Long Live the Blu-ray Disc … well sort of

The much predicted death of the HD DVD format, while in a way cause for celebration as a consumer, does little for us as content producers and here is why…

If you are a content producer (like my company Stonehenge) Blu-ray disc production is now the only way to left to distribute High Definition product reliably and easily for any number of uses, eg retail, sales, corporate display, games, etc etc. HD DVD were very similar to regular DVDs in terms of workflow…however with Blu-ray it’s not quite so simple..at least for the time being.

But if you haven’t created a Blu-ray disc for replication as of yet (we have done a few Blu-rays so far) you are in for a bit of a nasty shock, as I was …govern yourself accordingly! You need to remember that the creation of Blu-ray discs was not just about quality (quality is, of course, fantastic), it was also about finding better ways to enforce copyright protection. For Sony as a content creator, this was a rather big issue and a real priority. So what it means for us as Producers / Publishers is be prepared to go through a series of additional challenges and costs that will add much time and money to your project’s replication process. It is also very frustrating to say the least.

Get a Licence

1. You will need to acquire a Master AASC Licence to be able to get a key # to produce any kind of Blu-ray title (it will take months to get this Master Licence) and you will have to be approved to get it too; there are a lot of forms to fill out. Costs vary depending on use of the disc, ie. games, movies, etc., and will go from $5,000 to $15,500 USD (est)!!.

Get A Key

2. You will then need to get a Key once you have your Master License. This key is a special code number which is required by the replicator before you can even begin the replication process. The keys cost around $500 USD. Note: many authoring studios require this key even to try and produce your preliminary test disc.

Get an ISAN number (whatever the hell that is)

3. You will also need to get a special ISAN #, which is like an official catalogue number so that your project can be tracked. This also takes time and costs about $100.

Prove you own it !!

4. Before you can duplicate your disc, your replication studio (eg CINRAM or SONY) will require some hard copy proof of ownership of all copywritten materials …including soundtrack agreements, talent agreements, etc., with full details. BTW, some of these folks have rather sophisticated electronic ways of checking your project to see if you have purchased rights.

And finally after all that, be prepared to wait 2 extra months to get your disc made because the big studios have all the priority in the replication houses, which for the next two years will still be well under capacity!! Let’s hope they find ways to make this process a wee bit easier next time I make a disc.

No kidding… I am still very much hurting from the experience of trying to make these first Blu-ray projects happen.

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MoviesYouPlay

Much as I (and my company) predicted the mass move to High Definition Television 7 years ago when we started producing our own material in HD, so too do I predict that the move to internet TV will move way faster than most people believe.

I thought that it was pretty much a no brainer 8 years ago that consumers would eventually move to bigger better TV pictures (where else would you go?) yet man, the arguments that people put up to say it wasn’t going to happen, even broadcast Executives (hmmm maybe it was mostly the broadcast executives who said this, come to think about it!) Great comments I used to get were things like “No one is going to want to buy a $6,000 dollar TV” or “People can’t tell the difference between HD and Standard defintion so why bother”. Both of those comments used to drive me crazy.

Now it’s the internet with the promise of TV on demand 7/24 full flexibility and the ultimate interactivity coming on strong, yet still people question it. I’d like to share a few of these new stats from a recent comscore.com press release which even shocked me…but I think proves my point about rapid adoption of TV on the internet.

Comscore.com notable findings from December 2007 (US figures) include:

  • 77.6 million viewers watched 3.2 billion videos on YouTube.com (41.6 videos per viewer).
  • 40.5 million viewers watched 334 million videos on MySpace.com (8.2 videos per viewer).
  • Online viewers watched an average of 3.4 hours (203 minutes) of online video during the month, representing a 34-percent gain since the beginning of 2007.
  • The average online video duration was 2.8 minutes.
  • The average online video viewer consumed 72 videos.

Top U.S. Online Video Properties* by Videos Viewed

December 2007

Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations

Source: comScore Video Metrix

Property

Videos

(000)

Share (%) of

Videos

Total Internet

10,156,199

100.0

Google Sites

3,314,962

32.6

Fox Interactive Media

358,353

3.5

Yahoo! Sites

340,409

3.4

Viacom Digital

237,689

2.3

Microsoft Sites

180,443

1.8

Time Warner Network

174,079

1.7

Disney Online

123,009

1.2

ESPN

84,839

0.8

Apple Inc.

50,316

0.5

ABC.COM

47,259

0.5

*Rankings based on video content sites; excludes video server networks. Online video includes both streaming and progressive download video.

Well Done SONY!


Okay it’s love at first sight for me! I already love consumer electronics, computers, TVs etc etc but this new cool device wins hands down as the best new nicest looking “thing” I have seen in a long time…and in case you have no idea what it is….it is the all new Sony VIAO PC computer. This new PC concept is meant to sit near or close to your main TV so you can surf the web, do your emails, record TV shows, watch Blu-ray discs all from the comfort of your lazy boy.

This high powered PC is an awesome bit of hardware and is equipped with a recordable Blu-ray player and 2 HD receiver / tuners that allow you to record up to 50 hours of High Definition Television. This package comes complete with wireless keyboard and mouse … man o man you got to love those Sony Guys…I not sure how much it will cost but I’m thinking it wont be cheap..!

TV on the web

The race is indeed on to see who can offer TV on the web…and while it has been tried a number of ways up to now there seem to be some real winners so far. Keep in mind most of these are still prototypes or in beta testing and as with many of these US sites you may not be able to view some of this material from a Canadian based computer!!

So far here are some of my favorites …of the real thing that is, full episodes of network television

Fancast.com

Since 2007 Fancast started offering up more than 3,000 hrs of TV. The service offers ads before each show. The full screen image quality is not quite clear but the site had 450,000 visitors in December so not too bad a start… even tho hardly anyone knows about it yet!!

Hulu.com

Not just a video website, Hulu is a online distribution service launched three months ago by NBC Universal and News Corp. (Fox). Its content can be found just about anywhere else …has a feature that allows you to email and embed the clips on your web site

Hulu runs ads and links you to sites where you can buy the downloads of the program. They seem to have a good collection of content.

Joost.com

This site is run from software (26mb download) which allows you to set up a custom download and search by word or alphabet. The site runs commercials but offers a very good picture quality.

They have over 20,000 TV shows online plus chat rooms for each show.

MeeVee.com

Launched more than two years ago as a TV listings and search engine, MeeVee has evolved into a full-scale video hub for shows from ABC, CBS, Fox and CW. Its customizable guide tracks favorites (actors, directors and hobbies) and creates a printable schedule and widget that can be posted on your blog. MeeVee blogs address TV issues and let users comment on topics and episodes.

Great-looking, but not everything worked smoothly.

Veoh.com

Created as a YouTube competitor, Veoh has expanded its ambitions into becoming yet another distributor of US network programming. Viewers can comment on the episodes and post them on Facebook or e-mail to friends. Talk about growth… their site traffic is up about 2,000% since 2006!!

Other places worth looking at

MySpace.com/primetime

Television.AOL.com

Yahoo (tv.yahoo.com)

Another thing worth looking at as the new breed of what I would call semi professional short form TV, these are sites that offer something between Network TV web site and a user generated site like YouTube…myself I’m not really convinced these kind of short form sites will have a long life but well worth taking a look at as they do get a lot of viewers.

Heavy.com

BlipTV.com

Channel101.com

Happy TV watching everyone!!