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The Fall of Traditional Entertainment Conglomerates 204

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-me-know-how-that-goes-for-you dept.
Advocatus Diaboli writes "We no longer live in the era of 'plantation-type' movie studios or recording houses. However large private companies still have considerable power over content production, distribution and promotion. Technology has been slowly changing this state of affairs for almost 30-40 years, however certain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations will change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years."
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The Fall of Traditional Entertainment Conglomerates

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  • Ayup... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Waccoon (1186667) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @10:49PM (#34977728)

    "This video contains content from UMG. It is restricted from playback on certian sites."

    Welcome to the future.

    • Re:Ayup... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @10:52PM (#34977744) Journal

      I was just about to say exactly that. The very first video on an article about how new creation and distribution technologies are changing the game, no less.

      Admittedly not nearly as bad as outright region restriction, since in this case the full version is still only a click away, but perhaps an unfortunate sign of restrictive 'old world' thinking.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        we're screwed until the old people die, at a minimum.

        it's sad, but that's what it takes.

        • Re:Ayup... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:40PM (#34978034)
          Unfortunately, those same old people are educating their own replacements. In the broader world, the one beyond the confines of /., there are plenty of young people who believe that DRM is necessary and who are willing to prosecute file sharers and push to keep old media models alive by any means. This problem goes much deeper than the generational gap.
          • Re:Ayup... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by poetmatt (793785) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:02AM (#34978132) Journal

            quite accurate, and agreed, most certainly.

            however, for all the education and lock-in these people try to keep going forever, the more people just innovate around them time and time again.

          • Y'know, there's a third group who believes that DRM is asinine, overkill, and only punishes the people who actually have a right to use the material in a way that DRM is blocking, but that file sharing is still bad mojo and should be avoided. People who actually think that copyright is an important thing (within reason, and it's been extended beyond that), and that the creators should be paid for their work so that they can continue to actually do their work. What's important to me is that the *artists* get

            • I actually do go see many movies in the theatre... some, I've seen in the theatre more than once before they ended up being released on DVD/BluRay.

              I would go more if the company that owns my local theatre hired one or two people to watch over the rooms. People talking, going to the bathroom and letting the door open (the lobby is heavily lighted), drinking loudly... I rather watch a movie in my 21" TV.

              The only reasonable place I can enjoy movies is the cinema museum, where people are civilized. But they mostly show movies up to the '90s.

          • by boristdog (133725)

            there are plenty of young people who believe that DRM is necessary and who are willing to prosecute file sharers and push to keep old media models alive by any means

            Corrected:
            there are plenty of young lawyers who believe that DRM is profitable and who are willing to prosecute file sharers and push to get easy money by any means

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

          we're screwed until the old people die, at a minimum.

          I remember my older sister saying that same thing in 1968. Still waiting for the "old people" to die...

          Does nobody else notice that the old studio "plantation" system is now replaced by outsourced mini-plantations? The money's coming from the same place, and more important, it's going to the same place. Same decisions being made for the same reasons. The "Entertainment Conglomerates" are not dead, they're just diversified into telecommunications and a

    • Hahaha article demolished on first post...deserves +5 Funny and +5 Insightful.

      Traditional media is going to be with us for a long time yet, unfortunately.

  • If you say so.. (Score:2, Redundant)

    by McNally (105243)

    new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations WILL change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years.

    Well, OK, if some guy with a Wordpress blog says so, I'm convinced!

    Being less snide -- I wish these pioneers godspeed; I'd be happy to see big changes. I'm just not sure it'll happen as easily or as quickly as the write-up asserts.

    • Well, OK, if some guy with a Wordpress blog says so, I'm convinced!

      Being less snide -- I wish these pioneers godspeed; I'd be happy to see big changes. I'm just not sure it'll happen as easily or as quickly as the write-up asserts.

      Its a very exciting time, a small band or budding author can publish a wesite and sell their creations for a tiny budget, if you make movies youtube is a godsend, while the social networks offer a readymade marketing platform, which is pretty much the only thing the traditional companies offer. An individual or small group that's well enough plugged in can do wonders, especially in collaboration with other small group, cottage industries are springing up around editing, proofreading, video creation, all of

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Frankly, I was convinced the music industry and subsequently the movie industry were dying when they announced that filesharing was hurting them. Hey, if you think you can or can't, are or aren't then 'viola!', it is so.
      Filesharing will never go away. Middlemen of the music industry are necessary for providing the world with music as platypuss are. Since platypus are endangered, we can assert that the music industry will die and it is a good thing. Marlon Perkins pointed out on Wild Kingdom that animals sur

      • Everything since is just the same regurgitated stories redressed in new technology

        You might as well say the same about books. Very few stories are original - it's the way the story is told that is important.

        For movies, the thing that often dictates my enjoyment the most is the music. A well written score can mean the difference between a very detached experience, or one that really gets you emotionally connected with the movie.

        • by flyneye (84093)

          Hmmm, I notice books have been suffering lately too. Coincidence? I think not.
          But it could be a good thing. If you have already seen/read that story, pick up a reference book to something interesting instead. That's my first reaction to lit-ewage.
                   

          • Hmmm, I notice books have been suffering lately too. Coincidence? I think not.

            That could be something to do with all the "lit-ewage" of the past being forgotten, and only the classics being translated into more modern languages or making it into the "must read" type lists?

            Also if you hadn't read older books, you wouldn't be aware that the new ones are just modernised versions of stories that people might have come up with before we even invented writing.

            Of course, we also have more people than ever who are capable of writing, and can afford to just live off of government handouts or

  • by cgenman (325138) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @10:55PM (#34977756) Homepage

    The problem with all of this, is that *talent* is still expensive. You can get a guy to hold a cellphone for a music video, but you can't get a trained steadycam operator to film an on-foot chase scene without paying him 50 an hour. You can spend 20 hours making a music track yourself in Garage Band that everyone hates, or you can pay a group of musicians a few grand to use their stuff. You can hire all of your friends for free to act in your movie, but your friends are really not actors. Even if your friends ARE actors, they're wrong for the parts and will just muck it all up.

    Face it, good entertainment still needs budgets and organization. Not to mention a 2 hour movie requiring something like 2 weeks of full-time editing alone. The barrier to entry isn't one of technological costs (like indie music) but people costs, like staging public spectacles. And unlike music, that barrier to entry isn't getting lower. Add in that any one person doing their job poorly can completely screw up a movie, and there are hundreds of people making movies, and big, professional houses seem secure.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:04PM (#34977818)
      It is expensive, but it's not that expensive. A significant portion of the money goes to tell people what they want to buy. You could easily cut that out and just spend it on more groups. There's little reason for high price music videos other than demonstrating that you've got a bit of an insecurity about your dick.
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:10PM (#34977842) Journal

      Talent is expensive, sure, but it need not be nearly as expensive as it has become. The budget of a modern blockbuster is not a necessity for talent, it's a by-product of the current industry and its vast barriers to entry. In all but the most exceptional circumstance you certainly need some money, but there's a vast gulf between that and the tens of millions that most major productions burn through. By democratising the marketing and distribution, as well as radically reducing the barrier to entry in terms of equipment costs, modern tech allows talented people to produce a respectable 'amateur quality' film for next to nothing, or one that can stand up against the big guys for tens or hundreds of thousands. Primer [wikipedia.org] is a superb (if somewhat extreme) example - a good story, well told and excellently put together on $7,000. Sure, the particular narrative lent itself well to the low budget, and it was absolutely a product of obsession, but it demonstrates the point.

      More generally, damn good actors, directors, writers, producers, etc. are far more likely to be able to get something out there and be judged on their merits, maybe make a decent living wage, rather than a few making hundreds of millions and the rest fading into obscurity.

      • by badboy_tw2002 (524611) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:30PM (#34977974)

        Yeah, its tough because the "its costly because of the people" argument takes into account the $10M your superstar actor makes. But he makes that money not because they're the most talented actor ever (you probably haven't heard of that guy), but because his name will sell the movie. "Bankable" means they can bank a certain return on the actor's name alone, i.e. "the next _______ movie". If you can get to the point where your name goes in there, you're all set.

        Of course, if distribution and all that changes who knows, as you won't need the big returns for the "big" movies. 5 years is ridiculous, sorry. But later on where everything is convincingly done on blue screen? Maybe. I still think there always needs to be a "draw" for something. Whether its artificial publicity, who's involved, or word of mouth once the movie has gotten a following, you need something. Top of the Youtube front page is one thing, but you better believe if that was the major distro channel then the "dinosaur" media companies would have that page bought out in a heartbeat. There's also the fact that shoestring budget movies can't pay the talent, but they also can't pay the work-a-day types that make a movie happen - and there's a lot of those and always will be if the movie is of a decent size. As long as people are willing to pay for it (the MPAA wants you to believe they will and won't at the same time), then there will be people willing to do it for a job, and the costs will still be high. 5 years, no way. 25? It won't be the same, but it won't be some garage film utopia where all movies are done for the art and the public suddenly enjoys amateur films over high production value blockbusters either.

        • by wisty (1335733)

          Dataming suggests that casting well-known actors has only a nominal impact on ticket sales. The script is much more important. But the people who throw the best parties (i.e. the ones with famous actors invited) will only invite producers and directors who cast big-name actors.

          Harrison Ford was made a star by Star Wars. He wasn't famous before the movie. Nor were his co-stars.

          I can't even recall any of the main stars of Avatar.

          Johnny Depp has always had a few fans, but his name didn't sell until after Pirat

        • But later on where everything is convincingly done on blue screen

          As an actor, I'd just like to say: things will never be done convincingly on blue screen so long as you're using actual human actors. You'll just end up with talent like Ewan McGregor looking like Yubi Wan' Jablowmi? over and over again.

      • by blarkon (1712194)
        Primer may have "officially" cost 7K - but the guy had a lot of people work for free (he did over 2 years post production on it). So as long as you are happy with movies that aren't made as professional pieces, that's fine.
        • by MoonBuggy (611105)

          As I said, it's an extreme example and a product of obsession - $7k per full-length movie is by no means a sustainable model - but it shows that quality needn't necessarily be expensive. Same goes for Clerks [wikipedia.org], come to think of it; I wouldn't want to see every film made like that, but it still worked for that particular story.

          Even at, say, $150k, which would've allowed those involved to get paid a quite reasonable wage for the time spent shooting, the films would be at least an order of magnitude cheaper than

    • The price of creating movies is the reason for the number of generic films and sequals. You won't get something original if you are taking a chance with that much money. Even if you get the "good" actors, cameramen and crew, you will are screwed on the other end of it.

      I blame a word that people like to throw around called "Immersion." It is overrated and in many cases is used to try to gloss over the more intellectual portions of the film. This is classically called valuing SFX over story.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "...but you can't get a trained steadycam operator to film an on-foot chase scene without paying him 50 an hour"

      As the last few movies almost made me throw up from motion sickness, I can assure you that almost nobody is paying up for a steadycam operator anymore.

    • by antifoidulus (807088) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:56PM (#34978100) Homepage Journal
      You are sort of right, but you are really not looking at this from the right angle. While doing what Hollywood does takes money, but now thanks to the proliferation of technology, we are not limited to just consuming what Hollywood produces. Most people have a set amount of time they can devote to entertainment, now back in the day video entertainment consisted of TV and movies, all products of the entertainment industries. Now there are literally tons of different types of videos I can watch, things like video game reviews or comedy sketches or political commentary. And while the Hollywood stuff I do watch cannot be easily replicated by people on the internet, overall I still end up watching less of what the major studios produce.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by damnfuct (861910)

        I think what is happening is like this:

        (a) Movies on-par with Inception: few people have problems to justify watching these.

        (b) Movies on-par with Piranha 3D: most would rather watch youtube videos for 88 minutes.

        While movies in category (a) will only compete (for viewer's attention) with other high-budget movies also in category (a), movies in category (b) can easily be replaced by indie filmmakers (e.g. "low" budget); especially when indie filmmakers put actual effort into plot, camerawork, and cinemati

    • by guruevi (827432)

      But how much does it really cost to make a music track or a movie and how much does it bring in. Even in the current economy, any halfway decent movie will return fully on it's investment to the studio within 2-3 weeks in the box office. The rest is just gravy. There are hardly any mainstream movies or music that actually make a loss. And that is for movies where there are usually a bunch of overpaid actors (enough money for the average schmuck to settle for life - for barely 3 months work) and a bunch of r

      • even dSLR's do well for most projects.

        That they do, a Canon t2i and a merlin steadicam combined with say a zoom H2 recorder and a boom or two, and you can work wonders, all for under a grand.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:59PM (#34978122)
      Talent attracts talent. In music right now, especially in the progressive styles, musicians are recording one-off collaborative albums in their basement studios at an amazing rate. It's almost to the point now that the extremely talented musicians out there are forgoing any singular band and just floating from side project to side project. The fact of the mater is, a lot of these people are driven by their art and not just the paycheck.

      I remember attempting to record an album in the 90's and even for the crappiest studio in town it was $10k-$20k to get it recorded. That didn't include the $2k-$3k for the initial printing of the CD. Today you could build a BETTER studio in your home for the same price. With modern recording software and a few classes at a community college and you'd easily be able to do most of it yourself. Then ship your CD to be mastered by some other guy in his basement. Then you upload the whole thing to your website and collect your money via paypal... That's why there's such an explosion in indi music right now. How far away is the film industry from the same sort of revolution? Not far I'd bet.
    • by MarkvW (1037596)

      Not every good movie has to be a movie with "Hollywood" production values.

      A do-it-yourself troupe with a solid contractual setup can make a decent looking movie. If the script, acting, directing, editing, and sound are good, people will tolerate so-so cinematography and imperfect sound.

      Some genres, like epics, require big budgets. Other genres, like film noir, can be shot on a very small budget.

      I've seen video productions on the internet (like "antimattershow" on youtube) I'd rather watch than a LOT of ma

    • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:27AM (#34978564) Journal

      The problem with all of this, is that *talent* is still expensive.

      No, not really.

      ...you can't get a trained steadycam operator to film an on-foot chase scene without paying him 50 an hour.

      Maybe in California. Try shooting in a state with fewer unions and less bureaucratic red tape, and you'll find dozens of camera operators working at local TV stations who would gladly do it for $20 an hour just to have something to do on the weekends. Heck, if it's a low budget production, some might even volunteer to do it for nothing. Will it require a few more takes? Probably. Will it require enough more takes to justify paying a camera operator as much as a software engineer or a pharmacist? Probably not.

      Besides, you could just cut out the chase scene, film it from multiple static cameras, use software to reduce the shaking in post, or fudge it with a zoom, and odds are good that nobody is going to think any less of the movie for it no matter which of those techniques you use.

      You can spend 20 hours making a music track yourself in Garage Band that everyone hates, or you can pay a group of musicians a few grand to use their stuff.

      Or you can do a time-cost tradeoff and ask a few of your friends to check out local clubs, find a local band that seems good, and get them to record something for peanuts. Or if it doesn't have to be unique, you could go buy some royalty-free music CDs for fifty or a hundred bucks a pop. It all depends on what you're looking for.

      In my experience, the key to making movies on a shoestring budget is to get people who can act (but who aren't famous yet), and shoot on location at locations that don't charge money to shoot there. This way you're not paying studio rental costs and you're not paying exorbitant per-hour costs for your cast, so you can take a little longer to get things done without it being a problem. Once you're no longer paying a truckload of money for every minute the cameras aren't rolling, you can get by with a much smaller crew, because one person can wear multiple hats.

      For example, unless you're doing an absolutely insane amount of lighting (way more than most low budget productions), there's usually no need to have both an electrician and a lighting person (unless union rules say you have to, of course) because 90% of the power you run is for lighting anyway. (The other 10% is for your camera and audio gear, which if you're doing it on the cheap, translates into an orange extension cord running from the nearest outlet.) During the actual shooting, that person double as your camera operator or your mic boom operator. You can now easily shoot a movie with a crew of two or three people (though extra hands are always welcome when packing, unpacking, and hauling the gear to and from the truck).

      You can get good workers from your local university's communications and drama programs. You can often get people to outright volunteer for the opportunity to have their names in the credits of something that they can use in their portfolios when applying for jobs.

      And finally, ten days worth of Arriflex 35mm camera rental will buy you an XH-A1 that will do a good enough job that it won't get in your way. And if you edit on a laptop with Final Cut Pro or whatever, you can get away with exactly zero studio or editing bay time, and equipment costs that are a tiny fraction of what they were just a couple of decades back.

      What you don't get by going this route is a distribution channel. That's the sole reason that the major studios are still in business. Most movie theaters aren't willing to take chances on works shot by no-name groups, and good luck getting a major DVD distributor to even look at you, much less any rental chains. The actual cost of making a good movie, assuming a crew of two and a principal cast of four or five at $30 an hour is maybe thirty or forty thousand dollars. If you get most o

      • You can get good workers from your local university's communications and drama programs. You can often get people to outright volunteer for the opportunity to have their names in the credits of something that they can use in their portfolios when applying for jobs.

        This.
        A friend of mine did music & engineering joint honours. He told me every student (!) on the campus has access to the uni's studios at pretty much any time, and getting a recording done (as in, with professional studio equipment) is just a matter of asking. Pianos provided.

    • There are talented people on stages everywhere that previously couldn't afford to make a movie or get it distributed. They are professionals.
  • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:03PM (#34977806)
    While the TFA's GTA movie is no doubt impressive, the Blender Foundation produced Big Buck Bunny [wikipedia.org], a (in my opinion) beautifully rendered ~10 minute short. You can download the rendered version here [bigbuckbunny.org], and can even download the production data here [kino3d.org] -- it's released under Creative Commons I think.

    It may not be quite up to Pixar's standards, but I think it's pretty slick (and no, I'm not affiliated with either company =) )
    • by Nemyst (1383049) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:21PM (#34977918) Homepage

      They've made a newer and arguably even nicer short with Sintel [youtube.com] not long ago. Well worth a watch.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      While the TFA's GTA movie is no doubt impressive...

      Yeah, I mean, who would have thought to start with something like GTA, and somehow totally transform it into "an epic 88-minutes of sex, drugs and violence"?

    • by keeboo (724305)
      I've seen some very aesthetically pleasing free movies, that Big Buck Bunny included. We don't need Hollywood for that level of quality.
      What we do need now is something with a decent story, something beyond technically competent cliches.
  • by boarder8925 (714555) <thegreentrilby@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:06PM (#34977824) Homepage

    [C]ertain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations will change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years.

    Sure they will, provided the law doesn't get in the way.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      [C]ertain new technological advances, enabling systems and cost considerations will change the entertainment industry as we know it within 5 years.

      Sure they will, provided the law doesn't get in the way.

      Sure they will. Just as simple as running an ISP business and throttling the access to content providers they don't like (that is: providers not paying the ransom).

  • what about sets cheap ones show as well as bad cgi.

  • by blarkon (1712194) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:33PM (#34978002)

    The biggest difference in the short term will be the death of "Big TV Sci Fi" of the Galactica/Stargate/Trek variety. SGU was canceled recently due to poor ratings, yet several torrent tracker sites reported it consistently ranked in the top 5 shows downloaded. Say what you want about the quality of the show, but if it was consistently downloaded by that many people, it had an audience. The problem was, it had an audience that couldn't be monetized.

    The reason why Big TV Sci-Fi is in trouble more than other genres is that the audience of Big TV Sci-Fi is the most likely to seek a method of viewing the product that can't be monetized. The SyFy channel isn't moving towards showing wrestling because they think that wrestling is cooler than space ships and time machines, it is just that the audience for wrestling will watch wrestling on the TV rather than downloading it and watching it in an alternate manner.

    Perhaps, maybe, somehow there is a business model where you can make money out of hi-budget Sci-Fi that people download rather than watch, but other than George Lucas' "sell lots of toys" method of recouping expenses, no one seems to have found it yet.

    • by rrohbeck (944847) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:41PM (#34978038)

      Any kind of media production that appeals more to the brainy folks will bring fewer advertising dollars than shows for morons who will buy anything they see on TV. Hence the downward spiral for commercial TV. American Idol, Glenn Beck, Big Brother... that's what the advertisers like. Fodder for consumers.

      • by dkf (304284)

        Any kind of media production that appeals more to the brainy folks will bring fewer advertising dollars than shows for morons who will buy anything they see on TV. Hence the downward spiral for commercial TV. American Idol, Glenn Beck, Big Brother... that's what the advertisers like. Fodder for consumers.

        Not necessarily. It is possible to advertise to people with a full set of functioning neurons, but it requires effort, applied intelligence and creativity. For some reason, most advertisers in the US seem to instead focus on the lowest common denominator instead, which is cost effective for the mass market, but nowhere near as good for the higher quality end. The proportion of intelligent ads is higher in the UK for some reason (even if that's still only relative; we have plenty of terrible ads too). I don'

        • by vlm (69642)

          For some reason, most advertisers in the US seem to instead focus on the lowest common denominator ....

          Average IQ of "tv watchers" is below 100 and dropping. There is a strong feedback loop where the intelligence level of shows (and advertisements) drops, so the average of viewers whom still watch tend to drop, leading to lower shows succeeding, leading to further drops, etc.

          Its an extremely strong feedback loop... regardless of trends in the greater population, with regards to the subpopulation of people whom still watch TV, we are rapidly approaching idiocracy / "ow my balls" level where that is all thats

      • by drsquare (530038)

        The best people to advertise to are those who think they're too intelligent to be influenced. Especially those who watch trashy shows 'ironically'. Those brainy people who are too smart to be told what to buy, but are never seen without a handful of the latest consumer gadgets, whose computer graphics cards are more powerful than most people's computers, and monitors the size of the wall, which are of course used for watching smart shows that you're too dumb to understand.

    • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday January 23, 2011 @11:59PM (#34978118)

      The problem is that running TV shows on TV means that you're trying to monetize through advertising. Nerds aren't interested in that, partly because advertising is mostly geared toward the low-hanging fruit, i.e., stupid people. These shows can be monetized, but you have to monetize through DVD sales, Netflix, iTunes, etc. In other words, the consumer becomes the customer, and you're selling the TV show directly to them instead of to advertisers.

      Yes, there are some nerds who will refuse to pay, instead downloading shared copies of them. But many nerds actually have money because they're intelligent and successful, and they understand that a TV show that is sold directly to them requires that they pay into it in order for it to remain viable. Is it enough to reach critical mass without first running the shows on regular TV? Who knows, as those sorts of sales/profit figures aren't easy to come by unless you're an industry insider.

      But if there is enough interest in direct-to-DVD/download/rental sci-fi that has the high production values of current TV sci-fi, it could work - the question becomes, how do you market those shows directly to the viewer if you don't have TV as a platform for doing so?

      • by jonwil (467024)

        Even Sci-Fi viewers who dont download are likely to have PVRs and other things which let them fast-forward the ads. Plus the things the sci-fi audience are interested in buying and the things the advertisers want to advertise dont tend to match up.

        As for advertising a "direct-to-video" type sci-fi show (made and sold directly without being given TV airtime) one way would be to make a pilot and make it available for free. Then if the show is any good, people will download the pilot and watch it and want more

        • by jfengel (409917)

          > one way would be to make a pilot and make it available for free.

          A pilot is VERY expensive to make. A pilot is like a movie: all of the sets and costumes and such have to be made up front, before you've seen a single dollar in revenue. All that for "if they like it, they might deign to pay a buck for it; charge any more and they'll get it on BitTorrent."

          Even if they start with a 5 minute short, there's a huge up-front expense in construction. The lighting and sound overhead will make it a good fracti

          • by lennier (44736)

            A pilot is VERY expensive to make. A pilot is like a movie: all of the sets and costumes and such have to be made up front, before you've seen a single dollar in revenue. All that for "if they like it, they might deign to pay a buck for it; charge any more and they'll get it on BitTorrent

            If you're trying to charge anything for post-production, per-copy distribuition in the digital age, it seems like the physics of information says you're doing it wrong - short of going to a total iTunes / AppStore / Steam lockdown of the channel (which admittedly is working like gangbusters for Apple and Valve right now, but still seems fundamentally impossible to enforce in the long run).

            As you say, the money is all spent up front. So why not do the charging up front? Raise $X from investors, where the inv

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        I'm a nerd and I'll watch ads. On one condition: The ads don't treat me like I'm an idiot, and they don't try to capitalize on the "captive audience" concept. Ads are content. Good ads are worth watching. Bad ads I skip, just like I skip bad shows.

        It's not being a nerd. It's just the combination of having self-respect and the tools to deal with it.

        • by vlm (69642)

          On one condition: The ads don't treat me like I'm an idiot, and they don't try to capitalize on the "captive audience" concept.

          By captive audience concept do you mean repeating the same commercial twice during each and every commercial break?

          Alternately I'm annoyed by promo commercials for the show itself (next week on !) that make me stop the DVR for a second and maybe accidentally see the end of the preceding commercial.

    • The reason why Big TV Sci-Fi is in trouble more than other genres is that the audience of Big TV Sci-Fi is the most likely to seek a method of viewing the product that can't be monetized. The SyFy channel isn't moving towards showing wrestling because they think that wrestling is cooler than space ships and time machines, it is just that the audience for wrestling will watch wrestling on the TV rather than downloading it and watching it in an alternate manner.

      You are also neglecting cost, even if the rat
    • by syousef (465911)

      Say what you want about the quality of the show, but if it was consistently downloaded by that many people, it had an audience. The problem was, it had an audience that couldn't be monetized.

      How would you know? Nobody tried.

      The audience just didn't want to wait until the network decided they could watch it at a particular time of the day. Much easier to download if you're into Sci-Fi and know how to use a computer.

      And please leave out silly web 2.0 speak. "They couldn't find a way to make the audience pay"....not "The audience couldn't be monetized" which sounds like "The audience couldn't be milked".

    • yet several torrent tracker sites reported it consistently ranked in the top 5 shows

      I think that if studios released their shows via torrent with ads included they could monetize it. Of course (IMO) the real problem is probably that Nielson ratings were never right and so now that advertisers know exactly how many people are watching it's not worth as much. I went on CBS.com to watch something the other day and it said I couldn't play it on my device. No wonder the studios can't monetize new media when they refuse to show ads to some people. Watching commercials is my preferred method

    • by damnfuct (861910)

      Put good-quality versions on a legit website, and people will watch (especially if it's free). I am in Canada, and I make good use of the CTV and Space websites (both show a selection of their shows that is growing). With every day that passes by, there is less reason to need a broadcast system for television programming. All people want is their favourite shows with availability like any youtube video, and it sounds like SG-U is yet another show to fall to "phantom viewers."

      Exec 1: "Well, it looks like S

    • by winwar (114053)

      "Say what you want about the quality of the show, but if it was consistently downloaded by that many people, it had an audience. The problem was, it had an audience that couldn't be monetized."

      That's a fancy way of saying that the show sucked. It had an audience that wasn't willing to pay to watch.

    • I'd pay for rights to cut up the movie as a My/i Edit kind of thing. You take the existing movie, pay your fee, then if you really don't like that stupid bit in Transformers 2, cut it out. Then post your version for the usual Facebook Likes gig.

      Studios are doing awesome on the production overall, and Rotten Tomatoes keeps reporting that the guys in the Script Meetings are crushing things.

      What about studios doing Custom Clips that don't belong in any single episode but you need on hand as a stock? A George H

    • You know, nerds love to consider themselves smart and "above" being "brainwashed by ads," yet how many rated Dark Knight Returns a 10 on IMDB before the movie came out, based solely on hype?

      Also, please see Avatar and think about 13yo girls and Titanic in the 90s.

      Nerds obeying advertisements is not a rare occurrence.

  • by WebManWalking (1225366) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:11AM (#34978180)
    David Byrne on the future of entertainment production and distribution: http://www.wired.com/entertainment/music/magazine/16-01/ff_byrne?currentPage=all [wired.com]
  • The problem is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snookiex (1814614) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:25AM (#34978244) Homepage

    We no longer live in the era of 'plantation-type' movie studios or recording houses

    The problem is that they won't die without fighting, doing as much damage as they can in the process. We still have years of DRM and its mutations to witness in the next years.

  • by DaMattster (977781) on Monday January 24, 2011 @12:29AM (#34978276)
    With powerful technology and the constant downward pressure of the prices of technology, the barrier of entry to filmmaking is coming down. You could now, in theory, use VP8 and make an independent film without worrying about royalties.
  • I had the idea several years ago of doing a computer animated movie using a voluntary distributed computing model, like distributed.net or [distributed.net] SETI@Home [berkeley.edu]. Once it was scripted and storyboarded and the animation plan was complete, individual frames (or even portions or layers of frames) would be farmed out to folks to run on their computers. The complicated part would be that folks would almost certainly be able to assemble parts of the film prior to release, but that might be OK. Multiple scenes could be prod

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Monday January 24, 2011 @01:09AM (#34978482)

    Actors, musicians and vocal artists are about to be replaced with computer generated synthetic entertainers which will reduce the cost of film and music production. It will also generate a legal crises in that one might be able to blend say John Wayne and Elvis Presley into a new synthetic being. People who own rights to various characters will all clamor that they see their image or property rights portrayed in a synthetic entertainer. The litigation will be endless.

    • by Anrego (830717) *

      The whole actor worship thing is huge. Personally I think it's stupid, but the masses like it. Just look at all the shows and magazines based around celebrity gosip. You can't write an article about some synthetic actors opinion on breakfast cereal.

      And personally I hate synthetic music. I like an actual human with talent playing a real instrument/singing. Obviously this is a personal thing, a lot of people like synthetic music and I'm sure it takes talent to make synthetic music.. but I can't imagine I'm al

  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Monday January 24, 2011 @03:11AM (#34978926) Journal

    First off, the article doesn't say anything about five years. Inaccurate summary.

    Secondly, the examples given in the article aren't that great. Namely:

    * A "feature film", which is machinima of GTA IV. In other words, a movie totally dependent on a game produced by a traditional content studio.
    * A short film with impressive special effects and not much else.
    * A demo of a game engine that was created by a traditional content house and modified by another traditional content house.
    * A music video that was apparently made on an iPhone 4. Arguably the best example.
    * And a couple fun facts about Netflix streaming being cheaper than mail, social networking allowing for free ads, and analogies to reality TV.

    Not exactly a compelling case. That being said, it wouldn't surprise me at all if low-budget films start to displace studio productions eventually. But not in five years. Although everyone loves to speculate about movies (probably because of the file-sharing aspect), I suspect that e-books are going to be the first big displacer. The production model is basically the same (one writer or a small team), the costs are the same (one writer's spare time plus a keyboard) -- the only difference is publishing. So when indie e-books kill off all the big publishers, *then* you can start telling me that Hollywood will die any day now. Meanwhile, how about some better articles and not just blog fluff?

    • The future of books is in turbo Print On Demand.

      Harvard Bookstore has an early model. It produces paperbacks that actually hold together. For whatever reason, these early Google-Scan texts have no real cover, more like a fancy page layout file, but it works. Cue 2nd Generation with small quality improvements, and the rights to pick your own cover from a stock.

      So that's not even the same question.

      Back to Movies.

      There's tons of stories that just need about 10 good actors telling humanities stories, and some b

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday January 24, 2011 @07:26AM (#34979698)
    The cost of the film is irrelevant - a film is just a way to transfer tons of money from the backers to the studio and distribution change. Every possible cost is put into a film so you can extract as much profit from it without worrying if it ever makes money. Every why you want a cut of the gross, not the net? Because Hollywood accounting ensures there won't be a net for a long time, if ever. Sure, some indies can produce a decent low budget movie; just as some indies can produce a decent game. Of course, if they are the .1% that is really good, they'll probably move to the mainstream - because that's where the money is. Someone pointed out you can get talent for free - if the talent want's to build a resume. Why do they want a resume - to make real money later. never underestimate the power of profit.

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