PALO ALTO, Calif. – Like an old married couple, Hollywood and Silicon Valley keep fighting the same old arguments. The latest spat erupted at the first meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers held on the Stanford campus here.
Hollywood claims Silicon Valley doesn’t do enough to protect its content. The Valley counters Hollywood doesn’t put out its video in ways attractive enough for the digital age.
Meanwhile the next big format war is brewing. And the Valley is still enamored as ever with each new sexy codec that comes along.
On the codec front, a Google engineering manager said the search giant locked down the code stream and held an industry summit two weeks ago for its VP9 codec. It showed the royalty-free codec it evolved from VP8 that Google acquired with On2 Technologies delivering streams while using roughly half the CPU horsepower of today’s H.264.
The free, fast codec will be much more attractive than the competing H.265 (aka HEVC), said Google’s Jan Skoglund, claiming H.265 will carry even high royalties than its predecessor. Industry giants are still debating terms for H.265 at the MPEG LA.
Expect more shoes to fall in this debate over the next year as debate heats up and crystallizes over patent terms for both codecs. Chip makers, many of whom attended the VP9 summit, are likely to carve support for both options into silicon. Meanwhile Google engineers are already turning their attention to a VP10 generation, said Skoglund.
Google demoed VP9 using significantly less CPU power than H.264.
Stealing is wrong, plain and simple. Stealing digital media is stealing.
Trying to force a non-viable business model on consumers that you treat like enemies is something entirely different and rarely gets anyone much further than bankruptcy court. That is reality and companies that accept it and find a viable business model (think iTunes) will thrive. Companies that don't will be treated as the enemies that they have made of their customers and will make a lot of lawyers rich on their way to the dust heap of history. The only thing in question is how much damage they can do on their way down and how long it will take.
A bad business model doesn't justify theft, but it does justify bankruptcy.
As a person that used to work in a movie theater, I think the studios pine for the days when they had absolute control of when, where, and how much to charge for each viewing of their products.
The Betamax had them freaking out because they lost that ability and made the price of tapes astronomical in hopes of killing the market. Early films were priced at $80 a tape (in the early 70's). Later when I did consulting for early video tape rental shops, they were terrified that Hollywood was going to shut them down at any minute. But I guess the light went on in the accounting department that video rental stores guaranteed sales for all their products and they learned to embrace them. But now they are finding it hard to make money with bits. No doubt they'd like to use streaming to get back to those thrilling days of pay per view. But they have two problems, one, they view all their customers with the suspicion that they will all become pirates and they'll lose control again, and second, we've all hear the horror stories of Hollywood accounting, movies that generate billions of dollars in sales, on paper all lose money. The gravy train is too big and has been going on for so long for them to think in any other terms.
With Hollywood's obsession with digital rights and squeezing every last nickel out of the consumer, I've become turned off by the whole business. Maybe I'm just becoming an old crank. I'm not finding much interest in anything coming out of Hollywood. I think with all the rush to make stunning, flashy, whiz-bang effects, and all that jazz, they have forgotten how to make GOOD movies. Good movies start with a GOOD story. I know there are good movies out there, but the studios never seem to be interested in them, instead obsessing over the latest summer "block-buster". As for whether the studios or Silicon Valley get their way, I could offer a very familiar quote from "Gone With the Wind".
While I do not condone stealing, I do recognise that it may require studios to rethink their approach and adapt to the new world order. If I as a user can find content on-line at a low cost and with great service I would think that many would be willing to pay to play. Currently with the battle between studios, downloaders, and websites it just encourages the many to get what they can for free while it lasts. How about people work together (aka studios, websites, providers, etc.) and find a reasonable solution?
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