DVD, Blu Ray & Beyond – Disc vs Online Video
The Most Successful Video Format
The DVD, or Digital Versatile Disc – one of the most successful media formats in recent years. Since its conception in 1995 the DVD has grown to become the single most popular home video format in recent years.
The huge advance in technology from its successful predecessor, the VHS tape made it an instant hit. Its clarity of picture and ability to play 5.1 surround-sound were an outstanding improvement. Not only these but its interactivity gave you the option to play bonus content, select alternate audio and subtitles or skip to a particular point in a video. Best of all, no longer did you need to rewind the film when you got to the end!
This was all possible due to the development of digital video encoding and the evolution of the digital optical disc to be able to play such a video. Previous years had seen the Video CD, the Multimedia Compact Disc and the Super Density Disc. It was these latter two formats that ultimately led to the creation of the DVD with the companies in charge unifying the two technologies into a single converged standard.
The Emergence of Blu Ray
Skip forward a decade and DVD was about to be superseded, or at least that was the idea. We were firmly in the high definition era and as such needed a high definition format for the home viewer. Enter the Blu-ray disc. At the time, however, an HD format war with HD-DVD was holding Blu-ray back from dominating the space.
The Blu-ray disc required a new Blu-ray player; one capable of using a blue/violet laser to read the huge amount of content now stored on the discs at a much greater density. This advance enabled discs to store High Definition video with a 1080p resolution. The clarity of picture increased dramatically but at what cost? Would the home viewer be suitably impressed enough to move onto a new format once more? The change from VHS to DVD was both necessary and vital in the development of home cinema. The change from DVD to Blu-ray, not quite so. It would need many dedicated home movie fans to make Blu-ray the dominant force, despite its increased quality.
Current figures seem to indicate we are now at around a 50/50 split for these two formats, but with the onset of video-on-demand we are now looking at new competitors taking their share of the pie. Internet-based providers are benefiting from much faster and more reliable Internet connections, enabling HD content to be supplied to the general public through downloading alone.
Will Online Video Kill DVD & Blu Ray?
The disc is not going away anytime soon though as its convenience and reliability are now fully trusted in the home and it has its own set of advantages over video-on-demand. Not everyone is able to access the Internet so readily and are hesitant to download such large volumes of data. Having a physical product that DVD and Blu-ray offers is also a deciding factor for many people.
Here at FATS Digital, we’ve long been involved in DVD and Blu-ray mastering and replication. We’ve also added an extensive range of video-on-demand facilities to this and are now one of Australia’s leading providers of on-line video content.
Mike Solomons (head of online media for FATS) explains further: “Our in-house asset management systems give us the capability to host and deliver content throughout the world – all at the touch of a button. Consumers are warming to this technology as they see how convenient and versatile it is to have an on-line catalogue of their products. People can log in and view low resolution versions of videos, they can then go ahead and download the master files. This gives sales teams the perfect platform to offer their content all around the world.”
With this and the subscription to video-on-demand (VOD) and electronic sell-through (EST) becoming more and more prevalent, we are fast moving away from physical video formats. The offering of combo packs is combining the two however, helping to keep the physical disc alive. It provides DVD, Blu-ray and an on-line accessible version in the form of VOD or the cloud based digital rights library Ultra-Violet.
As with regional restrictions on DVD and Blu-ray we are also seeing the same with video-on-demand suppliers as they utilize geo-blocking tools to prevent anyone outside their home territory from viewing their content, thus enabling them to sell lucrative distribution rights region by region.
Some areas in the world are therefore benefiting from a wider choice of content at more affordable prices – a situation that has ultimately produced competition online, as Internet tech-heads look for ways to beat the system. Their use of masked IP addresses allows overseas audiences to act as though they are locally based, giving them the best value access available.
While local content owners are taking measures to prevent this regional masking, it is unclear how effectively it can be controlled and what affect it will have on the pricing offered in each territory. It seems that the Internet has provided a great source of revenue for content owners while at the same time putting some pretty big obstacles in its path.
One thing is clear, however. The future seems to be heading firmly on-line, hopefully at competitive prices for the consumer.
Learn more about FATS Digital’s DVD, Blu Ray and Video-on-Demand services, here.