Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Day DVD Died...

A few days back I (slowly) began converting the DVDs I currently own into specific file formats needed for future storage & playback on various external drives, computers & portable devices. Due to the slow-ass data ripping speed of my current laptop's DVD/CD drive, the process takes about 3-4 hours for most feature length films or performances.

Given the fact that I've accumulated more than 300 DVDs over the years (& that's not even counting pirated films), it's clear this process will take quite some time to complete. So I guess I'll get into the habit of ripping a DVD or 2 per day to expedite the process. On the flip-side, I've already noticed the many convenient advantages of having the few DVDs I've uploaded available in my iTunes library.

I'm not yet so sure what to do about the 30 or so BluRay discs just yet, but it's not of much concern at this point, since it's the newer disc format. Most of my BluRays included digital copies for media storage purposes anyway. In the years to come, I'll need to master preserving BluRay and/or 3D quality during the conversion process, but for now, I'm good with the standard format - I'm just tryna get all these damn DVDs out of my face!

Eventually, with all of the DVDs/BluRays uploaded, I'll be able to enjoy all of my media (coupled with iTunes & Apple TV) from almost any TV in the house with just the simple touch of a button, further eliminating the need for me to get off my lazy ass - such a spoiled society we've become, lol.

The way I see it, the day digital video disc manufacturers feared will soon be upon us & BluRay discs aren't where it's at either. It's not that there's anything wrong with BluRay technology, in fact it's the best right now. The problem lies in the delivery format. In this world of increasing portability, people are simply moving away from any disc format - whether they realize it or not.

You need only to look at how the sales of portable DVD/CD players have plummeted over the past 5-7 years. Folks are primarily watching & listening to media that has either been uploaded or streamed to their cell phones, car stereos, satellite radios, net books, e-book readers, PC tablets, so on & so 4th. There just isn't the need to have a physical disc in-hand unless of course, you're 1 of those unfortunate creatures technological of habit, lol.

When Netflix rolled out their instant streaming video (to video game consoles, Internet tv/media consoles & mobile devices) last year, the end of a storied era in technology ended. So much that the idea of a disc as the standard for the portability of video & audio media already sounds archaic. Ironically, the last time such a shift in technology took place must have been when DVD/CDs replaced cassettes tapes & VHS. Remember how resistant folks were of that change?

I think what's made Netflix so successful, in such a short time, is the fact that it seems to satisfy those who remain on the cutting edge of technology, people who consider themselves to be somewhat tech savvy & also folks who simply don't have (nor desire) a clue. If you're not so hot on streaming for your video needs, or maybe you just don't want to wait a week or so for a new release to become available for instant streaming - just have the DVD/BluRay(s) sent to your home in 2 business days, piece of cake!

With Netflix providing the 1st highly successful model of how profitable & efficient video streaming can be, production companies are sure to notice the trend & will likely devote far more resources into (I promise no pun was intended here) streamlining the end user's consumer experience in terms of ease of use & overall practicability.

Apple, Roku, Google, Logitech, Nintendo, Sony & Microsoft are just some of the primetime players that gave rise to video streaming last year by incorporating services like Netflix & Hulu among others, into their own flagship devices & platforms while boosting the usefulness each respective device at the same time. In addition, it's no longer uncommon to see mobile phone applications with video modules built within the app, allowing for viewing of streamed or stored content.

Folks, I'm not saying go throw away your DVDs tomorrow, lol. I'm just pointing out that this slight shift in mediums is something you might want to keep in mind, especially in regard to any electronics you buy from this point forward. Already companies like Amazon have announced plans develop a vehicles similar to the current Netflix beast (Amazon expects to offer the same services at an even cheaper monthly rate).

I don't expect companies like redbox to go the way of Blockbuster, my guess is that they'll morph their company into a model not unlike what Netflix has put together in order to survive & provide more of that all-important element of competition that any free-market economy needs to thrive. That & the fact that there will always be be the need for same day service. In what now seems like a contingency plan, Redbox encroached upon Gamefly's top billing as kings of video game rental by beginning to offer similar services last year.

Still, models that rely too heavily upon disc-based formats will take an even bigger hit once the video streaming kings lay claim to a stake of that piece of the market as well. My suggestion, buy stock in all of em! As time passes, it'll be interesting to watch which implementation model, medium & format ends up standing above the others as the recognized standard - at least for a little while anyway, lol.

As far as my project, I've got just 1 little-big problem - file storage! It was much easier when I went this route, dumped my CDs & started using .mp3/.mp4 files exclusively. Even in 2004, most notebook computers had more than enough hard drive & RAM space to handle the typical iTunes library; however, taking the same approach with more than 300 DVDs is NOT an option unless I suddenly develop an affinity for severely decreased computer performance.

For the time being, I'm storing all my tv shows, movies, music videos & concerts (basically all large file types) in a 1 terabyte Time Capsule external drive which until now, it was dedicated for backing-up me & my brother's computer hard drives wirelessly. Now it doubles as the storage tank for all video files until I decide what I want to do long-term. That is all...

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