Laurie Anderson Home Of The Brave DVD

(updated 2015-08-30)

Fans of Laurie Anderson in search of a DVD of Home Of The Brave are probably out of luck. The film, only available on VHS and laserdisc, has long been out of print. The laserdisc had the advantage of being in widescreen format, although due to the technology of the time, the video is letterboxed to fit 1.33:1, meaning it is windowboxed when viewed on a widescreen display..

The technology in the year 2000 was very different than it is today. DVDs were all the rage, so my goal was to convert a laserdisc of this film to DVD using new DVD authoring tools that I was able to acquire. The laserdisc was easy to get from eBay, but the challenge was to find a player. Fortunately, the Department of Linguistics at UC San Diego had a large library of laserdiscs, so they also had a few players available, one of which i was able to borrow for this project.

The first task was to load the movie into Adobe Premiere. This wasn't quite what I expected. Laserdiscs and FireWire (IEEE-1394) were a generation apart, so i had to resort to the old composite video cables and an analog to digital converter to get the video into Premiere.

The next step was to create some menus for Adobe Encore DVD. To get access to the fonts that Laurie used in the slides during her show (Chicago, Monaco, Geneva), I fired up an old Macintosh running System 7. After a few tricks to bypass TrueType fonts, I managed to get the pixellated fonts for the menus. Once I figured out the tricks in using layers in Adobe Photoshop to highlight selections on the DVD menus, I was able to create the following DVD menus using scans from the Laserdisc cover art and frame captures from the video. The images are shown at 1/4 scale. Because the video was letterboxed to fit a 1.33:1 screen, I scaled the video up during the transcoding procedure to convert the digital video to DVD MPEG with a 16:9 aspect ratio. When playing back the DVD, the video fills a widescreen TV (no longer windowboxed), although the video is a little fuzzier due scaling up.

Main Menu

Chapter menu 1

Chapter menu 2

Chapter menu 3

Chapter menu 4

Chapter menu 5

After some time, it was clear that DVDs were on the way out, but this was a really fun experience and a good excuse to watch this performance again. The video of Home Of The Brave can be found now on YouTube, but I still had hoped that at one point, it would be made into a DVD or BluRay.

My original article had an optimistic update. I list the updates below for historical purposes.

Update (2011)

According to Laurie Anderson's Official Website, a DVD film/video box set collection, including "Home of the Brave" is planned to be released.

Update to the Update (2012)

There is no longer a reference to a DVD film/video box set collection, including "Home of the Brave" on Laurie Anderson's Official Website.

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