Thoughtful "impact of Blu-ray" article

Discussion in 'The Movies' started by Steve, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Jan 1, 2010 #1 of 25
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Found this New York Time article interesting. The author makes the point that with each successive generation of home movie distribution technology, the cost of re-mastering movies for the new medium makes studios think twice about the undertaking. As a result, the catalog of readily available movie titles shrinks with each new generation of playback medium.

    "[...] huge swaths of our film heritage have vanished. After 10 years of DVD the studios seem to have concluded that all the films that will make money in home video have already been released; that number is a very small percentage of their output. Turner Classic Movies online says that of the 162,984 films listed in its database (based on the authoritative AFI Catalog), only 5,980 (3.67 percent) are available on home video [...]"
     
  2. Jan 1, 2010 #2 of 25
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    ...and yet 2009 was a record year for Blu Ray...including many of those same "older titles" mentioned in the article.

    In addition, most trade publications are predicting another surge growth year for BD in 2010 and again in 2011.
     
  3. Jan 1, 2010 #3 of 25
    elaclair

    elaclair Rescued Racers Live Here

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    I also find it interesting all the old catalog titles that are being given a full restoration treatment for release on Blu-Ray. The top two that come to mind are of course Gone With The Wind and The Wizard of Oz. Both have never looked better and in the case of Wizard, maybe even better than it's original theatre release. A lot of the "epic" and "vista" movies are promised a similar treatment.

    I think the advent of really good restoration technology, coupled with a "latest and greatest" consumer medium available have sparked a long awaited and much needed interest in the catalog titles that have for years sat degrading on the shelf....
     
  4. Jan 1, 2010 #4 of 25
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Agree...anyone who has seen Lawrence of Arabia, for example, on Blu Ray disk should be amazed at how it appears - it never looked better.
     
  5. Jan 1, 2010 #5 of 25
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    The article is not a disparagement of Blu-ray. It acknowledges its success as a medium is growing. It simply points out that the economics of HD restoration may result in fewer titles being available than in past generations (DVD, VHS), but hopes that won't be the case.

    Under 4% of titles being available on DVD is a telling statistic, IMHO, no less BD.
     
  6. Jan 1, 2010 #6 of 25
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    True.

    It has taken some time to get BD established with the studios themselves - now they all seem to be getting on the bandwagon.

    The other good news that the recent trends to lower pricing on the BD disks themselves will surely accelerate things.
     
  7. Jan 1, 2010 #7 of 25
    Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so. What I deduced from reading the article is that lower profit margins on disks will make it even more difficult for studios to justify the cost of re-mastering older titles.
     
  8. Jan 1, 2010 #8 of 25
    hdtvfan0001

    hdtvfan0001 Well-Known Member

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    Disagree....volumes will offset that....they already saw that in this past holiday season....
     
  9. Jan 1, 2010 #9 of 25
    Tom Robertson

    Tom Robertson Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

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    Volumes only apply to movies that have a large audience. Remastering is touchy, delicate work and therefore expensive... Few older movies would make back the cost of release much less the cost of remastering and release.

    Remember, the article is talking about nearly 100 years of movies, with only portions of the last 20 years being worth the cost of remastering. Very, very few people would be interested in movies from the 1930's and 1940's, except for the most well known movies.

    I've never seen Gone with the Wind for instance. I'm just not interested in many of the older movies.

    Cheers,
    Tom
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    Precisely the point the author was making. It's not about sales #'s for recently released movies.

    "Fox has virtually eliminated the archival initiative that brought us marvels like the Fox Film Noir series and the box sets devoted to John Ford, Frank Borzage and F. W. Murnau. Paramount has apparently lost interest in releasing its older titles (a shame, since it also owns the Republic Pictures library, a wonderful, largely unexplored repository of genre films from the ’30s, ’40s and early ’50s).

    Universal makes the occasional effort on DVD, and usually does a good job with what it does, but the studio has allowed its superb library to fall almost entirely out of distribution apart from a handful of horror films and Abbott and Costello comedies. The vast majority of the 700 prime Paramount titles owned by Universal (essentially all of Paramount’s sound films up to 1948) have for all practical purposes disappeared down a black hole."
     
  11. RobertE

    RobertE Active Member

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    I agree with Tom. The "classics" will always get a treatment to get them to look the best. But, think of the countless Westerns, B-Movie scifi & horror flicks from the 40's, 50's & 60's that will probably not see the light of day for some time to come if ever

    The only way I see those getting a HD treatment would be to outsource to some 3rd world country where labor costs are nil, or someone comes up with some hardware & software combo that can automate a good chunk of the process.
     
  12. LarryFlowers

    LarryFlowers New Member

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    The frightening thing here is that many of these films may well be lost forever.

    I am not so much concerned with getting these movies onto a DVD, Blu_Ray, etc., as I am with getting them digitally stored from master prints. The fragility of film stock is the frightening part.

    Digitizing the films and storing them would always keep them available to be viewed, remastered, even placed on new film stock if needed.

    People that care are going to have to step up.

    It is frightening to watch the current generation turn up its nose at any film simply because it is in black & white.

    It isn't going to be cheap.
     
  13. BattleZone

    BattleZone Hall Of Fame

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    As hard as it is to believe, huge numbers of those older films have already been lost forever, except perhaps for some older, worn, damaged prints floating around. There have been countless studio fires and floods, as well as buy-outs and takeovers that have resulted in tons of footage being thrown out. And even films that were intended to be preserved aren't always preserved as well as intended.

    Then there's the problem of digital storage. The amount of data for a film is staggering. Archival footage isn't just the final studio master, but all kinds of additional footage, such as outtakes, alternate scenes, interviews, etc. And we have only recently been able to digitize film at resolutions that approach the quality of the actual film. Even today, few movies use 8k masters, though 4k is fine for many movies. But even 4 hours of footage stored at 4k is HUGE!

    And as the studios have found, technology moves very, very quickly. Data storage devices, mostly tape backup machines, that were cutting edge just 10 years ago are obsolete and unsupported today, and it will only be worse in the future. And many studios were making 1k masters during the latter part of the DVD era, intending to use those masters for Blu-Ray. In most cases, that simply wasn't good enough, and they've had to go back and remaster many of those movies at great additional expense. The Fifth Element, anyone?
     
  14. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    There's a little bit of spin going on here too...

    Before Blu ray came out, DVD prices were already trending lower.. I bought lots of $5 DVDs many years ago... so the profit margin on DVDs was shrinking independent from Blu ray.

    Catalog movies, especially those not in the highest demand, would never be DVDs that the studios could have released at $20 anyway... Only those in highest demand would ever be big sellers on any media format!

    Meanwhile... yes, they might have to spend more time/money on remastering for Blu ray... but they also can sell those Blu rays for a higher price than a DVD... so IF they have a movie that will sell enough to be profitable, it should be equally profitable as a Blu over time than a DVD over time because it will always be of higher quality on Blu.

    Also, worth noting... that the good restoration teams have been working from HD masters for years now anyway... so any new DVD of a catalog title that has come out in recent years should really have been scanned at HD resolutions anyway unless they weren't planning for the future... so there might not be any additional cost of restoration at all... just the higher cost of Blu replication vs DVD... which again, should be taken care of in the higher price they can sell the Blu.
     
  15. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    You could have made that same "higher quality wins over time" argument 12 years ago about DVD relative to VHS. 10 years from now, Blu-ray will probably be replaced by something "better", in an effort by the movie studios to once again get us to buy the same movie we may have already purchased on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray.

    That said, I think the market for home purchase of disks or whatever format is coming next will be increasingly diminished by IP delivery of HD movies (Netflix, Vudu, VOD, etc.) Lots of people only want to see a movie once every 5-10 years, if that often, and won't feel compelled to physically own it if they know it's only a click away. Just my .02.
     
  16. Art7220

    Art7220 Godfather

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    BattleZone, do you have a list of movies that have been lost like you say?

    I believe there is also a list of movies that were released on VHS and Laser Disk that were not released on DVD and movies on DVD that aren't on BluRay.

    The Beatles "Let It Be" is an example of the former. Song of the South was released on foreign VHS and Laser but not DVD.

    Say what you want about piracy, but that's the only thing that will save old movies where legit rights holders won't do anything about it, if they can't make money on it.

    ETA: And don't get me started about TV shows. We are now able to see shows that premiered in other countries and didn't show up here till months/years afterward, if ever.

    ETA2: Article on What movies died with VHS. www.cinematical.com/2009/03/01/what-movies-died-with-vhs/
     
  17. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I think we're a ways off from that. The internet isn't robust enough to provide everyone who wants it with the ability to get high-quality HD video via IP yet... and couple that with the ISPs who want to cap bandwidth and charge "excessive use fees" to customers who download a lot... that just makes the whole thing really unattractive.

    Also... if prices on physical media are cheap enough, people want value for cost. If it costs me $5-$7 to "Rent" a movie for one time use... It's really attractive to buy the movie outright on Blu ray for $15-$20 and own it forever.

    Frankly, any movie worth my renting at $7 is worth a buy for twice that easily.

    MP3s and legal downloads have worked against CDs because of how many people like those small portable players, and the CD requires too large of a player and carrying around those CDs as well.

    But movies, people tend to enjoy them most on a large screen and home theater, which by design is very much NOT portable... which means having a "portable" movie is not nearly important when you're going to watch it primarily in your living room anyway... so no big driving need for downloads vs Blu ray just to avoid having a physical storage item.
     
  18. Steve

    Steve Well-Known Member

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    I respect that P.O.V. for a large part of the current viewing audience.

    Speaking for myself, tho, my LG BD player allows me to view Netflix and VuDu HDX movies at 1080p on my 65" display for $5-$6 a pop. The PQ is virtually indistinguishable from BD disks at normal viewing distance. Since I may only watch it that one time, I'm happy not to spend an extra $10-$15 to own it.

    If I do want to see it again 5-10 years from now, I'll just stream it again and I still won't have spent what it would have cost me to buy the title outright the first time. Plus, if it does make the cut for remastering to whatever the next delivery format will be, I'll probably be able to see view it with even better PQ at that time.

    Finally, even if it never gets remastered again, since it's already been digitized to 1080p quality, the odds that iteration will still be available for IP streaming are probably pretty good.
     
  19. djlong

    djlong Hall Of Fame

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    I like to think that SOMEday we'll have a model that will allow low-volume, obscure movies to be done like "books on demand" and that you'll be able to order them online and they'll be burned for you at that point.
     
  20. tralfaz

    tralfaz Duplicate User (Account Closed)

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    But now that the holidays are over that trend seems to have reversed. The cheapest price last week for "9", for example, was about $25. It seems the cheapest price for next week's "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs" is also about $25.

    In previous months, you could always find BD discs on release week for less than $20.

    Even Amazon had/has these titles for $25 pre-order. In the past, pre-order BD's were always $15 - $20
     

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