The view from Digital Hollywood looks pretty grim to me. 3-D TV was a disappointment, 4K TV (aka Ultra HDTV) is pretty much a useless extravagance, quality video is a poor stepchild in today’s wireless world and nobody wants to buy movies anymore.
Two Digital Hollywood insiders I talked to in a recent trip there expressed optimism given the breadth and pace of activity these days. Still, I see a town in search of the next big thing.
After its big debut a couple years ago, 3-D TV was hardly mentioned at the recent Consumer Electronics Show and broadcasters have pulled the plug on some 3-D channels. The lack of content and the need for glasses are both taking the blame for 3-D’s fizzle in the home.
Some had high hopes for the autostereoscopic approach Philips pioneered. But few think Dolby, which now owns the technology, has the clout to drive it forward. After a big belly flop, climbing back on the diving board is harder.
Samsung is pushing 3-D TV forward with work on a Bluetooth standard for active shutter glasses with backing from Panasonic and Sony. It also set up a facility in South Korea to convert 2-D content to 3-D.
Live sports is a big missing piece. “If the Super Bowl was broadcast in 3-D, this would be a different discussion,” said Brad Hunt, principal of Digital Media Directions (Westlake Village, Calif.).
The Ultra HDTV (4K x 2K) displays at CES seem to have left everyone cold. To really see all those extra pixels you need the equivalent of a 96-inch home TV, but even the more standard size screens are way too expensive for the average Joe, I am told.
The trouble is without a next big thing like 3-D or 4K, TVs remain stuck with their role as a commodity product. “We are back to TV sets sold by the inch so it’s hard for anyone to make a profit--and 4K is potentially a race to the bottom,” said Andrew G. Setos, chief executive of Blackstar Engineering (Pacific Palisades, Calif.) and a veteran audio-visual engineer.
“I think the improvement could come in truly lower cost of manufacturing--not by lower labor costs but a new mechanism that may be protected by patents--then TV manufacturers could make profits, but until then they are in a world of hurt,” he said.
Most movies I have wasted time and money watching of late need neither 4K nor 3D, they need a script... The cinemas have sufficiently destroyed the movie going experience to send us home & the supply end have some how manged to attribute a fall decline in the market to piracy as opposed to a simple lack of quality product. Somehow the plethora of inbred two-heads chasing some form of wild critter or a house full of bitchy ditzes is seen a suitable substitute for entertainment. Should see a rise in book sales again soon...
Maybe the next big thing is an intelligent agent that seeks out the content each of us might find interesting among all those thousands of dispersed channels.
That and the death of so-called reality TV, which has about as much to do with reality as flying unicorns do :)
From what I've read, the movie studios are subsidizing the shift to digital cinema. As they should, since it means huge savings to them primarily. I don't know whether this subsidy is for all theaters, or just the major chains, however.
About the comment on the "hassle" of finding decent TV content to watch over the Internet. Using any search engine, and I typically use Webcrawler (just to prove the point that Google isn't all there is on this planet), I can find any number of TV/movie content sites or portals. The portals are essentially search engines in their own right. Beyond the obvious Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu, that is. So pick one or more of these portals, and also use the TV networks' own web sites, and I honestly can't fathom what more TV anyone could possibly watch.
This is just to show that the well publicized "solutions," such as AppleTV, GoogleTV, Roku, et al., are HARDLY the answer to Internet TV. They are merely overly-restrictive solutions, and hardly essential. TV content on the Internet is no different from any other content on the Internet. Why assume that TV content must be different? Search it out the same as anything else, bookmark your favorite portals, and enjoy!
I use over the air TV (47 channels in my market), I use Internet TV, no cable, no Netflix, no Hulu Plus, and I still have way more content out there than I would ever be able to sit through.
To tie this back to the article, I guess I'm saying that if Hollywood doesn't "get" what digital is offering them, they need to wake up.
@Bert33506: "Well, the movie theaters we frequent on most Saturday nights have recently converted to the Sony Cinema 4K standard. That's something. Must save the studios a ton of money, not to have to distribute those bulky movie platters (or whatever they're called), no?"
Good for the studios, but bad for a lot of others. It's getting harder to find 35MM prints, and new films are increasingly released in digital only. Expect too see a lot of smaller theaters go out of business because they can't afford the $100K+ costs of upgrading to digital projectors to show the new content.
"Assuming we always need this "next big thing," it should be proper Internet distribution of TV and movies. With intelligently designed connected TVs out on store shelves. And by the way, we're essentially there already.
***Only no one seems to get this."
Bert, I couldn't agree more. My entire viewing experience consists of an Over-The-Air antenna (the way TV was meant to be) and Netflix. I get all the networks and more live sports TV than my neighbors get with Cable.
Last year, my neighbor complained that the local cable service blacked out the World Series - unless you had the premium channels. Yet I was freely watching it in HD over the airways.
Regarding lack of stuff to watch, between over-the-air TV and my Netflix steaming and DVD account, I have probably 150,000 movies and shows to watch at any one time. And all this for only $16/mo.
To be totally honest, I'm never without anything good to watch. If I watched 2 movies a day, 7 days a week, it would take me over 200 years to see everything. I'm not complaining.
"The trouble for Hollywood is that consumers seem content to stream movies and TV shows. They don’t want to shell out the money to buy them."
"Buying them" implies you'll want to watch the content *again*. How many movies and TV shows have you seen that weren't worth watching the first time?
Hollywood makes a huge noise about digital piracy, in the fond believe that if they could only stop people from pirating content, the Promised Land would be in sight, as all of those pirates would instead buy. They wouldn't. They would simply do without. The content is not valuable enough to those people to be worth paying for.
The market will pay for value. Hollywood and TV are still struggling with the issue of providing value, and understanding what the market *will* pay for.
You nailed it. My 52 inch TV does not get the use it once did because it is a hassle to find something worth watching. As you said, content being dispersed. Existing TV's do not compete very well with streaming via tablets.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.