Are discs dead? - Wired article

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Mike D, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/1...tart.html?pg=2

    FWIW, I don't agree with the author's opinion. I think the comparison to online music distribution is inappropriate since one reason for its success was that people didn't want to buy a whole CD for only one song. Obviously that does not apply with movies. What about commentaries and special features? Would we have to pay extra to download those? And in a world without disks, where are we supposed to keep all these downloads? On our hard drives? Uploaded to our Gmail accounts?

    But maybe I'm just too short-sighted. How do you think we will be enjoying movies 25 or 50 years from now?
     
  2. Andy Patrizio

    Andy Patrizio Stunt Coordinator

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    We are an ownership society and place value on owning something solid and tangible. People will always want their media on a form of permanent media, regardless of how the format changes. I've heard about VoD for 2 decades and it ain't here. I've heard about media-killers for years, and people are collecting libraries with 1000 or more DVDs.

    Wishful thinking.
     
  3. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Exactly.

    I have moved to mp3s that I play on my IPOD, but that's because instead of me owning the music on a cd, I own it on a file on my IPOD and on my computer.

    The only way that on-line movies will work is when you can download a movie that you own (as opposed to pay-per-view). This is going to require not only major broadband for transmission, but huge space on your computer to store and backup the movie.

    Plus, you then need a way of watching it. With music, you can put it on an IPOD and listen to it anywhere you would a cd. For movies, there's going to have to be some way to get it to your television set - watching on your computer is NOT going to be acceptable.

    I don't doubt that such a system will exist some day, and be the way people watch movies, but it'll be a long time, certainly not soon enough to make HD-DVD or Blu-Ray obsolete. That's going to happen through greed leading to a format war.
     
  4. Mark Oates

    Mark Oates Supporting Actor

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    Articles like that scare me. Don't get me wrong, I think there's room for both collectible media and VOD in the home entertainment market, but I'd be very unhappy to see the end of a tangible product that I can stand on a shelf.

    I can appreciate how the technophiles among us can get excited at the idea of simply clicking a mouse on a title or better still barking "Computer - Wizard Of Oz, time index 00:35:07" and the picture flickering to life on your 82" UHD wall display. And it's not that I don't trust Hollywood, it's just I'm not sure I share their probable vision of the future of home entertainment.

    If Hollywood's current obsession with rights and revenue protection continues, and physical media is phased out in favour of video-on-demand, I would suspect that any local storage facility (be that a disc, tape or your built-in hard drive) would not be an option. VOD is by nature a watch-now, pay-now system. The data will be fully encrypted to prevent unauthorized recording, and the likelihood is that the computer industry will have moved away from local storage anyway so there's unlikely to be any way of making your own copy of a beloved movie any way. Even if you could, you would be breaking the copyright laws.

    Okay, so you have a system where you pay-per-performance for everything and it's at a sensible, affordable price (yeah, right). What's your favourite movie? Fine if it's The Incredibles, Lord Of The Rings, Revenge Of The Sith or whatever the flavour of the month is. Maybe there are some back catalogue items available. Storage is cheap, right?

    Well, what if it's not so cheap that it doesn't pay Disney to keep Song Of The South on its distribution server. Or for Hallmark to retain the Hal Roach library on theirs? Will we see outfits like Image setting up servers to carry more eclectic titles?

    I suspect the VOD market will be modelled on the current Blockbuster store. High capacity for new films, lesser capacity for older films. And let's not con ourselves. Server space will always be at a premium.

    Being a law-abiding citizen, I'm forced to support the music industry's assaults on peer-to-peer networks and the free distribution of copyrighted materials; but along with the recordings that were quite rightly targeted, these networks carried an awful lot of material that the record companies have always disregarded. Recordings that very often are not available on CD, and would not have a cat's chance in hell of being found on one of the legitimate music download sites. The music industry has every right to protect these recordings as well, but the fact these recordings have been illegally available indicates a gap in the market.

    I'd be worried a similar situation might arise with VOD - not a black market in movies, but that less well-known or more esoteric titles might disappear from public view. Viacom's CEO admitted that only about 5% (or something like that) of the company's catalogue was being exploited in the DVD market, and that the company intended to change that. I'm not convinced that you would ever see 100% of a studio's catalogue available in any format. If that could be the case, and a sensible pricing structure also established, I might change my attitude to VOD. As long as a good few of my favourite movies remain unavailable on DVD (let alone VOD), I'll remain sceptical.
     
  5. Will_B

    Will_B Producer

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    Even with a DVD, things like seamless branching barely works. Imagine trying to implement that, or even a commentary track, into a download. Maybe in 20 years, but not now.
     
  6. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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    I read that article sitting here in my paperless office overlooking the heliopad where the flying cars are parked and I agreed with it totally. Get with the program you technophobic nay-sayers. [​IMG]
     
  7. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    OK, so the author mentions iTunes as the future distribution model for HD movies. In order for that to be feasible the download times and storage requirements would have scale to current levels. ie. a few minutes to download, and the same percentage of total hard drive space that an iTune currently needs.

    Although compression technologies may advance significantly, I think the major hurdles to overcome will be the bandwidth and storage needs. In fact once bandwidth reaches a certain level, online storage will become feasible with companies offering terabytes of space for reasonable cost. So really only bandwidth needs to reach appropriate speeds. It may take a few years but probably less than you think.

    So imagine an iFlix where you pay $5 for a 1GB HD movie file that downloads in 10 minutes (but you can start watching while it downloads). Couldn't this succeed in displacing DVDs?

    One aspect, mentioned by George, is the portability of an iTune. No doubt technology will solve this challenge as well with an iPod type of storage device and wireless HiDef sunglasses using some type of DLP technology to produce an image equivalent to a 100" screen.

    Some may scoff at the plausibility of such a scenario, but I bet no one doubts its possibility. One need only look at the technology of last few years to see how far and fast we've advanced. Portable video phones once seemed highly unlikely, if not impossible, yet like many other things we will soon take them for granted.
     
  8. Arnie G

    Arnie G Supporting Actor

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    What about all the people too poor to have all of this hardware to download & store movies, but they can afford a $40 dvd player & $5.88 dvds.
     
  9. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    I understand your point that people without access to online content are well served by physical formats. But if you are suggesting that the inevitable move to online distribution of digital content (music, video, games) should give consideration to the "have-nots" I expect you will be sadly disappointed.
     
  10. Patrick.C

    Patrick.C Second Unit

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    I agree. There are too many people that take pride in the size of their dvd shelf and spend more time talking about cover art than the actual movie. I would, however, like to see the next format be built around something more rugged. One downside of cds and dvds for me has always been that they're too easy to scratch. I always liked the plastic cased discs of Sony's failed mini disc.
     
  11. WillardK

    WillardK Second Unit

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    Whether you agree with specifics of the article or not, it points to a fact that too often goes ignored in the forum arguments over HD discs. DVD facilitated the switch from analog to digital, and this was significant not just for true home theater but for other uses as well including portable. Now that digital has become standard, it's distribution has taken/will take on different forms. More and more data will be distributed with greater speed whether it's on disc or through a cable, while for some uses less data will be sufficient.

    Distribution methods will compete and affect one another's success, but they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For most a completely paperless office isn't practical, but reduction of paper has been a common sense goal. Over time, hard copies will become less significant. After the 'object' novelty wears off and resources shift/convert (witness forum members' attitudes towards renting), habits adjust accordingly.
     
  12. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    One problem with downloadable media is the quality (or lack thereof), that is a direct result of J6P's "it's good enough" mentality. Case in point: To facilitate compression, itunes are of extremely low bitrate, that they really only sound "decent" (even that is debatable) on an itunes player with tiny earmics. To the general public, that is "good enough". But if you try and play them back on a full audiophile system, they are hard to listen to. Case#2: Not to open a can of worms, but the defeat of vinyl to CDs was not due to superior sound quality, but one of convenience. The illusion of better CD sound was perpetuated, again, by J6P with their Rat Shack turntables and cartridges (and the fact that, the general public has no comprehension of the theoretical superiority of analog). Thus vinyl lost because CD sound was better in the perceptionof J6P .... and the audiophile lost out. What worries me is that the same will happen with movie downloads. What the general public deems as "good enough" will dominate PQ, and the rest of us will be left in the cold…

    And that does not even touch on what “politically correct lemmings” like Disney can and will do to their film libraries. Not only could they alter their films to better fit with society’s leanings, but they could dictate what we could and could not watch altogether (like, oh, “Song of the South”….?). Incidentally, this is one hope Disney had for DIVX, prior to it's demise. As long as I have a physical object in my home, politically correct leanings have no influence whatsoever on what I watch (or how I watch it). Regardless of the non-pc nature of my library, since I have it physically in my home, it cannot be censored (short of a police state). I would pay real money to see the ACLU try…..
     
  13. WillardK

    WillardK Second Unit

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    Well... we could discuss 'J6P mentality' or 'elitist myopia,' the fact remains that different methods are more or less appropriate/sufficient for different uses.
     
  14. Vader

    Vader Supporting Actor

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    I concur with this, but I am concerned that the uses for which J6P is best suited will dominate the market, at our expense (and, hence, audiophile and videophile uses).

    As with MAR, I don't care what J6P prefers, just as long as it does not place any limitations on what I prefer. If the sound quality from itunes is acceptable for them, fine - as long as I have access to the higher quality I want.

    On the other hand, there are many who love great sound in their cars, whereas I couldn't care less (paraphrasing Steve Martin, "Four wheels and a seat"). And yet I would be just as upset if my indifference limited the hobbies of car audio-philes.
     
  15. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    Oh, I always get a good kick out of people who believe this. First off, you'd have to replace your network card to gigabit ethernet. Even that's not quite fast enough to download 1GB in 10 minutes, due to network latency, network protocol overhead, and network protocol implementation inefficiencies. Top that off with the fact that you'd have to give everyone a sustained, not burstable, gigabit connection to the internet, which is pretty expensive to say the least, and well, it just ain't happening anytime soon.

    Oh, and you'd have to remove all your cat5e, because it's not certified for gigabit transfer. Did I forget to mention that there's no wireless protocol that transmits at 1Gb? That means your system will have to have a physical connectionto your network.

    Not to mention that I can buy 15 movies at the same time by going to a store. Download 15 movies at the same time? Well, now you've increased the download time by 15 for each movie. Whee!
     
  16. David_Blackwell

    David_Blackwell Screenwriter

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    No matter how fast download speeds will become, you have several factors going against downloading be accepted by the whole:

    1. Some people will not download movies. They rather buy it or rent it from a store.
    2. Some areas will take years to get bandwith access available to all
    3. Studios are slow to change to allow their whole film libraries to be downloaded and then you have to take in the amount it will cost to scan the source materials of eahc movie that hadn't been worked on for a DVD release.

    The disc is far from dead. It's very much alive and kicking.
     
  17. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, but you still have to go to the store. Instead you could download them while you sleep.
     
  18. Mike D

    Mike D Stunt Coordinator

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    1. They may not have a choice. The B&M stores can't match the convenience and selection and pricing that the online distrubution model can offer.
    2. Perhaps, but it will happen.
    3. Moot. The films would have to be scanned either way.

    iTunes has been a success, but CDs and CD stores still exist. This coexistance may last for years but I think inevitably the record labels will get behind the more profitible distribution method and let the other fall into disuse. A similar scenario seems likely for digitized movie distribution. There may be some setbacks currently but none that can't be overcome given enough time.
     
  19. Kwang Suh

    Kwang Suh Supporting Actor

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    Myopic? Spare me. I deal with networks everyday. I have an excellent grasp of exactly what it takes to pipe in large amounts of bandwidth, and the technical challenges and costs associated with it. Spare me the naive, optimist view that knows nothing about what it takes to do such a collosal and expensive task, just so that people can download movies when they can just go to the bloody store and pick them up.

    Do you even have any idea how much it costs to have even a sustained 100Mb connection to a building? Hint: your mortage cost is probably smaller.

    I've been having this discussion since, well, I knew what a network was. That was about 18 years ago. I'm still waiting for my super pipe to my house.
     
  20. Marko Berg

    Marko Berg Supporting Actor

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    Some people, myself included, actually like going to the store, picking up a physical product such as a DVD, and looking at the cover art and specs on the back cover etc. before making a decision to buy or not.

    It's not all about convenience, size of available selection, and other supposed benefits of the online distribution model. Twenty years from now, people will still want to go shopping and "try on" things (yes, other than clothes too), because they have to do something with their free time. You're wrong if you think everyone will want to sit in front of a computer or TV all Saturday, browsing an online database of VoD films or placing downloads in a queue.

    Personally, I feel I get value for my money when I buy a special edition DVD in a nice packaging. I would feel very differently about downloading the same content to a hard drive on a computer or a set top box where space restrictions would eventually force me to erase the purchase. (Single view VoD is different, comparable to renting a DVD for a few days.) In addition, if I don't like a particular DVD, I can sell it to someone else. How would I do this with a digital download with a restrictive DRM scheme implemented?
     

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