| As DVDs become ubiquitous, it is inevitable
that digital movies should be played in
digital theaters. The only question is when?
Several major theater owners
digital projectors will overtake analog
projectors within 6 years.
However, there are several problems
to solve. First, when movies are digitally produced,
they become pirated quickly. For example,
a digital copy of George Lucas' Phantom
Menace was available to the Web before
the initial screening. Furthermore, the
attempts to encrypt digital media have
largely failed in that decryption tools
were soon available on the Web.
Another critial problem is standardization.
What resolution and frame rate and format
should be used? Currently, there is no
agreement between commercial vendors. When there
is no standardization, the digital film producers
have to be cautious because there may not be
hardware which can play their movies. To
complicate matters, the hardware projector companies
do not know if there will be films to play
on their special projectors.
Once the problems are solved, significant
advantages will be seen by the studios,
theaters, and viewers. When an analog
movie is played in theaters, the film
is subject to many stresses which cause
picture noise. For example, when the
original Star Wars was released again,
George Lucas had difficulty finding
high quality original prints of it. Digital
films on the other hand should remain
in perfect condition over time regardless
of the number of times they were played.
Another major advantage is that theaters
will be able to quickly choose which movies
to show to their viewers. Distribution of
movies can be eased by satellite or cable
transmission. In some sense,
theaters could become the ultimate big
screen television with 100,000 channels.
At the LML, we have had several
discussions on whether unlimited, on-demand,
immersive entertainment is beneficial. It
is similar to the question posed in the movie,
The Matrix, where Neo must choose between
the real world and the virtual world. However,
it is different because in The Matrix, the people
did not know they were in a virtual world, whereas,
we would always know. Furthermore,
the denizens in The Matrix were largely denied
the choice between the real and virtual worlds.
We will retain the choice.
What will your choice be?