how the picture looks, for those that can see it. He can hear anything – including himself – and Laserdiscs (and him!) sound good.
Following a short introduction about the importance of sound to Ray, there are four commercials where he talks about all the things he hears, and how the technology works, “so they tell me.”
Take a watch – er, listen – will you?
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Pioneer Laserdisc Television Campaign for 1984…
…starring Mr. Ray Charles!
How Ray Charles Sees Laserdisc was a promotional Laserdisc featuring all of Charles’ “I Can’t See It” commercials to air during the campaign for that year’s LD-700 Laserdisc player.
“I Can’t See It” was Pioneer’s first television campaign for Laserdisc in the United States. At the time, VHS and Beta Hi-Fi existed, but were still in their earliest phases, while Laserdisc promised better sound and picture than both formats. According to Oddity Archive’s Ben Minnotte, How Ray Charles Sees Laserdisc was the first eight-inch disc Pioneer pressed, and it was handed out at trade shows in early 1984.
Due to the costs of Laserdisc players and discs, the format never really had the presence in the home video market that VHS and Beta, but served as a niche format for videophiles because of the superior audio and video quality.
So Ray Charles was right about the sound!
The biggest downfall of the format was the inability to record, which was possible with the VHS and Beta formats. Despite the shortcomings of the format, films were still released on Laserdisc until 2001in Japan, with Laserdisc players still sold there until later in the 2000s.
The format itself had its advantages, especially in durability, since the disc didn’t have contact with the mechanisms that read the information on the disc, but also its disadvantages in how films are situated on discs. One disc could hold up to 60 minutes between both sides, so the inevitable need to change the discs after one hour into the film obviously lost its novelty.
And if the movie is over two hours…well…remember when we had to change the VHS for Titanic? Pretty sure Laserdisc is more inconvenient.
This disadvantage, such as it was, remedied by the mid-1980s, with players able to flip the disc. You still had to change the disc out in most models, but one slight inconvenience was taken care of.
And then there were imperfections – dust particles could easily cause disc read errors, and poorly manufactured discs of the earliest releases are subject to laser rot (color flash was the Laserdisc pressing plants term), due to the adhesive between two sandwiched discs containing impurities that seeped through the lacquer seal, causing these discs to lose their reflectiveness via oxidation.
The format itself was supplanted with DVD by the late 1990s, but films were still released on Laserdisc in Japan until 2001. These days, Laserdisc players are easy to find on the secondhand market, with discs a collectors item.
But in 1984, as the home video market was just beginning to take hold on consumerism, Laserdisc was one of the formats vying for those consumers’ home video-needing dollars.
As I said, How Ray Charles Sees Laserdisc is part of Oddity Archive’s 204th episode on promotional Laserdiscs by Pioneer, and the format has been covered extensively in various episodes. It really is a fascinating format, if you’re a home video enthusiast.
Laser rot and dead sides are even discussed!
Hey, there’s videos for every strange nostalgic fascination out there!
Hey, Ray Charles likes the format so much, he even bought it for his friend George Sherry.
Skeptical no more.
Have a great Throwback Thursday!