What's set to follow Blu-ray?

Feature Brendon Connelly 8 Jul 2014 - 06:13

Will there be another physical disc format to follow Blu-ray? Or are we in the last days of physically owning films?

If we were all to go for a picnic on the moon and let NASA pack our hampers for us, I’m sure they’d give us something fairly nutritious, shelf-stable and easy to digest, but I don’t know how appealing it would be to look at. As Nigella might say (appropriately enough) you eat first with your eyes. There’s something a lot less appetising about a little scoop of goop in a foil pouch than a warm plate piled high with golden potato, glowing carrots and rugged, braised quorn.*

NASA food gets the job done like a pipe up the nose gets the job done, but it’s certainly lacking the romance, and arguably the respect. So it is, perhaps, with digital downloads of motion pictures.

Would I just be falling foul of cheap sentimentality to paint a digital-only future as a grave new world? Is Blu-ray really going to be the last hurrah for the library-building, package-loving movie buff? And are there any actual, real benefits to getting your movies as a solid object rather than a notional cloud of data?

Apart from the lucky few who could rack up their own reels of pricey, volatile celluloid, the video cassette was our first chance to build a home collection of movies, a random-access array of the films we’d want to keep on hand. Videos were boxy beasts, though, right down to their ‘squarescreen’ pan and scan pictures. They were not, by any reasonable measure, the best means of presentation for the images and sounds they struggled to contain, but they did train us to expect that we might gather our own film libraries, to have and to hold from that day forward.

Laserdisc only managed a core following of the clued-in and cashed-up in parallel to VHS’ mainstream domination, but the format was scribbling an early paradigm for the DVD generation into the margins. And so it was with the advent of that five-inch ‘digital versatile disc’ that the next quantum leap in movie collecting arrived.

Picture quality was increased dramatically, the uptick in audio capability was a true sonic boom and, finally, original cinematic aspect ratios were becoming sacrosanct. The arrival of DVD was the moment when 'home entertainment' sprouted legs and pushed itself onto the land.

Perhaps the leap from the SD DVD to the HD Blu-ray wasn’t quite so dramatic, but I’d hate to understate it. Even DVDs look better now, in an approximate, makeshift fashion, due to the upscaling tech of Blu-ray players and HD TV sets, but there’s nothing like a perfectly-mastered Blu-ray on a decent home cinema set-up. Aside from the sheer scale of their screens, most multiplexes don’t really compete with the presentation that Blu-ray can create in your own living room.

But somewhere along the line, things started to go wrong for physical media full stop. It would be easy to blame Sean Parker. He’s certainly part of the story.

Parker was the creator of Napster, and thanks to his cunning, legally indifferent peer-to-peer software, the world’s network of computers became way stations in a global interchange of stolen music.

At this point in history, more music was ending up on hard drives through CD rips than iTunes-style digital storefronts and so, if you suddenly thought of the perfect floor filler to convince your office mates of your retro-coolnes, the quickest way to get the track playing would be to send Napster’s light fingers into somebody else’s collection. As Casual Fridays evolved into 80s discos, and Sunday afternoons became about stocking up your new MP3 player with a few 'loans' from the ether, generations became accustomed to media on tap. And it only took increased bandwidth for the same virtual vice to start to tighten around the movie industry.

Amazon and its ilk also took a baseball bat to our collecting habits. Bricks and mortar businesses couldn’t slice their margins with the same razor-sharp ruthlessness as e-tailers, and so, for savvy smartphone shoppers at least, the high street stores mutated into something closer to showrooms; it was now possible to browse the shelves until inspiration would strike, then tap and swipe a far cheaper copy of the very same thing into a jiffy bag and onto the courier’s truck. This arguably played an important part in normalising the relationship between moving a cursor around a screen and summoning up a motion picture.

Manufacturing, packaging and shipping a Blu-ray disc is obviously a more expensive process than parking some data in a digital farm someplace and telling all of the e-tailers where to send the money. While global box office continues to spurt upwards with some regularity, income from home entertainment has been dropping pretty much constantly and distributors will undoubtedly be looking to maximise profit on every front.

I’d expect that Blu-ray is the last, mass-market physical format for the purchase and consumption of movies. There are already souped-up variants of the same basic disc architecture that can hold many times the data, and could ably contain a 4K, or UltraHD, version of a feature film. But by the time there’s any sort of user base for such super-resolution TV sets - and it could be a very long time, at least in consumer electronics terms - it seems like the audience will have accepted, reluctantly or not, that movies have no corporeal form, that they just hang out in notional space, and kick off when we call to them.

These decades of evolving physical formats have allowed distributors to sell us the same movies over and over again, with a significant and obvious shift in quality acting as sufficient incitement to toss out that copy of The Army Of Darkness you didn’t think you could ever do without and replace it with another one you’ll also lie to yourself about.

But this suddenly seems less reasonable when it’s not a physical item the distributor wants to render obsolete, but a download. Abandoning the manufacture of clunky, visibly dated VHS decks seems to be a different thing entirely to turning off a Digital Rights Management server and rendering entire generations of downloaded movies suddenly unplayable.

A Blu-ray collector knows that, if very well cared-for, their discs can last for decades, and all they’ll need is some old deck to get playback. The same also applies to DVD, Laserdisc and VHS, but it doesn’t seem to be part of the design for the future.

It’s possible this will ultimately be a good thing. With pressure - and market pressure, the vote-with-your-wallet approach, would seem to be a good place to start - consumers might teach distributors to strip digital rights management (DRM) from their releases.

Then all we’d need to safeguard or movie collections are... well, as indestructible as Cameron Diaz might think it is, I wouldn’t trust the cloud to keep anything for me, really, and hard drives crash with a disturbingly well-accepted regularity. Perhaps there’s no simple archive solution. Maybe we’d be best off burning our downloads to discs (while discs are still being manufactured). Sigh.

Sadly, my feeling is that we’re moving away from ownership entirely, and that legal streaming will be the final frontier, the way that all movies are provided for evermore. Netflix and Amazon Prime subscribers will already know about some of the inherent frustrations with this model.

Consider, for example, your planned Rocky movie marathon. You started it on Monday with the Oscar-winning first instalment, followed up on Tuesday with the undervalued second-slice, and.... logged in to Netflix on Wednesday to see that the whole Rocky series had vanished entirely. Adrian!

Different subscription services offer different catalogues at different times, in different territories, and with different picture and sound quality. None of the HD titles on Netflix, as good looking and spiffy sounding as they might be, have quite the bit-rate and therefore high-quality presentation of a Blu-ray. Netflix does, however, have House Of Cards in 4K, albeit compressed 4K. In a sense, this just suggests how tightly-squeezed and data-starved our UltraHD future might be. If 4K is only ever a stream, we’ll have to get used to seeing it in compromised form, where 1080p could be delivered in a relatively baggy, unpacked and data-rich format on disc.

Ultimately, the middle man might become irrelevant and you won’t go to Netflix for a quick bit of Buzz Lightyear on Sunday afternoon, you’ll go straight to Disney. Warner Bros. has already launched Warner Archive Instant, at least in the US, and I don’t think it will be long until all of the studios and distributors set similar strategies in motion. Slowly, rights will lapse at the big subscription services and the movies will go home to roost.

To hazard a guess, I’d say we’re about ten to 15 years away from all on-demand, broadcast-free TV sets that run at up to 120 progressive frames of 4K images, each offering  pay-on-demand or subscription access to movies sorted by rights owners. Maybe there will be someway to put down a lifetime payment on a particular movie, but even then it won’t be a human lifetime, of course, just the (arbitrarily truncated) lifetime of whatever software solution is running.

And that generation of Judy and Elroy Jetsons probably won’t even care that audio commentaries and meaningful supplementary documentaries fell off the schedule years before because what you don’t know about can’t appeal to you and what your parents wax lyrical about can’t help but turn you off.

I do look forward to having a well-preserved, fairly well-delivered version of almost any movie I can think of just a wave of my hand away. At the same time, I don’t at all like the prospect being a permanent renter and never being able to bring that film into my home where I know it will be mine until I break it. We’ll never again indulge in the romance of alphabetising our collections, or get to indulge in a little bit of pacing back and forth, physically browsing (there’s appeal there and it’s a good part of what’s keeping HMV alive right now), nor will we ever get to lend a copy to a friend with that excitable plea that they don’t even look at the box before putting it in the player and “just you trust me on this one.”

Or maybe I’m being overly optimistic here. I mean, honestly, I’m not even sure we’re going to have electric lights in ten years time. Perhaps what follows Blu-ray is something more like Fahrenheit 451 or Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns, a time when we’ll all gather down at the poisoned brook to see people acting out the best bits of The Transporter 2, “live sweding” Statham for a post electric future. Every cloud...

*Other murder-free, protein-plentiful meal constituents are available.

Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.

Disqus - noscript

For technical reasons which still confound me, my appreciation of Blu-ray is spoiled by unfathomable audio-sync issues.
The sound is usually ahead of the picture by anything between 60-200 ms.
I am constantly having to alter the delay on my Panny player to match the picture coming from my Panny plasma on a per-disc basis.
(DVD no problem.)
WHY???

It was over for me in the gap between DVD and Bluray. I like to pay for content I enjoy, but downloading/storing/accessing at will was a reality in 2002, and the convenience and flexibility it brought - and anything available (whatever the means) - was a great advance and I never looked back.

It is gutting as Streamed HD is no-where near the quality of Blu-Ray but most people don't care. so many have HD Tvs with cheap DVD players connected by scart.

I'm amazed at how many people I know never adjust the screen settings on Their TV so it is an over saturated, over contrasted mess. Or they have the screen ration set up wrong and their DVDs are squashed.

This is so common that I fear streaming/download will be horrible and studios will get away with it because most people don't care about quality.

"...it was now possible to browse the shelves until inspiration would strike, then tap and swipe a far cheaper copy of the very same thing into a jiffy bag and onto the courier’s truck. This arguably played an important part in..." the demise of; HMV, Woolworths, Zavvi, Game, MVC and Blockbuster etc...

Erm, HMV and Game are still very much alive and well on numerous high streets.

Game and HMV are still going strong, and still have a high street presence.
Blockbuster's demise, I feel was more the result of them failing to adjust their 90s business model to compete with Lovefilm and Netflix, rather than people buying from Amazon.

Because you touch yourself at night!

For me, convenience will never out-way owning the actual physical disc.

I am too much of a geek. I like to have all of my films/games on shelves and on show. If they release Steel book cases, then I have to get those as well.

I have Netflix, and I cannot believe how bad it is. I only got it because I wanted to keep up to date when Breaking Bad was being shown.

It's not bad for TV shows, but for films it is completely useless. Until these online subscription services get more rights for more current films, they will never completely flourish.

There will come a point when they cannot rely on TV Box sets, people will soon get sick of this abundance of TV shows being created left, right and center.

To me this is the same debate as e-books or actual books, I much prefer to physically own the item that I am using and being able to put that item on a shelf as part of a physical collection. It's just not the same looking through your iTunes library, searching for that one film you feel like watching.

Like Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black said: a new, better format? Now I have to buy the White Album again...

I started my VHS collection in the late 80s and interchanged it completely with DVD in the early 2000s. DVDs offered better picture quality, provided the right widescreen formats and for the first time here in Germany I could have the original language track as well as the German dubbed one. And there are the commentaries and making ofs and such. Great value, never to be bettered, I thought.
Now I'm into Blu-ray and I think it will be the last time I buy the same movie I already owned on VHS and DVD. I even buy 2-disc cases and include DVDs of sequels, prequels, remakes etc. that I don't need as standalone Blu-rays. For example the Dredd Blu-ray includes now the Stallone picture or the Punisher Blu-ray includes the War Zone DVD. Love to be a geek!

Streaming is the way to go and when that happens I will still buy Blu-rays and DVDs. I use Watchever and Amazon Prime Instant Video for watching movies I don't wanna buy or to see HBO series or sitcoms and such I don't want to see illegally. Sometimes I buy the DVD seasons when the streaming services don't have them. Then I sell them when I'm done.
True Detective isn't available here in Germany before September, so I bought the UK Blu-ray. Which I might keep as the UK versions are often better cased than the German releases. For example with a 3D cover O-Card and bigger Amaray cases (The World's End, This is the End, Machete Kills).

tl;dr: I won't buy the same movie for a fourth time, use streaming now and then and love to sort my physical collection every time I bought a bunch more.

Do you have Watchever in your country? They have HD streaming and the original language tracks as well as the dubbed one (here in Germany). The quality is perfect and it works on PlayStation, PC and Android.

Excuse me, I've had Army of Darkness on VHS, DVD and 16mm. My conscience is clear! ;p

Is HMV still HMV? Or is it just the name now?

Because I touch you at night

Sounds like a problem with the player. The principal of all digital formats - TV signals included - is that the audio data is much smaller than the image data, and so it is unavoidably easier for the machinery to process. This is why you get a/v sync issues with digital TV, soooo, I'm (guessing) that your Panasonic (?) player is having a harder time giving you the picture than it is shooting the sound out.

If/when the major games console players abandon physical-disc compatibility (i.e. where their games become downloadable) I think, sadly, blu-ray will be on its way. There will be a market for them as long as high speed Internet is still unavailable to some, but as this market is shrinking rapidly that too will lead to a decrease in physical sales. Developing markets may prop the sales up for a while though - I don't know what technological advances are in China/India/Brazil.

Long story short: one day physical sales will be all but obsolete. Shame.

I love collecting films but the digital download is the way the average consumer will get films. Most people who see my collection say "why don't you just watch it online". It's easier and it takes up a lot less room but it looses it's appeal for me, sure I watch the odd thing on Netflix but its not the same quality and you don't get the extras like commentary. Collecting special editions or steelbooks will go, I'll keep collecting until the last disc is available, plus charity shops will be full of old DVD/Blu-Ray's for a while yet.

I have never liked digital copies, as far as I'm concerned, half the price is going towards owning an actual product, otherwise, they are just files on a computer and it would never feel like I actually owned them (plus it would take all the fun out of browsing through CEX!)

I've just had a quick look at their 'most popular' films section, and to be honest it looks just the same as Netflix.

Appreciate the tip though!

I just stick to Amazon now. 1 Blu Ray purchase a week does me fine :)

I'm gonna need a bigger shelf...

"Other murder-free, protein-plentiful meal constituents are available"

As is a good steak from a healthy, humainly reared animal.

I don't think Blu-Ray is going away any time soon. With multi-layer versions in the pipeline they should handle 4K and 8K and nothing is needed beyond that resolution. It will survive.

Collectors like to collect and when you don't own a physical copy there is, as you say, always the risk that it will vanish tomorrow. And even if it doesn't you're tied into a rental system for life. People who rent ebooks from Amazon (no, you don't own them, you've just got a semi-permanent rental from them) have already seen books pulled and automatically deleted from their Kindles.

Then there is the Star Wars effect. If the director decides to pull the original version of a film and replace it with an updated version, someone digitally renting it has no say. The version of the film they had, which they might prefer, is gone forever.

I personally hope that Standard DVDs don't disappear any time soon as that is still the format I buy / rent, though I do sometimes watch a film on Amazon Prime or Netflix too. After many years of replacing a hefty VHS collection on DVD, it was a bit much to contemplate, doing it all again with Blu Ray, so I decided not to. Not made of money after all... I am quite proud of my DVD library, it is very large, though not complete as there's so many good films out there - it is nice to actually own a physical copy of a favourite. I would not be keen on the idea of 100% streaming movies. Of course realistically (and sadly), one day I will no longer have the room for my large CD, DVD, games and book collection, my kids are all adults now and when the last one leaves home we will probably be forced to downsize, and I will be forced to let some of my collection go. So thinking of that... streaming and owning a digital copy of favourites stored in clouds, like Amazon are doing now (I own season 4 of GoT that way) could well work out to be a very valuable service...

Personally I love streaming services to watch new films I have never seen. If I really like it then I buy it on Blu-Ray. I think there will always be a market for owning a physical copy but that market will change dramatically. The masses will be happy to rent or own a digital copy but there will be a smaller market for really nice, limited editions. These might be expensive but for those that love the film it will be worth it. Physical movies will become a collectors item for the connoisseur.

I think books will also go this way. We have already seen that for the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is cheap in digital form but costs thousands in print.

With the number of steelbook releases and limited editions I think the movie industry is already moving in this direction. I would like to see them really up their game and produce editions that are really special.

I so much prefer physical media, largely because I've not found the same viewing experience with special features. I love commentaries, outtakes, interviews, and those are either unavailable or extremely limited on streaming sites. As soon as I got each Breaking Bad DVD set I'd watch my way through all the commentaries, and then all the outtakes and interviews. It's a great extended indulgence in the creators' worlds, and it's just not the same with digital media.

which ever way they go, music and video will always have piracy

My fiancee was asking why I keep purchasing so many Blu-rays. I told her it's because I know that physical media is dying and I like to actually own my films in the highest quality available. So many films never even made the jump from VHS to DVD so the only copies floating around are from collectors, not the studios. The studios don't give a rat's butt about film except for what is popular and a guaranteed money-maker. Sure, I'll use streaming for a film that I haven't seen and probably only want to watch once. For the films I love, though, I want the physical media. I know it's tilting at windmills but I'll hold onto them for as long as I can.

Pirating of 720p and 1080p films, while I don't condone it, will nonetheless be around for many years to come until the lobbyists find a way for governments to make it impossible. As to owning a physical film or book, that just feels so 20th century now. It seems to me that anyone who still wants a huge collection of discs of video or music has a bit of a hoarder mentality, since it isn't necessary anymore. Yes, the quality of the physical media is higher, but I suspect that in less than ten years, that will no longer be an issue, as streaming will be just as perfect, yet those same people will STILL want their physical copies, so that argument is silly.

It feels really "old-fashioned" to have a physical book or newspaper or movie. I have a feeling that even physical photos on shelves will slowly go the way of physical media over time. People just snap photos on their phones and share them digitally on Facebook, store them in the cloud, and look at them in their gallery.

It looks great on the brand new Blu-ray... ;)

Same here. It's a shame that recently some Blu-rays are barebone while the DVDs had tons of extras. Sometimes I have to buy both to get it all. I hate that already.

And there are still so many films out there never released as Blu-ray as well. I even bought an Italian Blu to get a movie that is just available on DVD... Nerd, I know... ;)

Did some one tinker with the Star Wars movies?

I've actually complained about the reverse: I can't afford a Blu-ray player, or the extra £5/10/15 per disc it tends to cost, and I'm generally happy with DVD quality. But a lot of DVD sets have nothing, while the Blu-rays have loads of special features. You only have to look at the Iron Man Trilogy's DVD set to see the con setting in: two packed discs for the first one, one packed disc for the second one, and for the third? Subtitles. That's the special feature.

It's meant that I've not bothered getting any of the Marvel Phase 2 releases on DVD yet; I'll wait until they're in the £3 section at ASDA (or until Blu-ray becomes affordable). Whereas I happily dished out £17 for the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad, first week of release, because there's hours and hours of extra material on there.

Excellent piece, once again.

It's nice to know it's not just me. I really do feel that my hoard of movies (okay ... my library) is increasingly out of step with the commercial world.

My students rarely if ever buy films and never buy music. Some of them have thousands of pieces of music on their phones and cheerfully confirm that they've NEVER paid for music.

So, right there you have the problem of reduced revenues leading to less choice (as fewer people can earn a living creating 'content') but, also, a generation who are strangers to the notion of physical media.

Therefore, as they grow to become the dominant demographic, I, too, fear that that will lead to the inevitable death of the disc.

Yes, I'm a sucker for packaging ... But I can live without it ... But the audio commentaries, making-ofs and alternate cuts that physical media afford, they are an *essential* part of my appreciating a movie. I rarely buy a disc *unless* it comes with a complement of extras.

Again, my students are strangers to watching / listening to these extras because, in the format they watch movies - they simply don't exist.

So, I think - like vinyl - physical discs will continue to exist, albeit it in a specialist and prohibitively expensive 'deluxe' form.

I used Netflix for a while and, for binge-watching TV, it's great (providing it is up-to-date, which British Netlix generally isn't - as you'll note if you want to watch series 3 of Sherlock) ... But it's a poor option for watching movies.
Now, if Netflix et al started streaming all the extras with their shows ... So you could switch over to a screen-in-screen comparison, or a commentary, or an alternate cut ... Then they'd be a serious contender to soak up that market too.

Now that Music is primarily digital downloads and streaming services, Collectors are back to amassing vinyl as the ultimate collectors format, I'm guessing that is what we will see with films as well, whether that will be Blue-ray or we will see a re-emergence of people collecting something like actual film, spouting some excuse about the added "Warmth" to the picture quality?

I could see Blu-Rays and physical media going the way of the Neil Young's music venture! It will exist mainly for the aficionados. Though in saying that, I think second hand DVD's are still the best and cheapest for people on tight budgets. This does however not help the DVD industry as they don't get a penny.

I am 23 and I am a sucker for packaging too. I own a Kindle, but whenever I read something I really like in it, I have to go and buy it, in paper, in an edition I truly love. The Kindle has become a beta stage for me, where I read the book and decide if it deserves to make it into my library. Then, as I've already read the book, I take my time to find a beautiful edition I can enjoy llooking at. The same happens with movies: I can rent it online and enjoy the streaming, or ilegally download it if it is not available in my country, or other digital options, but if I like the movie, then I go out of my way to buy it even if I have to order it from another country and pay for the deliver, I just NEED to hold it in my hand.
I adore the advantages of digital formats, but I could never live without my shelves full of books and boxes.

And as long as there's a few of us left ... There's hope :)

I've asked this before but never got an answer, but can someone explain to me why it seems that i can get almost any song i can name on Spotify but movies seem to be split between several different companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime? I'd be happier if I could subscribe to an online service that has all the films. Also the quality of these streaming services is never has good as a Blu Ray, even if I am streaming it in 'High Quality (not the same as HD)

It is also a matter of self-expression. Having the shelves right there, full of what I love for everyone who visits to see, is a way of showing who I am, just like decoration, pictures or posters. I like being in my room and looking at the things I love, even if I don't actually watch them every day or even every year. I like that people can come in, take a look and get an idea of who I am. I am probably not making any sense at all, but I love my things.

there's nothing wrong with being 'old fashioned' particularly when the older way is superior to the new, i'm sure you'd balk at the prospect of listening to a record yet for many vinyl is still the preferred format due to the superior sound quality

Well, maybe it's my age, but I never got the whole "cloud/streaming" nonsense.

Am I buying something or just renting it? Absurd.

I just like looking at my things, even though it is old-fashioned and particularly so for a 23-year old. It is like buying a wedding dress instead of renting it: you know it is stupid, you will only use it one time, but people still do it because it feels right.

Until we have super-high speed broadband rolled out across the whole of the developed world, physical media will stay. The highest quality picture and sound needs to be available to the masses. Until iTunes, Netflix, Amazon and the like offer 4k 3D at a high bit rate, people won't abandon physical media (on that note, before I have people shooting me down for the inclusion of '3D' in that, yes 2D needs to be available on all films as well, but the choice is what is important here - there are plenty of people who enjoy 3D and they are not currently catered for by streaming and download services).

No, I thought that Hayden Christensen had always appeared at the end of Jedi...? Might be wrong, though

I'll certainly agree to the tv comment there. £20 for 22 episodes of Scrubs (9 hours) compares easily to £13 for a new release film (2 hours if you're lucky)

Fellow geeks, you have covered most of this topic well. Let me share a brief anecdote that puts this into perspective. The other day I wanted to test my brand new 3D TV. I still believe 3D to be a gimmick but what the hell, I wanted to test it. So I did what I have not done in almost 2 years. I went to the DVD rentals shop (which was surprisingly still there) and asked the owner if he had any BLU-RAY 3D films (a bitch to stream and expensive to buy without first viewing). Sure enough he had loads - many of them in pristine condition. Browsing through his library brought back a sensation that I had effectively lost and didn’t realize I missed so badly. There is simply nothing like having a casual browse through somebody else’s collection. The artwork, the tactile sensation of examining the film packages, the hidden gems (oh what’s this?), the surprises you sometimes get when reading the back of the box (woah, Elfman composed the music for this?)

I ended up renting Jack the Giant Slayer and OZ the Great and the Powerful (very enjoyable ‘popcorn’ movies). What was bittersweet for me was the conversation I had with the owner of the shop and the few other patrons who were browsing with me. That interpersonal relationship is something that we are killing and that is a real shame. Men will always meet in bars and watch ‘the game’ over a few beers. The same can’t be said for strangers meeting in a shop and talking about movies they may or may not have seen.

The 3D was a gimmick but I enjoyed ‘renting’ physical copies of the movies so much that I will be going back there today. If anything, to have a chat with some movie buffs and simultaneously look at the boxes to see if anything catches my eye.

Try doing that online.

It's still HMV and is owned by the guys who bought HMV Canada a while back.

They will call it TRI-RAY.....Thing is I have now bought the same films on Video, DVD and now Blu. I am not keen on replacing my collection again.
Personally the best thing about DVD's and BLU RAY is the wealth of extras and retro documentaries.
DOG have you ever done a list of Best DVD/Blu Ray extras?

Interesting.

A very well thought out, interesting article. I think the mass audience will stream/ download all of their movies/ TV but there will always be a market for things like Steelbook special editions, etc.

I got rid of all my DVDs at my spring rummage sale. They were sitting on a shelf in the basement collecting dust. I use Netflix, Vudu, Redbox to see what I want to see. I occasionally take the family tot he movies, but it is mostly the other things. Do I miss the DVDs? Sometimes.

I thought that comment was a little unnecessary as well

16mm, wow that's some love for that film. Which cut is it, theatrical or directors?
It's a great film which I've bought 3 times myself on Vhs, 2 disc dvd (for the theatrical cut) and in the evil dead trilogy dvd set.

This is what I missed about my local blockbuster, the staff we're just as enthusiastic as I was for films and games and had some great recommendations for what to watch such as Tucker and Dale vs Evil (sooooo good ;) )

Nerd? Ha, no way mate.

In here you're just 'normal'.
;-)

That's a great point.

The films we own define who we are.

I always make sure my Blu-Ray copy of Quadrophenia has pride and place on top of my stack when I have guests!

Another great point.

Convenience is not just replacing physical format, it's replacing human interaction. Something which is already dying out thanks to Social Networks and something that geeks like us love to do. Talking about movies!

(Ok, I see the irony of chatting to you all on here, but I am trying to make a point!)

I loved going into my old local film rental place and having a chat with the guy behind the counter about up coming films, getting good recommendations of films I would never have sort out otherwise, and blagging the occasional film poster.

I was made up when I went in once and ended up leaving with an Alien 3 cardboard cart out. I still have it.

What I am trying to say is, you can't stream cardboard cut outs of Aliens...

:-/

It's (most of) the theatrical cut, which I got quite cheap in a car boot sale years ago, along with some bits and pieces for an old Bolex camera.

I've already ripped all by DVDs and BluRays to iTunes and use my Apple TVs to watch them.

I think ownership of physical media in the mass market will (continue to) decline with storage becoming the commodity of choice. That said in the same way that vinyl survives in the record industry there will also be demand for physical special edition blu-ray. It just won't be mass market anymore.

I want to own something, a collection of what i lile not a Hard Drive of digital stuff

Also as below the extra content, i have been collecting classic Doctor Who and the extra content of how it was made and the bits and bob are as much part of the charm as the show its self. I only want to download throwaway stuff

I suspect blu-ray will be the last format.

At the moment, I'm watching a lot more via streaming. Some bought, some rented. But streaming for buying movies still has 4 problems.

Firstly, even if you buy HD, it ain't like blu-ray. The quality is closer to upscaled DVD than blu-ray. Secondly, if I'm talking to someone about a movie, it's nice to be able to lend it to them. Grab it off the shelf, hand it to them. Good luck doing that with streaming. Thirdly, what happens if someone turns the servers off? On that point: check out the T&C for Wuaki - you have the film for 3 years (I'm still watching some 10 year old DVDs). More a rent than a buy. Fourthly, there's often nothing in it price-wise and sometimes streaming is more expensive.

For me, I generally use streaming for rentals but buy on Blu-Ray, and I don't see that changing.

Agreed

I'm hoping that whenever 4k players come along, even if it is a new format, they'll be backwards compatible with Blu-Ray and DVD. Whenever that happens though, buying physical copies of film will be a small number of us. For me streaming will never be enough, unless I own it (like with ultraviolet) I'd hate to go and try and watch Airplane! but have to say 'it's not here for some reason', rather than just going and picking out my dvd copy.

There's also a huge sense of control in that sense. Once I have that DVD or Blu-Ray, I control when I watch it, if I watch it, and if it's available for me to watch it. I get the sense the companies who own the material hate that and think that it's still theirs, and that you purchasing a cheap dvd only gets them paid once. Hell, a second hand DVD is probably their worst nightmare, and my collection is full of them. As usual. It's about control. They want it, and are doing a whole lot to do it.

Disney have had this kind of a business model for years. I once tried to buy my wife Snow White on DVD, only to find that it didn't exist anymore. They'd only made a certain amount, and then they'd pulled the rest from the shelves in order to re-release it a few years later. The only copies I could find were £200+ on ebay. And they've done it with nearly every release over the years, which is why buying a Disney release will skin you a lot of money, as if they are just new films.

It'd be horrible to think that all companies would now be bringing that kind of business model to the online streaming services, and it's why I'll be sticking to physical media where possible.

One other thing: Extras. I couldn't do without them. Out-takes, making of's, Music Videos, Commentaries, the whole lot. It'd be sad to see a generation of movie goers say 'I wonder how they did that' and not be able to get an answer, because they're watching it on Netflix.

I cant see Blu ray going away anytime soon
I have Netflix, Use Spotify and have used the amazon video service before.

But whenever i find a film i like i have to have the physical edition on my shelf at home (same with CD's)

The only advantage i like to streaming is for TV shows, If ive watched a series and dont think i would watch it again i dont feel the need to buy it.

Sorry if this has been said already but I didn't have chance to read through all the comments. I will continue to buy Blu-Rays, DVDS, xbox games etc over downloading or streaming for as long as is possible.

Firstly, yes I like to have the security that unless I'm a pillock and lose a disc, they are there for eternity, whereas in the cloud they can be altered/vanish whenever they feel like it.

But most importantly, I feel you can tell a lot about a person depending on what films are on display. For example, who would you rather spend the night with...someone who's display rack includes LOTR, Star Wars, the God Father and Apollo 13. Or someone who proudly displays Herbie: Fully Loaded, Honey and Step Up?

Gee...hope your internet connection never gives out there guy. Also, do you realize, through bandwidth fees, you are continually paying to watch your movies? Hope you got a good bandwidth cap and your provider will never arbitrarily lower that on you.

I personally don't think that the demise of blu ray is an imminent concern. It WILL happen, but I don't think it will be as soon as you think.
I have never streamed anything digitally, I don't have a subscription to Netflix/Love Film/ Amazon Prime and it doesn't bother me one bit. I like going into a store and buying my blu rays there's no substitute for the human interaction ( unless its the festive season. Then I buy everything online) and I love special features. Unless and until the digital media puts all the extras on their content I'm not even entertaining it as an option.

A SSD style cartridge is being proposed for physical copy of a movie in the future. The copy protection can be better than a disc as it can be tied to the player it is being used on. Also can be used for larger 4K movies.

The move away from physical media to cloud based storage is predicated on the ability to access said cloud. This is all fine & dandy for those in major conurbations with access to speedy internet. For a lot of us, physical media is the only way to access movies due to poor broadband speed.

I live in a rural village, that is not at all remote, being between 3 small market towns. Two of the towns are 3 miles away, the 3rd is 5 miles. One of these fairly large towns still has no FTTC. While my broadband is usable during the day, it drops to around 200kbps in the evening due to contention & congestion. So the very time I would want to watch a streamed movie, I can't. I can't even watch anything in SD on iplayer between 5pm & midnight. The download service from the Sky box is fine, as we can download overnight (when the speed is around 4800kbps) but as for stream only services like Netflix & Amazon, well for get it! Even with planned upgrades to our exchange & the provision of FTTC this situation will improve very little due to the distance to the cabinet.

This isn't even a purely rural issue. My father lives in a large town, with no FTTC in his area & Openreach have no plans to install any, due to the cost of replacing equipment at the exchange. Even in our nearest city, 15 miles away there are huge areas with no FTTC coverage.

This isn't just a UK issue. I have friends in the US, France & Germany that cannot stream movies due to slow speed. One friend in the US uses satellite broadband & gets about 20mb, but it costs him a huge amount per month & still isn't enough to stream 4K!

Until there is a nationwide standard of broadband speeds that exceed a constant 30meg, there will be a need for physical media & without massive investment in FTTP for all properties, I just can't see that happening.

The article was well researched and convincingly argued. I don't understand the author's need to add this unnecessary, unrelated, judgemental comment at the end. It put a sour taste on one of the most enjoyable DoG articles I have read in a while.

I think Blu-rays and collectible DVDs are the last fortress of hope. Sure streaming blows away the need to find a hard DVD, but with a remastered box set that comes with well-done bonus features and state-of-the-art image and sound, there's only so much that laziness can say then. I have several dozen downloaded movies, many taken from other friend's hard drives, but I will always buy Blu-ray as my final movie-loving statement.

With the demise of Video Rental Stores, where is the next Tarantino going to work while honing his skills and increasing his movie knowledge?

I don't think I have ever reached a bandwidth cap from Time Warner Cable. I am continually paying for internet, where I do my job remotely from home, watch Netflix, rarely Vudu, and Redbox is physical media. All that plus the internet going to at least 6 other devices. I wonder what format those movies are streamed in, h264 or what? I wonder if they use handbrake or some other software to compress the video to keep the size down. They would have to, because streaming a 20+ GB movie would be ridiculous. I think it would be very interesting to work for Netflix.

We still have Family Video to go to and rent stuff. I do miss that interaction and suggestions from the workers. I saw a lot of good stuff when Blockbuster was around. They used to have employee picks. If I liked one of their movies, I would find the employee and ask them for more recommendations. Netflix tries to suggest things based on ratings, but nothing beats talking to a human.

For some movies, I had to get them from someone who converted it to DVD from VHS because they weren't going to ever be made on DVD. Sad thing is, they won't be on Blu-ray either.

I'll always buy physical media and I love Bluray but be warned... have you played any of your old DVDs recently? A whole batch of my R1 discs from the late 90s - especially those from Universal - stopped playing a few years ago. Apollo 13, Dragonheart, 2001: A Space Odyssey etc. Even when you take good care of them, DVDs don't last for ever!

Around here several rental places have closed down. It has come to the point where I can't even name the closest place where I could hire a film. Anyway, I don't care what will follow BluRay, I'm not done with regular DVDs yet.

The problem with someone else owning the experience is that most of them suck. Even the best of the bad lot still sucks. It just sucks less. Something as simple as subtitle support becomes an extra special feature that's not supported on many devices. Don't even get me started about user created content.

Content liberated from it's physical media is great if you have full control of the experience. Otherwise, it's riddled with problems and compromises.

Netflix, iTunes, and Amazon has to catch up to the selection and quality of my hoard before the notion of ownership becomes genuinely outdated. There are still gaping holes in terms of music. Never mind video.

Streaming services are perhaps a replacement for cable, not physical media ownership.

> Personally I love streaming services to watch new films I have never seen.

I have found this to be a problematic thing at best. Many new films have no "rental" option. So you are stuck paying nearly as much for the mere stream as you would pay for a proper BluRay.

For new films, the DVD by mail service from Netflix seems far more effective.

No you are right. Han shot second. Java was in a new hope. And big f'in cgi explosions happened all over the place!

SD media.

Sponsored Links