Hollywood's Worried About The Wrong Thing When It Comes To Digital Archives

from the misplaced-worries dept

Is it really any kind of surprise that Hollywood is worried about the wrong thing? The NY Times ran an interesting article this past weekend about how Hollywood is starting to freak out over the potential costs of digitally archiving movies. Currently, film archives are simply stored in cool places, like salt mines -- but Hollywood doesn't quite know what to do with digital archives, and a new report has them freaking out about just how expensive it will be to store digital content. There are many reasons why this worry is misplaced -- starting with the simple fact that whatever it costs today is only getting cheaper, and that trend is only going to continue for the foreseeable future. However, we've talked about the risks of digital archiving and "digital extinction" before, and the threat is completely overblown and often misplaced.

The problem isn't with what it costs to store content. Storage is cheap and getting cheaper all the time. The real problem is that those doing the archiving keep wanting to put their content into proprietary formats which will rapidly go extinct. If, instead, Hollywood focused on storing (and making many, many copies) of the content in more open, easily accessible formats, this wouldn't be a problem at all. Hell, I'm sure the experts over at the Internet Archive, Google or Amazon would all be thrilled to help Hollywood preserve its digital films. However, since Hollywood is so freaked out by technology these days, the chances of them letting any of those organizations help out (even a not-for-profit one like the Internet Archive) seems slim to none.

In the meantime, why not get creative? How hard would it be to create a system that would build a p2p storage system for Hollywood archives, where lots of folks could store bits and pieces of movies for the studios in exchange for... say... a free sneak preview of an upcoming blockbuster? It's the sort of thing that the community would love to take part in... but, of course, in MPAA land anything P2P must be evil.

Filed Under: archives, digital, hollywood, movies


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  1. identicon
    fishbane, 26 Dec 2007 @ 10:57am

    I think invoking the 'cheap and getting cheaper' mantra here is misplaced. As an analogy, I'll use my own experience with digital photography.

    My first digital camera was the Apple camera. 640x480. I took shots like a meth head with OCD, and needed more storage. I spent about $400 (I think) on a honking huge 8 G drive. That, plus backups (the CDR I already had), stored my output for about 2 years.

    Fast forward to today. I currently use a 10Mpix SLR that I've had for about a year, and I still take pictures like a crazy person. I quickly needed more storage. I bought a honking huge 2T external disk array for just under $800. that, plus backup to the DVDR I already have, is now about half full. So, it looks like I'm on target to get about 2 years worth of storage for inflation unadjusted 2x cost.

    A 640x480 JPG is going to weigh in somewhere in the 40-60K range most of the time. a 10Mpix RAW photo, an output JPG (assuming you only do one), and associated metadata is going to end up in the 15M range. (Some photos I have are in the 50-60M range, due to multiple versions.)

    Extrapolate another 10 years, and I fully expect to spend more than $1500 on a huge array to be in the same place I am now, or much earlier, if my SO can't keep me from getting a shiny video camera, something I've never had before and will probably be just as prolific with.

    I don't know the size of the average all digital movie, including original footage, outtakes, multiple scene versions, metadata, etc. is, but it has to be orders of magnitude greater. Sure, a film shot now will be cheaper to store in 10 years than it is now. But a film shot in 10 years will likely cost more to store than one shot now, as well.

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