Sunday, December 28, 2008

Disruptive Tech Watch

Clearly, we are in the dawn of a new era. Not only can the iPhone identify the name of the song you're listening to on the radio, but now you can shoot cinematic quality video on your Canon SLR digital camera. Enter the Canon 5D Mark II - a 1080p paradigm shift.

Ramifications of the 5D
It's not perfect yet, but in an iteration or two it will be. The 5D will bring cinematic production quality to the masses.

The Internet is already information overload, with an incomprehensible flow of new content every minute, each competing for eyeballs and 15 seconds of fame. Unless you're Youtube or Facebook, your message is getting diluted by the sheer mass of digital data. I think the 5D is the harbinger for Hollywood brand dilution.

We are living in interesting times. Techvolution and economic Darwinism will bring feature innovation into the home editing software market, and in so doing, will force a restructuring of the entertainment industry. Movie life-cycles are becoming so short that the big studios are probably bringing in 90% of their revenue in the first week of showing. Just a guess.

Flooding an already saturated market with new, professional-level content will likely eat away at Hollywood's profits. The competition will also force Hollywood to stay on the vanguard of innovation, because the graphic parlor tricks once limited to specialized production houses like Dreamworks and Pixar are emerging in the prosumer software market.

How will the Butterfly Effect play out? A radical thought experiment:

1) The talent pool at film schools will inevitably become more competitive and exclusive, so we can expect more original and innovative production.

2) Hollywood will have to restructure its business model. There are advantages in the shift, however. The lower cost of production will also be carried over to Hollywood, so while revenues will dwindle, profit margins may not be impacted by the same ratio.

3) Desktop workstations are becoming more powerful by the minute, and will be able to handle the most demanding post production tasks you can throw at them.

4) Does the 5D herald the end of Hollywood cinema as we know it? To some extent, I think that's possible. However, production still requires tremendous logistics efforts, personnel and services. But the increasing sophistication of the digital development landscape will slowly narrow the gap between prosumer and pro.

5) Hollywood needs to foot the high cost of human resources; in particular, actors. I think it's reasonable to assume that iconic actors like Tom Cruise will have their likenesses generated digitally, and Big Studios will adopt a licensing structure for leasing a celebrity likeness.

6) The illegal content producers will remove that last differentiator from the equation by hacking Hollywood's single asset. Consumer-level production will catch up with pro digital technologies to render small films and shorts using recognized virtual actors.

7) More home-based businesses will emerge in digital content generation, and the economic sustenance will shift from big business, to small business; and eventually, to home (micro) business.

8) The emergence of the new economic structure will force Hollywood to change its business model. Maybe the natural evolution would involve the in-house creation of Hollywood's very own new iconic, immortal characters. Even if the illegal market impedes on their intellectual property, they still won't have to foot the high cost of licensing a likeness.

9) Last, but not least, Hollywood will eventually abandon production altogether, and movies will be 100% digitally rendered. No more rain days to push the shoot over budget; no more high cost of maintenance, logistics, equipment and production crews. There will be just a room full of post production nerds generating everything from landscape to characters, without having to abandon the darkness of their production hives; a return to the cave from whence we began.

In summary, if you think about it, something like the Canon 5D could not only end Hollywood cinema as we know it, but production-side fimmaking. In other words, the 5D is inadvertently promoting its own obsolescence when film/video production are no longer necessary to produce movies. Ironic, huh?

Well, you probably think this whole scenario of mine is pretty absurd; but it is only a thought experiment after all. The complexity of digital rendering is such that I just cannot imagine consumers rendering an entire virtual world on a cinematic level. But then, it's not my imagination that steers tech development and evolution.

As far as I'm concerned, I just want Nikon to catch up so I can put my Nikon lenses to good use.

The War on Thugs

Car thieves may have to find another revenue stream.
Looky here.


Not all is crude in the Middle East
The Israeli government is backing a national infrastructure shift to promote the replacement of the combustion engine with electric energy. Read about it here.

A new perspective on television
The future has finally caught up with us, and "They" finally did it--LCD Video glasses. Israeli tech company Lumus Optical launched the rather chic line of video shades. I've been waiting years for this product; it was inevitable, right?

The good

Now I can watch History Channel while my wife takes full possession of the TV remote.

The bad
Expect to see them being worn by rush hour commuters.

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