Well, if you've been following along with this thread in the 2600 forums, then you already know that a DVD release of the 2-part documentary "Stella at 20" is in the works.
Shot in 1997 and released on VHS, this documentary featured interviews with many of the Atari 2600's designers and programmers, as well as Atari's founders: Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn. (See complete descriptions of "Stella at 20" at the CyberPunks home page.)
Volume 2 has long been sold-out, although Volume 1 is still available through Randy Crihfield (if you can find him).
So, why do a DVD release? Isn't this stuff almost ten years old?
Well, yes. But the fact is, it's not out-of-date. Most of the material is about the early days of the Atari, the development of the 2600 and its games, and other historical tidbits about the video game industry. This is the history of Atari, and it will always be of interest to Atari fans. Besides, a lot of work went into the original documentary to make a professional product, and DVDs will finally allow this material to be shown at the high quality it deserves.
Today we took the first step. Glenn Saunders (mos6507) dropped off all of the original master tapes with me this afternoon. Well, almost all of them. The edited master for Volume 1 was lost when the duplication house that had it went out of business. But I do have all of the original source tapes, so the task now will be to re-edit everything back together.
As I'm typing this up, I'm making a dub of the Volume 2 master so I have a copy to watch. I only had Volume 1, so I'd never seen the second part before. One thing that really stands out on the master tape is the exceptional video quality. It looks like it could have been shot yesterday. The detail is razor-sharp. For example, you can tell that both Carol Shaw and Larry Kaplan are wearing calculator watches. (Once a geek, always a geek.) That kind of clarity just doesn't translate well to VHS. DVDs will look much, much better. The other thing that really stands out is the exceptional quality of the interviews themselves. These are great stories told by the people who made the games that we all grew up with. How cool is that?
The next step is to sit down and watch the VHS dubs of all 14 or so hours of raw footage, and begin figuring out which shots to use, and where to put them. Initially, I'll be using the original videos as a guide, but if I think there are places to expand footage or move things around, I'll check with Glenn. Hopefully, we can find a way to add a few things for the DVDs.
Now, the question most people are going to ask is "when will it be finished?" The short answer is, "I have no idea." There's a lot of footage to go through, a lot of editing to be done, and that's before I even get started working on the DVD authoring. This is strictly a volunteer, spare-time project, that I'll have to slip into my schedule where I can. Having said that, I am looking forward to working on it. This is all pretty cool stuff, and where cool stuff is concerned, I make time to work on it.
Just don't be looking for it any time "real soon". But I think that "Stella at 30" is a pretty safe bet.