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Sunday, August 28, 2016

VR virtual reality cinema coming

IN THIS POST: short overview of some major technogical changes from digitization, then a focus (TBC and rolling updates) on VR


The film industry, at times reluctantly, has embraced a series of new technologies over recent decades, and the disruptive forces of digitization always seem poised to transform what at heart is quite a conservative industry, locked into franchises, the star system (changing?) and dominated by a mere 'big six' companies despite all the changes.
As with cassette tapes, you may have been born after the VHS tape disappeared from the high street


DVD meant they could:
  1. re-monetize back catalogue [long tail...]; just as the music industry got millions to replace their tapes/vinyl with (sonically inferior!) CDs so too did the movie industry make billions from VHS tapes being replaced
  2. the monetizing went further with editionalising: usually starting with a vanilla (movie only, perhaps a trailer added) edition, and leading over time to any combination of special, collector's, ultimate (etc) edition, not to mention director's cut, with commentaries and other extras to push sales, plus footage cut for cinema release
Geek.com headline, 2014.
Digitisation has also seen distribution costs slashed, with hard drives or streaming now gradually displacing film prints, and opening up VoD through outlets from Amazon to YouTube. In theory this, together with the dramatically reduced production costs of digital shoots (just £48k for Le Donk...), benefits the Indies, but its the big six that remain utterly dominant.
In a historic step for Hollywood, Paramount Pictures has become the first major studio to stop releasing movies on film in the United States.
Paramount recently notified theater owners that the Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” which opened in December, would be the last movie that it would release on 35-millimeter film.
The studio’s Oscar-nominated “The Wolf of Wall Street,” from director Martin Scorsese, is the first major studio film that was released all digitally, according to theater-industry executives who were briefed on the plans but not authorized to speak about them. [Seattle Times, 2014]



Avatar ensured the usual film industry approach: copy a success
3D, an old idea resurrected from its 1950s B-movie graveyard, is another great wheeze for the industry. Whilst it increases production costs significantly, the ticket premiums, especially when coupled with IMAX, have proven another windfall for the industry, although audience appetite for 3D seems to have peaked. Film executives will be glad to see that 3D TV has flopped, ensuring that home cinema won't yet kill the popcorn factory of multiplex cinema. Once again, 3D has reinforced the grip of the deep-pocketed big six, able to afford the extravagant tentpole budgets of 3D extravaganzas, or the $10m+ to do a post-production 3D conversion from a 2D shoot. See the Wiki.



VR is already getting slots at prestigious film festivals (see: Virtual reality gets starring role at Venice film festival) and is the next step on the road of digitization.




This one could be different though - it could actually reinforce the triumph of the video games industry, now larger in scale than the film industry...


The music industry is also engaging with VR (see this post):




...

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