On a Clear Day You Can See the Hollywood Sign
Rupert Murdoch Owns a Mac
Well, at least he did, the last time I interviewed at 20th Century Fox. Now, trends being what they are, and trend lines sloping ever upward, for purposes of this and following rants in this column, we will assume the above to be true.
Look What $6 Billion Can Buy
If you’re Steve Jobs, you “buy” Universal Music. If you’re Rupert Murdoch, you make yet another bid for DirecTV. OK, he actually bought it for $6.6 billion, but you get the idea. What does one have to do with the other? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything.
There’s this nebulous entity out there in cyberspace called the Digital Cinema Initiative. Companies have joined it. Companies have praised it. And yet still, a chosen few companies have indeed created it. (Insert appropriate ooh and ah sound effect here.) What is it, you ask? Well, a bunch of studio, and computer types got together and decided what was to become the standard for digital content. Of course, Apple may or may not have been invited to this party, and the same goes for the owners of the theater near you. If I read the signs correctly, it will cost $150K per theater to upgrade once a standard has been set.
Factor in the additional cost of the ever present technology rollover, or Moore’s Law, as opposed to the 30K it costs to buy a standard film projector that will last decades. Then multiply that by the approximately forty thousand movie screens in the US alone, and that’s a big number. Who gets the money? Or more importantly, who spends it in the first place?
The theater owners don’t want to take on the additional expense, as they aren’t really sharing in the profits of the new technology, as much as the studios that are pushing this onto them are. However, the studios don’t want to spend the money to upgrade the theaters that they don’t directly own. In either case moviegoers will end up paying for it at the box office, no matter who takes on the cost. If anyone ever does.
And what does DirecTV have to do with it, anyway? Well, some of the high-end theaters will be receiving the digital content via satellite. At this point, film would truly be dead. Actually, it almost is. Checkout the Quickstream DV from the fine folks at MCE Technologies. Now, some may say that digital video may never truly replace film, however most of them are film snobs like Ebert and the other one, and their opinion for the most part can be discounted. You can hook up this drive directly to your DV camera, then plug it in to your latest and greatest Mac G4 complete with Final Cut Pro 4, download, and edit. Where’s the film?
A question was asked of a cinematographer recently, and the guy said he wanted to know about film, because he wanted to be a filmmaker and not a “guy with a camcorder.” Now, the cinematographer answered his question and, at the same time, stayed on the fence and gave a really great response about the wonders of being “the guy with the camcorder.” Personally, I would’ve ripped into him and given the “keys to the kingdom” speech, which goes something like: “You have this wonderful opportunity to create, that not everyone gets, so, if you want a job here, in low budget land, you’ll shoot on what I want you to shoot on….”
But I Digress
I’ve previously mentioned how things change both on and offline at the drop of a bit, so to speak, so I won’t go into that now. However, strange things happened between the time I started this, and the time you read it. I mentioned above that Apple “bought” Universal Music. Now I read almost a week later that Apple is starting its own online music service and Steve Jobs is on the cover of Fortune magazine with Sheryl Crow. Another sound magazine is talking about OS X, and if it’s time to make the switch.
Without bogging you down in links, what I will say is that whereas before the theory was “Rip, Mix, Burn,” it’s now “Pay 99 cents per, Mix, Burn, and play on your iPod.” At the same time, a ruling for summary judgement against two companies that supply software that may allow you to pirate movies and music didn’t go the way the MPAA and the RIAA wanted. This came as a surprise to almost everyone. Except for me.
Let’s call a spade a spade and piracy what it truly is: copyright infringement. Takes the glamour off the word, if nothing else. While I strongly support the ability to buy a CD, rip it, and make it available to my closest friends, I do not support the outright stealing of intellectual property. Of course, the MPAA and RIAA have stated that they intend to appeal the decision, despite this setback. Look for this one to go all the way up the ladder to the Supreme Court, so it’s definitely not over. Should it have begun in the first place? Long time readers know I believe this to be a losing battle. Copyright infringement existed long before there ever was an Internet, and it will continue to exist no matter what laws, rules, or guidelines are put into place now and in the future.
Convergence is Bad
Which brings me back to the original point that started this whole rant in the first place. The trend in both software and hardware is to make everything one thing. Currently, I have a phone that can take a picture, send an e-mail, browse the Internet, and play games. Oh, and I can call people on it as well.
My computer can do all of these on a bigger scale. A little known subdivision of DirecTV is DirecPC, which will hook your computer up to a satellite in order to do all of the above, and more—like video on demand. Alternatively, you might be able to do all of the above on your 56" HD TV. Personally, I want my phone to be my phone, my computer to be my computer, and my TV to be my TV. OK, I want my TV to be my movie theater with recordable DVD capability as well, but that’s another column for another time.
By now you might be wondering what Rupert Murdoch has to do with all this. The answer is simple. He doesn’t believe in convergence as a good business model. And he must be right, because Rupert Murdoch owns a Mac.
72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.
e you next time.
Also in This Series
- First and Last · May 2012
- Without Him, You Wouldn’t Be Reading This · November 2011
- My Dad’s Got a Barn. Let’s Put on a Show! · December 2008
- Did You See the Super Bowl? · March 2004
- Rupert Murdoch Owns a Mac · June 2003
- Everyone Has a Black Jetta · February 2003
- There’s No “There,” There · October 2002
- When Is It OK to Yell “Fire” in a Crowded Theater? · June 2002
- I’m Not Happy · March 2002
- Complete Archive