Two months ago, a Sioux City audience watched a digital video of Dr. Steven Meyer performing a total knee surgery. Part of a "mini-medical program" sponsored by Mercy Medical Center -- Sioux City's Total Joint Center, the DVD delivered crisp, clear video and audio.
"We wanted a video that detailed the exact surgery that was being performed," said Monica Blackey, who manages the Total Joint Center. "It was of excellent quality. I was very nicely done."
The Total Joint Center DVD was produced by Kiel Pro Video. The small Sioux City-based video production company makes high-quality, interactive DVDs for a growing number of corporate and non-profit clients.
Kiel Pro Video was formed in 1996 by Rod Wellman and Nick Kielhold. The business, which began in Kiehlhold's garage, now occupies 2,200-square-feet on the first floor of KD Station. Its clients include several local ad agencies, and a host of businesses that include Mercy Medical Center, Great West Casualty, Midwest Industries and Philips Kiln.
Wellman and Kielhold, who have worked on and off with each other for about 12 years, recently added a third employee, Ron Bass, a veteran local ad agency executive. The trio work on all aspects of production, shooting footage, writing copy, and editing videos.
"We're all one big team." Kielhold said. "We all work together."
In February 2000, Kiel Pro Video became the first production company in the tri-state region to acquire state-of-the-art Sonic Solutions hardware, used in about 85 percent of professional DVD productions nationwide, Wellman said. The next month the partners produced their first DVD.
With cinema-like video and better-than-CD quality audio, DVD is considered vastly superior to traditional VHS tapes. "The quality of the image is so much better," Wellman said.
Fueled by Hollywood releases of DVD movies, consumers have embraced the digital technology, as DVD players continue to fly off retail shelves. But an affordable model that also records is considered years away.
Though it's possible to burn a disc on a computer with a DVD drive, the complex technology prevents most users from doing little more than dubbing material, Wellman said.
"There are a lot of businesses springing up out there that transfer your home movies to DVDs," he said. "I've done a couple of those and really, it's not cost effective for us, we've got higher-end gear than that."
Because of the complex technology involved, Wellman said "the average consumer will never be able to utilize the most interesting features of DVD.
"To utilize the real powerful interactive features such as subtitles, different audio tracks and multiple camera angles, you need a DVD author," he said. "That's why we jumped into this a couple years ago."
A DVD is encoded from source material to a format known as MPEG-2. The encoding process uses a type of compression that removes redundant information, such as areas of the picture that don't change, and information that's not readily perceptible by the human eye.
With its high-tech equipment, Kiel Pro Video can program any special feature DVD technology offers. For instance, menus can be created that categorize a video into different sections, allowing users to view the entire video or simply one of more segments.
"With DVD, you have to start thinking nonlinear, and you have to think outside the box with the capabilities of it," Kielhold said. "You could have a video with a menu that you could customize depending on who you want to show it to. You could say, 'I want to show section one to this client, and sections one and three to this client."
DVDs also have the capacity to hold up to eight digital audio tracks For motion pictures, that allows multiple languages to be placed on the same DVD. But Wellman said the corporate world can use the technology in different ways. For instance, a sales video could include information about a product from a product designer, engineer and other company personnel. "You could have seven different people giving their thoughts and the user gets to decide which one they want to hear from," Wellman said.
Up to 32 subtitle tracks also are available with DVD. In the motion picture industry, subtitles provide dialogue for foreign films. But subtitles have other uses in the business world, Wellman said. For instance, text in a video can help label a product or manufacturing process. Users decide whether or not to view the subtitles. "If it gets in the way you can turn it off," Wellman said.
Multiple camera angles provide businesses with another useful tool, he said. A single video can offer up to nine different angles. For instance, one shot could offer up a wide view of a manufacturing process, while another could provide a close-up.
Other advantages of DVD, Wellman said, is the discs are more compact and more durable than VHS tapes. (With continual playing, a DVD player will wear out before the disc does, Kielhold notes.) The discs also can be played in either a DVD player or DVD-computer drive.
Working at an hourly rate, Kiel Pro Video has produced DVDs that run from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
One of its bigger DVD clients has been the Setliff Clinic, a Dakota Dunes-based clinic sinus and nasal disorder clinic headed by well-known surgeon Dr. Reuben Setliff, III. Kiel Pro Video has produced a series of DVDs of Setliff performing surgical procedures. The educational videos are distributed to medical personnel around the world.
Though DVDs still represent only about 8 percent of Kiel Pro Video's total business, Wellman and Kielhold expect that percentage to continue to grow in the coming years.
"There's more clients out there who can utilize it," Wellman said.